BT Infinity vs Virgin Media: which is best?

virgin media vs bt infinity

BT INFINITY and Virgin Media offer some of the fastest broadband packages available in the UK - but who has the better service?

We reveal who to choose in this guide.

BT Infinity offers a choice of up to 52Mb and 76Mb unlimited fibre broadband to 90% of the UK, and that's set to reach 95% by the end of 2017.

Virgin Media offer a range of deals from up to 50Mb, 100Mb, 200Mb and even 300Mb unlimited broadband over their cable network. However, Virgin Media is only available to around 50% of households across the UK.

Virgin Media is clearly faster than BT Infinity, but as we'll look at, speed isn't everything.

At a glance

BT Infinity Virgin Media
Price From £29.99/mth From £29.00/mth
Setup price £59.99 £20.00
Fastest broadband Up to 76Mb
Unlimited
Up to 300Mb
Unlimited
Inclusive calls Weekends
UK landlines only
Weekends
UK landlines only
Anytime UK calls £6.99/mth
Includes UK mobiles
£8/mth
Includes UK mobiles
TV
Minimum term 18-months 12-months
30-day option

Availability

As Virgin Media is only available to one in two households, it's worth checking whether Virgin Media and BT Infinity is available in your area using our quick postcode check:

Postcode:
Enter your postcode above to check availability in your area.

Special Offers

Winner: BT Infinity, it usually comes with a reward voucher worth up to around £50 or even £100.

BT is more commonly known for offering special offers for new customers than Virgin Media, giving away money in the form of 'BT Reward Cards' a prepaid MasterCard that can be spent with most retailers.

BT Broadband Offers

Get a £125 Prepaid Reward card and money off BT Unlimited Infinity 2, from £39.99/mth

Hurry! Offer ends in 2 days!
13 December 2017.
£9.99 activation fee and 18 month minimum term applies.

Virgin Media only occasionally offer 'free gifts', although for the run up to Christmas they're offering six months free Netflix.

Virgin Media Offers

Get a free 6 month Netflix Subscription with Virgin Media Bundles

Hurry! Offer ends in 7 days!
18 December 2017.
12-month contract. £20 activation fee. Excludes the Player Bundle.

Broadband deals

Virgin Media offers four broadband deals - separated by download speed from up to 50Mb to up to 300Mb.

BT Infinity is available in two options: up to 52Mb and 76Mb.

Both providers offer unlimited downloads on all their packages.

Package Broadband Contract term Upfront price Monthly price
Virgin Media Vivid 50 + Talk Weekends Up to 50Mb
Unlimited
12 months £20 £29
for 12 mths,
then £40
BT Unlimited Infinity 1 + Weekend calls Up to 52Mb
Unlimited
18 months £29.99 £31.99
for 18 mths,
then £47.49
BT Unlimited Infinity 2 + Weekend calls Up to 76Mb
Unlimited
18 months £9.99 £39.99
for 18 mths,
then £53.99
Virgin Media Vivid 100 + Talk Weekends Up to 100Mb
Unlimited
12 months £20 £34
for 12 mths,
then £45
Virgin Media Vivid 200 + Talk Weekends Up to 200Mb
Unlimited
12 months £20 £39
for 12 mths,
then £50
Virgin Media Vivid 300 + Talk Weekends Up to 300Mb
Unlimited
12 months £20 £44
for 12 mths,
then £55

Compare more fast broadband deals.

Price

Winner: Virgin Media, simply put they're cheaper than BT.

Virgin Media's entry-level broadband up to 50Mb costs less than BT's similar up to 52Mb package - and it also saves £40 on the cost of setup.

As broadband speeds increase Virgin Media's value for money does too. Their top-tier up to 300Mb package is still cheaper than BT's fastest up to 76Mb deal.

More on price

Because Virgin Media's contract term is only 12 months, compared to BT's 18-month contract, Virgin customers should be aware they could end up paying more as the introductory discount ends six months sooner.

