back to article Virgin demands ISPs end broadband speed 'con'

ISP Virgin Media said today that it wants other ISPs to bring an "end to misleading broadband advertising" by stressing typical or average speeds rather than the infamous "up to" broadband bandwidths they claim to offer. A good call, but it's case would be strengthened enormously, we'd say, if it had the bottle to do downplay …

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  1. iamapizza
    FAIL

    Good point

    Even the first paragraph on their 'stop the broadband con' site reminds me of the new throttling measures they introduced a while ago - P2P is throttled, Usenet is throttled and FTP is throttled. So, no, I don't actually get what I pay for.

    You'd think this was put out by some marketing department completely clueless as to what the rest of the company is actually doing.

  2. Big_Ted
    IT Angle

    Speed, we all need it.

    The link for average speeds is http://shop.virginmedia.com/broadband/about-virgin-broadband/speed-matters.html?buspart=6469 for those wondering.

    And very telling it is too. No wonder Virgin want the current practice to stop as it will show their offering in a much better light for cable broadband.

    Of cource Virgin ADSL broadband is just as bad as the rest. Wonder if they will lead the way with honest speeds on that ?

  3. AndrueC Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    So what?

    'up to' is technically correct.

    'average' is technically correct.

    If the punters signing up don't understand the technology then neither nomenclature will help.

    Trying to predict and describe network throughput is like trying to predict and describe road journey times. It depends on the end points of the journey, the route you take, what type of vehicle you drive and what time you're driving.

    1. Annihilator

      Not to mention

      "average" will be a dynamically changing figure with every sign-up. Not to mention a lot of poorly performing lines will be due to people having DSL modems at the end of 100ft extension cables that have the attenuation figures of cable I wouldn't use to light a christmas tree.

    2. Wize

      Those words may be technically correct

      But can anyone justify the use of 'unlimited'?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Average?

        Would that be mean, mode or median.

      2. Andy ORourke
        Thumb Up

        Too True

        I love that advert and VM's use of little numbers to hide the headlines!

        I don't know how they can get away with using the word UNLIMITED and then applying a limit to it.

        I mean I personally can deal with the "Up to", BT's line checker tells me the damp bit of string that connects me to my exchange "should" give me around 1 Mbps but I actually get 6 - 7 Mbps but there are a lot of people out there who see unlimited and think that's what they are going to get - Fools!

        UNLIMITED DOWNLOADS 1

        1Acceptable use policy: Acceptable use policy applies. Traffic Management operates from 4pm to 9pm and 10am to 3pm to ensure a consistent user experience.

        UNLIMITED EVENING & WEEKEND CALLS 4

        4Unlimited weekend calls to UK landlines: You will not be charged for the first hour of direct-dialled local and national geographic voice calls (numbers beginning 01, 02 or 03) made during the weekend period (all day Saturday and Sunday). Re-dial before 60 minutes to avoid call charges. For full details of call charges and connection fees, visit our calling costs page.

      3. Annihilator
        Badgers

        Unlimited (*)

        Well, you'll note VM are quite happy to use the weasely Unlimited downloads! (1), where presumably the (1) states "not really unlimited".

        Reminds me very much of the Simpsons episode where Bart wants to buy a cartoon cell of Itchy and Scratch and they mock TV adverts: "it is absolutely, 100%, guaranteed to increase in value! (not a guarantee)"

        But then, weaseling out of things is important to learn and what seperates us from the animals - 'cept the weasel..

    3. AndrueC Silver badge

      Correction?

      I wasn't trying to defend VM. Really just pointing out that nothing they suggest is going to make any difference. It's all immeasurable twaddle anyway. The best thing is to ignore the advertising and do your own research. There's plenty of sites around (www.thinkbroadband.com is one of the best in my opinion). Ask their users (past and present) and even better educate yourself about the technology. That way you stand a reasonable chance of getting what you expect.

  4. Steve ten Have
    FAIL

    Virgin - the crippled broadband provider

    Unless you pay Virgin the top amount for their broadband packages you get what is essentially a crippled service. Their 'unlimited' broadband gets cut to 25% of their advertised service if you exceed a predetermined amount of date in a peaktime period.

    i.e. if you watch a few episodes of programs and a movie from iPlayer you will suddenly discover your internet dying. Their cable modem also doesn't deal well with Bittorrent (which is now a legitimate method of getting updates and demos around the web) and essentially collapses your internet connection. Open uTorrent and you can't browse the internet.

    Added to this their help centre in Bangalore is a painful experience where I have had the operators lying to me and pretending that they are fading out when they can't answer a question speaking quieter and quieter despite all the voices in the background being clear as day.

    I would not use Virgin even if they paid me - they need to clean their own house before they start throwing stones.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      WTF?

      RE: Virgin - the crippled broadband provider

      Hmmm. I don't know where you live but things are very different in my area.

      During peak times, I can still hit the maximum. In fact, during non-peak times I have had speeds which exceeded the maximum broadband speed that Virgin sold me.

      They used to have a few problems but I've not experienced any for about 8 years... their help centre has been helpful too on the last occasion that I called them (8 years ago).

      ...and I've never had any problem with torrent files. Ever. I can download multiple torrent files AND watch streaming media at the same time.

      1. Steve ten Have

        Where I live?

        I live in the middle of London - WC1. I'm glad you had a nice experience with their helpdesk 8 years ago - what possibly relevance does that have to their current helpdesk?

