Virgin Media vs. BT Infinity

They’re fighting for your subscription, Find out how they compare!

Virgin Media has established itself as the UK's leading provider of fibre optic broadband, but now there's a new kid on the block. After huge sucess in its 2011 trial BT are now offering their new BT infinity service country wide with more and more houses being enabled each month. But how do they stack up?

I’ve taken a look at both Virgin Media and BT infinity to compare their key features and help you make the right choice.

just want to know the winner? BT or Virgin Media? Skip to Final Verdict


Speed comparison

Both Virgin Media and BT Infinity are about speed but lets see which one currently holds the top spot.

BT offers more consistent high speeds than Virgin Media

Virgin media is currently advertising faster speeds than BT are and from the indepednent Ofcom testing this generally seems to be the case. However after reading many reviews on internet forums I have noticed that people in high student areas appear to have more problems with their speeds than those who don't live within high student populations. I believe this is because Virgin Media advertise to students quite aggressively and oversubsribe their network in those areas.

If you know you live in an area with a lot of university student housing then I recommend you take the Virgin Media speeds with a pinch of salt.

Advertised Speed Ofcom Average Speed Ofcom Average Peak Time Speed
virgin media Up to 30Mb 29.7Mb - 30.5Mb 28.8Mb - 30Mb
bt Up to 38Mb 30Mb - 34.3Mb
(33.2Mb - 36.2Mb)
29.8Mb - 34.3Mb
(33.2Mb - 36.2Mb)
virgin media Up to 60Mb 54.7 - 57Mb 52.3Mb - 55.2Mb
bt Up to 76Mb 55.3 - 61.7Mb
(57.7Mb - 63.7Mb)
54.7Mb - 61.1Mb
57.3Mb - 63.2Mb)
virgin media Up to 100Mb 85.7 - 90.9Mb 80.1Mb - 86.6Mb
Ofcom research into speeds, released in August 2012

As you can see in Ofcoms testing, on average, both get pretty near their advertised speeds which is great news for you, the consumer.

However Ofcom also found that the proportion of BT Infinity users receiving less than 90% of their 24-hour average speed at peak times was 2% for those on up to 76Mb, and 3% for those on up to 38Mb.

For Virgin Media, those numbers were notably increased, with 10% of customers on up to 30Mb and up to 60Mb receiving less than 90% of their 24-hour average speed at peak times, and 24% of customers on up to 100Mb.

So as you can see BT offer a much more consistent service.


Traffic shaping and Bandwidth

Traffic shaping and bandwidth limiting are a constant worry for consumers on the lookout for a new ISP, so how do our contenders shape up?

BT Infinity don’t practice traffic shaping while virgin media do.

Virgin media have a pretty aggressive traffic shaping policy where by they slow the speeds of customers who reach 'soft' download limits on any of their packages between 4pm and 9pm by 50% for the next five hours. This can cause a huge headache if you're a high bandwidth user (Netflix, games, torrents).

BT have completely done away traffic shaping and have also completely done away with bandwidth caps. They now have unlimited packages that truly are unlimted, although they still allow you to buy packages with bandwidth caps for a lower monthly price.

Still, when it comes to unlimited, BT's 'unlimited' really does mean unlimited.



Now the all important question;How much is this going to cost me?

Virgin media is currently the cheaper option

Well I've made this graph that shows the different options currently avaliable from Virgin Media and BT Infinity.

Brand Broadband Phone Line Rental Price Total Info
virgin media Up to 30Mb,
Weekend calls £14.99 £14.50 £29.49 Visit Virgin Media »
bt infinity Up to 38Mb,
Evening & Weekend calls £15.45 £15 £30.45 Visit BT »
virgin media Up to 60Mb,
Weekend calls £14.99 £19.50 £34.49 Visit Virgin Media »
bt infinity Up to 38Mb,
Evening & Weekend calls £15.45 £23 £38.45 Visit BT »
bt infinity Up to 76Mb,
Evening & Weekend calls £15.45 £23 £48.45 Visit BT »

As you can clearly see Virgin Media are currently beating BT on price, however it's worth noting that BT often offer great incentives such as £50-£100 of sainsburys vouchers.

Feature Roundup

BT Virgin Media
Speeds Up to 72mbps Up to 60mbps
Bandwidth Truly Unlimited Unlimited with traffic shaping
Contract Length 18 Months 18 Months
Connection charge Free Free
Incentives? Often Rarely
English Call centres Yes Sometimes
Price £41.45 £34.49

The Final Verdict

I found that when it comes to BT or Virgin media, BT offers a superior service when everything is taken into account. The average speed might be slower, but you're more likely to recieve that speed consistently with BT.

The couple of pounds extra per month is easily offset by the more impressive Ofcom scores and better customer service team.

This gives BT infinity a clear edge over Virgin media.

give it a go yourself!

Sign up to BT Infinity

Or if you still fancy Virgin Media, click here to join →