/ 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?

Surly Dev says:
3 February 2012

I’d be happy to get the up to 8 Mb service they claim I’m on. The last few nights I have had iPlayer complaining about insufficient bandwidth, and getting speeds of around 756 kbps.

As with so many companies in this country, its all smoke and mirrors. What happened good reliable service at an affordable price without the con tricks

wilson says:
3 February 2012

It would help if they fixed the areas that are over subscribed like plymouth for instance most of the city is suffering because there lines cannot handle the amount of traffic they have sold resulting in 70% of the day there broadband service is unusable till after 2am then play up again from 8am onwards its a joke i fail to see how they win these awards unless they send in false information

there are thousands of posts on there support forums of people complaining about not getting what they pay for and yet they reckon they are double our speed

i havent had the 30mb i signed up for for near a year with there constant excuses and estimated fix dates being put back a month at a time. they dont care about there customers only about how much money there ceo’s can stuff in the pockets at the end of each year discracefull

It is a little sneaky of Virgin to do this in my opinion, however for a company that does innovate and likes to be at the forefront of technology it doesn’t bother me too much. I love using the internet when I go home to visit my parents as my Dad has the 100Mb fibre optic package. With those speeds the internet is a true joy to use – downloading video and other files in excess of 5mb per second (not Mbps!). An extra £1 per month doesn’t seem so bad for true innovation!

John Carey says:
3 February 2012

When Virgin Broadband works it is excellent. Since October 2011 their broadband service (I have XL package) has been so bad and unreliable I have kept a log of the “down time” and the various replies and “non replies’ I have received.During this time only 3 people were helpful and listened with interest,one person promised me £5 rebate.Two weeks ago I had a text message on my mobile to inform me that the problem I had reported had been found and fixed by Virgin Media.I didn’t know what to think but hoped for the best!
Since that text I have not experienced any problems. I use broadband every day.

Wirecutter says:
4 February 2012

Virgin can be good SOMETIMES but two years ago my 10Mbs link was some times down to 60 Kbs for days at a time and once 23Kbs I found if you phone up and chat?? to account,s if it is dead! action happens but is still took another 8 Days to get over 4 Mbs again.
With this up grade to the speed, I got a letter saying that as I was on there Highest speed I was being up graded to 120Mbs next week for nothing. I got a “E”mail two days later saying I was being uprated to 20Mbs some time in the coming year they didnt even get that and now to put the price UP!

Anon the mouse says:
4 February 2012

I agree it is an underhanded way to get customers to stay, and after the Orange price hike (still ongoing), I have been on the phone to Virgin.
What a difference with mid contract price hikes…. If you don’t like the increase, then you can downgrade or cancel your broadband outright. No penalty charges.

So having the choice of staying or not, I’m paying the extra £1 for double the speed.

Dean says:
4 February 2012


I complained to Virgin over the new price increase and was told that I would have to wait until my minimum term ends (another 5.5 months) before canceling without penalty.

I read through the T+Cs and found under section J, part 3 that if there is a price increase you can cancel with 30 days notice without penalty.

I rang back and this was confirmed.

They don’t make this information well known to customers!

Mikhail says:
14 February 2012

So because of the £1.5 increase you will cancel your broadband?

Linda Beszt says:
13 December 2013

Thanks for this comment, it is really helpful. I will do exactly the same, cancel the contract. I have signed a contract 2 months ago for 6 months – half price discount. Two months later Virgin Media sent me a letter informing about increase of £3 per month. I will cancel the contract. It is not about the £3, but I feel cheated by Virgin Media, offering a good deal for 6 months, then changing it 2 months later. It is a con.

Linda Beszt says:
13 December 2013

If we let them away with £1.50, next time it will be more. They should stick to the contract. It is about the principle.

Mikhail says:
14 February 2012

I would definitely like to see the promised (in 2010) 100Mb service from Virgin as well as the 4G networks but at the moment it all up in the air, quite literally.

I just received the letter and I’m slightly taken aback that the increase is so much. I just renewed my contract with them in January (partly because of the promised “free” speed increase) and was given a monthly cost of £21.40 for L broadband and phone. The letter says the price increase will cost me £3.85 a month extra – thats an 18% price rise within a month of signing the new contract. Surprised they can get away with this and leave me with the only option of lump it or leave. I feel their advertising campaign has been quite misleading and the price rise is excessive for some customers (its not 18% for everyone – I just seem to have been unlucky). When I called them, the agent could not explain the £3.85 rise or how it broke down across my services and he said if I choose to leave then I would have to pay a disconnection fee. I’ve subsequently found out this is incorrect and under the terms and conditions, I could leave within the next 30days without penalty.

So very disapointed with Virgin Media but not yet decided on whether to leave – the grass is not always greener and I have to say I do get fairly good download speeds….

You may not need to pay a disconnection fee if you are disconnecting due to a price increase. I didn’t have to pay a penalty for stopping the phone and TV package following a price increase.

I read through the T+Cs and found under section J, part 3 that if there is a price increase you can cancel with 30 days notice without penalty.

It is worth checking out…

Cynical marketing of the highest order. Reap the rewards from the press about doubling broadband speed “at no extra cost” and then announce price rises a few weeks later. Do they think we are all idiots?

What irks me the most is that they are doing this mid-contract for many customers. If I sign a deal for 12 months I expect to pay the agreed rate for 12 months not 3!

Shame on you Virgin Media.

