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back to article Half of Virgin Media broadband ads are wrong, says ASA

Virgin Media has been taken to task by ad regulators over 10 separate adverts. The complaints centred on three separate national press adverts, a leaflet, a TV ad and a radio advert. BT complained that the first newspaper advert said that Virgin's fibre optic broadband is twice as fast as that of BT. BT bitched that this …

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Anonymous Coward

Greyhounds run at upto 40mph

If I bought one that didn't go that fast, I'd be dissapointed, but accept that there are many variables... That said, if it did 20mph I'd be a bit annoyed...

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Anonymous Coward

hang on a sec

so when will BT get its balls chewed for advertising in my area 20Mbps ADSL speeds when we can only get 2?

i dont want to hear any of that upto rubbish, they want to advertise in my area then they should be forced to advertise the average speed by exchange. Thats fair for everyone, and would also highlight BTs shortcomings on their network

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FAIL

2Mbps? I should be so lucky!

I'm in London - Rotherhithe overlooking Canary Wharf - and can only get 400kbps. No cable option, no fibre optic option. Rubbish!

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understandable

But the speed is not only regulated by the exchange it is also your distance from the exchange.

Please dont think line of sight or the shortest via road either as the cable to the exchange can take a very circuitous route.

BT also tend to advertise on a national scale not your road / postcode area

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Anonymous Coward

@Lionel Baden

Ah yes, im quite aware of that but the exchange will know what the sync rate is and this they do know the average speed per exchange, saying you can get 20Mbps when only 5% of the population of that area can get that speed is wrong, pure an simple.

As for the advertising, thats not my problem, If i ever got a massive data centre pipe line and was able to flog off some of that speed via 100Mbps wifi to a few local houses then advertise to the whole area that we have "upto" 100Mbps and give everyone else 2Mbps it would be seen as wrong and id get in to trouble, the numbers are higher but its much the same. I just dont see the point in having OFCOM when all they do is pick on the little guys, our countries internet is crap because we have little to no compertition to BT who will not invest in the wider network, and to be honest, from a company point of view thats fine, but for the user its rubbish and we have to just sit there and suck it.

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@dazzza

Yup your quite right the little guy does usually get butfucked while the big corps just steamroller everything.

The problem i feel is not the advertising UP TO 40 mb etc etc etc...

The Massive problem i have is somebody pays for a 8MB line and only gets 2MB.

Ofcom should regulate it, so that consumers actually pay for the speed they are getting.

(To any negative replies this is bad for me as i have 37 down and 7 up, but it would be fair)

So your paying for 8 mb and only get 2 mb you only pay relative % of the speed you get of the total package price.

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WTF?

Nefarious deeds

Something else that should be looked into however, is the apparent prioritisation of traffic to the popular speedtest websites...

In my rudimentary testing using a 50mb virgin connection, i see that:

I consistently get 50mbit/sec when using speedtest.net

I can sometimes get 50mbit/sec when downloading from virgin's mirror sites (eg gentoo.virginmedia.com)...

Downloading from a server hosted at the same ISP as one of the speedtest sites, connected via a gigabit connection i get between 10 and 20mb, depending on the time of day... The server itself is idle, and is capable of uploading at 100mbit or faster to servers hosted elsewhere.

Similar speeds are seen when downloading from other places

I wouldn't be surprised if other isps do the same thing, knowing that many users trust the speedtest sites and won't do more thorough testing themselves.

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Reliable Speed Tests

I wouldn't put any stock in the figures from Speedtest.net, nor from any other speed test that uses Flash to calculate the result.

Every time I have tried a Flash speed test, I get figures either wildly below or above what I know the line is giving.

The proof the figures are garbage: When I've run the test, Speedtest.net tells me that my 8Mbps line is giving me 20 or 30 Mbps. Physically impossible.

I use the Java based speed test at ThinkBroadband.com. Much more realistic figures.

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50 Meg broadband

I find that my broadband speeds can range from the full 50Mbit all the way down to 10Mbit on SpeedTest.net, generally when it's raining the speed plumits and I need to reboot the not so Super Hub.

