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Virgin Media is planning to whip its broadband into a wild gallop in a £110m upgrade that will produce a top speed of 120Mbps. The company won't be charging its existing customers for the new speeds, and folks who have an old modem incapable of handling the super-fast internet – such as those on the 20Mbps package – will get a …

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>Virgin still has plenty of space on its network Really? Curious then that all but the very highest speed package has strict throttling rules during peak hours. Also curious that it's network seems to suffer a lot of jitter. But I don't want to be seen as bashing VM. It is a good move for those people who already have it. I just think that part of the article is a bit too gushing :)
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Spotted this as well: >The provider spends millions every year to maintain and expand its network Where has it expanded? It's made it faster and I heard there was some infill going on and converting analogue to digital but where exactly has it expanded its network?
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Anonymous Coward

Not only that...

But its pretty obvious that TV bandwidth is severely throttled - well there has to be some explanation for the frankly abysmal picture quality on many of their channels where you actually get better picture quality streaming off the internet.

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@anon re TV quality

Funny you mention it, I moved to Virgin last year because my premises had a really duff BT line, and actually fixing it would be beyond BTs reasonable problem and just stupid money, so the only useful fix would be to get an alternative. Hi Virgin.

So I figure I may as well kill all the birds with that one stone, so move the broadband, tv and such to them.

I'll give them praise - my 50MB service was spot on, I got those speeds (when I was downloading from somewhere with enough bandwidth (eg our servers), and worked faultlessly the whole time.

TV on the other hand... well the set top box sucked, wouldn't output to SCART and HDMI at the same time for reasons Virgin understand but I suspect is something between inadequate spec of set top box and anti-watching-stuff in another room with repeaters etc thing. Ignoring that, and the box just not being very good at remembering to record stuff (or worse, just recording random stuff and then assuming it has been recording for 3 months and then deleting everything, no really)... the picture quality, even on a HD channel was frankly abysmal. Worst TV I've ever watched.

4 months in, I cancelled virgin, terminated the lot early. Spent the next few months with them chasing me for the £180 cancellation fee (they still had a valid direct debit, had said they'd take it from there but never did, rang me and insisted I paid them despite also agreeing they had a valid DD and had said they'd take it) and never collected any of my equipment they say they own and must have back blah blah.

Moved house after that, got Sky again, and it all just works. Sky picture good, shame the box can't hold more TV (1TB box still not that big) (yeah I could upgrade myself, but not the point), and broadband works - not as fast true, but I got over the rare benefit of that 50meg service...

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Black Helicopters

ORLY?

Some infill? Last I heard Virgin had a strict no-infill policy. If a property didn't have service when they bought the plant from NTHell then no way, no how would it get cabled.

Perhaps the black-helicopter men abducted Virgin's management and forcibly implanted them with clue. (On the gripping hand, I'll believe it when I see it.)

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must have been really bad

I am rather happy with the broadcast quality on on VM setup (TIVO 500GB box). Picture quality is outstanding, as good as anything friends of mine get with Sky. You must have had a really duff connection. What did virgin say when you complained to them about the quality?

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Pint

NTL was essentially bust....

....when Virgin acquired them..HUGE debt had been incurred cabling up metropolitan areas and there was a need to pay that down before further expansion.

The TV thing never caught on the way it did in the states because PAL meant that reasonable terrestrial broadcast streams were available, and the switch to digital TV meant that satellite was a cheaper way to get the '50 channels of shit' into every ones home.

In short the Cable companies who used the US model and the US technology were only saved from extinction by the Internet and datacomms: Suddenly they had an infrastructure people were prepared to pay for.

If they can leverage existing fiber to higher speeds, they can retain some advantage over BT.

Otherwise the only thing they do well...high speed datacomms into the home - is a dead duck anyway.

Ultimately one suspects that street cabinet or metropolitan area proxying of IP stream based media content will happen: And that will simply replace cable TV altogether. I am not sure what the total bandwidth of e.g. a satellite is, in Gb/s, but its probably less than a fibers worth. Virgin could easily set up 'virtual servers' within its own network range and have free, or pay per view, streamed real-time TV content available at high efficiency.

