back to article Virgin throttles national cable network

Virgin Media has quietly rolled out bandwidth throttling nationwide, after successful technical trials in the North West, which the ISP says means a group of heavy users will sacrifice high speeds for the benefit of the majority. Speeds on the cable network will be limited between 4pm and midnight for traffic which Virgin …

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  1. Vernon Lloyd

    Seems fair...........

    .........if they were to charge half the broadband rate while they have throttled us down to half the speed.

    I do not think they will do that.

    On the positve side though at least they will not disconnect me..............yet?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't believe Virgin - they're already throttling!!!

    I download via NNTP and get a constant 8.2MB in the morning but in the evening its around 4.5MB - no 8.2 down to 4.5 even if I've not downloaded anything else that day so I know I'm being throttled yet Virgin state:

    "When will this new policy be launched?

    We'll start moderating the heaviest users' service at the same time we roll out the new speed increases for Broadband XL customers."

    I don't have 20MB yet and I don't live in a trial area but I've never seen a speed above 5MB in the evening. However when I had the 4MB service I got 3.8MB all day every day.

    10MB... yeah right!

  3. Greg

    The cheeky sods!

    Why are these caps necessary? They weren't necessary on NTL!

  4. jai

    scheduled downloads

    things like Skype and console gaming and so on are probably only really going to be affected if your also downloading large files at the same time. if you're using a download manager to speed the process up, several of those allow you to schedule when the download starts. so you can happily game or chat away during the evening and then at one minute past midnight, everyone can start downloading their ripped off dvds, illegal warez, unpaid for mp3s, p0rn and so on, while they sleep.

  5. bonzo

    pointless...

    As a long time Telewest (7yrs) customer it's nice to see they're completely screwing over what was once an excellent service. I'm now paying £50 a month for... No Sky channels, expensive telephone services, and now a capped broadband service - that wasn't price competetive anyway. I can get a similar sh*t service anywhere cheaper than this. 8Mb with larger caps via ADSL for £12 a month ...£13 less than Virgin, why? is this the reward we get for staying loyal to cable?

    So much for Blue Yonders 'Unlimited' service then. Hey Ho.

    Thanks Virgin. Another satisfied EX customer to be.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What they don't tell you...

    Virgin Media point out that the peak period is between 4pm and midnight, and that the throttling takes place for 4 hours, but what they don't say is that if you trigger their measly threshold at 11:59pm your connection will be restricted until 3:59am. This means that you can be penalised even during non-peak hours - although you should really be tucked-up in bed at that time anyway.

    There is also no notification on Virgin Media's part... Giganews are able to email me when I start getting close to my monthly Usenet download limit (and when I've exceeded it) but it seems that Virgin Media haven't worked out how to do it yet.

    This is hardly the sort of service I'd expect from a company using the Virgin moniker. Coming from NTL it would be expected. This just goes to show that the reverse-takeover of Virgin Mobile hasn't changed a thing at NTL's HQ... it's still the same muppets running the show.

    Will Virgin Media be reducing my £38 monthly bill by a third to take into account the fact that they're effectively reducing my bandwidth by a third each month...?

  7. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    The alternatives are FAR worse

    Greg asks "Why are these caps necessary? They weren't necessary on NTL!"

    They are neccessary and are going to happen on every ISP sooner or later - the alternative would be a MASSIVE increase in the cost of broadband which isn't going to work in a market distorted by "free" and "unlimited" offers !

    See previous article at http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/04/20/the_economics_of_prime_time/

    I also highly recommend following the link to the full article, which also has links to some other very interesting articles.

    Another anonymous poster says that they are already throttling because his NNTP is slower in the evening. Well DUH, 'domestic' broadband is a contended service and always has been. There simply isn't the bandwidth in the network to support all users at their local line rate (see above mentioned article for why). So in the morning when not many people are active you will get good download rates, in the evening when everyone is active, there are bottlenecks which will reduce your throughput - these bottlenecks are separate from any throttling employed.

    The problem is that if the ISP does nothing, the congestion in the network destroys latency so real-time traffic suffers badly - web sites appear to load much more slowly, gaming doesn't work as well, and internet telephony (whether voice only or video) becomes unusable. The choice is simply to throw LOTS more bandwidth at the network (which customer in general won't pay for), or to apply traffic management to give everyone a reasonably fair share of the network.

    If you want unthrottled, unlimited broadband then it's available from several business ISPs - but be perpared to multiply your monthly costs by at least an order of magnitude (x10) to get it.

  8. Ash

    Virgin need more...

    ... tubes.

    Sorry.

  9. Ian S

    Did someone admit to downloading DVD's?

    So this would be Chris admitting to downloading dvd's online.. tut tut tut

  10. Tom Chiverton

    Move elsewhere

    Zen (for instance) have a very clear capping policy (arround 20G/month with the ability to buy more), and will shortly announce Perl, Mac and Windows programs to see your usages, as well as a Firefox plugin.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So that explains it

    I'm one of the many people to have been upgraded to 20MB in recent weeks, something I hadn't even noticed until something downloaded a lot faster than I was expecting.

    I've also noticed this speed throttling on days when I've been a bit more active, having my speed drop down to that of a 5MB line, it's not a huge issue at the end of the day as after all, broadband is 'always on' and it's rare I need anything *that* badly. Although, I have started backing up my data online so if I need something large in a hurry there, I'm guessing thats when I'll have a problem.

    It would've been nice to have had something in the post about this happening.

  12. conan

    False Advertising

    This is unacceptable. Virgin, like all other ISPs, advertise their service as being a "2MB" or "10MB" service, whilst not actually providing it. We already have to accept that these numbers do not correspond to standard nomenclature in terms of duplex operation (there's not a provider in the country who'll give you a domestic 2MB upstream service) and now we have to continue paying the same price for a heavily throttled service? Why should the nature of my internet usage affect the service I receive? It's like saying that drivers who travel further should be subject to harsher speed limits. I wouldn't mind if they advertised "2MB broadband, throttled at 350MB during peak times"

  13. bluesxman

    Already throttling?

