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Switching from Virgin Media to BT Broadband

BT Smart Hub and WiFi discs
Are you fed up with Virgin Media broadband outages, unable to access your emails, and looking for a more reliable service?

Changing home broadband providers is a simple process. At Broadband Genie, we encourage everyone to get their contract end date in their calendars. Why? Well, broadband providers tend to give the best deals to new customers, and with mid-contract price rises sadly now a reality for many, you could easily find yourself blindly drifting into an increasingly expensive bill.

Switching is your best way to not overpay.

If you’re currently signed up to Virgin Media, you’ve likely been enjoying very fast download speeds. You might have also had phone or TV bundles included in your package.

But if you’ve been suffering from an unreliable service and not had a good customer support experience, now might be a good time for a change. 

As well as having an excellent customer service reputation with 24/7 support, BT has broadband only deals as well as phone packages and good value TV bundles available. There’s also no traffic management or fair usage policies and a Wi-Fi guarantee in place. It also came out on top as the 'Most Reliable Provider' in the 2023 Broadband Genie Awards.

There are just a few things to bear in mind if you want to avoid interruptions to your internet connection and to seamlessly stay online. This is because Virgin Media runs off its own cable network, whilst BT uses the Openreach network

It’s not a problem and easy to sort, but let’s check out how you’d get the best results out of your switch.

Switching from Virgin Media to BT: the key points

  • You may not have access to BT’s full fibre broadband packages in your area.
  • You’ll need to give Virgin Media at least 30 days’ notice if you want to leave, even if you’re out of contract.
  • You’ll need to return your Virgin Media Hub if asked.
  • What is Openreach?

    Openreach is the company that maintains the former British Telecom Network used for the majority of broadband and phone services. If a repair or installation is required, it’s Openreach who will send an engineer, not your provider.

    More than 650 service providers using the Openreach network. That’s the majority of the UK’s broadband providers. This includes Sky, TalkTalk and BT. The exception to this is Virgin Media - it uses its own, separate cable network.

  • What's the BT Wi-Fi Guarantee?

    BT's 'Stay Fast Guarantee' is available to any customer who's ordered or renewed their BT broadband contract since March 2019.

    When you sign up, you'll be given a personalised speed guarantee for your home. If your speed falls below what you've been quoted, your Hub will be reset remotely. If there continues to be a problem, an engineer will be sent out to fix the problem. If your speeds aren't back to normal after 30 days, you'll be given a £20 cashback. You'll also be able to choose to exit your contract without paying an early termination fee.

How do I know when my Virgin Media contract ends?

You can easily view your contract end date by signing into your “My Virgin Media” account.

Alternatively, if you want to speak to someone about your contract, you can call the Virgin Media customer service team on 0345 454 1111 (or 150 from a Virgin phone). 

See also:

Can I switch broadband provider when I’m still under contract with Virgin Media?

You’re technically free to switch or cancel your broadband whenever you like. However, there are often terms and conditions in place that mean you could end up paying a hefty early termination fee if you leave before your contract ends. For Virgin Media, there’s no special waiver, even if you’re moving home and out of its service area. You’ll also have to give at least 30 days’ notice to cancel, whatever the reason.

Working out your early termination charge normally means calculating the price of your package, for however many months you have left on your minimum term. However, this might start getting more complicated if you’re signed up to a bundled deal.

You can easily check out accurate Early Disconnection Fees on the Virgin Media website if you want to tally things up yourself.

There are a few unique situations where you might be able to get out of paying this early cancellation fee:

End your Virgin Media contract if you’re not getting the speeds advertised

Virgin Media is signed up to Ofcom’s Broadband Speed Code of Practice. This means, if your broadband is slower than it should be, but Virgin can’t fix it within 30 days, they must offer you the right to exit your contract without being penalised.

Cancelling Virgin Media if you’re bereaved

If the bill payer has passed away. We have more on that in our guide: how to cancel broadband if you're bereaved or terminally ill.

Switching broadband when you’re out of contract with Virgin Media

Great news! If you’ve got to the end of your contract term, or passed that date, you’re free to switch without paying any fees. This is a perfect opportunity to spend some time scouring our comparison table to see whether you can get a better deal.

You’ll be able to see what BT broadband deals are available in your area by using this postcode checker.

