back to article Cable broadband making more money than cable telly

Virgin Media makes the bulk of its money from its cable customers in the UK according to the company's quarterly filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). And a mild increase in revenues from its cable broadband business fuelled the last quarter for the telecom and media company. For the three months ended 30 …

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Living right in the centre of London, Virgin are unable to offer a cable TV service. The existing analogue cable, previously NTL, and previous to that Westminster Cable will not be upgraded to fibre, and as I understand it, Virgin will be switching off the analogue cable TV in January, leaving Westminster without access to any cable services. However, it doesn't stop Virgin sending me leaflets every month telling me how wonderful their new fibre and Tivo service is, a service we can't get and they have no intention of ever supplying to the area!

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Anonymous Coward

Rip-off broadband

They advertise, for example, a 10Mb connection with "unlimited downloads" in bold letters. There is a little "1" postfixed to this claim though. And if you bother to follow this to the tiny notes in pale grey at the bottom, it says "Acceptable use policy applies. Traffic Management operates from 4pm to 9pm and 10am to 3pm to ensure a consistent user experience."

If you follow these links, it says "we moderate the speeds of the very small proportion of customers who are downloading and/or uploading an unusually high amount". Sounds fair enough - they're chasing the bandwidth hogs who are downloading day and night - right? Wrong!

Click on the Traffic Management Policy and attempt to decipher the tables. You find that your 10Mb connection - at the times your are likely to use it - is limited to 1.5GB. In other words, you can have 10Mb (if it works) for about 20 minutes.

I only discovered this after weeks of irritation that the connection was so slow - often piddling along at 1Mb or less - and finally called Virgin to find out if there was a fault. We had attempted to watch a single film purchased online (which weighed in at 1.8GB) and the connection had slowed to a crawl (~0.7Mb). I was told my connection was capped because I had downloaded more than 1GB. Which makes Virgin's service completely useless.

They advertise the ability to watch films, online TV, etc, and pitch a reasonable price for the service, but then when you try to actually use the services they advertise they call you hog and demand more money to upgrade to the *truly* unlimited service (at a much higher price, of course). Bottom line - if your looking for a good provider, read their conditions scrupulously - especially where the word "unlimited" is used - and don't even consider Virgin. I can why they're making so much money on broadband.

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Joke

It costs £400,000 to use this Internet connection, for 12 seconds.

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Anonymous Coward

Fair Usage Policy

Why don't you just set your film to download after 9pm and then watch it the next day? Or if it is streamed then time it to start watching at 8pm so that the rest of the film is downloaded after the 9pm cut-off.

At least Virgin publish their download limits. And there is a good need for them. Look at the other news story today about the "rush hour" on the internet. Just go and try using a neighbour's BT connection at that time of night and you will see random and unpredictable slowdowns. There is only so much space in the system.

With Virgin it is quite simple to make sense of how much you can download and when. That chart really is not that complicated. After 9pm it is truly unlimited. I have done backups from clients some evenings of over 30GB - without troubles. And I am on the cheapest 10Mbps package like you are.

I have been with Virgin and previously NTL since around 2004 and am very happy with it. I also get to see my clients connections over ADSL at various points around the city of Brighton and Hove. Only those living within about a mile or two of the phone exchange get over 10Mbps. And some of the ADSL connections around this city are pretty ropey.

No matter which company you are with you will have hassles of some form. We are all now using broadband in a much heavier way than they ever expected. But at the same time it is easy to see the networks have improved over the years.

The point of having choice as a customer is that you don't have to complain. Just move to someone else. And then you will find out how good it was...

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@AC "Why don't you just set your film to download after 9pm and then watch it the next day? Or if it is streamed then time it to start watching at 8pm so that the rest of the film is downloaded after the 9pm cut-off."

... because people want broadband that just works. Like how electricity, gas and telephones just work.

I'm with Be, and I can download and stream whatever I want at any time of day. Sounds like you should try it.

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Anonymous Coward

(I'm the AC from above)

I have no complaints with the quality of my service. And I already know that Be would not even be able to match the 10Mbps that I get from Virgin. So pointless me swapping.

It is all about CHOICE. So the guy up there complaining should move to Be or someone else if Virgin does not fit his needs. For me it is the best option available.

