back to article Virgin Media switches to Gmail

Virgin Media will today begin moves to transfer its almost four million broadband subscribers to Google's email service. The three existing in-house email platforms will be gradually decommissioned. At first only new customers will be invited to join the new outsourced service. Once 20,000 are signed up and the system is …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    Wonder how all this will fit in with our nosey government?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Customer retention?

    I know four much better strategies:

    1. Tell Phorm to phuck off

    2. Actually let customers use the bandwidth they pay for.

    3. Stop being anti net neutrality idiots.

    4. Stop being the 'music' industry's bitch.

    Vermin Media deserve every customer they lose.

  3. Blasmeme
    Thumb Down

    This really sucks.

    What the heck is this about? The whole point of me choosing to use locally stored email services instead of web based ones has always been that I don't want anything to do with advertisers skimming my content to launch adds at me. Wasn't advertising the main reason behind the creation of Gmail?

    I realize that I may be missing something with this but i really am not happy about this at all. Will this mean that i will have no access to my stored emails unless I'm connected? i know my broadband is always on but i have always been responsible for my contact lists, stored attachments and inbox space. i really don't see how handing all of this over to the Umbrella Corporation will improve things.

    Someone please tell me i have the wrong end of the stick.

  4. Paul

    usual Ntl bollox

    Amazing, yet again I find out wtf Ntl are doing with my account from 'anyone but ntl' :(

    The company that won't give me write permission to my own webspace and aren't interested in fixing it, couldn't give me a working login to their extra's package and weren't interested in even investigating and cant configure a transparent proxy to save their lives are trying another bold experiment in passing the buck.

    On the plus side, I've not been able to access webmail for months (can you guess if they're interested in fixing that?) and been unable to create or change mailboxes for most of the last 5 years - this move will struggle to make things worse!

  5. adam


    You had to mention Virgin Media.

    try 4 months with a 20mb "mother of all broadband" which i get 1mb if i am very lucky.

    25 engineer visits.

    15 miles of cable replaced in every conceivable place. Google mail - i can get that for free without Virgin Media.

  6. Scott Mckenzie


    You'll still have POP (and IMAP if you prefer) access to your email so you can download it locally and work the same as present... but you'll also have the rather good Gmail system too....

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    i think because they offer pop and imap you will get the same as though you had locally stored email or used

  8. Bassey

    Re: Blasmeme

    Slightly the wrong end of the stick although (IMHO) there is still cause for concern.

    Firstly, you will till have access to your current mail when disconnected as long as you are using a proper email client, not just connecting through a web interface (and even that is possible nowadays). Same goes for contacts, tasks etc. etc. If you, for example, use Outlook for your email everything will look the same. The only thing that will change is the location/address of the IMAP or POP3 server.

    Where your concerns may be justified is in google skimming your mail. I would assume Virgin is basically using a variant on the enterprise hosting model google is promoting. You would need to check the T's and C's to see how much ownership (if any) Google has of your data. Theoretically, they are just holding your data and providing the services for you to access it on behalf of Virgin. In practice, who knows?

  9. Neil

    Price reduction?

    Surely as they are not going to be running their own email servers any more and are moving the email accounts to a BETA service then we should have an appropriate reduction in our monthly costs.

    Cant see that happening though.

  10. Thomas Kenyon


    I can't see why they'd be that much difference, you can use Gmail locally too.

    Now that they've outsourced their news services and a photo printing service and an offsite storage service, I wonder what else they don't want to do themselves.

  11. Camilla Smythe


    It probably still sucks in some way but, as far as I know, you can set up your local e-mail shiftyware to point to gmails pop and smtp servers, and (?), then visit the web interfarce to tick boxes telling it not to maintain local copies.

    You end up with something that behaves like what you have got at the moment. Local storage and maintenance. Sure looks like hard work but it is dooable so.... maybe you do have hold of the wrong end of the stick.

    I'm sure Virgin will sort stuff for you....???

  12. Simon

    Ah that was sneaky!

    I like the "out of the box" thinking (damn I hate management cra@p expressions like that...) of Virgin Media of how to get round and make as low cost as possible of the new EU regulation to store everyones emails for 12 months! Get someone else to do it. Clever... but I wonder how Gmail will play ball with that one (dammit another rubbish saying!)

    At least they did choose a half decent platform, I personally like Gmail (but of course many dont).

    So now all VirgMed need to do is store ip versus website calls and they're done.

    Sneaky, but clever, you cant deny that!

  13. Steve Liput
    Thumb Up


    The POP3 access means you can downlaod all the email to your own computer. You also get the benefit of a good webmail service too

    I don't get why anybody would use an email address from an ISP. Much easier to use a gmail/yahoo/hotmail as when you change ISP you don't have to change your email as well. Using an ISP's email service is a bit like getting all your post via the estate agent you bought/rent your house from...