        I'm not suggesting that I couldn't hit maximum, I'm saying that I couldn't hit maximum for long without their control freak throttling kicking in.

        I wish people would read.

    2. Paul Shirley

      its your router screwing up

      torrents can indeed bring many domestic *ROUTERS* to their knees, I literally fried one (it died of heatstroke) and Nvidias woeful chipset network interfaces curl up and die at the slightest hint of torrents. Never seen the modem break sweat, it's not doing any packet processing, just forwarding them. It doesn't even notice that your torrents hitting a few hundred different IPs.

      Personally I've seen a consistent 10Mbit on my 10Mbit connection since it was installed. On the rare times I suck 3+Gbyte of data in the afternoon and get throttled, the torrent slows down but iPlayer carries on working perfectly.

    3. Richard North

      VM Customer support

      Our household has never needed to deal with the helpdesk out in the back of beyond, because we use their support forums to flag up any issues - or even simply ask questions. They're well-monitored and there's usually a response within minutes - we've never had a situation with either TV or broadband we couldn't resolve that way, and only once have we had any substantial downtime... that was the year before last when the cable box for the TV died on Christmas Eve (oh how we laughed...).

      http://community.virginmedia.com will take you where you need to go.

      Not a Virgin Media shill - just a very satisfied customer. :-)

  5. MrCheese
    FAIL

    Typical

    Just checked out that URL and of course, there's nowhere to submit comments politely requesting them to explain their hypocritical, two-faced stance on the issue!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      checked out...

      http://www.stopthebroadbandcon.org/contact.php#

    2. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Colour Blind?

      Red bar at the bottom of the page!

      Daft place to put it but it is there.

  6. daniel hobson
    Paris Hilton

    can see why

    it is a bit hypocritical of virgin to say that when they do the same but in my experience when virgin say "upto 10meg" they aint far off it all, i'm still yet to have an 8mb connection that yeilds more than 3mb where as on virgin i've always been within 1mbit of its advertised speed.

    Paris, because she is also misleading

  7. Alex Walsh
    Thumb Down

    I get..

    8.4 Mb on my up to 10Mb cable connection most of the time. Upload is another thing entirely though, until last week it was a paltry 0.46Mb. In the last week this has doubled to 0.96Mb but its still rather crap.

    1. YouDontNeedMyName

      Get what you pay for ...

      You do realise that at 0.46mbps you are getting what you are paying for?

      This link clearly defines what Virgin actually offer in terms of upload, download and traffic management : http://shop.virginmedia.com/help/traffic-management/traffic-management-policy.html

      If you now get 0.96mbps, that means you have been upgraded as part of a program to make download:upload contention 10:1. Obviously that isn't standard yet, hence why the above link hasn't been updated.

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      @Alex Walsh

      This has always been the case with both ADSL and Cable. The upload speed is a small fraction of the download speed, and they have never claimed otherwise. That's what the "A (Asymmetric)" in ADSL stands for, and I'm sure it is described in the T&Cs for cable customers as well.

      If you really want good upload speed, might I suggest that you invest in a leased line, but I think you will be shocked by the price.

      1. Alex Walsh

        Oh I know that

        but its still irritating that you can download a large file from dropbox in minutes but have to leave the machine running for hours to upload something similar. It's time the marketing swizz of download tunnel vision is looked at IMHO. I don't use P2P but there are legitimate consumer uses for reasonable upload speeds now days- you tube, picasa, online back ups etc, all at a speed that's incredibly sloooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow.

        Whilst it's no doubt in the terms and conditions, it really is getting to be not fit for purpose in the rich content age.

  8. Owen Sweeney

    Unlimited

    Are they going to advocate pulling the expression "unlimited" when it comes to downloads as well?

    It's all a load of bollocks!

  9. Velv Silver badge
    Go

    And the other big con......

    UNLIMITED

    (*subject to what we consider to be fair use on any particular day)

    Either it is UNLIMITED, or it has a LIMIT. It is the difference between a finite number and infinity - the two do not exist in the same numberspace.

    1. Arclight

      Magic Asterisk

      Thats my big gripe about the blurb as well. You can say what you like, as long as you stick an asterisk on the end.

      "Subscribe to our 50mb broadband, and we'll give you a free Aston Martin*

      *Only if your name is Sir Richard Branson"

      Apparantly this has been taken through the courts already, and unlimited is a perfectly acceptable word, as long as the statement is qualified with a little get out at the end

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        The sky is blue

        ..and advertisers fib. This is still news to people?

        I suspect that the reason the '*' trick is allowed is because the law knows that adverts are so full of horseshit from beginning to end that there's no point getting too pissy about them.

  10. Llyander
    FAIL

    Pot, meet Kettle.

    I've had Virgin's XXL service for a month now. 50Mb, supposedly. Oh, I'm sorry, UP TO 50Mb.

    Have I ever got the 50Mb I'm paying for? Once. Very briefly, on a Sunday morning. Most days my connection wobbles anywhere between 11Mb and 40Mb depending on the time of day and the site I'm trying to access.

    I'd hardly call that a satisfactory state of affairs, Virgin, and for you to call on everyone else to stop this "up to" crap just reeks of hypocrisy of the highest order.

    And don't even get me started on the bull with them throttling Wow-related traffic on what is supposedly an unrestricted connection....

    1. Cameron Colley

      @Llyander

      When you say "Most days my connection wobbles anywhere between 11Mb and 40Mb depending on the time of day and the site I'm trying to access." do you mean that some sites are slower at some times of day? Also, how are you measuring download speed when accessing these sites -- do you take into account the latency from when you first click to the site replying, for example?

