back to article Virgin Media's Project Lightning now at 1.8m connections. Just 2.2m to go before year's end, right?

Virgin Media has reported adding 130,000 premises to its £3bn full-fibre Project Lightning connections in its second quarter, bringing the total to 1.8 million. The business had originally planned to connect 4 million premises to speeds of 300Mbps by the end of 2019, but that aim appears to have been quietly dropped. Instead …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They'll get there by pulling the usual trick of giving you a "free" speed upgrade then upgrading your bill a few months later.

    1. John70

      Upgrading

      They already upgrading the bill next month by £3.50. Nearly 9% increase.

      Nothing about a "free" speed upgrade yet.

      1. VinceH Silver badge

        Re: Upgrading

        "They already upgrading the bill next month by £3.50. Nearly 9% increase."

        As I've just said in reply to someone else in the comments on a different article, it might depend what package you're on, because mine is going up by a different amount: £5

        I have three services according to my contract TV (the cheapest package, really just freeview but with their box for recording), telephone line, and 200Mbps broadband. The letter doesn't break things down, so I've no idea if that's a fiver more for broadband, a bit for that and a bit for the mythical telephone line, or whatever.

        The telephone line is mythical because it doesn't exist. Their installer had never done a flat in a tower block before and just couldn't find it to bring in. That was in February, and I've been complaining ever since - coming up on six months in about a week.

        I know I get a discount that covers the cost of the line, but the point is I want a telephone line, and they are contracted to provide one.

        If I have to go to another provider to get one, it'll cost me more on top of what I'm paying Virgin Media - and if I do that, once I have one I could also get broadband over it from someone else; the unnecessary extra cost of a telephone line would motivate me to look elsewhere for broadband. You'd think that small point might motivate them to do something - but nope, not yet.

        1. Barrie Shepherd

          Re: Upgrading

          Virgin now deliver telephone service as VoIP on some plans so maybe there is no line to provide, just plug a POTS phone into the Superhub voice RJ socket?

          1. VinceH Silver badge

            Re: Upgrading

            If that's how they are providing the telephone service on my contract, they would have informed me right at the start, rather than (mis)handle my complaint the way they have so far. (Also my Superhub is one of the older ones, and doesn't have a voice RJ socket. It was a continuation of services - and equipment - from the old address.)

            There is some logic to your suggestion, though; perhaps the reason the installer couldn't find a line to bring in is because there isn't one in the block, because VOIP. As I said, the installer had no experience of tower block installations, so it's possible he didn't know. But that then brings me back to my first sentence: they would have told me by now - indeed, right from the start.

            FYI, the day after installation, they rang me (on my mobile, obvs.) to ask how the installation went, and I first mentioned the telephone situation then - the person said he'd look into it and get back to me to get it sorted. He never called back.

            Solving the problem at that point should have been simple: Confirm no phone line was installed, and arrange an engineer (with the necessary experience) to come out and install one. (Or if it's a VOIP solution, inform me of that and arrange a replacement Superhub).

            Six months on, I'm still being fobbed off with "someone will get back to you" type excuses1 - with the latest being a letter from their complaints department to tell me someone would 'take ownership" of my complaint, investigate it, and contact me shortly. That letter was dated 18th July - about three weeks ago.

            Just how much investigation is required? It's not rocket science:

            • Problem: No telephone line was installed.
            • Solution: Arrange installation of a telephone line.

            1 One exception. A couple of months back I had an email from them dismissing my complaint on the basis that their systems show all three services activated (yes, the line exists on their systems) and that I haven't reported a fault. I've pointed out that I have reported the problem (it's not a fault per se, which would suggest the line was in and something had gone wrong with it) - if I hadn't done, they wouldn't have been sending me that bloody email (etc).

            1. VinceH Silver badge

              Re: Upgrading

              "(Or if it's a VOIP solution, inform me of that and arrange a replacement Superhub)."

              On that, though, it's worth noting my Superhub is in modem mode anyway. When the installer was here this came up and he thought I was mad - but amongst other things I pointed out the problems with it from way back when, and he said they've long since been fixed.

              Hmm...

              I was at my parents' place last week. They also have VM broadband. The first day I was there, the WiFi was dropping out. Looking at the hub itself, it was rebooting itself quite frequently. I then discovered other people on the same street were complaining about their VM internet connection dropping out.

              So it seems that if their hub loses its internet connection, it reboots - thus taking out the WiFi (and given that it was rebooting, anything connected via ethernet would also be problematic).

              That, right there, is a good enough reason to still keep their crap in modem mode and use a separate router. I can print over the network without an internet connection. I can access files on my NAS without an internet connection - or stream movies from it.

