back to article Virgin Media calls foul on web speed testers

Virgin Media believes it is being shafted by comparison sites offering ISP speed checks, and has called on them to improve their techniques ahead of the launch of its 50Mbit/s upgrade. Switching sites are becoming an increasingly powerful force in the near-saturated broadband market. uSwitch recently said the tightening of …

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ADSL Bandwidth Testing sites.

I am a network engineer and Virgin are right with pointing out the flaws in these ADSL bandwidth testing sites. They are geared up for a few MB and async traffic at that. On numerous times I have tested an E3 Sync link to one of these ADSL sites only to get an upload of a few mb/s. The only way of testing a link is point to point with two devices capable of link saturation using something as simple as Iperf ( http://www.noc.ucf.edu/Tools/Iperf/ ) a windows version can be found by searching. remember windows doesn't have the throughput of Linux (fact!) or any dedicated device like an Acterna 2800... Caps are a different thing and people need to learn the difference between bits and BYTES. A transfer rate of 11mBYTES/second would indicate a 100mbit/s link end to end.

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Gold badge

Am I missing something here?

They reckon the measurements are unfair 'cos they measure how long it takes a file to get from A to B rather than the line speed?

Personally I reckon that if the max you can physically move data around the intertubes is, say, 8Mb/s, the fact that your line runs at an honest-to-god 50Mb/s is only indicative of a phenomenal waste of your money paying for it. The only reason I'd be interested in a 50meg connection would to be to move bog loads of data from A (somewhere else) to B (me), so the metrics on this are all I'm interested in.

"I've got the fastest pipe into a shite service" is not even worth the effort unzipping to wave the willy.

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Go

My VirginMedia connection is fine...

I think that the lesson that we have to learn from all of the contentious feedback here is that VirginMedia, like ALL other ISPs vary in their performance from region to region and line to line and also on what you plan to do with the line.

I know that I get the full 20Mbps speed from my VirginMedia line, I get that in speed tests and also through Torrent downloads, which actually peak out at 2.3MB/s when downloaing things such as xubuntu images for which there are many sources available.

My boss is also on VirginMedia, and also on the nominally 20Mbps connection package, but doesn't get anything like the speeds that I do. One of my colleagues also switched to VirginMedia on my recommendation and he does also get the full 20Mbps speeds (phew!).

I can't comment on secret limiting of my line with VPN or other things like that, I don't use VPN, but I just don't get problems with all the usual stuff like email, web, streaming media, iPlayer, FTP, Torrents and so on. Yes, I have hit their download caps from time to time, and to be honest, 5Mbps for a few hours isn't actually that limiting.

When I was on ADSL to the same property, I never got close to 5Mbps speeds on my nominally 8Mbps connection, BUT as I say, I am sure that there are people out there on 8Mbps ADSL lines that get 8Mbps service, it all depends on where you are and the quality of your line, the distance from the exchange (or "green box in the street"), and the number of other people you're sharing your pipe with.

Rolf.

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Flame

Virgin Media

Truly are utterly awful. Fail, fail and thrice FAIL.

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Alert

@GavinL

[quote]

Default node for me is Maidenhead, 9764kbps down, 481kbps up, ping 27ms

Paris node, 9788kbps, 477kbps up, ping 85ms.

Surely Paris should be slower?

[/quote]

ermm... it is, isn't? 85ms>27ms...

but in reality distance is no object its where the backbone lies that is important...

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Speedtest..

...is flakey as anything, one day i'll get 21Mbps, the next 7 - nothing appears to have changed as i can still download from a decent website (Microsoft, Apple etc) at 2,000 Kbps, solidly.

Even the speedtest on Be's own site reported my connection as 8Mb - go figure.

That said i was surprised by Virgin, my girlfriend moved into a new flat and it was their only option, they ordered a 10Mb connection and they get exactly that.... it's been problem free and fast, i just hope they never have to deal with the customer support folks!!!!

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Flame

Virgin dont quite tell the truth so why are they complaining about others

to quote them

"What do the updates to the traffic management policy mean?

To make sure all customers get the most from their connection, we automatically reduce the speed of the heaviest users at peak evening times - between 4pm and 9pm. In extreme cases, we'll now also reduce the speed between 10am and 3pm - something that'll have an impact on just 1% of our customers."

This is in fact a lie the traffic management is bewteen 10am and 9pm for everybody as i have be told 4 times by tech and say you bust your 3GB limit on your 20mb which is rather easy ( stream a few things from iplayer and your son downloads a demo on the xbox under an hour your capped but it does not stop there if they capp you down to 5m then you go on to the 5m capping system which has even less of a DL limit it is just one big spiral.