      Sorry to pick on your post specifically, but in my experience (and that of people I know), the limiting factor for downloading from one site or downloading a torrent can often be the speed at which the site or seeds can upload and not the download speed of the provider -- this is especially relevant as your download speed increases (a colleague on 50Mb tell me he hardly ever manages to max out his broadband from one site, for example).

      I hate to sound like a VM apologist -- I assure you I am not -- but I do get very sceptical of claims that broadband speed is very slow "for some sites" and similar claims. The only real way to tell how fast your broadband is at a given time is to download something like Google Earth and the latest Microsoft patches -- i.e. sites that stand a chance of providing you with data as fast as your connection can take.

      1. Llyander

        Clarification

        It varies from site to site, and I know that's subject to a number of factors entirely outside of Virgin;s control, but I've also been checking it every day with speedtest.net at different times of day.

        For example this lunchtime speedtest claimed I was getting 18Mb. Yesterday it was 17Mb. Tuesday was 11Mb, Monday was 25Mb. (I've been keeping track, just for my own curiosity. You'll note most of these tests are still barely 50% of what Virgin claims to be offering.)

        Downloads from, for example, rapidshare, megaupload and so forth tend to top out at 40Mb, except for that one day where I did actually get pretty much my full bandwidth.

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge
      FAIL

      When you get to these speeds

      you have to look at all parts of the link between you and where your data is coming from. Just because you can receive 50Mb/S does not mean that the other end can or will send it at that speed, or that the shared inter-ISP links are not congested. Try selecting a service from your ISP, and measuring that.

      I think it's about time that people start looking at this in a holistic manner, and expecting the Internet as a whole to have infinite bandwidth.

      1. CD001

        Speaking...

        Speaking to the chap who hosts our web server at work not that long ago we came to the conclusion that the bottlenecks are moving as people's download speed increases... away from their neighbourhood pipes towards the servers themselves.

        It doesn't take many people with a 50Mbs connection all downloading from the same site at the same time to effectively flood the site - so, of course, none of them will receive 50Mbs because the site can't serve it at that speed to all of them.

        At the moment, I'd argue, there's not much point in a 50Mbs connection unless you're downloading large files in the wee small hours of the morning when your neighbourhood is quiet AND the server is quiet... tricky if you're downloading a large file from somewhere halfway across the world of course.

      2. ChrisC
        Thumb Up

        Quite

        When you get to these speeds, you also need to start paying closer attention to the bit between the cable modem and the PC. Consumer-grade routers, whilst able to cope quite happily with high speed traffic on their LAN ports, may struggle once you start passing data between the LAN and WAN sides of the network. My download speeds went up by 5Mb/s (I'm on the 50Mb service) just by upgrading my router.

        It's also an education issue, because I'd suggest that most people using wifi to connect to their router won't be aware of the overheads in a wifi link, and then wonder why their supposedly 54Mb/s connection is still too slow for a 50Mb/s (or even 20Mb/s) internet service.

        So you're right that it's important to consider all parts of the link, provided you remember that the stuff at your end of the link is just as critical as the stuff at the remote end - even with a remote server capable of saturating the ISP-provided link to your modem, if the bottleneck is in the last few feet from modem to PC then you're never going to know what your connection is truly capable of. And in my experience, VM cable connections are truly capable of delivering the advertised speeds.

    3. Rob Crawford

      I would ask the question

      What is the bandwidth if the site you are trying to download from and how many users are downloading from it?

      I often get users complaining that the internet is slow, and it turns out that there's 50 users (on our site alone) trying to connect to some obscure webcam which is connected to the internet via some tiny link.

      Then the user states that they saw the link to the webcam from BoingBoing or something.

      Even then the user will still insist that it's our corporate internet connection is crap.

      <grumble> most users shouldn't be allowed to have machines, and that includes most IT depts <sulk>

  11. Alex Gollner
    Alert

    Fair charging

    How about detecting the various speeds we get over a month and charging us based on that? If an ISP was brave enough to do that, they might get a lot of people signing up.

    It would also be fairer to those people further from the exchange who get slower connections.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    And I challenge you...

    ... Mr Branson, to stop being a prick and actually take some of your companies to task over their shoddy service and rip-off products... isn't it time for you to piss off in a balloon across the sea yet? I have a boat and an air rifle I need to practise with.

    1. Rob Crawford

      Mr Branson!

      As far as I am aware Virgin Media are not actually part of the Virgin Group, and that NTL paid the Virgin Group to allow use of the Virgin brand (Bransons group probably now have some minority stake in VM)

    2. Brian Witham
      Stop

      Whoah @AC 1039

      Steady there lad... lest a crazy judge decide that is menacing and we see you prosecuted under s.127 Communications Act.

      Crap! I was playing flight simulator and just blew up.. I'd better get my shit together.

      Perhaps the reg better start auto "joke alert"ing posts?

  13. JaitcH
    Happy

    Is the alternative much better?

    My ISP has gone 'honest'. I subscribe to their 'Pro' grade of service at my country / summer cottage where they say the standard of service is 12.6Mbytes and their stated minimum is 512 Kbs. (Non-dynamic).

    Actually I am about 370 metres from their pole-mounted DSLAM broadband appliqué box even though we are about 62 kilometres from the backbone fibre, they feed a string of villages from a spur fibre.

    So my version of 'up to' has figures but still looks bad on the minimum service end. We've had one outage in 4 years that lasted about an hour.

