back to article Advertising prefect spanks Virgin

Virgin Media must not claim it delivers "the UK's fastest broadband", the nation's advertising watchdog has judged. The cableco said it offered exactly that in a magazine ad published earlier this year. The ad invited punters to "get the edge in gaming" with Virgin's 50Mbps offering. However, rival provider BT took umbrage …


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  1. Arrrggghh-otron

    Bored of this product bickering...

    when can I have 1GB Ethernet connection to the web*?

    *At consumer level pricing...

    1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      Re: Bored of this product bickering...

      The day BT are nationalised or otherwise removed from the market, and made to do their job - sell connectivity to others and not hoard and price access to 50-year-old copper cables like they are gold-dust.

      Hell, I always assumed we'd be all-fibre by now (2012, ffs!) and not bothering with anything over copper at all. USB over fibre is in the works, Ethernet over fibre has been around for decades, fibre-to-the-door is available if you're lucky with where you live... and none of it has any value to thieves.

      But, apparently, no. We're still using the same cables that I ran my 56K modem off (and in some cases you could easily have used the same copper to dial-up at 9600bps right to ADSL2+, the only difference being the middle conversions and street cabinets).

      ADSL standards were finalised in 1999. I was still at uni then. The same time before that: (1999 - (2012 - 1999)) was 1986. The progress change that ADSL would have been to ZX Spectrum users should have happened AGAIN by now. ADSL of 1999 was, say, 8MBps (ideal conditions, I know). ZX Spectrum modems were 1200 bps. By rights, with only LINEAR improvement (not exponential as normally would happen in a thriving tech market), we should have: 55Gb/s connections to the home by now (if my maths is right). With at least 10Gb/s usable in a typical installation. You'd hit your "traffic limits" for the month in a handful of seconds.

      Instead, we have ADSL2+ (if you're lucky) which is ADSL at a slightly increased speed (2-3 times increase instead of nearly a 7000-fold increase) and available hardly anywhere, and the fastest connections are, shock-horror, fibre where it's been bothered to get installed.

      1. localzuk

        Re: Bored of this product bickering...

        Hard drives haven't increased at the rate needed either. Even our fastest SSDs are only 0.5Gbps really. So even if internet speeds had progressed, they'd be pointless as our computers still wouldn't be able to handle them.

        1. Aldous

          Re: Bored of this product bickering...

          for a single device you are correct but in my household which is just myself and the missus we have running:

          2 tower pc's, 1 of which is downloading a lot

          3 laptops one of which is a work machine and attending vid conferences.

          1 voip phone

          1 server

          so any extra bandwidth i will take. now imaging thats a house with 2.4 children and everyone wants iplayer at full hd.

        2. Lee Dowling Silver badge

          Re: Bored of this product bickering...

          Why would you need to store anything if it takes seconds to redownload the whole thing again? It would actually be quicker to stream it live, in that case, than save it to disk!

          Sure, there's an argument for having your own independent copy of the data, but the more incentive for storage (i.e. lots of data and fast download), the cheaper it gets. Fact is that most people don't even use the 100Gb hard drive in their laptop any more. When I image people's computers onto their new laptops etc. it's rarely more than 30-40Gb and most of that is Windows, photographs and applications. People don't even save their email onto their computer any more, really. It's all done "live" with IMAP.

          But with decent home broadband comes the incentive to provide decent networking gear for business (links across a whole factory site can easily have been Gigabit since 1999 and 10/100 since 1995, with self-installed cable, hand-crimped connectors and commodity hardware - so why does the exchange which is across the road to me barely get 8Mbps?), higher speeds, faster datacentres, faster international links, larger storage, more applications (video, VoIP, etc.), etc.

          The bottlenecks determine the current technology. My drive isn't faster because I can't get enough data to put onto it that fast. You might fill an SSD once but you're not going to be running it at SATAIII speeds all day long. My drive isn't larger, not because we've hit physical limits (or I'd have options to put two-three drives into a laptop already, and although they exist, they are stupidly expensive rather than standard) but because we don't store that amount of data any more (a couple of Tb will more that satisfy more people at the moment, and that's a £100 Maplin's job to fulfill) and can't download that data even if we wanted to. My wireless isn't faster because it has to plug into a 10/100 Ethernet cable most of the time. Same as my optical media drive isn't SATAIII because the disks can't spin that fast anyway!

