Virgin Media's latest throttling rules

This topic was created by diodesign .

Silver badge

Virgin Media's latest throttling rules

Broadband ISP Virgin Media has updated its rules on download/upload use to show when it'll start throttling net speeds by 50 or 75 per cent. The chart is here.

What do you think - fair for the majority of users, or a slippery thick end of the wedge to fully choked web access?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Virgin Media's latest throttling rules

"During this time that customer would have to download 7 standard definition movies or 1,250 songs before a 5-hour temporary speed reduction was applied"

Or 2 data DVDs, or purchased downloadable software packages. Not everyone only uses the internet for bloody movies and mp3s.

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Re: Virgin Media's latest throttling rules

Or the latest patch for Shogun 2: Total War which came in at around 5 gigs!

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Gold badge

Interesting either /or - sounds like a poll to me

I have added one at bottom of story.

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Re: Virgin Media's latest throttling rules

Given that games are increasingly sold as direct download, and a lot of games are around 20GB, this means you can't complete the download overnight, even though you're paying for high speed access.

If I was on Virgin, I'd cancel my sub.

I think they'd have to add one thing to their policy to make it fair: check the user's previous month's total download and only throttle if they are being a continuous hog, not just making a 5 hour spike cause of downloading a game they purchased.

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@N13L5

Given that games are increasingly sold as direct download, and a lot of games are around 20GB, this means you can't complete the download overnight,

Maybe in Winter if you live near the North Pole. Elsewhere, assuming a steady 20MB connection (soon to be the base speed for Virgin), the night-time lasts more than the (roughly) two and three-quarters odd hours if should complete in - even at 10MB speeds, or will less than ideal throughput, you should be fine (9pm - 10am).

even though you're paying for high speed access.

If I was on Virgin, I'd cancel my sub.

I am, and I don't think I will, especially having just costed up the Sky equivalent to the TV, phone and broadband package I have (and that would mean having Sky broadband rather than cable, not something i'd relish).

I think they'd have to add one thing to their policy to make it fair: check the user's previous month's total download and only throttle if they are being a continuous hog, not just making a 5 hour spike cause of downloading a game they purchased.

I think that's a very good idea (or something similar).

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Stop

Living in a house with four other students, this is almost certainly going to cause some problems. Does Virgin not understand that digital distribution for games exists? One download of a modern title and there goes the bandwidth for most of the evening.

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Anonymous Coward

download at a different time

Or is that too obvious an answer?

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Re: download at a different time

A big selling point for digital distribution is instant - having to stagger getting a crital patch for a game until the ISP says it's ok to do so is not good.

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Remember

That Virgin media are currently rolling out a doubling of most of their broadband speeds so a halving of a heavy users speed will get them back to their current speed.

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Oh FFS!

I'm explicitly on the top package available at the time of subscription because I *know* I'm at the heavy use end of the spectrum (2 heavy users in the house, 4 gaming machines in the house using Steam, each with accounts that have plenty of 10Gb-a-piece games installed on them, and that's before we get to digital music & video purchases).

There are 2 reasons I wanted the top end package - 1 because of the bandwidth on offer, and 2 because of the promise that there would be no traffic shaping.

Why am I discovering a Virgin policy change via El Reg, instead of via a letter from Virgin?

Thus far I've had no reason to complain about their broadband service, but they're useless at actually communicating change management information to their customers. Guess I know whose life I'll be making difficult over the phone tonight...

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Stop

Er...

If you even need to ASK about discovering a Virgin policy change via El Reg, instead of via a letter from Virgin then you really don't know Virgin very well.

I'm only on the 10MB service, and I agree that the service itself is OK.

It is obvious that Virgin, um, manipulate the language around these limits. This new, improved summary of the 10MB service STILL describes it as unlimited with no upload/download limits and no capping.

It ALSO says that traffic management is not used with respect to data limits or capping. True enough, but very very deceitful.

Virgin, be ashamed.

http://www.virginmedia.com/images/table_L_10Mb_400px.jpg

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WTF?

It sounds as if Virgin have broken their contract with you Captain.

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Coffee/keyboard

All I want....

is a simple way to check if I've hit the "limit" and am being throttled.

Nothing is more annoying than thinking (as I did before after some large downloads) that I'd been trottled only to go onto the forums, chat with an admin and find it was some equipment in the box on the street that was actually causing my issues!

If I could see how much I'd used, how much I use on average, etc, I'd be far more inclined to try and use it "fairly"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: All I want....

There are plenty of third party applications available that do exactly that.