    Cable TV is the real con, since most systems are essentially a WAN so when active subscribers increase, especially in the evenings and on weekends, the speed is pitifully low with timeouts commonly showing when loading web pages.

    I use Wimax as back-up (we have country-wide coverage) when needed (1.51173 GBP/100 Gigs).

  14. twelvebore
    Megaphone

    Line rental

    The other con that they can stop is failing to quote the proper headline price when advertising their broadband - they forget to mention that you need to pay an extra £12/month or so renting a phone line that you may well not want.

    1. Joe 3
      Stop

      My thoughts exactly

      While line rental isn't included, they advertise that their packages include "calls" (next to a picture of a phone), which is rather misleading to say the least.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @twelvebore

      I hardly ever use my landline. In fact I think I get more calls from foreign identity thieves and clueless salestwunts than I actually make.

  15. gb030104
    FAIL

    The hypocrisy of it

    Maybe Virgin should stop massaging the truth, if they want some credibility with this.

    To quote from their http://www.stopthebroadbandcon.org/ site: "You should be getting what you pay for"

    Yet, their "traffic Shaping" means I now get about 5Mb connection in the evenings, whilst paying for 50Mb.

  16. Tim Spence
    FAIL

    And they obviously don't like criticism on this point

    They're obviously not willing to listen to criticism on this point either - the contact form on the stop the broadband con site appears to be borked!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Get your own house in order first Virgin.

    Poor technical support from 'off shore' support teams. Rude customer services that expect you to pay for a service that you are not receiving, that think "it'll be fixed at the end of February next year" is satisfactory and that think using ~5GB (around half of BT's monthly allowance) over the period of a month is against their unlimited "fair use" policies. Virgin Media, an utterly useless gaggle of twunts.

  18. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Badgers

    Nice legs, shame about the face

    Virgin media seem to have good cable infrastructure (it's customer support which really, really sucks) so should be well placed to state a truer average speed and not lose face. In my case for "up to 20Mb" I consistently get 19.5+ which cannot be faulted but I am sure it's not so good in other areas.

    While they are at it they can also work on exposing their own and others' "unlimited" downloads as a lie. It's not that hard to work out what the maximum amount is which can be downloaded in a 24 hour period when capping kicks in.

  19. JDX Gold badge

    oops

    Maybe their departments aren't quite in sync. Hopefully anyway, that would be better than deliberately being hypocritical.

    Throttling is fine too, IF they make it quite clear.

  20. Da Weezil
    Stop

    Phoney speed claims bad - Phoney unlimited claims good?

    Clarity in advertising and yet Virgin still claim unlimited downloads - really? Unlimited??? that tiny 1 next to the claim... doesn't that apply to an FUP or some other limitation to the "Unlimited downloads" that you proudly claim in a font several times larger??

    Phoney Unlimited deals are as bad as "upto speeds" and would probably be illegal in any other industry - and would be illegal here if we didn't have political entities so corrupt that they allow huge amounts of influence by Business in return for party funding - a practice as corrupt as any padded expenses claim - don't hear the party leaders condemning that one do we?

    Pot meet kettle. ISPs (including virgin) and politicians .. they all smell as bad - rotten and corrupt. Put your own house in order first Virgin, you are as bad as any of the others.

    Hypocrites!

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Weeeellll......

    I understand where you are comming from, but in this particular case, I personally believe you are just splitting hairs....

    I have a 50MBps fibre feed from VM and I have a DSL connection from Eclipse Internet facilitating a BT line.

    The DSL connection trickles somewhere around 1.4 - 2.1 MBps, which is not really Eclipses or BTs fault, but never the less, I am paying for "up to" 20MBps, where as on VM I am paying for 50MBps.

    That I don't always get 50MBps lies in the nature of the biest, as the chain is only as strong as the weekest link.

    But I ca nsay, that whenever I donwload something from within the VM network, I certainly do get my aprox. 6 MByte/s

    And if VM would provide something like a /28, or at least a /29 subnet (free of charge idealy), I would probably kill my DSL completely. But I still ahve to say, that service wise Eclipse is one of my favourite ISPs

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Fred Dibnah
        Headmaster

        Seconds

        The SI unit of time is the second (written in lower case) which has the symbol s (also in lower case). The only symbols which are written as upper case are the litre (L or l) and those derived from people's names, such as the watt (W) and pascal (Pa).

        So 50mb/s is the correct way to abbreviate fifty megabits per second.

        1. paulf Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Mega

          Mega (one million or 10^3) is abbreviated to a capital M*

          milli (one thousandth or 10^-3) is abbreviated to a lower case m

          Therefore I propose 50 Mb/s as if you were getting 50 milli bits per second you'd be more than a little upset at his Sir Richardness.

          Oh and as we're in a pedant thread please put a space between the 50 and the Mb/s please!

          * Yes I know Mega in computer memory is 1,048,576 not 1,000,000.

          1. Fred Dibnah
            Coat

            @ paulf

            Hoist by my own petard. Curses.

            Thanks paul (not Paul).

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Thanks Fred.

          Sorry, I actually meant to withdraw the original comment you commented on before anybody saw it, because I realised my mistake. But I only got as far as the first Withdraw button, and did not click on the confirmation until much later as I was reviewing the open Firefox tabs.

          Yes, I was wrong, and it should be 50Mb/s not 50Mb/S, which is what I was asking about ,in case anybody was wondering.

          Note to self. Must check facts before posting.

