back to article Cable broadband shines in Virgin Media Q2

Virgin Media's recent move to push broadband to the centre of its offering is paying off. The firm announced strong underlying profits today and said it expects its forthcoming 50Mbit/s network upgrade to further distinguish it as a premium/expensive ISP. Some 19,500 net customers left the firm in the three months to 30 June, …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    That means my 20mb connection will go up from 2Mb to 2.1Mb.

  2. Sooty


    Now, once they get the infrastructure in place, they can use the extra 30Mb bandwidth per person available to stop throttling my connection down to 1Mb every single day, instead of giving some people 50Mb

  3. Greg

    Perhaps if they're now making these profits

    They can remove the FECKING SPEED CAPS!

  4. hey_may
    Paris Hilton

    Fifty Meg My Arse

    That is all.

  5. Rolf Harris
    Thumb Up

    Excellent II

    That means my 20Mbps connection will go up from 2.3MB/sec (yes, seriously, MegaBytes per second) to 5.75MB/sec... Whodathunk it? Now it'll only take me 2 minutes to download a (legal of course) movie rather than the *unacceptible* 6 minutes it takes now. Consider me a happy (and lucky) bunny.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Is VM so bad??

    I don't understand the constant winning re VM's speed.

    is that 2Mb actually 2 MB/sec you are seeing on the client? if so that is the correct speed.

    I've been using VM's/NTL services in the past 10 years in different areas and they've all been up to spec over 95% of the time (can sometimes slow down at peak times but this is exceptional and not the norm)

    Agreed that the restrictions can be a bit frustrating but scheduling downloads during off peak hours is the best option on this - obviously what they were aiming for...

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Oi! Where did this go?

    Censorship, or just a cock-up?!!!

  8. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Oi! Where did this go?

    Some little grey men with big eyes came in and told us to destroy all traces of it. We were scared. We did as we were bid. And then, we hid.

    This happens surprisingly often around here.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Too right

    Never mind the 50mb "potential" speed - what I want to know, is - what will they throttle it down to when I have the temerity to actually use it.

  10. Chris Simmons
    Paris Hilton


    We've been with VM since the cable service was launched in Bristol (16 years ago???): at first I think it was C&W, then Telewest, now VM.

    We've got all their services, although the mobes aren't tied in to the package.

    Aside from having to speak to complete idiots on their out-sourced "customer service" lines we have no issues at all with VM, we even appreciated it when they stood up to Sky over Sky1 transmission issues (and when I rang them in support of their stance they gave us 6 months free service).

    I have only two slight complaints: they don't transmit all the free-to-air channels that they could (I want Al Jazeera News to balance my viewing habits); there is only the paltry offering of BBC HD Preview, unless you pay more and they need to employ knowledgeable support geeks.

    Yes that was three, but I was counting in a VM way.

    Paris because she could be a virgin again (after lots of surgery and a successful course of counselling).

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about the upload....

    The upload is still rubbish though.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Re: Oi! Where did this go?

    If your going to remove the link you should really remove the page too. The fact

    still exists for people read is daft.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @ hey_may

    Its called Docsis 3 love, it can carry much faster connections at 'near to' the advertised speed as its the latest technology hence the upgrades by VM...

    I personally would hope you would get at least 95% of the advertised speed at least 95% of the time, otherwise its not going to be that appealling to people!!

    They need to sort out prices though, and increase 2MB to at least 4MB with a significant price drop as the current £18 or £17 by ebilling is well expensive.

    Even though ADS: only has an average of 4MB or less on most exchanges, it still works out cheaper from free to £10 max with most competitors.


  14. Mike

    Or alternatively...

    Now that cable is profitable, maybe they could look at expanding the availabilty to more areas of the country, as well as/instead of just giving those with the fastest lines an even faster one? I'd have cable if it were available in my area as it is faster (on paper, at least) and cheaper (especially when combined with phone/

    But I guess it's still just a pipe dream (pun intended)

  15. Anonymous Coward

    In the words of an O2 PR muppet...

    Chris Williams is not afraid of Bill Ray!

  16. Tawakalna

    pull the other one..'s got f***ing bells on.

    I am an unfortunate victim of Virgin's *up to* 8Mb aDSL service. In reality this has never been faster than 1.7 despite a theoretical max of 2.5. Even without the overly harsh traffic-shaping it often runs as slow as 800Kb and sometimes down to 300Kb. With another 8 months to run on the contract I'm seriously thinking about suing them under the Trades Descriptions Act because this pathetic service is verging on the unusable.