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Congrats VM - that's not even a single HD movie! Having just upgraded to 50Mb to escape the limits I can't say I'm overly amused. That said, I'm getting doubled to 100Mb soon, which should mean my 'capped speed' is 50Mb, so I suppose it's not too bad.

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Thumb Up

Sounds fantastic.

World of Warcraft beta is a, what, 17gb download? Yes, this will be a thing that'll work.

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Re: Sounds fantastic.

so download it outside of the period where it is capped. Another question would be for normal ADSL, which in many cases is the only other option how long does a 17gb download take?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sounds fantastic.

"so download it outside of the period where it is capped. Another question would be for normal ADSL, which in many cases is the only other option how long does a 17gb download take?"

Not relevant, that is just a workaround - if the ISPs either owned up to the fact that it wasn't unlimited or actually made sure they could provide what they sold as unlimited (like every other trader has to actually provide what they advertise) then the problem would not arise.

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Re: Sounds fantastic.

@Paul

No mate, blow that out of your arse.

If you're paying for one of the higher-tier services specifically because you know your gaming purchases need a high-bandwidth connection, this move is bellendery of the worst sort. I have no problem paying for a premium product or service, but it has to actually *be* a premium product or service, not a middle-tier offering wearing lipstick and fishnets.

Of course, it shouldn't be a surprise that once again a British ISP is playing the game of selling high bandwidth connections it later realises it can't provide...

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This post has been deleted by its author

Re: Sounds fantastic.

Paul E:

Not the point. People pay for the 100 service so that they CAN download such things as wow when they want, they don't pay for 100 and expect to be told when they can and cant do things

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Meh

Re: Bell-Endery...

Awsome comment. I too pay a premium price, not for speed (it's only 8MB) but for volume - 45GB per month, with no restrictions between 8pm - 8am. I must admit, I know that at peak times my downloads may be affected so I tend to schedule most of my major downloads for > 8pm. Can be a pain, but it is unmetered after this point.

I think Virgin are being mucking fuppets tbh, as you guys are paying for speed rather than (in my case) volume, so in your shoes I'd be popping rage boils too.

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Anonymous Coward

Oh grow up you lot!

So get some flipping patience and start it off after 9pm, then you can run all night 'cos VM couldn't give a fucking monkey's what you do overnight. I download TV episodes during the day to my seedbox out in France, then I get up at 4am, download my episodes, go out for my morning exercise when I get back I can dump them on my tablet for watching on the way in to work. Simple! Just a little bit of planning is all that's needed.

It's called time management not being a spoilt brat just because you want something and want it now. Don't give me that bullshit about unlimited, since when has any service quoted true unlimited and ever delivered? They are capping by half for a few hours if you bust your limit, not cutting your service pending a spanking from the VM controller FFS!! I make do with the 10Mb and I have been over my limits some days, so what I carry on downloading and next day everything is fine the next day.

The limits only apply at peak times when people want to use it, ie the evening. I want a Linux distro so I kick 'em off after 9pm and then leave the machine to shutdown on it's own when the downloads are done. You see that computer thing actually runs software and software can do all sorts of clever stuff to help you manage and plan things properly if you put a bit of forethought into it!

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Re: Oh grow up you lot!

It's called time management not being a spoilt brat just because you want something and want it now. Don't give me that bullshit about unlimited, since when has any service quoted true unlimited and ever delivered? They are capping by half for a few hours if you bust your limit, not cutting your service pending a spanking from the VM controller FFS!! I

--------------------------------------

You may be happy if you sign up for something and are then changed to something else.

You may think its childish for people to complain when what they signed up for is suddenly changed.

You may well be right that companies that advertise as unlimited usually don't deliver (although some companies such as BE, Sky unlimited, to seem to be able to do as advertised)

That is of course your right.

But please don't tell me to grow up for not wanting to put up with false advertising, having new rules imposed on us etc. I didn't sign up for a 50 service at peak times which is what it will be if I buy virtually any on-line game or stream in HD from say netfiix for a few hours I signed up for a 100 service and I expect to get what I signed up for.

When I signed up, Virgins site said the following, quote:

----------------------------------------------

What can I do with 100Mb?

Download an entire music album in as little as 5 seconds; a TV show in around 30 seconds, a high quality movie in as little as 1½ minutes and a high definition movie in around 7 minutes.  100Mb really excels when the whole house is online at the same time – whether for streaming HD videos, downloading HD movies, gaming online or accessing everyday services. With 100Mb broadband there is plenty of connection for everyone!

What does unlimited broadband mean?

No download limits. Unlike some of our competitors, you get unlimited downloads as a basic right so you can load up on music, films...whatever you're into.

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Thumb Down

Re: Oh grow up you lot!