  22. Chris 171

    More about getting what you pay for I'd say.

    I have the 10Mb service and invariably thats what I get.

    The main advantage of a cabled network I'd suggest, the folks on VM ADSL wont be so lucky.

    What gets me more in the dodgy advertising stakes is the 'Fibre Optic Broadband' sales line, when in reality fibre is still quite a way from my doorstep.

  23. DrXym Silver badge

    Should be required to show peak and off peak stats

    I think it should be law that ISPs show peak, off peak and average statistics of typical bandwidth usage by region & package. I expect most ISPs already know that information so it should be a matter of presenting it to the user in a consistent way that allows them to make fair comparisons.

  24. Tracer

    Virgin demands ISPs end broadband speed 'con' - And starts construction on a very large glass house!

    How incredibly duplicitous that Virgin Media should feel that they can lambast the other ISP's. I have been a VM broadband customer for many years and have almost never seen the speeds advertised for my speed plan. If you try to challenge them on this you will get a myriad of excuses from "These are only guidelines" to "You are trying to get online during peak times, when obviously the speed will be lower".

    They are living in a really big glass house, perhaps the windows have fogged over?

    As for rolling out Branson. I am quite sure that the cable connecting him has a large gold sticker on it. A sticker that means "Never throttle back, give him all we've got".

    What utter hypocrisy!

  25. Vitani

    Like

    It should be "regulated" like APRs are, a bank can only advertise the rate which 2/3* of it's customers actually get, if ISPs had to advertise the speed most of it's customers actually received, it would be a much more realistic metric to compare them to each other.

    * it may not be 2/3, but it is definitely "most"

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Not just ISPs.

      ALL forms of advertising should be subject to this limitation on claims. TYPICAL results only, and ALL facts verifiable on penalty of perjury (that's right; I want ads--essentially cases presented before the public--subject to the same scrutiny as a court witness).

  26. LawLessLessLaw
    Boffin

    "10mb suitable for small households"

    Is already a lie.

    Average is also useless.

    10mbps from 12am-12pm

    0mbps from 12pm-12am

    is avg 5mbps

  27. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    How do I? stop the Virgin Mailings?

    If Vifgin wants to stop the broadband con then perhaps they really sort out the problems up my street. So many houses are connected to their steam driven cable that the evening broadband performance my next door neighbours get is 1.5-2.5Mbits/sec. Ok, I suppose that qualifies in the upto 10Mb but really....

    I'm probably the only house that isn't a Virgin user so I get 2 or mailings a month addressed to the 'Occupier' thus getting around the MPS restrictions. At the moment, I put their mailings into a plain envelope (curtesy of my old now bankrupt employers) and post it back to them with no stamp on it. Yet still they come. .....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Alert

      RE: How do I? stop the Virgin Mailings?

      I don't know how to stop the Virgin mailings since they don't send me spam.

      I can tell you this however, I get 2 letters a month addressed to someone who has NEVER lived at my address (at least in the last 15 years) from BT.

      I've opened one or two of them and they are invariably trying to flog internet connections. (The pictures and wording on the envelopes gives it away anyway).

      Sending the letters back hasn't worked. Writing to them and asking them to stop hasn't helped. Nothing seems to stop the BT spam-machine.

      ps. I'm on Virgin, the capping is so slight I've never noticed it and I'm one of the many lucky ones who frequently exceed the advertised prices!

  28. graeme leggett

    "typical" speeds

    I note the describe their own performance as "typical speed" which is:

    "the speed that at least 66% of our customers get on average in a particular month on a particular product. Our typical speed tests run over 24 hours and speeds may vary at peak times"

    Is it me, or is 66% of customers a particularly low threshold?

    So in any given month they can ignore the quality of service they deliver to a third of their customers...

    1. Phil Thompson

      majority ?

      " is 66% of customers a particularly low threshold"

      well it only took 25% of the Welsh electorate to get them devolution.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    B***tards all!

    Nuff Said.

    Paris, cos she aint one..

    How abt a Branson Logo too! He's lent/sold his name/brand to a Con Artist. After all they are NTL hell, remember?

  30. Tracer
    Grenade

    I wonder what would happen if....... ?

    I wonder what would happen if....... ?

    I paid my monthly Virgin bill but instead of paying what they were expecting I paid "up to" the cost of my bill. I'm pretty sure they would start insisting that if that's what is on the bill then that is what you must pay.

    Tracer

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Staggering...

    .... hypocrysy from Virgin, who cap your speed should you have the nerve to actually use it for more than 30 minutes.

    Virgin won't be able to drop their own "up to" qualifier because their network is always constantly oversubscribed. They can't deliver on what they advertise otherwise why the need for caps & throttling of usenet & p2p.

  32. system11
    WTF?

    Is this a joke?

    Our 20mb service has /never/ hit 20mb in the years we've been with VM. In addition the upstream is pitiful, but that doesn't matter too much since the horrendous latency to anywhere outside of the UK means that upstream is fairly useless for any kind of interactive traffic.

    There's no point offering 20mb when you can't actually provide any kind of quality of service.

    Conversely, my 'mis-sold' up-to-8mb DSL line with Eclipse is far more usable for gaming. I can only assume Mr Branson doesn't try to use his own service much.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    Maybe its time..

    for people to pay more for their internet connection. If you want good speed and net neutrality then you should pick up the bill for the data you use. People happily flock to the cheapest provider then complain its slow.

