back to article Virgin Media pins hopes on the broadband donkey

Virgin Media went on a PR offensive this weekend. Now that the global credit crunch has put the kibosh on a lusted-after sellout to private equity, boss Neil Berkett was deployed to tell several newspapers about his plan to steady the listing cable firm. Kiwi Berkett has been installed at the top of the firm as successor to …


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  1. Stephen

    Virgin Broadband soo slow

    I currently have the Virgin M broadband and replaced my previous ADSL connection and it is slower and more unreliable than ever.

    The speeds vary all the time and it can go from dialup speeds to lightning fast. Evenings and Sundays the internet is at a crawl.

    I guess they have some way to go before they get the new strategy underway.

  2. Grant Kemp

    Would be awesome if they could do some customer service

    Virgin Media, do in fact stand out, predominantly for the poorness of their service and customer support. They are one of the few suppliers to have a premium rate telephone number for telephone support, and rude, yes I really mean rude telephone advisors.

    Their 10mb broadband was running so slow on so many exchanges because they couldn't pay to increase the bandwidth, that it was reduced to virtually dialup levels. How they are going to be able to handle 50mb when 10 was beyond them, is really perplexing to me.

    Take a look at some of the Virgin media sucks messages on the various websites and even on facebook, and you will see many others lament how poor the company is and how to extricate themselves from the contract.

  3. Joe K

    Going down the shitter

    "Despite our technical advantage we are still not really standing out from the crowd"

    They did, by not having any caps. Then they introduced them and are now the same as all the other ISP's us unlucky brits are forced to put up with.

    Now i'm looking at going to Sky soon, their fair usage policy is 100GB a month, and at least there my speed isn't cut in half after i've downloaded 350mb.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Virgin on the ridiculous

    I have Virgin XL - 20Mb. Hahahahahahahahaha...sorry....that hurt so much I cried: 'pins hopes on the broadband donkey' indeed.

    I have tested my connection almost every day for the last month. Most of the time I get speeds of under 3Mb. Sometimes I get up to 7Mb. Never have I got more than 13Mb (1 time only - 2am Saturday night). So I pay almost £40 a month for an average speed that is less than the lowest 'up to' speed package that they provide. Woo-hoo.

    Their customer service experience is like slowly peeling back fingernails with a rusty scalpel whilst liberally dousing the open wounds with salt and vinegar. I once got them to send an engineer round. He came in and looked at the modem. I mean LOOKED...didn't touch, test, get out tools, etc. Declared the modem to be fine and walked out.

    A more hopeless bunch of incompetent malcontents I would be hard pressed to find. Although I did once eat at McDonalds.

    Virginmedia can go suck my sweaty goat balls. Contract over, they are so dumped.

  5. Geoff

    Re: Virgin Broadband soo slow


    I have been using Virgin (Formally Telewest) for years, the service has always been good (on the broadband front at least), the TV service has gone down hill since NTL took over and started a channel spat with sky, but thats by the by. I get great speeds on my Broadband service in Cheltenham and I always got good speeds in Bristol too, the former Telewest Network was excellent.

    I moved to Cheltenham about 2 years ago and was forced, by nature of the flat I was renting at the time to use an ADSL supplier on a BT line, the connection was rubbish, it was slow, it would go off randomly and stay off for hours, days sometimes, the support line was awful and worse, I had to deal with two companies when I had a problem with my phone line.

    My line developed a fault when someone moved into the previously vacant flat upstairs (I assume BT tech knocked the wire in the wiring closet), I called out BT to fix my line as the voice wasn't working either, when they eventually attended a week later they fixed the voice, but the ADSL wouldn't work, I rang them up and they told me that I would need to ring the broadband supplier (freedom2surf) because they only supplied the voice. So despite the fact that they fixed the line, they wouldn't re-connect the broadband equipment!

    So I rang broadband supplier and they had to raise a call... with BT! Who then took another week to even look at it, only to tell me the line was not of sufficient quality to have broadband service! I had to go back to my ISP again who had to schedule someone to replace the line. Eventually, I just gave up as I was moving house 3 weeks later anyway.

    I went straight back to Telewest / Virgin when I moved and never again will I tolerate BT and their half baked services.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One surefire way to win customers

    If Virgin want to win TV customers they need to fix the biggest obstacle to anyone choosing their service over Sky's. Namely, the atrocious product that is their set top box and the software running on it.

    If it didn't take 2 or 3 seconds for the menu system to register a key press, and if the sizing of the menus and text weren't so completely ludicrous, and if the on demand services actually worked, I might be prepared to take note of one of the many tree slaughtering bits of junkmail they send me.

    Until they make that thing even approach usable they can forget it.

  7. Daniel B.


    "households who are ready to dip their toe into multichannel pay-TV, but don't want Sky Sports"

    Hmmm... sounds like the reason my mom *didn't* buy in to the Sky salesmen. Their only selling point seemed to be footy, and my mom hates that. Plus, most "basic channels" are crap anyway... so just like in Cable I'd end up paying even more to get the premium chans, 'coz I can't drop the crap ones.

