Virgin Media raise standalone broadband prices
VIRGIN Media have quietly increased the prices of their standalone broadband packages, adding £1.75 onto the monthly cost of each for new customers.
The changes come not long after they told existing customers that they'd be seeing their connection speeds upgraded free of charge over the next few months.
As yet there's no word about a similar increase in prices for existing customers.
That said, many Virgin TV customers have already been hit with a £3 increase as a result of the addition of BT Sport Europe to their packages.
Take fewer services, pay more?
Virgin Media are one of the few widely available options for people who want a broadband service without having to take a phone line.
Given how steeply the cost of line rental has increased in recent years, the chance to be free of it is enough of an incentive for many.
But customers choosing to keep things simple miss out on the introductory offers and discounts that come with bundling more services.
Standalone broadband now costs at least £31.25 a month for every one of the 12 months of the minimum contract.
People who decide to take a phone line must sign up for at least 18 months - and pay £16.99 a month line rental - but they do at least qualify for a nine month discount on the broadband element of their package.
Side by side, over the course of a year, here's how taking a phone or not affects how much a Virgin Media broadband customer will pay:
If two customers started their contracts on the same day, one taking broadband alone, the other taking broadband plus phone, the person taking the extra service would have paid less on the anniversary of their contracts.
What's more, that saving can be made even greater by the fact that phone customers can pay for a year's line rental upfront. At £164 for 12 months, that brings line rental down to the equivalent of £13.67 a month.
That's assuming, of course, that Virgin don't plan to increase the cost of their line rental and Line Rental Saver for a while longer; previously they've implemented those kinds of increases around February.
With BT and TalkTalk having announced their line rental will be going up to nigh on £18 in the very near future, it's reasonable to assume Virgin (and Sky) will announce similar price hikes soon enough.
The other thing to remember with Virgin is that under their terms and conditions they're allowed to raise their prices mid contract. That includes the introductory price as well as the standard price.
Last month they had their knuckles rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority for not making that clear enough - so be warned.
So when can I get it?
In the meantime Virgin's Project Lightning is continuing apace; after Manchester became the first city to see construction begin under the £3 billion expansion programme, work has begun on filling the gaps in Leeds and Nottingham.
Work to connect a further 80,000 premises in Leeds began at the end of July. The first part of the project is focusing on the Middleton area of the city, where another 11,000 homes are being given access to the network.
Once the expansion is finished, Virgin say they should be available in about 80% of the area covered by the LS postcode.
This month they began work in the Nottingham area, including Mansfield, Grantham and Newark-upon-Trent, where they hope to provide access to another 50,000 homes at a cost of £25 million.
By the time Project Lightning is complete in 2020, Virgin hope to have added another four million premises to their network; they say that so far they've already earmarked 250,000 properties.
Again, Virgin's chief executive Tom Mockridge has stressed the importance of customer demand on getting the holes in the network plugged.
Speaking as construction commenced in Nottingham, he said the area was among the first to be tackled because of the "early interest from homeowners, businesses and Nottingham City Council".
Anyone wondering how to get Virgin to include them in their expansion can find out how to make a stronger argument in our guide, available here.