    I've never had issues with 'up to' on my broadband, I've always got the full speed, but then I pay more to get a lower contention ratio. How can VM offer me a service that claims 6x the speed for LESS money?

    The users want the man to pick up the tab for the big data pipes but don't want the man to touch their data.

    1. Pypes

      @ AC

      The implication being that people aren't already doing so, or are prepared to do so. VM broadband is far from the cheapest on the market, and their 50 meg customers are already paying a premium (£35 /month according to the website) for a premium pipe, only now they are being subjected to the same "oh, you didn't actually think you could use it how and when you wanted did you?" traffic management / shaping as everybody else. I think they are perfectly entitle to complain about not getting what they were paying for.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ISP in speed spat crap ad

    nothing to see, move on

  35. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    more virgin figures here:

    http://shop.virginmedia.com/broadband/about-virgin-broadband/broadband-speeds-explained.html

    and that's more reason to drop the upto...

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Virgin / non-Virgin

    It sounds like Virgin cable and Virgin ADSL are two different animals. I'm on Virgin's cheap and cheerful cable package and I routinely get 95% plus of what it says on the tin. I access torrents and do a lot of big downloads and I've never hit a cap either. As for the service and support, well my TV STB died a couple of years ago and the man in the van was straight round with a new one.

    In another example of excellent customer relations, my ex-girlfriend's friend also received very good service from her Virgin repair man. She got "up to" lots of things with him...

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Nitpicking misses the bigger picture.

    To be fair to Virgin I pay for 10Mb and get between 9.5Mb and 10Mb . I guess the .5 could occasionally be lost because of factors outside of their control so I think "up to" is just used to cover their own arses if things go south. At least we are still in the right ball park.

    However BT (and other via copper ISPs) are playing a totally different ball game... with oddly weighted balls. A friend pays BT for up to 20Mb, even though BT themselves STATE (on their website) that she can only get 15Mb, and yet she STILL only gets between 6 and 12Mb depending on wind direction, tides and the alignment of the planets!

    If BT (et all) were in the same ball park as Virgin you wouldn't have a problem with either of them using "up to" to cover their own arses in case things go titsup, so whats the problem with VM using it now? Instead of picking up on the minutia of VM's argument how about focusing your ire on the ones who really ARE ripping people off?

  38. Weird_George

    They should talk.,,,

    Virgin implements Subscriber Traffic Management that cuts your speed to a quarter of what you pay for, if you don't got above those limits you still get threatened with Fair Use Policy and told to download after 9pm, and now they introduce throttling for 7 hours every evening and night and for 12 hours at the weekends that if you're lucky, cuts your download speed in half.

    Virgin should stop advertising speeds when they deliberately stop you getting those speeds as soon as you try to use them. Sure, their lines may be more capable than DSL, but they are no different if you can't get the speeds due to artificial restrictions made so they can pack more customers onto an overloaded network without doing upgrade work.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Virgin cable works fine ...

      ... for typical users. You can't say you're not getting what you pay for, because they spell it all out if you look in the right places. If you need a better service then pay for a leased line, if you're just whinging because you're not getting something for nothing then maybe you should STFU.

  39. Elmer Phud Silver badge

    It depends

    A lot of the speed issue depends on the current state of the connection.

    I used to work doing broadband repair and the basic, simple exchange line test (SALT) would be enough for us to say fairly accurately what speed to expect at the time of testing (line length, line balance, line capacitance)

    Even before I got a 10meg connection I knew I'd get about 7.5m (roughly 1meg attenuation per kilometre). On damp days it'll drop quite a bit and it doesn't help that the exchange equipment now has priority on 'connection at all times'.

    Got a call from O2 the other day and they tried to tell me what I'd get and were surprised that it really was fairly simple. I've recently been upgraded to 20meg and on a good day can get 15meg (rare - it's often 12).

    We often tried to tell our superiors how simple it was and how much info you could get from a basic line test but they were so wrapped up in thier ignorance and superiority they refused to even try to understand. They always said there were other factors involved but could never actually come up with any -- a bit too technical for a manager?

    We also occasionally told the cutomer what they would roughly get but also that times of day would affect speed. Not something the 'superiors' liked as they always referred to the speed at the exchange and not what the customer could expect.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Virgin FAIL. Subscriber FAIL. Just FAIL!

    Bit of a FAIL there by Virgin!

    But to be honest, the biggest FAIL is on the idiots that think they NEED super fast broadband.

    After 10mbit, probably much less you will notice naff all difference in the speed a website loads.

    After that, few sites or services will actually enable you to make use of your 20mbit connection let alone 50mbit. Add to that, most routers struggle with much more than 20mbit - and few can really handle 50m bit.

    So, your 20+mbit connection is mostly useless apart form all the things that your ISP will then throttle you down on anyway!

    ISPs keep this quiet though, as they want you to spend out of fast broadband that you dont actually need or cant actually make use of - even if you have a perfect connection. Worse still, Virgin for example advertise their fast broadband as being ideal for downloading movies etc, but then throttle it back so much that if you do have a good connection, and find a fast download source, you will be throttled back anyway in less bandwidth than it takes to download a single HD movie. Now that is a con, Virgin!

    To be fair though, and the reason why Virgin are saying this, is that a virginbroadband will (providing you have a Virgin fibre connection, a decent router and your websites/services can handle the speed) provide you with the full speed all the time (certianly in my experience). You just wont be able to use it - unless you spend even more and get the unrestricted 50mbit connection.