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Anonymous Coward

Dishonest and impractical

@AC: "Why don't you just set your film to download after 9pm and then watch it the next day? Or if it is streamed then time it to start watching at 8pm so that the rest of the film is downloaded after the 9pm cut-off. At least Virgin publish their download limits"

Two problems with this:

1) Virgin publish the constraints on your connection only because they are legally obliged to. But they do it in the most underhanded fashion I have *ever* seen, buried under piles of small, pale-grey text and several links deep. All other ISPs say up front that they either have a cap or they are *truly* unlimited. The word 'unlimited' should retain its common meaning, which is "not limited or restricted". Virgin - like many companies - is lying when they use that term.

2) Downloading material overnight is at least possible for many devices that can store resources offline, but the tech world is moving steadily online. What use is a Kindle Fire for example? It doesn't store much internally, so what would you do if you had one of these limited Virgin accounts? Only watch films in the small hours of the morning? All cloud concepts only work if you have a strong link to the Internet - choke your connection, and your device usage is likewise choked.

If we don't have the infrastructure to support the kind of use that is being advertised, it needs to be upfront. We would be better off going back to buying physical media. I could have watched a DVD of the same film with far less trouble and expense than I encountered online.

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Anonymous Coward

Virgin != Optical Fibre

When will people get this right (Oh yeh, when the business-biased ASA starts looking after consumers and NOT business)?

Virgin may use Fibre for its backbone between distribution offices, BUT from there to my house is COAX. Big coax to my street maybe, then small coax to my house. Coax is copper NOT Optical Fibre.

That said, I love my 10Mbs service from Virgin. I can mostly download at full 1MBs, with only the occassional slowdown during evening peek periods. But even then only slowing to 5Mbs (or 500KBs). I rarely have trouble watching iPlayer during peaktime, but when i do, I download the prog and watch it locally.

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Anonymous Coward

Not in all areas

this may be the case in your area, but in lots of areas, virgin have fibre optics all the way to the your local cabinet (FTTC) with just the remaining 100m or so as coax. The BIG coax you speak of has largely been swapped out for fibre.

Still agree though, it's not full fibre-optic. How are they going to market it when they finally get fibre-to-the-home?

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8 bits to a byte, not 10 ... a 1Mb/s service _should_ provide 1.25 MB/s (maximum)...

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Bronze badge
Unhappy

Rip-off telephone

Maybe the £13.90 per month for a landline before even making a single phone call goes a long way to their profits. It was only £6.99 a month back when it was Yorkshire Cable.

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We have basic Virgin TV, as it is close to free with the cable broadband and phone. People that want the most chancels will always go with Sky, so I expect the virgin will only every pick up the low end TV customers.

Until Virgin finds a way to offer ALL post tv programs “free” on-depend, it will be 2nd to sky. I don’t understand why I am allowed to record a problem, then watch it a year later, but Virgin is only allowed to provide the last 2 weeks of content.

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WTF?

Virgin Media have an appalling attitude towards new custom

We live some 100 metres from the VirginMedia green cab and they refuse connect our house because it involves some new build work. Asking them how anyone actually gets connected nowadays and the reply is "We are only allowed to do 1 metre of build work maximum otherwise it's a no-go"

Laughably, my dads house - he has a VirginMedia green box bang outside his front garden but they still won't connect him either. That would probably require some 10 metres of co-ax in total.

Virgin Media piss me off by constantly mail dropping my area saying how wonderful the phone, broadband and TiVo services are - we want it - but we cant find a single employee with a cerebrum still intact that can give us an authoritive answer.

BT speeds are so pitiful round this area they would get tons of new business

I hope somebody from Virgin Media reads this and feels shame because we just want connected and you refuse. We offered to pay for the build work but still they couldn't be arsed.

Why turn away people with their wallets open ???

With Multiroom and decent Tivo/Broadband/Phone package you could easily spend £100 a month on their services each month so WHY do they tell everyone to SOD OFF all for the price of a piece of co-ax to get initially get someone connected up?

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Silver badge
WTF?

Perhaps now...

... they can use all that money to provide a *RELIABLE* service!

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