    RE: Comment @ Tuesday 8th May 2007 11:56 GMT

    You are aware that, regardless of any throttling policies they may or may not already have introduced on the sly, the speed you're paying for is subject to a contention ratio, right?

  14. James

    What About Gamers?

    While I personally don't give two hoots about Joost or video transmission on Skype, I am going to be very interested how this affects net games like EverQuest2, WoW and the like. How much data per hour do they transfer?

    Perhaps more important than the total bandwidth consumed (it's perfectly possible to have 6 people playing while sharing a single 4M/256k cable line) is the latency introduced by queuing disciplines. Even as little as a second's packet loss can cause havoc if the players are in the middle of an intense battle.

    Because of the popularity of latency critical applications like gaming, I predict that this is the first step towards ISP's like Virgin Media offering specific premium deals for low latency connections.

  15. daniel Silver badge

    £37 for 10 mbits?

    Here in France, we get up to 18-24 mbits for £20 (30 euros) depending on the operator (orange, club-internet, free, cegetel, 9Tel...) and no bandwitdh throttling (for now)...

    Cheers,

    Daniel

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Throttled to death?

    I'm okay with the ideal of throttling being applied to the "heavy hitters" during times when the networks getting busy - it's a much better idea that letting the whole net get stuffed, or starting to eject the bandwidth leaches! And at least it's not a monthly cap.

    What does get my goat is that - again! - VM customers are having to rely on the 3rd party source to find out about this. Telewest were (increasingly) bad about telling customers about new features, and VM are definitely no better, possibly worse. This is shame considering that, in other respects, I'm happy with their service - especially broadband reliability and the technical helplines for broadband and tv which are pretty good (once you get through!).

    The other thing is - like the "Don't believe Virgin - they're already throttling!!!" poster - I've also noticed that my non-peak speeds have fallen noticably since TW became NTL became VM. Surely they're not expecting me to upgrade from "L" to "XL" just to get the speeds that I had before...

    ... although the sound of 20Mb/s does sound really, really appealing! ;)

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  18. Simon Day

    Not exactly harsh

    When the throttles kick in they get restricted from their full speed to 50% of the full speed and a reduced upload speed??

    That does not exactly seem harsh!!

    Plusnet on the other hand has much worse system on their ADSL (and they are probably one of the better ADSL providers its sorry to say) after you exceed your monthly limit, they start throttling you, at different caps for different protocols, by the time you hit the full cap ftp usenet and p2p are completely blocked, http is limited to 256kbps - and this is for the whole month, not just the rest of the evening!!

    Personally if virgin's service does exactly what they say they are going to do here (subject to the normal contention issues any provider has) I certainly would not be complaining... if it weren't for the fact I have no desire to have TV I'd be seriously considering their service

  19. Mark Rendle

    QFS

    Of course, most of the traffic that needs throttling is people downloading Lost, 24, The Simpsons...

  20. John

    Torrent

    I'm on 2M Virgin at the minute and torrents rarely get speeds higher than 100kb/s with a max of 30kb/s up.

    So it looks like I'm going to be capped on the days when Lost and Heroes are on tv in America.

    The numbers they throttle to seem to be perfectly fine to continue downloading torrents and will only affect my browsing experience.

    So it looks like the folks doing the most downloading will be able to continue doing so at the same speeds while only sacrifing browsing/ftp speed.

    Way to go Virgin....

  21. Mo

    Murdoch 1 - Branson 0

    Having an Xbox360 and a PS3 I can easily hit the limit by downloading a demo and a couple of HD film trailers.

    I thought the point of introducing a bigger pipe like the 20Mb connection was so users can use it for 'on demand' services like TV or movies. Whats the point when when your connection will get throttled after 20 minutes? Or is the 20Mb connection for so you can receive your emails that bit quicker?

    Why is this country so much behind when it comes to broadband?

    ISPs need to realise that not all of us are pirates who are constantly downloading HD films and 'art'!

  22. Albert

    I don't have a problem with this

    I'm with TalkTalk and have a cap of 40GB. I expect there are bandwidth management things going on as well.

    To me Virgin coming straight out and saying this is the service is a good thing. It (hopefully) will force the other ISPs to do the same.

    Also, unless something is really urgent just let the download continue and it will work. The throttling is only for a limited period during the evening so with a download manager the speed will pick up later.

    For gaming latency is the issue and as long as this doesn’t affect that I think it is OK.

    I would prefer to have a reliable reasonably fast connection during peak times and schedule the big download out of hours than have to suffer with poor performance at peak times due to everybody, including myself trying to gain an advantage when even without throttling there is contention to be taken into account.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So it becomes clear

    Normally when ntl did something nice there was a downside. Eg speed goes up, modem freezes up randomly for a few months after.

    Recently my down speed went from 4000k to 4096k (I always wondered where that extra 96k went), and to my delight the modem's been rock solid....now I see where they're gonna hit me.

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  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    i need to say goodbye to virgin....

    I'm fed up of Virgin Media, i got home last night after a long weekend away and switched on the computer and was left with a slow enough connection that i was struggling to resolve webpages whilst chatting on skype. Looks like that 350mb limit is a crock as this was ten minutes in and i speed-tested my connection at 950kbs!

    I know i'm a heavy user but thats takin the bloody proverbial!

  26. Steve McKinty

    France isn't perfect (and at least Virgin's grammar is OK!)

    In contradiction to comments by "daniel", those of us unlucky enough to have the unbundled service from Free in France did indeed have service limitations. Unlike Virgin, though, Free's reaction to an overloaded network was to block (totally!) all traffic that wasn't plain email or HTTP. That, of course, blocked all VPN traffic and prevented me and my colleagues from remote working for almost two months until pressure from customers and consumer organisations saw the position changed. Virgin's throttling seems to be a much more reasonable and viable alternative.

