back to article Virgin Media dishes out free bandwidth boost

Virgin Media has announced plans to upgrade its mid-range "L" broadband from maximum 4Mbit/s downstream to maximum 10Mbit/s at no extra cost to customers. The upgrade will start in late February on a region-by-region basis, and will take until late summer to complete. Upstream speeds will also get a boost to 512Kbit/s, from …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    To pre-empt some posters...

    - no, the contention ratio will state the same, so good luck with that

    - no, your torrents will still be limited to 10k/sec

    - no, you'll not automagically start seeing huge speeds on downloads, unless you're really, really lucky.

    - no, it won't be more reliable

    - no, your cap is unchanged

    - no, the 3k rule is still in effect, so you country bumpkins are still screwed

    - no, I wouldn't put it past them to start injecting http ads into your stream as part of your new T&C's

    On short - it'll not make the blindest bit of difference to what you experience now.

  2. Martin Richards

    Can I be first?

    ... to leap in with the inevitable request that we actually get something close to the speed we're already paying for (and a service that works a bit nearer to 24x7 than the recent 16x5...) before they tout any more speed bumps?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    So that's where my bandwidth went.....

    Did they decide to steal that off the 2Mb customers? They appear to be shaping me out of existance and I'm certainly not a heavy user.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    What the fuck?!

    As soon as L is ten meg I'm downgrading from XL!

  5. Neil


    Will it still be dropped to 1Mb/s, or will it now drop to something more reasonable?

    I hope so, as it'll now be far easier to reach the threshold; as I can download quicker I'm more likely to hit the limit in that timespan.

  6. Shakje

    MY GOD.

    They still haven't learned from their mistakes. They throttle because they DO NOT HAVE THE BANDWIDTH FOR SPEED INCREASES. So why are they increasing speeds for more users?

    I don't know anyone who would rather throttling over constant, but slower speed.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    RE: To pre-empt some posters...

    We're talking about Cable not ADSL dummy.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    The throttle works both ways

    I'm pretty annoyed with Virgin atm.

    Throttling has become very intrusive of late having just been implemented. Just doing a simple update on my Windows box and my Linux box is enough to push me into throttling - thus bring my download speeds down from ~4meg to <1meg. This doesn't sound too bad, but the reality is that websites become slow to load and plain downright unresponsive due to it. The contrast between the throttled and unthrottled speed/responsiveness is startling and, when throttled it feels little better than a dial-up service.

    So, the upshot of this is, I'd rather be throttle-free than have a headline grabbing and meaningless max speed increase.

  9. leslie
    Thumb Down

    They can stick it

    Hell if they offer 100mb I'd still sooner have BT with its dodgy service and poor line quality

    VM are a bunch of half wits with a call centre staffed by staff other call centres probably wont pay a peny an hour to!

    My phone line was damaged by vandalism at the box at the end of the street, when it was ripped apart, this happened during the night, as I am a driver when out I divert the landline to my mobile, problem was now the landline was down I could not turn off the divert!!

    I phoned VM from a friends who said they had tested my line and it was fine, I asked them to ring me on it, my mobile rung, I answered, numpty call staff then says oh I see your phone is working fine and hung up on me!

    4 weeks to get it fixed!

    It happens again, the local yobs love a challenge, 2 weeks to fix, by now the cbinet doors have lost the hinges and just fall off in the wind, over a year, VM still not fixed cabinet

    July line went down again, I used the online 'moving house' to 'move to a non cabled area and please disconnect' with a months notice, so I got an email of proof of wanting to be disconnected, as by voice they lose disconnections so they can claim it never happened and get a few more months revenue........

    Guess what, despite a confirmation email I was still billed for another 4 months and have now been passed to their debt recovery agents.

    VM, you can keep your service. (which is good, if/when it works)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    More Complaints about broadband speeds...

    As usual there will be a whole hoast of complaints that we're not getting the speed we paid for.

    Usually because most people don't know the difference between a bit and a byte, or are trying to download from some pour sod's server who has a 56kilobit modem connection. Failing that they have a crap router that falls over on a regular basis.

