back to article Virgin Media 'overwhelmed' by broadband customers fleeing BT

Hundreds of people who have recently signed up to Virgin Media UK’s ADSL broadband service face lengthy delays getting their accounts activated. The company has blamed a sudden spike in demand for its relaunched ADSL package, which is intended for would-be customers who live outside of the operator’s cable coverage and want to …

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Megaphone

abandon ship!!!!

i just left BT for o2 i was paying 25 quid a month and can get it for 7 with o2 since im a mobile customer, and BT had the cheek to ask why i was leaving dont make me LOL

and they even charged me 25 quid to leave, this was however not for my MAC which is agaisnt ofcom regulations its an admin fee, i shall be calling BT to complain about this and also to move to my phone to teh post office

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Stop

Not just ADSL

We ordered a V+ HD box last week and it wont' be showing up till 1st Oct, and even then that was a cancellation. Seems Virgin are struggling to keep up with demand on all fronts.

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WTF?

April 1st already?

Title says it.

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Paris Hilton

Another virgin spin

<RANT>

The only reason people are going with virgin is because they have been brainwashed thinking its fibre optic. In the last month i must have spoken to countless customers wanting virgin because they think its fibre to the home. I wish virgin would clean up its act and play fair

</RANT>

Paris because she cannot tell the difference between glass or copper either

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Happy

Useful alternatives

there a number of alternatives cheaper than BT and Virgin that offer ADSL2+ (ie - up to 24 Mbit). It's always a good idea with any ADSL service to know how far away your nearest exchange is and what ADSL it supports. Once you know where the exchange is you need to work out how far by road it is from your house. If it's less than 1Km away you should get around max speed, but be warned some companies will fob you off with excuses when they are unable to get close to the correct speed.

I'm with Bethere and I am 1.006Km of cable from the exchange. Originally they provided me with 2Mbits and it took me 6 months of arguing to get them to keep trying. The best they ever provided was 16Mbits which has dropped over time to 12Mbits. BE always claim that whatever speed i'm recieving is the fastest possible (inspite of the facts). So be prepared for problems (though not as many as you'd get with BT or Virgin)

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Not Surprised

I used these guys before, never again, shoddy service and I had to use a premium rate number to tell them about a fault on the line. I got out as soon as I was able to do so, they still tried charging us for six months after they ceased providing us with ADSL, then they told me they were still providing me with an ADSL service alongside our new provider.

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Joke

out of the frying pan

and into the fire

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Go

buh bye BT

Ask most customers with any isp and there actually happy with what they have got, then theres the ones who are not.

With most isp's the main issue is speed, price and when it goes bang what will the isp do, and how long its going to take them to do it.

Im probably not allowed to say it, but its my opinion you cant really go wrong with o2, and its sister company bethere.co.uk *(betheres website is awful, but there service is second to none) but bethere and o2 are probably the best isp's in the uk at this time.

Virgin are a big company, and a victim of there own success, hence all the throttling, and slow repair/install times. Which i think is a fair comment, they are swamped, and that does hurt customers.

So in summing it all up, if you dont like what you currently have you could try o2 or bethere, let virgin sort themselves out and only then consider them as a real alternative.

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Anonymous Coward

Surprised

Mark, in future if you phone a company on a premium rate line, and it turns out the problem is their fault, request a refund for the phone call, you'd be surprised how many will give it to you.

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I pity the fools...

Virgin are one of those companies that seems to be ever popular and appeal to a lot of people.

I think this must be the result of their strong advertising campaigns, because anyone who has ever had internet provided by them (whether on cable or not) will tell you that it is shite. With the throttling they put on the line, peak time performance is comparable to a 56k dial up modem. They are also probably the only company in the UK (maybe the entire universe) with worse customer service that BT.

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Grenade

Hype r Drive invented by Virgin

Rubbish... that about sums it up. (BT or Virgins service!)

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Worst of both worlds

In reply to Sarah Davis;

The problem with most ADSL2+ providers such as O2 and Be is that they are SMPF services, meaning they are providing only the port and exchange equipment and network back from there, and not the copper running to your home. That's what your line rental, usually to BT is for. If you're getting 2Mbps on a 1km line, it's unlikely to be a problem with the equipment, and very likely to be a problem with the copper.