    As for broadband over cable ... I'll stick with my ADSL thank you very much. It seems Virgin Media gives the same kind of service the dudes over here, the difference is the speed. Mexico's cable ISP's advertise 512kbps, and then give like 128k, block P2P, use private IPs (10.x.x.x) and other ugly things.

    So ADSL for ISP, cable for TV.

  8. Christopher Woods

    Argh, not again

    VM running with the "FASTEST (up to) BROADBAND SPEEDS IN THE UK!" strapline, but they're neglecting customer service and network speeds to the point where both are pretty much unbearable.

    You'll find most of the knowledgeable VM people help each other out with problems as it's just too much of a hassle to ring up tech support, pay for the call and then try to reclaim the call costs if it was a VM problem, because they're credited onto your bill at a later date but sometimes only if you ask for them to be (usually calls to the Indian outsourced CSRs are the problematic calls, the UK support agents generally can't be faulted for their knowledge... If you can get through to one!)

    The newsgroups are the last stronghold of sensible customer support, and that's where you'll usually find me (and some of the other embittered VM xNTL and xTW customers) and some really, genuinely helpful UK CSRs.

    Contention is awful, speeds are slow even offpeak, STM is looking like it'll be the straw that broke the camel's back for many people and I can see them gradually lowering the thresholds. As has already been mooted, what's the point in having a car which can do 80mph on the motorway but is forcibly limited to 20mph for 4 hours after you've done 80mph for an hour? :(

    And now I hear they're planning on rolling out STM limits on upload bandwidth as well as download bandwidth... Not looking good. All these kind of things result in is people offsetting their peak usage to offpeak times, and VM's approach of whistling and walking away from it all isn't going to make this problem disappear. I wonder what their 07/08 churn rates will be like...

  9. Thomas Jolliffe

    Your area is the defining factor

    So many are forgetting that with all ISPs, the area in which you live makes all the difference. My parents have the 20Mbps Virgin connection, and consistently receive that speed. It's always been quick, the TV set-top-box has only broken down once in ten years and four different boxes (analogue, Pace digital - which broke, Samsung digital and Scientific Atlanta V+...note that the Samsung is still going strong in another room). The only time we've had a real problem was total loss of all service (TV, broadband and phone) when someone put a JCB through a backbone in east Leeds and knocked out the entire cable network for some thirty miles around.

  10. Andre Carneiro

    50 MBit??? Are they kidding???

    I've just decided to downgrade from their (supposed) 20MBit service as I was only getting about 10 MBit anyway...

    Telewest used to be ace. Uptime was impressive (I think I may have been down about 5 minutes in two years) and a connection consistently as fast as advertised.

    Since Virgin Media took over the connection speeds are 50% to 75% of what they should be and "traffic shaping" was introduced.

    I suggest they sort out the 20Mbit service before making things even worse by coming up with a 50MBit service they can't possibly hope to make work.

  11. Barry

    Virgin Media ADSL is the work of the devil

    If you want 5-20% packet loss, and pings (to UK servers) around the 280ms mark, evenings & weekends, then Virgin Media's ADSL offering is the product for you.

    Checkout my 24/7 latency/loss monitoring, and see if you can guess the month I moved to their ADSL?

    *broad*band my arse.


  12. Mad Dog
    Thumb Down


    From NTL-Hell to Virgin Hell. Nothing changed.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To compete with "free" you have to offer quality

    I'd say VM haven't quite got the message yet. Instead of trying to reduce costs by ripping people off for support and using STM to reduce connections to half or less than half of their advertised speeds, they need to offer a quality service which is worth selling.

    Customers could quite easily go with BT and bethere for broadband and phone, or with Sky and BT if they want a more complete package.

    Telewest used to offer the Rolls Royce of broadband connections, now it sadly feels like a Robin Reliant engine inside a Rolls Royce.

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  15. Anonymous Coward

    Marketing Free Zone required

    I don't have, but was thinking of switching to Virgin. However, reading the comments I'm not going to.

    There is a fundamental issue: The new CEO thinks they have a technical advantage. They do not. He needs to hire some external consultants to independently look at customer feedback and attrition data and then look into the platform. Once he's properly informed, if the comments posted are a realistic view, he'll realise he needs to build a technical advantage in order to have a differentiator.

    In East Anglia, they have a 800km of fibre optic cable (as a result of acquiring Eastern Electricity's telecoms division) - they are selling some capacity commercially but they are not innovating or delivering much of this capacity to domestic customers.

    Richard Branson or Uma Thurman can't solve this problem... business and technical engineering are required.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    STOP right NOT go with VM Cable BB

    I am on 20 Mb cable broadband with VM. Well...that's on paper! I had a superb 2 Mb ADSL with Zen without EVER having any problems with internet. But I took the speed bait thrown by VM and have been suffering in hell ever since.

    My packet loss is 10% and my upstream (0.7Mb) is faster than downstream (0.4Mb). To date I've never got the advertised speeds of 20Mb. Some pages are not displayed at all with problems like "Bad verb", "Invalid HTTP Request" or "Connection was reset" plaguing my normal browsing experience.

    I've been on the phone with the support who are very helpful but unfortunately they can't change the crappy infrastructure that VM is asking them to support. On top of that VM applies Traffic Management to EVERYONE whether or not one has actually exceeded the download limits to fall under the purview of TM or not.