At the end of the initial contract term, when the introductory price ends, customers have a couple of options.

They can choose to negotiate a new deal with Virgin (or BT) and sign up for another minimum term contract to keep their price low - although there's no guarantee what price will be offered. Or they can switch to another provider should they wish.

But don't be afraid to ask. Read more on negotiating a better broadband price.

Home phone prices

BT and Virgin Media both include weekend calls to UK landlines as standard.

To include more free calls it costs:

Package Inclusive calls Monthly price
BT Evening & Weekend calls UK landlines beginning 01, 02, 03, 0845 and 0870, from 7pm to 7am weekdays and all weekend. £3.80
Virgin Media Talk Evening & Weekends UK landlines beginning 01, 02, 03, 0845 and 0870 and UK mobiles from 7pm to 7am weekdays and all weekend. £5
BT Anytime calls UK landlines beginning 01, 02, 03, 0845 and 0870 at any time. £6.99
Virgin Media Talk Anytime UK landlines beginning 01, 02, 03, 0845 and 0870, and UK mobiles at anytime. £8
BT Anytime calls + International Freedom UK landlines beginning 01, 02, 03, 0845 and 0870, and 36 international destinations, at any time. £14.79
Virgin Media Talk International Anytime UK landlines beginning 01, 02, 03, 0845 and 0870, UK mobiles and 30 international destinations at anytime. £15

Pay upfront

BT and Virgin Media offer customers the option to pay upfront for line rental, providing a saving of £19.08 and £31.92 over a year respectively.

Line rental saver deals allow customers to pay one lump sum a year in advance and save money over paying each month. At the end of the 12-month period customers return to a pay monthly tariff.

Standard line rental Pay upfront Effective monthly cost Saving over a year
BT £0 £208.80 £17.40 £19.08
Virgin Media £0 £196 £16.34 £31.92

Broadband without a phone

Virgin Media customers can choose to take broadband without a phone line, although the savings are a lot less than we might expect.

BT Infinity customers are required to take line rental from BT to access their broadband.

Package Broadband Contract length Upfront price Monthly price
Virgin Media Vivid 200 + Talk Weekends Up to 200Mb
Unlimited
12 months £20 £39
for 12 mths,
then £50
Virgin Media Vivid 200 Up to 200Mb
Unlimited
12 months £20 £37
for 12 mths,
then £43

Broadband speed

Winner: Virgin Media, their fastest speed is up to 300Mb, which beats BT's fastest speed of up to 76Mb.

Virgin Media offers customers a choice between up to 50Mb, 100Mb, 200Mb and 300Mb broadband speeds, which is much faster than BT's up to 52Mb and 76Mb speeds.

Ofcom average speeds, published April 2017
Advertised speed Over 24hrs Peak time
(8-10pm weekdays)
BT Up to 52Mb 47.7Mb - 48.6Mb 46.9Mb - 47.9Mb
BT Up to 76Mb 57.9Mb - 60.7Mb 57.0Mb - 59.8Mb
Virgin Media Up to 100Mb 87.7Mb - 95.2Mb 72.6Mb - 86.1Mb
Virgin Media Up to 200Mb 169.0Mb - 177.2Mb 143.7Mb - 155.4Mb
SamKnows average speeds, published Sep 2017
Advertised speed Over 24hrs Peak time
(8-10pm weekdays)
Virgin Media Up to 200Mb 196.75Mb 182.08Mb
Virgin Media Up to 300Mb 295.48Mb 282.91Mb

For anyone who can get Virgin Media's cable broadband it's an easy choice for the fastest speeds.

Virgin may claim to have the 'Ferrari' of broadband services but this report clearly shows it gets stuck in rush hour traffic. BT fibre on the other hand is far more reliable ensuring customers enjoy an open road however fast they're travelling.
BT spokesperson, 2013

Virgin is faster than BT because it uses a coaxial cable to connect up individual houses, which as a technology, is better at delivering fast speeds than the copper phone lines BT still uses to connect houses to it's fibre broadband.