    And at least they said "a lot fewer" (not "a lot less") traffic jams... :)

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When is 20 meg not 20 meg.... Virgin have the answer!

    I have always been a fan of NTL/Telewest/Virgin 10 meg internet access, I have been one of the few people who have honestly not had any major problems with it (apart from when a ruddy great council digger ripped up the cable to my house...)

    Last night I rebooted my modem and checked the modems menu and could see I had a shiny 20 meg connection.

    I did my usual FTP test from heanet.ie and pulled down a new iso of ubuntu - 304kbps :o( When I was on 10 meg at the same time of day I would get 1100kbps approx.

    Same ftp test but pulling from ftp.ubuntu.virginmedia.com gave me the anticipated 2109 ish kbps speed (what I was expecting).

    If virgin expect customers to be happy with the new 20 meg they need to increase the peak time usage and make sure we can get further than virginmedia.com's servers if we want to go fast!

    I dont expect a logical reply from the guys at Virgin as they told me my area would not be eligible for 20 meg service as "its not listed on the website so it wont be done!"

    Go figure...

  28. ChrisB

    Time to update the FAQs then...

    http://www.virginmedia.com/help/faq/#downloadscapped still states

    'Q: Is it true that downloads will be capped?

    A: Our cable services are not capped and there are no intentions to introduce any usage limits - these are unlimited.'

    I pay for a 20Mb connection, and I expect, within reasonable bounds, to get it. I can't believe I want to reminisce about the good old days of NTL already...

  29. Philip Cass

    ppl suggesting services with high caps who let you know when you're close to your limit...

    Point 1: virgin aren't capping, they're throttling :P

    Point 2: yeah, perhaps virgin should collate usage figures every day and email people who are approaching their limit...

    ....oops :P

    (seriously, if you email people far enough in advance for them to be able to read it, the number of false positives will be far too high)

    RE: Comment @ Tuesday 8th May 2007 11:56 GMT - iirc the throttling is achieved by uploading a new profile to your cable modem, so its logs should be able to tell you if it's contention or not

    RE: Comment @ Tuesday 8th May 2007 12:50 GMT - how does it increase latency, and how is that "usual for this sort of thing" ? I mean, technically my connection's throttles already (my cable modem can handle 30mbits, its net port can handle 10, and it throttles me to 4) so i don't see how changing the numbers will change latency - I'd expect it to be better in fact (coz the bulk downloaders will be throttled)

  30. Phil

    Bad, its all bad

    Not sure if I'm allowed to post links to other sits, what the hell, you can always delete it :)

    Cablehell.co.uk has an interesting thread about this here

    http://cablehell.co.uk/forums/index.php?showtopic=106951

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rock + Hard Place

    Okay we all know Virgin is a bullshit excuse for a company that is about 99% branding and 1% substance. True, they're probably skirting the law and telling some implicit porkies in terms of what your getting for your money.

    But...there is no legitimate complaint for lack of bandwidth or suffering throttled bandwidth when you're using it as a mechanism to break the law. Virgin know like the rest of us most heavy downloaders are downloading torrents of bootlegged software, films and music. If it isn't torrent's it's sites like rapidshare.com/rapidshare.de. In truth, there aren't many legitimate high bandwidth requirements for home users and we're all kidding ourselves if we need gigs of bandwidth for movie trailers. The problem with apps like Skype is you're just moving the cost of your phone bill to your ISP.

    Steve Hobson is right, most customers want practically unlimited usage and high bandwdth caps for about 20 quid a month. They just aren't living in the real world.

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  33. Ian Wild

    It's going to become the differentior among all ISPs

    Until this weekend my own Virgin line has been as rock solid close to 10Mb/s for the last 18 months as you could want. Now I get less than a Meg consistently:

    http://www.speedtest.bbmax.co.uk/results.php?t=1178635622&v=1287399

    Have Virgin told us the whole story here?

    In the current climate, where broadband usage is exploding, I genuinely believe that some degree of traffic management and prioritisation of ‘real time’ traffic is needed on any Broadband network. I’m familiar with the steps Virgin are taking here because they were the same steps PlusNet took a couple of years ago, during which time we’ve had to refine and learn how we should approach things significantly.

    We published our roadmap for the future of traffic management at

    http://www.plus.net/support/broadband/quality_broadband/roadmap.shtml - The document puts into context the problem that ISPs face and demonstrates the learning we have done over the past two years.

    How ISPs achieve effective traffic management on their network and how honest they are about what they do (and how well they actually do what they try to do) will become a much bigger factor in the choice of Broadband suppliers in the future.

    Ian

    Product Development Manager @ PlusNet

  34. Darren Coleman

    QoS

    RE: Comment @ Tuesday 8th May 2007 11:56 GMT - iirc the throttling is achieved by uploading a new profile to your cable modem, so its logs should be able to tell you if it's contention or not

    Speaking as someone who works for an ISP who has done QoS (aka "Traffic Shaping" or "throttling" to the end user) the throttling will be done on their upstream routers and will be completely transparent to the customer.

    From my experience of implementing QoS for customers when they go past the threshold their latency is quite badly affected. If you've ever artificially limited your FTP bandwidth in clients that support it you'll see that it doesn't actually slow down your line, it essentially pauses until you're under the cap for each monitoring period (e.g. KB/sec). Most QoS implementations I've seen work by deprioritising the traffic and/or holding it in the queue, both of which would seriously affect latency/packetloss and any applications or games that depend on real-time network activity.

    At the very least Virgin Media need to implement some sort of online indication of when you're being throttled, especially if the threshold period is 4 hours.

