Sky vs Virgin Media for Broadband

Last updated: 25 October 2023   By Lyndsey Burton

Virgin Media offers a faster broadband service than Sky, but Sky offer better customer service.

Virgin Media offer gigabit-capable broadband to over 16 million homes nationwide, giving them greater coverage than Sky's full fibre broadband, which passes around 11 million homes.

Sky arguably offer better customer service, with lower complaints records, but Virgin Media often offer better value for money with cheaper priced plans.

Overall, both providers have equally strong selling points, with each also offering an online streaming TV platform.

sky vs virgin

At a glance

Sky Broadband Virgin Media
Monthly price From £25 From £26.50
Upfront price £5 Free
Minimum term 18 months 18 months
Connection Full fibre, part-fibre Full fibre, cable
Download speeds 36Mb, 61Mb, 145Mb, 500Mb, 900Mb 54Mb, 132Mb, 264Mb, 362Mb, 516Mb, 1130Mb
Upload speeds 9Mb, 16Mb, 30Mb, 60Mb, 90Mb 5Mb, 20Mb, 25Mb, 36Mb, 52Mb
Router Sky Broadband Hub / Sky Max Hub Virgin WiFi Hub
WiFi guarantee £6.50/mth £8/mth
Parental controls Sky Broadband Shield Virgin Media Web Safe
Home phone Included Optional
Anytime calls £13.50/mth (inc. UK mobiles) £10/mth (inc. UK mobiles)

Best deals

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Superfast Broadband 61Mb average £27 £5 18 months
offer Offer: WiFi Max just £3/mth + (£5 refundable setup fee for new customers if applicable)
M125 Fibre Broadband 132Mb average £26 Free 18 months
offer Offer: Reduced price: £26 per month + No setup fee (was £35)


Winner: Sky offer an overall cheaper price for broadband than Virgin Media, and also include a home phone line as standard.

Sky Superfast Broadband currently costs just £25 per month for new customers on an 18-month minimum term, while Virgin Media's cheapest deal, M125 broadband, costs £26.50 per month.

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Superfast Broadband 61Mb average £27 £5 18 months
offer Offer: WiFi Max just £3/mth + (£5 refundable setup fee for new customers if applicable)
M125 Fibre Broadband 132Mb average £26 Free 18 months
offer Offer: Reduced price: £26 per month + No setup fee (was £35)

Virgin Media's cheapest broadband plan is faster than Sky's, yet Sky do include a home phone line as standard, whereas Virgin Media customers would have to pay more for this.

Sky is also a little cheaper than Virgin Media on faster plans too. Sky Ultrafast Plus which offers average download speeds of 500Mbps, is currently £3.50 cheaper per month than Virgin Media's equivalent M500 plan.

Virgin Media Gig1 is currently cheaper than Sky Gigafast however, coming in £3 per month cheaper at just £45 per month for the first 18 months, although as with the packages above, this doesn't include a home phone line like Sky does.

Overall, while Sky has the cheapest price to get online, prices vary between providers at different speed tiers, so customers should always compare deals by postcode area.

Broadband packages

Winner: Sky and Virgin Media offer a similar range of broadband packages, but Sky include a home phone line as standard.

Both Sky and Virgin Media offer customers the choice of superfast, ultrafast, and gigabit-capable broadband packages.

The cheapest plans offer just superfast speeds, where Virgin Media is faster than Sky, but Sky offer the cheaper package overall.

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Superfast Broadband 61Mb average £27 £5 18 months
offer Offer: WiFi Max just £3/mth + (£5 refundable setup fee for new customers if applicable)
M125 Fibre Broadband 132Mb average £26 Free 18 months
offer Offer: Reduced price: £26 per month + No setup fee (was £35)

Sky includes a home phone line in their broadband packages as standard, and customers can also choose to upgrade the router and add WiFi boosters.

Virgin Media customers have to pay more than these prices listed if they also want a home phone line, and can add WiFi boosters.

Read more in our full reviews of Sky broadband and Virgin Media broadband.

Ultrafast broadband

Virgin Media offer an M250, M350, and M500 broadband plan, while Sky customers can choose either speeds of 145Mb or 500Mb.

Here are the provider's 500Mbps packages side-by-side:

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Ultrafast Plus Broadband 500Mb average £33 £5 18 months
offer Offer: WiFi Max just £3/mth + (£5 refundable setup fee for new customers if applicable)
M500 Fibre Broadband 516Mb average £35 Free 18 months
offer Offer: 500Mb broadband for the price of 350Mb + No setup fee (was £35)

Sky Ultrafast Plus Broadband is currently cheaper than Virgin Media's broadband-only M500 plan.