No, mate, what you're doing is called "being a dick".

We're pointing out that commonplace current usage patterns that might have inspired someone to pony up for the Virgin XXL broadband package (buying games on steam, etc) are now penalised under this model.

If everyone who's bought a game on Steam counts as a "heavy user", then no wonder the UK network infrastructure is fucked.

This is not about "unlimited", this is about "buying 1 game on steam" will exceed the limits. And those are the *DAYTIME* limits, never mind the evening time ones. Streaming Netflix HD for 2 hours puts you over the evening limit. That is the problem here.

They made a point of selling the top-level service as unthrottled - that was my main concern, not that it would actually *be* 50Mbit, but that it would be an appreciable, unthrottled fraction of it. Now they want to throttle it but keep charging for the same thing.

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Stop

Virgin's site text for the 100Mb package - is that the exact text?

"...I didn't sign up for a 50 service at peak times..."

Explain to me where it mentions "peak time" in that text: are you inferring it from the phrase "when the whole house is online at the same time"? If it's not explicitly mentioned then caveat emptor, I'm afraid.

Come on, be realistic when dealing with these large internet access organisations. They've pretty much all had their knuckles rapped at some stage for misrepresenting about every aspect of the bandwidth/capping aspects of their broadband offerings, so when you read their advertising text, don't assume that's a frigging contract detailing how your service will run.

Do what I did, ring them, and demand the details of the package - if anyone else commenting on here has done this, *properly*, no faffing with a "screen-driver" telesales person, but talked to a supervisor, or someone who knows the real deal, then please post a reply detailing that Virgin said you'd always have total freedom and unlimited bandwidth, anytime of day.

Otherwise, shrug your shoulders and walk to another provider who *can* give you those assurances, cast iron, in the contract, which YOU review and check, or put up and shut up and schedule your downloads somehow. Seriously, this is a contention bandwidth-throttled system, right up to the backbone. All this gnashing of teeth sounds like a rather inevitable user-viewpoint of internet infrastructure about to creak under the load of Steam, Xbox360, PS3, Netflix, Apple TV, iPad 3 HD content, ... "No download limits" is a movable feast, and may only be referring to overall monthly usage. In fact you can guarantee it is.

If they can wiggle out, they will. Remember, this text was not produced by a network engineer, it was produced by a marketing suit. And we all know how much *they* know.

----------------------------------------------

What can I do with 100Mb?

Download an entire music album in as little as 5 seconds; a TV show in around 30 seconds, a high quality movie in as little as 1½ minutes and a high definition movie in around 7 minutes.  100Mb really excels when the whole house is online at the same time – whether for streaming HD videos, downloading HD movies, gaming online or accessing everyday services. With 100Mb broadband there is plenty of connection for everyone!

What does unlimited broadband mean?

No download limits. Unlike some of our competitors, you get unlimited downloads as a basic right so you can load up on music, films...whatever you're into.

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Unhappy

Annoying

As I do a lot of development and download various ISO's for testing that are around 4Gb each, if I need to download 2 ISO's I could be limited by my speed, currently a XXL user.

Annoying!

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The fastest UK broadband service...

Provided you don't use it...

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HMB
Flame

Re: The fastest UK broadband service...

Oh that's so funny and so ignorant too.

* Everyone except Be Internet does traffic management at the normal price range.

* Torrents on BT are ALWAYS aggressively throttled (go google: "bt infinity torrent performance").

* At 1/2 speed I bet my 50Mbps virgin connection (soon to go up to 120) is still faster than any BT or BT Wholesale based product for torrenting.

* It's only usenet and torrent traffic that's throttled.

Don't get me wrong, the news saddens me, I am just sick of the whining unfair comparison brigade.

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Re: The fastest UK broadband service...

HMB You are wrong.

It WAS only usenet and p2p that was throttled, now it's everything and everything counts towards your daily limit.

usenet and p2p was throttled much much much more than 50%. They have not said this still wont be the case, the most I've got out of them is that whatever happens, nntp and usenet still counts towards your daily usage limit.

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Re: The fastest UK broadband service...

I just posted the following on Virgins forum

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Can a virgin representative please confirm what I believe the Register has incorrectly said.

I thought this traffic management applies to everything, thats certainly whats been implied by people I've seen from Virgin on this forum

According to an article on The Register thats being discussed in their forums, a quote from a virgin rep states

"The traffic that will be slowed down by VM during weekday evenings and weekends will be peer-to-peer and newsgroups. The firm said it won't be targeting, among other things, video streaming, music downloads and VoIP."

