back to article Virgin Media stops the rot

Virgin Media has confirmed a turnaround in its fortunes today with news it has reversed the flow of customers away from it following its embarrassing public defeat over TV rights by Sky. For the three months to 30 September across broadband, TV and home phone, the group added 13,000 net new punters. In the previous quarter, …


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  1. Phil Bennett
    Thumb Down

    50Mb/s in 2008?

    Oh fantastic, you can now get "traffic shaped" in even less time.

    Seriously, what is the point of much faster speeds if you can't actually download anything?

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Virgin vs. Sky

    It's clearly all an elaborate con. Why else would you be able to get Virgin1 on Sky?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow, Megafast connection !

    Of course they then limit the traffic to make sure you can't actually fill it.

    Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

  4. Paul Mitton

    Good luck to the new customers . .

    they will need it, I am currently without broadband again (5th time this year, 2nd time in the last 2 weeks), has been off for over 24 hours and no one answers the (paid-for) support line . .

    Perhaps service should be something to focus on

  5. J.Butler

    Whats the point...

    ..of rolling out 50Mb when they can't supply their existing users with anything like what they've paid for.

    There's no point having 50Mb if they reduce it to 10 after you use it for 30 minutes in the hours most people actually want to use it.

    The FUP is anything but "fair".

  6. Nick Ryan Silver badge


    "With the cable merger integration expected to be complete by year end, we can focus on continuing to improve the fundamentals, enhancing our products, reducing our churn, and delivering on our competitive strengths."

    That would be customer support that, erm, supports customers rather than lying through their teeth to them. That and never calling back, which is quite an impressive deal for a *communication* company...

    Still, it's not all bad - after a mere 17 hours of calls I finally managed to find somebody competent who resolved my issues. As a bonus they appear to have dropped their Indian call centre - recently I've managed to speak to staff who's first language is actually English, which is a vast improvement on the previous situation.

    It'd be less annoying if cable/network delivered services didn't have the potential to be much better than satellite / terrestial broadcast can ever be.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    only embarrassing thing is the author....

    "its embarrassing public defeat over TV rights by Sky"

    Which is more embarrassing, standing up to sky and refusing to pay an excessive price or meekly giving in. I for one are glad they did stand up to sky and don't miss sky 1 a bit.

    Personally on the VM top package that has seen the amount I pay drop by 30 quid a month and my broadband go from 4 to 20 plus get the v+ box and have 'real' VOD.

  8. Barry

    Trialling 50Mbit?!

    They want to start off simple - start trialling 1Mbit (at peak) with latency below 200ms!!

  9. JB

    Alternative Interpretation

    To sum up the article in a few words: "Virgin Media isn't rubbish, honest"!

  10. Robert Harrison

    hear hear to the above comments

    re: 'throttled' connections. In the good old days, I was always a happy customer when Blueyonder announced a free broadband speed upgrade for my existing service. However, with the throttling Virgin Media have introduced at no extra cost (har har or reduction in cost for that matter) it kind of takes the shine off of these new promises doesn't it.

  11. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Faster speeds but nowhere to go

    This would be like the government raising the speed limit in Central London in the rush hour to 100MPH.

    Sure, the limit is higher but you can't possibly utilise it. The business model of cable and ADSL is all wrong, the pricing was dropped to get people off dial up.

    To get this lower price the bandwidth allocations have be introduced. On some broadband packages you could hit the limit within one day, would only require you to download two DVD ISOs (Ubuntu DVDs for example).

  12. Sam

    Virgin customer

    I am a virgin customer and I do not see any traffic shaping?

    I hammer my line quite frequently downloading stuff on my PS3 ect, I only get throttled if I use a silly amount of bandwidth ( I have 4Mb and if i use 100% for more than 12 hours I see a 25-50% reduction in throughput in the evenings )

    At least I don't have a silly cap of 40Gb on my connection as I have done more than that already this month!

  13. Biton Walstra


    50Mb/s in 2008... Well, well, well, they call that fast?

    Look around and you will find in some countries where they already have 100Mb/s and are doing successfuly tests with speeds upto 200Mb/s...

