Is Virgin available in my area?

julia kukiewicz
By Julia Kukiewicz

virgin media logo 2

"HOW can I find out whether Virgin Media broadband is available in my area?"

Our postcode checker shows whether Virgin Media is available in general postcode areas.

But for reasons that we explain further below, however, only the Virgin Media site can check availability for specific households.

Enter your phone number and / or postcode above to check availability in your area.

We've in depth reviews covering what Virgin-enabled postcodes can expect in terms of broadband - here - and what they'll get from Virgin Media TV here.

Or read on to find out more about Virgin Media's coverage in general, including:

Virgin Media offers

As well as offering blisteringly fast broadband and a pay TV service that rivals that of Sky, Virgin Media run some good deals to tempt those for whom the service is available.

What's on offer? When you join online for: Need to know:
virgin media Money off TV, broadband and phone for up to 12 months + free set up worth £49.95One of Virgin Media's Big Bundles
virgin media Save over £180 on broadband and phone + free set upVirgin Media broadband
(with a Virgin phone line)

Virgin Media deal availability

Tempted? Let's look briefly at Virgin Media's Big Bundles, as mentioned in the offers above:

Bundle TV Channels Broadband Contract term Upfront price Monthly price
Virgin Media Player Bundle More TV: 70+ channels Up to 50Mb 12 months £14.99 £29
for 12 mths,
then £45
Virgin Media Mix Bundle 150+ channels Up to 50Mb 12 months £14.99 £39
for 12 mths,
then £50
Virgin Media Fun Bundle 190+ channels Up to 100Mb 12 months £14.99 £49
for 12 mths,
then £60
Virgin Media Full House Bundle 245+ channels Up to 200Mb 12 months £14.99 £55
for 12 mths,
then £76
Virgin Media VIP Bundle 245+ channels +
Sky Sports (in HD) + Sky Cinema (in HD)
Up to 200Mb 12 months £14.99 £85
for 12 mths,
then £120

As we might expect, the packages with the fastest speeds are least widely available.

The 200Mb service was announced in October 2015, and Virgin have since launched an upgrade to even that service (the Gamer package, which offers faster uploads and no traffic management).

But as with previous speed boosts, which have taken their time to reach everyone on Virgin's network, seems this one is taking longer than initially planned.

The ISP initially said they aimed to have up to 200Mb available to 90% of users by the end of 2015, with the last 10% being brought up to speed during early 2016 - but as we write this update, some existing customers have been told they may be waiting until summer 2017.

The priority for fully capable up to 200Mb connections is being given to new customers and existing users willing to upgrade and sign a fresh contract.

Our review of Virgin's fastest broadband deal goes into more detail on this, and on some of the other factors affecting availability.

Virgin Media neighbour envy

Mapping where Virgin Media provides coverage is tricky.

Because it's completely independent from the BT Openreach network - unlike most other broadband providers - it doesn't match up with the phone network.

Sometimes it doesn't even match up with the road network.

Many people have emailed us, stumped by the fact that their neighbours can get Virgin Media cable broadband but they can't.

In this kind of scenario, it's likely that when the original cable infrastructure was laid back in the 90's, the house in question was unfortunately excluded.

This could have been because there was a technical problem that meant it wouldn't be economical to connect some properties, or simply that NTL and Telewest, the companies Virgin Media inherited the network from, just had to draw the line somewhere.

It's also been the case that homes built between the laying of the original network and the past few years weren't connected when it would have been easiest - when they were built.

Connecting to the BT phone network is considered necessary by most property developers - but many don't view connection to a more specialised fibre network as such a priority.

Not all developers think this way, and last summer Virgin launched a fresh new build scheme to tackle this - but those looking at a recently built property should be aware that it might be in a Virgin Media black spot.

So if Virgin Media isn't available, is there a next step?

Do Virgin Media add new houses?

Actually, yes.

Virgin Media have a team dedicated to extending the network, and they take requests: they're called Cable My Street and there's more about them in our full guide here.

In previous years we weren't sure there were people who'd successfully persuaded Virgin to expand to their area, even though Cable My Street assured us they existed.

These days there's more evidence to suggest that Cable My Street is genuinely useful: there are occasional posts on customer forums from those who've registered their postcodes then heard that Virgin will be coming to their area at some point in the near future.

For the most part it seems that Virgin's plan to spend £3 billion on filling the gaps in the network, connecting an estimated four million new premises, is being directed in part by well organised applications to Cable My Street, with not only residents but businesses and local authorities getting involved in the submissions.

Virgin have been using the service to find out where such demand is highest, and combining that with a focus on areas nearest the existing network to decide where to cable next.

That and the adoption of a quicker and slightly cheaper way of laying the cables has now seen them expand those plans to smaller communities - think larger villages, or clusters of smaller villages - in certain parts of the country, with more than 40 such communities having seen work begin.

But even with the new cheaper rollout method, the cost of digging up the pavement to extend access to new properties (ignoring any reason this wasn't done in the first place) tends to exceed the revenue Virgin Media guarantee to generate from those new customers.

Speed versus reach

So until recently, Virgin Media have chosen to invest in their network by upgrading it to offer faster speeds, rather than by growing it, perhaps to avoid having to share the network with other ISPs.

What's bad for households left just outside a Virgin Media cable area is, in other words, great for those inside it.

As recently as the start of 2014 the top speed was still 120Mb; as mentioned above it's currently being increased to 200Mb from 152Mb - but by the end of Project Lightning it'll still be available to just over 17 million households - significantly fewer than BT-based fibre services.

Giving up on Virgin: other cable services

While Virgin Media held back on expansion, however, other ISPs were continuing apace.

The BT network of fibre optic cables is rolling out up to 52Mb and up to 76Mb services, and they're running trials of up to 300Mb with plans to get that service nationwide by 2020.

Under the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme, BT Openreach fibre coverage should be at 95% of the UK by the end of this year - which means it'll reach millions more households that can't access Virgin Media cable.

But BT's fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) 160Mb broadband service - currently unavailable, and hideously expensive when it was - is available in far fewer areas than Virgin Media's equivalent service.

Instead, BT are focusing on their fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) network - and having got the majority of the country onto the network, they're now following Virgin's example and increasing the speeds available.

In April 2016 they announced they'd be upgrading customers on their up to 38Mb packages to up to 52Mb - and, in slightly fewer areas, they also offer up to 76Mb.

However, BT do offer much faster upload speeds, with their 52Mb and 76Mb fibre deals providing uploads at up to 9.4Mb and 16.6Mb respectively, compared to Virgin Media's up to 12Mb on their 152Mb and 200Mb connections.

Find out more about the differences between the two providers in this guide or read more about the fastest broadband in the UK here.

Secrets of the postcode checker

Finally, note that, as we mentioned above, Virgin Media's unique network plays havoc with our postcode checking service.

Usually, we can verify an address with a home phone number - but as Virgin Media coverage isn't mapped on to the BT phone network that doesn't work quite so well.

We can show whether the service is available in the general area, but not if it's available at one specific property - because we can't get at the data to verify that.

If, for example, a potential customer wants to check availability in order to narrow down areas where they might want to move, the postcode checker can help - but it won't give a definitive answer.

The only really accurate way to see coverage is the full address check on Virgin Media's site.


21 February 2015

Openreach isn't fibre mostly, a large percent is copper FTTC.