Of course what should happen, is you should be able to report the poor copper to your line rental provider, who should make sure it is of good enough quality for modern ADSL services. However, because BT Openreach insist on using a line test based on the outdated SIN349 spec (really only designed for voice frequencies), actually making this happen is near to impossible, so your ISP has to dance around with Openreach trying to get engineering work done on a service which they really have nothing to do with, at massive cost to them and potentially to you also.

Openreach should be forced to update its benchmark for what quality of line constitutes acceptable service, and this would allow people to get value for the line rental they pay. Very few people are paying that line rental for a voice service now, they're paying it for exatly what it says it is, rental of a good quality working line.

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Some going the other way

Had no end of problems with Virgin especially with issues that were eventually tracked down to the the local exchange. Cheekily Virgin initially tried to blaim the cables in the flat and charge me fees. Since moving to BT haven't had an issue.

As far as i'm concerned they may be good with cable customers but if you're stuck on ADSL might as well go elsewhere.

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@matt83

That's no joke - just a statement of the facts!

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Happy

Virgin getting better

I was at the point of leaving Virgin because of their FUP bandwidth limits which they hit me with every two weeks or so (there are 5 family members in the house, using a total of 1GB+ per day - no it's not P2P, just OS fixes, internet voice chat, gaming, iPlayer, SkyAnytime PC, iTunes, Amazon MP3 store, YouTube etc.)

But they've not complained or limited me in the last three months, and the performance has improved at peak times (I can actually use iPlayer in the evening!)

I guess they must either have lost some other customers, or increased their local bandwidth. As a result, I'm currently quite happy.

I don't use their support unless I really have to, however, as it appears I know more about their network than the people in their call centres.

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FAIL

Hang on...

Don't Virgin resell the BTW IPstream product as their ADSL? So surely cussing BT down is akin to cussing yourself...

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Unhappy

An operator will get back to you within 72 hours

Ordered virgin, just the B/B though, the TV is shite compared to Sky

Waited 2 weeks

someone rang to say there was a problem with the duct from the cabinet to my house it was blocked, someone would get back to me within 72 hours

I rang them 3 days later to say that I would like to know when I would be getting the service, they said they couldn't tell me but someone would get back to me within 72 hours and tell me when they might be able to start remedial works.

I rang them 3 days later to ask if they had any idea of how long it would take to arrange for the remedial works, and when I would finally get my B/B connection sorted. They said they didn't know for sure, but digging a 3 feet hole could take about 6 weeks and someone would get back to me within 72 hours with more info.

3 days later I phoned BT and had B/B set up within 8 days. No one ever did ring me from Virgin.

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Thumb Up

Hmm I am an old Telewest customer.

The biggest change (other than a few television channels) since Virgin have taken over that I can see is the premium rate help line. I was not ammused the first time I used it. However they never billed as there was a fault, and thus I did not end up chaseing them about it.

They also arrived a day earlyer than they said to fix the problem as there as an engineer in the area, which was nice.

I have alwas felt sorry for the southern version of telewest and was quite worryed about the alalgamation of the three companys.

Anyway, My understanding is that where they have cable its fibre to your street and copper to your door not fibre to your door.

The closest Virgin have come to losing me as a customer is this thing with Phorm. I can forgive a company however for not expecting such high demand, in a ressession against an established market.

You also don't hear Virgin whineing to the goverment about "you need to give us no competiton and fixed prices for years to install fibre accross britain". I really wish they would devorce BT from the carrier service, I want BT transco'ed.

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Linux

fool me once, shame on you.

I left NTL after 12 month of absolute hell, just before they got bought up by Virgin. I hoped they might have sacked all of the existing staff but it looks like same sh1t, different day. O2 all the way.