  14. Tim Parker

    Re : 50Mb/s in 2008?

    "Seriously, what is the point of much faster speeds if you can't actually download anything?"

    Seriously Phil, WTF are you on about exactly ? What is it that you think you can't download ?

  15. Anonymous Coward

    50Mbit/s my arse

    It ain't gonna happen, not for Joe Punter...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    transparent proxies

    The reality is whilst you are on a cable connection you are not physically on the internet ...well at least using a set-top box....

    You get assigned NAT addresses by them and then give your mahoosive 50MB over a transparent proxy.


    So when the transparent proxies fail over like they used to every other day you get 0MB traffic and since they do packet sniffing/filtering you can not assigned public DNS servers.

    Also how do you explain your presence on the net when you can not become a webserver a mail server or anything since your on a NAT. At least with your ADSL connection and a ADSL router you can do port forwarding from real ip to NAT ip.

    Stay away from virgin or any cable provider - their all pooh..

  17. Anonymous Coward

    @ Paul M.


    I've had similar we-don't-want-to-talk-to-you problems with the "service" line. Either try phoning closer to office hours (if possible) or after phoning unsuccessfully, wait 10 minutes and then try again.

    I'm beginning to suspect that they've only got one engineer on out-of-hours so if he/she goes for a loo/coffee/ciggy break then the phone just rings.

    Hope your broadband gets fixed soon.

  18. James Dunmore

    Is it really down?

    I'd love to see the figures of number left against number signing up, both before and after VM took over, and before and after the SKY problem (and again now) - and see if more or less people are leaving and signing up?

    (or perhaps the article did state that, and I just didn't understand!?)

  19. captain kangaroo

    What about...

    ntl telewest business?

    No one talks about them... But they are the business arm of the Virgin Group...

  20. Carl Thomas

    Minor Error

    *Virgin confirmed the next stage of efforts to further differentiate itself by ramping maximum downloads speeds up to 50Mb/s in 2008. Further down the line it's reviewing an implementation of DOCSIS 3, a newer cable standard, which is capable of downloads in the hundreds of megabits per second.*

    Well no, they need to implement DOCSIS 3 before they can increase speeds to 50Mbit/s as the current kit won't do it.

    Considering this is the same cable operator that say they are bandwidth limited at the moment and so can't do HD, and DOCSIS 3 needs the equivalent bandwidth on the cable to 12+ HD channels I wouldn't hold my breath.

  21. bambi

    I dont work for Virgin but....

    I have been with nthell/virgin since they introduced flat rate 1p / min dial-up, and have had their top cable services since they were all introduced and a couple b4 they were released ( got a slap on wrists for that one). Anyway I have very rarely had problems with their service, I get 10-12Mb downstream thru their 20Mb service 100% of the time, I don’t hit 20Mb as the modem itself only has a 10Mb Ethernet port. As for the unlimited* downloads I think everyone knows its all utter BS and no ISP will offer you thier flat out speed 24/7, and if they do its probably only at 1Mb.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    My average monthly usage is a shade over 100 Gig and I dont notice any active throtteling on my currenty 20meg connection.

    Downloads from many sources come in at damn near capacity and latency seems fine - I guess it's all area specific.

  23. Philip Alexander

    Excuse the play on words

    As a blueyonder user I never had problems.

    With Virgin - it goes down on me almost every Friday afternoon, I'm married and it's always when she's there. you see my problem!??

  24. Richard Boyce
    Thumb Down

    Hurdles to switching

    Switching providers when you're with Virgin is a lot harder than when you're with other companies. To switch broadband, you need to switch the phone (ADSL is tied to BT's phone lines) and switch TV (effectively tied by Virgin to the phone), so customers only switch as a last resort, after gaining an awful lot of experience with Virgin's inherited administrative incompetence.

    Once customers switch, (as I recently did), they're likely to stay switched for a generation, assuming the company survives that long. Can the government afford to allow Virgin Media to fail?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    VM download speeds

    I too have a full VM / NTL package with 4Mb download speed. Quiet often I download a massive amount (2 or 3 days download time at least) then have the throttling for the next 30 days. I rarely notice this. If you need to download large amounts then get a good download manager and download overnight.