  14. Arnold Lieberman
    Thumb Down

    Useless 'tards

    I stopped using virgin email months ago because emails sent to my address either never arrived, or arrived days later. When I told them about it, and included copies of the bouncing emails (with error messages such as SMTP server unavailable/ too many connections) they kept fobbing me off with scripts about how to install Outlook Express. Moved over to (cos I dodn't want anything to do with GMail) and haven't looked back since. Using my own domain name has made that move a piece of cake.

  15. Dave Bell

    Gmail isn't bad

    I've been using Gmail for a good while, and the adverts aren't intrusive. Ordinary Google adverts. And ad-blocking programs work. Also, it supports POP3 access, so you can transfer you mail to your own system.

    I think I'd prefer dealing direct with Google, rather than going through an ISP-controlled domain name, but I can be a paranoid little so-and-so.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    no thanks

    i'll be looking elsewhere for my ISP i admit, dont want all my mail belonging to google.

  17. Alan


    Interesting that VM are giving their users the full 7gb of storage.

    When I set up a colleagues Sky email the other week, they were only giving users 1gb

  18. Ross Brown
    Thumb Up

    Google Gears is your friend

    @Blasmeme - don't forget that if you use Google Gears, you GMail is also available offline.

  19. Aidan Samuel

    @ Blasmeme

    "Customers will get the same 7GB inbox as Google offers free via Gmail, and the same features including POP3 and IMAP access"

    POP3 is probably what you're using at the moment. I.e. you'll still be able to download emails onto your computer.

  20. Chief Engineer


    They support Pop3 and IMAP, so just set you Outlook / Thunderbird setting to collect mail from (or whatever the server is) and carry on regardless, BUT I think you gain web access to your mail box should you wish.

    Seem on reading just to be a change of hosting / server (never can figure out which is which) ;-)

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ends of sticks

    Dunno about the advertiser skimming - I guess that depends on what deal's been struck. But you'll still be fine for local storage - you'll presumably connect to gmail with pop or imap.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Blasmeme RE: This really sucks.

    If you enable POP/IMAP on Gmail you don't see any ads. The only time you might (and I use that word intentionally) see ads based on your mail content is when you fiddle with your filters etc.

    We don't want you Virgin Media lot on Gmail anyway... :-)

  23. Jerome

    @ Blasmeme

    You have the wrong end of the stick. Gmail can be accessed via IMAP or POP3, just like your Virgin email account. Set up Outlook / Thunderbird / your email client of choice to access it and you'll not even notice the difference. You don't even have to put up with any advertising.

    Having said that, how much longer can Google continue to provide this service for free? I'm sure it doesn't cost them much per customer, but with world & dog using Gmail these days there must be a huge amount of server resources dedicated to it. The people accessing it solely through a proper email client avoid any advertising, thus removing Google's main revenue source. I'd be surprised if Virgin were paying Google much for the privilege of using their free email service.

  24. Paul
    Paris Hilton

    Jumping into bed ...

    Am I being too cynical or are Virgin Media just jumping into bed with any company that sells advertising and screw their customers ?

    Paris ... jumping into bed - you work it out.

  25. Paul

    @Blasmeme - yes you did miss something

    If you read the article, you'd see that you will get to keep the same facilities as before, i.e. IMAP/POP3 access to your mail.

    Quote: " and the same features including POP3 and IMAP access"

    I use gmail for domains and hardly ever login to the web interface, I just use my normal mail client with google's IMAP/SMTP access.

    So you get more space, from a more reliable provider (it does have its moments, but it still beats Virgin's system), and the same facilities. So stop being such a drama queen.

  26. A Tower of Silence
    Thumb Down

    Filthy filthy filthy

    I don't want Google's greasy spiders all over my private mail. And does this mean that all VM customers are automatically signed up to a Google account? Sign in once, and then forget to sign out, all your (Google related) activities nicely profileable down to a paying customer, with address and viewing habits thrown in!

    This stinks like a month old corpse trapped in a tree at the strandline.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    Is this good or bad?

    I think the critical issue here is what will Google be doing with my email and how does it impact my privacy? Given Google's record, I'd be surprised if they didn't make a bid to own it and use it for whatever they wanted, but maybe I'm just paranoid.

    Any word on the privacy aspects of this from The Reg would be most welcome.

  28. Dave

    Run your own

    I think the only bit I'll miss is that junkmail to my NTL email address currently gets autoforwarded to my home mail server where the spam filter bounces it. I gave up using ISP-supplied email services ten years ago, having acquired a shiny new domain name of my own and sorted out my own email server. Having a static IP address (not on the NTL feed though) means I can still send email without needing to rely on an ISP smarthost with added government snooping.

  29. darkmooink
    Thumb Up

    whats the problem here

    what are peoples problems here? its going from one multi-national company that doesn't give 2 hoots about your problems to another, the only difference is that google knows what they are doing and have a large team trying to improve it.

    where is the Larry and/or Sergey halo pic?

  30. twunt

    what kind of moron

    uses their ISP's email address anyway?

    And why would you use POP3 instead of IMAP - you people are morons.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    IF people would use it...

    PGP is a handy weapon to protect your mail while it is on googles servers.

  32. /etc


    "Using an ISP's email service is a bit like getting all your post via the estate agent .."