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Virgin has pathetic traffic limits

What Virgin do not mention at sign up time is their limits. What is the point of offering super fast broadband if you are going to cap it to 3GBs between 10am and 4pm and 1.5GBs between 4pm and 9pm? That's not many iPlayer programmes. I'm not a particularly heavy user, but now and again I'll download programmes from iPlayer or iTunes and perhaps download a new version of Linux. It is very easy to hit the limit. Virgin's justification that it is just 5% of the user base is pure spin. "When someone is downloading and/or uploading a particularly large amount of information over a long period of time, it can slow down the broadband speed for other users who might just be checking their email or browsing online." So you make a big fuss of offering fibre optic 50Mbit+ with glitzy TV ads with Samuel L Jackson, but only really for email and browsing. Erm... It's like sticking a 1 gallon fuel tank in a Ferrari.

Plus it is going to get worse. They are currently trialling new management is certain areas before they roll it out nationally. This introduces ridiculous weekend caps. 3.75GB between 11am and 9pm at weekends unless you fork out £35+ a month for XL when it rises to 8GB. Weekdays it is 2.1GB between 3pm and 10pm for L package or 4.9GB for XL. If you exceed the limit they "throttle" you (i.e. up the latency to unusable levels) for 8 hours. Pathetic. I think some other form of throttling is needed at Virgin!

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FAIL

Serves the right

VM are liars, they always have been, it was a very happy day when I switched back to BT with BE* Internet.

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Pint

I've had no problems

Being an fan of cable I have come through the Blueyonder & NTL days and have been with Virgin for about 4 years now.

I don't see how people have had soooo many problems over the years and have always read these reg articles with a pinch of salt. I do admit that El Reg gets so many comments of the bad kind when it comes to broadband etc due to the fact that so many of us technically minded folks use this site. I would like to see a half decent survey of all broadband customers to see what they think.

I await the flames of "What the hell am I thinking"

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In the interests of balance..

ok, just to balance things out, Ive been with VM and cable internet for several years and its been totally fault free.

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Grenade

good, hope they grind bt into the dirt

I went to telewest after bt pissed me off and never looked back. I ripped out their steenking bt phone line back to the front door just in case I was ever tempted to go back - not likely since I added bt to my "list", along with more than and npower. I've always found telewest / virgin pretty good.

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Hardly surprising

Virgin seem to be overwhelmed by quite a lot these days. Three outages in as many months for me, and when it does work it's dead slow to stop. I pay for 20meg but only rarely see more than 4 and I'm not a heavy user.

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Anonymous Coward

Honest John's broadband

Ah, Virgin Media... that lovely company who, after I registered with the MPS, stopped sending me a thick wodge of junk mail addressed in my name once per month. Instead, I got exactly the same monthly salvo of tree destruction, just sent to 'THE OCCUPIER' instead...

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FAIL

Time for more throttling?

Presumably this time if you download more than 5MB your connection gets shut off for 6 months.

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Alert

Next Month on El Reg

Virgin broadband infrastructure fails to keep up with demand for 24Mbit broadband.

P2P file sharing blamed. Outrage at Virgin's plans to bring in measures to monitor and limit everyone downloading stuff, 95% of people do nothing about it.

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Linux

Pity the Fools

You think BT's service was bad... Those that have just signed up to Virgin have entered a new low in service standards, and honesty.

Most will have left again within 3 months.

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Go

I liked Virgin

I'm currently using '3' mobile broadband (much better than O2 for me), but I used to be with Virgin, and I found them very good.

I might try this new offer.

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Go

Virgin have been OK for me.

"The only reason people are going with virgin is because they have been brainwashed thinking its fibre optic."

We went with Telewest intially because we'd got a shocking terrestrial TV signal and our landline package was up for renewal: As we were renting at the time and the previous tenants had had the line installed it was easier and cheaper for us to than going with, e.g. Sky.

After a while Virgin bought Telewest out and we started getting bills from Virgin.

Then they asked if we still wanted paper bills and we said 'no'.

Bills duly stopped arriving, and although we get the occasional bit of junk mail it's nothing like the deluge of leaflets we get every Friday afternoon advertising shit local takeout restaurants.

Later still we got broadband (easier than fannying around getting a separate provider for broadband & phone).

This week we got an upgrade to 10 MB line.

