BT Infinity vs Virgin Media: which is best?
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
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:
Enter your postcode above to check availability in your area.
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
Virgin Media only occasionally offer 'free gifts', although for the run up to Christmas they're offering six months free Netflix.
Virgin Media Offers
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.
Compare more fast broadband deals.
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|
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|
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
for 12 mths,
|Virgin Media||Vivid 200||Up to 200Mb
for 12 mths,
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
|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
|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 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
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.
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|
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.
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.
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
|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
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.