BT Broadband deals postcode checker

Don’t forget to make use of the filters, so you can sort by monthly broadband price, speed, set-up fee or contract length. BT often gives out a Reward Card to new customers. If these are available, you’ll see an icon on the individual deal. Or you can also check our Broadband Rewards and Cashback page for the most up-to-date broadband with gifts offers.

Dynamic deal panel

Let’s have a closer look at some things you should pay attention to...

How much notice do I have to give Virgin Media broadband if I want to leave?

Even if you’re out of contract, you’ll still have to give Virgin Media 30 days notice you want to end your service. This is important if you’re moving to another broadband provider, such as BT. You’ll want to try your best to start a contract with your new provider as close to this date as you can, so you’re not left without internet (or paying two bills).

Can I keep my fast broadband speed if I want to move from Virgin Media to BT?

It shouldn’t be taken for granted you’ll have access to ultrafast broadband speeds with BT, just because you did with Virgin Media. The two providers use completely different technology and networks.

To get anyway near to matching Virgin Media’s fastest broadband packages, you’d have to have access to BT’s Full Fibre network (FTTP/FTTH).

You’re not guaranteed to have this yet - the rollout of fibre to the UK is still ongoing. Around 34% of the UK currently have access to the Openreach full fibre network, with an additional 6% hooked up to Openreach’s G.fast network (for average speeds up to 330Mb).

  • What’s FTTP/FTTH?

    Full Fibre broadband is also known as ‘Fibre To The Premises’, ‘Fibre To The Home’. This is often shortened to FTTP or FTTH. They’re all the same thing!

    Instead of copper telephone wire making up the final part of the journey from that green cabinet on the street, fibre optic cables are installed right up to your home.

    It’s amazing the difference in speed this small data journey can have. With full-fibre broadband you can expect to receive speeds of 1Gb+.

    The downside is full-fibre is only available to a small percentage of homes in the UK, and it’s taking a good while to get everyone up to speed.

  • What's G.fast?

    G.fast is type of broadband technology that can offer download speeds of up to 330Mb. It uses the same lines which currently supply Fibre To The Cabinet fibre optic broadband. Higher speeds are achieved by expanding the frequency range. Unfortunately, this only works over short distances. This means it's limited to customers who live no further than 500 metres from an exchange. The rollout of G.fast has been halted, for the most part, in favour of full fibre broadband.

The fastest package offered by BT without full fibre is currently BT Fibre 2. This has average download speeds of 67Mb and upload speeds of 19.5Mb. It’s plenty fast enough to suit larger homes and multiple devices streaming at the same time.

Are you on an ultrafast Virgin Media package, but trying to work out if you could feasibly slim your speeds down? We’ll help you do the sums in our guide - ‘what broadband speed do you need? Do you need fast broadband?'

Who do I get in contact with if I want to switch from Virgin Media to BT?

If you check out BT’s ‘Switch Broadband’ guide, Virgin Media customers are advised to contact both BT and Virgin Media to co-ordinate the start of your new service. 

Back in April 2023, Ofcom attempted to push out a new ruling called ‘One Touch Switch’. The aim of this was to try and make the switching process a lot simpler, so your new broadband provider would be responsible for handing the switch, regardless of whether it was on the same network (i.e Virgin Media to Openreach). You wouldn’t have to get in touch with your current provider.

Unfortunately, this process hasn’t run smoothly, and the deadline has passed without any obvious changes in process.

Our current advice (and especially guidance on bt.com/broadband/switch changes) is to keep a close eye on the process and to drop Virgin Media a quick call.

Once the switch has kicked into gear, you’ll receive confirmation from both providers and have more information about an activation date for BT.

See also:

Will an Openreach engineer have to visit if I move from Virgin Media to BT?

You’ll only need to have an engineer visit booked if you don’t already have a suitable phone line, and it can’t be activated remotely. If this is the case, you may need to pay a broadband connection charge. In most cases, you’ll be able to set up your BT Smart Hub yourself.

Changing Wi-Fi Hubs from Virgin Media to BT Broadband

When you sign up to BT Broadband, you’ll be sent one of three different routers, depending on the type of broadband package you choose. This will either be a BT Home Hub 4, a BT Smart Hub or a BT Smart Hub 2. 

To make the transition from using your Virgin Media Hub easier, you could work through all your wireless device settings so they connect to your new hub. Alternatively, you could log into your BT Smart Hub admin screen to tweak the Wi-Fi network details back to your old Virgin Media settings.