    Eh? In no way is it like that at all.

    However, getting your email via Gmail is exactly like getting all your post via an advertising company - and an advertising company that, to boot, opens and reads every letter that's every sent to you or by you.

    Unless Virgin is offering guarantees to its users that Google will not scan and data-mine any mail coming to or going from an address with a Virgin domain, its users have every reason to be outraged.

  33. Simon Langley
    Thumb Down

    Virgin had to do this - they suck too much to do it themselves

    I was a satisfied Blueyonder customer and then they were taken over by Telewest. I was a satisfied Telewest customer then they were taken over by Virgin. I am a totally dissatisified Virgin customer.

    I have already stopped using Virgin's email systems because they are so unreliable and moved over to Google. I had an email outage lasting three days a few months ago. BTW to the poster who complained about adverts on Google, use a google address with IMAP or POP and you'll never see any adverts.

    The main problem with Virgin though is that they lie about speeds, penalise users (by throttling) who use even half of the advertised speed and then frequently just lose cable signal. I have had to complain three times in the last three weeks because my Virgin Broadband connection has died. Each time it was clear that the problem was on their side but each time I had to go through the charade of checking my cable modem settings, rebooting firewalls, turning off, back on, blah blah blah. Each time they finally admitted that the problem was on their side and eventually fixed it without having to visit my house.

    They have even had the temerity to invite me to spend even more money upgrading to 50mb. Give me the service I'm already paying for you scumbags and then perhaps I'll think about spending more with you, but I hate them so much that I am actually thinking of downgrading instead.

  34. Steve
    Paris Hilton


    So they have given up on being an email provider, it would be nice if they now admitted they are also crap at providing fast reliable broadband.

    Even Paris can see they are the worst ISP of all time...

  35. Ben Rose
    Thumb Up

    Make sense to me

    If you're unable to hire decent staff who can manage your internal mail systems, it makes sense to outsource.

    Gmail isn't without it's own downtime issues though.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Neil - Beta

    Your probably confusing the freetard Googlemail service, which they class as Beta, with the paid for Google Apps mail service that hosts mail with your own domain..

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    Google email advertises?

    Is there advertising on Google email? Google have been skimming my email for years now and, without looking, I couldn't tell you where on the page the adverts are or who typically advertisers on them.

    Ok - I just looked. It's a load of text down the right hand side. My brain obviously filters it out as the noise it is. Oh, but hang on, I never access my Google email through the web only through a client on my computer. So I never see any of their advertising. That'll be why I don't know what it looks like.

    I hope Google aren't reading this.

    Saint Jobsy - cos he represents the trendy new conglomerates who give me stuff for free.

  38. Eddie Edwards

    @ /etc

    "However, getting your email via Gmail is exactly like getting all your post via an advertising company - and an advertising company that, to boot, opens and reads every letter that's every sent to you or by you."

    I wish this definition of "read" had been in action when I was doing GCSE English. Scanning a Shakespeare play for keywords would have been so much easier than actually comprehending it.

  39. Stuart

    I despair sometimes...

    Some people are just out for any excuse to be negative. So far all VM has done is announce the project but have put no flesh on the bones, however some of you are already seeing the devil in the detail.

    If the story was that VM were keeping the existing platform and adding another tier of storage, the comments would be that they already have problems coping and should look at the example of wonderful free GMail.

    TBH with some of you, if the story was that everything is going to stay exactly the same, but everyone was going to get a free laptop/ipod/xbox/<insert gadget here>, there would then be 3 camps - 1) it's not the right technology for me, 2) it'll be used to spy on me and my tinfoil hatted mates, 3) off topic vitriole because of an existing bias, so VM (and pretty much every major tech co, as the same comments apply) are damned whatever they do.

    Personally I like VM, and I like GMail, but which is the best, there's only one way to find out...

    (Harry Hill icon? Would be ideal for fanboy, mine is better than yours flamewars)

  40. Tim Wesson

    Excellent News!

    Email was one of the things that was holding me to Virgin. Now there's nothing to stop me changing: I just need to get a round tuit!

    Flames, 'cos that's what will be happening to my Virgin account!

  41. Nic Evans
    Jobs Horns

    ISP independance for just a few pounds per year

    The email is the only thing that ties you to the ISP. Changing your email address is as disruptive as changing your bank. While you can get a gmail/yahoo/hotmail account you then become as dependant on them - and have to put up with the advertising. I dont understand why everyone doesnt pay a few pounds a year to get a domain with a few email accounts which can be directed to the mailbox of your choice. A small price to pay for your online indentity:

    I had the most horrendous service from NTL and Blueyonder on installing broadband - but my email continued uninterrupted and I was safe in the knowledge that I could walk if it wasnt sorted. The cable broadband has run for five years with only one interruption - with the cable modem replaced before 9am the next morning!

  42. Aaron Singh
    Thumb Up


    I was getting fed up with that measly 30mb storage.

    It seems that VM have done something good for once.

    However does this mean gmail targeted advertising?

  43. Vicchi

    @Camilla Smythe

    "I'm sure Virgin will sort stuff for you....???"