    Both SWMBO & I surf the net over the same (throttled) line with no problems.

    VM service sucks. But not as much as NTL service sucked, or Telecential service sucked.

    Since the take over I have been surprised at the improvement in the service I receive. No I do not miss Sky 1. I was glad that NTL stood up to them.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    re:transparent proxies

    Are you sure you cannot run an email / web server?

    Then, I must be doing something wrong :) cos mine works fine.

  27. Mark

    Dang it

    I reckon that FUP isn't one acronym. It's short for F- Up.

    As to Tim's question, well you can download anything. As long as it isn't P2P. And as long as you don't expect 50Mbps, even in aggregate, for more than a couple of hours in the month, then get throttled down to 1Mbps or less for the remainder. How long does it take to use the 5Gb monthly allowance at 50Mbps? 8000 seconds or 133 minutes or 2 1/4 hours.

    For the month.

    So in what way does 50Mbps for ~0.3% of the time constitute having a 50Mpbs connection?

  28. Lyndon Hills
    Thumb Up

    Transparent Proxies

    Where did you get this from? I've been a customer for years, running my own web server and mail server. The acceptable use policy states that web/ftp servers should be passworded but they never bothered as long as they didn't see massive traffic. They run (or at least Blueyonder did) a process that connects to your port 25 and attempts to relay mail to make sure that people running servers have them configured properly. My only problem is that some people blacklist all mail from dynamic IP addresses, but I just change my server to route mail to those domains through the ISP's servers, so it's not a big deal.

    I think Blueyonder were great and I have no problems with Virgin. I am in London, where the cable network is relatively new, and I've only once called customer services, so if they're crap I wouldn't know. Blueyonder used to have newsgroups, read by their engineers, who were both friendly and knowledgable.

  29. Whitter

    Stop the BS and sell it as it is.

    A genuine clear and fair usage policy is what I want, with payments suitable to that policy. Look at moblie companies tarrifs as examples of how to devide a service into a payment for example. Apply limits to download / upload / speed (minimum a must, maximum too but less significant) according to your package and charge for exceeding that package.

  30. Rob
    Thumb Down

    they can't even do 20meg

    I called virgin last night (reluctantly) and asked to upgrade my broadband connection, as it is slow, they reluctantly agreed before saying they couldn't do it as i already had the max.

    So i have a 20meg line, and can download at about 100 to 150k /sec, woohoo.

    i'm moving my internet over to sky adsl, it says a lot about virgin's service that having to get a bt (/spit) line put back in is now the better option.

    BT and sky were both quick to pick up the phone & fairly helpfull as well, whereas virgin was neither.

    (to cap it off, the tv menu & settop box is really quite bad imo, especially compared to sky+)

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Re: Virgin customer

    "I am a virgin customer and I do not see any traffic shaping?"


    "I hammer my line quite frequently downloading stuff on my PS3 ect, I only get throttled if I use a silly amount of bandwidth ( I have 4Mb and if i use 100% for more than 12 hours I see a 25-50% reduction in throughput in the evenings )"

    So you *do* see traffic shaping? (after 30 minutes!).

    One statement contradicts the other! New meaning to the acronym "FUP"?

  32. Chris Priest

    Thank god...

    It's not in my area, they still have analogue down my street!

  33. Anonymous Coward

    FAO @ bambi

    On the last set of speed upgrades virgin offered new modems to people like yourself all you have to do is request one from 150 (from Virgin media support)

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    VM speeds and customer service

    I've been a customer for 2 years at 2 addresses and I've been really happy. my connection's been reliable and quick, even when I hammer it with torrents etcetera. I've only had occasion to call the customer services once (on a billing not technical issue) and they were ceratinly very helpful, and pretty competent to boot.

    I just use the broadband so can't comment on other services, but I really like paying just for what I use (i.e. the net) and not being forced to pay for stuff I don't (e.g. line rental/call plan on a phone line I *never* use because I have a mobile/VOIP) - saved me a packet!

