back to article Virgin Media boss to Osbo: Bung city fibre cash into small biz

Virgin Media has said it before and it's saying it again: the cable company wants the UK government to take at least half of Blighty's £150m set aside for urban broadband rollouts and pump it into improving digital skills in small businesses. This time, in a well-spun missive to Chancellor George Osborne ahead of Budget Day, …

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Anonymous Coward

The majority of bandwidth is used to download porn.

So put the money into that.

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I would argue that Virgin Media need to pump their cash into increasing capacity and network stability first, rather than forever increasing ever-increasing headline speeds to people just so they hit their traffic shaping "unlimits" faster.

But we don't always get what we want.

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I would argue that Ofcom should pull their fingers out of their arses, and make telcos get rid of the unlimited* name on packages altogether. Fair use is far too ambiguous. The main thing I have in defense of Virgin is that at least you can find their limits and throttling times. Most companies don't even give you that.

*(unlimted is not unlimited, you may only download within the limits of our fair use policy**

**Fair use policy is not fair in the slightest. You can only download up to an unset limit we won't tell you about per day that's not even enough to download a single game from Steam, after you reach this undocumented limit, we'll throttle your connection down to an unset speed (56k) for an unset amount of time and occasionally send you out a vague letter saying you're abusing your internet connection without providing any details about what 'abuse' is.

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Thumb Up

Damn right. ISPs were told to get rid of 'up to' despite it being technically accurate and not that difficult to understand. They had to replace it with a pointless and misleading percentile based value ('at least 10% of people who could have entirely different circumstances to you got this speed'). Yet 'unlimited' is allowed to remain despite the fact that it is clearly limited.

The other problem with UK broadband is pricing. The market has been forced/allowed to reduce prices to the point where making a profit is almost impossible and RoI a dream on the horizon. That's why BT has walked away with BDUK. No-one else can stump up enough money or get good enough loan terms from the banks to make it viable.

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Getting modern - they just don't get it

"Only two-thirds have a website and a third sell goods and services online. "

I went into my local newsagent/sweetshop/tobacconist and told him that I could set him up with a website and e-commerce solution for a very reasonable fee and low ongoing annual costs. He told me to go away or he'd set his dog on me.

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Re: Getting modern - they just don't get it

Exactly, not every business needs a website or can sell their wares online. If there is a sound financial argument for an online presence then it's likely a firm already has one or has reservations about it that are unlikely to be nullified by a quick course. The govt doesn't have money to waste, they are supposed to be using that cash for infrastructure, something people will benefit from, not lining pockets. There are plenty of free or cheap courses \ books etc about the internet and how to take advantage of it.

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Anonymous Coward

Good old Virgin...

... will eventually end up exclusively in the hands of BT. Which might explain Virgin Media's attempts to get some of that cash siphoned.....

Let me edit that a little.

Virgin, who can't be arsed to invest in expanding their network are bitching that someone else who is, is getting some extra cash to help them.

There, fixed.

And yes I live in a Village. I can now get 70mb Infinity for almost the same price I can get 1.5mb Virgin ADSL.

Go figure why they won't get my business.

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Re: Good old Virgin...

" Virgin Media has said it before and it's saying it again: the cable company wants the UK government to take at least half of Blighty's £150m set aside for urban broadband rollouts and pump it into improving digital skills in small businesses."

I was thinking it was the standard business model of insisting that the government pour money in to small concerns in order to develop the company -- to the point where Virgin come in and acquire the firm, rip out the development stuff then shut down the small company.

That's how Virgin 'expands', by being a parasite.

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I agree that Virgin should expand their network

Last year i was in an area where i could get VM Fiber. i choose their top package and tbh it was amazing! actual download speeds of 8-11mb/ps i could download a 10gig game in minutes, i downloaded gigs and gigs of versions of windows and what not from MSDN subscription library and i never once got hit by QOS... i must have topped 100gig at least one month...

The house i had before this was also in a VM area but it was a block of flats that hadn't been cabled up. when VM came round they left saying they "cant install fiber broadband". When i wrung up and asked them why, they told me "it is not economically viable" but we can offer ADSL, as any sane person would do i told them to do one.

I have now moved again to an area not covered by VM.

They should expand their coverage and not turn away customers because it may cost a bit to install fiber.