And apart from the insane requirement to have a phone that works when there is no electricity (give every customer a free mobile that dials 999 only?) VOIP to the premises is probably coming to a socket near you, anyway. Again it leverages their infrastructure nicely.

And with interest rates low, and everybody out of work, but on reasonable benefits watching trash in bed with a spliff in one hand and a can of lager in the other, it might be a worthwhile ROI as well.

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999

It can't be a mobile - the whole point is immediately being able to identify the premises the call is coming from. Signal triangulation is of course possible but the advantage of using a fixed line is that the CLI lookup has taken place and the address presented to the emergency operator before they've even answered the call.

Working when there's no electricity? A fairly sensible requirement because a number of potential emergencies can render mains inoperative.

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Anonymous Coward

Never mind the top speeds

What will the Average speeds be? I am very sceptical about this. Just sounds like a PR exercise to get more Punters to sign up.
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Well according to Ofcom...

...so you can take it or leave it, but their average speeds are pretty much on a par with the advertised.

I'm on their 50mb package, and I get a pretty consistent rate very close to or spot on that.

I've never had 'jitteryness' but that may be down to which part of their network you are on. Generally when I have that sort of problem it's down to wi-fi problems. From what I understand the Telewest network is better than the NTL part, but that might be historical and no longer true.

I'm really looking forward to being bumped to 100mb. Although with a mostly wireless network I'm not sure how much use it will be to me.

It reminds me of the good old days of Telewest when they used to bump your speed every year or so, just because they could. We went from 1mb/s (this was a long while ago) to about 5mb in the space of a few years.

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Re : Never mind the top speeds

"What will the Average speeds be? I am very sceptical about this. Just sounds like a PR exercise to get more Punters to sign up."

IME, when you're not being throttled, VM speeds are typically those quoted - i.e. 10Mb/s is 10Mb/s, 20Mb/s is 20Mb/s. That said, i've not had the 50Mb/s service or higher, nor talked in any detail to anyone who has, so that may not hold for those services - be interested to hear from people who are on those.

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...even when I hit throttling on my 10Mbit cable, just pause the Torrent or download and the throttled connection is still fast enough for 'normal' use by my wife and I. The only thing that becomes unusable is OnLive streaming, iPlayer etc. still work. I'd imagine on a faster cable connection even OnLive would remain usable throttled.

To be fair, you will notice massive downloads taking a few hours longer, like the 8Gb Batman install yesterday. But it was going to take forever anyway ;)

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"I'm really looking forward to being bumped to 100mb. Although with a mostly wireless network I'm not sure how much use it will be to me."

As a fellow 50Mb user, I say bring on the bump! And don't forget that with the bump in download speeds we'll presumably be getting the corresponding bump in upload speeds, so unless your wifi setup is a bit pants you should see some benefit there.

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Happy

Average speeds...

SW London and on 50Mb service. Speeds usually within a Mb or 2. Sometimes over sometimes under. I don't upload much but downloads don't seem restricted at any time of the day.

As for Vince's problems with VM TV. I'd be interested to know what VM's comments were when he complained. I may be lucky but TV through the V+ and now Tivo boxes and Sony TV has always been VG.

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Anonymous Coward

Word to the wise

It is impossible to configure the VMDG280 modem/router to have an IP address of 192.168.1.x. It reserves 192.168.1.x and 192.168.2.x for it's "guest networks" and VMs firmware make it impossible to move away from that. It also means you can't use the VMDG280 as a modem only, since that requires putting your existing router into it's DMZ, which won't accept a 192.168.1.x address. You will need to get the VM480 "superhub", which has an explicit "modem mode" and take it from there.

I know this because I recieved the VMDG280 just before Xmas, and wasted nearly 3 hours of my life with their "technical support" before they finally admitted it wouldn't work. I still have a pair of one of their agents testicles, which I took when they insisted that MY network had to fit in with THEIR kit.

Hope this helps someone.