    As a VM customer I would rather have an uncapped 24/7 5Mbit up/down service than one where I get blistering speeds for a fraction of the day.

  35. AJ

    Expensive Broadband For Reduced Service?!

    I can understand why they have introduced this 'throttling' and personally think its a fair way for people who do not abuse the internet by downloading shed loads of music & films etc to get a quality service!

    But I also think that the 'limits' decided before the throttling takes place have been set way too low and makes the service not worth paying for. Not everyone who uses the internet downloads from P2P software but do use the internet for what it was intended for, and with more broadcasters offering VOD content via their website they are going to be screwed big style!!

    Firstly VM need to grow some and actually tell customers what they are doing in an 'open and honest' manner as they are so eager to say they operate, as well as reduce the prices of their broadband services to reflect good value for money and the 'throttled' service they are now offering. What they also need to do is change the wording on their website as there service is no longer 'UNLIMITED' as this definition reflects being able to use as much of the service as you wish with no CAPS or RESTRICTIONS. This is not the case as there service is now 'SUBJECT TO A FAIR USAGE POLICY AND DOWNLOAD THROTTLING' and this needs to be advertised CLEARLY so its not misleading to customers!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I think its time VM stop infuriating customers by loosing channels and throttling services and INVEST in their network and give customers the services they pay for and expect. Either that or REDUCE the prices to reflect the service customers get - BROADBAND IS EXPENSIVE.

  36. Peter Kay

    Limited to 5Mb/s - oh the poor *poor* dears!

    Virgin's customers are, at worst, effectively getting an uncapped, unrestricted 5Mb/s connection for a bargain price. Stop whinging, as this is far better than 98% of ADSL customers are getting!

    I'm with Zen - one of the better ADSL providers. I still have one of the very few uncapped, unshaped domestic connections - at 512Kb/s (it's no longer available for purchase).

    If I moved to ADSL MAX, I'd be capped at 20GB or 50GB if you pay 8 quid more. An uncapped service is 80 quid. This is pretty much the same case with any other reliable ADSL provider.

    unlimited 5Mb/s? A pipe dream without paying for business ADSL..

  37. daniel Silver badge

    Re: France is not perfect

    As Steve said, France is not perfect (but where is?)

    France has one of the cheapest DSL services in Europe, and the cost-cutting generally hits the support hotlines...

    Free, as mentionned, has not been trouble free, even though they are hawking the fastest ADSL2+ access on the (french) market. The trouble is that when there are problems, good luck getting someone to answer the phone...

    Orange are somewhat better: if you have to wait 20 minutes to get a hotliner, you can generally guess that there is a global network outage, and you are not the only one calling to complain. Drop the issue and wait for it to resolve itself on its own...

    The best solution is a business adsl/sdsl connection, with downtime, incident response time and bandwidth noted on an SLA... and be prepared to multiply the monthly subscription by a factor of 10 or 15...

    No such thing as a free lunch, and at some point, video shares (p2p, torrents etc) can take huge amounts of bandwidth, and over here, several ISP's are introducing caching servers to relive the bandwidth needs, though this then introduces a legal issue of the ISP's cache is hosting copyrighted materials...

    If bandwidth throttling does not stop (or the customers make too much of a fuss), more drastic mesures will be taken, probably by kicking P2P / torrent downloaders...

  38. Darren Coleman

    The word "unlimited"

    "Steve Hobson is right, most customers want practically unlimited usage and high bandwdth caps for about 20 quid a month. They just aren't living in the real world."

    Exactly.

    People need to realise that businesses pay a small fortune per month for uncontested, guaranteed throughput leased lines. The problem is the general public have been so satiated by "free calls" and rapid development and speed increases in the cable modem/ADSL sector that they just assume bandwidth is cheap. It isn't.

    I've seen a lot of people talking about going to OFCOM, confusing the meaning of the word "unlimited", etc. The fact is - as VM's legal documentation and EULA will attest to - "unlimited" means *access* not bandwidth. Many ISPs skirt around the direct question of whether unlimited means "unlimited bandwidth" simply because it never does.

  39. Name

    Thanks Branson

    So, since Virgin took control of NTL I've lost all the Sky channels, my broadband's gone up by £2/month and now their cutting the speed I can expect without bothering to tell me about it. And here was me thinking it couldn't be any worse than NTL.

  40. Paul

    this sucks...

    Im on the Ten meg service and like others i know across the UK on the same service we have already had our upload speeds dropped to 500K from 640K so they can sell there new 20meg service with 50% faster upload.. ( 750K when it should me closer to a meg )

    now this is a joke from a joke broadband company. In my area its a nightmare.. to many users connected to there cable network and we suffer with packet loss above 80% for hours on end every day of the week, and this is a thing that seems to be repeated across the UK with them.

    They don't have tech support any more unless you want to waste your life on hold and then speak to people who can only read from scripts.

    In the days of NTL as and when i had an issue it was fixed within 48 hours.. now it seems i have to wait months on end..

    And the capping they are doing will only drive customers away but it does seem that people can only gain by moving to another isp where unlimited means unlimited and not a shady version of it.

    btw i never download more than 10gig a week.

  41. Paul Stimpson

    I remember when the Virgin name meant something good

    I have VM 4MB and it's been really good. Contrary to some of the postings above it has always been capped on a MB per month basis. I didn't like that but it never caused me a problem as I could download huge quantities over a few days when I needed to, knowing that my use for the rest of the month would be lower and it would all come out in the wash. This new policy is crap; I will hit my throttle limit every time I download anything significant like a Linux DVD or software update disc images I need to do my job (I am self employed.) I also run a VPN and redirect some of my traffic when I am travelling in order to keep plaintext passwords secure and have access to my productivity tools and an moderated net connection. That's going to blow the connection limit even quicker.

    I am now looking for a new ISP.

