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Virgin Media defends price rises: ‘We’re increasing speed AND coverage’

Cable ISP Virgin Media has defended a forthcoming 5.4 per cent price rise, saying it needs the extra cash to help grow its network. 

Earlier this year Virgin Media announced a expansion plans codenamed ‘Project Lightning’ that will see an extra 4 million or so homes and businesses able to access its ultrafast broadband services over the next five years. 

Tests of so-called ‘narrow trenching’ technology has seen Virgin delivery gigabit FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) broadband in various rural locations, hinting at the company’s possible future ambitions. 

The company has also recently installed WiFi in a paving slab, of all things. 

How to find out when your Virgin Media up to 200Mbps speed boost is comingBut more to the point, Virgin Media has also recently begun ramping up the baseline speeds of its three main Internet services. The latest round of speed boosts will see the top download speed of Virgin Media’s entry-level service climb to 70Mbps from up to 50Mbps and the 100Mbps and 152Mbps services shoot up to 150Mbps and 200Mbps respectively. 

Gregor McNeil, managing director of Virgin Media’s consumer division said: 
 
“We are doing everything we can to keep prices as competitive as possible. Through the continuing investment in our network we are again upgrading our customers’ broadband speeds and providing unlimited downloads – meeting the growth in data consumption we see. 

“Our customers want to do more online, so we are always making sure that our customers get more for the prices they pay.”

Announcing a price rise ahead of or during a speed boost is consistent with Virgin Media’s previous form

How much is Virgin Media increasing my broadband bundle by?

From February 2016 onwards, the vast majority of customers will increase between £3.49-3.99 per month, which includes a £1/month increase to line rental. 

Virgin Media has yet to tell us which packages and bundles will see which price increase, but says that it’s contacting all customers individually. 

Depending on what you’ve already got, you’re looking at an annual increase of either £41.88 or £47.88, plus an extra £12 on top of the £203.88 you’d fork out for the standard rate of line rental. 

Right now, customers who want to save a bit of cash can pay £164 which will cover you for 12 months’ worth of line rental up front. Line rental saver deals like this tend to increase in price in tandem with the standard rate of line rental, so customers who want to save a bit of coin should fork out for a year’s worth before February. 

Prices for Virgin Media’s Broadband Only packages went up by £1.75/month back in September  are exempt from the February rises. 

Seeing as you don’t need to pay line rental for Broadband Only, you won’t have to worry about this additional charge either. 

This means that Karen Maclane shouldn’t have to pay any more early next year if, as she says, she’s on Broadband Only. 

While customers are obviously going to be less than happy with the recent rises, it’s not just Virgin Media that’s been cranking up its costs. 

BT, TalkTalk and Sky have all slightly increased (or will be increasing) line rental fees in recent months. This means that come February next year, all of the major ISPs will be charging customers £17.77/month on average for the standard rate of line rental. 

BT is ploughing ahead with its various BDUK committments while continuing to trial G.fast and other technical solutions including FTTP and ‘long-reach VDSL’. Meanwhile Sky and TalkTalk and making headway with their York-based joint venture with CityFibre, which is seeing customers able to get download speeds of around 945Mbps. 

If this price rise has made you think about the broadband speed you’re currently getting, you can check your current speed with our broadband speed test tool

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