    We're currently on the Virgin 20mb connection. I downloaded a Linux Distribution of >700MB the other day in under 7 minutes.

    Credit where Credit's due!

  11. michael W

    torrent correction*

    oh also, virgin DO NOT throttle torrents.

    the only capping/throttling they do is their public 4-9pm capping.

    if you have poor torrent speeds, check your settings or use a better tracker. I regularly hit 20mbit max speed on a private tracker during capped times AND uncapped

  12. michael W
    Dead Vulture


    I still don't understand how people can't understand that ISP's reliability and service is pretty much totally dependant on where you are, or just put luck with a lot of ADSL services.(your copper cables, distance etc)

    I've been with Virgin, since around 2000-2001 when they were blueyonder and since then have been with about 4 different adsl isps and everytime I either had a bad connection or good connection it had pretty much no correlation to the other customers with the same ISP I was with.

    see, all this whine about virgin is just yet another example for me where my own virgin connection is maxing 20mbit and their capping isn't really that bad considering I download 150-200gig a month.

    don't expect just because your connection is poor that EVERY single other virgin customer is experiencing problems because the majority aren't and if they were there would be much bigger coverage that JUST the vocal people who all happen to have problems as why would someone who isn't having issues post noirmally?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    I will be dropping my connection down from XL too. Also just noticed this on their pricing:

    Broadband prices are for 12 months when you take Virgin Phone. Broadband Size: M (up to 2Mb) is £4.50 a month, Broadband Size L: (up to 4Mb) is £11.50 a month, Broadband Size: XL (up to 20Mb) is £23.50 a month. Standard monthly prices (currently up to 2Mb is £9, up to 4 Mb is £16, up to 20Mb is £28) apply thereafter.

    Errr... I pay 37.00 a month for XL - but it says it is £28 a month!?

    Time to ring the no help desk....

  14. Si Clement

    Stop Moaning

    There are some really poorly informed people out there. This is Cable Broadband people.

    There is no such thing as a 3K rule on Cable

    Contention remains the same but as burst size will increase thus reducing overall time at peak usgae overall strain on the network decreases (assuming you aren't P2P full time). Contention is actually more of an issue on ADSL and not cable and occurs in a different place in the network.

    Torrents are not limited by Virgin at all on cable. They don't have the Deep Packet Inspection tools to do it. I regularly receive 2000k on torrents on the 20MB package.

    The move to 50MB for the top tier actually frees bandwidth for everyone else due to the technology shift for the top tier.

    Stop banging them, they are giving you a 150% speed increase for free and all you can do is moan.

    Tried another ISP?

  15. michael hutcherson

    I'm stuffed then

    My ancient 3Com CMX modem won't do 10meg, and to upgrade to a new modem means losing all my email addresses according to Virgin. This is apparently because I am on a 'different system'...

  16. conan

    Mixed bag

    I'm not quite so anti-Virgin as some of the posters on the Reg, but it's certainly not all gravy. I'm quite upset by the throttling, because it's a real pain when you stream a lot of video, hit the threshold and it suddenly starts dropping out. The increase in speed is welcome, though - Telewest and now Virgin seem to have fairly regularly upped their speeds without charging extra, and I usually see around 50% of the listed speed (throttling aside) fairly consistently. They could easily have charged extra for each of these upgrades, although they can't really be given credit for that, as it's just the market forces. Personally I'd like to see upload speeds being treated the same as download speeds (i.e. a 10 meg connection means 10 megs duplex, or at least 5 megs duplex). I still think it's better than nothing though.

  17. Ian Davies

    Cable not ADSL

    As someone else posted, it's important to recognise that this is about cable customers (ex NTL cable) not bods with filters on their twisted bits of BT copper cable... I currently have the 'L' package, and unless I've been *very* hard on the Torrents or Usenet that month, I can always get my 4meg/s as long as the service at the other end can supply it that quick.

    Actually, as I type this I'm getting nearer to 5meg from my usenet provider. 10meg sounds pretty good to me!