Telewest where brilliant virgin and disgraceful,

1. fiber optic BB( eh so what is the old coax thing running into my house then )

2. unlimited* (*conditions apply ? so if it is conditional and traffic managed it is not unlimited)

3. Over subbcribed areas of the network struggling to cope.

4. the worst tech support( after a slight issue with web pages taking 5 minutes to load on a 20 mb connection i was told I was being traffic managed? I said i understand but this is unuseable and the connection rate was in the 56k reigion , "yes sir it is a known issue if you turn your router off for 12 hours it will all be back to normal"? the words cancel and downgrade shot right out of my mouth in a instant.

personally i have cancelled my 20mb as it is absolutely pointless and so would be 50mb with 4gb capp..funny how there adverts dont say that and when i move house the lot is going no virgin tv, no cable, no phone, bt and sky can get my business from now on at least they ae honest about shafting you.

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b0ll0x

then why can i only download from THEIR ftp servers (ftp.blueyonder.com?? was told to use this by one of the techies at virgin) at 5meg even tho i keep being told im on the 10 meg...

im sick of stupid tests and speaking to idiots at the other end of the line!

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Alert

Why Use a "Speedtest" Website?

Your operating system is quite capable of displaying network IO rates, isn't it? Mine indicates that I receive almost exactly the 10Mbps DS that I pay VM for.

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Wonderful Virgin...

I have a mixed experience with VM, I am only on the 2Mbit package and I DO usually get that. However.....if I breathe too hard on my PC I hit the cap. On the other hand, capped to 1Mbit with VM has proven better than being on 2Mbit ADSL for me.

VM need to realise that having 50Mbit is no good if you get capped to 5 after 15 mins. I'd rather have 8Mbit uncapped than that.

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Thumb Up

Use your own tester.

I wrote my own.

Why? If you're going to complain to VM about your connection speed, you need to download a file from their own servers.

(Needs CURL, a free internet file fetcher)

@ECHO OFF

TITLE MY SPEED TEST

ECHO.

ECHO VirginMedia download test started

curl -s --write-out "%%{speed_download}\n" http://downloads.virginmedia.com/pcguard/6/virginmedia/tw/web/broadband_advisor.exe -o "%temp%\speedtest.tmp" >"%temp%\speedtestaafile2.tmp"

ECHO Local VirginMedia download test finished

CALL :calculate

Tracert -w 200 -h 15 downloads.virginmedia.com

ECHO.

ECHO BBC Download test started

curl -s --write-out "%%{speed_download}\n" http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/news/nol/shared/spl/hi/technology/08/broadband_britain/broadband.mov -o "%temp%\speedtest.tmp" >"%temp%\speedtestaafile2.tmp"

ECHO BBC Download test finished

CALL :calculate

Tracert -w 200 -h 15 downloads.bbc.co.uk

PAUSE

EXIT

:calculate

set /P bytes=<"%temp%\speedtestaafile2.tmp"

DEL /Q "%temp%\speedtestaafile2.tmp"

DEL /Q "%temp%\speedtest.tmp"

set /A bits=bytes * 10

REM ECHO Byte: %bytes%

REM ECHO bits: %bits%

REM set bits=282037

If %bits% GTR 10000000 goto 1M

If %bits% GTR 2000000 goto 2M

If %bits% GTR 1000000 goto 1M

If %bits% GTR 100000 goto 100K

ECHO Broadband speed is very slow at %bits% bits per sec.

goto :EOF

:2M

set bits1=%bits:~-3%

set bits2=%bits:~0,-3%

set bits3=%bits2:~-3%

set bits4=%bits2:~0,-3%

Set str1=%bits4%,%bits3%,%bits1% bits/sec

Set /A bitsA=(%bits% / 1024 * 10 / 1024)

set bits1=%bitsA:~0,1%

set bits2=%bitsA:~1,1%

Set str2=(~%bits1%.%bits2%Mb/sec)

ECHO %str1% %str2%

goto :EOF

:1M

set bits1=%bits:~-3%

set bits2=%bits:~0,-3%

set bits3=%bits2:~-3%

set bits4=%bits2:~0,-3%

Set str1=%bits4%,%bits3%,%bits1% bits/sec

Set /A bitsA=(%bits% / 1024 * 10 / 1024)

set bits1=%bitsA:~0,1%

set bits2=%bitsA:~1,1%

set str2=(~%bits1%%bits2%Mb/sec)

ECHO %str1% %str2%

goto :EOF

:100K

set bits1=%bits:~-3%

set bits2=%bits:~0,-3%

set str1=%bits2%.%bits1% Kbits/sec

ECHO %str1%

goto :EOF

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@TCP speed is dependant on bandwidth delay product.

