back to article Virgin Media only puts limited limits on its Unlimited service

Earlier this year the UK's advertising watchdog made the "unlimited" term used by broadband providers redundant, by confirming that moderate restrictions could be applied to network traffic, all the while letting the telcos continue to make "no caps" claims to subscribers. That surprise decision came in a ruling from the …


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  1. Richard Boyce

    Still throttling by up to 65%

    So the download throttling has been limited to 16% to make it "reasonable."

    Meanwhile the upload throttling can be as much as 65%, down from 75% when I last checked.

    If 16% is reasonable, by agreement, then 65% is still taking the piss on an "unlimited" service. They wouldn't keep doing this if they were honourable and took the ASA seriously.

    [Edit] It seems that existing customers on 20Mb/s and slower are still subject to 75% throttling in both directions.

    1. Lloyd

      Re: Still throttling by up to 65%

      I set up a new SkyDrive connection to upload a load of photos the other day, I'm not sure if it was Virgin or MS but 20GB took 3.5 days, (by my reckoning that's 0.55mbps), it absolutely killed the connection too.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Still throttling by up to 65%

      "Meanwhile the upload throttling can be as much as 65%, down from 75% when I last checked."

      One has to wonder what other ISPs do this and don't say anything about it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Still throttling by up to 65%

        One has to wonder what other ISPs do this and don't say anything about it.

        My wife works in a Church office where they currently suffer under TalkTalk who appear to be totally at ease with a throttling policy that reduces speed to virtually 0 whenever it rains! She's currently in the process of persuading them to move to VM (as its a cabled area and we've had VM broadband since TeleWest first launched blueyonder ~10 years ago with virtually no issues).

        As for VMs throttling ... I'm on their 60Mb service and I'd be quite happy if they changed the name to "40Mb and sometimes a bit faster".

  2. Ketlan

    What a bunch...

    I don't know why anyone bothers with these bozos. Try Zen fibre - thirty quid a month, no limits, no throttling and no bullshit. Oh, and excellent tech support when needed. :-)

    1. Ketlan

      Re: What a bunch...

      Ohmigod, I just noticed I got a badge! Thanks, Reg.

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: What a bunch...

        "Ohmigod, I just noticed I got a badge! Thanks, Reg."


        And don't be put off by the boring twunts that downvoted you!

        1. Thecowking

          Re: What a bunch...

          People with badges clearly have too much time on their hands.

          Boring buggers.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: What a bunch...

            badges? I just found them irritating and made the comments section look ugly ... but a simple AdBlock+ rule sorted that out!

            1. Elmer Phud

              Re: What a bunch...

              We don' need no steenking badges!

        2. Ketlan

          Re: What a bunch...

          Cheers, Jamie. :-)

          1. sabroni Silver badge

            Re: Re: What a bunch... Cheers, Jamie. :-)

            FFS, get a room! We've got bitching to do!!!

    2. Chris_J

      Re: What a bunch...

      If your lucky enough to live in one of the few areas BT has rolled out FTTC that may be sound advice, however the vast majority wont be able to get that service.

      P.S. Its not just country bumpkins, I am in Central London (Zone 1) and its not available.

      1. Joe Montana

        Re: What a bunch...

        The assumption is that if you're in zone 1 you're either extremely rich or running a business, and should therefore be going for business class leased lines instead of consumer grade connections like DSL. Zone 1 is a complete ghetto as far as consumer level broadband goes.

        1. Mayhem

          Re: What a bunch...

          @Joe Montana

          Zone 1 is a ghetto for commercial fibre as well, and even having money to spend doesn't help - we've been waiting almost 14 months for a symmetric 100Mb fibre line to be run into Piccadilly thanks to an overstuffed pipe.

          So far there is a 20m gap between our building and the street box that has taken 8 months to attempt to get a new pipe run through. A more useless pack of wallies I haven't met.

          It also doesn't help that there are only two groups licenced to pull fibre in central London - Virgin and BT. Ours is a Colt circuit, but we still need Virgin to do the last mile, or 20m in this case.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: What a bunch...

            "It also doesn't help that there are only two groups licenced to pull fibre in central London" -

            And Geo - try them...

    3. HMB

      Re: What a bunch...

      I'm glad you pointed them out. I did notice that they're around 20% more expensive, but I'm glad to see they're doing a 12 month term instead of defaulting to BT's 18 months.

