Virgin Media O2 is cutting prices of some of its broadband plans and its Stream TV box, as part of its cost-of-living support scheme, also known as “Social Tariff”.
As part of the announcement made this week, Virgin Media is dropping the price of its existing Essential Broadband 15Mbps plan by 16%, as well as creating a new “Essential Broadband Plus” that will offer 50Mbps speeds for just £20/month.
Eligible customers (see below) will be able to get Virgin Media’s new Stream box, which offers Freeview, entertainment and premium channels via broadband, for a discounted upfront fee of £20, instead of the usual £35.
Stream’s basic plan, which includes Freeview channels and apps, is then free – with the option to add paid TV add-ons.
Meanwhile, “regular” customers are currently being offered a £200 bill credit when they sign up for some of Virgin Media O2’s “Bigger” traditional broadband and TV plans – but only until October 13.
Virgin Media’s Social Tariff Plans
As part of Virgin Media’s scheme to help those who need financial assistance, the company introduced – back in 2020, an “Essential Broadband” plan that offers of speeds of 15Mbps.
At launch, the Essential plan was priced at £15/month, but that has now been dropped to £12.50/month for all new and existing customers.
The Essential plan has no fixed-term contracts, and instead offers 30-day rolling contracts – so customers can leave at any point without termination fees.
Next month, Virgin Media O2 is also launching a new social tariff plan – “Essential Broadband Plus”.
The Plus plan will deliver speeds of 50Mbps at £20/month, again with no fixed contracts and no activation fees.
It’s worth noting that Virgin Media’s “regular” broadband plans are usually priced higher, at least officially – but those who haggle can often get them at these prices (or even lower).
However, in most cases, haggling only works when you’re willing to sign a long-term contract, while the social tariff plans don’t require fixed contracts – or any negotiations.
Add Virgin Media’s Stream Box On Top
Along with the upcoming Essential Broadband Plus, Virgin Media also announced that customers of the new Plus plan would be able to get its streaming TV box – Stream – for an upfront, one-off fee of just £20 – a 42% saving on the normal £35 charge.
Unlike Virgin Media’s traditional TV boxes (like the TV 360), the Stream is based on broadband, therefore all of its content – from streaming services like Netflix and Freeview channels like BBC One – are delivered via the internet.
Do note that the Stream box can’t record – instead, it uses the broadcasters’ streaming apps (like BBC iPlayer and All4), as well as Virgin Media’s own catch-up library – to let you stream content on-demand.
The Stream box also supports a variety of streaming apps and services, like Netflix and Disney+, as well as premium paid TV services like BT Sport and Sky’s entertainment channels.
If you add some of the streaming subscriptions via your Virgin Media bill, you’ll get a 10% credit back.
However, if you just stay with the Freeview channels – there are no monthly fees at all (which is the case with regular Freeview boxes as well – but, again, in this case you don’t need an aerial, which is a plus for some).
Who Can Get Virgin Media’s Social Tariff Plans?
At the moment, customers who are on Universal Credit are eligible to sign up for Virgin Media O2’s social tariff plans – Essential Broadband and Essential Broadband Plus.
To prove they’re eligible for Essential broadband, customers will need to provide a screenshot of their online Universal Credit Payments page.
The company is also working to implement the government’s new automated check scheme, which will enable Virgin Media O2 to expand the range of benefits in scope for its social tariffs to include Pension Credit.
Those who aren’t eligible for the social tariffs can still get Virgin Media’s Stream Box, but they have to subscribe to one of the company’s regular broadband plans (and, sadly, existing customers who are currently under a TV contract, can’t switch to the Stream).
Jeff Dodds, Chief Operating Officer at Virgin Media O2 said: “We have a long history of stepping up in tough times and now is no different.
“Connectivity remains an essential part of our lives, so we are boosting the support we provide to those who need it most in the cost-of-living crisis.
“We’re taking steps to increase awareness of our social broadband plans, while making it easier to sign up, and are calling on the Government to cut VAT on social tariffs which we will directly pass on, helping those struggling most to save even more.”