    Oh thank you, that's the best laugh I've had all week.

  44. Anonymous Coward

    Do you actually think PGP is any good in GMAIL???

    Oh, come on!!!! pulleeezze! If Google wanted to peek into your PGP encrypted mail, they would brute-force hack it open, just pushing the mail code through their billion-flops computing power to get your password (or bypass it, I don´t know how it´s really done here) in, like, a split-second.

    It is a closed-white-picket-fence policy from my point of view: Everybody can jump over a 3-foot tall white fence, but you are not supposed to, since the tiny gate is locked. It is pretty much live WEP encryption - if it is enabled, you are not supposed to bypass it, but you can potentially hack it open in 60 seconds...

    You can just prove that if the mail was encrypted, it was not supposed to be openly accessible, hence, you can sue if its contents are revealed (or can you?). Don't plan your next terrorist attack to kill the president through e-mail if you really want privacy. Oops, there you go, now the FBI is tracking this message... but only El Reg can snitch my ID...

  45. gaz

    Great News

    Great news for me, as I gave up on my blueyonder account years ago, when it started getting spammed to death, not to mention the crap user name, password, and web interface. I have my blueyonder stuff forwarded to gmail, which nicely weeds out the viagra and penis pump adverts etc.

    I want to be able to access my email wherever I am, be it at work, or any of my PCs at home. Gmail though a browser makes that easy for me, and it's free for the cost of a couple of unobtrusive adverts. I also have what is close to push email using imap on my Nokia N800 tablet.

    Good news Virgin finally making a couple of good decisions, mystuff (or whatever it's called) looks useful as well.

    Now if only they would give me a cheap V+ box (150 quid - havin a laff), as I only want HD and HDMI out. None of this PVR crap, as my myth box is much much better, although the vplayer which has been hinted in blogs for about a years time looks good as well.

  46. This post has been deleted by its author

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just the latest cost-cutting exercise

    So, Google now has the email monopoly on the two major subscription TV providers in this country - Sky and Virgin Media.

    Sounds like Virgin Media's latest cost-cutting exercise, resulting in even more useless customer service. Good look trying to get support from Google via telephone - the best they offer is community self-help support on 'Google Groups' (newsgroups to you and me).

    I wouldn't be surprised if Virgin Media did this because it would be too much hassle and expense to try and adapt their existing multiple legacy email platforms to integrate with Wacky Jacqui's new email uberdatabase. Now the onus is on Google to provide the UK government with all the emails instead. So much for the mandatory SSL that GMail now enforces!

    Off to check how well PGP integrates with Google Mail...

  48. Chris Martin
    Thumb Up

    Same as SKY

    I use Gmail as a SKY user, I have had very little trouble with it. I have found it better then some 'local' systems I have used in the past. If Virgin use the same model as SKY the you have full access via Outlook or any other POP client of your choice, the mail is sent and received via a SSL link, You can send and receive emails to your client if you are connecting via another ISP - say you are away from base and use a hot spot or 3G, I work away from home alot so can't always connect to my ISP and found that I could recieve email via another ISP, but on send when using the old ISP hosted POP servers.

    I use the option to keep a copy of all my email on Gmail after it has been delivered to my client as a backup. For those who are concerned about evesdropping etc, you can always encrypt via an PGP plugin.

  49. Anonymous Coward

    Admin interface login publically exposed

    Bit of a security risk?

    "Sign in to manage Virgin Media"

    User login will be via:

  50. Steve


    Google For Eurovox 7000 ;-)

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    transferring all of a UK based user's personal emails, to an American company like google would be some sort of breach of the UK's data protection laws without gaining your express permission (ie no you didn't opt out to something you didn't know about so we did it anyway bollocks)

    Although that particular condition may have been scrapped, it has been nearly 10 years since i studied data protection law.

  52. Lee Dowling Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    @Nic Evans

    I couldn't agree more - why anyone uses ISP-provided email is beyond me. You can get domain names for as little as £1 a year or less, and even if you just use them for email forwarding it's worth it.

    I picked up on this way before I started using email in earnest all those years ago and own several domains that redirect email to wherever I want. I even "host" addresses for relatives and friends that want them by redirecting to my mother's email address (because she can never remember it and doesn't want the hassle of emailing EVERYONE she knows when she decides to change ISP).

    If anyone ever considers changing email, just register a domain name first and give THAT address out to people (you can even have, like, etc. for competitions and so on). Then you'll NEVER have to change the email they have for you ever again - just move the forwarding or, if you're unhappy with the nameserver service, move the domain to a different host.

    Case in point - I have been using Hotmail since before it was "fashionable" to use webmail. I even paid for their extended service at one point. Then they decided to break Opera several times with no possibility of a fix forthcoming. Logged into three domain name control panels, changed the forwarding to a GMail address. I didn't have to tell anyone I'd changed and, after 24 hours, everything arrives in GMail, there were no lost emails (but some still ended up in Hotmail for a little while) and my Hotmail account now sits empty. And when GMail do something to annoy me, I'll just do the same again to somewhere else, or to my own hosting or whatever.