What you call broadband speed test is useless if you don't check also the quality of the service known as "bandwidth delay". This is key to keep the flow of data constant (e.g. to watch movie and play game, Voip...). and VM cunningly advertise "speed" while increasing the "bandwidth delay"...

do a speed and quality test and see for yourself and see how ISP are cunningly making money by delaying a 10Mbs service into just 300ms (transfer speed (kbps) and Delay (ms): go to http://myspeed.visualware.com/servers/lhr.html

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Anonymous Coward

odd

I'm on VM and downloaded approximately 2.5GB worth of games patch (TWEE) at the weekend and I'm on VMs medium (4Mb/s service) - that being the case my theoretical "maximum" download speed is 500KB/s.

For that 2.5GB the average reported download speed was, I reckon, around 450KB/s - seems alright to me - although granted there were a couple of points where I was getting a reported download speed of 750-800KB/s (which would be approximately 6Mb/s).

Now I'm not saying VM are perfect (or even as good as they used to be when they were BlueYonder) but I still seem to have a good, solid, low-latency (in TF2) connection from Wolvo (which seems to be one of the last places they roll-out upgrades to). Maybe they'll nerf it when they roll out the 10Mb upgrade.

I think cable is the better technology but that there's no competition in the market since the NTL/Telewest merger and the service has suffered - I actually look forward to BT rolling out the fibre.

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Stop

Time to set things straight

Firstly a few people have said Virgin don't have fibre - WRONG, remember about 15 years ago when AT&T turned up and started digging up everything in sight, well they were installing fiber, not to the home but to the local exchanges , his means most people in cities are pretty close to a fibre exchange, ever wonder why adsl is stuck at 16Mb max and more like 2Mb in the real world? well its because copper isn't very good at sending data over long distances.

Secondly i normally get 2MB/20Mb/2000KBps all the time from my VM line, but this can only be relied upon from certain sites such as Apple.com, Apple own an entire i.p range i.e if 10.11.12.13 (private i.p, i know)is the i.p for the apple then any address starting with 10 is owned by apple, thats a shit load of i.p's and i imagine they have one or two servers hooked up to the net allowing them to provide high speed access to everyone.

Now compare this to Youtube for example, they probably also could give me my max line speed but they won't because they know that a video clip might fully load in <5 secs regardless of whether i watch the whole clip or not,this means wasted bandwidth which means wasted money so they allow it to download slightly faster than it takes to play.

Then come all th other small sites who's hosts don't have the capacity to give everyone they're max download speed all the time, to you this may make your connection feel slow.

I had a third point but i forgot it mid rant, my point was that i have been with NTL/VM for approx. 7 years and have never had any long term problems, i would guess maybe 4 or 5 times in 7 years i have not been able to connect to the net but that has mostly been sorted out in hours, and the speeds have generally been as advertised.

As for the throttling issue, a while back i added Speed Scheduler onto Azureus/Vuse and set it to throttle speeds during "peak hours"(also useful because 4 of us are on the same connection and Bittorrent really slows things down if left unattended) and i haven't been capped by VM since and my downloads continue at max speed during the night.

In closing all i have to say is roll on 50Mb, currently an hour long T.V episode can be done in about 7mins, cant wait till it only takes 2.5 :-)

Sorry for the text wall.

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Rob
Stop

Please stop mentioning Branson...

... he has nothing to do with his businesses, he's just a tit/twat/arsehole (pick one) who plays with the profits he reaps.

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Hrm....

I have to say, up to now I've not had an issue with my 20mb Virgin pipe. I *do* see a drop-off during the 'peak hours' as advertised, and I am a pretty heavy download user so that's fair comment as far as I'm concerned; I'm happy to share with everyone else..

..but I think this article and the comments that follow has prompted me to perform some tests. I'll edit later with an update.

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jon

TeeCee, you need to read Rolf Harris...

and MODS! please can you reduce the 'time to live' of the posts to MUCH less than about 24hrs???

"fiber optic BB( eh so what is the old coax thing running into my house then )"

Its currently FFTC - Fibre To The Cabinet, then coax to the home..