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I too had the 'guest network' IP range problem when VM came last week and swapped out my dead modem for one of their new modem/router combos. Had to resort to reconfiguring all my devices with static IPs to use 192.168.0.x range which while only took a few minutes was a still a pain and it seems crazy to hardcode the guest ip ranges into the firmware that can't be changed.

I'm glad i didn't take the option to upgrade to 30mb for an extra £5 a month though considering now im going to get it for free anyway just by waiting.

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Boffin

"since that requires putting your existing router into it's DMZ, which won't accept a 192.168.1.x address"

Can't you set your router to use a non-reserved address, such as 192.168.3.x, and have your internal network as say 192.168.4.x?

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Mushroom

So what you're saying

is that the customer should change their network to accomodate Virgins borked hardware ?

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20Mb entry level . . . nice . .

nice but not phenomenal . . . I've a nice 40Mb synchronous line, damned stable at 38+Mb too. I'd love to upgrade to their top deal (from the entry level I'm on) but with a 100Mb home network opting for a 400Mb internet package seems a bit pointless.

(www.lyse.net if you want more info, but you "might" want to get google translate to help a little)

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Well I'm glad I've been making do with my 20Mb service and resisting the urge to upgrade to 30 or 50Mb.

60Mb service here we come!

Thank you VM (just make sure I'm not the last area to get the upgrades!)

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Uh....

the 20 and 30 are both goign to 60.

Both will need the superhub..

The only thing you managed to get is a £30 discount on a modem. One that you probably will not receive for AT LEAST another year.

Just because an area gets upgraded, it doesnt mean that all customers get new hardware to cope with it. Some of the first areas of the "Faster Uploads" upgrade we had still have old modems on it, VM havent even started contacting those customers yet!...

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Hands up for the jitter

I have seen no reason to move from the 10meg service as it does what I need (especially when these speed bumps keep coming) but the glitching Im getting of late when streaming radio at 192k is becoming a pain! My 3G is better ffs and that aint right!

Not all the time & at various times through the month so I dont think Im being throttled but quite why Im seeing these drop outs I dont know... 20 Gig a month average download doesnt strike me as excessive either, or is it?

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Happy

Great news

I also stuck with 20Mbps after hearing all the problems with the new outers on the 'free 30Mbps upgrade' so I can look forward to a free tripling of speed. And no doubt an increase in service charge in the future.

While I've always received the full speed advertised it seems to be DNS issues which slow things down for me.

If only the rest of VM were as good as their cable infrastructure.

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on the 30Mbs

I'm on the 30Mbs since my own router died and it was cheaper to get VM to provide a new wireless router in the form of the Superhub than it was to buy a new one.

They seem to have got all the (obvious) glitches out of it now and the machine that's wired into it normally gets around the 30Mbs mark (maybe 1mb or 2 under) - my biggest problem is with the wireless bit... there are about 8 - 9 other wireless networks within broadcast range and the "auto-select channel" setting is, erm, rubbish on the Superhub.

Before I manually set the channel to one that nobody else was using I was getting only about 3Mbs on devices connected wirelessly, once I'd set it to a clear channel that went up to about 12Mbs ... still slower than I'd like, especially when downloading something from the PSN.

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The new firmware allows you to configure the (not so) SuperHub as a modem only, which should then give you no trouble whatsoever (mine doesn't, it just works as a drop-in replacement for the old modem).

Of course, I'm mildly annoyed that I paid the one-off fee to upgrade a few months ago, but I guess that there's always a risk when upgrading your tech that the next model will come out as soon as you buy the current one.

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Upgrades

Can I have IPv6 as well, while they're at it? Should do wonders for employment prospects in the customer support department, but if they're going to give us all a routeable IPv4 address, it would be nice to have a routeable IPv6 subnet as well, even if most people won't bother using it for a while yet.

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IPV6 tunnelled over Virgin Media connection

Unfortunately VM don't support IPv6 directly yet. Fortunately VM do support protocol 41 so you can run a Hurricane Electric tunnel through your VM kit, see: http://tunnelbroker.net/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPv6#Tunneling . I've been running this dual stack setup for about 6 months now, rock solid and stable. Something like 3-4% of my network traffic is IPV6 currently, and clearly a growing number of sites are using IPV6.