However when downloading from newsgroups I can get the full 50Mbit speed. I also find that around 4pm when the schools finish the speed also goes down a bit (or that could be my pesky daughters on their laptops streaming lots of JLS videos on Youtube!).

Rob

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Facepalm

And in other news....

... Bears are catholic.

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Facepalm

Bears are catholic.

WTF? you sure? if so we've really fucked up... we've just installed a wood for the popes visit.

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Facepalm

Oh nooo...

What about the tonne of shit to go with the woods?? do I take that back as well??

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Go

Or as I always say,

Does the pope sh*t in the woods?

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Stop

Fibre Optic

When will someone point out to Virgin and the ASA that their network is simply NOT completely fibre optic... the cables into customers houses are Copper Co-Axial!

At least BT are honest about where their fibre goes with FTTC and FTTP.

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WTF?

Really?

'At least BT are honest about where their fibre goes with FTTC and FTTP'

Take a look at this image from the BT Infinity landing page:

http://www.productsandservices.bt.com/consumer/assets/images/broadband/broadband_infinity_hero.jpg

Or this one:

http://www.productsandservices.bt.com/consumer/assets/images/package_icon02.png

What do these images rather heavily imply?

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Bronze badge

Re: Really?

Erm they imply to me that you can get FTTP which in some cases you can.

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Honest? Not really.

Given that the only reference on the front page of the Infinity website to FTTC is in the small print "speeds affected by various factors including distance from the cabinet", whereas right at the top of the page they describe the service as "our new fibre optic broadband", I'd say they're almost as bad as Virgin here - to the casual punter interested in either Infinity or Virgin Cable, it's really not clear at all that the fibre stops somewhere outside the home unless you're lucky enough to be in an area set up for FTTP.

In any case, does it really matter what the final mile consists of so long as it doesn't form a bottleneck in your connection? Co-ax (when combined with DOCSIS3 hardware at both ends of the wire) isn't going to become a bottleneck for home users any time soon, so VM really don't need to run fibre right to your doorstep. In contrast, even the short hop of twisted pair in an Infinity FTTC installation has the potential to restrict your speeds a lot, so BT certainly DO need FTTP to remain competitive on speed even now, let alone in the near future as VM continue to turn up the wick.

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Happy

Broadband speed claims?

...it's *all* a bunch of bollox.

That is all.

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Anonymous Coward

right

well considering that virgin is rolling out 100meg and BT 40meg, id say that's its over twice as fast. Plus may not be fibre to the house, but co-ax can transmit a lot more data than the twisted pair that BT use between their cabinets and the premises. Its just companies complaining about companies. If you can get virgin their internet service is much more capable than BT's based on the technology used. Rather than argue over who's the best service they should roll out to all slow/no-spots as a matter of priority, thats the real issue with broadband in the UK.

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Meh

I agree completely!

I agree completely, you get an upvote from me.

I noticed on another article on another site (The Inquirer) that another ISP has also complained and said about bonded broadband, now that's all well and good but they fail to mention the fact that bonded ADSL (or VDSL) requires more than one line and more than one line rental.

Sure Virgin aren't available to the whole of the UK, and some areas don't get the speeds, and some areas can't get 100Mbit yet BUT if I wanted to get 50Mbit (or thereabouts) which I get on Virgin I'd have to get about 7 phone lines installed with ADSL (approx 7mbit on each line on a good day, no ADSL2+ in my area), so that's 7 lots of phone line rental what approx £12 a month, plus 7 lots of ADSL bonded, so anything from 15 quid upwards per line I'd guess (when I was with Enta I was paying just under £30 a month for business grade broadband). So even if I allow 15 quid per broadband connection that would be £189 a month, compared to about £38 a month on Virgin (uncluding phone line). Heck, even Virgin Media business broadband over cable isn't near the £200 a month mark!

(Yes, I know the combined upload speed would possibly be a bit quicker, but not by much).

For once I think that the ASA are a bit wrong on this one.

Rob

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Flame

BT can suck my arse

Their service in our village is a joke, we routinely got 132kbps on a DSL+ line. Repeated visits by various BT semi-trained monkeys made it worse.