  41. Defiant
    Grenade

    Hollix

    This from an ISP that has CAPS from 10am till midnight. Apparently that’s "Fair Usage”

  42. Rogerborg
    Flame

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!

    This is the same Virgin Media that throttles P2P, has caps that throttle you back to 25% for 5 hours after just ten (10) minutes of using the bandwidth you're paying for, plus a SUPAR SEKRIT BONUS daily cap that bitch slaps you down to 512Kb/s if you trigger it?

    And they have the Goddamn nerve to criticise anyone else's "up to" claims?

    Virgin Broadband: the fastest connection available(*)

    (*) If you don't actually use it.

  43. Pandy06269

    It is starting to happen

    I've just been upgraded (free of charge, no increase to my bills) to BT Infinity - fibre broadband from their "up to 20MB" ADSL package.

    On their speed tester, BT now specify the minimum and maximum speed I should be receiving (min 12Mb and max 34Mb on an up-to 40Mb fibre connection.)

    I'm actually only getting around 7Mb in non-peak times and around 25-30Mb in peak times (yep those are correct - I'd expect it the other way; go configure.) If it's not improved once I've reached my 10 days settling down time they'll be getting a call.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Walter Mitty

      No you weren't, unless of course BT broke in and carried out the necessary work and installed the new vDSL router and Infinity Home Hub while you were sleeping.

      http://www.productsandservices.bt.com/consumerProducts/displayTopic.do?topicId=29023

      I wish BT did that to me. The best I managed was a disconnected land line for week, resulting in a 3 quid credit on my bill

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    WTF?

    I won't be signing that petition.

    While I agree with the petition aims, its a sad fact that their own products are still advertised and sold as "up to", which is exactly what they are petitioning against.

    I don't feel that it would be appropriate for me to sign such a petition organized by such a hypocritical company.

    Perhaps when they stop selling their own services as "up to", I will reconsider my stance. Until then, not going to happen.

    I even used their contact us page to tell them exactly that. Doubt it will make much of a difference though.

  45. andy gibson
    Happy

    I'm going to sue the government

    Their motorways are supposed to offer "upto 70mph" speeds but I rarely get 40 on my commute to work.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Move.

      Poor you. Really all you need to do is move house. I had to rein it in at 90 this morning. On the motorway and the A roads.

  46. squilookle
    Thumb Down

    Virgin Media

    are terrible for marketing.

    My old landlord (I moved out 18 months ago) recently bought round some marketing letters Virgin had sent there, despite the fact we had the service moved to the new place and were receiving mail there too.

    Also, some friends of mine frequently get mail from Virgin advertising cable, and they aren't even in a cabled street! You would think they know where they have the cables.

    Awful company. Left them 6 months ago and I don't regret it one bit, as I hjad a string of other problems with them in the end.

    I went to talktalk, who advertised upto 24mb. However, while signing up, they advised me over the telephone to expect no better than 2mb, which is pretty much what I average, so they could not have been any more honest with me. So far, they are better at keeping promises than I found Virgin to be.

  47. Graham Bartlett

    "Which?" review

    Virgin Media averaged around 80% of their stated bandwidth. Everyone else averaged around 50% or lower. Nuff said.

    I've also had rather good experience from VM help. Admittedly the last was about 18 months back, rather than today, but they've been consistently OK over two house moves, two installs, and a couple of problems. The latest was a fibre outage where some silly sods dug through the cable. VM help could not only tell me what had gone wrong, but give me a time when it'd be fixed. And it was actually up and running before that.

  48. SteveK

    No cable?

    If they want to use the average, are they happy for that average to be pulled down by all the 0 scores for people living in areas that Virgin can't be bothered to wire up?

    Steve.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No cable.

      What makes it even funnier is that when Virgin announced they were rolling out 100Mb/s they clearly said they were rolling it out to the "whole country". So it appears that it's fine for them to tell blatant lies, but it's not OK for everybody else to tell the truth in a rather sneaky way.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Megaphone

    And even more annoying..

    Is when you get bombarded with the Virgin cable/TV ads WHEN IT'S NOT EVEN AVAILABLE IN YOUR AREA!

    "Yes sir, we can't give you the shiny new service that we've just tempted you with because you live in an area we don't have any fibre in. But we can offer you a crappy DSL service though.."

    No thanks - I'll stick to my 40Mb FTTC service that I get through an ISP with a clue..

  50. Peter Christy

    Broadband speeds

    To be fair to Virgin, I have to say that my cable broadband speeds seem to match, or even slightly exceed, the rate I pay for. The only time I noticed a slowdown was once when I foolishly tried to download the entire Slackware tree during the peak times when they apply throttling!

    Virgin are fine - until something goes wrong, and you have to deal with their customer services! That, as they say, is a whole different matter.....!!!

    --

    Pete

  51. deanpm
    FAIL

    virgin lies

    what virgin so oftern fail to mention is there traffic shaping as they are now calling it. when they annouced 50 meg it was unlimited downloads, no restrictions, no throttling or capping. now all of a sudden with the looming 100mb connection virgin are trafiic shaping anyone who uses p2p or newsgroups, in fact just about anyone and everyone who downloads between 10am and midnight the way its been of late. and that shaping has seen speeds dtrop from 6mb/s to less that 500kbs for a lot of people. and this doesnt go back up until after midnight.

    And now virgin are suddenly announcing all singing all dancing 100mbits with no limits. and suddenly 50 is so unlimited anymore.