To take Virgin Media M500 with a phone line, the price increases to £43.99 per month with Volt and free calls to UK landlines at the weekend.

Gigabit broadband

Virgin Media have the edge on speed with their Gig1 deal achieving 1.13Gbps on average for at least 50% of customers during the peak hours of 8pm to 10pm. In comparison, Sky's Gigafast plan only achieves 900Mbps on average at peak times.

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Gig1 Fibre Broadband 1.13Gb average £41 Free 18 months
offer Offer: Reduced price: £41 per month + No setup fee (was £35)
Gigafast Broadband 900Mb average £41 £5 18 months
offer Offer: WiFi Max just £3/mth + (£5 refundable setup fee for new customers if applicable)

Virgin Media Gig1 Broadband is also currently cheaper than Sky Gigafast Broadband by £3 per month. New Virgin Media customers also save a little extra on the setup fee, with Sky currently charging customers £5 setup.

In terms of availability, Sky full fibre broadband uses the Openreach FTTP network, which has so far passed over 11 million homes. Yet, Virgin Media's network passes 16 million homes, so actually has wider availability for ultrafast and gigabit speeds.

Overall, Virgin Media is the cheapest option for gigabit broadband, it's also more widely available and is faster on average than Sky.

Broadband speed

Winner: Virgin Media offer a faster average download speed than Sky Gigafast, and their gigabit plan also boasts wider availability.

Virgin Media and Sky broadband are delivered over different networks, which means there is more variation in the speed of their service compared to resellers of the same network.

Virgin Media offer a fibre network with coaxial cable connections to homes in areas not yet upgraded to full fibre. Sky on the other hand offer a mix of fibre to the cabinet and fibre to the home depending upon location.

There are some speed differences between Sky and Virgin Media, with Virgin Media offering the fastest average download speeds, while Sky offer faster average upload speeds on certain plans.

Here's how their headline download speeds compare side-by-side:

Sky Broadband Virgin Media
Superfast 61Mb 132Mb
Ultrafast 500Mb 516Mb
Gigabit 900Mb 1130Mb

Broadband providers can only advertise speeds at least 50% of their customers receive during the peak hours of 8pm to 10pm in the evening. So, advertised broadband speeds are now a lot more reliable than they used to be.

While package prices vary, we can see from the table above that Virgin Media offer faster download speeds on average in comparison to Sky broadband.

Upload speeds

Virgin Media boosted the upload speed on their M500 and Gig1 plans in May 2023, and also increased speeds on their entry-level deal from 10Mb to 20Mb in October 2022.

These recent changes have made Virgin Media faster for uploads, as well as downloads, than Sky broadband, on all but their mid-tier M500 plan where Sky is still slightly faster.

Most broadband customers won't notice upload speeds too much as the majority of Internet activities involve receiving data, rather than sending it. However, upload speeds can play a part for people who work from home on shared projects, people uploading a lot of large files like videos and photos to the cloud, and high definition video calling.
Here are the upload speeds of the provider's main packages:

Sky Broadband Virgin Media
Superfast 16Mb 20Mb
Ultrafast 500Mb 60Mb 52Mb
Gigabit 90Mb 104Mb

As you can see, Virgin Media now offer notably faster upload speeds on average than Sky, including on their cheapest entry-level M125 plan.

Overall then, Virgin Media is the fastest broadband provider for both download and upload speeds when compared to Sky broadband.

Satisfaction with speed of service

In our independent survey of broadband customers, we found greater satisfaction with speed amongst Virgin Media customers, compared to Sky broadband customers.

63% of Virgin Media customers rated them 4 or above (out of 5) for satisfaction with the speed of their service. In comparison, only 49% of Sky customers rated them 4 or above for speed.

Sky Broadband Virgin Media
5 out of 5 for speed 17% 26%
4 out of 5 for speed 32% 37%

One point worth noting here is that our survey covered all customers including Sky broadband customers on slower copper or part-fibre deals. So, it's likely more Virgin Media customers were on faster packages to begin with, than Sky broadband customers.

For extra clarity, we can also look at another independent survey on customer satisfaction, this time carried out by Ofcom, and published in May 2023.

