back to article Project Lightning, you say? Virgin Media's fibre rollout is pretty glacial

Virgin Media reported another quarter of low growth for its troubled £3bn fibre programme Project Lightning, adding just 111,000 premises in the first three months of 2018 – the lowest for the last four quarters. So far VM has managed 1.2 million connections, with the aim of connecting 4 million premises by the end of 2019 to …

  1. }{amis}{ Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Rip Off....

    Perhaps if the stopped jacking up the prices year on year for their existing customers they would have more business.

    I get sick of having to phone up every year and threaten to leave just to avoid an inflation-busting hike.

  2. jms222

    Same here, maybe cancelling

    I got them to drop from forty something back down to twenty something some months back but I had a go at them a few weeks ago about their still broken NNTP service. During the security bollocks I said I would cancel my Direct Debit to prove it was me. The next payment date is about now so I expect them to contact me and we can discuss various things.

    What I really want is not a fictitious download speed but a sensible upload and IPv6 and people their end who even know what IPv6 _is_.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Same here, maybe cancelling

      NNTP? Really? Buy yourself a Usenet service, relying on an ISP to run one in the modern era is like asking if they have a gopher service or whether you can dial-up. That's really not a negative point against VM at all, I'm surprised any modern ISP even runs those kinds of services any more.

      IPv6... yes, that's annoying. I grant you that one. But there's no change there, almost no ISP in the UK offers it, A&A are the only ones I know and they cost a fortune more than VM. Despite the fact that it's a requirement of EuroDOCSIS, 4G standards, and all sorts nowadays.

      You're going to get carrier-grade NAT long before you ever see proper IPv6, just accept it (and blame those idiots who equated IPv6 with "you must not ever, ever, ever use NAT" thus making IPv4->6 transition that much more complicated when it could have just been "slap an IPv6 address on the gateway device").

      I can't fault their speeds, though. Maybe I was lucky for the 4 years I had them. The bigger problem - they just don't service most people, and most that they do service are literally via BT which is the same show as ever. I have two VM leased lines at work, about 500m apart. One is Virgin-pure, no other company involved. The other is a BT-resold line managed by Virgin. Guess which one drops the VPN all the time and is generally much poorer despite the customer being the same site? But even for a leased line they couldn't be bothered to actually cable it direct and just resold the local BT connection despite a 3-month install delay because BT didn't have any capacity.

      In my new home, Virgin isn't possible. You can't compete if you're not there. The only thing they offer is reselling me a BT line that I would have to activate and pay BT for, and then pay Virgin their part on top. It would be hundreds to start, 2-year-contracts and then lots-a-month and all kinds of junk I don't want. I could literally go with ANYONE else and get better prices and service.

      So I bought myself a 4G Wifi router and stuck two fingers up to them all. When my mobile provider screws me over, I'll just change the SIM to someone else. To be honest, it's already cheaper, faster and more reliable than even my last Virgin connection. And I am on a month-to-month contract, so I can just up and go any time.

      Sorry, ISPs, but you're not competing at all. Not even trying. Mainly because BT is the ISP for 90% of people, the others are only in very select areas and unwilling to invest to stray out of them. I get why: it's incredibly expensive and NTL went bankrupt trying to do just that (which is the only reason Virgin Media even exists, they snapped up a lot of already-installed stuff for next-to-nothing). But in terms of competition, there is none at the moment.

      Roll on 5G. I'd really much rather give my money to a company with some investment, infrastructure, future plans and constantly evolving technology than an incumbent ex-government telephony monopoly. I get 30Mbps down, 10Mbps up. More than good enough, and actually twice what even BT say they can provide. I can carry my Internet in my pocket. I can connect all my devices, play all my games, Cast and stream all my movies. Hell, my Internet is even battery-backed (pocket-4G-wifi thing) and for sure people would moan more if the 4G tower went down than if the local broadband did. But then I just change the SIM card and off I go again on the next tower along.