      However, Zen or not, I'm pretty sure that it's all just BT wholesale to the ISP.

      All I'm trying to say is that if BT has had their grubby mits on it I'm sure it's not a shining beacon of unsullied light.

    4. TheVogon

      Re: What a bunch...

      But Zen don't seem to offer anything close to a 120 Mbps service? The highest seems to be "up to 76 Mbps" for £25 + VAT

      Also it doesn't seem to be available without a phone line costing another £17 + VAT a month....

      Virgin 120 Mbps costs £35 + VAT with no phone line cheaper.

      1. You have not yet created a handle

        Re: What a bunch...

        I was thinking the same.. plus if it's included in your XXL TV/Phone/Broadband package it works out cheaper still.

        I know that I get 116Mb+ DS and 11Mb+ US every hour of every day (I'm part of the SamKnows Performance Monitoring panel), and even if I did hit the traffic shaping policies in place then the worst I will go down to is 100Mb (and that's ACTUAL 100Mb) which is still greater than the 'up to' 76Mb on offer from Zen... So, where's the logic in swapping?

    5. Duke2010

      Re: What a bunch...

      Thanks for the heads up on these guys, never heard of them. Zen actually works out quite a bit more expensive than Virgin but they give static IPs, something you cant have on VM.

      I currently have VM 120mbps XXL package. Rarely get over 80mb down and 6mb up. Quite annoying as I like to use remote desktop. A static IP and better upload would do nicely. Will look at these guys come upgrade time.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: What a bunch...

        80/6Mb is waaaay more than you need for remote desktop. Even VNC will work on less than 1Mb each way, RDP is much more efficient than VNC.

        Instead of a static IP, you could use one of the dynamic DNS services available, or just write a script which checks your public IP and emails you when that changes, which won't be that often if our VM account is anything to go by.

      2. cbars Silver badge

        Re: What a bunch...


        VM IPs pretty much never change in my experience. I have had it change once in the last year, and prior to that it was stable for a year. Doesn't bother me that much. I use a free DynDNS account to update my parents DNS records, they are on BT but I suppose you could play the same game with VM, albeit at a much lower refresh rate.


  3. phil dude

    mangled english....

    I think it is pretty much fraud. Unlimited is unlimited. If you want to prorate it and say "average rate = X", then fine so we can see this. T-mobile sort of does this by saying "first 1G is 4G, rest 2G". For mobile, it is evolution. For wired service it is degeneracy...

    Oh and Three was actually unlimited....!

    How about the companies just buy more kit, I mean, how does Google wire an entire city for Gb...? I think contention ratios used to be published...?

    Yeah I know it is a small scale, but you must wonder what the future would be if every person in the world had Gb access to the internet for whatever purpose they'd like (including hosting).


    1. Annihilator

      Re: mangled english....

      Contention ratios used to be published, but they were usually 50:1 for "normal" domestic services, 25:1 for good ones.

      1. Danny 14

        Re: mangled english....

        contention ratios would be relatively meaningless on cable though. It doesnt work the same way. You could be on a completely no cap 100Mb service. If the whole street is on the same and also like to download perfectly legal ISOs of windows 8.1 then you'll find you get a trickle anyway. If you live in the countryside with noone else on cable then you'll get 100Mb all day long.

        FTTC may well suffer the same. That pipe back from the cabinet has a finite capacity too. If your cab is full of EVIL-DOWNLOADING-DATAHOGGERS(tm) I imagine you will suffer the same fate.

        The nasty part about VM is that they will throttle you anyway - even if noone else is near you.

        1. Annihilator

          Re: mangled english....

          You've just described what a contention ratio is though. Regardless of where the bottleneck is, the company *should* have a target contention ratio that it shouldn't breach. FTTC is the same (and bear in mind, VM *is* FTTC). If the backhaul out of the cab is 100Mb, you can sell 25 x 100Mb connections, or 50 x 50Mb connections without breaching your 25:1 ratio. They sell an additional 100Mb on that cab, they have to update the backhaul to 101Mb.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: mangled english....

        50:1 in the uk maybe (where you paid for local calls.)

        In more enlightened countries if you didn't run at least 12:1 people would bitch like mad about regularly busy signals. The "unlimited" ISPs back in those dialup days ended up having to run around 5:1

        1. Annihilator

          Re: mangled english....