    I remember when the Virgin name meant something. Richard Branson was a champion of the public and every service his companies provided was done for the customer. Then it all started to go wrong; He sold Virgin Music, the jewel in the crown that connected him to the public to find an airline that I have never been able to fly with because I can't justify the cost to my business. I never really care who flys me; I do care who I buy my music from. Now Mr.Branson has allowed his good name to be further dirtied by association with a company which has such a bad relationship with it's customers that the NTLHell website was born.

    Mr.Branson, what on earth are you doing?

  42. Sunil Shah

    GAH!

    We've been with NTL since we first got broadband in 2003 and they've been our only broadband provider. I am massively disappointed with the steps VM is taking!

    I remember a while back being upgraded to the 10 megabit service on NTL, only to have this downgraded again to 4 megabit on VM when they took over. Even when we did get the 10 megabit service, we could only get up 5 meg - they were charging us £50 for a new modem and we didn't see the justification in this.

    I'm a student at university, I use the home internet connection to get to my files at home, run a webserver for experimentation, plus we have 4 other computers all sharing the same connection. It's easy to imagine how we could easily reach the limit!

    Now, it's fair enough saying that broadband is expensive, but I absolutely hate the fact that we are paying the same price for an inferior service! My parents phoned them up to complain and they upgraded us to 10 megabit for a few months and sent us a free cable modem. We've already discontinued the digital TV from them - they have lost quite a few good channels, and it cost too much. As soon as our BT line comes off Talk-Talk (awful by the way), we are switching to Be. Why pay £25 a month for 2 megabit service when I can pay £24 for 24 megabit!

    I appreciate not everyone is serviced by the speed, but I still think NTL charges over the odds. I remember for quite a long time, we were stuck on 1 megabit whilst all the ADSL providers were offering 2 megabit - and we paid at least £5 a month more.

    Plus, I'm pretty sure VM have SNAFUed our connection - apparently it's asking for the sign-in details again (it doesn't recognise our router) - obviously the original details we were given 4 years ago have ceased to work. Now we're without internet until VM can sort this out at their end - and I suspect they'll be busy dealing with complaining customers.

  43. Matt

    You're idiots

    Except the guy who mentioned the contended service.

    You're no where guaranteed any level of service. Many of us are used to getting pretty much our full speed because we were the early adopters. We have had a charmed life.

    Contention means we share our bandwidth with 20 - 50 other people. Consequently the types of speeds people are getting after throttling really isn't so bad.

    If stop and think about it, throttling is a whole lot fairer than just running as a first come first served grab at bandwidth.

    And just remember, you other choices are ADSL... which is only better if you live next door to your exchange.

  44. peter

    I would like to go

    I want to leave Virgin but they gave me 10Mbit (confirmed from usenet downloads) by mistake on the 3 for £30 deal, also after calling Customer services during the Sky battle for compensation it totals £20.50 for all 3 packages including line rental.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Corporate Deception

    Having cornered the market for cable broadband in the UK did anyone seriously expect anything else???

    I have already voted with my feet and switched back to ADSL over my phone line and I am already enjoying good BB performance with IP telephony and thats with 4 users in my household.

    Okay i appreciate what some people have already said here about the economics of BB provision and the need to ensure everyone gets a fair slice of the cake etc but my personal opinion along with many others is that the limits imposed are far to extreme.

    Even if users are locked into a lengthy contract to remain with VM i wonder if these measures constitute a change of contract terms & conditions allowing the user to terminate his/her contract early???

    Whats the point of paying for so called ultra fast broadband if you cannot use it???

    I hope there are a lot of other like minded people out there who do exactly as i have done and leave VM to what they do best - RIP OFF THEIR LOYAL CUSTOMERS.

  46. Andy Bright

    These limits are pathetic

    If I was a Virgin customer I'd be looking to see what other services are available.

    Bandwidth throttling is fair, but the limits about to be imposed by Virgin are horrendously low - it seems to me the people that thought this up have no idea about the future uses (or even current uses for that matter) of internet connections.

    IPTV, video and voice over IP communications, P2P distributions of legitimate, corporate level software applications - not to mention several movie studios are now looking at releasing new movies to broadband customers at the same time they're being delivered to cinemas. Forget downloading DVD rentals and video on demand, we are talking cinema on demand in HD.

    Instead of upgrading their networks to handle their customer base it seems to me they are trying to pass off their inadequate infrastructure as a problem created by people who make full use of their connections. In other words people using what they're paying for. If you're sold a 4MBit connection, you should be able to use that 4MBit connection - otherwise it isn't what you're paying for.

    Turning round and saying that's not fair, we need to share those 4MBits with a dozen other customers living in your street - all of whom are paying the same huge subscription fees - is complete and utter bullshit.

    What happens when movie downloads and video conferencing become as every day as TV and telephones are now?

    What happens when mobile phones are replaced with WIFI phones?

    Will they say their mobile phone customers are abusing the network for talking too long? They'll be told if they don't get their business done within 20 minutes they'll be throttled back regardless of the impact to the companies they work for?

    Apparently they like the idea of large subscription fees, but don't like the idea of actually buying adequate infrastructure to support the connections they're selling. It's a pitiful way of doing business and they don't deserve the loyalty of customers who expect to get what they pay for, at least most of the time if not all of it.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Get realistic

    I've been with Telewest for almost 10 years now and even after the NTL merger their service has also been exceptional. However since the Virgin take over their website is virtually impossible to use and the prices seem to have gone up as they bundle packages together for crap I don't want.

    I'm on the 10mb service (360 kb upload), in terms of their broadband speed I have notice for the last six months that connection speeds between 18:00 and 23:00 are starting to get poor even from the telewest news server (I assume that all three brands now share the same server) but rarely below 4mb. Outside of those time I pretty much consistantly get 10mb.