- the next step will be FTTH - Fibre To The Home..

other moaners who think anything else using BT lines are better, Rolf Harris does not think so...

and yes, MU, virgin does do server work, meaning a loss of acces for a few days.. last time that happened to me, my net came back upgraded from 4 to 10 meg for FREE.. :)

I would bet that would take a lot longer on a BT line -(BT says line will upgrade, ISP happy, tells users... a week later and no upgrade, ISP embarrased, users angry and leaving... BT still twiddles it's thumbs, while disgruntled badly paid staff 'walk off the job' ... ISP still being 'blanked' by BT(they dont know why the line is dead either...) - workers eventually get back to work, so its all handed back to the complaints dept, its not their problem, ISP tries to pick up the pieces...

VM has it own cables, own exchanges, own staff, does not have to deal with countless 'middlemen' just to clear a line fault!!!

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JJ
IT Angle

Utter rubbish

I had the VMedia 20mbit connection and nothing they could do would get it above 4.5mbit download speed and I was testing by pulling a 1gb file from Microsoft in the US who have a 400mbit connection at their end.

Going down to a 10mbit connection all I could get was 2.5mbit, not the 4.xmbit I had before. The engineer at VMedia I spoke with said that was typical for the 10mbit connection speed.

I’d have the 50mbit connection from them, but going on their track record I wont get more than 8-9mbit from it. Also don’t forget that despite the hype of the connection speeds all accounts get throttled at peak hours so half your connection always goes.

All the usual victory of marketing and spin over substance that I have come to accept as normal from Virgin.

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Thumb Down

50Mbs?

I'd be happy if I got a consistant 1Mbs instead of the usual 250-750k and you lot are whinging about not getting the full 50Mbs

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Stop

no fibre here!!

@Stuart Halliday

easier option dl a file from the big V direct to see your actuall speed

ftp://ftp.blueyonder.co.uk/blueyondergames/blueyondergames/demos/

@Anonymous Coward

you said( Firstly a few people have said Virgin don't have fibre "WRONG")

No I am afriad you are wrong the virgin network is indeed fibre but every single house in the uk is connected through coax cables from the MUX in their street..this goes for your cable tv as well, they do not supply fibre connected BB to domestic customers Ofcom has already slapped them once for it and about laying new fibre well if you would check i think you will find it has been a while since that has happened maybe 10 yrs as both NTL and Telewest had a 6 yr hold on new cable becuase both companies where tight on margins and being squeezed by sky to the point that any customer above the standard TV package was actually costing them money and this is why certain areas of their network are over subscribed and running on equipment that most companies disposed of years ago.

I have a "CABLE MODEM" with not a fibre channel in sight and anyway virgins fibre is an internal network if they cant coupe with the bandwidth of their users connected through coax how the hell would they do direct fibre it is just a big phat pipe dream.

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Stop

Virgin suck?

Well I can't be bothered to read all the comments so forgive me if someone else has already said this...

Even if the speed tests aren't reporting your true speed, they are most likely reporting the speed you can expect from the average webserver. I know the method used in these tests is flawed and doesn't produce entirely accurate results, but I find them to be a very good indication of the actual speed being provided.

Virgin should be more concerned about their networks not being able to handle the load of all the traffic with the ridiculous speeds they are offering. Besides, even if speed tests are reporting low speeds, your speed gets quatered after downloading what is now considered to be a fairly small amount of data (especially in shared houses where lots of people each use the connection equally). Downloading at full speed on a 20Mb gets you capped in about 15 minutes, which in my opinion is insane. Hence my boycott of Virgin =)

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Anonymous Coward

'Anonymous Coward' not one person....

- It is what you are called if you tick ' Post anonymously ' .... :( :( - engage brain, and quote the time and date... :)

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Unhappy

Sounds a lot doesn't it!!

I don't want 50Mbit/s.. I just want 10Mbit/s, with no cap, no throttling, no restriction, no problems.... Can they manage that?... thought not!!

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to Jon

I work for a small ISP, we have peering agreements with level 3 and nitrex so i am aware ofthe costs of data shifting, i can get a free adsl max service from work but i choose not too. when we get onto the 21CN network i will reconsider.

in my view, one gigbayte is not a massive download. and this is where i believe virgin are loosing touch. online services are only going to expand and require more data. Microsoft are now actively advertising their HD movie download service for the Xbox 360 (sorry to keep using that example)

Virgin just seem confused now, they give you a service and then cap it after 15 minutes if you use it at the capacity that they are so happy to shout about in adverts, they defend this policy saying it only hits the top 5% who unless managed would disrupt the service for others (last month i downloaded 4gigs of data in total , 1.3 gigs last saturday from a virgin media hosted mirror, and got limited that day, am i to believe i was one of the top 5% of users that day when my traffice didnt even leave their gateway?) when it it clearly just an arbitrary limit, and to top it all off they are now introducing a 50mb service which will chew even more of their bandwidth.