I doubt it's 10MB, but I've never had any trouble with TeleVirginWest.

Until BT start doing cable TV packages they're unlikely to stand a chance of poaching our business from Virgin, and I'd never go with Sky because I can't bring myself to give Rupert Murdoch any money. Yes, I know Richard Branson's a cock as well, but at least he's British.

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FAIL

doesnt't surprise me

I tried to sign up for their broadband a few months ago, they couldn't even find my address in their system to set up an account, dispite being sent proof of address and the fact i've had the same address and phone number for nearly a decade!

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@ gribbler

"anyone who has ever had internet provided by them (whether on cable or not) will tell you that it is shite"

I've had Virgin cable internet for 7 years and the only problem I've had was a garden spade through the cable - fixed the next day. I'm on the basic package yet this afternoon I've downloaded something large (and legal!) at an average speed > 1Mbyte/sec. Not bad, and definitely not shite.

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Flame

Virgin/Sky

I've often questioned why Sky doesn't more aggressively pursue LLUing exchanges outside of Virgin's network, the larger of the rural exchanges and such, they could dominate the TV/BB/Phone triple offering in those areas. But then if Sky mainly think of broadband as a way to compete against Virgin and only really make money off the TV subscriptions, I guess that'd be why, they already have domination in areas outside of Virgins network.

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Reply to YobRenopps

Virgin ADSL is over the Cable and Wireless LLU network where available, rather than BTW.

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Anonymous Coward

Dubious Virgin Practices

I've been reasonably happy since it was CableTel then NTL and now Virgin, but Virgin are becoming more dubious by the day.

They said they'd upgrade all 2Mbps customers to 10Mbps, and customer services said it would happen automatically when asked, then keep emailing, "Register for it now, don't miss out, just login here", go to the page no T&C's or anything. They had already put up the charge whether you migrated or not. Phoned "India" and a nice chap with near impenetrable accent, when asked to explain, came back and said he'd upgraded me - not what I'd asked for at all.

Seems all Virgin are interested in is getting customers to change their services so they are locked into a contract for another 12 months, and nothing is below them in achieving that.

I asked why I pay more for my services than what they advertise it as; seems it's because "I don't get Discounts" and the reason for that is I'm a long-time customer, not someone Virgin has to reel in. Of course, if I "upgrade", tie myself into a new 12 month contract ...

Money grabbing sods. They seem to only want new revenue and care little about long time loyalty. If it weren't for cable and being in a low contention area I'd consider someone else, but then I'd need a BT/other line, so pretty much stuffed. And Virgin I guess know that.

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Thumb Up

another one defending VM

Been with them since they first rolled into the area (10 ish years I think) back in the days when you had to shell out £120 for a BB modem to get 512K

In all the time I have been with them I have had 2 modem die on me - all replaced within 48 hours, I guess 5 outages that I noticed (not including the modems) and always speeds as advertised within a reasonable margin PLUS as well as Minus.

I have even recommended my biz clients move to their service - yes it is more expensive - but damn its reliable - the biz side tech support is unfaultable.

Yes I download shed loads of stuff, TV epps, Software for evaluation (you can take your limited versions of software and shove it - I need to evaluate the full version for clients) we run ITV & BBC iplayer over the net to the kids rooms and to the laptops etc etc - If I went to BT or anyone else with a fair use policy I would be reduced to 56k in a matter of days. (I have mates who use their "fair use" allocation within the first week of the month)

Capping high users at peak times is fair - I accept that if I am a bandwidth hog I should be restricted - what right do I have to use all the local bandwidth and deny other more mainstream users?

Most of my "big" downloads (from the newsgroups) are queued overnight - now that I am older I find I have need for this thing called sleep - Intelligent use of resources seems to be somewhat of a rarity these days.

I think I would prefer to have no broadband than ever use BT

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Re: Jason McQueen

Same here, plus they have just upgraded me to 10Mbit from the 2Mbit service I was on, for no extra charge. Speedtest.net reports a steady 9.2Mbit, so I am pretty darned happy!

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Thumb Up

NTL?