    Don't anyone even dare stick up for them, their idea of customer service, once they've got your dosh, is to fob you off with a teenage muppet straight out of school who will eventually put the phone down on you.

    I will never rely on a jack-of-all-trades domestic b'band provider again - it's either Zen or Nildram for me from now on.

    @Sarah Bee - never give in to the *Visitors* - they only want to kidnap you and impregnate you with their foul alien larvae, eat you alive afterwards, then reduce your remains to Mk XXVII spacedrive fuel with exotic space chemicals. There's a reason I keep my womenfolk in bunkers (not necessarily the above though!)

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Dark clouds on the horizon

    Just when it is going so well, and then they add Phorm to it.

    Customers desert in spades, including me.

    Shame :)

  18. Daniel Buckley

    well well...

    I get 1MB/s download at best from my 20Mb connection, it really wasn't worth the money to upgrade, maybe this will make my connection speed up, maybe not, either way, I'm off when my contract expires, harrumph

    Mine's the one with my missing 10Mb/s

  19. Adam

    Throttling is good

    Contention ratios of 50:1 are common for home users. So your p2p network could be affecting my speed. If you choose to bugger off to another ISP because VM are slowing your connection down, FANTASTIC.

  20. Frank Bough

    bits vs Bytes

    despite our anonymous correspondent above, 2Mb/sec IS NOT THE SAME as 2MB/sec. It's quite simple - 8bits = 1Byte, so a 20Mb line should give you up to 2.5MB per second, just as my 10Mb VM line gives me 1.2-1.3 MB/sec. And it does.

  21. Robin Coomer

    An IT support perspective...

    I run a small IT support business from home and get to see all varieties of 'fast broadband' on my travels - I have to say however that VM is in my experience one of the better ones. I use them myself now and despite running a small network of PC's (8), servers (4) and a SIGNIFICANT number of large backups/updates/downloads to the workshop for customers, repairs, installs etc have never had speed issues with VM. I've never been limited nor lost service either.

    I must add however that their tech support is rubbish and I've seen no end of problems elsewhere when there are clear service issues that they refuse to acknowledge! I guess like most ISPs they are good if nothing goes wrong! I would also like a fixed IP that isn't in the DHCP pool but they can't/won't offer that! Having a 'blacklisted' DHCP address (even though it's remained unchanged since 2005) is a pain because I either have to relay mail from my exchange server through a hosted server or get an unacceptable bounce rate because ISPs don't know how to filter SPAM! I'm generally a happy punter however and even with 4Mbps (soon to be 10Mbps) the connection is largely adequate. My only other criticism would be that they are slow to keep pace with prices and that does mean a premium - I pay £25/month and could get 'up to 8MB' for half that via ADSL. That said however ADSL is contended at the exchange and rates rarely reach the max (if ever)! At least with fibre, I can grab a 300MB file at any time of day and it will download at full speed (around 0.5 MBytes per second)

    Most of the customers I encounter that complain about speed either don't understand the difference between bits & bytes or otherwise don't appreciate that someone else in the office/family is running Limewire or similar bandwidth hogs! One of my customers has a site of over 120 users and 9 servers - their internet connection is a 2Mbps leased line which costs the earth...

    One final negative: the faster Internet access gets for the masses, the more spam we'll all get! Any idea how much SMTP traffic one infected PC can generate in an hour? I can't help wondering if that's why even with cable, the upload speed sucks whilst the download speed gets ever faster?

  22. Anonymous Coward

    "distinguish it as a premium/expensive ISP"

    Too true!

    At £25/mo for a 2 mbps connection, expensive is the key word. Especially as they've recently started billing me for the account of someone in Belfast while I'm near Bolton, Lancashire...

  23. Scott


    "is that 2Mb actually 2 MB/sec you are seeing on the client? if so that is the correct speed"

    Err, Im guessing you have sod all to do with networks... 2Mb is the 2 MEGABIT service which is... umm somewhere like 250K/Byte a second max - where the hell did you get 2Megs/sec from at all... good god, its people like you who cause problems for those who know what they are talking about....

    Mines the one with the narky face on...

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Oi! Where did this go?