Sky Broadband Virgin Media
Satisfaction with speed of service 80% 82%
Satisfaction with service overall 82% 81%

Ofcom also found more Virgin Media broadband customers were satisfied with the speed of their service than Sky, with 82% of Virgin Media customers satisfied, compared to 80% of Sky customers.

However, more of Sky broadband's customers were satisfied with their service overall, beating Virgin Media by 1%.

Both Sky and Virgin Media's customer satisfaction levels were higher or in line with the industry average on both metrics.


Winner: Sky offer all broadband customers the ability to upgrade to a WiFi 6 router, while this is only available on Virgin Media's fastest Gig1 plan.

All Sky broadband customers are provided with the Sky Broadband Hub when they sign up. However, it's also possible for all customers to upgrade to the Sky Max Hub by taking the WiFi Max add-on.

Sky's Broadband Hub supports the WiFi 5 (802.11ac) protocol over dual-band wireless, utilising both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels. It has 8 internal antennae, which provide good wireless signal and four 1Gb Ethernet LAN ports for wired connections.

Those who opt for the WiFi Max add-on will get WiFi boosters alongside the new Sky Max Hub, which boasts several upgraded features over the Sky Broadband Hub.

The Sky Max Hub supports the latest WiFi 6 (802.11ax) protocol as well as offering updated security with support for WPA3 encryption. It's ideal for Sky customers who also take Sky Stream or Sky Glass as these devices also support WiFi 6.

Virgin Media customers will be provided with one of Virgin's branded WiFi Hubs, although this could be the Hub 3, Hub 4, or Hub 5, depending on the package a customer chooses.

Most Virgin customers will get the Hub 3 or Hub 4, while those opting for Virgin Media's fastest Gig1 plan will be sent the latest Hub 5.

The Hub 5 also supports the latest WiFi 6 protocol, and has an additional Ethernet LAN port which supports up to 2.5Gbps, so customers can benefit from download speeds over 1Gbps through wired connections.

The Virgin Media Hub 5 was released in 2021, compared to 2023 for Sky's Max Hub, so it misses out on the latest security advancement to WPA3.

Here are the specifications of each provider's latest routers side-by-side:

Sky Max Hub Virgin Media Hub 5
Released 2023 2021
WiFi protocol 6 6
Mesh Yes Yes
WiFi band Dual band Dual band
2.4GHz channel 4x4 MIMO 3x3 MIMO
5GHz channel 4x4 MIMO 4x4 MIMO
Antennae 8 5
Security WPA3 WPA2
Ethernet LAN 4 x 1Gb 1 x 2.5Gb, 3 x 1Gb

The Virgin Media Hub 3 and Hub 4 have similar specifications to the Sky Broadband Hub, so most customers will receive similar devices.

However, the benefit to Sky broadband is the ability for all customers to upgrade their router if they wish, which Virgin Media customers can only do by taking a faster broadband plan.

Both Sky and Virgin Media support intelligent mesh, and now use the same Plume WiFi Pods in their whole home WiFi guarantees, which we look at below.

WiFi guarantee

Winner: Virgin Media promise minimum speeds over wireless of 30Mbps on all packages, while Sky only promise 25Mbps on their full fibre plans.

Virgin Media's WiFi Max service offers customers a faster minimum download speed guarantee than Sky's WiFi Max.

Virgin Media customers are promised speeds over wireless of at least 30Mbps in every room, while Sky promise speeds of 25Mbps in every room for full fibre customers, or 10Mbps in every room for those on part-fibre connections.

Sky also include added extras such as daily line checks, free off-peak engineer visits, and 2GB of free mobile data for a Sky Mobile plan if their fixed-line broadband goes down.

Here's how each WiFi guarantee looks side-by-side:

Sky WiFi Max Virgin Media WiFi Max
Price £7.50 per month £8 per month (free with Gig1 or Volt plans)
Minimum speed 25Mb 30Mb
Guarantee One month's refund £100 bill credit
Minimum term 18 months 30 days

Both Sky and Virgin Media provide customers with up to three WiFi Pod boosters to try and achieve those minimum speeds around their home. For customers who don't get those minimum speeds in every room, Virgin Media promise to give customers a £100 bill credit and the option to cancel the WiFi Max add-on.

Sky customers will get one month's broadband and WiFi Max subscription refunded, but the 18-month WiFi Max add-on can't be cancelled early.