          "50:1 in the uk maybe (where you paid for local calls.)

          In more enlightened countries if you didn't run at least 12:1 people would bitch like mad about regularly busy signals. The "unlimited" ISPs back in those dialup days ended up having to run around 5:1"

          I'm talking about the first DSL products, not DUN. I was also talking about bandwidth contention ratios.

  4. john devoy

    Little true choice

    I'm stuck with Virgin cos there's no alternative; If i switch to a non cable ISP my maximum speed will be 4mbit.

    1. Sartori

      Re: Little true choice

      Exactly the same here, if I move to ADSL then the speed I can expect is somewhere between 1 and 3meg, woohoo!

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why the hell...

      May I humbly suggest you try VM along my street. 98% of the householders are on VM. Their download speeds between 15:00-00:00 are truly awful. My neighbour decided (Against my advice) to download Windows 8.1. He started at 11:30 last sunday monrning. It finished just before 21:00.

      I downloaded a film from netflix over my BT FTTC connection earlier that evening at close to 5.5Mb/sec.

      So VM speeds are best then? I beg to differ.

      1. Dodel

        Re: Why the hell...

        I download 8.1 on newsgroups I get 120mb+ on VM, I download same 8.1 on torrents I get about 10mb... It's not the service providers fault..

        1. TheVogon

          Re: Why the hell...

          " I download same 8.1 on torrents I get about 10mb"

          Use port 554, forced encryption, allow ~700 peers, and limit upload speed to say 5Mbps. Then you will easily max it out....

        2. Prof Denzil Dexter

          Re: Why the hell...

          it *IS* the service provider's fault. they inspect the packets and aggressively throttle torrents.

          I downloaded the newest ISO of mint last night, got 1.1MB / second unencrypted. I then renewed by VPN sub and tried again, the same torrent i got 6MB / second.

          i'm on VM 60meg service. i find it reasonable but the tivo box is piss poor. they say it has its own 10meg line, but anything on demand buffers between about 4pm and midnight.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Why the hell...

            "it *IS* the service provider's fault. they inspect the packets and aggressively throttle torrents."

            The ASA has already stomped on this practice. A complaint is in order.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why the hell...

        I downloaded 8.1 from the Store during peak time on VM, the whole process took 30 to 40 minutes (I don't know for sure because I had some paint elsewhere that needed watching). Your neighbours are clearly free to choose an alternative if they are unsatisfied given that you have, although you may want to keep it to yourself...

      3. Chris_J

        Re: Why the hell...

        Thats the problem with cable, if 98% of your neighbours are on the VM your local UBR gets congested, upload speeds seem to suffer most as the DOCIS heavily favours download capacity.

        Luckily my area seems to be fairly lightly used for now at least.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why the hell...

          "upload speeds seem to suffer most as the DOCIS heavily favours download capacity."

          Surely there is no contention between upload and download? They use different frequency ranges...

      4. TheVogon

        Re: Why the hell...

        No Virgin speed issues here - I can max out my connection any time of day without much difficulty. The fastest home service I have ever had, and I have tried a few 'fibre' based ones. I can hit the claimed 120Mbps down / 12Mbps up quite easily.

        I suggest that your neighbour's issues are likely due to the Internet - not Virgin.

        Your comparison is not valid as you are not testing anything remotely similar....

      5. You have not yet created a handle

        Re: Why the hell...

        Hard wired or wireless?

        My average download over 2.4G wireless was 30Mb in my street (lots of BT shitehubs in range), moved to 5G and this jumped up to the 120Mb I have coming into my house, same results if I plugged in directly to the hub.

        Speak to VM and ask to be included in the Sam Knows trials - they send you a box that you plug in and it monitors your line speed all day/night - you get to see the real speed you are receiving at any time.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why the hell...

      Why the hell aren't the ASA stamping on the other ISPs claims of "no limits"?

      Because they are not a statutory body. They are a self -regulation bunch financed within the advertising industry and know which hands feed them.

    3. Shady

      Re: Why the hell...

      I live on a new-build housing estate - and I live in the only household that has any VM subscriptions of any kind. It's like I've got the internet to myself.

    4. hokum

      Re: Why the hell...