    My work happens to provide me with a ADSL line for remote working and though the company pay for a 8mb line, it rarely runs at anything quicker then 2.5mb. I'll wait till our exchange is upgraded for ADSL 2 and see what Sky can offer, but from what I hear I shouldn't hold my breath.

    For all those people complain about the bandwidth throttling, how long did you think that you would get unlimited downloads for ? Bandwidth costs money and for example I know that my company pays 10x what I do at home for 2mb SDSL line with a SLA for 98% uptime and minimum throughput guaranty.

    OK the 3GB cap seems a bit low, how about 8 GB, which is average of 1 GB an hour. That would put off the heavy downloaders but still allow enough bandwidth for gaming, webcam, TV streaming and sensible downloading.

    All those with heavy download requirements (yes you with your Linux DVD images), how many of you cannot wait till after midnight to start your downloads. They are still offering 16 uncapped hours, at 10mb download that equates to 55GB download per day or 1.65TB per month. This is to be double to 3TB per month. How many other ISP are offering that ?

    If you want to leave please do so, you are lowering my contention ratio and I think you will find the grass is not greener on the other side.

    PS, I still pissed off with their upload speed.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Less for more - why am I still with VM?

    VM seem to be hell bent on losing customers.

    First they go and lose Sky One, in my case about 5 hours of TV a week for me but they were series that I'd stop to watch. (Not the Simpsons!!)

    Then they tell me that they are going to charge for the phone by the minute, so for example, a call lasting 2 minutes 1 second would be charged as 3 minutes.

    Now they think that they can throttle downloads and not get noticed. come on, who are they kidding? Driver updates and patches for various systems and OS's will soon gobble up the meagre limit they've imposed and I don't do copied DVD's or music.

    Looks like its time to start researching for a new TV/phone/internet provider!

  49. Simon

    Bloody Suits

    You can see how the conversation went at VM HQ... Hmm, we've been advertising out services as uncapped, but now we need a cap, how can we weasel out of this one....

    And of course the answer was, instead of calling it a "cap" and applying it to _quantity_, they called it a "throttle" and applied it to _speed_. Give the solicitor who came up with that one a medal.

    And can I just say, I'm on one of the 5meg (ish) plans, have been for a while and have been happy to pay the extra for cable bb over adsl. I've also evangelised Telewest in the past. No more. I was so excited about beta testing services like Joost and Mozy backups but now, they are going to be slow to the point of being unusable once this cap is reached. And using either of those services, I would guesstimate I'd reach the cap within an hour, easy. Absolutely shocking. So much for the on demand, always connected world we are supposedly heading towards.

  50. Andrew Bristow

    Broadband = Download large files, stream video and audio. Wave of the future...

    Anyone remember when broadband first arrived on the scene. It was incredible! All the ISP's told how if we signed up to their great service we could dowload large files, stream video, download music, game online lag-free and all of the above at the same time! So what ever happened to this?

    These days if we want to download those large files that all the ISPs used to tell us about we have to leave our computers on all night when we are asleep. Call me impatient here but if i see something i want to download i generally want it asap. I dont look at it and think id like to use that in 12 hours time.

    The transfer limits listed by Virgin are a joke. Fortunatly im on ADSL with a half way decent ISP (Eclipse). They do throttle speed but it seems to depend on what you are doing. The other weekend i downloaded about 4gb worth of PS3 demos and the PS3 YDL Linux iso at around 3gb. The demos came down at a very good speed but the Linux iso took about 12 hours.

    I used to be jealous of my collegues who have cable in their area and have 10mb lines. Now, with this throttling, it doesnt matter if they are on 5mb, 10mb or 20mb. My 4mb ADSL line, at two thirds the price of their 10/20mb line will actually provide a much better peak time service.

    Hopefully the ISPs will soon be forced into changing their advertising to remove the word 'unlimited' and to remove any reference to the line speed as it seems that this figure will be irrelevant in the near future.

  51. Trevor Watt

    All you can eat does not mean you have it all to yourself...

    If you went to an all-you-can-eat for a fiver lunch and some fat bastard was stood hogging all the pies you would be pretty pissed off. So why should someone hog all the pipe?

    So why is this any different, the bandwidth is not unlimited, so when it is busy you may have to let someone else have a slice or two. Sure you paid for a speed and you get it for 20 hours of the day if your a very heavy user, if you restrict your movie downloading to when your not in or asleep you will still have more than enough to watch when you are. But at peak times you will have to share.

    I can not believe the amount of people spitting their dummies out. Welcome to the real world, which happens to be full of other people.

  52. Andy Tyzack

    People dont know the difference

    How many people who have posted on here dont know what the word "capped" means.

    For example, orange u get just 2gb a month on their "free broadband", if you continue to go over this, they will look at disconnecting you. Thats the definition of a usage cap.

    Max out the connection and I can easily download triple that in a day.

    Virgin media is unlimited. and if its only going to affect a mere 5 percent of people, it just goes to show that a lot (and I mean the majority), dont download 350mb in peak times,

    I also dont dont think virgin has set these limits without first looking at peoples usage.

    Quit moaning people, all you have to do is leave your computer on after midnight to download all your torrents because thats where all the massive amounts of data come from at the end of the day.

  53. Pete Franklin

    Hmmm...

    Can anybody tell me what legal use they make of all this bandwidth? It seems to me that complaining that Virgin are making it harder ( actually just a bit slower) to steal things is just a litle bit...weird. It seems particularly strange when the 'victims' complain about Virgin's business ethics. But maybe I'm just being a bit old-fashioned?

  54. AJ

    What People Are Forgetting...

    Is Virgin Media is just a re-branded name of NTL. People seem to be assuming that prices went up, service declined etc etc since it was virgin when all that happened there was they package names changed and they re-branded. Its still ran by NTL's CEO...