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Re: I agree that Virgin should expand their network

I can sympathise with you, it is frustrating! However, MDU's as they term them (multiple dwelling units) are an absolute arse to cable. You'd think it was easy everyone in one place, but the civils work may be easier than digging up roads, but the actual work on the property is a lot more delicate. You have issues with dry riser access, capacity and condition, you have an insane mesh of rules about physical changes to the property (some council owned mdu's has this funky plastic skirting you cant touch) whereas homes you pretty much have carte blanche to do whats needed as long as it looks ok at the end. From swept t to stb in a home is quicker and cheaper. Having said that they were supposed to be infilling their network (last I heard anyway) so all this may get overlooked in the future.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I agree that Virgin should expand their network

"They should expand their coverage and not turn away customers because it may cost a bit to install fiber."

We call it 'fibre' here. But the point is this - they're turning you down as a customer because you'll cost them money. No business that wants to remain a business goes after customers that lose them money.

If you - or the market - were prepared to pay £100 a month for broadband, maybe. But at the current market rates, there's just no money in it. Why invest money in network roll-out that won't make a return for a decade - Virgin would do better to just stick the money in the bank, even at today's interest rates.

No doubt this will attract downvotes a plenty, but it doesn't change the truth of the matter. Why would any business want to outlay £1500 or more on providing service to one customer and then sell them that service at £18 a month? That price continues to decline and the kit depreciation alone is losing the company money faster than you're paying them. There's a pretty good chance that the business will never see that money back - and we don't have to go far back to see proof of this - all the cable companies that went bust in the 90's for exactly that reason. Virgin only make money because they bought those networks at far less than they cost in fire sales. The original investors lost their money - so they're more than a little reluctant to make the same mistake again.

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Pirate

Re: I agree that Virgin should expand their network

Virgin only make money because

Careful now. Last year was the first time they'd ever made a profit. And they still have an absolute fuckton of debt to service. Given the recent takeover I can't help wondering if their recent profitability has been some kind of accounting trickery. Not saying fraud but it's awfully convenient that they turn a profit just in time to be bought out and accountants have a lot of legal tricks they can use.

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FAIL

Usual VM pisstake

1) Any SME who needs a website is probably already online

2) How many of them need even 10Mbits connection when most (if not all have their website hosted elsewhere)

3) Most SME's (unless they are the local Pizza/Indian/Chinese/Chippy) don't need to be connect all the time during business hours. They have other things to do like running their business don't you know.

Then there is the current VM network. Where I live I can get Sky* (are you joking), VM, BT or a number of LLU providers. Most of my neighbours are on on VM or their Wireless SSD would have me think so.

In the evening their (porn) downloading slows down to a crawl. LAst time I did a speedtest for one friend they were getting 512Kb. I have FTTC and get 60Mbits to my Modem. There are exactly 5 of us sharing a nice load of fibre. At the moment there is more than enough to go round so the we have one each. Yet VM bombard me with 2-3 mailings a week extolling the virtue of their 'superfast' network. I'd really like to get the Bearded on to visit my local and see how crap their network really is.

*(If I changed to Sky, they can't support FTTC hence my comment)

The people who live in the other half of my Semi use my network in the evenings simply because everyone else in the street is using the VM network to its max and frankly it is pathetic.

They really do need to get their act together and sort out their existing infrastructure.

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Meh

Well

VM cable is already FTTC- just wait; as soon as the new BT cab fills up, it will slow to a crawl too.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Well

Except that the BT cabinet has gigabits of backhaul going to it (and where it is trivial to add another link if necessary), and the Virgin cabinet requires a lot of expensive physical network re-engineering to split areas across cabinets + squeezing in more DOCSIS channels on their congested network, and may only have a couple of hundred megabits of capacity split among tens/hundreds of users.

BT guarantee a set amount of bandwidth (I think it's 12Mbit down for the standard level and 16Mbit for those who pay extra), Virgin don't.

I am not worried about my BT cabinet getting congested any time soon. I'm glad I don't have Virgin - the superhub is shite, they offer tiny pissant upload speeds, no static IP, plenty of traffic shaping, general consumer grade crap. I'll stick to the BT based solution via a quality ISP.

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Rol
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..and I want bells on it!

Wandering off into the pleasant wilds of Britain and demanding the trappings of city life follow you, isn't a fair use of my taxes.

While I have every sympathy for the Mb challenged, I just can't see why my money is needed to speed up a life they chose to live at a rural pace.

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