      Lots of other ISPs are unlimited though. Sky, TalkTalk and BT, for example, all now offer unrestricted services on their top-tier products: no caps, no fair usage, no traffic management.

      I download and upload a ridiculous amount with my Sky fibre, never heard a peep from them.

      Virgin have always been among the worst of the big name providers when it comes to traffic management and usage caps. They very much deserve a slap on the wrist.

      1. PatientOne

        Re: Why the hell...

        'Lots of other ISPs are unlimited though.'

        Technically this isn't true. There is an implied limit imposed due to network speed. So if you're on a 20mbs line, then that's your limit: 20mbs. Can't go paying for a 20mbs line and expecting to get 120mbs, now can you?

        'no caps'

        Again, technically not true: You have a limited timeframe* and a limited connection speed, which means there is a cap on what you can upload/download**. These are even artificially enforced as the line might be able to handle 30Mbs or 100Mbs but you're only paying for 20Mbs so you get 20Mbs.

        It all comes down to how you want to interpret 'unlimited' and 'cap', but it isn't fair to say that one service is unlimited when it admits it throttles the connection speed at times and under certain conditions while others could well be throttling their service all the time, or doing it without warning you.

        If any of these ISPs were serious about fair use, they'd work out how much you'd used and refund you an amount if you had used less than x amount of the service you had paid for (much as BT were doing on some phone tarrifs).

        * It's easier to work out the cap as an amount over a given time, such as a day, a week, a month or a year. The cap is generally more than you'd ever reach, but it is still there. See **

        ** a rough calculation puts the cap at 1,728,000 Mb a day for a 20Mbs service

        *** And with that pedantry out the way, I'll go get my coat. It's at home...

        1. hokum

          Re: Why the hell...

          And it's not unlimited because there's only a finite amount of energy in the universe and eventually all the atoms will fly apart and heat death will occur!

          You're choosing a very silly nitpicking definition of unlimited that nobody else uses. Stop being ridiculous.

          1. PatientOne

            Re: Why the hell...

            Unlimited: Without limit. Simple definition. Check a dictionary.

            If a service was unlimited, then you would connect at the speed the equipment is able to support. No ISP does that: They all offer packages that set a limit to the connection speed. For example, I'm on a 60Mbs connection but I could pay more and have that changed to 120Mbs. I'd not need new equipment for this, nor another line: A simple database change and a signal down to my router and the speed cap/limit will be changed.

            So in speed terms: Unlimited isn't.

            In data terms, unlimited simply means you don't have to worry about how much data you upload/download. There are mobile contracts that include data plans that limit how much data you can consume before being charged extra. Or they can apply a cap at which point they simply cut your connection off.

            So no, I am not nitpicking or being rediculous: I'm pointing out (perhaps badly, granted) that the argument against Virgin applies to connection speed (throttling) when BT and other ISP's advertise unlimited service while applying connecton speed limits themselves, where as most users see Unlimited as no limits or caps on data 'consumption'.

            It is all down to how you interpret 'unlimited'.

  6. frank ly

    Oh FFS!

    If they all told the truth, there would be no need for all this argument and legal action. Oh, ....I'm sorry ..... that was a stupid thing to say. We now live in a world where lying by politicians and corporations is standard and required practice.

  7. Da Weezil

    The ASA are a mahoosive joke. Virgin, BT etc are all serial offenders who routinely have rulings against their adverts AFTER they have finished running.

    There is no real regime of protection against the lies and half truths that come from these companies whose advertising people operate with the comfort of knowing that that the ASA has the same ability to hurt them as a teddy bear. Sometimes it seems that the companies have become so immersed in their deceptions that they have lost sight of the real world.

    There is a real need for a PROPER regulator with real powers to hurt these companies badly for their routine lies, massive fines, compensation for duped customers along with the ability to rescind the contract where it can be reasonably shown that the customer was drawn to sign up by an advert running at or just prior to the contract commencement

  8. Annihilator


    "Virgin Media was told by the regulator that the ads must not appear again in their current form and to no longer make claims that its service was "unlimited" and with "no caps" if its imposes more than moderate traffic controls to its broadband network."

    Why doesn't the ASA force them to provide the product they advertised? At a minimum, to the people who signed up during that period the ad ran? They'd change their tune pretty sharpish if that was the punishment.

    1. Danny 14

      Re: Alternatively...

      because not only are they toothless advertising watchdogs, they arent magicians either.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anyone here using Virginmedia?