          But home broadband bandwidth is a serious hurdle, especially upload, whereas any datacentre you choose can throw unmetered 100Mbit connections at you as standard. Increase that, and you get a boost in all the other computer specifications too. There's nothing stopping a gigabit-ethernet-to-the-door service providing those sorts of speeds except the costs of laying the initial cable. With that suitably rolled-out and planned, you can even go up to 10Gb without struggling once the time comes. It's a question of investment in something worthwhile, rather than still running new houses with manky old 2-core copper to an old exchange with nothing more recent than ADSL or so, and not even a "throw money at it" style problem.

      2. Arrrggghh-otron

        Re: Bored of this product bickering...

        I agree that BT are protecting their precious infrastructure and milking it for all they can. But it isn't just BTs fault. All public facing data providing operators seem to be as bad as each other. Mobile operators seem to be falling over themselves to go backwards with their fantastic new contracts offering less and less each year for a longer and longer lock-in period (250MB per month on a 2 year contract - really? I think what they are saying is "We can sell you a mobile data connection to the internet, just don't you dare use it!"). BTs Infinity product is going to look outdated when it finally hits my local cabinet at the end of the year*. My experiences with NTLs offering wasn't exactly inspiring and their billing was wrong every month...

        I also blame the powers that be for the weird taxes they put on running cable. Making a national network more costly than it needs to be.

        As for data caps, I don't really get that either. I can buy massive amounts of data transfer in a data centre for pennies a month.

        *I will still be upgrading though as the increase in upstream bandwidth will be worth it.

    2. banjomike

      Re: Bored of this product bickering...

      They will eventually let you have a 1GB Ethernet connection but only for 20 minutes per day and only for web browing or email checking and any sort of downloading or streaming will be subject to murderous limits ......

      I would just like Virgin to drop the crippling speed limiting.

  2. Crisp Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    With a headline like that...

    I was expecting a more NSFW article.

    Paris, because there is no "Where's the Megan Fox angle?" icon.

  3. mark 63 Silver badge

    maybe they can just clain to be the fastest with 'virgin' in the name :)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe just advertise the Fastest Major supplier of internet.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Even if if was the fastest I have known a number of people that have regularly had the ping equivalent of "Pop this letter in the mail box on your way to work"

  6. Ben Naylor

    Virgin Sucks

    Fastest my arse!

    Try Rutland Telecom, my folks live on the island in the middle of Rutland Water and have just had fibre to the HOUSE, yes, to the HOUSE, put in.

    Any speed you want.

    Virgin are a bunch of crooks who spend most of their money on leaflets shoved thru people's doors desperately trying to get more business.

    And even if they were offering the "fastest broadband", what is the point, when they cap your download speeds massively?


    1. andy gibson

      Re: Virgin Sucks

      How can it be an "island on Rutland Water" when its connected to the land?

    2. nexsphil

      Re: Virgin Sucks

      Amen to this. Virgin speeds in NW London drop to a crawl at peak times. You can forget iplayer, you're stuck checking email - slowly. They don't slow down the recruitment drive though, and offer higher & higher speeds their backhaul absolutely cannot support. God help you if you try their customer support. VM are the new Tiscali.

  7. King Jack

    What's the point

    When you can still advertise 'unlimited' broadband that is limited. And what happens when you are caught out? Nothing, as per usual.

  8. James 100

    I just wish the ASA would shoot down the "fibre" lie that Virgin's copper coax cables are somehow "fibre" because there's fibre as far as the copper conversion point, unlike ADSL which only has fibre as far as the copper conversion point...

    The traffic shaping also makes a big difference - though at least the traffic limits seem high enough to be acceptable, and only kneecap you for the rest of the day instead of costing you a fortune or wrecking the rest of the month.

  9. adam payne Silver badge

    My experience of Virgin in my previous job was terrible. They couldn't get the billing right and the speed was like up and down like a yo yo. Tech support was almost as bad as BT, past from pillar to post.

    They can claim whatever they want but when their adverts come on the TV I switch off and their leaflets go straight into the recycle bin.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    or else

    it will have to tell Virgin not to claim that its broadband was the fastest in the UK again.

  11. Alan Brown Silver badge

    when can I have 1GB Ethernet connection to the web*?

    I already have it (not at consumer prices and not at home).

  12. Pypes

    Same old tricks

    Never mind this "fastest" nonsense (not an entirely unreasonable claim, with some minor qualification), I think the ASA should be paying more attention to the "Get the edge in gaming" line, considering they have already been bollocked for making exactly the same claim in the past.

    Cable modem ping times are jittery at the best of times, combine that with virgin medias patented "High duration packet buffering technology" and dropping 1 packet in 5 as a matter of policy they are demonstrably the worst provider for gamin, and have been officially told as much in the past.

  13. Fuzzy Duck

    Would love that speed...

    Yeah, I'd love a fast web connection but I'm using a virgin 'super'hub over wireless...

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