  18. Dave

    Virgin are annoying me too

    I'm soon to be moving into a house share with 3 other friends, we are all computing people - lots of downloads of even legit things like linux ISOs, windows updates, big apps and i will probably have a technet licence by then so i will be downloading entire windows ISOs too.

    This is on top of any bittorrenting we may or may not encounter, plus we all host various things from home!

    Virgin block port 80 and 25 (or so i am told) so that rules out them as an ISP, plus 20meg between 4 doesn't get far - even when it is running at max.

    More than likely we'll end up with Be*, on about 16meg or so (i currently have 18meg from them), and we can each have a static IP with no blocked i/o ports.

  19. Richard Penna

    Yes, but...

    I can understand where this bandwidth throttling idea comes from, but maybe VM have forgotten one little business principle: you get what you pay for. My household has the XL 20MB package, and for a good reason: we are very heavy Internet users. Heavy enough that when we get throttled from ~2.20MB/s downloading from a newsgroup, to roughly 500K/s, we damn well notice it.

    I'm torn though between several stances:

    On one hand, yes we are heavy users, and it may be affecting customers close by. That's how the Internet works and perhaps we should be more considerate. Wouldn't hurt to make this limitation a bit clearer perhaps?

    On the other hand, if the infrastructure is such that there are noticeably adverse effects from those legitimately using the service to its fullest extent (and why shouldn't we - we're paying for it), then either a physical overhaul is needed, or they shouldn't be offering this sort of service.

  20. Kevin Fullerton

    @Anonymous Cable

    I'm a Virgin Media L user (on cable) and my torrents have never been throttled to 10k/sec - I'm currently seeding at around 45k/sec - downloads generally hit an average of 450k/sec - about what I'd expect from a 4096/384 connection.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    this'll be a first...

    ive actually had good service from them for several years, and i get my (current) quoted 4MB (well about 460K down from places like MS).

    maybe its just leeds that has a lower cable uptake... :) my torrents dont seem to be affected either!

    ps just to nark you more, the customer loyalty team have given us a V+ box (no subs) for £25 *laughs maniacly*

  22. Chris Cheale

    What throttle?

    Not hit it yet, oh yeah, whenever I've ever needed to download anything big (couple of gigs worth of beta software for instance), I do it really late. Fire up a download manager just before bed and leave it.

    It's not like I'd actually want to sit there and watch 2 gigs worth of data downloading when I could be playing TF2. Throttling could be seen as a good thing - bad press about it means less subscribers which, in turn, means better contention for the rest of us - huzzah! [mind cable contention is only 20:1 anyway rather than 50:1 on DSL]

  23. Paul
    Thumb Down

    Thanks but...

    While I welcome the speed bump in principal, look what happened when the 20meg service came in - previously reliable, unlimited connections became laggy, slow and throttled connections. The network cannot cope with the current load, so this is only going to make things worse.

    The problem is no ISP is really interested in high speed unlimited broadband, which is what countries like Japan, France and Korea have. They are only interested in a marketing numbers game, staying one step ahead of the competition. Instead of looking at building a network that will provide new (chargeable) services and last decades (at least), they just want to do the minimum possible to compete. Hence, "free" speed upgrades when they know that the network can't take it.

  24. Mike Holden

    @Virgin are annoying me too

    Virgin don't block ports 80 and 25 at all. I have been with them since NTL days, for several years as my broadband ISP, and I have been happily running my own webserver and mail server for all that time, no problems.

  25. Darren
    Thumb Down

    @ Dave

    "Virgin block port 80 and 25 (or so i am told) so that rules out them as an ISP, plus 20meg between 4 doesn't get far - even when it is running at max."

    You studying to be a tech and you think an ISP blocks port 80? Are you kidding me? Virgin do not block either the http port or the smtp port!

  26. Richard Thompson

    Virgin sucks....

    Oh my word..... here I am sitting with performance problems which is currently under maintenance, which has been ongoing for 4 months already with another 2 before completion, so I get around 3mb from my 20mb connection and they upgrade peoples bandwidth!