    I'd like to know if they have told you that they export your data abroad (they use Google).

    1. John G Imrie

      Re: Anyone here using Virginmedia?

      Yes I use Virgin.

      No I don't recall them telling me they export my data abroad.

      Yes I did spot the gmail folder in my mail box.

      However. Wouldn't transferring my data outside the EU without my express permission fall foul of EU Data Protection Laws?

      1. TheVogon

        Re: Anyone here using Virginmedia?

        "Wouldn't transferring my data outside the EU without my express permission fall foul of EU Data Protection Laws?"

        Nope. Safe harbour provisions assume that companies will apply an appropriate level of diligence to your data if they store it in the colonies - but with no way of enforcing it if they don't....

        Hopefully the Edward Snowden revelations will change all that and Europe will start taking the US approach of forcing compliance with our laws on those that want to do business with us...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Anyone here using Virginmedia?

          Safe harbour provisions assume that companies will apply an appropriate level of diligence to your data if they store it in the colonies - but with no way of enforcing it if they don't....

          Let me get this straight, reading what "Safe" Harbour entails - if they certify themselves compliant they can have EU data (no, seriously, this scam scheme depends on self-certification)? Nobody spotted the little tiny conflict of interest there? How is it even possible in a time after Snowden that the EU continues to accept what appears to be mere window dressing?

    2. Gerard Krupa

      Re: Anyone here using Virginmedia?

      Their email service is provided by Google. This was well-publicised at the time of the switch and is clearly stated in several places including the Web Mail client itself.

  10. Gordon Pryra

    Fcuking Hypocrite

    "The ISP's broadband director Joe Lathan told El Reg that Virgin Media was glad that the ASA had clarified what it defines as moderate traffic management."

    Why won't he define what Virgin Media define what the actual figure for a fair use policy is?

    1. Mog0

      Re: Fcuking Hypocrite

      Have a look on their web site...the full details are there, you just need to know to look (and search because it's tricky to find) but it is there.

  11. Chris_J

    Broadband is too cheap!

    The main problem is the broadband industry is in a race to the bottom on price and service gets dragged down with it.

    I doubt you would have all this traffic shaping, Phorming out of user data, port blocking, connection resetting, capping etc. nonsense if providers just charged a sustainable price for a decent unadulterated service.

    Of course they would still need to over sell the capacity they have to make it affordable (so long as it fits usage patterns this isn't a problem), but so long as they keep contention at reasonable levels I don't mind.

    Problem is few people are willing to pay for quality these days.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Broadband is too cheap!

      So how long have you worked for EE?

    2. Blane Bramble

      Re: Broadband is too cheap!

      @Chris_J - there is a bigger problem - those few, usually smaller, ISPs that provide a better product at a reasonable price tend to be successful for a while, and then are bought up by one of the big ISPs to grow the user base (usually because the small one has a technical user base who understand they get what they pay for and therefore it has lower churn than the industry standard). The result is one less option for those of us who are happy to pay a bit more for a better service.

      1. Chris_J

        Re: Broadband is too cheap!

        @Blane, totally agree, I was a happy be* broadband customer for years. Be bent over backwards to try and get the highest speed from my bad line, they spent weeks tweaking profiles to get the best, stable speeds and supported me when using my own router.

        Cant Imagine Sky doing that.

        @AC, I dont work for EE but rent & colo a few servers and appreciate the cost of bandwidth...

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Broadband is too cheap!

      "The main problem is the broadband industry is in a race to the bottom on price and service gets dragged down with it."

      Even if you opt out of the race, there is so much misleading fluff that it's hard to tell who's telling porkies and who's not. Once you get away from the bottom 10% price has little bearing on actual levels of service (vs perceived ones)

  12. Maharg

    When I moved into my girlfriends place a few years ago the speed was incredibly slow and would often go down, we got the TV, internet and landline all via virgin, which was in place when she moved in, we couldn’t change as it was rented and would have to go via the landlord, the engineers that came out to have a look were nice friendly guys who genuinely seemed to want to help, we had our router replaced, we had a ‘booster’ fitted, but all to no avail, nobody understood it as the signal coming into the street was quite good.