However, since 2013 Ofcom have been reporting strong evidence that Virgin Media's network slows down more at peak times, saying, "[BT] FTTC connections were less affected by peak time contention than cable [Virgin Media] connections".

This means Virgin Media customers may experience slower speeds during the busiest periods of the day, which are weekdays between 8pm and 10pm.

More on speed

Usage allowances

BT offer truly unlimited downloads with their Infinity fibre broadband - that means they don't employ a fair use policy or manage traffic, which can slow down heavier users.

Virgin Media certainly don't penalise heavier users as much as they used to, but they do still employ a fair use policy on uploads during the evening and at weekends.

For details see our guide to fair use here - but simply between 4pm and 11pm during the week, and between 11am and 11pm at the weekend, users will have their uploads slowed by at least 50% for 60 minutes if they upload in excess of around 1GB.

Virgin Media also use traffic management during these peak hours, slowing down peer-to-peer and newsgroup traffic for all users.

However, customers taking Virgin Media's up to 300Mb package will be exempt from any traffic management and fair use restrictions.

In addition, Virgin Media estimate that on any given day more than 95% of their customers are unaffected by their traffic management policies.

Upload speeds

It's typical for broadband that the speeds we can upload data at are much less than the headline download speed.

The majority of web use is download-based - viewing web pages, streaming TV, downloading movies.

Upload speeds only come into affect when we carry out activities such as backing up data to the cloud, uploading images to Facebook or uploading videos to Youtube, as a few examples.

BT Infinity offers customers upload speeds of up to 19Mb on their 76Mb package, and up to 9.5Mb on their 52Mb package.

Virgin Media offer much slower upload speeds in comparison to their headline download speeds.

Advertised download speed Upload speed
BT Up to 52Mb Up to 9.5Mb
BT Up to 76Mb Up to 19Mb
Virgin Media Up to 50Mb Up to 3Mb
Virgin Media Up to 100Mb Up to 6Mb
Virgin Media Up to 200Mb Up to 12Mb
Virgin Media Up to 300Mb Up to 20Mb

Adding TV

Winner: Virgin Media, while we like BT's simple and wallet-friendly TV deals, for TV lovers Virgin Media offers a more substantial pay TV service.

Both BT and Virgin Media offer a pay TV service that can be bundled with their broadband deals. In fact, BT Infinity customers get the best of choice TV due to way it's delivered over the broadband.

BT offers a Youview box with the option of adding additional premium channels including Sky Sports, Sky Cinema and various kids or music packs.

Virgin Media TV is a bit more substantial in that a lot more channels are included in the various packages. Customers can then also choose to add premium packs.

Read more on how BT and Virgin Media TV compares, and for an in-depth look our dedicated guides to BT TV and Virgin Media TV are worth a look.

Package Basic channels Price for TV alone
BT Entertainment Starter Up to 80
(12 in HD)
£3.50
BT Entertainment Plus Up to 110
(12 in HD)
£10
BT Total Entertainment Up to 130
(28 in HD, 1 in UHD)
£20
Virgin Media Mix TV 150+
(11 in HD)
£22
Virgin Media Full House TV 245+
(50 in HD)
£44

Customer service

Winner: Virgin Media have far fewer customers complaining about their service to industry regulator Ofcom.

According to Ofcom's latest report into customer satisfaction in the telecoms market, Virgin Media had less than the average number of complaints.

In contrast, Ofcom reported that BT had the most complaints out of the six biggest broadband providers.

And this report is similar to the year before, where Virgin were again second best with the fewest complaints second only to Sky.

Virgin Media also perform well where they handle complaints, including a 91% satisfaction rating and a 90% rating for reliability.

Virgin also answer the phone quicker than BT too; customers wait on average just 1 minute 39 seconds, compared to BT customers who have to wait for 3 minutes 59 seconds.