    What a bunch of morons! If only I could switch providers.... If only i'd never switched from Bethere to Virgin.... what a dumb move!!!!

  27. Greg Moseley
    Thumb Down

    @ Jim Booth

    These prices are if you taken out the Virgin Phone service as well.

  28. Fragula The Furry
    Thumb Down

    Virgin on the ludicrous

    Another phoney "speed increase" from the company that has to throttle its paying customers due to not having enough backbone to support the speeds it already offers is more than unimpressive.

    If they invested in some backbone infrastructure and decent customer service, instead of rainforestfulls ofglossy junkmail pimping products I do not, and will never, want, some sense, instead of yet another donut CEO with barmy ideas, some backbone bandwidth instead of gimmick promises like this speed boost, that can't be of real value to the customer, they might have a chance.

    I've been a customer of "the company" since it was CableTel, then NTL, then VM, and I'm sure i've missed one incarnation someplace along the way, and I've watched things go downhil by incrementl, and it seems the slope is getting steeper as time, and the progression of corporate rebrands, goes on.

    Never have I minded paying a premium price for a premium service, but as a result of the "traffic management", I dropped my connection from the fastest/most expensive, to the mid-priced, and now, as a direct result of the "improvements" to the mid priced service I've downgraded to the cheapest, as there is no point in paying for a service that cuts the speed you pay for, because you actually use it for what it's good for. I cold get the "M" service, which gives me 117KB/S by 8pm, or the "L" service, which gives me the same 8pm speed too! I'll choose the cheaper then, and I'm not interested in 10Mb/S. That would just get me down to 117KB/S quicker. On the days the backbone can deliver anywhere near 10Mb/S, of course.

    Oh and I am having a BT line installed "for insurance". And I' hope it is SDSL capable! (Oh yes, I'll cough for router and an uncontended 2Mb/S service that works *properly* , with a few fixed IP addresses.) Maybe kick my game server back up.

    Also I've had persistent harrassing letters from VM due to their admin cock-ups. They didn't handle my transition to direct debit at all well.. (Neither did British Gas and I'm switching from them!) increasingly crap throughput, upstream, which I really need, has always been pitiful, but is now TM'd too!)

    My dislike is not because I begrudge spending money, its that I'm fed up with the clap-happy halfwitted management of VM, and their progressive ruination of what used to be the best service in the U.K. I only want to spend money to get decent , *and well thought out*, services. VM are not currently delivering.

  29. Law
    Paris Hilton

    one good thing

    to come of this might be that ofcom will get involved now... ADSL providers have been lying for years about unlimited services, or claiming its somebody's line and not their service that is the reason for not getting speed they advertised - maybe now that cable have got sufficiently bad and that their lies are ever bigger Ofcom (and ASA?) might actually get off their fat greasy hides and do what they are paid to do!! :)

  30. Tom Staight

    What you pay for?

    Has anyone here ever tried to buy an ethernet line in the UK? (ie: the commonly used ones resold from BT at synchronous 1:1 contention)

    You're looking at going on £600-700/month for 2mbit up/2mbit down with over a grand install, and if you even want anything near ethernet speeds, the costs spiral out of control... having an ethernet line running at only 4mbit/sec duplex could easily cost you over £2000/month.

    Are you *paying* for 20mbit 24/7, or are you paying to be able to use a 20mbit connection? To me, Virgin are charging you to be able to download 2MBytes/sec on their network, and I would happily pay to have access to 5MBytes/sec when I want it - if I can't download that fast *constantly* from 4pm to 9pm, then who cares?

    For £28/month, schedule your downloads while you're sleeping, or at work, or school, or whatever, and stop complaining about how "the man" is ripping you off.

  31. Anonymous Coward


    Oh.... so I'll use up my evenings bandwidth allocation in under 10 minutes instead of 25 now... brill! I guess that's progress for you.

    The VM network can't provide a consistant 2MB connection, maybe they should consider fixing that before allt he eye candy.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    @ Mr ChriZ

    "We're currently on the Virgin 20mb connection. I downloaded a Linux Distribution of >700MB the other day in under 7 minutes.