    All in all...please stay the hell away from VM broadband. On a parting note I'd also implore you all to stay away from their telephone services as well. They do not provide CLI services to certain areas even in the 21st century. I only came to know about it after I had signed the contract and by that time it was too late.

  17. roger

    20mega sh...te

    well, I'm typing this message as I have the spare time cos my *supposed* 20mb connection is crawling along at 300k, not the promised throttled 2mbps for the first 3gb. since going from 10mb to 20mb my actual speed has dropped and fluctuates wildly - not bad for a fibre optic network it shares with...urm.. no one.

    now, if I use it at 7am, it's 2mbps.. maybe someone has installed their throttling appliance on Australian time? numpties.

    time to drop my speed and cost down to 4mb and leave the pc on all day. if only customer services would answer the phone. guess a direct debit cancel will get their attention ;)

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Odd that they've just announced STM on their abysmal upload rates aswell now then. Looks like an uphill struggle. They keep cutting their own throats!

    Wanna play games, avoid VM.

    Wanna stream media, avoid VM.

    Wanna download when you're actually at home, avoid VM.

    Not much going for them anymore.

    Another very unsatisfied customer.

    0/10 for effort.

  19. Howard Kerr

    a balanced view ?

    I regularly have access to both BT and Virgin- both currenlty at 2mb, and I don't see that Virgin have a great technical advantage (or they want too much of a premium). Both work pretty well, about the same amount of downtime and patchy customer services. Only problem is that when Virign goes off, you lose Broadband and TV.

  20. Mark Fenton

    SOHO Broadband required

    I would switch my home office to Virgin Broadband - but I need these things:

    A decent upload speed

    More than 1 IP *fixed* address (currently using 9)

    No port blocking or traffic shaping (I host my own web and email servers)

    Leave the firewall etc and all that to me - I just want a pipe to the internet with no "free antivirus" no free hardware etc.

    Virgin Media can't, or rather, don't offer that at the moment - so I am stuck with a good old ADSL 8Mbit via a copper wire.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Gone downhill fast

    I had blueyonder (Telewest) broadband for several years with hardly any outages and excellent speeds. I don't know what the customer service was like because I never had to call it, but it was free. Since Virgin media took over the service has had regular outages - more than one per week on average. And despite being an XL service user the speeds are slower than ever and regularly throttled in the evenings worse by far than ever before. And for service I have to call a premium rate number for the dubious privilege of telling them that their service is down yet again with their only suggestion being to try switching the modem off and on again. Even the Usenet groups have gone. Clearly Virgin's strategy is to cut costs in every area except advertising and go after their typical young-and-dumb market. Even their shambles of a website performs like a dog. Good to see Branson getting his arse slapped the other day, though, he deserves it!

  22. Tony Peters

    Sort the Customer Service out first!!

    I have been with NTL/VM for a few years and don't have tooooo much of a problem with the actual service (apart from the traffic shaping which appears to activate extremely randomly). However, our cable modem has a problem where it will suddenly lose all connection and needs to be physically powered off/on. I have called CS a few times before (once when modem died completely) and had a nightmare until I got through to a UK centre. Now that you have to pay for a joke of phone support I would rather have a flakey modem I have to manually turn off/on a few times a day than put up with their BS. It's a complete joke, it really is.

  23. James

    @ all you with slow speeds

    Check your PC set up.

    esp if your on the actually cable,

    if your in doubt go into safe mode and then do a speed check.. you may be surprised. oh and NEVER use the supplied kit.

    If your on ADSL and get slow speeds its due to ADSL being TOTALLY CRAP, the internet should not go through 50 years old phone lines... but if your like me and stuck with it until virgin digs up the road.

    I have used NTL cable and now Virgin ADSL and never had any problems that I couldn't fix, (admittedly using some odd methods some times) so customer services is for people with out out any IT skill....

    My ADSL gets 6.3Mbits - next door on super expensive BT gets 1 mbit in the evenings as its more profitable for BT to give me the bandwidth and charge Virgin for every mbit I use.

    As for the caps, you cant upload that much in a month, so you must be leaching a lot to get through 80GB.

    END OF RANT ...

    over to the next opinionated twit...

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    only 1 broadband connection per house

    its really sad that yet again the latest CEO and his corporate team didnt see fit to allow more than one single broadband cable modem per household.

    so much potential in useing the powered but unused internal STB CM for 4Mbit BB alongside many customers standalone CMs ,and in the xC&W area's many users are using that capability already so its posible.

    the fact is yet again the corporate ass is loosing massive potential income from extra bb connections its already existing customerbase would gladly pay a discoulted price to use a second cable bb connectionn for their other PCs etc,

    but VIRGIN MEDIA didnt see fit to allow for more than one OFFICIAL connection in their newest billing system, OR FOR THAT MATTER put a simple bar code on the cable broadband paper bill, so as to allow simple paypoint cash payments, DUMB ACCOUNTS and upper managent throwing away potential good easy longterm cashflow....says it all really

  25. Phil

    Fastest my arse

    Was with Virgin/NTL for years. Up until they started traffic shaping their 20mbps service.