Customer service metrics

BT Virgin Media
Customer satisfaction 84% 91%
Customers with reason to complain 13% 16%
Average call wait time for support 3 minutes, 59 seconds 1 minute, 39 seconds
Satisfaction with complaints handling 56% 54%
Complaints to Ofcom
per 100,000 subscribers
127 40

SOURCE: Ofcom, Service quality of telecoms providers revealed, April 2017.

Verdict: BT Infinity or Virgin Media?

For anyone living in a Virgin Media enabled area, it's an easy choice.

Virgin Media simply win hands down on price, broadband speed, TV and customer service. We think that's a little impressive.

Virgin Media offer the fastest broadband in the UK, they offer a TV service to rival the likes of Sky, and consistently score well in independent reports into both quality of service and customer service.

Overall Winner: Virgin Media.

Read more in our in-depth reviews of Virgin Media broadband and our dedicated guide to BT Infinity broadband.

Comments

1
4 September 2016
Steve Foster

does this apply to suppliers like Vodafone who also use the Infinity hardware? How do they manage to offer prices less than those quoted for BT themselves?

7 September 2016
Choose team

Hi Steve

The first part of your question is probably answered in our guide to fibre broadband, available <a href="http://disq.us/url?url=%2Fmedia%2Fguide%2Ffaqs%2Fbest-fibre-broadband.html%3AFIlleOzCYZCC5eWbOMaiTLMMIDc&amp;cuid=2412393" rel="nofollow noopener" title="/media/guide/faqs/best-fibre-broadband.html">here</a>.

As for why the ISPs who resell BT Infinity charge different (and often lower) prices than BT, there are a couple of reasons: firstly, the wholesale prices BT Openreach charge other providers for their fibre lines aren't as high as we might expect - we look into them a little <a href="http://disq.us/url?url=%2Fmedia%2Fguide%2Fnews%2Fplusnet-announce-price-rises.html%3Ao2hhCb4n6aey8PLXhDIvILz75Co&amp;cuid=2412393" rel="nofollow noopener" title="/media/guide/news/plusnet-announce-price-rises.html">here</a>. Then it depends which extras they provide - like free wi-fi when out and about and the like - as to how much more cheaply (or not) they can offer their fibre.

2
31 January 2016
sean

I have Virgin and it's a disgrace I have called them many of times to no joy, I ask for an engineer to come out to me but they will not send, so soon I am changing to bt infinity and hopefully my gaming problems will be resolved.

3
13 December 2015
Megan

Very close call. BT giftcard evens out small difference in price, which they are above Virgin. + my partner loves football and BT sports TV is included for only one off activation cost - so we went for BT this time.

4
23 November 2015
MrWeavile

I wouldn't recommend VM either way. Every Sunday afternoon/evening, the network is borderline unusable, with ping tests coming back with an average of 500ms, and some packets even being lost outright. Not sure if BT is as appalling as VM, but from my own experience, I would absolutely avoid at all costs.

5
15 March 2015
Charles5678

I have been with Virgin Media for many years now (my parents were with them before they were even NTL etc) about four years ago I was on copper 10Mb down and 1Mb up and that was horrible I couldn't stand it, in 2012 or before that we got an email saying our speeds were being doubled for free, so up to 20Mb down and 2Mb up we went. Still was terrible the whole time we'd be getting somewhere in the region of about 6Mb down 0.5Mb up at the most.

BUT...

September last year it all changed. Free upgrade to Virgin Fibre, brand spanking new hub and 50Mb down 3Mb up, ALL FOR FREE.

For four months everything was perfect I was loving it, never slowed down in peak times and the wireless was fantastic (until my dad broke the hub somehow) sent us out a new one (FOR FREE) took the old one and we were on our way again.

THEN....

I was so happy with the service that for an extra &pound;5 a month I tripled our speeds to 152Mb up, 12Mb down.

In the whole 7 months I have had Virgin Media Fibre there has been ONE line outage and that lasted 12 hours before it was fixed.

Highly recommend Virgin, fast speeds, great customer service, and I'm never slowed down in peak times!