    Credit where Credit's due!"

    Except... on the package being discussed here, you're now capped for 5 hours.

  33. Neural9

    @ Darren & port blocking

    I think he means block port 80/25 for hosting. Lots of ISPs do the same.

  34. Peter Finney

    It takes two to tango...

    If you're getting slow downloads check your sources.

    Torrents are usually slow because they are shared by normal people on standard home broadband connections with poor upload speeds. You can only get data at 20mbps if the other end can supply it at that rate. And lets take a random stab in the dark at maths. Most home connections >1mbps download, <1mbps upload. There is no room in that equation to supply everyone at full download speeds!!

    So virgin don't quite top out at that 24/7 but when I want something I go to servers that I know can shunt 20mbps (nntp anybody?) and I usually get 15-20mpbs no problem. Can't complain about that.

    As for throttling, do I need that speed 24/7? HeII no. At 20mbps a 40 minute TV show takes about 5 minutes to download, what am I gonna do, watch 8 shows simultaneously 24 hours a day to just keep my broadband connection busy.

    What's important is getting what you want quickly when you want it. Not killing the network all day just because you can.

    Despite all the complaints Telewest->Virgin has been the most reliable provider I've had since broadband launched, I did not enjoy my time outside of cables reach! ADSL and it's pathetic "Up to" claim can got rot..."Up to 24mpbs", quick line check, "Up to 6.5mpbs MAX, THAT'S IT!"...and guess what, you still couldn't download torrents at 6.5mpbs.

  35. Andrew

    Virgin Media ADSL

    So that's where all my ADSL bandwidth has gone then I take it. With massive download speeds of up to 20kbytes/sec in the evenings (some evenings I am lucky to get dial-up speed) despite a good s/n ratio, etc... It really takes the pi**. If it weren't for the fact I would be charged £50 for the privilege I would change providers today.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cloud Cuckoo Land

    Is where the people who believe other countries get 'unlimited', 'high speed' internet are.

    GigE or 10/100 to the house does NOT mean you can go to <insert favorite download site> and get magic speeds. It DOES mean you get a nice fast WAN with other people on the same ISP.

    Are providers going to give this to customers so they can P2P more? I doubt it.

    Even upgrading the UK infrastructure won't pay for the badly overloaded transatlantic links.

  37. Colin Jackson


    On the plus side: I get 20Mb reliably, the 3Gb limit only applies through peak times. There's no torrent throttling that I can see. It's not failed on me yet (going on for a year now). And nobody has complained about my downloading habits. The cost is comparable to BT.

    On the minus side: Technical help? Forget it.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Port 80 is not blocked

    Port 80 is not blocked for hosting - but try hosting MS SQL server - that IS blocked unless you change the default SQL Server port.

    That £28 price is what you revert to for a standard price should you disconnect your phone etc - I cannot find any page on VM's site to show me BB for £37.00 like they used to. More smoke and mirrors?

  39. Ad


    So at the current rate, downloading at 10Meg for less than ELEVEN MINUTES in the evening will get you slapped down to their 1Meg punishment rate for 5 hours.

    Yes pop pickers you read that right. They giveth with one hand and taketh away with the other.

    The network improvements get full billing but their stealth management is tucked away on a page deep inside the VM site. It's harsh and affects FAR MORE than just the few P2Pers VM would have you believe blight the network.

    Voip, Streaming video, Second Life, you name it. Using more than 364kb/s over the peak time (almost one THIRTIETH of the 10Meg pipe) will get you silently punished and YOUR line will be the one that blighted for 5 hours.

    VM made the download limits even tighter just before Xmas, here are the new levels.

    M - 2mb max for 20 Minutes, then 5 hours at 1Mb

    L - 4mb max for 26.6 minutes, then 5 hours at 1Mb

    XL - 20mb max for 20.48 minutes, then 5 hours at 5Mb

    However the crippler is that when managed, your uprate is set to 128k or 192k. Like me, you might not even need much download, but because throttling is enabled, your pings go sky high crippling the small amount you have got left.