    You wouldn't believe it was the same company would you?

    They are still twits for courting phorm and Sir Beardy won't hear the last of it.

    I prefered the first story.

    Puts on coat and goes off to look in google cache.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Constant Winning

    Yes, the constant winning. You, good sir, are clearly a constant winner.

    Anyway. Get 50Mbit = roughly 5MB/sec (or 'megs' as you may call them) download, so an MP3 every second, theoretically.

    In reality, packet latency, remote servers, contention and the speed of light play a part in slowing this down, so eventually you'll get maybe 1MB/sec.


    Wasn't the case when they launched their 2mbit/sec service that people said the Internet as a whole won't be fast enough to send stuff that fast?

    Won't that be the case again? Hell, even the BY status page takes a frickin' age to load.

  26. r smith

    bankrupt brand

    The only thing premium about their service is the cost of being on hold if you want to cancel. 'We value your call but as you are leaving we couldnt give a monkeys and will answer your call when we feel like it.'

    I think people would be suprised how quickly the throttling starts - about 350MB on a 2Mb package. ie half a linux download.

    I liked Blueyonder and didnt mind paying a bit more for a couple of years but seeing new customers getting treated like royalty and subsidising Samuel L Jackson means its cheerio virgin (after 6 years)...hello o2

    Virgin broadband is a bit like most other virgin franchises- scratch beneath the surface and they are cutting as many corners as possible

  27. Thomas Jolliffe

    @@Constant Winning

    Have you got a service capable of those kind of speeds? I regularly max out my 20Mbps lines.

  28. Liam
    Thumb Down


    where are you guys that get max connections?

    ive been on virgin/NTL cable bb for about 8 years now. went from feeling fast at 512k to now my 10mb line rarely even gets 400k/sec.... maybe its my ancient modem (ive had it 8 years!) but back then it apparently could handle 50mb

    i would also like to know why my belkin gateway (not wireless) seems to slow down my conn by 1mb... if i remove it from the stack i get an extra 100k/sec...

    im in lincoln btw - im guessing you guys with a decent connection are down south?

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Tawakalna

    Nildram have been owned by Pipex for years. Pipex are owned by Tiscali so perhaps you might wish to think again :-D

    Oh and Zen are overpriced for an ISP that just basically resells BTW IPStream products. Been there got the T-shirt years ago.....

  30. okubax


    They are the best ISP for bittorrent files(legal)

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Riding high .... Until they get Phorm

    In that case their profits will slide as more and more concerned customers leave ALL their services and go elsewhere.

    Unless they see sense and drop Phorm like a hot potato they will go the way of BT. Shares spiralling downwards!

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I can hit about 2500kb/s downloading on my 20Mb connection in central bham. I'm happy.

  33. Tawakalna
    Dead Vulture

    @John Naismith

    I know they are, but they've managed to retain their *relative* independence and I hear good reports from people who'd know. Zen are way overpriced I agree but at least their service is good and again other than the cost I hear generally good noises about them.

    who would you recommend then? Don't say Clara!

    Maybe the Reg should do a list of reader's ISP ratings? <hint> But having said that, I bought Mrs Taw a Navam S30 based on the Reg's Xmas stocking recommendation and it died in the middle of Scotland when I was out on a job. I was so vexed I nearly wrote in with *this* icon...

  34. Paul

    Not leaving in droves and 19.307

    Firstly the figures show that against the most rabid of phorm posters opinions the number of BB subscribers on VM is going up not down. 19.307 is the speed test on my 20mb VM line at 8.15pm and that's throught the router and the cable modem.

  35. Pete

    @ Tawakalna

    I assuem from what you said you are on virgin media ADSL over a BT line service? not a "proper" cable area?

    proper cable broadband is damn good, relaible and pretty much always as fast as advertised

    if you are not in a cable area then you are at the mercy of BT's antiquated network, no matter who you take your service from.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    Same old,,,

    "the number of customers subscribing to the top tier broadband package was up 82 per cent on a year ago"

    The only reason that is true is because they have secretly throttled the bejesus out of everyones connection - meaning if you want 5 meg you have to buy the 20 meg package just to be able to use it for more than 20 minutes every night before being speed capped.

    Its also an insult to new customers that their national speed capping policy is NOT mentioned on any of their advertising (mother of all broadband, but use it and we cap your hide) nor is it mentioned in their terms and conditions.