      Gimme 5G and potentially Gbps (yeah, right, but to be honest anything is welcome) and I'll happily pay those kinds of prices direct to the cell provider. But I refuse to pay BT anything if I can help it, and won't pay Virgin through the nose for a basic service.

      Literally, I forget that my connection is not hard-wired sometimes.

      1. Crypto Monad

        Re: Same here, maybe cancelling

        > IPv6... yes, that's annoying. I grant you that one. But there's no change there, almost no ISP in the UK offers it

        Erm, apart from the minnows Sky and BT?

        If you want a *static* IPv6 block, yes that's more difficult. You'll likely need a business service. Check if Zen do this.

        1. Lee D Silver badge

          Re: Same here, maybe cancelling

          Try it.


          Plus Net, despite being BT-owned, don't provide it over their BT-provided connections. Nor do most other ISP's.

        2. LeahroyNake Bronze badge

          Re: Same here, maybe cancelling

          Just got VDSL2 provided by Zen installed as another backup / load balance 40 down 7 up so not bad for our area tbh. The first thing I did was bin their FritzBox router as it does not support bridge mode and disable IPV6 from the firewall on that interface.

          Draytek vigor 130 works very well as a bridge and gets better speeds than the FritzBox.

          1. Overflowing Stack

            Re: Same here, maybe cancelling

            I've got the FritzBox dishing out static ip addresses to other routers... can't remember how though. Took me ages.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: Same here, maybe cancelling


      I tried threatening to leave if they didn't put me on a slower package, and they refused and instead, offered me a paltry fiver off a month. So I left, now been with Plusnet for nine months, for a mere twenty quid a month and so far, so good. Telly can stream catch up just fine, so I'm happy.

  3. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    They keep jacking up the prices so when it eventually gets here it will be too expensive anyway.

    My current ADSL provider tried to do the same (as the contract came to an end), but I had them make a deal that was better than my old one instead. I used Vodafone's pricing to get a deal.

  4. leexgx

    be nice if they would replace my coxa for FTTN (as its still coxa just the fiber to the node is actually in the house not 2 streets away)

    1. gsf333

      What's wrong with coax cable?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        What's wrong with coax cable?

        Flakey technology as implemented in cable networks. If a gnat hiccups in Australia, the Vermin Media Hub 3 craps itself and power levels, SNR or error rates go to pot, resulting in loss of speed and connection reliability. Not to mention the latency problems inherent in DOCSIS, made even worse by the Hub 3's Puma chipset and crapper than crap wifi.

        As a customer of VM and predecessors for a quarter of a century, they've finally managed to piss me off with endless price rises and crap service, so at the end of this contract period I'll be going over to an Openreach connection. Anybody considering moving to Virgin Media should peruse the VM forums, and see what sort of complaints continually crop up. I wouldn't recommend them.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    (If you can get domestic fibre) then Virgin business is the way to go ...

    £30 a month. No phone line, no "bundles". Just 100MBps broadband

    1. ZanzibarRastapopulous

      Re: (If you can get domestic fibre) then Virgin business is the way to go ...

      Mine seems to have crept up to £38/month, near enough a 30% increase on when I first got it, with no changes maturing technology should be getting cheaper rather than outpacing inflation.

      It is impressively stable, though if I could get it back to the original 30 quid at half the speed that'd be good too, a tenner for 10mbps would be ideal.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: (If you can get domestic fibre) then Virgin business is the way to go ...

        with no changes maturing technology should be getting cheaper rather than outpacing inflation

        What you and I are paying extra for is the goodwill and accumulated losses Liberty Global accumulated through its formation, acquisitions, and year on year net losses.. At the moment, goodwill and accumulated losses are significantly larger than the book value of fixed assets. So the investment case to shareholders is poor, but that's the advantage of a US listing - investors will believe any old shite the company tell them, and corporate governance is conspicuous by its absence. Even with the rampant price rises of recent years LG still made a $2bn loss in 2017, so (ignoring this divestment) they'd need a further 20% price increase to cover their losses and make a credible return on total capital employed.