    Thats for everyone. No exceptions.

  40. Paul Warren
    Thumb Down

    I canceled my VM account

    I cancelled my VM after the speed upgrade to 20mb, Being as they couldn't provide me with a quality 10mb service I usually got 400-500k download speeds max,

    They then put my price upto £37 at the start of the 20mb upgrade even though Stourbridge was at the end of the speed increase schedule and not due for 4 months later!

    from paying £75 per month with VM for phone and XL broadband, I now pay £36 for BT and 24mb Broadband from BE there.

    Even only syncing at 14mb on my modem I still see higher sppeds than I ever got on the 20mb VM package and for less than half the price, now I have downloads at upto 1.4mb and a 100k upload instead of 40k on VM

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ I'm stuffed then

    I had to upgrade from the Pace TV modem to a new one to get the higher speed. When I discovered that I had to set up a new email address, I phoned phoned the tech support number supplied with the modem and they transferred all my existing email addresses to the new server. So you may not have to loose all your email addresses.

  42. Carl Williams

    Virgin block torrent ports?

    Sadly, I think Si Clement's assertion that Virgin don't do deep packet analysis may no longer be true. There seems to be a lot of conflicting experience - people reckoning torrents are limited to 10K, port 80 blocked etc.

    Maybe it's subscriber- or area- specific, possibly in part contingent upon which company previously owned the infrastructure (mine used to be Telewest, I think).

    For me, (and I am qualified to figure this out: I'm not scrabbling around in the dark with NAT settings and port forwarding; I Know What I'm Doing) I can say that, on the XL service I'm on, I've not found any blocked low-numbered ports, indeed no ports up to the ephemeral range seem to blocked by default. Incoming web and ssh traffic works fine with proper setup. Nor are torrent speeds restricted per-se.

    BUT (and it's a big But) incoming torrent connections ARE blocked dynamically, regardless of port chosen. Kill all the torrent clients and wait for a while and the blocks are lifted. Port forwarding checks out properly and definitively using plain TCP listeners on the relevant port(s). Start a torrent client though and the port is blocked. No throttling, no disconnects, just blocked.

    US customers of Comcast have similar issues - they're connected via Sandvine devices which analyse traffic and purposely disrupt bit torrents by issuing bogus TCP resets. VirginMedia don't seem to issue resets, they just black-hole incoming connections - the connections just time out.

    This isn't throttling or any sort of volume-based limitation, nor does it depend on time of day. Half a meg at 4 AM, makes no difference, as soon as torrent activity is detected, the port is blocked. Switching ports and/or encrypting torrent traffic makes no difference, so the block must be triggered by tracker activity rather than the main torrent traffic.

    I thought at first maybe it was denial-of-service protection triggered by lots of incoming connections, but without a torrent client running, lots of connections (to the same port) work just fine.

    (I confess I've not pushed this non-torrent testing to the point of triggering any actual D.O.S. defenses, if any exist. I might still be wrong about the whole thing - I'd be delighted to be proven wrong, in fact :-) )

    Could it be Virgin smell a competitor in the "content provision" marketplace, who they're not about to allow to deliver via their cable infrastructure? Azureus these days styles itself a content delivery platform for digital media, particularly low budget film, trailers, pop videos and pay-per-view film and so on.

    Are we going to see the BBC's iPlayer "traffic shaped" into submission, too?

    What other content or connectivity are they going to quietly alter, block, throttle, or otherwise adjust?

    As others have said, though BT's service is neither the cheapest nor the fastest, at least with BT's ADSL you don't get this kind of meddling with your traffic - sure they (theoretically) cap bandwidth but I'm not a heavy enough user to have EVER fallen foul of that. For occasional bit torrent use (Linux distros and VMWare/QEMU disc images, say) the 5M BT ADSL connection I used to have was quicker than my outward-connections-only 20MBit virgin cable broadband presently is (though my web browsing & downloads have speeded up, subject to following Virgin's timetable and avoiding peak hours where presumably I should be dutifully watching Virgin TV and/or paying for Virgin porn).