    I've gone from VM's 20mbps cable service to ADSL24's ADSL service

    I now have a nice 6.5mbps ADSL line which is much much much much much faster than the "often not much better than dialup" speed I was receiving by paying VM for their 20mbps service. exists for a reason

  26. James


    <quote>Neil Berkett was deployed to tell several newspapers about his plan to steady the listing cable firm</quote>

    Get rid of throttling?

    We can only hope!

    50mb. Assuming that the 50mb throttling point will be 7GB, it should still take only 15 minutes to have my connection reduced down to dialup.

    If only there was another "telewest/blueyonder" out there.

  27. Pete
    Thumb Down


    My old one meg service worked really well. Then the change to 8 megs where really 3.1 was the highest achievable speed.

    For all the talk about plans, visions and uniqueness and such, we really want a service that works in line with what is publicised and advertised and Virgin doesn't do what it says on the tin - it really is this simple.

    It really isn't sufficient to rub hands when they've locked us into a contract for a year or more and think that that is it.

    Waitrose sell great food, their broadband is tasty too...

  28. TeeCee Gold badge

    ...and another thing.

    My mother has a Virgin connection. She didn't want to change it 'cos she didn't want to lose her email address, even though the service she's getting is unspeakable shite. So I got her her own domain with a view to migrating later once all her contacts had come round to using her new address(es).

    Funny thing was, all the mail forwarded from the new domain to her email account bounced. After much fannying around, we finally got a statement from Virgin that it was being spam blocked due to the domain being a spam source (it's newly registered, never been so before and parked on a reputable host) very odd.

    A brief investigation reveals that their spam filtering is being done by Tucows, another domain seller and hoster/parking space of note. A ray of light dawned at this point. One snotty letter later using words like "abuse of position", "anticompetitive practices" and "restraint of trade" coupled with a threat to report them to Trading Standards and it all magically started working.

    They're not only shit, they're bastards as well.

  29. Vernon Lloyd
    Dead Vulture

    A few Points


    I have been Diamond Cable/NTL/Virgin customer for 5 years. Their service (I have M TV and M Broadband) has only rarely caused me to ring them.

    However there 'technical support' need huge improvement. I use a wireless router and the connects to my NTL modem. When it stops I remove the network cable connecting them (so nothing connected to the modem except power and the NTL Cable). The 'techie' asked me to reboot my PC. I explained that my modem is not connected to my PC and my broadband goes through my router, which had already been rebooted and the network cable removed. (The router was fine, just wasn't getting an IP address from the NTL Box). He again asked me to reboot my PC, and again I explained to him. Guess what, he told me he could not help me unless I reboot my PC.

    I asked to speak to a manager. The manager explained that the PC reboot was essentail because it is my PC causing the NTL box to not give my router an IP address. (Remember my PC is connected to my router not the modem).

    I asked him what qualifications he has. He 'claimed' to have just received his MCSE. After picking myself off the floor laughing I asked him to maybe ping my NTL box just to make sure it is working. (the connection was there just very unstable) I even rebooted the NTL box for him. Guess what connection. Ended up with a new NTL modem...........!

    The best part was when I asked the 'MCSE' manager about the OSI layers for detecting networking issues and he said, whats an OSI layer........Nuff said

    I also remember when NTL contractors drilled though my employers 100MB site link......buts that for another day.

  30. graz

    Great ISP Once

    I have been with Blueyonder since the first day they launched, who are now of course Virgin, and when they were blueyonder, the service was first rate and there support line helpful and also a laugh to chat with.

    But especially now under the Virguin flag, the speed of there service is dire.

    I like others have there so called 20 meg service and I rarely get over 3-4 meg, and of late its been as low at 1 meg speeds, so to read they are testing a 50meg service seems a joke.

    If they cant supply 20 meg then what speeds will anyone actaully get under a 50 meg title?

    Great knowing you can tell your friends, I have a 50 meg connection and then telling them you are lucky to get more than 4 meg on it.

    And although to give them credit they have so far stuck to Blueyonder's original thing of not having any download limits, which is still great to hear, especially with all the video you can watch on the net now.

    But they really need to work on there hardware and also look at the way they cripple speeds with there agressive throttling.

  31. H2Nick

    Call centre detailed problem analysis : Please try again later...

    I've been a VM cable customer for many years (inc Telewank & United Artists).

    It works well most of the time but when it doesn't : time to despair !

    A couple of months ago connection was lost & I call the helpless desk only to speak to an Indian gentleman who advised me to try connecting later (after the usual round of "turn everything off & on again).

    When questioned on the reason for this, it seemed that the problem was outside the limits of his training (turn it off & on again)

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: @ all you with slow speeds

    "if your[sic] in doubt go into safe mode and then do a speed check.. you may be surprised. oh and NEVER use the supplied kit."

    How does one not use the supplied kit?

  33. Colin Jackson
    Thumb Down


    I have Virgin Broadband 20Mb, and I GET 20mb. That is, until I hit the ridiculous 3Gb daily cap, at which point I get 5Mb. You do have to wonder just who providers think they're marketing these ever faster connections TO? If you're not downloading vast amounts of warez and movies, what would you need 20Mb for?? So they're guilty of wanting to have their cake and eat it - they trumpet their speeds as a differentiator, but don't actually like the customers who can take advantage of that speed. Hypocrites.