Just remember, if you’re using any Wi-Fi Repeaters or mesh networking devices, such as BT Whole Home Wi-Fi or Google Nest Wi-Fi you’ll have to make settings adjustments as well.

See also: 'BT Broadband router round-up 2023'

Will I need to return by Virgin Media Hub router?

You’ll be told if you need to return any Virgin Media Kit. You’ll be sent a reminder 5 working days after your service changes. There’s a full price list available on the website showing the cost for not returning equipment. For Virgin Media Hubs, this is currently:

  • Hub 3: up to £50 per unit
  • Hub 4: up to £75 per unit
  • Hub 5: up to £85 per unit
  • Hub 5x: up to £85 per unit
  • Wi-Fi Booster: up to £50 per unit

Frequently Asked Questions about moving from Virgin Media to BT Broadband

  • Do I need to pay set-up fees for BT Broadband?

    The easiest way to check this is by using our comparison table. This will clearly show you if you have to pay a set-up fee for BT Broadband. Quite often, BT waives this completely.

  • Do I have to give Virgin Media notice I’m leaving?

    Yes, you’ll have to give 30 days notice.

  • How long will it take to switch from Virgin Media to BT Broadband?

    It normally takes an average of 14 days to set up a service from your broadband provider. You’ll need to give Virgin Media 30 days to switch. However, as both run off completely different networks, you could technically have your dates crossed over a little to make sure there’s no service interruption at all. Just bear in mind, you’ll also be paying for both! On your activation day, your broadband service might be offline for around 30 minutes.

  • Can I get compensation if there’s a delay in activating my BT service?

    If BT doesn’t activate your service in time, or you had an Openreach appointment booked in that’s missed, you’ll get automatic compensation. This will be set at £6.10, plus another £6.10 for each day you have to wait (excluding your eventual activation day).

  • Can I keep my Virgin Media email address?

    Once you leave Virgin Media, you’ll have 90 days before this email address is closed down. If you were keen not to lose all your archived emails you could import to a free mail service, such as Gmail. For more information, visit our guide: "Can I keep my email address if I change broadband provider?"

  • Can I keep my Virgin Media landline number when switching to BT Broadband?

    You can normally keep your existing home phone number. This will be confirmed when you sign up to a BT broadband with phone bundle.

  • Do I get the same TV Channels with BT Broadband as I did with Virgin Media?

    You’ll have to lose a few channels if you move from Virgin Media to BT. However, you’ll still be able to add on BT Sport, NOW Entertainment, NOW Sports, NOW Cinema, Sky Atlantic, Sky Sports, Sky Cinema, AMC and Netflix.

  • Can BT use Virgin Cable?

    No. BT's and Virgin Media's broadband is an entirely different infrastructure. BT's broadband service uses the Openreach network. The two aren't comparable or compatible.

Expert Summary

Switching from Virgin Media to BT Broadband should be an option for most people who have access to the Openreach network (which BT owns). This is currently over 93% of UK premises. However, if you want to get anywhere near matching the ultrafast download speeds of Virgin Media, you’ll need to be in the 39% who have access to an Openreach FTTP network, or the 6% who have an Openreach G.fast network installed (for potential speeds up to 330Mb).

Before you cancel Virgin Media, it’s important to check what’s available to you. Think hard about whether you’re happy with a potential downgrade in speed. Ask yourself how everyone at home uses the internet and how many people are online at any given time.

Here’s our recommendation for minimum broadband speed requirements:

Size of household Minimum Download Speed Recommendation
1 person 10Mb-30Mb
Up to 3 people 30Mb-50Mb
Up to 5 people 50Mb-100Mb
5+ people 100Mb+

If you’re moving from Virgin Media to any provider on the Openreach network (which of course, includes BT Broadband as well as Sky, TalkTalk, Plusnet, Vodafone and around 650 others), you’ll currently need to initiate the switch yourself. 

Don’t forget, you’ll need to give Virgin Media 30 days notice, even if you’re out of contract. If you can't get your dates for cancelling and starting a new package to match up, you could technically have both services running at the same time. However, you’d of course be paying two bills, so you’d want to keep this crossover time as short as possible.

Meet the author:

Online Editor

Broadband Genie's Editor, Emma Davenport, has been contributing to the site since 2007. She has 20 years of experience writing articles, guides and tutorials on consumer technology for magazines and online.

Specialist subject: Broadband advice for vulnerable people

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