Some people are now jumping on anyone that complains and are saying things like "its only usenet and nntp thats being managed"

I think what the rep meant to say was that while your speed is halved, it's only usenet and p2p thats slowed down further.

Can you confirm this and also how you will be applying your traffic management to usenet? Before the new traffic management, mine was almost at dialup speed during peak times. Again people are presuming that they can download as much as they want from usenet/p2p at 50% of their 100 speed, if this is the case, that part of it is a vast improvement on the near dialup speed I was getting from usenet at peak times.

-----------------------------------------------------------

And the response from a Virgin employee that's been answering mist of the traffic management replies which confirms what I thought

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The P2P and Newsgroup management hasn't been changed. It still works the same way as it did

--------------------------------------------------

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Re: The fastest UK broadband service...

@HMB

But that's still bollocks *anyway* - my torrent usage at home is split about 50/50 between crowdsourced-or-CC-licenced films/music/games (think Humble Indie Bundle and the stuff on vodo, etc) and software like LibreOffice.

The assumption that P2P = Piratical is bullshit, and if I pay for a high-tier connection one of the things I want minimised is my exposure to bullshit.

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Mushroom

Re: The fastest UK broadband service...

If you read the weasily VM page on traffic management, it appears that the deal is that:

1. Peer to peer and newsgroup traffic is throttled during the so-called peak hours, irrespective of your usage.

2. Everything else gets an additional throttle applied if you go over the VM-mandated fair use limit.

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HMB

Re: The fastest UK broadband service...

Just to come back at some things:

Much of what I said I still stand by, but it's disappointing that the register haven't conveyed things accurately regarding the slowdown only affecting usenet and torrent traffic or not.

Virgin is still the fastest ISP I've seen with the exception of leased lines running into large apartment buildings.

Anyone wishing to enlighten me of other information is welcome to.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The fastest UK broadband service...

I keep being throttled whenever I fire up my torrent program and I thought I was going nuts, because I am always many GB/s under the usage limits and still being instantly throttled. So as I suspected, VM are being complete bar stewards as usual!

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I've got mixed feelings about this. On the one hand my Virgin media connection has previoisly become almost unusable for months due to students in my area on the previously uncapped tariffs torrenting 24/7, so if this measure helps prevent that, then that's great.

On the other as a PC gamer I download games via Steam and other services, so one download of a normal sized game would cause my connection to be capped. In fact this happens at the moment anyway. and I just have to schedule large downloads outside the peak times.

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The cap doesn't make any distinction between somebody who uses 10GB at peak times every single day, or someone who downloads a 10GB game upgrade every couple of months.

I think as connections get faster, there probably has to be some kind of limit, but surely part of the point of high speeds is that you can occasionally download a big file quickly, otherwise why bother? A soft limit based on, say, average usage, would be just as effective, but possibly acceptable to a lot more people.

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Flame

Wasn't it 75% before...??

I've only got the 20meg line, but am pretty sure that it was a 75% throttle for all bar the top package holders previous to this? I really ought to find out when my fast upgrade is coming, as with just a 50% throttle, regardless of what I'm doing it will be giong quicker then it is right now.

Anyway, for those crying 'boo hoo' - I am a pretty heavy user, typically 2-300gb a month, which means most days I hit a limit for a bit, so I have to structure my downloads. I accept that my level of usage will cause network worries compared to your typical punter who just wants to have super fast access to small volumes of data. The amount of users who will use high levels of data - small, few percent. For those of you above demanding even higher levels, you're into the top percentile no doubt.

I'm not entirely sure how you can expect a pricing structure for a product like this to work over such a large distribution of usage? If you *need* that bandwidth permanently, why not go find a service that suits? It will cost you a shit load more than your Virgin line, that is for sure...

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Re: Wasn't it 75% before...??

Thank you for being considerate :) Between 6-9 pm on week nights odds are I'm online gaming (multiplayer ME3 atm) so it's fairly low bandwidth consumption but heavily reliant on latency.

... and yeah, I tend to schedule larger downloads overnight or at the weekend.

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Silver badge

Re: Wasn't it 75% before...??

"I've only got the 20meg line, but am pretty sure that it was a 75% throttle for all bar the top package holders previous to this? I really ought to find out when my fast upgrade is coming, as with just a 50% throttle, regardless of what I'm doing it will be giong quicker then it is right now."

Yes, you are correct. For most people, the triggers remain the same WRT to data volume but the throttle is now 50% instead of 75% so as you rightly say, even throttled, it'll still be faster for most users once the speed upgrades are in place. I'm not sure what was said WRT to the 100Mb/s users, but when VM first announced the 50Mb/s package, it was clearly stated at the time that the throttling would not apply until an unspecified take-up target had been reached.