    My wife does this (sends through to our ISP's POP3), my brother (hundreds of redirections for various purposes to various people), random members of friends and family (they "borrow" email addresses at our domains, etc.) for years. I host websites on the domains, so the email is "free", but you can get forwarding for next-to-nothing these days.

  53. Richard Cartledge
    Thumb Down

    Spy in your email

    I set up a google mail account because I wanted to send an anonymous email to my local council.

    As soon as it was sent, adverts for Council 'jobs' for Diversity Engenderment Coordinators and suchlike appeared in banners around my inbox. I would never trust my email to such an outfit.

  54. Anonymous Coward

    Virgin email

    I've had a Virgin email account for just over a year now, and I'm bemused about how much whining there is about advertising in gmail. The first time I checked my virgin mail account (within a week of setting the connection up) I had a number of emails - from companies who must have bought or been sold my email address through Virgin. If this isn't advertising then I don't know what is - at least with gmail it's targeted. With Virgin it's from companies who I never do business with now, because they continue to spam me with their trash -- Screwfix are you listening?

    For the rest of the emails that I get, their "filtering" of spam is as abysmal as BT's email used to be before they sorted it out. To be bluint any email system would be better than what they offer right now.

  55. Blacklight

    So, credentials then...

    So how will this work?

    I have a VM account (accessed via POP3) AND a Gmail account.

    Both have different user names. My GMail account picks up my VM email, as I've chosen to give GMail my creds.

    What happens when this moves? Do I suddenly get two GMail addresses? Can I get one GMail address to access the other and aggregate my email for me? Are VM going to pass my VM login details to Google? (as of course, we'll all need to just carry on logging in with the same user/pass combinations) - or are they going to be running some massive LDAP auth thing?


  56. dreadful scathe
    Thumb Up

    aah the irony

    have been with telewest/VM since 2000 and switched to Gmail years ago for all my mail needs - google offer a much better email service (and yes you can easily get all your messages offline if you wish) not that VM are "moving" to gmail the web app (lol at the thought) - it will still be up to you what client you use when you use googles mail servers instead of virgins.

    @ Simon Langley

    "I was a satisfied Blueyonder customer and then they were taken over by Telewest. I was a satisfied Telewest customer then they were taken over by Virgin. "

    Slightly confused aren't we? Telewests broadband was called "cableinet", they rebranded it as "blueyonder", they then merged into VirginMedia. Simple as that. I agree though, there is no doubt VM is a very badly organised company.

    But for me, other than the fairly rubbish customer service (they managed to delete ALL my email accounts and mails in a house move and it took a week just to get them to reinstate one of them due to an "illegal" name) there is little downtime (on avg theres a few hours per year) and i do get the full broadband speed as advertised (last 2 being the only important things to me)... by reading some comments though, i think i may just be lucky :)

  57. Anonymous Coward

    @ Anon "Do you actually think PGP is any good in GMAIL??? "

    Yes, sure, google could theoretically brute force a (single) PGP message if they devoted ALL their CPUs to it for a few decades, assuming it is properly encrypted (key size, etc).

    As for bypassing it, no, they can't, it is encrypted when they receive it, that is the point of PGP.

    Please learn how PGP works before posting.

  58. Anonymous Coward


    Dont people remember. VM's webmail serves you adverts anyway. And is terribly slow and their servers dont work.

    At least theyre moving to gmail which has some very fast services. Lot of extra options. And the teeny tinest advert you have ever seen that just links to a keyword inside your email. Instead of the big flash one that VM server up.

  59. Damien Thorn
    Thumb Down


    Are new users of virgin being given .gmail email extensions? or have virgin customised them.

    Try signing up to ebay with a gmail account.

    Try signing up to my sites with a gmail account.

    In fact try signing up to most sites with a gmail account.

    I use virgin, part of the terms and conditions say we must check our emails reguarly, i havent had access to mine in months, and they have no idea why not.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Do you actually think PGP is any good in GMAIL???"

    Bit overly paranoid there. As long as your password/phrase is decent it would take even google a very, very long time to break it.

  61. Anonymous Coward

    What about SMTP?

    I use my VM account for sending mail from my domain and like it to be tagged from my domain not @gmail or @viginmedia.

    I cant get a proper fixed ip from VM and as such a proper reverse DNS entry so that my exchange box can send out for itself.

    Unfortunately with the distance from the phone exchnage DSL broadband is .5 Mbit at best so I'm left with no viable alternative to Virgin.

    Anyone recommend a paid smtp provider I can use when they finally pull the plug?

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google corporate email services

    Okay, I've had some experience of talking with Google about corporate email services. So here's what I've learned.

    1: All email belongs to the recipient. Unless deleted it remains on Google's servers until the account is terminated. If the company chooses to end its agreement with Google they have 1 year to migrate data to a new provider and Google offers tools to do this.

    2: Targeted advertising is an option which is usually switched OFF for corporate users. Of course they can choose to allow it for their users.