Jon you are right in everything you say, i agree wholeheartedly, i am just a tad annoyed that a service that was once the best in the country known for being forward thinking has fallen into disarray and confusion and become out of touch.

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Thumb Down

yes virgin sucks

Does the speed really matter when you are dealing with VM? Isnt their continual lies, overcharging, refusal to meet the contract, no customer services and refusal to reply to any letter of complaint enough to moan about?

I WAS a VM customer, and on the days it worked I was happy. The fact it was slower than dial up was annoying, but no where as annoying as trying to talk to VM about it.

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jon

@ Alexander

See my comment 13th October 14:31 ... The MUX is inside the cabinet in the street, that converts the fibre channel to coax, that goes to each home.. Fibre To The Home is for the future, and will depend on it being economic or not...

"cable too old" er, no, when I got this house in '95, I got C&W, the cheapest... this was then upgraded to TW, and now VM... even if TW did replace the cable, that is still about 10 years... and I have had no problems getting 10 M... again replacing bad sections will depend on economics... If you dont support it, it wont happen...

No, d/l ing a file will be subject to how congested that part of the net was, and the the speed of the modem it used... speedcheckers only test the 'one off' speed and latency, what you need is Netmeter from www.metal-machine.de/readerror/ It will help you track what happens to speed over time...

"cant cope with the bandwidth" I think you will find that EVERYONE is getting this problem, due to too many greedy people wanting to download lots of stuff for next to no cost!!

check my comment 12th October 13:26 .... I think you will find VM's track record (considering the short time it has been operating) is much better that BTs... BT has only had since the START of 'cheap internet' to get its act together - mid '90s I think.. and it has had the whole telephone network runnning for decades before that....

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jon

@Anonymous Coward (Posted 13th October 2008 21:05

no you will never get satisfaction with a company that has too many customers!!! go to a smaller company, that has space left.... untill it get too big....

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Anonymous Coward

@ Alexander

If you take the time to properly read my post i believe i explained fairly clearly that VM only does fibre to the local exchange, i also stated that copper isn't very good over LONG distances, copper has a pretty low resistance, however it adds up over distance causing signal degradation, there is also the issue of signal to noise ratio, which only increases over distance, in a largish city anyone person is within a couple of Km of a VM fibre exchange, i should have maybe mentioned that copper i pretty good at carrying data over shorter distances, i.e a couple of thousand meters to a fibre exchange compared to the Miles? of copper cable till you reach the BT high speed backbone. I never claimed that VM had fibre into the home and as a matter of fact niether did they, they said that its faster by fibre, which is absolutely true, the fact that the distance to their fibre is relatively short means they have much more speed capacity than BT can ever have using miles of copper cable.

I also have a "CABLE MODEM" i should know as i bought the co-ax to move it out of the stupid place that VM installed it to,(in the Kitchen, who wants their modem in the kitchen)

Now, if you read through the very first paragraph and apply a little deductive logic, and the hindsight with which i have just provided you, you will see that it is all there, if not spelled out letter by letter for you.

"Firstly a few people have said Virgin don't have fibre - WRONG, remember about 15 years ago when AT&T turned up and started digging up everything in sight, well they were installing fiber, NOT TO THE HOME* but to the LOCAL EXCHANGES* , this means most people in cities are PRETTY CLOSE TO A FIBRE EXCHANGE*, ever wonder why adsl is stuck at 16Mb max and more like 2Mb in the real world? well its because COPPER ISN'T VERY GOOD AT SENDING DATA OVER LONG DISTANCES."

* = My emphases for the reading impaired

Read this if you will, as - copper o.k over short distance, copper bad over long distances.

Any questions/flames/rants don't hesitate to post them

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Unhappy

Like driving a Bugatti Veyron in Central London

is the best analogy I can come up with .

The Bugatti MAY go 250MPH (approx), but with the congestion, plus sensible speed limits you ain't going to do more than 30-40 MPH burst speed, and an average of more like 11mph.