For those complaining about the p2p/nntp throttling, that's been in place for some time and is not changing. AIUI, VM allocate a certain amount of bandwidth per area (not sure what they mean by this. Region? Town? Street?) and all those people in that bit of the network get to fight over that bit of bandwidth. If a lot of people in your area do p2p or binary nntp then it crawls. Others might barely see a difference.

As for the expectations given by the advertising and the reality of what you actually get, well that's a whole other story involving morals and marketeers.

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Meh

Value for money

I am a VM customer on the XL 30Mbit package. BT do not have lines into my building so I have no choice over my ISP.

By my calculations I could download about 65GB in the 5 hour peak evening period. Virgin's 3500MB limit equates to just over 5% of this. If I could achieve 'up to' quoted speed I could blow this limit in 16 minutes.

If I try to keep within the cap but happen to exceed it at 8:55pm they will then throttle me for the next five hours. If the same happened in the daytime peak period despite my efforts to stay within budget Virgin would only be allowing me to use 40% of my line capacity.

Not to mention the protocol based throttling, which applies over a much longer evening/weekend peak period (3pm-midnight/12pm-midnight) respectively.

To top it all off they put the price up back in February.

Great value for money it isn't.

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Silver badge

A few things on this

1) I use VMedia for home-working. I am always in one shell or another (usually RDP) so probably do use a fair bit of bandwidth.

2) Their router is, frankly, shit. Not only is the firmware crap, but the hardware itself was clearly designed by a moron. Just a shame you can't connect your won router (yes, I know about modem mode).

3) To continue with how shit the router is, it provides no method of traffic shaping or monitoring. Guess I'll have to learn how to do my own.

4) It was very nice of VMedia to send me a letter/email telling me about this change and showing me how I can check my usage against their measures. Oh wait, there was no letter and they provide no way of checking!

5) Add to that the fact they block non-Windows/OS X users from their services (and that includes Android!) despite VMedia selling Android phones, being an Ubuntu mirror AND shipping set top boxes that run a Linux. MORONS! They are no offering executable downloads (or something like that) they have no reason to block based on OS.

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Silver badge

Re: A few things on this

6) They can't even do a simple null check in the OS detection code.

(I have been trying to get around their moronic OS block so I can use the site I am paying them for).

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Re: A few things on this

I have several Android devices using a VM connection, what issues do you get?

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Re: A few things on this

Where have you got this notion that they block devices that aren't running Windows or OSX. My Ubuntu box has no trouble connecting to the net via their services, neither does my Android phone. Is this a misunderstanding on your part, or something they are rolling out incrementally that has yet to effect me?

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Silver badge

Re: A few things on this

If you qualitf (i.e. are paying for) Virgin Media Player I suggest you try and use it.

You are in for a very nasty surprise.

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Linux

Re: A few things on this

"5) Add to that the fact they block non-Windows/OS X users from their services (and that includes Android!) despite VMedia selling Android phones, being an Ubuntu mirror AND shipping set top boxes that run a Linux. MORONS! They are no offering executable downloads (or something like that) they have no reason to block based on OS."

They don't block on OS grounds.

I'm a Virgin Media customer and have been for 10 years, with Linux on all my computers apart from a virtual machine on one of these Linux hosts running XP. There simply isn't any problem using any of Virgin Media's services with Linux of which I'm aware. On my side of their router it's all standard Ethernet or WiFi and TCP/IP which all works with any modern OS. The configuration interfaces on their routers are plain HTTP/HTML - any OS and web browser will do. Hell, their router even switches native IPV6 on the LAN side as well as IPV4, though it doesn't route it, but even that works through their router in tunneling mode using protocol 41, ( see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPv6#Tunneling ) something you can't say about many ISPs IPV4 only kit. Other OS's which family and friends have used on occasions successfully behind their router include Android, various versions of Windows (95, 98, 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7) NetBSD and various Mac/OS X versions.

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Re: A few things on this

That's very odd. I have my own Smoothwall router attached to the modem without problems. I don't have any Macs, but the Smoothwall is ofc a kind of Linux and I have other Linux boxes attached. Besides, if it blocked non-Windows users, surely the PS3 wouldn't work either?

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Silver badge

Re: A few things on this

@Robert Ramsay: Dunno about PS3s as I don't own one, I just know that I can't use their catch-up or on-demand services because I am not on Windows or OS X. I've read in the forums that Android is barred too.

I am no web expert, but I can't see any reason for blocking; all the other catch-up sites work fine and dandy.

I am paying for legal access to content, but the pirates provide a better service to a better price. Irony.

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