    Its here but you only get to see it if you know about it, can mindread, or happen to stumble on it reading their website.

  37. Robin Coomer
    Thumb Up

    More on speeds and throttling...

    Further to my earlier post, I'm surprised to see folk who claim they are getting really poor d/l speeds on VM cable. I can't speak for the rest of the VM cable network but I'm on the 4MB service (Newton Abbot in Devon so not exactly at the heart of things!) and I've just downloaded 7 disk images (ISO) for Fedora Linux for a customer's PC - speed averaged 490K (3.920Mbps) for 3.3GB of code. I think this is OK given that I'm doing other stuff at the same time and there are bound to be overheads even on FTP. I started around 5:40pm which I wouldn't think is a quiet time either? Have you all actually checked what is running in the background? I had a customer complaining that their home PC was very slow and their Internet speed on VM (4M) was showing at 190Kbps when they ran an ADSL Speedtest - when I got there to check, Limewire (installed by their kids) was merrily chomping through 3.7Mbps and rapidly filling the hard disk!!! After disabling, almost a full 4Mbps was achieved! It just went to illustrate a) why the ISPs are limiting downloads, b) why children should be supervised and c) make sure you know as much as they do about IT! I've never seen a defrag screen in Windows look so red... ;-) Don't forget also that Windows in particular and many of it's installed apps check the web continually for updates - if in doubt install a good software firewall and you can monitor exactly what's running over the connection. Many machines I see in my line of work are unusable for the first 15-20mins due to various updates... Norton updates for example can be easily 50MB+.

    Good to see some others commenting on the premium price too - I hope VM visit here - an occasional FALL in price is great Kudos :-) In the meanwhile, roll on the 10MB upgrade...

  38. Jon H


    Despite living in a city, there's no cable here at all, so no Virgin Media option at all. Fan-bleeding-tastic.

  39. Anonymous Coward

    @ constant winning

    Can we have this at the Olympics, please?

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Confusion breaks out

    My virgin cable connection is currently downloading at 2145KB/ or roughly 2MB/s or 20Mb/s - eactly as it should, it appears quite a few people don't understand their MB/s from their Mb/s or KB/s from Kb/s-

    Tawakalna your 8Mb line is doing 8Mb, roughly 800KB/s, unless you are actually only getting 800Kb/s (80KB)as you state, in which case i'm sorry that your getting bumped.

    This whole mess is just caused by posturing by ISP's because putting a bigger number on your product looks better, i.e would you rather get a measly 2MB connection or an almighty 20Mb connection.

    That brings to mind one of my favorite sayings, - If you cant blind them with your science*, baffle them with your bullshit.

    * read as "Product"

  41. John

    compared to dialup

    it really flies. I love watching it chonk through the downloads.

  42. kissingthecarpet

    Mine's OK

    I've got their medium broadband & I've watched the speed rise from 400kbits/s to 10Mbits/s for the same price - & I get a good 1 - 1.2 MBytes/s download speed from Debian's mirrors.Just lucky I s'pose

    If Thatcher had let BT do it we'd all have cable now anyway...

  43. John Goodwin
    Paris Hilton

    Be thankful

    I was on 20Mb broadband through BlueYonder aka Virgin until I left old Blighty back in February.

    Here in sunny Latin America (Montevideo, Uruguay to be precise) - I'm shelling out £35 a month for a 1.5Mb connection with an average packet loss of 8%. How's that for value? Goes against the grain of 'Rip-off Britain' I feel. Oh, and the fact that I lose DNS regularly. It dropped 137 times in 1 day.

    I yearn for my old connection, truly I do. ISO images of the latest Linux distro downloaded in hours, not days. I believe Virgin are doing a good job and are one of the best. Shame I didn't live down in Kent where the trials took place ;-)

    Paris, coz she ain't no Virgin (apologies if the lame joke's been said before)


  44. This post has been deleted by its author

  45. ShaggyDoggy


    Of course if you actually use your 50Mbps for more than 2 minutes, you'll get a latter from the BPI "advising" you of the need to prevent online copyright 'theft' never mind that you were getting long programmes from BBC iPlayer

  46. Dan
    IT Angle

    It Works!

    Cool - I'm on 20Mbit broadband and can max it the vast majority of the time. Interestingly, and this was mentioned here, our old Belkin router used to slow us down massively. We were on a verge of complaining when it occured to me - so I set up a Server 2003 machine and got it to act as a router.