              But if my network depended on their hub, and their hub depends on an internet connection to work? A loss of internet would be a loss of local network. Sod that.

            2. cosymart
              Devil

              Re: Upgrading

              @VinceH As Virgin Media have you listed as having a phone line just raise a fault that your phone is dead. That way it will get sorted as they prioritise phone faults :-)

        2. VinceH Silver badge

          Re: Upgrading

          "because mine is going up by a different amount: £5 £4.

          (I happened to be going through my paperwork this afternoon and spotted that I'd said the wrong amount. Either way, though, it's still a different amount, so it's undoubtedly package related.)

          1. Rol Silver badge

            Re: Upgrading

            I firmly believe that no two Virgin subscribers are paying an identical price for their identical services.

            That alone should be sufficient for watchdogs to prick up their ears and investigate the obfuscated pricing structure.

            Imagine walking into a coffee shop and being charged more for a coffee than the customer before you paid, and then being presented with a price increase, while you're sipping it.

  2. tin 2

    yep "As such, Liberty says that it is now focused on driving Virgin's strategic and financial value, with substantial opportunities for growth" which means crowbars applied to wallets. Good luck Virgin Media customers!

  3. Martin Summers Silver badge

    My experience of Virgin was that of a 6 lane motorway with 5 lanes shut. I moved to 'slower' DSL years ago and never looked back. I also don't get bill increases mid year either. They're doing a BT and sweating the copper assets, which I don't blame them for in a way but surely with the relatively new ducting they have across their service areas its got to be easier for them to pull fibre to their existing customers than it is for BT. It's just backwards thinking to concentrate on copper now.

    1. Adelio

      As stated in the article there is no pressing need for F.T.T.P for most people as with Coax to the home we can already get 350mb and soon with Docis3,1 1Gb.

      Though at what price?

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      YMMV, but in my experience, all the major telco providers are as bad as each other.

      Years ago, I was with Telewest (who later got bought by Virgin). They had a reasonably decent service at an affordable price. Of course, back then, "reasonable" speeds were in the 1Mbps range, and Wi-Fi didn't exist for normal consumers.

      When I moved to another property, I couldn't get fibre, and was with BT, then Phorm happened, and I thought "they're expensive, slow, and selling my data".

      I moved to Talk-Talk when they were a new-ish company. Faster, cheaper broadband, but it turned out their data security was even worse than BT's (although through incompetence, rather than malice). Reliability also turned out to be poor, and their customer service is a joke.

      I've heard horror stories about the other telcos that are basically just BT resellers (or PlusNet, which IIRC is owned by BT) - extremely poor customer service, and being shunted around between your ISP, and OpenRetch when there's a fault that needs fixing.

      I'm now living somewhere I can get a coax offering from Virgin. Thier customer service is just as bad as anyone else's, but I do seem to get a solid and reliable 100Mbps connection, and, more importantly for online gaming, with a reasonable latency.

      I don't think there is any ideal combination of reliability, price, speed, and good customer service. So far, for me, they seem the most acceptable compromise.

      As I said, YMMV...

      1. Oh Matron!

        An upvote for remembering Phorm. That sort of **** just wouldn't be tolerated now. Net Neutrality, and all that.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And for just how long will they be able to provide an 'up-to-1Gbps' service for on their DOCSIS cable before it's bandwidth is saturated and it has to be replaced with full fibre?

      At their inflated prices, I'd expect a proper fibre connection rather than a bit of poxy coax cable.

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        to be fair - on a £/mbps basis I think Virgin are pretty good.

        all the other Telco's round here top out at 72mbs, I could have 350 from virgin but with 2 ipads and a Rolu box regularly streaming within 200mbs I havent bothered. With mostly unwanted phone and TV for £43 a month.

        The only annoyance is the every 9 month price hike but you can usually negate that by threatening to leave.

  4. Graham Jordan

    Sigh

    When I moved out of my apartment with HyperOptic 1gbs, I called Virgin Media to see what they could offer.

    "We have 300mb, one of the fastest in the UK."

    "Well I've just come from 1gb, so...."

    "Oh however did you cope?"

    "No, no. 1 gig."

    "It must have been awful."

    "You're aware I'm saying 1000mb right? And it was cheaper. With better support. And insanely fast upload speeds too."

    "... Erm... Can I take your direct debits please?"

    The moment fibre to the home arrives in my area I'm dropping VM like a sack of bricks and what I have no doubt will be a huge erection in my pants.

  5. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    1Gb+

    With gigabit speeds launching this year and much more to come

    What consumer products support above 1Gb/s networking?