#teamvirginmedia BT haven't got nothing on Virgin Media.

Also Virgin Media don't have a fair usage policy on your downloads so you will never be purposely slowed down because of your use. HURRAY.

And here is a peaktime SpeedTest.

Peace.

6
22 February 2015
Leigh

I have Virgin Media and I get 152Mb/12Mb Ethernet and 90Mb/13Mb via Wifi.

7
7 March 2014
Karl Leeming

And just to make this a little bit more interesting, I have BT fibre straight into my house I reach speeds of up to 300Mbs, my telephone is through my fibre box and no longer have copper line in the house for the last 9 months, as well as free wifi abroad and in the UK with open zone and fon.

29 September 2014
don atkinson

How did you get that?

3 March 2015
Joel

He doesn't he's lying.

2 April 2015
Clive Sanderson

BT do provide a Fibre To The Premises service, on new build estates. Up to 300Mb.

8
30 January 2014
Simon Fisher

After 2 years of consistently fantastic Infinity from BT (37 Mbps down, 8.5 Mbps up), I have upgraded to Infinity 2 (and getting 74 Mbps down / 18Mbps up). It never stops, never goes wrong. I am delighted it with it.
My broadband provider before that, same property, was Virgin - an advertised 30Mbps service. From 4pm - 11pm every weekday it stopped dead. My speeds ranged from 0.02Mbps to 0.3Mbps. It was put down to congestion. I complained and complained. Fair play to Virgin, they reimbursed me every month. But as the date to fix the congestion kept slipping, month to month, my patience was tested too severely and I asked to be set free.
Every area is different, but I am living proof that congestion on Virgin cable can be crippling.

27 March 2015
MadMarc

I had the same issue and it ended up being the early modem and router hub. I had them put just the modem and used my own router and the issue was solved after 3 separate engineers and data gathering from me. Congestion doesn't take your rates down THAT low.

9
1 December 2013
Tony

Good article but it makes out that Virgin's fibre optic network is right outside the house when in reality the node, the equivalent to the green cabinets BT use, is probably much further away. The reason why Virgin can theoretically offer higher speeds than BT is the use of coaxial cabling instead of BT's twisted pair cabling. Coaxial cabling has a higher throughput and signal propagation than twisted pairs so they can offer higher speeds than BT.

10
24 September 2013
LeeC22

The biggest problem with BT, is their refusal to allow static IPs on their residential services. For me, they remain on par with sub-standard providers like TalkTalk and Sky, until they up their level for more tech-savvy users. PlusNet, Zen and even John Lewis offer this facility.

The demands of the users are changing, so BT needs to up their game to stay with the competition. It's no good driving at Ferrari speeds, if you can only drive in straight lines.

11
11 September 2013
Iain

What BT do not tell you when you sign up for Infinity is that the broadband speed all depends on how far you are away from the "box".

I complained about the speed as I was only achieving between 9 and 13Mb. BT sent an engineer who told me the best I would get was 18 - 20Mb as I was too far from "the box".

Their "up to" in reality for me is now regularly just over 18Mb with an upload just over 2Mb wireless and best achieved with an Ethernet connection was a tad over 21Mb - this despite their emails suggesting and I quote:
"You can now get faster broadband speeds in your neighbourhood because we've improved our network. And they won't cost you a penny extra.
Your download speed could go from up to 38Mb to up to 76Mb, and your upload speed from up to 9Mb to up to 19Mb.
They have not contacted me at contract expiry and when I called them they were not prepared to reduce the price but kept re-iterating the service is "up to". The email I quoted was received 23rd May 2013.

12
3 July 2013
Christopher Mark Greenhalgh

Thinking of switching to BT also. Worth mentioning too that the 2 key points for me are:

1. BT upload speed on fibre is double that of Virgin, data received to pc x2
2. no fair usage soft cap (I do online gaming) which would be better all round.

Also as mentioned cheaper calls too, more so to those 0845 customer service people we all deal with.