    Bumf! 20 Megs. The router just acts as a wireless AP now and it's brilliant. I wonder how the other commercial routers hold up with relatively high traffic.

  47. Ian M
    Thumb Up

    1.98 megabytes per second

    I regualy get speeds of over 1.5megabytes persecond out of my 20MBps connection. infact Its hard to find a server on the net that can keep up with the virgin connection Ive got allready.

    Admitedly there has been a few customer service ballsups with them when the outsourced tech support couldnt do anything to tell me what was wrong with the line but to their credit they did send out 4 engineers without any charge to check it for me. Each of them couldnt do very much either except give me a "wait and see" kindof answer obviously just stalling while the big boys fixed whatever was wrong at the other end.

    But only the one major fault in 7 years of being with them (NTL/Virgin) so not bad.

  48. Jason Crowley

    So up or down?

    So is VM`s customer base really going up? Is there anyone left in the UK who hasnt been ripped off Virgin/NTL or are people gullible enough to go back for more? Why are there conflicting reports on the same site?

    My internet speed was ok, or maybe everything else was SOO bad I was just glad it worked. Paying £92 a month for a deal advertised as "3 for £30" wasnt so good. Dealing with a compnay that refuses to honour its contract, code of practice or advertised price is a pain in the arse. VMs customer services are now done by a company called CISAS, best bit of the whole sorry experience really.

  49. Tawakalna

    Virgin Customer Service?

    "VMs customer services are now done by a company called CISAS, best bit of the whole sorry experience really."

    No, just as bad in my experience. Every time I ring up to moan about the actual 1.7Mb rather than the supposed up to 8Mb, at some point they will cut the call (and then claim it was an *accident* or that they've got no record of that... lying scum.)

    VM aDSL is one of the few available options where I stay, fortunately despite my whining it's not my home provider *at home-home* - that's BT. So I'm knackered either way now. At least the BT connection runs at an average of 4Mb out of *up to* 8Mb.

    (yes I know the difference between Megabits and megabytes thank you. Don't be so patronising.)

  50. David Precious
    Thumb Up

    Fast for me

    I'm on the 20Mbps package, and I regularly get 2MB/s from decent sites.

    When I first upgraded to it, I was disappointed that it barely seemed to reach half that speed - then I realised the NIC in my gateway connected to the cable modem had negotiated at 10Mbps rather than 100Mbps - so there was no way I could get full speed until I forced it to use 100Mbps.

    I wonder if some of the people complaining about low speeds have similar problems? NICs running at 10 instead of 100, or using old 802.11b (11Mbps) wireless kit, and wondering why they're not getting 20Mbps? :)

  51. Stuart Halliday

    Know your download

    I get around 20Mb/s on my 20Mb VM connection. Which is pretty good for TCP/IP!

    As I type this I got 21,610,800 bits/s or 20.6Mb/s.

    If you get a lot less then you give them a phone and complain. Then you ask for it to be fixed or refunded. When you do that, they'll give you a rebate for every week it's not at the full speed.

    I did this, (I was only getting ~8Mb) I got a new cable modem and they had to rewire the neighbourhood box due to water damage. So I guess my whole street benefited. I take no prisoners ;-)

    The key is knowing what your current maximum download speed is.

    I wrote a simple batch script that downloads a large file from their own servers and one from the BBC download site and this tells me my current bit/sec.

    In theory the 8 hops from Vm should be the fastest. But I only get 2Mb from the

    VM servers. But I get 20Mb from the BBC site over 11 hops.

    Proof that VM really choke their servers.

    If anyone wants it, I'll be happy to supply it freely. It uses Windows batch file and a copy of cURL (which is a free open source file).

  52. blackworx

    @Stuart Halliday

    Yep I'll go for that - blackworx at hotmail dot com. Our local box was vandalised and speeds have never been the same since it was supposedly repaired, despite VM's protestations to the contrary. Cheers.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "I regualy get speeds of over 1.5megabytes persecond out of my 20MBps connection. infact Its hard to find a server on the net that can keep up with the virgin connection Ive got allready."

    I concur. any time i seem to be getting a slow connection a quick download from the apple site of apple software, i.e ituns and it will max out my 20Mb connection.

    It's good to know the internet cant keep up sometimes.

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