Called Virgin, now running 48Mbps (average) on 50Mpbs line and get speeds back to my hosted server in Texas (I'm in Marlow) of 35Mbps when I throw large chunks of data up there.

I had to threaten Ofcom on BT to get them to break their contract of garbage internet access. Even their staff know Infinity is a sham as there is an official procedure they follow when they don't live up to their shoddy claims for Infinity.

Oh, Infinity is only available in about 2% of the country. Last I looked Virgin was 10-20X that even for their 10mbs service.

BT just can't take it -- lying down or standing up.

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Vic
Silver badge

BT can suck my arse too

> Oh, Infinity is only available in about 2% of the country.

I've just lost a customer to BT becaused they promised said customer that he'd have Infinity by September. And he believed them[1].

BT's web site says the customer won't have Infinity this year or next. Their announcements of which exchanges are going to get it studiously avoid mentioning my (former) customer's exchange.

But BT Sales Monkeys are stilling making claims...

It's all rather reminiscent of the "crash and burn" sales techniques beloved of satellite TV salesmen 20 years ago :-(

Vic.

[1] Yes, he's a twonk. Which is why I'm not that bothered to lose him as a customer.

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Flame

Bunch of lying gits

All their call centre staff are told to push that line as well. It really gets on my tits when some oik tries to tell me I have "superfast fibre optic" broadband, whilst in the same breath stating that DSL in my area is "probably only up to 8MB and you might not even get that".

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Happy

Should it not say

"up to"(*) half of all complaints upheld?

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Bronze badge

Up to 100% of Virgin BB adverts are false.

Wouldn't that have been a fairer title?

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Thumb Up

Well put

Bravo, sir!

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Alert

Only half of them ? Really?

I've never seen an advert for virgin (or any other telco) which advertised the whole truth in large print.

Stupid ASA thinks its perfectly OK to make a "half-true" statement in the large print, and then "correct" it in small print that the advertiser intends that most people won't bother to read.

ASA will remain a total waste of time until it reviews its policies and judges adverts according to the only bit the advertiser intended to be seen -- ie, the large print of a printed advert, the opening sentence of a radio advert, etc.

If the large print isn't true for MOST of the people who will read it, then its misleading and should not be allowed -- no matter what disclaimers may follow.

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Pirate

Quite right

Really, the only time small print should be used on advertising is when there's a massive amount of legally required information that has to be there, like on financial adverts - even there though the APR should be writ large.

Just to pick some random examples in the paper, there's an "Internet Enabled* TV" * meaning you need to buy an extra dongle to enable it, offers applicable within certain date ranges - how hard is it to do an offer in July rather than July 1st to August 3rd??, and drinks ads with the drinkaware site in a variety of font sizes from miniscule up to tiny. The iWhatever dock & speakers with a * indicating that the pictured iWhatever in the dock wasn't included did make me chuckle, though.

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Bronze badge

Best example

From the article:

"SPEEDY Broadband, TV and calls just £9.50 a month ... Fibre optic speedy broadband – It's official, Ofcom has proven our broadband is around twice as fast as BT, Sky and TalkTalk's comparable packages, even at peak times^"

But it's not £9.50, it's £9.50 plus line rental. @ £13.90 from the 1st August 2011, so it's actually

£23.40 a month.

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Anonymous Coward

just following BT style

It is the exact same way BT advertise. They put up a figure, but always leave out the line rental cost.

Even worse is when any of these ISPs claim it is £5 per month and then the small print says "For the first three months and then we will charge full whack from then on". A trick they all do... they just copy each other's scams.

I am constantly having to explain the maths to my clients who see these BT "bargain" adverts. Then we sit down and do the maths and find it is actually more expensive than their current ISP for a lower level of service.

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Simple, really

Just make it obligatory for ISPs charges to be on the same "up to" basis.

50% speed = 50% charge.

Failure to respond to complaints/support requests in a timely manner another 50% discount per month outstanding.

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Unhappy

Doh

"Just make it obligatory for ISPs charges to be on the same "up to" basis.