        Having said that, LG are terrified that in the UK and elsewhere, other telecoms players will be able to deliver fast internet without a cable network. Already happening in some markets (Switzerland, IIRC), but in the UK, if we saw Openreach offer a serious roll out, Virgin Media and Liberty Global would be sunk. I'd certainly cancel my 200 Mbps VM contract instantly if I could get a solid 120 Mbps connection from Openreach, and VM's offer of 350 and promise of gigabit broadband are of no interest - no way my household could use that sort of bandwidth. And absent any backhaul upgrades, VM are still sharing out the same bandwidth to the customers on each CMTS, just promising the mugs that they can have a faster connection when there's no contention.

        1. Korev Silver badge

          Re: (If you can get domestic fibre) then Virgin business is the way to go ...

          Having said that, LG are terrified that in the UK and elsewhere, other telecoms players will be able to deliver fast internet without a cable network. Already happening in some markets (Switzerland, IIRC),

          Correct. The fastest “UPC” (owned by LG) offer is 500/50. One of the mobile phone providers, Salt, is currently offering 10Gb!!! Most of the other vendors are offering up to a symmetric 1Gbs now. Of course if you live halfway up a mountain then you’re on an ADSL variant of some kind.

      2. gsf333

        Re: (If you can get domestic fibre) then Virgin business is the way to go ...

        It's £22 + VAT for the "essential" 50/5 service if you are out of contract

  6. James 47

    VM still use intel puma chips in their superhub 3 routers. Constant connection drops, but when it works the speed is near advertised.

  7. Lorribot

    Maybe i know nothing abput business, but....

    Surely if you want to expand your business reach you should aim for your competitors weakspots.

    BT has two, existing customers who have a piss poor service, there are plenty of these in some quite densely populated areas, i live in one, i get a measly 13Mbps on a FTTC connection and no hope of any improvement, if Virgin went past my door I woudl be first to sign up.

    Second target should be doing deals with all the house builders to cable up their new estates because it takes Openrach about 6 months to a year to get its act together and in the mean time new house owners either have to wait for spare capacity at the exchange or wait for fibre to reach them and have 2-4Mbps ADSL connection in the meantime. Colchester up the road from me has existing Virgin Media infrastructure yet none of the new housing estates (around 3,000 new houses and growing massively) have Virgin.

    But no they cable up areas that are densely pouplated in cities where the speed is just as good as they will offer with poor service and high prices and no hope.

    My way they could easily get 80% just for the speed, their way they have to justify it on price and service and they are bit crap at both so are lucky to get 10%.

    But what do i know about these things.

    1. Richard 90

      Re: Maybe i know nothing abput business, but....

      Anyone used hyperoptic? They're cabling up a new build block i'm going to be moving into next year..

      1. StevieD

        Re: Maybe i know nothing about business, but....

        They are pretty awesome.

        I've had it for approx 14 months now and apart from a sluggish period towards the end of the first year it's been up around >900Mb bidirectionally for a 1Gb service. It does sting a bit pricewise after the honeymoon period is up, but once you've slurped a distro iso in seconds it's bloody hard to give it up :)

        At the moment I'm getting 946Mb down, 784Mb up and sub 1ms ping to the beeb news site.

  8. Roj Blake Silver badge


    So basically Project Lightning is lightning fast in the same way that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is democratic.

  9. Cederic

    in defence of VM

    I dropped my monthly charge with them and in return they're providing a link that gives me sustained 388Mbps.

    By sustained, I mean I just downloaded around 47GB without it dropping below 40MB/s at any time, and rarely that low, which during daylight hours I consider acceptable.

    Admittedly I'd trade half that download rate to double my upload, but shrug.

    (Yes, I just reinstalled Sniper Elite 4 just to see how my bandwidth is doing. Oh well, guess I'd best shoot some nazis now)

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