    I've used CS with BT and with Virgin, and bad as Virgin is (and expensive, and a bloody cheek), BT is still worse. BT is the pits as far as CS is concerned. BT engineers are second-to-none, but getting past their 'let's try rebooting your router' customer-service monkeys is a nightmare.

  34. David Harper

    I'm happy with NTL/VM broadband

    I've had NTL broadband for almost five years. I'm currently on their 4Mbps service and find it both reliable and fast. Yes, it occasionally slows down a little in the evenings when all of the teenage boys in my neighbourhood are presumably busy downloading pictures of Paris Hilton nekkid, but I understand the concept of contention and I can live with it. Also, I used to be a teenage boy, so I know that their need is greater than mine :-)

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Having used multiple ADSL ISPs and both the telewest and NTL services ( before they merged) i would rate them as follows

    Telewest cable outstanding service, had the line repaired within 6 hours when my neighbour chopped it with a hedge trimmer, rock solid up/down bandwidth.

    NTL cable ok service , crappy cancelation service (before virgin took over)

    BT ADSL ok service , crappy modem, expensive!, crappy cancelation service

    Zen ADSL good solid service, resonable price easy cancelation

    Bulldog (8mb) - ADSL was ok , the supplied modem was crap and limited the service to 4mbs, but once i dumped that for a good adsl router i got between 7.5 and 8mbs 24/7 ( i can see the telephone exchange from my back window so the twisted pair lenght is about as short as you can get!)

    Bulldog phone service - absolute garbage , frequently unable to make or receive calls , problems connecting to BT phones and problems connecting to mobiles. Cancellation service a complete joke , "forgot" i have cancelled and tried to bill me for 4 months.

    Having then switched to virgin/NTL cable again, we moved house to a non cabled street and transfered to the virgin ADSL service. I must say initally i had no complaints, the transfer was smooth and the ADSL /phone package worked fine. In the last two months the ADSL service has started to degrade, often to the point web browsing is very difficult. I supect they are going the way of bulldog , growing the customer base too fast for the technical side to keep up , and the help desk staff are being swamped with idiot new hires.

    Add in the incease in video downloads (Youtube etc) and file sharing, along with the video on demand ( BBC) i guess the backbone network is also starting to creak under the load.

  36. Lee Fear

    No Problem

    I have to say that I have got VM Phone Broadband and TV (V+) and it is all great. I can't understand the complaint above about the on demand service not working as it has always worked fine for me and the on demand films are an excellent alternative to going to blockbusters (although I would like to see them slightly cheaper). I also have very few problems with my V+ box although I do agree it is slow at flicking through channels, but having said that so was my sky box. I also have the advantage of a great upscaler, HD, and 3 tuners. I only have the 1mb connection but it is great for games and I play Xbox Live all the time.

  37. Ian Todd

    Bad TV and Internet

    Terriible TV service...I don't mind the programming, but with the box crashing every few days and continuous dropouts of the program information service, is can thoroughly piss me off. They say they upgrade the box by blasting a reminder every so often over the program you are watching (rendering it unwatchable for several minutes) but Im not seeing much improvement.

    I currently get their 2MB broadband service, but judging by its speed and the comments here, I'll not be upgrading anytime soon. Sadly, I cannot upgrade to Sky at least for TV due to our management company's policy :(

    And don't get me started on their customer service....

  38. Chizo Ejindu

    I hate to say it...

    And i'm probably sounding the death-knell for my service but i generally get a rock-solid 4Mb connection out of VM. As far as i'm aware i don't get any throttling or limits or anything like that. I'm never gonna tell VM to change my service cos they'll fuck it up completely!

  39. Fragula The Furry
    Thumb Down

    Vergin' on the ludicrous

    I was an NTL customer before being a VM customer, Before that I was a CableTel customer, and that was before cable broardband.

    I had analog cable TV, and Two phone lines, cos there was free dial up internet if you had two, and that was handy if you had a linux box set up as a "dial on demand" router.

    I had dropped Sky, because they rammed a "free" magazine through my door every month, with a cover price of around £2.50, and raised my bill by around that much. I didn't want the mag, and was not going to be forced to buy it. Also sick of being "advertized" ("And We Will Swtich You On!") the same chavvy repeat-riddled "channels" that I was already paying for and watching. Sky /needed/ the boot, asked for it, got it.

    Along came cable broadband, 600kbit, as fast as it was, and I got that, keeping the other services, including the second phone line for backup internet.

    Until they decided to charge for the dial up internet, which I promptly dropped, along with my second phone line.

    I trialled digital cable TV.. It was an "on demand" service, very nice. Acorn STB. Quality. However. Trial ended, gear went back etc. Back to Analog Cable.

    Digital TV came. Other peopel had it, blocky pics, poor movements, lots of cracking and popping noises. And they wanted /more/ money. So I didn't bother with that. When they decided to push people to digital and phase out analog, i dropped my TV subscription. Phone and BB only. Freeview box filled the gap niceley thanks.