I left BT for NTL>Virgin six years ago. It's been fine. Way better than what we had from BT.

I have read the hell stories like everyone else, but never seen any of that. Maybe it just depends on which bit of their network you are on.....

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Pint

modem shortage?

Surely they can go down any boozer and buy some cloned Virgin modems....

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Paris Hilton

There not Virgin they're NT Bloody L and they're cretins

Being the friendly neighbourhood geek much of my life I've been cleaning up after NTL (whatever they're paying beardy to cover it up) cock ups. Sufice to say their engineer's can't wire a cat 5 cable. Infact they can't get one wire in the same place at each end.Changing your TV pack's disconnects your internet. My telephone repeated cranked called some poor woman in the north west while I was at work.

My flatmates had it. 2 Meg on NTL = 0.1meg at 1 am... damn...

After trying to establish what contention they worked too and failing I finanly nobbled an Engineer in the street and asked him. He admitted they don't. They just connect more an more folks up and don't worry about wheather or not thers's any actuall badwidth.

Oh and their proxies suck.

A mate rented his house out. The NTL engineer (possibly Paris) his tenantes got in drilled straight through the main Seaboard cable into the house (before the fuse box). Taking out himself and the power. For those who've met NTL "Engineers" I think this is Darwinsim at work.

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No such thing as a free lunch

Don't understand why everyone runs away from BT. I have BT Business on a residential line (opt 2) Its not the cheapest, but.... I can watch iplayer HD most evenings. Its an unlimited package (OK fair use, but I don't peer to peer or have massive DLs except for iplayer) I get free openzone minutes which I find useful and they threw in a mobile dongle I'm not supposed to have on this package. Plus I get UK based support with real people on the end which was good when I moved house and ran in to an exchange problem when my number was moved. Think I'll stick with them - they've never let me down yet

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Bronze badge
FAIL

Virgin are complete, utter prats

Had their adsl service for a while, while it was still actually virgin, rather than rebrandedNTHell, and it was ok, 512k @ 4km from the exchange, I knew no better and it at least stayed up 24/7 (except once every month when they renewed the IP address, apparently by powercycling most of their servers, a process taking 2 hours or more)

Then NTL got involved. Immediately the network was connected to transparent proxies without permission, which didn't work anyway. Once I complained, the adsl disconnected, reconnected, disconnected, etc. ad infinitum. They claimed there was 'an issue' (no sh*t!) and their best engineers were working on the problem. After 2 weeks of calls to the premium rate customer service line, I told them if their best engineers couldn't fix a very reproducible (ever 10 minutes, ON THE DOT) problem, I was gone. A 'retentions' creature tried to tell me it was to do with their throttling and all isps did throttling and transparent proxying. So I found me an ISP who do neither*. It costs 3x as much, but you get what you pay for, and despite a few troubles with servers dying (which they're honest about and don't get some chap in India to make you reboot), I haven't really looked back.

As a backup for those times there IS a problem, I contacted virgin media (2 years after disconnecting from their adsl) to see about getting this wonderful fibre optic broadband, as a redundant connection with the decent isp*'s ADSL. Apparently, despite everyone round here having cable tv, AND the cabinets being everywhere, we're "Not in a cabled area". So I asked the salescritter what the green cabinets were. Apparently they're BT's... I said "no, one of them's open, BT don't do cable tv, can I speak to someone who knows something about your network please".

Apparently there was nobody working there who knew about their network. That may be closer to the truth than they'd like to admit. After several attempts, I found someone with a vague clue, who informed me that "not in a cabled area" is shorthand for "not on digital cable" because some of the reps apparently are too thick to know that you can have cable which isn't digital.

All in all, if virgin media went down the toilet, nobody would (a) notice or (b) care.

*webtapestry. Helpful, knoweledgeable, efficient, a bit pricy compared to 'consumer' isps, but worth it.

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Pint

An unbalanced reply

I've been with virgin since the NTL days

The service is sucky because of the stupid download limits(especially since I live in a fibre optic area and theres lots of extra bandwidth available...... more so if they dumped those stupid TV channels only 4 people watch)

Just because I ownload a new operating system, or order a new videogame from Steam does'nt mean I need to be throttled because I dont do it every day.

