In the battle for the broadband market, Virgin and BT are giants.
BT, benefiting from its past as a state-owned monopoly, retains a 34% market share, while Virgin Media holds a 20% market share in the home broadband market.
The packages offered by Virgin and BT differ significantly in a few key aspects, particularly as they use completely different infrastructures to deliver their fibre broadband services.
In this article, we compare BT and Virgin broadband through the categories:
BT vs Virgin Media: Broadband Comparison
Here’s our complete comparison to the broadband packages offered by BT and Virgin Media. Let’s start with a critical difference between the two providers – What types of broadband are they actually providing?
Types of broadband available
The biggest difference between BT and Virgin broadband comes from the method they use to deliver their broadband service.
Virgin Broadband only offer a single broadband connection type. Although Virgin Media doesn’t have a “full-fibre” offering, they directly connect homes to their fibre network with a modern co-axial copper cable that provides the fastest speed in the market.
In contrast, BT prides itself in offering the widest range of broadband services available to all properties nationwide.
Here’s how BT and Virgin compare on the types of broadband that they offer:
BT: Yes, up to 80 Mbps
Virgin: Yes, up to 1,100 Mbps
BT: Yes, up to 900 Mbps
Virgin: No (although their standard fibre connection is just as fast)
BT: Yes, up to 10 Mbps
Virgin and BT both benefit from using their own broadband infrastructure:
- BT owns Openreach (which lots of lots other broadband providers also use)
- Virgin Media operate its own broadband and TV infrastructure
Because both providers use different networks, the type of broadband available to your home may not be the same across both providers. For example, your home may have access to a Virgin fibre broadband package but not a BT fibre package.
Currently, Openreach has a much wider reach than the Virgin Media network. We recommend using a broadband comparison service to search your postcode and find out what’s available at your address.
Often, the best value broadband is obtained by bundling up a deal with other products. Here we’ll compare the additional products offered by BT and Virgin:
Sport TV packages:
BT: BT Sport, Sky Sports, Eurosport
Virgin: BT Sport, Sky Sports
Entertainment TV packages:
BT: Netflix, Now Entertainment
Virgin: Netflix, Sky
BT: EE Mobile packages
Virgin: O2 Mobile packages
BT: Yes, provided by BT
Virgin: Yes, provided by Virgin Media
Both Virgin and BT offer a variety of different broadband packages that come with lots of different promised speeds. But how are they actually doing on delivering on these promises?
Helpfully Ofcom publishes a UK home broadband dashboard. We’ve used their March 2022 data to compare the performance of BT versus Virgin broadband.
Both Virgin and BT, on average, slightly overdeliver on the promised speeds on their broadband packages:
Virgin 1130 Mbps package – Average measured: 1,137 Mbps
Virgin 516 Mbps package – Average measured: 540 Mbps
BT 300 Mbps package – Average measured: 303 Mbps
BT 145 Mbps package – Average measured: 148 Mbps
Find out the speed of your current broadband package with the AquaSwitch speed test.
Latency is the time it takes for a computer to send a data request and receive a response. If internet speed is analogous to the speed of a car, latency would be its acceleration. The lower the latency (measured in milliseconds), the better.
According to the Ofcom data, BT outperforms Virgin on latency.
BT average: 7ms
Virgin average: 14ms
In their report, Ofcom measured the average daily disconnections that lasted for over 30 seconds. Here BT performed slightly better with fewer disconnections on average.
Virgin: 10% of days experiencing a disconnection
BT: 6% of days experiencing a disconnection
What are customers saying?
A quick scan of Trustpilot’s for BT and Virgin will show equally negative scores from both providers.
When it comes to broadband, it either works as promised, and you are quietly satisfied, or it doesn’t work, and you complain loudly. The result is a lot of negative reviews across most broadband providers. We, therefore, don’t read too much into this.
For a more balanced approach to our comparison, here are the key results from Ofcom’s customer service report:
Customers with a reason to complain:
Overall satisfaction in customer complaint handling:
Average call waiting time:
BT comes out ahead on all customer service metrics from the Ofcom report.
For details on the customer service departments of these broadband providers, check out our pages:
A key consideration for most people when comparing broadband deals is the price. It’s impossible to say definitively whether BT or Virgin are cheaper as both changes their prices frequently.
Get the current broadband prices for packages available at your property with our broadband deal comparison tool.
BT and Virgin Media are giants of the broadband market for a reason. They both offer great broadband and a reasonable price.
The ‘best’ provider depends on your home’s particular circumstances.
If you don’t yet have access to a full-fibre broadband service, we recommend Virgin broadband as they’ll offer much faster speeds.
If you have access to both BT full-fibre and Virgin media fibre broadband, then you have two excellent options. In this circumstance, we recommend BT, as you’ll benefit from better customer service and fewer outages.