back to article Virgin Media only puts limited limits on its Unlimited service

Earlier this year the UK's advertising watchdog made the "unlimited" term used by broadband providers redundant, by confirming that moderate restrictions could be applied to network traffic, all the while letting the telcos continue to make "no caps" claims to subscribers. That surprise decision came in a ruling from the …

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Still throttling by up to 65%

So the download throttling has been limited to 16% to make it "reasonable."

Meanwhile the upload throttling can be as much as 65%, down from 75% when I last checked.

If 16% is reasonable, by agreement, then 65% is still taking the piss on an "unlimited" service. They wouldn't keep doing this if they were honourable and took the ASA seriously.

[Edit] It seems that existing customers on 20Mb/s and slower are still subject to 75% throttling in both directions.

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Re: Still throttling by up to 65%

I set up a new SkyDrive connection to upload a load of photos the other day, I'm not sure if it was Virgin or MS but 20GB took 3.5 days, (by my reckoning that's 0.55mbps), it absolutely killed the connection too.

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Re: Still throttling by up to 65%

"Meanwhile the upload throttling can be as much as 65%, down from 75% when I last checked."

One has to wonder what other ISPs do this and don't say anything about it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Still throttling by up to 65%

One has to wonder what other ISPs do this and don't say anything about it.

My wife works in a Church office where they currently suffer under TalkTalk who appear to be totally at ease with a throttling policy that reduces speed to virtually 0 whenever it rains! She's currently in the process of persuading them to move to VM (as its a cabled area and we've had VM broadband since TeleWest first launched blueyonder ~10 years ago with virtually no issues).

As for VMs throttling ... I'm on their 60Mb service and I'd be quite happy if they changed the name to "40Mb and sometimes a bit faster".

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Devil

What a bunch...

I don't know why anyone bothers with these bozos. Try Zen fibre - thirty quid a month, no limits, no throttling and no bullshit. Oh, and excellent tech support when needed. :-)

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Happy

Re: What a bunch...

Ohmigod, I just noticed I got a badge! Thanks, Reg.

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Re: What a bunch...

If your lucky enough to live in one of the few areas BT has rolled out FTTC that may be sound advice, however the vast majority wont be able to get that service.

P.S. Its not just country bumpkins, I am in Central London (Zone 1) and its not available.

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HMB

Re: What a bunch...

I'm glad you pointed them out. I did notice that they're around 20% more expensive, but I'm glad to see they're doing a 12 month term instead of defaulting to BT's 18 months.

However, Zen or not, I'm pretty sure that it's all just BT wholesale to the ISP.

All I'm trying to say is that if BT has had their grubby mits on it I'm sure it's not a shining beacon of unsullied light.

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Re: What a bunch...

The assumption is that if you're in zone 1 you're either extremely rich or running a business, and should therefore be going for business class leased lines instead of consumer grade connections like DSL. Zone 1 is a complete ghetto as far as consumer level broadband goes.

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Re: What a bunch...

"Ohmigod, I just noticed I got a badge! Thanks, Reg."

Congratulations!!

And don't be put off by the boring twunts that downvoted you!

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Re: What a bunch...

People with badges clearly have too much time on their hands.

Boring buggers.

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Happy

Re: What a bunch...

Cheers, Jamie. :-)

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Re: What a bunch...

But Zen don't seem to offer anything close to a 120 Mbps service? The highest seems to be "up to 76 Mbps" for £25 + VAT

Also it doesn't seem to be available without a phone line costing another £17 + VAT a month....

Virgin 120 Mbps costs £35 + VAT with no phone line required....so cheaper.

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Re: What a bunch...

I was thinking the same.. plus if it's included in your XXL TV/Phone/Broadband package it works out cheaper still.

I know that I get 116Mb+ DS and 11Mb+ US every hour of every day (I'm part of the SamKnows Performance Monitoring panel), and even if I did hit the traffic shaping policies in place then the worst I will go down to is 100Mb (and that's ACTUAL 100Mb) which is still greater than the 'up to' 76Mb on offer from Zen... So, where's the logic in swapping?