    Virgin are the phoniest of the lot when it comes to net speeds, they promise so much and yet what they give in one hand they take away with the other. recetly they announced on 50 meg the upload would be increased from 1.5 to 5mbs.. and on the other hand said .. but if you use it we'll cap you..!!

    waste of time and full of lies are virgin

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: virgin lies

      Virgin claims not to limit the traffic of P2users per se, only those who exceed the bandwidth limits stated in its Ts&Cs.

      As ever, there's a degree of user responsibility here, to check the small print and make sure one doesn't fall foul of the limits.

      Virgin's traffic management policy is laid out here:

      http://www.virginmedia.com/traffic

  52. luxor
    Thumb Down

    Hey Virgin I demand the speeds I'm paying for.

    I'm sick of their oversubscribed service that means my browsing speed at peak times is abysmal. Then they have the nerve to come out with something like this.

    Virgin get your own house in order before you start commenting on other IsP's misleading their customers.

    Fecking joke of a piss-poor company.

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Hey Virgin I demand the speeds I'm paying for.

      Virgin doesn't sound like it'll win Reg Hardware's 2010 Reader Award for best ISP. Who do you all think should take the gong?

      Make your shortlist nominations here:

      http://www.reghardware.com/2010/11/15/reg_hardware_awards_2010_call_to_action/

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not Just Broadband

    "Up to" isn't just used in broadband advertising. Next time you watch commercial TV why don't you actually listen to the adverts. Here comes one for car insurance: "You could save up to £300." Get that? They didn't say "you will save £300" that you "COULD save UP TO £300". Or to look at it another way, "you might not save a single penny."

    It's all the usual cynical weasel words of advertising, but anybody dumb enough to fall for it deserves all they get. Anybody who believes adverts probably didn't ought to be allowed to see them.

  54. Grease Monkey

    Standard Branson Tactics

    When a Virgin train runs on time and I can actually get a seat then I'll listen to something Branson has to say. Virgin trains are typical of Virgin businesses everything is done cynically at minimum cost to maximise profits and then a whole load of advertising is slapped on top to try to convince everybody that Virgin puts the customer first. And how much time have they spent whining about how badly they are treated by network rail and how other rail companies are given preferential treatment? It's Branson's standard tactic.

    He's a typical sales twat and too many people believe that because he "seems a nice bloke" we should make allowances for all his companies being so shite.

    Is Branson really such a self pitying twat, or is it part of his marketing strategy?

  55. Chris Collins 1
    FAIL

    FAIL!!

    poor article from this site showing some bias, VM are not perfect and I am in a congested area however I am also on the end of a long BT line.

    The reason up to is more viable for VM is that (a) every single VM cable customer sync's at that speed on the modem, no ifs or buts 100% get it. Whilst on BT based services whether its BE, BT broadband or sky only a small % of people get over 16mbit on up to 24mbit services. Not even the majority will get 12mbit half of 24mbit. In fact the mean average is as low as 4-5mbit.

    (b) on samknows data VM have average speeds very close to what they advertise, whilst the adsl providers are miles behind, given that the ASA blocked VM advertising the difference I can understand why VM are upset.

    However I am confused what they supposed to be proposing, if they want speeds to be removed from adverts altogether than I think thats a very bad thing as we can then only look at usage specs.

  56. Phil Thompson
    Grenade

    Fixed vs Variable speed

    The ASA *requires* the use of "up to" on fixed speed services such as Virgin's cable services, to indicate the variability due to contention etc.

    The ASA further require additional copy for *variable rate* services such as ADSL (Virgin's "national" as opposed to "urban" service) to indicate the variability depending on line length, location, etc..

    To compare the performance of fixed rate with a variable rate adaptive service is crass. VM cable modems always connect at the service speed, it's the nature of the technology. Lower throughputs are down to congestion, traffic management and other bottlenecks.

    A rate adaptive service on the other hand establishes the best link speed it can, perhaps between 288k and 8M, and then the throughput will be a variable proportion of that link speed. So the "speed" is now characterised by two numbers and the whole advertising department won't understand it. Never mind.

    Virgin lie about their ADSL service, saying on their web site that I can get an up to 20M service when no such thing is avilable in my telephone exchange, and further saying that "Unlike some others we're not into capping the speed you get, so we'll always give you the fastest possible broadband we can" when in reality they use an identical BT Wholesale up to 8M service just the same way as every other service provider on my exchange.

    Still, it got them publicity which was no doubt the objective.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    old customers get ripped off yet again

    Looks like they have sorted out thier web pages since the 18th & linked the upto speeds

    http://shop.virginmedia.com/broadband/about-virgin-broadband/broadband-speeds-explained.html

    But on here - http://shop.virginmedia.com/broadband/up-to-50mb.html

    I just love how they reduce the overall package price down to £35 for new customers, while existing customers are paying £38

    VM just keep ripping off loyal customers......

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Ashamed to work there for sure - wishing I was Paris

    Saw this on the forum and had to refrain from commenting there to keep my job. Considering one key aspect of this bs is honesty i find it hilarious for the smug deluded folks up top to give this stunt the go-ahead. Not only do the have the cheek to slag all the other ISPs but halfway down they totally excuse VM National advising that it's subject to things outside of control limiting the speed yet the other ISPs are in the same VM National boat limitwise. I have sky and getting 16.5 Mb no restrictions and TOTALLY unlimited. VM staff account... no thanks, you'd have to pay me!

    Paris due to title.

    Bransons in glass houses shouldn't throw stones at the non-vm national others.

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