I have been happy with Virgin Broadband so far, and if they had offered to double the speed for an extra £1.50 a month, it would have seemed like a pretty good deal to me. However, the way they have gone about it, by announcing free upgrades, then raising the price, seems designed to annoy the customer and make them feel cheated. It just seems really poorly thought out.

youngcodger says:
1 March 2012

They all do it, o2 did it to me (raised price by £1 early in contract period). When I complained to o2, they said they are allowed to (up to a limited amount) due to inflation/vat/etc? as stated somewhere in the small print.
Must admit, o2’s Broadband had been brilliant…10-13 meg speed and no download limits. But after christmas the service has gone to pot…speeds averaging 4-9 meg.

Now looking at Virgins cable service.

Chris says:
2 March 2012

I agree with a lot of the comments posted. I had my letter through a few days ago announcing a £5/ month increase in my package which is the best part of a 10% increase. They can’t tell you how this breaks down across the services you use. For me this is unethical behaviour of the worst kind by Virgin Media. Yes, contractually they can do it. But can they justify it, I very much doubt it. It’s about time that the telco providers were brought to book on this and started to get a grasp on what being a service provider really means!

Dean says:
8 April 2012

Just so you know.There is something you can do…………….


I complained to Virgin over the new price increase and was told that I would have to wait until my minimum term ends (another 5.5 months) before canceling without penalty.

I read through the T+Cs and found under section J, part 3 that if there is a price increase you can cancel with 30 days notice without penalty.

I rang back and this was confirmed.

They don’t make this information well known to customers!

Marx Drive says:
13 April 2012

I’m a DSL user so I did not see a double increase in speed but I’m being asked to pay an extra £2 a month. Before I received this news I was looking for a new provider as my Internet speed during peak times has decreased since the influx of new customers.

Can only say that I have been with what is now Virgin since the cable was first laid in London. I consider it a first class and reliable service. I belong to a Computer Club most of whom do not use Virgin – they are always complaining of poor speeds and unreliable connections. My 10Meg connection always tests at 9.8 Meg and I have noticed no problems with video streaming. (Though I do notice poor responses by some web-sites – but this is down to the particular web-site). So when they double it to 20 Megs it should upgrade to around 19.8 Megs which will be more than satisfactory.

The reason I changed to Virgin was because my London BT line was absolutely terrible always breaking down and crackly – and I could only receive a clear BBC1 channel – the rest were very poor. Since Virgin – phone line clear and crisp – All TV clear and crisp – Broadband fast and reliable. I am a very satisfied customer,.

Big T says:
3 August 2012

Branson I presume ; 0

I wish! 🙂

But honestly when I had BT my 1200/75 baud transmission was so bad that the Bulletin Boards refused to allow me access. Since Virgin Fibre Cable all connections are first class – My Computer Club friends are still complaining about their connections – I’ll keep Virgin

At one stage Virgin had a reputation for keeping customers happy. I don’t understand why they did not just offer the faster service for a the small increase in monthly premium, allowing customers to upgrade or to stay with their existing service. That would keep everyone happy.

There are some people that are struggling on a limited income, Richard, so that any unexpected increase in price is very unwelcome.

You might be very happy with Virgin, Richard, but what they have done is a common way of annoying customers. I stand by what I said.

My ISP has just doubled my monthly download allowance and I would not be surprised if they increase the monthly charge. I hope not.

Interesting I’ve had unlimited downloading with Virgin ever since it started and had excellent service – so no wonder I’m happy and think it good value for money – So I’ll stand by what I said – They haven’t annoyed anyone I know – and most of them are OAPs – We are getting a true doubling of our speed to 20 Meg very soon – rather better than most.

As the true original 10Megs seems better than most.still.

Read Dean’s comments. 🙂

Let’s leave it there.

Read Mikhail’s and youngcodge’s comments 🙂

And leave it there – Virgin has a fast good service.

No one is disputing Virgin have a “good fast service” The article is about clandestine price rises after lauding the doubling of speeds for “free”. Talk about missing the point…..


Interesting – I have said several times I think Virgin is a superior service and hence imply I don’t mind paying a little more for a superior service – and that BT Talk Talk have used similar tactics without comments – Frankly I think the idea of announcing increasing costs before announcing increased speeds (for free or otherwise) far LESS acceptable – So I haven’t missed the point – but do not have the obsession about a slight increase for a superior service being obscene as some have on here. How can it clandestine when they have announced it by letter??


So far since the cable was laid down in London – I have had excellent service – as I have stated a number of times. I have also stated several times I am a state OAP and help run a club for mainly state OAPs . So “gandma” and “eggs” come to mind.

So they promised to up my speed yet they’ve upped the price already which wasn’t mentioned and I’m still waiting for the speed to go up.

And hows this for good service “oh we do offer a customer loyalty discount and as you’ve been with us for years I’m pleased to offer it to you”.

“But why didn’t the last customer service rep mention that”, “oh , I’m in retentions not Customer Service”

Says it all really. And she sounded so pleased when she told me of the discount. As I said above, all smoke and mirrors.

I do think the law needs strengthening in regard to what Virgin have done. What’s to stop me starting up a company, “Pay me £1 a month and I’ll give every customer £1000” and wait until they sign up then hit them with monthly payments going up to £100 and “oh you only get the £1000 after you’ve been with me a year.”

If an offer is made, a company should be prevented from changing anything until the offer is honoured.

Peter says:
18 November 2012

Even with the two price rises this year alone Virgin Broadband is still the best offer for service and value. But I do think their strategy of Free Upgrade followed by a price rise stinks.