50% speed = 50% charge.

Failure to respond to complaints/support requests in a timely manner another 50% discount per month outstanding."

Given the state of UK broadband the regulatory body needed to enforce this would probably need twice the staff of the whole country's broadband industry.

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Silver badge
Flame

Prefer them to be honest

Considering that when doing a test from exchange to customer premises they know damn well what they can expect based on noise, capacitance etc. and always have done.

Sorry, that's "Those testers who are not sitting following screen prompts and have actually gone out and got thier hands dirty in the past". Not thier managers who on the whole are corporate gobshites or those who say that the test either says pass or fail and do not allow testers to correctly interpret the actual results and not just 'pass/fail'.

I got pissed off tryng to fight this particular corner for years (and others) for customers (that's me as well) at BT and eventually took the money. "You are not allowed to read the result figures, they won't tell you anything." "Do you have any idea what these figures mean? No? well fuck off 'cos I do. It means they will get 2meg and no more - ever, until someone goes out and either sorts out all the cable joints or puts in fibre".

The muppets in charge would not let us do what we were trained for - as we began to turn in to automatons in fornt of a screen many of us just left. They wanted trained monkeys and to pay them peanuts while the customers were mushroomed (kept in the dark etc.)

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Silver badge

Why bother?

What's the point of the ASA? Virgin (and others) repeatedly run misleading ads and the ASA just say 'don't run that one again' - where's the penalty? How many suckers have been taken in by the misleading ads? How much money have Virgin etc made as a result of those misleading ads?

Until the ASA have the power to hit the advertisers where it hurts, and actually use that power, then they might as well wind it up. How about a practical penalty such as banning Virgin from publishing ANY adverts in the press, online, TV, radio etc for say one month? Then if they still mislead, the next time it's two months etc. It's the only language they understand...

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I wish my Virgin BB was twice as fast as BT

Have been with Virgin for about 10 years, but no longer. Finally had the balls to ditch them after months frustration. Ok I am a cheap skate on 10mb package but more than enough for our family needs. That would be great if I could get over 1mb except on the odd occasion. Sat on the phone with the useless support guy and he tried to blame everything but their connection/modem, then offered to call me back (I am still waiting).

We have even had a case where we had a local powercut, post powercut the speeds dropped to 300kbps (some times to no connection) so I called (having rebooted every possible device trying to get connection working), they offered an engineer I accepted we had another power cut a few days later and low an behold back came our broadband.

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Virgin = fail

Im pretty .sure Virgin has the fastest internet in the UK.

Shame that they wont let their customers use it.

Go online for more than 1 hour and the speed is capped at around 1/10th of its normal speed. Im sure they actively disrupt iPlayer, I complained about that and was told hard luck use the one on the box instead.

So yes worst company I have had to deal with since Car Phone Warehouse oh so many years ago.

And don't believe their prices, they put them up roughly every 3 months by about £1.

Useless swines

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They do let you use it...

...if you're a customer willing to pay for the fastest internet in the UK - traffic management is only applied in earnest on the lower-tier options, there's barely anything applied to the 50Mb option (presumably the 100Mb is similarly unafflicted - although I couldn't find any reference to that on the VM site). And even on the lowest-tier option, you should still get more than 1/10th of your advertised speed once you hit the cap.

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But...

Maybe some people have a problem with being sold a 10 Meg "unlimited" connection, only to find it is in fact severely and punitively limited.

95% of online activity wouldn't particularly benefit from a 50 meg+ connection, but virgin have set up a system where if you want to stream HD content from youtube / iplayer / whatever for more than 20 minutes in the evening your going to have to shell out for a higher tier, regardless of the fact that 10 meg is enough for 2 HD streams from iplayer, and is advertised as being unlimited.

Same applies to DLC / game patches / P2P / <activity of choice>, 10 meg is more than enough bandwidth the vast majority of the time, but VM seem to think that if you actually plan on using any of it then you need to pay them more money.