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WTF?

Service...

Instead of spending all this money to increase the headline top speed, they should be trying to pay off their debts, expanding their network to areas it does not currently cover and increasing the capacity of their peers with the rest of the internet...

I have the 50mbit service from them, and i can download at around 10-20mbit max from several colocated servers i have (all on gigabit links)...

I get 50mbit from the popular speedtest sites, but i get considerably less downloading from servers hosted at the very same ISPs making it very much seems they're prioritising the common speedtest sites.

I do get 50mbit from mirrors.virginmedia.com, but thats to be expected given that its internal to the isp...

I can sometimes get 50mbit if i torrent, assuming there are sufficiently diverse peers.

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Sounds odd....

I can happily max out my 100meg link without issue from Newsgroup servers on foreign shores.

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Anonymous Coward
Exactly what I said about 6 months ago. I am not paying any extra to up my VM 10MB connection, they want me up they can give it me for nothing, looks like I'm getting 20MB upgrade. I bet that means I'll have to have one of those shitty SuperHub things, oh what joy! I have a crappy old bog standard VM modem running into my own personal WRT-54G router which is running DD-WRT custom firmware. I've had about 2 mins of downtime in 9 months and one reboot when I pulled the wrong plug behind the telly. My old man has a SuperHub thingy at his house and loses connection to VM at least once a day and has to reboot it.
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@AC 11/0/1/2012 18:42

Your setup, Scientific Atlanta modem -> WRT54G/HyperWRT ->LAN is exactly what I was running until I upgraded to 30 Mb/s, which the old modem wouldn't handle. I've put the SuperHub that VM supplied into modem-only mode, and put the WRT54G back into service, with all the port forwarding and static IP setup that my LAN expects. Works well, and I don't have to reboot anything. 192.168.100.1 says "System Up Time 30 days 00h:45m:22s".

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Custom firmware? Moaning about better hardware?!

You need to get over it mate. It's a router.

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I get what it says on the box

I am a 10mb subscriber and hardly ever get anything significantly less than that. Have been with them for something like 8 years now. I started with 150k and every now and again get a speed hike.

Have recently had the "jitter" problems in our area though, loads of short term (couple of seconds) disconnects.

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Oh wow.... not

How about sorting out the horrible intermittent routing problems or removing soft caps, filtering and making unlimited actually unlimited.

My current ISP (www.bethere.co.uk) has no caps but only connects with adsl at 12/2MB for me. I will take unmetered everyday of the week. I wouldnt care if Virgin offered 10000/10000MB, with A soft cap, you cant use the Internet you want to.

Shame.

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Anonymous Coward

120Mb, seriously ?

Is that using Virgins own private speedtest servers ?

Regardless of how fast it goes "up to", blowing £110,000,000 on boosting the headline grabbing speed isn't value for money when the ropey old cabinets on the corner of your street cannot cope with heat, cold or condensation and it drops to 0Mb at regular intervals.

Somebody bruised their tonsils on Virgins press release.

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Have you used cable?

Aside from throttling (A sin in and of itself), I've never had it not run at the stated speed, within a couple of hundred Kb/s and I've been on Virgin/Telewest since 1999 or so. Generally it does exactly what it says on the tin.

Full disclosure, I used to work for Virgin, in a call centre (which would make me hate them you'd think.)

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Anonymous Coward

I had Telewest/Blueyonder/Virgin for several years. But when NationalGrid's digger crew introduced an 18inch air-gap into my cable connection VM couldn't manage a repair even after 6 months of dealing with their piss-poor call centre. So I don't have cable any more, and for my needs a wireless broadband dongle provides a better service.

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Anonymous Coward

The Cowking said "Have you used cable?"

I've used it myself, fixed wobbly setups for others, liked it when it works, been infuriated when it doesnt and missed quite a few ebay auctions that happened to end around 3:30pm.

You could set your watch by it most days and watch the DB/Mv levels rise until it broke.

If you worked in the call centre you probably saw just how many faults there were at any one time in Roxio, shedloads on a good day.