    After struggling with increasingly complex billing, and the sheer hell of dealing with the phone systems, and yet another CSA (Customer Service Advicer) stressed out from using their CMS etc. systems, and after realising that I had made /no/ calls myself, other than to NTL regarding billing, and was basically paying for people to call me and ask me to fix their broken Microsoft software, over the phone, for free, on christmas day, or to get me out of the bath to tell me about great double glazing offers, or <last straw> ask me if I would like to subscribe to an NTL TV package, this camels back went, and so did the house phone, leaving just the fastest broadband package on offer, and my fine selection of vintage pay-as-you-go mobiles.

    This worked well, for a while. Each month I would trot to the post offfice (Anyone else old enough to remember those places??) To pay my £25 or whatever (including "rent" of cable modem) for what was now a 1Meg, this went up, not that gradually, as each of the "free" upgrades went through 3M, 10M (which was optimistic, and the effects of contention, and the 10bastT half-duplex connection between the CM and my router made themselves fairly obvious on many occasions. The upstream always remained pitiful, and upstream is something I've always needed more of.

    At some pont management NTL decided it would be a Good Idea to charge an extra £5 per month to people who did not pay what was now already £39 per month, by direct debit. That got up my nose, and I considered reducing my connection speed to /more than cover the difference/, or drop NTL entirely.

    Then came the "VM takeover". Lots more junkmail through the door, the serious impact of STM, with things taking a ./long/ time to download/upload, and players on my UT server moaning about crappy ping times.

    The 2OM upgrade was completely invisible to me (20M via a surfboard CM with a half-duplex 10baseT anyone?) and with the increased contention, I was getting equivalent performance to the old 3 meg connection at best, and sometimes worse than that if I got hit with what i suspected was "traffic shaping".

    So soddit. I phone them a couple of months ago (and wend through the bloody aweful phone system, stressed CSAs etc. *three times* before anything /actually/ got done, despite assurances that it had been done.) and reduced my connection to "Medium" (which is nominall 2 megabit, the smallest/cheapest at under £19 a month (plus no doubt another five pound FINE for the crime of coughing up by methods other than direct debit.

    The outcome if their actions are that VM are now £20 a month worse off, my internet connection is less useful, thus less used and (I closed my mirrors, and am co-loing my downsized home mail/web/game servers to a friends Debian/Xen virtual box in a datacentre at zero cost, due to me having provided him with tech help setting it up.) less important to me, other than checking my email in the evenings, doing the odd remote fix, and the odd bit of porn surfing.

    I suspect they might make another "smart move" real soon.. or I might even get a fault that lasts more than a couple of hours, that might do it. A "day one" customer will walk. Actually with the fiver a month "fine" for not doing DD, its probably inevitable when I overcome my intertia.

    I do DD with /all/ my other monthly fixed stuff.. VM, back when they were CableTel and NTL, showed themselves too complex and thus error-prone with billing, and tardy to rectify mistakes. I had considered it, until the fine started, and I will not be pushed into that.

    With the geniuses CableTel, NTL, Virgin Media have had at the helm, its no wonder they are listing a tadge.


  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Locatio, location, location

    Virgin has a lot of legacy crud in the ground. When NTL started trying to provide broadband here in Leicester, they had to contend with the aluminium cable put in by the original cable license holders, Diamond Cable. They couldn't supply high speed connections to half their potential customers.

    And they didn't stick fibre in to replace it.

    Now Virgin has to deal with a horrid mishmash of NTL and Telewest acquisitions of variable quality and age across the country, and their service is patchy. Big surprise.

  41. James Bagg
    Thumb Up

    VM Cable BB is great

    I have had VM's 20Mbit service since they introduced it to my area, and have never regretted it.. I always get the full 20Mbit speeds (until i get STM'd) and reliability wise, it's rock solid.

    I did need to get a new modem tho as my old 3Com CMX (been Cambridge Cable, then NTL, then Virgin cable bb customer since they started in my area) would only go up to 10Mbit. I just filled out the form on Virgin's web site, and my new modem arrived a few days later free of charge. A single phone call to pair it with my account, and I was online at 20Mbit 5 minutes later. Nice.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I have virgins 20 mb broadband service. I used to have their telephone and tv pacakage as well but after the tv service being more shite than a freeview box I got rid of it and shortly afterwards the (increasingly) expensive telephone service.

    The only reason I still have the 20mb is that it is paid for by my company as I have never ever got near 20mb even from virgins own servers.

    The premium rate telephone line for broadband help is just a smoke screen to make money - ostensibly to be about reducing calls from "non bb issues" but the hypocrits market their broadband to the completely inept and then wonder why they get calls when the customers toaster isn't working.

    On the other hand, ADSL from my 2 times of having it were worse - so we are now stuck with the single supplier (read monopoly) who are free to shaft you any way they see fit. I am stil lconsidering dropping to the 4 mb service just to feel better that they are not getting so much dosh from me (read company) but would I only get a 2 mb service then...?

  43. Nick Oram

    Another Happy Virgin...


    Well if you ditch the crap TV system and focus on BB, ive been with VM (formally Telewest Birmingham.. and I think it does matter who you were with before the mergers/takeovers) for about 5 years and ive been on their top BB from the start.