    3: Data protection. Google is a party to the EU / US 'Safe Harbor' scheme which means that personal information held outside the EU is protected to the same degree as required under EC legislation.


  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It's interesting that blueyonder mail is apparently unreliable. I was a long time blueyonder customer (and obviously subsequently telewest) until I moved to an area with no cable in 2005. In all the years I was on blueyonder I don't recall any significant mail outages. So what we have here then is a service that worked just fine until Virgin took over and "improved" the service.

    Take a working system mess it up to the extent that it's no longer fit for purpose and then move all your customers to a service that is free anyway. The best bit of the whole thing though is that they've picked a service which has had some well publicised problems itself.

    When I first moved from cable to DSL I missed it. Having seen the way Virgin treat their customers I'm glad I couldn't bring cable with me.

  64. Anonymous Coward

    @Damien Thorn

    er..what exactly is your point? I don't understand what you are saying?

    Every website/service I am signed up for (including The Reg, eBay, 4OD, F1 live timing, skype etc...) I have used one gmail account or another. I have never once encountered a problem.

    Are you sure you're reading it right?

  65. Anonymous Coward

    @What about SMTP?

    You can send mail as if it were from your domain from gmail. Go to settings and add a pop3 account then when it asks if you want to be able to send form this address say yes, follow the instructions in the confirmation e-mail and you are sorted.

    When sending just hit the drop down & select the mail address you wish to send from.

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Go the whole hog?

    For ISPs to support Gmail using the customers chosen domain rather than using an extension of the ISPs domain.

    Switching ISP always seems to have that pain about changing and notifying change of email address.

    Personally I hope the world and its dog drop POP based email soonest making IMAP a universal norm.

  67. Vicchi

    @dreadful scathe

    "Slightly confused aren't we? Telewests broadband was called "cableinet", they rebranded it as "blueyonder", they then merged into VirginMedia"

    Telewest's original cable internet offering was Cableinet and was, IIRC, brought into Telewest as part of the acquisition of Cable London. Cableinet was rebranded as BlueYonder long before the Telewest/NTL merger and subsequent rebranding as Virgin Media.

    I was a Telewest customer for 8 years before Virgin Media and my cable internet was always called BlueYonder.

  68. kb9aln

    What's In It For Google?

    I just went through this with my ISP here in the states (TDS Metrocom). We had reliable E-Mail service with no problems and had web access as well. I seldom used the web access, only when I was not at home and wanted to check my mail. Pop3 is used at home to collect my mail and I work off-line.

    My main objection has been that I never agreed to this and never wanted it. I have to ask why it was done? I can only speculate that there is some profit in it for someone, possibly everyone but me.

    One of the first problems I experienced was that Google mail requires secure POP3. My old E-Mail client did not do this (or so I thought, turns out it does when you know the secret incantation). And then there was reconfiguring the firewall on my DSL gateway to allow secure POP3.

    I would also say that Virgin Media customers should look over their Google mail settings carefully. By default, Google mail does not listen when a pop3 client tells it to delete copies of your mail when that pop3 client collects it. You need to access your account and set this up under POP3/IMAP settings. Otherwise, they appear to stay there forever.

    And another problem is that when you do this, the "deleted" mail gets moved to the "Trash" folder instead of being fully deleted. I have not had the time or inclination to investigate if this done for you on a timed basis, or if you have to do it manually. I just log in via the web interface and do it myself.

    In the end, this is a series of hassles which I did not need. I never asked for it, and wonder why Google is so anxious to provide E-Mail service. Apparently there is something in it for them, otherwise they would not go through the trouble of providing the service.

    I wonder how reliable Google Mail will become when they have all of the world's E-Mail to deal with?

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Anything better than VM mail? Yes, but no thanks all the same!

    Having been a Cable/NTL/Virgin customer for donkey's years, I can say that their email system has always been a complete have all their tangled and screwed up web services.

    When VM started updating their servers I thought, aha, at last, some progress, but I didn't see the GMail push coming; I was, naively, expecting great reforms. Doh! Sucker punch there.

    Personally I don't like GMail at all, even with the 7Gig of 'free' storage. Given the choice I much prefer Yahoo! mail. But that is irrelevant because I dumped unreliable ISP email years and years ago and have managed my own mail through paid for hosting services. Of course that means extra expense, but if you want reliability there's no other choice.

    And, to finish, given the price you pay for VM's broadband services, I think VM dumping all their customers onto GMail is a bloody cheek. A free GMail account? Thanks, but no thanks. Glad to have saved you the money, not.

  70. MarkMac

    Worse service... actually...

    Smaller mailbox (currently we get 10MB), potentially scanned by 3rd party for demographics analysis, using a service well-known for being a spammers heaven, in an offshore jurisdiction with poor DP laws. Great move.

    I block all mail from google's servers because virtually all the mail I get from them is phishing and spam using throwaway accounts, and all my real contacts have proper email. I strongly suspect I'm far from alone in this. So virginmedia customers may have some issues.

    But maybe we do VM a disservice - maybe in reality they'll be deploying google's technology but using their own hardware.

    Somehow I think not.