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Re: What a bunch...

Thanks for the heads up on these guys, never heard of them. Zen actually works out quite a bit more expensive than Virgin but they give static IPs, something you cant have on VM.

I currently have VM 120mbps XXL package. Rarely get over 80mb down and 6mb up. Quite annoying as I like to use remote desktop. A static IP and better upload would do nicely. Will look at these guys come upgrade time.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What a bunch...

badges? I just found them irritating and made the comments section look ugly ... but a simple AdBlock+ rule sorted that out!

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Re: What a bunch...

We don' need no steenking badges!

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Re: What a bunch...

80/6Mb is waaaay more than you need for remote desktop. Even VNC will work on less than 1Mb each way, RDP is much more efficient than VNC.

Instead of a static IP, you could use one of the dynamic DNS services available, or just write a script which checks your public IP and emails you when that changes, which won't be that often if our VM account is anything to go by.

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Re: What a bunch...

@Joe Montana

Zone 1 is a ghetto for commercial fibre as well, and even having money to spend doesn't help - we've been waiting almost 14 months for a symmetric 100Mb fibre line to be run into Piccadilly thanks to an overstuffed pipe.

So far there is a 20m gap between our building and the street box that has taken 8 months to attempt to get a new pipe run through. A more useless pack of wallies I haven't met.

It also doesn't help that there are only two groups licenced to pull fibre in central London - Virgin and BT. Ours is a Colt circuit, but we still need Virgin to do the last mile, or 20m in this case.

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Happy

Re: Re: What a bunch... Cheers, Jamie. :-)

FFS, get a room! We've got bitching to do!!!

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Re: What a bunch...

@Duke2010

VM IPs pretty much never change in my experience. I have had it change once in the last year, and prior to that it was stable for a year. Doesn't bother me that much. I use a free DynDNS account to update my parents DNS records, they are on BT but I suppose you could play the same game with VM, albeit at a much lower refresh rate.

:)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What a bunch...

"It also doesn't help that there are only two groups licenced to pull fibre in central London" -

And Geo - try them...

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Megaphone

mangled english....

I think it is pretty much fraud. Unlimited is unlimited. If you want to prorate it and say "average rate = X", then fine so we can see this. T-mobile sort of does this by saying "first 1G is 4G, rest 2G". For mobile, it is evolution. For wired service it is degeneracy...

Oh and Three was actually unlimited....!

How about the companies just buy more kit, I mean, how does Google wire an entire city for Gb...? I think contention ratios used to be published...?

Yeah I know it is a small scale, but you must wonder what the future would be if every person in the world had Gb access to the internet for whatever purpose they'd like (including hosting).

P.

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Re: mangled english....

Contention ratios used to be published, but they were usually 50:1 for "normal" domestic services, 25:1 for good ones.

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Re: mangled english....

contention ratios would be relatively meaningless on cable though. It doesnt work the same way. You could be on a completely no cap 100Mb service. If the whole street is on the same and also like to download perfectly legal ISOs of windows 8.1 then you'll find you get a trickle anyway. If you live in the countryside with noone else on cable then you'll get 100Mb all day long.

FTTC may well suffer the same. That pipe back from the cabinet has a finite capacity too. If your cab is full of EVIL-DOWNLOADING-DATAHOGGERS(tm) I imagine you will suffer the same fate.

The nasty part about VM is that they will throttle you anyway - even if noone else is near you.

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Re: mangled english....

You've just described what a contention ratio is though. Regardless of where the bottleneck is, the company *should* have a target contention ratio that it shouldn't breach. FTTC is the same (and bear in mind, VM *is* FTTC). If the backhaul out of the cab is 100Mb, you can sell 25 x 100Mb connections, or 50 x 50Mb connections without breaching your 25:1 ratio. They sell an additional 100Mb on that cab, they have to update the backhaul to 101Mb.

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Re: mangled english....

50:1 in the uk maybe (where you paid for local calls.)

In more enlightened countries if you didn't run at least 12:1 people would bitch like mad about regularly busy signals. The "unlimited" ISPs back in those dialup days ended up having to run around 5:1

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Re: mangled english....