    Ive not had a single problem with uptime, connectivity or speeds. Since been upgraded to the 20mbit service I can (out side of throttling hours) quite happily down load at 1.8mb/sec for hours on end... not that I need to wait that long ;)

    Inside of the throttling hours, you can tell its doing its job, but its never really effected anything ive been doing as I do my bulk downloading out side of those hours..

    So my final say is my BB is perfect for VPN, Remote Connections, P2P, downloading, uploading and gaming (xbox 360 and PC) too.. ADSL is unreliable, reliant on BT and from all my expeiances ive had a pain in the @ss!

  44. Graham Bartlett

    VM problems?

    FWIW, Virgin's customer service has been OK for me.

    When we had NTL installed in our last place, the bloke was outside on the dot when he said he would be, and same in our new place, so I can't fault their technicians. Phone support was very bad with NTL, but seems to be a whole lot better with Virgin. The set-top box is a little flaky, but doesn't die more often than once a month. On-demand has always worked 100% perfectly. Ping on online games has always been fast enough when I've used it, and mostly I use broadband for surfing and downloads anyway, for which the 2MB is fine. I've never needed a massive pipe enough to warrant anything more.

    Maybe other people have had different experiences, but it's always worked for me.

  45. James Bagg
    Thumb Up

    VM Cable BB is great

    I have had VM's 20Mbit service since they introduced it to my area, and have never regretted it.. I always get the full 20Mbit speeds (until i get STM'd) and reliability wise, it's rock solid.

    I did need to get a new modem tho as my old 3Com CMX (been Cambridge Cable, then NTL, then Virgin cable bb customer since they started in my area) would only go up to 10Mbit. I just filled out the form on Virgin's web site, and my new modem arrived a few days later free of charge. A single phone call to pair it with my account, and I was online at 20Mbit 5 minutes later. Nice.

  46. Chris Cheale

    4meg VM cable

    I joined cable with Telewest (Blueyonder) which is, of course now Virgin Media. Basically, VM just seem to be squeezing a bit more, the changes have been small but noticable, pay for customer service calls, increase in the connection charge on the phone and rounding call-duration to the next minute (rather than second).

    There's lots of quite insidious small things that they've done, but the cable internet connection (4 megs for me) is still ticking over nicely - granted I don't get anything like 4 meg download speed but I live in a flat, in a heavily subscribed cable area - contention is hellish. I still ping sub-20ms to games-servers though (about half what I used to get on DSL).

    Would I go back to DSL and having to deal with BT? Rearrange this sentence:

    "entrails I eat would own rather my"

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I'm pleased I've read this

    As now I know I'm not the only one that thinks Virgin media completley suck.

    I'm paying for an 8mb line and I get no where near that, not even close. So why in hell are they allowed to advertise and sell a product that doesn't match the product description?

    That's like selling a Ferrari but sticking the engine of a Smart Car in it.

    Please, for the love of God can a regulator take them to the cleaners? I'm begging you! This shouldn't be allowed to happen!

  48. JB

    My two penn'eth

    I was with Telewest for 4 years before the VM takeover. Great service, free customer support, top speeds just fine. Now i'm on the 10 meg service, get at best 5mbit in the small hours and 2.4mbit in the evenings if I stick my little finger in my ear and stand with my feet exactly 10.3cm apart facing east. I will be cancelling my services in December when I move to California. I hope the services are better there, but I've now discovered my American fiancee has Comcast cable...:(

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    I'm also a reasonably happy camper virgin style. 4Mb broadband and everything seems rock solid. I've had to reset my modem or Linksys wrt54g router about 3 times in the year and a half I've been with them - I'm in Northern Ireland btw. I don't think I've ever hit the throttling problem except for varying speeds when downloading torrents. Maybe I'm not downloading enough smut ;-)

    I've only had 1 problem when a twit of an engineer swapped my phoneline for another house in the area at the cabinet (I'm guessing here as they wouldn't admit what happened exactly) Suddenly I was getting phone calls from some bloke wondering why I was at his old dear's house - oops Virgin.

    To their credit they were out within a day to fix it...I've also phoned virgin to enquire about leaving them for 'good deals that sky had dropped through my letterbox' and have promply been offered reduced prices to stay. Ok - they only last for 3 months but I've now phoned up again to get the reduced rates.

    Onwards virgin soldiers...

  50. fon

    Re: How does one not use the supplied kit?

    you go out and buy your own!!!!

    try these for some help.... also good forums for help!

  51. michael hawthorne-slater
    Thumb Down

    Virgin says pay up or get stuffed!

    Having spent most of the afternoon on the phone to Virgin Media who just refuse to sort out my abysmal 1Mb connection which I am paying an 8Mb price. I was told that I MUST phone the premium rate line for tech support. (Big Joke! I'm an IT Consultant I really need Tech Support... Not!) They actually said that I could "either call the Tech line or GET STUFFED" and go else where!!! Guess what I'm going to do? Yep me and my wallet and all the mobile phones that I have under my control are going to get stuffed, close our accounts with Virgin and move on to pastures new! So if anyone knows of a GOOD ISP That has proper Customer Support Please let me know. Thanks!

