Cable broadband and TV operator Virgin Media (Liberty Global) has today announced a significant speed boost across their range of Internet access packages, which sees their entry-level service jump from 50Mbps to 100Mbps and their top package go from 200Mbps to 300Mbps.
The existence of a 300Mbps package is of course nothing new to our readers. We already know that Virgin Media has been offering this via their paid HomeWorks+ add-on for quite some time and on top of that some ordinary consumers have also been given access to a 300Mbps service (here), although until now you couldn’t order it directly via their public product pages.
Virgin Media’s New Broadband Speed Tiers
VIVID 300 = 300Mbps Download / 20Mbps Upload
Standard Price: £47.25 (Standalone)
VIVID Gamer * = 200Mbps Download / 20Mbps Upload
Standard Price: £42.25 (Standalone)
VIVID 200 = 200Mbps Download / 12Mbps Upload
Standard Price: £37.25 (Standalone)
VIVID 100 = 100Mbps Download / 6Mbps Upload
Standard Price: £32.25 (Standalone) or £40 (Phone + Broadband)
* No traffic management. Upgrade to 300Mbps available for £5 extra.
Broadly speaking the pricing suggests that Virgin Media’s existing 50Mbps (3Mbps upload) package is effectively being replaced by their 100Mbps option. Similarly their old 100Mbps (6Mbps upload) option is being replaced by the 200Mbps service for the same price point. Meanwhile it looks like the revised 200Mbps Gamer package may drop in price (currently it’s £50.25 a month standalone on a 12 month term, but the new price is £42.25).
Tom Mockridge, CEO of Virgin Media, said:
“By beefing up our bundles we’re leaving our competitors in the rear view mirror, starting where they finish. Eye-watering speeds, a better box and top-notch TV is a winning combination.
More and more switchers tell us they are joining Virgin Media for our faster speeds and we understand why – whether it’s 4K Netflix, box sets in multiple rooms or online gaming, the best entertainment requires the best broadband and we’re making sure our customers are covered with these bundles at incredible value.”
The move is likely to be seen as an early strike to steal the thunder from Openreach’s (BT) forthcoming 330Mbps G.fast technology, which alongside their FTTP probably won’t reach the same sort of coverage as Virgin Media’s network until around 2025 (G.fast is currently only in the pilot phase). By comparison Virgin Media’s service will be almost immediately available to more than half of UK premises and their network is being extended to reach 60-65% (17 million premises) by 2019 (2 million via FTTP).
Mind you not everybody gets the top speeds that Virgin Media promise and some areas do appear to be oversubscribed, which can result in nasty levels of network congestion and slower speeds. However most people do get roughly what the ISP claims and their performance tends to deliver well above Openreach’s rival FTTC solutions.
On the other hand there’s certainly a debate to be had about whether anybody even needs a 200-300Mbps download service yet (most Internet services can’t take advantage of it) but that’s never stopped the marketing departments. Mind you the boost to upload performance is most welcome.
Otherwise we expect that the same Traffic Management restrictions on uploads will continue to apply (except on the ‘Gamer’ package that has none) and we’re currently trying to find out whether or not Virgin Media will be offering free upgrades for existing subscribers, which is something that they’ve tended to do in the past. The new options should go live 0n 30th March 2017.
Virgin has informed ISPreview.co.uk that existing customers will be able to take one of the new bundles available from next week, although that will of course mean re-contracting.
UPDATE 23rd March 2017
Virgin Media has today launched a new campaign to help promote their latest speed boost and the new “Virgin fibre brand.” Mind you anybody watching the video will quickly note the use of a copper coaxial cable, which is used by the vast majority of their hybrid-fibre (EuroDOCSIS) network. Meanwhile only a tiny proportion can currently connect via pure fibre optic (FTTP) lines.
All this comes shortly after the Conservative MP for Boston and Skegness, Matt Warman, and several other ministers criticised ISPs for misusing “fibre” terminology (here). Warman has instead called for “fibre” to only be used alongside pure fibre optic lines (FTTP/H).
UPDATE 27th March 2017
Bad news folks, Virgin Media has quietly updated their original press release and revised down the uploads speeds for their VIVID 100Mbps (6Mbps upload instead of 12Mbps) and VIVID 200 (12Mbps instead of 16Mbps) tiers.