Choosing the best broadband service for you can be a difficult decision. Not only are you making a commitment, but there are lots of different factors to consider and evaluate. Sky and Virgin Media's broadband services are two of the most popular choices across the U.K, both with their own attractive qualities and merits. But which is best for you? Read our broadband comparison article below to help you make an informed decision.
Cheapest broadband packages
A quality most people look for in their broadband package is its value for money. Sky Broadband Essential offers superfast broadband with unlimited data usage and a download speed of 11Mb. The contract lasts for 18 months and costs £25 per month.
Virgin Media's M50 package offers fibre optic broadband plus weekend calls with a download speed of 54Mbps and an upload speed of 10Mbps. Data usage is also unlimited, but the contract length is only 12 months and costs £26 per month.
At face value, the title of the cheapest broadband goes to Sky. Although, the exact value of that depends on what you look for the most in your broadband package. For instance, Virgin Media is better value for money in terms of cost-per-Mb, as the M50 package costs just a little bit more but offers almost five times the speed. If your only concern is the lowest price, then you might want to choose Sky. If you want value for money, Virgin media is the way to go.
If you're looking for a broadband connection to carry you through simple tasks, such as browsing the internet or checking your emails, Sky ADSL broadband is plenty. If it's the value you're looking for, paying extra for 54Mb speeds on Virgin Media allows you to complete these tasks, but also stream HD content, play online games, and do other things on the internet without having to switch broadband or upgrade.
When it comes to installing the broadband router into your home, Sky works out almost four times cheaper. It costs only £9.95 to set up, whereas Virgin Media charges a £35 setup fee. They do sometimes disregard this charge, and you may be entitled to discounts available if there was a previous Virgin Media customer living at your property and the Virgin Media access point is still installed.
Fastest broadband packages
For a lot of broadband customers, speed is essential. A fast internet connection means better quality gaming, quicker streaming as well as other desirable benefits. If you invest in a broadband-only deal, it's likely that speed is one of your top priorities.
When it comes to speed, Virgin Media wins by a landslide, despite the monthly cost being similar. Sky's speeds are drastically affected by your routers distance from the exchange, so the further away you live, the more your speed will be affected.
Virgin Media runs its own network through cables with fibre wiring. This provides the freedom to establish and control its own network, a combination results in much faster speeds. Virgin Media's slowest broadband runs at around 54Mbps, only slightly lower than Sky's fastest at 59Mbps. Virgin Media has a maximum of 516Mbps, and is well known for being much more reliable and efficient.
Both Sky and Virgin Media usually run deals like discounted feature upgrades, mobile contracts and cheaper monthly costs depending on whether you're a new or existing customer. Virgin Media will sometimes cancel your £35 activation fee if you purchase a broadband package or bundle with them.
Sky offers you free use of their hotspots spread throughout the country, so in certain areas, you won't be without Wi-Fi. Also, they offer a service called 'Sky Broadband Shield,' which allows parents to keep their children safe and secure online. Virgin offers both of these, plus free servicing and repair of your cable box, and free antivirus protection.
Virgin Media also offers free gifts known as 'flash sales' when you join their services. Gifts can range from tablets and wireless speakers to shopping vouchers and boxes of wine, bonuses not offered by Sky. If incentives such as free gifts are factors that attract you to a broadband deal, then Virgin Media is the best choice for you.
Coverage and Availability
Because they use exchanges, Sky wins for availability. BT Openreach, the exchange used by Sky, is accessible by around 99% of the mainland UK population. Because of this, most people can access Sky, making it an attractive option due to its practicality.
Virgin Media utilises its own cabled broadband network, making it less available to the public than Sky, and you can only access it if you live in a cabled area. This service only reaches around 75% of the mainland population, many of these people residing in urban areas. Virgin are currently attempting to expand their broadband coverage, but it will take them decades to be on Sky's level.
Bundles offer monthly broadband, phone and TV packages that usually work out cheaper, and make it easier for you to keep on top of your bills. However, bundles can include a lot of services that you may not use, which can decrease their value for money. Before purchasing, always make sure that you're aware of what you're getting.
If you're looking for the cheapest bundle, it's worth weighing up exactly what is most important to you. Sky offers a lot more TV channels than Virgin Media, but it is more expensive. Virgin Media offers faster broadband speeds, and their package includes free weekend calls, a feature Sky does not include, and there is no upfront cost.
Sky charges £29.95 upfront, plus £35 per month if you buy the essential bundle, and £39 if you purchase the superfast bundle, each with 300 channels. Virgin Media's 'Big Bundle' runs at 54Mbps and costs £33 per month, with 110 channels.
When purchasing a bundle from Sky, you can build it up with different channel packages over time, without having to pay a premium for a big bundle. For example, if you're a film lover, you can purchase the movie channel bundle, whereas if you prefer sport, you can opt for the 'Sky Sports' bundle.
For Sky TV, Kids channels, Disney+ and broadband, you get 316 channels for £49.99 per month for 18 months with an upfront price of £29.95. With Virgin media's 'Oomph' bundle (their ultimate package), you receive 245 channels for £89 per month for 18 months, with no upfront cost.
It is completely your choice who wins for the best large bundle, as it depends on your priorities. For channel choice and pricing, Sky is the better option, but when it comes down to broadband speeds, Virgin might be the best choice for you.
Before choosing your optimal broadband provider, it is important to note that there are so many other services out there that may be right for you. Sky and Virgin Media are just two of the most popular choices in the U.K, so deciding who is best out of the two of them for you can narrow down your options.
Here at Broadband Money Saver, we appreciate how important it is to make the right decision when it comes to your broadband provider. If you're still looking to decide which company to go with, our helpful broadband comparison site can help you narrow down your options and make the absolute best choice for you.
All you need to do is enter your postcode, your current provider, and establish which elements of broadband are most important to you!