So where is this virgin-on-the-ridiculous 50MB/s going to take you ? All the way into the traffic jam with the P2P-ers, iPlayers and other surfers, just like the Bugatti let's you join the congestion in it's realm.

Virgin are just full of hype, they are the ISP for Sun readers.

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Alert

oh really

@ mr coward

"Firstly a few people have said Virgin don't have fibre - WRONG"

i think if you read mines this is the portion of your comment i was commenting on this statement is false virgin do not provide fibre access which mean it is a coax connection pure and simple no arguement! and yes they did say fibre connection and have been slapped down by ofcom (maybe you should do some background checking first)

ofcom state it is how the user is connected to the network that defines the connection method and not the system behind it, futhermore Virgin have now got round that by say fibre optic network and does not mention connection at all in their adverts.

and you should check with ofcom before your say Virgin has a better track record than others I have :-)

@ jon

that is an internal ftp for virgin customers nothing to do with the net what ever speed you get from dl'ing will be you max speed , which when you complain about slow speed is what they tell you to do and if your getting 56k speed for say bbcnews and any other external sites, but 1300 from the that link I posted they tell you it is not their fault and everything is ok ?

Virginmedia are struggling with debt, with infrastructure, with customers and legacy of mismanagement from NTL and Telewest days even to the point they have to drop channels because they cant afford them or instagate traffic shaping because the network cant cope with demand and them complaining about speedtesting is a bit like having a race car with square wheels on the open road but complaining that it runs faster when you put round wheels on it and run it off road ..yeah but i bought my car for the open road not some internal little track.

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Stop

@ Alexander

you need to understand what you read and not just take the points you think have the most weight for your poor attempt at an argument !!

Firstly - as has been said by many people, the VM Core network is FIBRE, with high quality TX equipment ( leading edge in most ) The Access network, which is your local area is ALSO fibre to the little Green cabinets you will see in your street. From the Cabinet to you him is indeed NOT fibre, it is Coax which if you understand transmission principls ( which i doubt you do ) is far better at data transmission than your copper wire from BT, Sure COAX has cooper in it so if you wish to call the 2 totally different types of cable copper feel free...

Ofcom wise, yes it was classed as misleading, but then again so have many other ISP's with there claims, how about you take a look as some of the one VM have raised as un fair and have WON the complaint !!

As for dropping channel's, i assume that you refer to the SKY channels, these channels which are owned by a direct competitor of VM, and one who felt that the best way to try and fight VM was to raise the costs of the Sky channels. it did not make business sense to pay a highly inflated cost for channels whos actual audience numbers are dropping year on year. If you are that unhappy that you cant get a couple of the sky channels ( sky1 and sky news) feel free to jump ship but that seems a pointless exercise when VM win their case agains SKY for unfair costing... ( guess u didnt know that bit either )

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Coat

The Difference Between Right and Wrong

By all means edit Reg. At the very least get a few friends to try the experiment and publish the results - Please.

“Virgin Media believes it is being shafted by comparison sites offering ISP speed checks, and has called on them to improve their techniques ahead of the launch of its 50Mbit/s upgrade.”

To pick up on the shafting from there, Virgin is certainly ‘improving’ its own ‘techniques’.

He’s a nice little test for you to try this coming morning.

Go here and look at Virgin’s posted throttling policy.

http://www.virginmedia.com/help/traffic-management.php

I’d draw attention to the 10:00-15:00 throttle-session.

There you’ll notice that you can attract a throttle if you *download* more than 1000MB in that time period. The theory is that if you don’t download more than that in that period, you don’t get throttled. Here is what Virgin is actually up to.

I’m on a 2Mb connection served, I believe, out of what it labelled as ‘Blueyonder, Livingston’.

On Tuesday 14 October 2008 and Wednesday 15 October 2008 I conducted the following little experiment because I was becoming increasingly convinced that Virgin had started running another scam in their throttling regime. I’d strongly suggest that others try this for themselves and see what results they come up with.

Launch your news-client and line up a download queue that will easily bust the 1000MB limit.

Set yourself a fairly generous ‘discount’ off of that limit (allowing for communication overhead etc.). In my case I reduced the Virgin enforced limit of 1000MB by 30MB – so I’m aiming to download 970MB. That isn’t going to bust the limit – I’m not going to get throttled.

