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Cheap 15Mb Virgin Media Plan for Universal Credit Users is Live

Monday, November 16th, 2020 (12:01 am) - Score 6,336
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Cable ISP Virgin Media UK has today opened applications for their new £15 per month “Essential Broadband” plan, which offers download speeds of just 15Mbps (2Mbps upload), unlimited data usage and a 30-day rolling contract. But you can only get this if you’re receiving Universal Credit from the Government.

The new package is broadband-only service, which means that if an existing customer has a phone then they will not be able to retain that in the downgrade (“this will be clearly stated to them before they change their plan,” said the operator to ISPreview.co.uk). A customer can still take a Virgin Mobile plan, which will be billed separately, but there are cheaper operators for such services.

NOTE: The latest official figures show that there were 5.7 million people on Universal Credit as of 8th October 2020, which is up 2% from September 2020. Some 39% of claimants were in the ‘searching for work’ conditionality group.

Existing customers can apply for the plan by completing a form via their website – www.virginmedia.com/essential. After that they will receive an email asking them to provide proof of their Universal Credit status by sending a picture of their online Universal Credit account. Eligible customers will then receive confirmation that their application has been successful before they are moved onto the plan.

If the customer ever stops receiving Universal Credit then they will be able to continue taking the service for £23 per month (or they can upgrade to a different plan, although these will cost more). Alternatively, there are some FTTC and FTTP based broadband ISPs that will give you a faster speed for about the same money (Vodafone, Hyperoptic etc.).

Jeff Dodds, Chief Operating Officer at Virgin Media, said:

“The launch of our Essential broadband service is about supporting customers who are experiencing financial difficulty and uncertainty. We all know how important connectivity is right now to our day to day lives, so this reliable, hassle-free service will help people to get online and carry out essential activities.

This is the latest step in a series of industry-leading measures we have introduced for vulnerable customers. This includes providing annual package reviews, more flexible bill management and is on top of action we have taken to keep our customers connected during the pandemic.

We are committed to supporting our customers and will continue to play our vital role in keeping the country connected in these difficult times.”

The COVID-19 crisis has been extremely hard on the country in 2020 and many more job losses are expected in the future. At the same time broadband ISPs have been putting in place various measures to provide as much support as reasonably possible for those most in need (vulnerable customers) and this is the latest one of those, which was soft launched back in August 2020 (here).

The new plan, which for the time being is only for VM’s existing customers, appears to be similar to BT’s Basic + Broadband plan, which costs just £10.07 per month for an unlimited 10Mbps (average speed) connection. But you also get a UK call allowance of £1.50, plus free weekend calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers (lasting up to 60 minutes) and there’s a monthly £10 price cap for home phones and mobiles – only available to those on benefits.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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20 Responses
  1. Jim says:

    I wonder who subsidises this…

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      Virgin Media / Liberty Global.

    2. J says:

      £15 pcm for 15 Mb – £1 per Mb
      £25 pcm for 100 Mb – £0.25 per Mb
      £31 pcm for 200 Mb – £0.155 per Mb
      £37 pcm for 350 Mb – £0.106 per Mb
      £43 pcm for 500 Mb – £0.086 per Mb

      Cant help but think that it’s the people on UC who may not normally take a service that are subsidising those who actually pay “normal” prices. This is a horrible package for the price, but the energy companies have been using poor people to subsidise heavy users for years so it’s about time that these other providers caught up.

    3. NE555 says:

      > Cant help but think that it’s the people on UC who may not normally take a service that are subsidising those who actually pay “normal” prices

      The cost per megabit of transit is marginal. The costs of billing and customer service, and customer acquisition and retention, don’t depend on the service speed.

      Hence I expect the profit from these UC users will be low. However, Virgin would rather keep a customer than lose them to BT, plus they get positive publicity for free.

    4. J says:

      Customer service?

      And I agree it’s all about retention as it’s only for existing customers, but as it’s only a change of config file then the cost (other than paying staff to verify UC status) is nothing.

      I guess the only good (great?) thing is that people who can no longer afford the bill should use this as a stepping stone to stopping the account without any penalty. BigBill+Contract -> UC+30Day -> Bye

      I think non-power users and non-gamers are starting to leave fixed line services anyhow.

      I would guess there’s a lot more profit per account than what your imagining, tho if they are creative they might be able to claim this as a tax break.