I suspect they do it because their system in total does'nt have the capacity they thought it did

On the plus side, I had a fault with my settop box which meant no TV or internet, the service engineer was in within 20 hrs and got the problem sorted and fixed*

Boris

*In a van which had Virgin painted over the NTL logo and the service engineer was ex-ntl as were all his tools and spare set top box..hhmm maybe a lesson there

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Silver badge
FAIL

This always happens, why??

Announce a great offer, get flooded with customers, fail to cope with all of them. Get bad press and pissed-off new customers telling their friends not to bother. Sometimes, fail to invest in the network so that the teething problems become a permanently bad service.

Better, surely, to announce a less inexpensive offer and catch only those who are REALLY unhappy with the competition. Use the extra profit to buy more kit to enhance the service. Only then, advertise a price cut (and future plans to keep on cutting). Get some more customers, but still don't get flooded. Advertise another price cut. Keep going until you conquer the world.

I'll wait a year or so to see if the Virgin service settles down as better than BT, cheaper than BT, both or neither.

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Virgin cable is OK these days

Not had a problem for two years. Some network reworking last year and I've got 10mbit most of the time from big bandwidth file sites. Reading (winnersh) is my area.

But its £25 pm! That will make me think twice when I move.

Still sticking with SKY HD thou.

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Stop

Virgin Cable Is Awesome

This is why.

http://img268.imageshack.us/img268/1594/50mbps.jpg

I get that speed consistently when downloading from Use.... err, BitTorrent. It beats the pants off any other residential ISP service.

Recently I had 3 hours of downtime for the first time in about 6 months. I phoned them up to see if it was a fault with my line and found out it was a problem with a router in my area that was causing around 200 connections to go dark.

They refunded 10% of my monthly bill for the inconvenience and arranged an engineer to come round the next morning (about 14 hours after my call). The engineer wasn't needed in the end as the problem was already resolved and I was back online.

Years ago when I was on 512k, they upgraded me to 1mbps for free. Then 2mbps, then 10mbps, then 20mbps. Now I've switched to 50mbps for £2 less than 20mbps was previously costing me.

I always get my advertised speed, usually a little more as you can see in the screenshot. I rarely have any connection issues and when I do, they are resolved quickly.

I know there's a lot of negative sentiment on Virgin Media as a company, but as a long time customer of their internet and telephone service, I really don't have a bad word to say about the quality of their broadband offering. I wouldn't dream of switching to anything else out there.

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Megaphone

Throttling

This is not an ad and I don't work for Pipex or Demon.

I used to be with Demon and I would hit quite frequently their fair usage policy of 50GB/month - I managed once to get restricted for a month between 8am till 10pm to 15k/sec.

I finally moved to Pipex Business (I don't have a business) and haven't had a problem since - I do miss Demon; rarely had a problem with them but alas times to change and for the better; I say £4 a month for a better service :)

I would have stayed with Demon if it weren't for the fair usage policy...

Mike

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Boffin

Err?

There's three kinds of connection VM can provide. The nature of what you get is going to affect the quality:

* Fibre/copper hybrid (fibre to the neighbourhood, copper coax loop around the houses) - this is the traditional VM business. The service seems okay but has a reputation for being tough with heavy users. This is only available to around half the country.

* IPStream - this is a wholesale connection where BT is the provider. It is possible to offer a decent service using IPStream but very expensive. VM's version has a reputation for being crap. Not surprising really. This is available on 99% of UK telephone lines and that's a big reason why it is expensive. Some of the exchanges are always going to be operated at a loss. Very few countries have achieved 99% line coverage.

* LLU - This is where the ISP puts their own DLSAM in the exchange and manages their own backhaul. Done properly it can be either very profitable or very good (or good and profitable :)). Most exchanges can be unbundled but a lot aren't worth the bother.

There's a lot of scope here for VM to pull the wool over naive user's eyes. Caveat emptor :)

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virgin

Been with NTL/Virgin for nearly 8 years and not had a single problem. Speed seems fine too.

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