"50:1 in the uk maybe (where you paid for local calls.)

In more enlightened countries if you didn't run at least 12:1 people would bitch like mad about regularly busy signals. The "unlimited" ISPs back in those dialup days ended up having to run around 5:1"

I'm talking about the first DSL products, not DUN. I was also talking about bandwidth contention ratios.

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Little true choice

I'm stuck with Virgin cos there's no alternative; If i switch to a non cable ISP my maximum speed will be 4mbit.

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Re: Little true choice

Exactly the same here, if I move to ADSL then the speed I can expect is somewhere between 1 and 3meg, woohoo!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why the hell...

May I humbly suggest you try VM along my street. 98% of the householders are on VM. Their download speeds between 15:00-00:00 are truly awful. My neighbour decided (Against my advice) to download Windows 8.1. He started at 11:30 last sunday monrning. It finished just before 21:00.

I downloaded a film from netflix over my BT FTTC connection earlier that evening at close to 5.5Mb/sec.

So VM speeds are best then? I beg to differ.

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Re: Why the hell...

I download 8.1 on newsgroups I get 120mb+ on VM, I download same 8.1 on torrents I get about 10mb... It's not the service providers fault..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why the hell...

I downloaded 8.1 from the Store during peak time on VM, the whole process took 30 to 40 minutes (I don't know for sure because I had some paint elsewhere that needed watching). Your neighbours are clearly free to choose an alternative if they are unsatisfied given that you have, although you may want to keep it to yourself...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why the hell...

Why the hell aren't the ASA stamping on the other ISPs claims of "no limits"?

Because they are not a statutory body. They are a self -regulation bunch financed within the advertising industry and know which hands feed them.

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Re: Why the hell...

Thats the problem with cable, if 98% of your neighbours are on the VM your local UBR gets congested, upload speeds seem to suffer most as the DOCIS heavily favours download capacity.

Luckily my area seems to be fairly lightly used for now at least.

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Re: Why the hell...

I live on a new-build housing estate - and I live in the only household that has any VM subscriptions of any kind. It's like I've got the internet to myself.

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Re: Why the hell...

Lots of other ISPs are unlimited though. Sky, TalkTalk and BT, for example, all now offer unrestricted services on their top-tier products: no caps, no fair usage, no traffic management.

I download and upload a ridiculous amount with my Sky fibre, never heard a peep from them.

Virgin have always been among the worst of the big name providers when it comes to traffic management and usage caps. They very much deserve a slap on the wrist.

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Re: Why the hell...

No Virgin speed issues here - I can max out my connection any time of day without much difficulty. The fastest home service I have ever had, and I have tried a few 'fibre' based ones. I can hit the claimed 120Mbps down / 12Mbps up quite easily.

I suggest that your neighbour's issues are likely due to the Internet - not Virgin.

Your comparison is not valid as you are not testing anything remotely similar....

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Re: Why the hell...

" I download same 8.1 on torrents I get about 10mb"

Use port 554, forced encryption, allow ~700 peers, and limit upload speed to say 5Mbps. Then you will easily max it out....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why the hell...

"upload speeds seem to suffer most as the DOCIS heavily favours download capacity."

Surely there is no contention between upload and download? They use different frequency ranges...

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Re: Why the hell...

Hard wired or wireless?

My average download over 2.4G wireless was 30Mb in my street (lots of BT shitehubs in range), moved to 5G and this jumped up to the 120Mb I have coming into my house, same results if I plugged in directly to the hub.

Speak to VM and ask to be included in the Sam Knows trials - they send you a box that you plug in and it monitors your line speed all day/night - you get to see the real speed you are receiving at any time.

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Re: Why the hell...

it *IS* the service provider's fault. they inspect the packets and aggressively throttle torrents.

I downloaded the newest ISO of mint last night, got 1.1MB / second unencrypted. I then renewed by VPN sub and tried again, the same torrent i got 6MB / second.

i'm on VM 60meg service. i find it reasonable but the tivo box is piss poor. they say it has its own 10meg line, but anything on demand buffers between about 4pm and midnight.