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The day my ISP outsorces my mail to GMail... the day I change ISPs. This is ridiculous. One has to wonder how much Google is paying Virgin Media to screw its customers over. If Vigin cared about it's customers, they's simply replace their piece of crap mail system with one that works.

  72. Mike Bronze badge

    from address...

    currently i can send email through virgins servers with my own from addresses (my own domains), not a problem

    when they switch to gmail this will apparently not be possible, to those saying gmail lets you send from your own domain, no it does not - even if you stick multiple domains in a single google apps account all outbound email is associated with your account on the primary domain

    if you add alternate "from" addresses it changes the from address, then adds a "sender" header with your original gmail account in it - which anyone who has ever tried emailing companies like this will know outlook shows the "sender" address and relegates "from" to just showing "on behalf of" next to it - with replies etc going to the "sender"

  73. Anonymous Coward

    @Worse service... actually...

    Sorry when did 7GB become smaller than 10mb?

  74. Anonymous Coward

    Almost correct

    "Telewest's original cable internet offering was Cableinet and was, IIRC, brought into Telewest as part of the acquisition of Cable London. Cableinet was rebranded as BlueYonder long before the Telewest/NTL merger and subsequent rebranding as Virgin Media."

    "Cableinet" was the brand name for Telewest's original dial-up Internet service launched in 1996. When Telewest launched their broadband service in 2000 they rebranded all of their Internet services as "blueyonder". A migration of cableinet email addresses to the domain was completed in 2002.

  75. Anonymous Coward

    kb9aln - What are you talking about?

    So you don't like the fact that Googlemail archives old mail... online back ups are usually very expensive, Google's is free. And so what, they scan your demographic properties and what?

    And the "secret incantation" you speak about are "settings", one off settings, that are set once and then forgotten about.

    What exactly is your IT interest, why do you even read El Reg?

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    its a sign of things to come, VM seem determined to go down the old NTL business model of outsource everything and then you cant be blamed for problems that arise, you merely blame the outsourced company.

    a sad but common attitude these days.

    though i think everyone has now realised that NTL buying telewest was the beginning of the end, no new shiny wonder ISP emerged, just a monster NTHell which is what everyone feared all along.

  77. Anonymous Coward

    from address

    "currently i can send email through virgins servers with my own from addresses (my own domains), not a problem. When they switch to gmail this will apparently not be possible, to those saying gmail lets you send from your own domain, no it does not - even if you stick multiple domains in a single google apps account all outbound email is associated with your account on the primary domain"

    Understanding the exact details of how Gmail handles email addresses when using email client software is quite complex, however the behaviour with Outlook can be summarised as follows:

    1. The Google Account name is always present in “Return Path” field of the SMTP headers. It also appears in the “Sender” field when this is present. It appears in the “From” field when a user defined Google “Send As” entry is not defined.

    2. The user defined Outlook field “E-mail Address” is never used when sending email using Gmail SMTP servers. The Google “Account Name” is used where no other user specified Gmail “Send As” addresses are defined. Where a user specified Gmail “Send As” exists and is set as the default “Send As” address for the email account this is used in preference to the Google “Account Name” and the “From” field may appear in the form of “From: <Google Account Name> on behalf of <Google Send As Address>” in some email clients.

    3. Where an Outlook “Reply To” value is specified this will take precedence over any specified Gmail “Reply To” value. If an Outlook “Reply To” value is not defined then any specified Gmail “Reply To” field associated with the default “Send As” address is used. If neither an Outlook “Reply To or Gmail “Reply To” exist then the Gmail “Send As” address is used if specified. If a user defined Gmail “Send As” address is not defined as the default “Send As” address then the Google “Account name” is used.

    4. With standard SMTP servers users can send emails using Outlook from multiple “From” email addresses by setting up multiple Outlook accounts using the same mailbox login credentials for the outgoing SMTP server but different email addresses configured in the Outlook “E-Mail Address” field. As this field is not used by the Gmail service the default Gmail “Send As” address configured inside the Gmail Webmail interface is used. With Gmail a user can not send emails via Outlook by using multiple different “From” email addresses configured as separate Outlook accounts, using the same mailbox login credentials for the outgoing SMTP server. This is because the “From” address used is that of the default Gmail “Send As” address configured for the email account within the Gmail webmail and interface not the “E-Mail Address” configured for each separate Outlook account.

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Smart move

    Seems like a smart move. I'm a virgin customer and they're not too bad. I've never used the Virgin ermail account. Why? Because Gmail is far superior. Its probably the best mail service in the world. You can work online, offline, access it from any phone, search incredibly quickly. Tons of features.

    If you're paranoid about evil people reading your email use hushmail, they've been doing some good things for years.

  79. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bleatings about Virgin Media and "free" Gmail accounts

    Virgin Media is not getting "free" GMail. They use the partner edition, which is a paid option. The costs are not published because they vary from partner to partner. However, the business edition for example costs $30/user/year in exchange for phone support and guaranteed 99.9% uptime SLAs. You can be guaranteed that a partner edition is definitely costed on a similar model. So it is not about Virgin Media dumping their users on a "free" service. If anything, Virgin Media is paying premium to make sure their mail doesn't die again, and if it does, it comes back up pronto. Their infrastructure costs will drop, generally the Virgin Media mail will improve in stability...