Sit down and actually calculate the amount of time it would take, if you were running your connection at full tilt (in my case 256KB/s) to download that 970MB (or whatever value you calculated for your own connection rates). Remember, you’re not going to get your full rate so, in effect, this is a further discount on the Virgin imposed limit. In my case I calculated that out at 64 minutes to hit near to the 970MB. There is the communication overhead, but we’ve been generous in allowing for that and some of that will be mopped up because we ain’t going to run at full tilt anyway. All in all – we ain’t gonna get busted.

Okay, that’s us covered the download part of the experiment. Now we need to set up an upload part.

Now fire up a p2p client and set a queue such that you will *not* be downloading. You are *only going to upload*, OpenOffice, Linux distro – whatever. Fair enough you have a communications overhead for this but you have already discounted your download limit by more than 30MB and that 30MB (and a bit) should more than cover the download component of the communication overhead for your planned upload session. You should manage to *upload* for the remainder of the 10:00 – 15:00 period without getting busted for overshooting the 1000MB *download* limit. You can’t get busted for the upstream because there is no upstream throttle-penalty inside this time period.

Wait until 10:00. When it arrives set your news-client to start downloading. Time it. As soon as the system clock hits 11:04 shut the news-client down. As you do so pay attention to the download rate you had just as you shut it down. Two days in a row mine was around the 252KB/s mark i.e. I hadn’t hit the limit and hence wasn’t being throttled.

Okay, 11:04, start the p2p client to uploading. Should be uploading for the rest of the 10:00 – 15:00 period without difficulty, you can’t get throttled by Virgin for uploading in this period – Hey, it’s ‘unlimited’! Boy do you have another thing coming. I doubt you’ll get beyond 15-20 minutes and the throttle will step in. Have a look at what the p2p client is saying about the amount you actually *downloaded*. Within that 15-20 minutes I hadn’t even download 0.5MB. But, wait a minute (or 20) I had *uploaded* around 17MB.

Guess what. These charlatans, the ferkin sharp boys at Virgin have started *adding in the upstream* to count towards the *downstream throttle penalties* they’ve published on the web. And, as soon as your *upstream use* when added to the *downstream traffic you’ve already done in the period* busts the published *downstream limit* - you get busted.

I’ve tried it the last two days because I was so damned suspicious of the pattern of throttling I was being subjected to. I had calculated my rates, been generous with discounts – this had even worked for a while – and hey presto I was suddenly being throttled. And there it is. Likely this will Ofcon Approved ™ Or if it isn’t now, doubtless it will be in no time soon.

I still have difficulty in believing that a company, any company, can get away with the kinds of sharp, could even be claimed fraudulent, practices that Virgin evidently feels it has the liberty to perpetrate. But it has. ASA, Ofcon, the politicos have stood by and either ignored, tacitly approved of, or in Ofcon’s case actively engaged in shaping, Virgin and its business practices which to say the least amount to open fraud.

I keep scratching my head and ask, how this can possibly be? The answer I keep getting is that this has nothing whatsoever to do with ISP connection speeds, download limits or anything of the kind. This is to do with the shaping of future business politics and how it interfaces with the politicos. And all of this is happening because the future is going to be corrupt, they’ve started practicing now. Never thought I’d say that about the UK – but that’s the way it is. My oh, my, Beardie – you have come far, what company you must keep. Thanks to God the Courts had the sense to help keep your hands off the Lottery – guess they recognised a bad ‘un when it turned up to wax eloquent on the difference between right and wrong.

"I wonder if my share's been left in here. Ah! Nothing but whiskers."

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Dead Vulture

Log of(f) the Disenfranchised

Requiem for the integrity the UK once had. (Nice one, Beardie!)

"Thursday, 16 October 2008, 11:19 a.m.

Same experiment. Same result. Must be this is what Virgin means by improving accuracy.

Still Virgin got the ol' Ofcon Approved ™ stamp on 'Fair Use' and that is all the liberty they've needed ever since. Those 'Fair Use' clauses have amounted to nothing but 'Liberty for Utter Abuse of the Public' clauses - they need to outlawed. But, no action from the politicos. Wonder why?

Of course, it's politics.. And in politics there is no such thing as no action. 'Inaction'' is, in itself, the action. Suppose we can forget about Trading Standards and the Law over Virgin then?

(Is it any wonder more and more people don't bother to vote? You vote and the politicos arrange the likes of Ofcon to kick your teeth in for your trouble. Dang, they'll even have you pay them before they kick you in the teeth.)"

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Dead Vulture

Getting Dark Now

Friday,17 October 2008, 10:30 p.m.

Same experiment. Different result. Shafting continues. Virgin accuracy being improved.