  35. greg

    What are you all moaning about?

    I've been using NTL/Virgin since it's inception as an ISP (back in the dial-up days). I switched straight to it's 512k BB on launch and never looked back. It's fast, reliable and I have only recently started to see any kind of traffic shaping come into play.

    I'm on 20mb, which gives me a full 20mb pretty much constantly unless I've been hammering it with overnight uploads/downloads.

    @transparent proxies - NAT doesn't cause any of those problems. You seem to be talkin out your arse mainly. You get real-world IP addresses, not NAT assigned. Christ, if it was an enclosed NAT address, how the hell have I been remoting on to my machine all this time and using it for all kinds of servers?

    @bambi - what century BC did you get your modem/NIC card? They haven't been 10mb since BNC Coaxial networking was abolished.

    And they can use the unlimited download ploy - since you are getting unlimited downloads. Just not at the line capacity you expect 24/7.

  36. Matthew Robinson


    Their customer support is an 0906 number and the internet is awful once you have used more than a few meg because of the throttling.

    Moving to Be in a few weeks.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I almost forgot ...

    ... to tell you 90% of the support staff are in India. Yippee.

    (Still anonymous)

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I work there ... what was the blueyonder office in Liverpool

    50mb is being trialled, but don't hold your breath for the rollout. We're still seeing many issues where people can't get the 20Mb, including me:(

    Much cash is needed to upgrade the network. Guess what VM are short of at the moment? Yup, you guessed it.

    Posted anonymously because I've seen the witchhunts before :(

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Sky Broadband

    The shaping and 0906 number was the final straw for me, after 7 years on cable broadband I switched from Virgin to Sky in July. Was on the Virgin's 10Mb service then, and only got 4-5Mb. Went for Sky's Max service, initially I was getting 12Mb/s, however I now regularly get 16Mb (even though it is an upto 16Mb service), they must have done an upgrade to the network recently as speed is excellent, all for £10 per month, beats £37 per month with Virgin.

    Also get Free evening and Weekend calls for no fee, and being a BT line you can use many other companies for even cheaper calls.

  40. Adrian Midgley

    works for me, unlike BT

    BT got seriously confused (and likely still is) so I fired them. Virgin has worked very nicely on both people and machinery basis.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Gimme now

    Virgin Shaping.... What's the big deal. It works like this:-

    You can hammer your Virgin 20mb connection as much as you want and won't get throttled if you do your downloading between 12am and 4pm.

    You can use your 4gb between 4pm and midnight. If you go over the limit then you get throttled for 4 hours to a 2.5m/bit connection.

    Get a decent downloader/scheduler with max bandwidth limits. Don't forget Virgin still have some binary newgroups.............

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    New Customers?

    Does that include me? I've been with them for two years and phoned up to leave during this time but I ended up signing up for another year (I get TV & Talk Unlimited for £1.95pm + broadband on top) so does this mean I'm a new customer and one of those stats?

  43. Anonymous Coward

    Crock of what?

    "Which is more embarrassing, standing up to sky and refusing to pay an excessive price or meekly giving in. I for one are glad they did stand up to sky and don't miss sky 1 a bit."

    It's not standing up, it's refusing to pay a fair price for a fair service, no one else on the planet can expect to pay the same contractual rate every year. It's propaganda put out by Virgin trying to play victim, only they're not in this case as Sky had a massive programme buying spree and VM again just wanted to cling onto their coat tails.

    Good luck to you if you remain on VM as their infrastructure needs massive investment to deliver either the improved BB speeds of HD TV it doesn't have the bandwidth to do both.

  44. David Hearne

    dont hate the player, hate the game...

    "Good luck to you if you remain on VM as their infrastructure needs massive investment to deliver either the improved BB speeds of HD TV it doesn't have the bandwidth to do both"

    you are ill informed or knowing nothing about what you speak... what makes me sick is you all winge about VM but still pay?? if your that unhappy got to the other providers, Join Sky and see what a crap VOD service they have, what a crap BBI service they have (via Easynet) and what crap reception there TV service has when the weather is not so great!...

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