    1. Martin Summers Silver badge

      Re: 1Gb+

      When you're talking about sharing one Internet pipe between multiple 1gbps or even 100mbps connected devices then that point is not applicable. Also plenty of consumer stuff is gbps capable now including wireless access points.

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: 1Gb+

      Assuming the modem supports it, multiple devices attached to it that each support 1Gbps wired ethernet?

      Why you'd even need that in a domestic setting is another matter, but I'm sure some bright spark will come along with the latest consumer device and demonstrate how it can actually use that sort of bandwidth (streaming VR perhaps?)

      I can still remember the days when 1-2Mbps "broadband" was considered fast, downloads were in the low MBs and disk sizes were in the 10s-100s of MB. Believe it or not, it really wasn't that long ago. These days, storage is in TBs, downloads for games are 10s of GB, and people are streaming 4K video to mutliple devices. As storage capacities go upwards, the data expands to fill the available space, and the rate of expansion goes up to match!

    3. Oh Matron!

      Re: 1Gb+

      You've seen straight through their rouse: Sell them 1gbps, knowing that their devices all have 100mpbs (or completely wretched wifi) ethernet

  6. Neil Alexander
    Devil

    1000mbps down...

    ... and 3mbps up.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: 1000mbps down...

      with 1/50 contention

  7. DontFeedTheTrolls Silver badge
    Joke

    "response to noises made from UK prime minister Boris Johnson"

    response to noises made from Ex UK prime minister Boris Johnson - FIFY

    A week is a long time in politics...

  8. Jason Hindle

    So who needs full fibre speeds?

    I was satisfied once BT provided me with sufficient speed for (utmost) reliable UHD streaming. There are times when faster would be nicer (PS4 software upgrades can be HUGE) and do wonder if the fibre to cabinet solution will be good enough for streaming games (in the event I ever need that). I still think filling in not spots should be a higher priority. But that’s just me with my unfashionable liberal values (wanting to help others and all that).

    Now, if Virgin came knocking tomorrow (they won’t - there’s zero chance of them laying cable down our street), I’d certainly listen carefully to what they propose (and probably offer them a cup of tea).

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I look forward to VM digging up my street

    and replacing the NTL Coax that has been in place for over 2 decades.

    Perhaps this time they might not forget about my house like they did last time. My home was being built when they laid the cable but as it wasn't complete they didn't provide the bit of infrastructre so that I could if I wanted sign up for their services.

    I'm not holding my breath.

    Tossers the lot of them.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: I look forward to VM digging up my street

      "and replacing the NTL Coax that has been in place for over 2 decades."

      It seems like almost every time someone I know, ie friends or family around the UK, complain about VM BB, it seems to almost always be in one of the ex-NTL areas, rarely the ex-Telewest/Blueyonder areas.

      But then I also often hear people say it all went downhill when VirginMedia "bought" them. Except, of course, they didn't. It was the merged NTL:Telewest entity that bought a licence to use the Virgin branding and who eventually sold out to Liberty. (It was United Artists when I first subscribed, and they were the second owners of the local franchise!.)

      1. NeilPost Bronze badge

        Re: I look forward to VM digging up my street

        And burned what was it about £6bn of shareholder capital with the engineered administration and buy-out.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: I look forward to VM digging up my street

          "And burned what was it about £6bn of shareholder capital with the engineered administration and buy-out."

          Yes, that was to do with the UKTV channels and the partnership between Telewest and BBC. If bigger NTL had bought smaller Telewest, that would have voided and ended the UKTV partnership. By "engineering" it so that TW "bought" NTL, forming NTL:Telewest, they kept to the terms of the UKTV partnership contract.

      2. Cederic Bronze badge

        Re: I look forward to VM digging up my street

        My former NTL connection continues to be solid and continues to deliver higher bandwidth (up and down) than they charge me for.

        They charge too much, but until someone else can deliver 38Mbps up and around ten times that much down I'm going to stay with them. It's fast and it works, and that's what I want from my internet connection.

  10. Martin-73 Silver badge
    Windows

    High speed but connected to what?

    Vermin Media do not offer a true internet connection. They have caching proxies in the way of most web access requests, and along with BT and a few other big players, block access to certain sites.

    Now I know it could be argued that it's not their choice to block (court injunction and all) but they rolled over rather than fight it.

    Also, cable is pretty much a dead technology except for internet, seen the prices lately?

  11. NeilPost Bronze badge

    https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2019/08/virgin-media-hit-5-266-million-uk-broadband-users-as-network-grows.html

    So what are VM saying 1/3 of their broadband estate is full FTTH/B now ??

    Seems implausible.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lightning....

    ...because that flash duration is the length of time they guarentee max download speed for.

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