    5. Karl Thornley says:

      Us,while paying them extortionate for our inferior service

  2. craig says:

    typical restrictive greedy virginmedia, voxi for now offer £10 a month unlimited with texts and phonecalls for 6 months for both new and existing customers and also include those on legacy benefits

    1. André says:

      You seem to be comparing two completely different services so I’m not sure it’s being an entirely fair comparison

  3. Henri says:

    I pay £5/mo after cashback on Unlimited data Threw £18/mo sim.

    420/50 speed and 13ms ping.

    What more could I want apart from spending £180 initially for a ZTE MC801 but far cheaper than traditional bb.

    I also kept the landline through Sipgate and an Cisco ATA112.

    1. Roy says:

      @Henri 420/50 speed and 13ms ping on smarty (three) that load of rubbish and untrue as they don’t do 420Meg!

    2. Billy Nomates says:


      It’s entirely feasible, what do you mean they “don’t do 420Meg” ?
      I’ve seen people hitting 1gbit on three. I’ve seen plenty of 400+Mbit screenshots on three and i’ve experienced 250mbit myself.

      You just look silly when you call people a liar and say it’s untrue, when you’re completely wrong and the person you call a liar is actually right.

    3. Jamie says:

      420/50 on three.. Over 1gbps?

      if that is true then I am the queen of England.

    4. Henri says:

      Here’s my speed test results if you don’t believe me 😛

      0.4mi apart, 15.0MHz@1800(B3)+10.0MHz@2100(B1) and signal at -90 dBm.

      5G band N78, signal -90 dBm.



      These are during the day, mast is about 0.4mi out over a dual carriage and some trees blocking the signal – so moved router to loft. On ground floor was getting about 230/10.

      During the evening and peak time, network seems stable – the lowest I’ve seen is about 320/35.

      On my previous Huawei CPE Pro 2 setup, I did see 800/120 but that was in a different location with a direct line of sight of about 0.2mi from the top of the 5th floor flat.

      5G is a game changer bro 🙂

      I went to ZTE as it was cheaper and doesn’t band steer like Huawei so the connection is rock solid, never disconnects apart from the ocasional Three doing dynamic ip changes. Huawei would randomly disconnect as it will change between Bands 1/3 to 3/20 or 1/20.

      The only issues I have with Three is traffic management, Torrenting legal Ubuntu iso, get full speed, trying out Netflix through fast.com, about 320Mbps out of my 400-so ish line. Xbox gaming, unplayable whilst using full upload speed on other devices so I use QoS on a secondary router to manage this and CloudFlare HTTPS DNS on main router before the ZTE. Google is about 120Mbps and Bing is about 340Mbps. Other services seem to run at max speed.

    5. Henri says:

      I do get the single-threaded line performance at Thinkbroadband quite low at the time as I was not aware of traffic management techniques that Three use.

      If you do use a VPN, you’ll find that all websites are treated the same. However, I have used QoS and Cloudflare TLS DNS and it works much better now, the single-threaded HTTP performance is about 120Mbps, and simultaneous x6 or x16 at dslreports is reporting the over 400Mbps. I do have my router QoS set to limit at 500Mbps as I have seen speeds of about 600Mbps but I do not want my loaded latencies to increase considerably for the whole network so I cap it at 500 as it’s fast enuff.

  4. Davros says:

    I was told end of the month so its good it’s now live. Also I never got a replay as to what happens to termination charges when a customer goes from a normal package to this? I left VM and paid mine but some clarity would be good?

    1. aqx says:

      It states in the post for it T https://www.virginmedia.com/help/register-for-essential-broadband
      “What if I’m already in a contract with Virgin Media?

      Once your eligibility checks go through for Essential broadband, we’ll swap you over right away and you won’t have to pay any extra fees or charges for changing from your current Virgin Media services.”

    2. Davros says:

      Kind of annoying then! Was told last week we would have to pay the ETF’s to be able to go onto the £15 package so we decided to just leave.

      not turns out we didn’t have to – feel a bit ripped off – but there you go.

    3. Aqx says:

      Well if you were told that last week and put in a disconnection then you’re still processing a disconnection and can easily cancel it and apply?

    4. Davros says:

      No – the day after the 30 days notice started an engineer turned up and asked for the equipment back so we gave it back and then VM took their money and cut us off (after I called them to let them know about it)

      Never mind, it’s done now

  5. JitteryPinger says:

    Why are people trying to compare this offering to mainstream services?

    £15 a month for unlimited fix connection is awesome… PERIOD.

    Try doing that for any type of ADSL service or even wireless.

    May I add this is a backup for existing customers to keep them connected… in the current climate… very much welcomed and will be very much utilised unfortunately.

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