    From what I gather here, plenty of Virgin customers with a much "better sounding" so-called 10Mbit cable connection would be rather better off with 5Mbit BT ADSL.

    Ho hum. In the immortal words of Jagger and Richards, you cain't always get what you want...

    FWIW, if I actually watched the telly I would still reckon the virgin cable and broadband package considerably better value than Sky, and I can't see the Murdoch empire being inherently any cuddlier or less consumer-hostile than Branson's, but still, it's less attractive if you need a proper un-interfered-with internet connection and have to buy a BT one on the side. Hopefully their marketing types will eventually realise this.

    This rant brought to you via an alleged 768/20000Kbit, during the Forbidden Hours best suited for short bits of text.

  43. Carl Williams

    OK, now count me stymied

    OK, now I'm mystified. Re: Virgin analysing torrent traffic and blocking ports... I've done some more tests, so I shall bore you with tedious details:

    I figured it might be down to particular trackers or a particular use of trackers, so I tried starting with a bare un-sullied azureus, shifted to an unblocked port and started a torrent tracked on an obscure german open source tracker. Ran like a dream, no blocking. Then I tried starting a TV episode download tracked at a bunch of places. Sure enough, the port was blocked instantly.

    Next, I picked the "dodgiest" looking tracker among the torrents I'd been trying to run when I first encountered this stuff - turned out to be a cartoon TV episode (OK, so I use bit-torrent as a remote video recorder...) tracked at what looks, on closer inspection, to be primarily an "adult" torrent tracker - I blocked access to that IP and also turned off scraping in azureus, switched to an as-yet un-blocked TCP port and fired up another torrent on another mildly suspect tracker.

    To my surprise, no port black-hole this time. OK, to see what was responsible, I turned scraping back on and provoked re-scraping. Still no block... Feeling that I'd finally pinned it down, I unblocked access to the dodgier tracker IP, and poked the cartoon torrent back to life. Er, still no block. Forced a tracker update. Still no block.

    So for now I'm stumped. Did they try out some torrent-nobbling service on my line, then turn it off? Or maybe it was in fact some DOS type attack being triggered by my torrent activity? Will it happen again? Did I just stumble on a port number they don't block regardless? Or do they, after all, turn this blocking behaviour off at around 2am?

    It's more /interesting/ than BT's service, I'll give it that...

  44. Carl Williams

    Virgin block torrent ports?

    Final installment, I hope - more trials and it transpires that what provokes the black hole effect is having the torrent client accept UDP and TCP connections on the same port. Leading me to the Homeric (as in "Doh!") realization that it's possible, just possible, that this may be down to my router being a bit pants and fouling up its NAT routing in a way that my old ADSL Netgear job didn't. Or it might be that UDP/TCP traffic to the same port is part of the torrent traffic signature which triggers packet dropping at the ISP. However, my suspicions are swinging towards the "bad router" explanation, so I'm preparing to accept that maybe in fact I don't know what the **** I'm on about after all...

    Well, I did say I'd be pleased to be proven wrong...


  45. chris
    Thumb Down

    upgrade still a joke

    ok so vm are trying to reballance things, but it's still no go for most customers, i have been on the 20mb service for nearly 12 months,the first two weeks were good, then it all went down hill, the most i could ever get was 5mb max, the ubr i am conected to has been waiting to be upgraded since may 2007 with all the fix dates just getting canceled, and no new date in sight, as i last ditch attempt i managed to get hold of the broadband manager, who was honest enough to tell me that not only was the network in my area compleatly nackered, but the most of the uk as well, and to be honest we have no money to fix it, i said i wanted to cancel my account, and the manager said ok we will put you on the 4mb service and only charge you for 2mb, this has now gone to 10mb, but my max speed is between 0.5mb and 1mb so we the customers loose again,

    ofcom arn't intrested, the asa let vm get away with false advertizing the gov dont give a dam, so what can the customers do................dont say use my bt line , that will only support a max of 0.3 -0.5mb

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