The trouble is, a modem that cannot communicate doesnt show up as a fault.

Virgin having 120Mb speeds is like being Usain Bolt, on the starting blocks, wearing bloody Flip-Flops.

The best outcome of ths will be BT fibre having to keep an eye on its prices

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@Thecowking: I have and I must be in a minority

I was on the 10mb package (had been with NTL/Virgin for nearly 10 years - started out on 512kbps) but rarely got speeds over 1mb so after several phone calls to "Bob" in India I plucked up the courage and ditched them. Bob's view was that it was all down to my hardware (even though I tried different PC's while on the phone all direcly connected to the Modem rather than my Router).

They only offered to send out an engineer, after we gave notice to quit, during the "Why are you leaving" courtesy call.

Now I am happily getting 6mbps on BT and paying a lot less (and Infinity is coming in March).

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Stop

Awww bless ya cotton socks.

From >> http://community.virginmedia.com/t5/Announcements/We-re-doubling-our-customers-broadband-speeds/td-p/958421

"Why do I have to wait for my Speed Boost?

Over the next 18 months we're going to be upgrading over four million customers. Doubling everyone’s speed is a pretty big job so it can’t happen overnight. Our engineers will be working as fast as they can to upgrade 38,000 street cabinets and 186,000km of cable (enough to go around the equator four times).

As soon as the network is ready and tested in a region, we'll upgrade everyone in that area as quickly as possible."

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fixing an airgap

"But when NationalGrid's digger crew introduced an 18inch air-gap into my cable connection VM couldn't manage a repair even after 6 months of dealing with their piss-poor call centre. "

I had the same problem. after months of them scheduling a crew to relay the cable I gave up and cancelled the service (and actually got a refund!).

A few months after I moved overseas I got an email from them that the cable had finally been repaired - well done but a little too late!

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Anonymous Coward

Wish We in the States Got That Kind of Speed

But alas, our ISPs are too cheap to do the upgrades.

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Any word on the upstream?

Can I expect 5+ Mbps after the upgrade to 60? Because that would be damn useful.

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Stop

I'm pretty sure they promised us a 5MBps upload last year, and I'm still waiting. A 100MBps connection will be nice, but pretty pointless if the upstream is still limited to 2.5MBps.

Actually, just read their forum post (http://community.virginmedia.com/t5/Announcements/We-re-doubling-our-customers-broadband-speeds/td-p/958421), and they do say:

"Note: Upstream speeds and traffic management fair usage amounts will be increased in proportion to the increase in downstream speed."

and

"Will my upload speed increase, as well?

Yes! It’s not just your downloads that’ll become much faster. Your upload speeds will be automatically increased as we upgrade our network, so you get the best of both worlds.

Depending on the progress of the network upgrade there maybe a delay after your download speed is increased before your upload speed boost occurs."

Like I said, they promised an upload speed bump last year, and now I can't find anything on their website stating their upload speeds.

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I love my Virgin Media broadband primarily because I don't have to fork out £15/month for a useless landline. I have the 10mb service and find that for general internet usage it is great. You only have to worry about the STM when you're downloading huge files, like the latest linux distro. Even then it's not too much of a hassle, they clearly publish the limits and rules and so I always schedule them for the right time. It would be nice if they had a good boy exception to the STM rule that would let you break the limits without being throttled as a one off, but I guess you can't have everything. At least they said they are doubling the limit where STM kicks in so maybe now it won't even be a problem.

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WTF?

£15/month?????

Even with VAT the going rate for a PAYG phone line is only £11.22 with - say IDNET.

And that gives me the option of as rental free PAYG VOIP service. (SIPGATE) .which is better quality than the analogue anyway.

My only regret is that I am limited to about 4.5Mbps down/376 kbps up..

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Facepalm

Expand the economy?

How?

Online shopping just a little bit faster?

The man must be mad. Or both.

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Megaphone

I would prefer to see

nimble new prices.

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Anonymous Coward

throttling limits doubled

Not pointed out in the story but VM are doubling the amount you can download before being throttled.

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