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Coat

Re: Why the hell...

'Lots of other ISPs are unlimited though.'

Technically this isn't true. There is an implied limit imposed due to network speed. So if you're on a 20mbs line, then that's your limit: 20mbs. Can't go paying for a 20mbs line and expecting to get 120mbs, now can you?

'no caps'

Again, technically not true: You have a limited timeframe* and a limited connection speed, which means there is a cap on what you can upload/download**. These are even artificially enforced as the line might be able to handle 30Mbs or 100Mbs but you're only paying for 20Mbs so you get 20Mbs.

It all comes down to how you want to interpret 'unlimited' and 'cap', but it isn't fair to say that one service is unlimited when it admits it throttles the connection speed at times and under certain conditions while others could well be throttling their service all the time, or doing it without warning you.

If any of these ISPs were serious about fair use, they'd work out how much you'd used and refund you an amount if you had used less than x amount of the service you had paid for (much as BT were doing on some phone tarrifs).

* It's easier to work out the cap as an amount over a given time, such as a day, a week, a month or a year. The cap is generally more than you'd ever reach, but it is still there. See **

** a rough calculation puts the cap at 1,728,000 Mb a day for a 20Mbs service

*** And with that pedantry out the way, I'll go get my coat. It's at home...

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Re: Why the hell...

And it's not unlimited because there's only a finite amount of energy in the universe and eventually all the atoms will fly apart and heat death will occur!

You're choosing a very silly nitpicking definition of unlimited that nobody else uses. Stop being ridiculous.

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Re: Why the hell...

"it *IS* the service provider's fault. they inspect the packets and aggressively throttle torrents."

The ASA has already stomped on this practice. A complaint is in order.

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Re: Why the hell...

Unlimited: Without limit. Simple definition. Check a dictionary.

If a service was unlimited, then you would connect at the speed the equipment is able to support. No ISP does that: They all offer packages that set a limit to the connection speed. For example, I'm on a 60Mbs connection but I could pay more and have that changed to 120Mbs. I'd not need new equipment for this, nor another line: A simple database change and a signal down to my router and the speed cap/limit will be changed.

So in speed terms: Unlimited isn't.

In data terms, unlimited simply means you don't have to worry about how much data you upload/download. There are mobile contracts that include data plans that limit how much data you can consume before being charged extra. Or they can apply a cap at which point they simply cut your connection off.

So no, I am not nitpicking or being rediculous: I'm pointing out (perhaps badly, granted) that the argument against Virgin applies to connection speed (throttling) when BT and other ISP's advertise unlimited service while applying connecton speed limits themselves, where as most users see Unlimited as no limits or caps on data 'consumption'.

It is all down to how you interpret 'unlimited'.

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Oh FFS!

If they all told the truth, there would be no need for all this argument and legal action. Oh, ....I'm sorry ..... that was a stupid thing to say. We now live in a world where lying by politicians and corporations is standard and required practice.

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The ASA are a mahoosive joke. Virgin, BT etc are all serial offenders who routinely have rulings against their adverts AFTER they have finished running.

There is no real regime of protection against the lies and half truths that come from these companies whose advertising people operate with the comfort of knowing that that the ASA has the same ability to hurt them as a teddy bear. Sometimes it seems that the companies have become so immersed in their deceptions that they have lost sight of the real world.

There is a real need for a PROPER regulator with real powers to hurt these companies badly for their routine lies, massive fines, compensation for duped customers along with the ability to rescind the contract where it can be reasonably shown that the customer was drawn to sign up by an advert running at or just prior to the contract commencement

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Holmes

Alternatively...

"Virgin Media was told by the regulator that the ads must not appear again in their current form and to no longer make claims that its service was "unlimited" and with "no caps" if its imposes more than moderate traffic controls to its broadband network."

Why doesn't the ASA force them to provide the product they advertised? At a minimum, to the people who signed up during that period the ad ran? They'd change their tune pretty sharpish if that was the punishment.

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