    The people who are unhappy the most is ex Telewest customers as its these who have suffered the most with the shit services NTL customers have always been dumped with which has now been passed on to ex Telewest such as outsourced india contact centres with POOR customer service, POOR faults ETC

    Yes OK, So richard branson is a shareholder in the company, but he dees not make the decisions himself. So maybe complaints should be directed to the CEO in written format so they can understand how many customers they have pissed off with things such as increase tv cost loss of channels, telephone charges going per min, broadband throttling, poor service from outsourced centres etc etc etc

  55. Matt Horrocks

    Also...

    Also people complaining that it's fast download from some sources but not from others - all the servers don't just sit on the edge of the VM network, there are other things such as the particular server being hammered by other downloaders, or speed restrictions imposed on that server to allow more people access to it, issues with OTHER people's networks - all out of VM's control.

    2mbit/s guaranteed upstream and downstream with no contention (i.e. SDSL) comes in at about £200 a month - so yeah anyone who thinks £20 a month for something faster is off their trolley...

  56. Martin Hayman

    Ex-Telewest, ex-Cable London customers!

    AJ is in the right of it. VM is NTK rebranded, which merged with Telewest, which took over Cable London.

    Cable London was brilliant back in the day, with a fast reliable service (uncontended in my street) and superb Scouse-accented tech support who answered the phone promptly and would take all the time in the world to solve my (mercifully rare) problems.

    But with demand comes contention, and this is at the heart of it. Last century I was probably the only Cable London broadband customer in my street. Now I can see typically see eight or 10 wireless networks in the evening, and speeds up and down are therefore piss-poor.

    A contention ratio of 20:1 means there are potentially 19 other customers competing for bandwidth (and any may have more than one workstation active -- we often have three or four). If throttling the big downloaders is needed to keep response times within the realms of reason, that's all right by me.

    What is unforgivable are the increasing frame drop-out and black-outs on the Virgin Media TV service, and the glitchy phone calls. I'm surprised nobody has yet mentioned this.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Telwest & Self-Install

    I used to be really happy with my 10mb Telewest connection (plus TV & phone - though I now use Vonage) But since Virgin have taken over the service has been slowly going down the proverbial toilet. What is frustrating about this is I didn't have a choice - one morning there was this ridiculous and pointless glossy pamphlet on my door mat and that was it. I feel sure that Sky wouldn't have pulled the channels if Virgin hadn't taken over - in fact everyone would have been better off if Virgin hadn't taken over?

    On a different note I support the broadband networks in a large number of student houses. Last year they all needed new modems installing. The self-install packs were brilliant! I was free to set each modem up (and a lot neater than the "engineers" seem capable of) and not once was I treated like a single-celled amoeba during the simple registration process. I hope this is still available.

  58. This post has been deleted by its author

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is a hidden clause

    What really annoys me is that Virgin's broadband web site still advertises the service as completely unlimited 20Mb/s AND states that the upgrade from 10 to 20 will be 'seamless' with no reference to this throttling. For this they have earned a complaint to the Advertising Standards Agency from me.

  60. An-D

    Reduce your Virgin Broadband bill

    ..By ringing up and complaining about the service and how you are going to switch to Sky / another ISP.

    I live in Preston and since last year I've been experiencing problems 'because of the UBR in Liverpool'. After about 20 calls in 6 months to report that my 10 meg connection was barely achieving 1 meg I called the disconnection team to inform them I was leaving.

    Miraculously, they found that they could not only offer me a �20 'we're sorry' credit, they could also reduce my monthly broadband bill so currently (and for the next 6 months) I am getting 20 meg for only �16 / month.

  61. Paul

    What is normal usage???

    I have just started a map download for a popular xbox 360 title. The size of these new maps = 487.18MB, if i download a couple of xbox demos say 200 MB then tried to do the maps i would be considered an abuser???

    The benchmark figure is WOEFULLY low even for NORMAL gaming use.

    I'm glad they didnt go for capping, but they do need to adjust that figure a tad ;)

    Brandson - since you took over, the service and BS has been spin doctored pretty well - however, you are rapidly loosing a nations respect. You were considered the man who whatever you touched, came to no harm, these days are different, even your new trains don't work - bah!

  62. john

    Virgin have lost the broadband battle

    This action by Virgin has outraged customers in the Virgin internal newsgroups. customers are complaining about why they brought out a 20MB connection when it's quite clear that the infrastructure cannot cope.

    As a result of Virgin keeping up with the high speed stakes, the customer has to suffer for it. some customers voicing their opinions in the groups are met with threats of suspension from the service, or sarcastic and arrogant remarks from some members of staff.

    A blind user was suspended for asking too many questions, and not being quick enough to read a warning. this company has sunk to an all time low.

    New customers do not know about these limits being applied to what is believed to be an unlimited service, Virgin don't want to put it anywhere in the sign up process of their site to inform anyone. They would much sooner we all find out about it from The Register again.

  63. Tom Steed

    Captain, she canne take any more

    It's not about throttling or capping. It's a marketing thing.

    "Look at us, we have the fastest broadband available". I've been with blueyonder since the start when 512k cost £55 and everytime ADSL takes a leap, BY responds by upping the speed. BT announced 8mb adsl suddenly BY offers 10mb. Now with adsl2 appearing, Virgin media aka Byonder announce 20mb broadband. The only problem is they can't support it on their infrastructure.

    It's a contest, body parts flashing in the wind with Virgin media saying "mines bigger than yours", but only if we don't all use it at once.

  64. Lee Sexton

    Bandwidth is expensive?

    How can people here be telling us that the bandwidth cable buys is expensive? Cable OWN the pipes and lines. Didn't NTL buyout C&W? Don't C&W own the pipelines anyway (the major ones) and NTL own all the infrastructure within Britain? So how can you try and compare it to ADSL companies having to buy pipelines from BT etc?

    It's simply not the same or am I missing something?