    They also told me that Virgin Media is not Virgin at all but just NTL having bought the Virgin name off Mr Branson.. Maybe this is why the service for Virgin customers is now so abysmal.. Words now fail me further. Virgin Media Really Really REALLY SUCKS! Just Don't go there.....Ever!

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Virgin - Still At It Because that IS Their Intention

    Used to have cable from Telewest (i.e. United Artists) for a year and a half. The service was great the speeds more or less as advertised and no so called 'fair use policy. Then along came Virgin. Jesus - what a mess provided by a bunch of lying duplicitous bastards.

    From Telewest I got a full speed connection 24/7 - I know, I used it that way and it was great. No bull-shit over a so called 'fair use policy'. None. This is what you are buying, this is what you get - period. They knew how to run their business, contractually and technically, and they did it with an integrity that the likes of Branson and Co. have no affinity with at all.

    Along comes Virgin and good ol' blue eyes Branson who seems to imagine that people are sponge-brained enough to think that the Virgin brand of PR exercise will work.

    In comes the so called 'fair use policy' - means we won't give you what you paid for and we will cap as we please, they do and still are.

    In comes premium rate for a service call. These are so expensive that on three occasions now I have had to abandon the call without getting the problem resolved because I simply cannot afford to let the call run further. In effect that means that for me (and I'll bet there are others) there has been a withdrawal of service - you got a problem, tough. I have ongoing problems with the connection I have from them - I can't afford the call.

    In comes calling the service centre and listening to drones and managers state that the reason for the capping is because of the low-life that use peer-to-peer for downloading of illegal files. I ask when they got themselves elected as internet police force, what business it is of their's anyway and how any of that relates to selling a connection at a specified speed and then proceeding to make damn sure that the customer will never get that? Never get an answer to this.

    What they never mention is that this capping is going on because Virgin literally have no intention whatsoever of providing what they claim they are selling - a connection at a given speed.

    Look at the times that you are being capped at. Those are times to suit TV watchers. Guaranteed, Virgin has a policy that favours TV over internet - Blue Eyes fancies himself as the next Murdoch maybe (fat chance I hope) - Lord help us if ever that happened, wall to wall PR 24/7 for the sponge-brains Branson obviously thinks people are, and f**k using the internet for anything useful like downloading).

    Capping doubtless saves electricity as well. Well, maybe not much, but when you're a money grabbing bunch of bastards, who cares if you're gonna short-change your customers over a little thing like providing the speed you said you would give. Just sling in a 'fair use policy' and blame it all on the low-life that is your internet customer base - bastards and their downloading. "What! They get an internet connection and they expect us to allow them to use it? Must be out of their minds."

    And how much do their little capping stunts (protecting us from low-life) look for ways to tweak themselves? Well with Telewest if I was using Usenet and downloading group headers for a single group that download of headers would proceed at full tilt for that group. With Virgin, nope. Cut to just below half speed and that happens even when their so called 'fair use policy' capping times aren't in effect (i.e. all day any day). Nice stunt from the folks that want to spout PR on the effects on us all of the activities of the low-life of their own customer base. Don't know where they dream up that kind of PR but it must be when the boys on the board are flying as high as kites - Sky here we come!

    Nevertheless, it isn't really fair to blame this sequence of serial successes at sharp-practice on the folks at Virgin. Bottom line the buck really lies with good ol' Ofcom. They have sat and let these rip-off merchants away with murder. Allowing any company to introduce a so called 'fair use policy' was the ace in the hole for every one of them to do as they pleased. Every argument, conflict between connection suppliers and their customers can be got round and fobbed of by invoking that clause. All of it is a rank rotten situation that Ofcom allowed to develop and that Ofcom allows to perpetuate. Wanna start getting the companies sorted out then the only way forward on that one is for Ofcom - or come to that the politicians - to outlaw those clauses in contracts. Leave them there and the companies have a licence for rip-off practices at every turn and they'll do what they are doing now - harp on in a PR exercise over the activities of the low-life of their own customer base as the cause.

    When will any of them get it: the world is a-changing because of the internet. All this pissing around with 'fair use policies' is because none of these companies actually want users to use an internet connection the way that they can be used - to find sources of information or entertainment for yourself and download them. This is what it is all about. If you sign up with one of these companies and do little more with your connection than occasional surfing, emailing and keeping the system up to date you are manna from heaven for them (and boy do they want you to stay ignorant). But if you sign up, go to Google, stumble across BitTorrent, or 'worse' still, Usenet and start actually using your connection then you are low-life because now you've discovered a real use for your connection and you will want to use it. And - irrespective of a recent Virgin PR proclamation that dropped through my door with the advice (now that you've got broadband what do you do with it) "Download like mad!" - they will do everything they can think of make sure you don't.

    What is happening now, over Virgin (and other companies), capping and Ofcom is happening because this is the early days of more and more people starting to discover how the internet can be used. There is nothing that can stop people from discovering this and the more that do (there will be more, a lot more) political pressure will come up to get the kinds of practices that Virgin are up to stopped. That's bums on seats for politicians and the argument they will have to deal with is 'no confidence in the activities of ISP's and connection rates' and 'no confidence in the likes of Ofcom to slap down the sharp-boys on the boards'.

    Any bets on how the contest will go? It is coming, you can be sure of that.

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