    In addition, you can run multiple gmail accounts and have each other send mail to each other... or retrieve mail from each other. It is not a problem at all. It's just that the boxes holding your mail sit next to each other on the same circuits.

    Of course, what is annoying is that all those TeleWest/NTL/Virgin Media spam geniuses sending mail will possibly bring GMail's servers into disrepute... not something us businesses on Gmail already appreciate (especially when they spam through Gmail itself).

  80. Anonymous Coward

    Come on...

    to the people complaining about Google skimming through their emails' text to place relevant ads. Those are computers analyzing text, why should one be bothered by it? I think we all take this privacy thing far too seriously. What's on our emails anyway that can't be shown to a chunk of parser code? Plans to rule over the world? Secret weaponry designs? Most of our email is so dull and uninteresting that even if it was made public to anyone in the internet no one would bother to read it, our lives are not as important as some people seem to think...

  81. Simon Langley

    I meant NTL not Telewest - VM still suck though

    @dreadful scathe

    You are quite right it wasn't Telewest is was NTL.

    Blueyonder/Telewest->NTL->Virgin was how I recall it went.

  82. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Do most of you *really* work in IT?

    How many of you have gone through puberty? This is all *very* basic stuff chaps. Use Google to find out what POP, IMAP and SMTP are. Search Google for "gmail outlook" or "gmail windows mail" or "gmail", or, I guess you have got the picture by now. Beside, I imagine that VM will add instructions (which exist on the main gmail site) to their help pages.

    Personally, I've never had a serious problem with Virgin Media, still show me a telco that doesn't suck in some way and I'll find you a dog that doesn't smell. Gmail has pretty much the best spam filter out there...

  83. Anonymous Coward

    lack of privacy

    I already have a gmail account...which is kept well away from my home account. wil the normal gmail rules and privacy invasion be valid for these transferred accounts too? this is bad. very bad.

  84. Steve Liddle

    gmail and adblock works :)

    Got a few gmail accounts, the only targeted adverts are one liners at the top of the email


    one recent email is about a castle that plan to visit with some friends near skegness, the advert is for Beit Hall Hotel in Kensingon, ie nowhere near the place I want to visit, buckingham palace is apparently very close and that must be the reason for the advert :)

    Not worried that gmail stores the emails on it's servers, more worried if phorm and the govt gets it's hands on the data only to lose it or let anyone who wants to look at it, do so :(

  85. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Very Good Move

    IMHO. I was recommended to GoogleMail a while back by professional colleagues. Their spam filters are damn good at dealing with the junk, and I really don't know what people are referring to when they say that gmail will increase the junk they get. Why is it so alarming that a company wants to advertise its own products then?

    Now if VM had made an announcement that they were handing the keys for their mail servers over to use hotmail then it would have been something to be alarmed about. Which introduces my Paris icon, one hot male and all that.....

  86. iamapizza

    GMail reliable?

    >Google's email service has been seen as relatively solid since its launch in 2004

    Reliability and GMail? When the hell did that happen? Is GMail out of beta yet?

  87. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Another Phorm moment for Virgin?

    If I recall correctly, VM don't have my consent to intercept my email other than is necessary to provide the email service.

    Therefore, I suspect that if they transferred the service to Google and the latter started scanning messages in order to target advertisements, there would be a breach of RIPA. I'm not sure who would have broken the law, but without my consent, I'm pretty sure it would be broken.

  88. Simon Painter

    whine whine whine

    Other ISPs do exist you know.

  89. DR

    @So, credentials then..

    . By Blacklight Posted Wednesday 15th April 2009 12:07 GMT

    So how will this work?

    I have a VM account (accessed via POP3) AND a Gmail account.

    umm, the article says, you keep your existing virgin, ntl, blueyonder ect addresses, just the mail is served from Gmail servers, (so you logon as, or to get to your virgin media mail, and you log on as to get to your gmail accout...

    with regards changing settings, I'd be rather surprised if Virgin didn't just make this seamless by changing their DNS records to point to a different end point.

    eg would end up pointing to the same address as and you -the end user wouldn't have to change anything in your settings, you still think that you get the service from Virgin, just the backend is hosted by google.

  90. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But will webmail users..

    get their emails scanned by Google or Virmin for targetted adverts. I am told this happens with the free Gmail. I dont know cos I dont use it so if someone can clear the facts ?

  91. Anonymous Coward

    3rd party Cable ISP's over VM cable dont exist any more

    "By Simon Painter Posted Thursday 16th April 2009 10:09 GMT

    Other ISPs do exist you know. "

    really, so tell us Simon, when exactly did Bethere start supplying their ISP services over UK cable then ?

    did they buy up the old AOL cable contract and force Virgin Media to continue that old 3rd party service......

    i dont think so.....

    although if the old AOL could put their ISP services on UK cable then why dont the others today ?

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