/ Technology

Virgin doubles broadband speeds for free, then ups its prices

Virgin Media is upping the price of its broadband by at least £1 a month, not long after promising to double its customers’ speeds at no extra cost. Was Virgin all talk, or is this just a drop in the ocean for its customers?

Last month, Virgin Media said it would be doubling its customers’ broadband speeds for free, giving a huge boost to the company’s already speedy services.

In fact, Ofcom yesterday crowned Virgin’s broadband with the fastest speeds in the country, with its 50Mbps customers enjoying average speeds of 49Mbps. These 50Mbps customers will now feel lucky to receive a boost to 100Mbps, with Virgin starting to upgrade the service this month.

But with broadband speeds as fast as Usain Bolt’s sprint, no doubt many of you wondered whether Virgin’s promises were too good to be true. Well, it seems you might be right.

In come the price increases

Virgin is sending out letters explaining changes to its prices that will come into effect on 1 April. And no, it doesn’t look like this will turn out to be an April fools’ joke, despite a Virgin Media spokesperson previously announcing the doubling of its speeds with this statement:

‘Most customers will not notice the upgrades taking place, nor will any have to pay for the changes to take place.’

Well, the Guardian is reporting with conviction that Virgin will be increasing the price of its ‘large’ broadband package by £1 a month if you’re signed up to Virgin’s line rental, or by £1.50 without. Some call charges will also being going up – by as much as 12%.

Plus, just like peak train times are getting longer, so are peak call times. Virgin’s phone package used to include free calls between 6 and 7pm, but customers will now have to pay from 6pm, with calls charged at a rate of 14.96p per minute. BT and other telecoms have already made this change, so Virgin’s simply falling in line. Not that that’s of any consolation to heavy evening callers.

Pay up or drop speed

Virgin has said that, on average, ‘customers will see an increase of around £2.68 per month’. So you’re looking at around £30 more per year, although of course it depends on which, and how many, of Virgin’s services you’re signed up to.

Virgin did point out that customers who weren’t happy about these price increases could drop down to a lower broadband speed tier, which it pointed out would be double the speed it is currently. Still, when you’re told that your speeds will be doubled at no extra charge, you don’t expect to hear that you’ll have to drop down a tier to avoid paying more.

Other telecoms companies have also been pushing up their prices, such as BT, Sky, Vodafone, Orange and TalkTalk, so Virgin isn’t on its own. However, we already know how you feel about companies putting up prices for services you’ve already signed up to, after the outrage expressed by Orange customers when it put up the price of its mobile phone packages.

It’s one thing to promise a free upgrade of your services, but is it fair to then increase your prices, even if this increase is small? Or, since Virgin has the fastest speeds in the country, maybe you still think you’re getting a bargain?

Chris says:
11 December 2012

Well I have upgraded my computer I have spent 4 weeks trying to obtain an up to date broadband installation disc.( my last disc was for blueyoner)
This is like asking for a gold ingot there want to cahrge me £70 to change my modem to a super hub.
My last 4 contacts via there web complaint form system remain unanswered. Toady the e-mail the want to increase my monthly charge by over £4.
Sorry Ricahrd think you have lost my custom.

I have set up Internet access on a fair number of computers and I don’t remember using an installation disk since the days of dial-up. With a router and a computer with built-in Wi-Fi it’s just a case of choosing the correct wireless signal (if presented with a list) and putting in a password, which is often on the base of the router. Most of my experience is with setting up Macs, but I’m sure I’ve done this for PCs too.

Maybe an installation disk provides useful utilities but nothing essential, to the best of my knowledge.

As an ADSL Virgin Media customer living on Dartmoor – we are stuck with increased prices – now paying over £20 a month for an incredibly slow broadband service and diabolical customer service.

Please don’t tell us to change our ISP provider – its simply not possible, as our Virgin email addresses are integrated into everything we do and the hassle of changing email address with thousands of contacts using them is just not feasible.

We are unfortunately stuck with Virgin until the day customers can change ISP providers and keep their email address – a bit like switching mobile phone companies and keeping your old phone number..

KK says:
7 May 2013

Yes, Virgin’s broadband package often appears fast. However, what really uses enough bandwidth to make that relevant. The answer is, of course, largely video and streaming services (e.g. You Tube and catch up services).

Yes, my 100MB package sounds great. Yet, You Tube buffers constantly on even SD You Tube. Read the forums and you will see that Virgin’s network and caching architecture has left many people with this problem. You will also see how much hassle is involved in making any headway on the matter.

I have finally totally given up on Virgin. The price rise added insult to the injury of their horrible engineering services.

And, most recently, Virgin decided to change my home phone number (giving it to a business) without either consulting or informing us.

Their arrogance knows few limits.

Leanne says:
16 December 2014

We updated our virgin package in October to negotiate a better cheaper deal with a new TIVo box and 3 months in they are putting it by £3 a month! I feel conned! The new TIVO box is much slower than the old one and on demand takes forever to connect bit rubbish really. The sales advisor convinced us not to switch to talk talk saying it would be less disruptive and the broadband is faster etc and now they got me into another contract they are taking back the savings I made. they are conniving B*****ds. Is the only way out now to pay a penalty?

You have until the 31st Jan (maybe Dec) to cancel without penalty.