    Anyway I got rid of NTL (I wont call it Virgin as it simply isn't, it's a rebrand nothing more) this month finally, fed up with the the modem and interactive dying every 30 mins or so and having to constantly reboot everything. Engineers couldn't solve the problem, they could only say it was a known fault in the area and do nothing about it (last place I lived up the road was excellent, never had any problems). So after a year of this I finally got the problem solved, the service was removed.

    Can't say I'll miss it. As for the throttling, I think it's pretty shameful the way they are doing it.

    If their userbase is going down then in theory you should all have more bandwidth to play with and no need for throttling, recent figures are showing that people are pretty much leaving in droves, so why are they feeling the need to throttle so harshly? They are punishing everyone and yet they have less customers, I think NTL wants to implode.

    People need to stop comparing bandwidth on adsl with cable, it's completely different, there are middlemen in adsl situations, none with NTHell.

    And the ADSL situation is just a joke anyway, instead of upgrading the infrastructure they throttle everyone with the excuses of illegal downloading, heavy users etc (*place your excuse here) when in actual fact its people using the internet normally for a fast 8mbit (or whatever they have) in todays environment with movies and games on demand services where they have simply oversubscribed on the line. It's called greed and I think something should be done about it. Put it this way, it's going to come to the point where all these companies offering on demand services (music, games and video) are going to sue the isp's because they are going bust, why would I pay £10 a month for games that I can't download? So the whiners about illegal downloading, stop spouting the rubbish the isp['s are feeding you, metaboli is an on demand games service, they have games available that are up to 4gb in size, there are video services that download movies that are up to 3gb in size we aren't all illegal downloaders.

    And what happens when MS get their way with .net? The days are coming when ALL your software will be streamed, Adobe are doing it, MS are doing it with some things already and it's set to happen all over. ISP's need to stop milking customers and over subscribing, the airlines are overbooking and getting into trouble for it, why aren't ISP's?

  65. SCi-Fi

    Wtf Virgin!! 750mb.. on your bike!!

    I pay for a service and its my fault that i use my internet for streaming video & music or have to download a patch for a game!! Virgin will now tell me that 750mb is my limit and will half my speed cos of this!!!

    All i can say to that is...

    Adsl here i come...

  66. Matt

    At least I'm on ADSLMax...

    Back in the days when NTL was still digging up the roads around where I live I considered signing up to their broadband service... and I'm glad I didn't. Horror stories and experience from working with customers having issues makes me happy to be on ADSL. I've had a fair few changes of ISP, from Freeserve/Wanadon't/Orange to PlusNet to BT Business Broadband. Each time of changing it's because either the ISP's network hasn't been able to cope (Freeserve) or they have made a move similar to Virgin (PlusNet). As a developer and remote worker I use my internet connection heavily, and I am willing to pay the £35/mo to BT Business for what seems to be a far superior service.

    Also with regards to Lee Sexton's post, yes NTL do own the cabling and the infrastructure of _their_ network (which doesn't maintain or upgrade itself for free), but a large chunk of the cost is introduced when the data leaves their networks, and on to other data peering providers which provide transit to servers held on other ISPs, nationally and internationally, for example: BT, Level3, Linx (and many more), ie the rest of the Internet. Also with regards to various other posts, yes connectivity is contended on the ISP side, but not every web server is on multi-gigabit internet connections - they don't necessarily have the bandwidth/transit/server power to maintain everybody at a top data transfer rate.

    OK enough babbling - back to the subject of the original article. A colleague at work has noted his connection has already been throttled pretty much since the announcement of the new packages.

    Also they could reduce their costs by reducing their customer signup tactics - where I work we are paid a commision every customer we pass on to them (£20 if memory serves), even if they don't sign up. I definitely won't be earning any comission from VM after reading this.

  67. Alan

    Stop moaning and leave....

    This is a good thing for normal users. I am sick of getting shit speeds in the evenings because some spotty oik wants to download 50 torrents.....

    Good on you VM!

    I love the way some plusnet guy comes and trys to wind people up. As an ex plusnet customer I am so glad to be with VM now.

    Plusnet was just a joke. Their support is a joke. Now I have a solid 20MB line with hardly any problems....

    I would never go back to adsl until BT allow a bare copper service (IE: no BT line required for BB) and then I would only go with someone like eclipse.....

    Alan

  68. Harry Peters

    competition

    Do vm have to open up their cable lines to other broadband supliers so they can offer it cheaper than vm, like BT do.

    If not why not.

    Shoulden't someone in goverment be protecting people against this false advertising, if you pay for 4mb (or whatever) unlimited then it should be 4mb all the time your paying.

    If i'm a spotty oik then alans a tosser once the bunnies are left the prices will go mad, then you low users will be crying like the whimpy losers you are. Because you will be paying alot more, all the time to whoever tells you that everyone else is bad and your not because your paying for something you almost don't use and they want what there paying for.

    Bet you've got a water meter.

    Harry

  69. joe orpin

    gaming always drops when upgrades come around

    as a telewest customer for the 6 years (2 on dial up) i have noticed a pattern.

    when i 1st got BB it was a 512kbs line with 64kbs upload.

    i got really good ping times on a game(q3)

    then it went up to 1mb with 128k upload,could use 2 computers and get low ping times in games.

    then when free up grade's started to happen then ping times were out the window.

    i had this for nearly 6months ( due to overloaded UBR) they took on to many customers,and didn't have the bandwidth.

    ubr utilization was at 80-90% until they upgraded then it fell to 60 all was well.

    but now it has resurfaced with the 20mb upgrade,

    my money says the ubr is maxing out due to insufficient bandwith to cope with increase in speed.

    VM need to stop worrying about getting as many new customers thinking they can have 20mb and keep there service at a level there ubr can handle.

    they could even cap taking on new customer's until they can upgrade accordingly(yeh like thats going to happen)

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