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Megaphone

All in BigCorp's pockets

the ASA, Ofcom, the lot of them; as someone said recently the UK should consider an application to make itself the 51st state, as the influence of BigCorp is equaliy pervasive both sides of the pond, while at least in the States there's a comparatively democratic justice system, that while it responds to money as most legal systems do, at least tends to prove its irreverence for 'social' status

As an aside, the FS Ombudsman is one more instance of a stooge, it's as though the regulatory bodies – including, in the UK, the courts – are designed simply as a waste of peoples' time that could be more usefully employed taking more appropriate action

</Fume>

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Pint

Up My Street

Every man and his dog is on Virgin. The DL speeds frankly suck between 15:00 & 23:59. I got better DL speeds with DSL in the evenings than when I was on Virgin

I upgraded to FTTC last week. The ISP said approx 32Mbits/sec. I get a rock steady 4.2Mbytes download duting the day and 3.6-3.8 in the evenings.

At the moment, I'm the first customer with FTTC in my cabinet. My neighbour is pretty impressed with my speeds.

Virgin keep trying to entice me back with offers of 50Mbit connection. Please get real Virgin. Unless they come and replace the coax that was laid yonks ago then given the present contention issues there is no way you can get anywhere near that sort of speed.

So, to summarize.

Every ISP is a complete dick. (90%)

Sometimes they can get it right and you get a decent service. (10%)

Thats the maths for today. Now for a beer.

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FAIL

customer service is dire

Since we're all having a bash about virgin, the only reason i'm with them is because their actual product is rock solid. I have their 30mb / xl tv and xl phone and recieve an excellent service.

However, looking to their customer service, oh dear. I've had numerous problems particularly with their mobile service team, their advisors are extremely rude, abrupt, don't listen, aren't willing to help and frankly i get the impression they just want you off the phone.

The interesting part is i worked with their customer service team until June last year, things were turning bad on the inside, too much focus on stats and figures and nothing on quality and service. They're now literally sacking people because they can't get customers off the phone quick enough and aren't upselling their own products to target.

Frankly they shouldn't have the virgin stamp on their name at all acting the way they do.

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@customer service is dire

I agree.

I have the same package as you XL everything. I have the 50mb though.

I have no problems with the service (apart from the V+ Box regularly rebooting 10 minutes into my favourite programmes).

Broadband is rock steady. My boss lives just down the road and has BT broadband. After 4pm he is screwed. However, my connection flies.

Their customer service does suck however. Case in point, when I got the 50mb installed an engineer came out and installed it. 10 mins after he left, no internet. Call customer service, explained. "Oh, wait a few hours and it will be fine" I tried to explain it had been fine, but had since gone off. Anyway, several hours later, back on the phone for 3 hours. They tried to tell me that the engineer hadn't activated the modem with the server management team (or similar) and it would take 1 week to put a request in.

I had a running argument that I had internet in the morning, but since engineer visit I had nothing, therefore I wanted to downgrade back to normal BB. Eventually I got someone who knew what they were doing, and he ran a few tests down the line and got it working.

Similar story for my dad. New housing estate, and he was one of the first Virgin (telewest at the time) customers. As more people moved onto the estate, the broadband got slower, and then died. Several engineer call outs later, and them titting about with ipconfig etc, someone who knew what they were doing turned up. He worked out the extra load from new houses hooking up required the signal to be boosted. Job done.

So they do have good, reliable people working there. They are just hidden behind all the shite and riff raff.

If you never need their customer service, its a great service. As soon as you have issues, be prepared to battle to get what you want.

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Bronze badge
FAIL

When-sa youra Dolmio* day

* Made in Holland.

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WTF?

WTF?

in line with my original thread

Quote from Tatsky > "He worked out the extra load from new houses hooking up required the signal to be boosted"

Could someone explain why a Fibre Optic connection would suffer signal loss??

(TatSky, I'm not slamming you here, i'm pointing out a further issue with the way Vermin media (and NTL/Telewest advertise their products....)