13
2 July 2013
Ella

What about comparing customer services? I have had Virgin in the past and found not only did the broadband and TV regularly not work but that calling them up often took 20 minutes before we got through and then there were call out charges. This was 2 years ago but friends still with Virgin often complain about it. Is BT any good?

30 July 2015
lilcpl

I've had the same exact problems with BT...

2 July 2013
Choose team

We compare ISPs by customer service reports in <a href="http://disq.us/url?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.choose.net%2Fmedia%2Fguide%2Ffaqs%2Fbest-broadband-providers-customer-service.html%3ARaw87f2DC4zFhqSBqFvRYIQfnBs&amp;cuid=2412393" rel="nofollow noopener" title="http://www.choose.net/media/guide/faqs/best-broadband-providers-customer-service.html">this guide</a>, and we covered a recent Ofcom report on complaints figures <a href="http://disq.us/url?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.choose.net%2Fmedia%2Fguide%2Fnews%2Fofcom-complaints-fewest-virgin-sky.html%3AMVrf5y5zralklsTLaYXFjVN9HmE&amp;cuid=2412393" rel="nofollow noopener" title="http://www.choose.net/media/guide/news/ofcom-complaints-fewest-virgin-sky.html">here</a>.

14
9 April 2013
b

What's also worth noting, is that it costs around &pound;5-&pound;6 extra to get free evening calls with Virgin Media. I am with them at the moment and thinking of changing to BT, because BT include free evening calls.

9 April 2013
Choose team

That's right - BT do indeed include free evening and weekend calls when customers take BT Infinity broadband.

However it's worth noting that BT normally only include weekend calls within the price of their line rental, and evening and weekend calls are currently &pound;3.30 extra a month (at the time of writing).

15
9 February 2013
Neil

Virgin Media's actual speed in my area at peak times on their 60Mb package is 4Mb. Slowest broadband I have had. Do not believe the advertising, its awful.

19 April 2016
James

I think what you dont realise is it's 60mb's megabites, you are measuring it in Megabytes, there are 8 bites in a byte so divide 60 by 8 and that is your speed.

16
22 December 2012
Adam

What about upload speeds? Virgin are terribly stingy on uploads compared to BT. I'm with Virgin, and I think I have to move as I can't back up all the photos I take, the connection is just too slow.

17
2 January 2012
Brendan

I'm on BT Infinity option 1 with a 40GB monthly usage allowance. If you go over your allowance BT will charge you &pound;5 extra for every 5GB over, if you go under, the difference is not carried over to next month. I had about 17GB usage remaining as of 31/12/2011. That got wiped out on Jan 1 2012. Value for money? I don't think so.

2 January 2012
Choose team

That is unfortunately a BT policy (it's not restricted to Infinity), but they aren't alone in charging for exceeding usage limits. We've detailed the ISPs who charge (and how much) as well as those that don't at the end of this <a href="http://disq.us/url?url=%2Fmedia%2Fguide%2Ffaqs%2Fhow-much-broadband-usage-allowance.html%3AFzUPUzQgZiFmhLNlLQT5UcnKySk&amp;cuid=2412393" rel="nofollow noopener" title="/media/guide/faqs/how-much-broadband-usage-allowance.html">guide on broadband usage limits</a>.

18
28 November 2011
Alan

One thing worth mentioning with BT is the added bonus of free unlimited wifi hotspot usage. I've yet to try it, but it is certainly an attractive proposition as an alternative to 3G. This could save several pounds a month provided it's as good as it appears to be.

28 November 2011
Choose team

Hi Alan, yes, we have touched upon BT Openzone minutes in our full <a href="http://disq.us/url?url=%2Fmedia%2Fbroadband%2Freviews%2Fbt%2F%3AYw2fApDIJ2hQQPogaKn7FqZb_p0&amp;cuid=2412393" rel="nofollow noopener" title="/media/broadband/reviews/bt/">review of BT broadband</a> here, it is the UK's largest hotspot network.


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