BT vs Virgin Media broadband: Which is best?

BT Broadband vs Virgin Media Broadband

Two of the most popular broadband providers in the UK come in the form of the good old British Telecom, and Richard Branson’s telecom child Virgin Media.

But which is best? Both offer fibre optic connections, unlimited downloads, and bundles with home phone and TV. Read on and we'll compare the two so you can decide which one is most suited for you.

And if you want more info and details, have a look at our full reviews of each provider.

Cost

Since the two providers offer different kinds of packages, it's difficult to compare how much they'll both cost you, but here's the basic lowdown.

Prices aren't dramatically different between the two - but a lot of the time, Virgin Media fares slightly better. When you compare similar broadband packages, it often comes up as a little cheaper than BT, though sometimes only by a pound or two each month.

Of course, it gets more complicated when you factor in the frequent special offers, contract lengths, bundling, and so on. And whether you're comparing cost-per-month or overall costs. Basically, you need to see what's available at the time.

Online exclusive Fibre 2 Only
New customers only Offer ends 25/08/2022
New customers only Offer ends 25/08/2022
Online exclusive Entertainment + Fibre 2
New customers only Offer ends 25/08/2022
Online exclusive Fibre 1 Only
New customers only Offer ends 18/08/2022
Online exclusive Sport + Fibre 2
New customers only Offer ends 25/08/2022
Online exclusive Big Sport + Fibre 2
New customers only Offer ends 25/08/2022

*Average speeds are based on the download speeds of at least 50% of customers at peak time(8pm to 10pm). Speed can be affected by a range of technical and environmental factors. The speed you receive where you live may be lower than that listed above. You can check the estimated speed to your property prior to purchasing.

New customers only
New customers only
New customers only
New customers only
New customers only

*Average speeds are based on the download speeds of at least 50% of customers at peak time(8pm to 10pm). Speed can be affected by a range of technical and environmental factors. The speed you receive where you live may be lower than that listed above. You can check the estimated speed to your property prior to purchasing.

Verdict

Honestly, the only way to answer this is to use our postcode checker. Select the filters that fit your requirements and compare prices for exactly what you're looking for - it could go either way.

Speeds

Both providers offer multiple download speeds. BT broadband has packages with average download speeds of 36Mb, 50Mb, and 67Mb. It's not widespread yet, but BT Ultrafast with average speeds up to 1Gb (1,000Mb) are available in some places too. Virgin Media broadband has average download speeds of 54Mb, 108Mb, 213Mb, and 362Mb - and again, in select areas, you can get Gig1 with ultrafast speeds up to 1Gb.

Verdict

Winner icon

Well, this one's easy. Virgin Media offers faster broadband speeds for most of us. If you're after ultrafast gigabit broadband, on the other hand, it's a tie - though BT's top speeds are more widely available than Virgin's.

Download limits

All of BT's broadband packages are truly unlimited, and Virgin Media's packages all come with completely unlimited downloads. Which means, when it comes to download limits, the two are neck and neck!

Verdict

Winner icon

We can't call this one; both offer unlimited broadband packages so it's a draw.

Availability

You can get a BT internet connection pretty much anywhere you can get a BT phone line. It's extremely widespread, in other words. Unfortunately that doesn't go for fibre optic broadband, which is a little patchier, though coverage is still very wide. It doesn't apply to ultrafast gigabit broadband either.

Virgin Media's network can be found in most major towns and cities, but there's a lot of gaps. If you're out in the sticks, there's even less of a chance your home can get it. And your chances of getting its gigabit broadband are even slimmer.

Verdict

Winner icon

BT is the most widely available, by quite a big margin - even fibre optic coverage. Before you make a decision between BT and Virgin Media broadband, we strongly recommend using our postcode checker to see if both are available where you live.

Extras

Whichever you choose, you're in luck - broadband packages from BT and Virgin Media both come with buckets of extra stuff.

With BT you get:

  • BT Home Hub
  • Free access to BT Wi-Fi hotspots around the country
  • Up to 500GB of cloud storage
  • BT Virus Protect for some internet security
  • BT SmartTalk app, so you can use your landline minutes from your mobile
BT SmartTalk app


And with Virgin Media you get:

  • Virgin Media Hub 3 or Hub 4
  • 10 email addresses
  • Web Safe and F-Secure SAFE for internet security
  • Free access to Virgin Media Wi-Fi hotspots, including on the London Underground

Verdict

Winner icon

Some of the extras from Virgin Media are a lot better than what BT offers - those 10 email addresses, for instance. On the other hand, one of BT's inclusive extras is particularly useful: access to its Wi-Fi hotspots. There are more than five million of them nationwide, so it pretty much guarantees you can use the internet from almost anywhere.

Phone

You can get a broadband-only deal from either provider, or you can bundle your broadband and home phone together.

BT's home phone is excellent. It's reliable, it's incredibly widely available, and there are more options and calling features to choose from than pretty much any other home phone provider.

Virgin Media broadband, on the other hand, doesn't offer quite as many options and features as with BT. It's still a great option, but hasn't quite got the welly of Britain's oldest phone provider.

Verdict

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If you want home phone, BT gives you the most options.

TV

The good news is that both BT and Virgin Media broadband can be bundled with TV as well, meaning one less bill to fiddle around with each month.

BT TV works through a YouView box, and gets you between 80 and 140 channels, depending which package you choose. It's also the cheapest way to get BT Sport and you can add NOW Membership to your bill too, to get extra entertainment channels, movies, or sports. But that's pretty much the extent of BT TV.

Virgin Media TV, meanwhile, is known for being one of the most comprehensive television services out there - up to 230+ channels with the biggest package on this bad boy. The set-top box has a ton of features too, like multiple profiles, dozens of TV box sets, and lots of apps. Oh, and you can get the full Sky Sports and BT Sport services included natively in your TV guide.

Virgin Media TiVo

Verdict

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Virgin Media has far, far more to offer in terms of the channels and services you can get.

Conclusion

Whether you should get your broadband from BT or Virgin Media comes down to a few key factors:

  • Is Virgin Media available in your area?
  • Do you need very fast download speeds?
  • What kind of TV package do you want to include (if any) - and which sports channels would you like?

For super duper fast speeds and lots of telly, go Virgin Media. For cheap BT Sport and more consistent broadband speeds, go BT.

And if you're in a non-Virgin Media area… it's worth taking a look at what you could get from other providers too.

Both BT and Virgin Media also offer business broadband.

See our other reviews:

  • Broadband deals for the elderly

  • Broadband and moving home in 2022

  • Compare broadband without a landline

  • TalkTalk broadband review

  • Boost your internet and Wi-Fi: Top tips for faster broadband

  • Can I get fibre optic broadband in my area?

  • TalkTalk broadband review

  • Mobile broadband vs fixed line broadband: Which is best for me?

  • Plusnet vs BT broadband - which is best?

  • Sky TV vs Virgin Media TV: Which is best?

  • TalkTalk vs Plusnet broadband: Which should I get?

  • Which broadband provider has the best security?

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