@ AC 10:36

As Ragarath points out, they imply that you can have fibre to your premises if you want it. (FTTP)

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Boffin

to answer your question, a few links from people more qualified then myself:

The following was shamlessly stolen from wackypedia:

"Attenuation in fiber optics, also known as transmission loss, is the reduction in intensity of the light beam (or signal) with respect to distance travelled through a transmission medium. Attenuation coefficients in fiber optics usually use units of dB/km through the medium due to the relatively high quality of transparency of modern optical transmission media. The medium is typically a fiber of silica glass that confines the incident light beam to the inside. Attenuation is an important factor limiting the transmission of a digital signal across large distances. Thus, much research has gone into both limiting the attenuation and maximizing the amplification of the optical signal. Empirical research has shown that attenuation in optical fiber is caused primarily by both scattering and absorption."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attenuation#Optics

for something with some proper authority, the guys at Juniper Networks probably know a bit:

http://www.juniper.net/techpubs/en_US/release-independent/junos/topics/concept/fiber-optic-cable-signal-loss-attenuation-dispersion-understanding.html

As a note of clarification, you are most-likely talking about single-mode fiber, not multi-mode fiber. multi-mode attenuates much quicker due to how it travels down the cable.

Bill Hammak at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has a wonderful demonstration of how fiber works using a laser-pointer and propylene-glycol:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MwMkBET_5I

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re virgin/ntl and all other adsl at multiple locations in south

I have for the past 10 years been mostly on ntl and now virgin in various places in the south - I seemed to be going around the home counties starting from near watford going round clockwise!!! - I'm now at about 8'oclock just off the M25!! for the past 5 years.

Whenever I'd get ntl installed they would test it's performance and take corrective action - in one place they ripped out and replaced the coax from the house to the curb as there was too much signal loss for broadband (at 10 or 20 can't remember now) right from the beginning. This wasn't prompted by me - infact I only knew they were there when they knocked on the door to say they would be disrupting tv service while they fixed the problem and had already been there for past hour already.

In some places cable wasn't available so had do make do with crappy adsl. Even removing everything from the sockets no ringer loops etc just plugging router straight into BT socket have never got better than 6-8 Mbps. In current premises ADSL cannot go over 2Mbps due to aluminum wires here.. Yet you complain and they just shrug their shoulders and say "oh well it is up to 24Mbps means you will get anything from 0 to 24" !!. Not once has BT or ISP even considered to upgrade/replace connectors/cables or troubleshoot and they really don't give an effing toss about what nonsense they'll pass for broadband.

When I upgraded to 50 Mbps in past year or so I was wondering if they could just replace the kit and I do a self install so as to save £50 install charge... instead they chose to wave the fee and still send out engineer. When he came he tested the line and said this won't do it will only go up to 30 Mbps and thus re did practically the whole cabinet! spending at least 3 hours there and then came in to test and was chuffed when the router speed tested at a straight 50Mbps.

So far I've experienced their service in 6 locations and can only say their service is faultless and miles apart from anyone else. The ASA can sit and quible on technicalities all it wants but the reality is VM is a far better consumer* ISP by light years based on my experience and it's not like I'm the MD's cousin or anything!!.

*I've had very limited experience with NTL as a commercial service provider so cannot comment re business services

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Anonymous Coward

I get FTTP from BT......

....and Virgin Media can suck my arse as they don't do cable in my area.

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I get HFC from VM...

...and BT can suck my nether regions as they don't do Infinity in my area (*). Swings and roundabouts, neither of them will be able to please everyone...

(*) and when they finally get around to doing so - September, according to the latest info on their site - it'll only be FTTC with predicted speeds of up to 27Mb/s. VM had their co-ax running down our street at least 5 years ago, and have been delivering a consistent 50Mb/s service for the last 2 years.

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WTF?

naughty virgin

hum cant say im suprised about virgins ads misleading maybe they were doing it for a reason to have a pop at bt for not investing in its infrastructure. but bt is now investing in its broadband thankfully weather its enough to keep up with virgin is another matter.

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Silver badge

I'd rather they just stopped misquoting their prices

£20 a month* for Cable TV, internet access and free weekend calls.

"Wow that's good!"

*plus £14.00 for line rental.

"Oh"

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