Virgin Media customers who take a Volt or Gig1 broadband plan will get the WiFi Max add-on bundled for free, while other customers pay £8 per month. In contrast, all Sky customers will have to pay monthly fees from £7.50 per month.

Sky also offer all customers a 'Wall to Wall WiFi Guarantee' at no extra cost if they don't subscribe to WiFi Max, however. But this only offers a minimum 3Mbps wireless speed in all rooms or one month's broadband subscription refunded, so it won't actually help to improve wireless signal or speeds with additional devices.

Overall, Virgin Media offer a better WiFi guarantee than Sky does, promising faster minimum speeds of 30Mbps, a decent refund amount if they don't achieve this, as well as the ability to cancel with just one month's notice.

Call plans

Winner: Sky include a home phone line as standard in all broadband packages, making it easier for customers to continue using a landline.

All Sky broadband customers will receive a digital home phone line as standard within their monthly price, and this will allow calls on a pay as you go basis.

Virgin Media customers can choose between a broadband-only plan, or pay more for a broadband and phone deal, however prices can rise so customers will want to make sure they'll use the phone line.

For those who take a Virgin Media broadband and phone deal, they'll get free calls to UK landlines included at the weekend, and the option to upgrade to more inclusive calls.

Here's how call plans for Sky and Virgin Media look side-by-side:

Sky Virgin Media
Weekend calls - Included
Evening & weekend calls £5.75 £5
Anytime calls £13.50 £10

Virgin Media's inclusive weekend call plan only covers calls to UK landlines, while the two upgraded options also cover calls to UK mobiles. Sky also include both UK landlines and UK mobiles in their call plans.

Overall, it's close between Sky and Virgin Media, but it's likely Sky will work out cheaper as they don't have to pay more for the broadband deal to include a home phone line.

Customer Service

Winner: Sky have much fewer complaints for broadband than Virgin Media, as well as higher levels of customer satisfaction.

Sky is a leading broadband provider for customer service, with consistently low levels of complaints and high levels of customer satisfaction.

The last four quarterly complaint reports from Ofcom, up to Q1 2023, have seen Sky with the least number of complaints for broadband out of all major providers. Virgin Media's broadband complaints have been higher however, usually sitting just above average.

Virgin Media had a complaints spike in Q1 2021, but have shown improvement since then with their complaints dropping initially by Q2 2021, and then continuing to steadily decrease.

At the time Virgin Media told us since the spike in Q1 2021 they had made "a number of improvements to [their] customer service". This included hiring more than 500 customer care representatives, which they said had decreased complaints by 70%, putting them at their lowest level since 2018.

It's reassuring that Virgin Media are taking their customer service reports seriously and have already made changes to ensure improvements continue. However, Virgin Media also recently came under fire for difficulties cancelling contracts, and are now being investigated by Ofcom.

Virgin Media, along with Sky, performed well for customer satisfaction in Ofcom's latest Comparing Service Quality report, with 81% of customers satisfied with their service.

Sky Broadband Virgin Media
Overall satisfaction 82% 81%
Satisfaction with speed 80% 82%
Satisfaction with complaints handling 55% 46%
Customers with a reason to complain 18% 25%
Complaints resolved on first contact 41% 33%

Overall, Sky are consistently one of the best broadband providers for customer service, and won our industry award in this category in 2023.

For people looking for the highest customer service levels, Sky wins over Virgin Media in this regard.

Verdict: Sky or Virgin Media broadband?

Overall winner: It's close, but ultimately Sky broadband offer slightly cheaper prices, include a home phone line as standard, and allow all customers the chance to upgrade to a WiFi 6 router.

Sky broadband and Virgin Media broadband are both good options with fast speeds available from both providers, as well as a range of similar extras, such as whole home WiFi guarantee, WiFi 6 router, and pay TV plans.

Virgin Media's gigabit-capable broadband currently has wider availability than Sky broadband, with over 16 million premises passed, compared to just 11 million with Sky on the Openreach FTTP network.

However, where customers have the choice of both providers, Sky are offering cheaper prices except on their gigabit plan, where Virgin Media's Gig1 package is cheaper.

Add-ons and service extras are fairly comparable between the providers, with both using Plume WiFi Pods to boost coverage, and both recently launching streaming TV services too.

Overall, for broadband, Sky just beat Virgin Media with their cheaper prices for new customers and better customer service record. However, for those who can get it, Virgin Media's fast broadband is hard to beat.

Read more on Sky vs Virgin Media for TV.


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