ISP Virgin Media UK Launch New 500Mbps Broadband and TV Plan

Virgin Media 2014 UK Logo

As expected cable operator Virgin Media UK (Liberty Global) has today unveiled their new 500Mbps download capable (35Mbps upload) ultrafast broadband package (VIVID 500), which is being introduced as part of a soft launch alongside a new triple-play V.VIP TV Bundle (average speed of 516Mbps).

The new tier is still based off Virgin’s existing EuroDOCSIS 3.0 network standard and Hub 3.0 router, not the new Gigabit capable DOCSIS 3.1 upgrade. The latter requires a new broadband router (Hub 4.0 / Gigabit Connect Box) and the operator recently revealed that they intend to launch a 3.1 based service sometime during 2019 via two initial UK cities (here), although those details are currently being kept under wraps.

As usual the actual profile (max attainable) rate for their new package is faster than the headline speed of 500Mbps (i.e. max of 575Mbps download and 38.5Mbps upload), which is because Virgin Media over-provision in order to help ensure that the majority get the expected average performance. For example, Virgin’s previous top tier of 350Mbps actually delivered an average peak time speed of 362Mbps, thanks to over-provisioning.

The new 500Mbps plan is thus being promoted alongside an average speed of 516Mbps, although at the time of writing it’s only been presented to us as part of the new V.VIP TV bundle (our sources confirmed this last week). In other words Virgin’s standalone and dual-play (broadband + phone) packages are currently still using 350Mbps for their top tier but this may change at a later date.

Details of the V.VIP TV Bundle

Broadly speaking Virgin Media appear to be tweaking their package line-up a bit and discontinuing the Mix TV bundle. On top of that they’re replacing the original VIP TV bundle with V.VIP. The new V.VIP package is set to cost from £99 inc. VAT per month on a 12 month contract term (£139 thereafter). The usual £25 one-off setup fee also continues to apply.

Aside from the 516Mbps average speed and all the usual features (unlimited usage, Hub 3.0 router etc.), customers of the V.VIP bundle can also expect to receive two v6 TV boxes, anytime UK calls, 300+ TV channels (including BT Sport, Sky Sports, Sky Cinema and Kids entertainment) and a 12 month mobile SIM with “unlimited data and minutes.”

Virgin Media are also launching a new ‘Personal Picks‘ feature, which are collections of channels and programmes, including live TV and Catch Up, that have been put together for customers to add to their core TV pack based on their interests and preferences. “This is a soft launch that will be followed by the full roll out in a couple of months,” said Virgin.

With Personal Picks, customers can thus pick and mix any of the below channels, and add them to their TV pack on a one-month rolling contract – with 30 days’ notice.

The Personal Picks

Family PicksKids Pick
Baby TV
Entertainment PickLifestyle Pick
Drama Pick
Documentaries Pick
Sport Light Pick
Premium Picks and Sport PicksSky Sports
BT Sport
Sky Cinema
Hayu
Starzplay
Netflix
Racing TV
Box Nation

The move means that there are no TV bundles with the old top-tier speed of 350Mbps, instead it jumps from 200Mbps on the “Full House Sports & Movies TV Bundle” to 500Mbps on “V.VIP“. If you want 350Mbps then that’s still available via Virgin Media’s existing non-TV packages (at least it is at the time of writing but this may change).

However it became clear last week that those on the 350Mbps tier were at least receiving, albeit gradually (seems to be a phased roll-out), a boost in upload speed from 20Mbps to 35Mbps (same rate as the 500Mbps tier). The same sources that helped us confirm today’s news ahead of time have also informed us that faster upload speeds will follow for Virgin’s other plans too, but not until later (we’re not sure how much later but it will be during 2019).

Expected Future Upload Tiers (Source)
350 & 500Mbps = 35Mb upload
200 Mbps = 20Mb upload
100Mbps = 10Mb upload
50Mbps = 5Mb upload

In addition, our sources indicate that some customers on older packages will be getting free download upgrades, while customers on the short-lived 200Mbps GAMER service will go to 350Mbps at no extra cost (somewhat of an overdue change). We will try to get this confirmed later but so far Virgin’s PR team has remained tight-lipped.

Otherwise, we understand that the overall line-up will be as follows.

Standalone Broadband

Product Name Average download speed Contract LengthPrice /Month
VIVID 5054 Mbps12 months£37
VIVID 100108 Mbps12 months£42
VIVID 200213 Mbps12 months£47
VIVID 350362 Mbps12 months£52

Broadband and Phone (* = Price after 12 months)

Product Name Average download Speed Phone lineContract LengthPrice /Month
VIVID 50 and Phone54 MbpsInclusive weekend calls12 months£27 (*£44)
VIVID 100 and Phone108 MbpsInclusive weekend calls12 months£29 (*£49)
VIVID 200 and Phone213 MbpsInclusive weekend calls12 months£34 (*£54)
VIVID 350 and Phone362 MbpsInclusive weekend calls12 months£39 (*£59)

At this point we expect that customers of Virgin Media Business (i.e. those with the domestic grade small biz packages) may be feeling a little miffed, since residential users will be able to benefit from the faster tier before those paying more for the small biz plans can. But fear not because a Biz package is imminent.

UPDATE 8:06am

Good news VM Biz customers, they’ve just announced the 500Mbps tier for you too, although it won’t be an automatic upgrade. From launch, eligible broadband customers are also “set to receive a free upgrade to Voom 500 if they combine their broadband with a new Cloud Voice package or one of the latest mobile data packages” (Cloud Voice routes calls over your broadband connection and gives more control, flexibility and features).

Rob Orr, VMB Executive Director of Commercial Marketing, said:

“Once again we’re raising the bar for business broadband by giving our customers the ultrafast and reliable connections they need to excel in the digital age. With a free upgrade to Voom 500 on offer for existing Voom customers when they take selected mobile or Cloud Voice services, our customers can stop worrying about their broadband and focus on using it.”

The VOOM 500 plan is available from just £62 +vat per month and customers have the option to add a business landline package with unlimited UK calls for just an additional £8 per month. The package comes with 5 static IPs and a 12-hour fault fix time service level agreement.

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