“I guess someone other than myself must read the Reg. Set up the experiment as before and no throttle steps in at after the '10:00 mark'. Spend most of the rest of the 10:00 – 15:00 'download throttle-penalty period' uploading without being throttled. That said, I’ve been careful I’ve sat and calculated the rates – there is no way I can be throttled, I’m only uploading in an ‘unlimited’ upload period.

Did I have another thing coming:

14:50 and the throttle jumps in, upload rate cut to 50%. How can this be? I’ve a discount of 30MB and, after downloading the 970MB I’ve done nothing but upload for the rest of the 10:00 – 15:00 downloading throttle-penalty session.

I look at the p2p client, it says that my total download (which can only be for comms overhead during the entire ‘unlimited’ *upload* session) is at 2.8MB. Granted the client could be a little inaccurate, but not by anywhere near 27.2MB worth.

Funny how convenient it is to throttle in this way is – just before the 15:00 – 16:00 ‘unlimited’ download (but throttle-penalty upload) session. Five-hours worth of open fraud now at the point of delivery.

Where is the Law? Nowhere.

Where are Trading Standards? Nowhere.

The Politicos? Nowhere.

Virgin? Calculating the results of open fraud. Doctoring them for flaunting in the market-place.

Ofcon? Busing its ‘independent’ little self. Polishing the stamp for another round of Ofcon Approved ™.

I should thank the Reg. Nice try. But fraud seems now a wide-spread policy support matter. Future looks grim. Ofcon and Virgin leading the way. Sun is setting in the UK. Bearded rat can be heard scuttling in the shadows. Lord know what company it keeps.

Getting very dark now. Over and out.”

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baz
Thumb Down

All I know is...

I never have much of a problem with my VM 10MB connection. I know about the throttling between 5-9pm... so i don't do any big downloading until after then. Apart from that my speeds are pleasantly reliable and constant.

BUT

My brother, who lives a 5 minute walk away, is on the VM 20MB service and got VM to agree to a discount on his bill because his service is never anywhere near to 20MB... when i visit it is noticeably slower than my connection. Then again he deserves it because he is a gaylord with a big bum and likes crappy rock music and smells of poo.

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Flame

Bye, bye Virgin

Last from me on this subject.

Hadn't been using the p2p client for a couple of days. But over the last couple of weeks have noticed:

(a). Increasingly longer and longer periods required to connect to the VPN , Relakks, I've been reduced to using because Virgin is now no longer trustworthy in any respect over anything.

(b). The VPN method for p2p has gotten slower and slower. This again is Virgin at its fraudulent best. I've tested this during 'unlimited' periods. Set up a download (not a torrent) and have it come down the VPN - substantially less than half rate. Disconnect the VPN use the Virgin ISP [sic] connection direct and down it comes at near full rate.

(c). Today I'm back to using the p2p client and Relakks. But, after about ten minutes of Relakks-ing that VPN tunnel grinds to a halt. It VPN doesn't get disconnected - it just stops transferring data in either direction via the p2p client. I disconnect it several times during the day, reconnect (eventually - getting through the delay connection time stunt that Virgin has introduced) and start to torrent transfer. Result, a few minutes later it grinds to halt, again. Virgin at its fraudlent best, again.

(d.) Subscribe to a different VPN to give it a whirl. Pretty different, in the end I decide it looks like Virgin has a definite target on Relakks. That said the download rate is way reduced from previous experience so more of the same from Virgin.

So what now, dragged into playing more merry games the Virgin way?

No. I phone up accounts and say I'm canceling. There is a pause. Next thing I know I'm with sales. I get offered a lower price. I explain some of the stunts that Virgin is up to. I explain that they should be in Court on trading standards charges (at the very least). The woman is clueless. I cancel. In one month I'm out. Thank the Lord.

It boils down to ethics. Do I want to support this level of corruption in a company all under the umbrella of a so called 'fair use' clause? No, not by a single penny.

Telewest, to Virgin, to stunts, to crime. Sad story of Ofcon Approved TM and open fraud. I'm out.

Sadder still is that, as far as I can see, very few Reg readers actually get the plot. They'll argue and argue over co-ax and 'cable' and rarely do they show any sign of seeing the politics that are being played out, the precedents that are being set - financial, privacy, commercial ethics and standards etc. Do yourself a favour guys, and gals; stop arguing over the smoke (-screen), that's really playing the game they've set up for you to play. In the boardroom they'll love you for playing the part so well.

Have a very good look at the fire.

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