    This went on and off for about 9 months until one day one guy (who had been round twice before) came in and said what seemed to be the problem was that when the people living in the house next door and the one next to that had moved to Virgin whoever had done the install had just ran two connections off ours, instead of adding separate connections to the ‘pipe’ basically cutting our speed by a third, and making it drop out every time all three houses where connecting to the internet. (That’s how he explained it, I didn’t argue as I don’t do his job)

    I informed the other houses involved and they admitted they had had a number of engineers in to look at exactly the same issues, in the end after complaining (politely) to Virgin we were given a free upgrade, a couple of months free billing and the connections were set up properly, which we were happy about, we have since moved into our own home a few miles away and have not had any issues since.

    The point is whenever someone I know has said they have slower than they should speeds with any company I have told them about this, basically to (politely) ask the engineers to check, I’m not implying the engineers don’t know how to do their job, as I said very helpful guys who knew what they were doing, but they, like all of us when asked to fix a problem try to fix the problem, when sometimes what they have been asked to fix is not the issue in the first place.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Virgin whoever had done the install had just ran two connections off ours, instead of adding separate connections to the ‘pipe’ basically cutting our speed by a third, and making it drop out every time all three houses where connecting to the internet"

      It doesn't work like that. It's all a shared signal anyway at the local nodes - probably the issue was that the signal wasn't clean with that many connections due to impedance matching and reflection issues.......

    2. Jay 2

      I had something similar some time back when they were NTL. For a while my cable TV quality was horrible. Eventually an engineer was sent out and it was discovered that when one of my neighbours signed up, someone thought it would be a good idea to spur off my connection than to run a new cable out.

      That was one of the reasons I dumped them. The other was by being bombarded with offers to use their broadband, which when contacted they said wasn't available as I was in an ex-C&W area. So why keep askign me and puuing leaflets in through the letterbox then...?

  13. MJA


    I'm pretty neutral with VM. I've been a Broadband customer with 'them' since the Blueyonder days when 512kbps was mind blowing. I've heard a lot of bad things but fortunately I've never had a bad run-in with them. I also like their online support. I prefer things like that in my own time over battling over the phone to get through to the Middle East and repeating myself.

    I think Throttling is a good idea if somebody is using excessive data but there needs to be an exact limit specified and I think blanket throttling at peak times should be made illegal.

    Due to the mass uptake of Broadband, we as customers are being punished because the suppliers haven't got the infrastructure in place to handle the demand. That is their problem though, not ours. In order to roll out blanket throttling I think they should lower their prices. I know I'm paying the same as I did before when there wasn't any throttling. My speed may be faster but that is what they offered. I know I'd rather have 10MB permanently than a 30MB connection that is throttled to 10MB when I want to use it. It is a sly marketing trick to make their overall speeds look good. Imagine if a motor company offered a car that was super low emissions but then from 5pm to 10pm every night, it suddenly produced more fumes than a 60's Mustang. They'd look good for having this low emission car but in reality, they are taking the mickey a bit.

  14. Velv

    NOBODY should be allowed to claim the service is "unlimited", not even with caveats, because that is a limit.

    Unlimited does not live in the finite space of what is technically or contractually possible. It's the same as infinity does not fit on the line of finite numbers. They occupy entirely different spaces.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      You must be new here.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        I agree with him

        Here's an idea - Every single time you see an advert that uses "Unlimited", complain to the ASA that it can't possibly be true.

        If they spend every single day handling thousands of complaints about that word, eventually they'll just "ban" everyone from using it.

        (Or rather, they'll make a gentlemen's agreement not to use it)

  15. VooDooTooDo

    Unless VM have changed recently, they throttle single threaded downloads as well. I haven't used them for close on 4 years now due to their poor service & staff, but when the 50Mb service was the top tier, they would throttle single threaded connections to 20Mb & you would only see the full service with simultaneous downloads. This was proven using the Newsgroups. Maximum transfer from a single thread was 2.1MBps, but if multiple threads were enabled, the combined transfer speed would amount to 5.6MBps. Even the engineers knew of this and would tell you that the service was working 100% using various speed test sites where they would clock over 50Mb connections. Even a direct link to a server (with no other connections) on a fibre link in the States, would max out at 2.1MBps throughput.

    1. neilt0

      I have seen 12.2MB/sec (97.6mbps) downloading various thingies via a single connection (using a web browser) -- I have a 100mbps Virgin connection.

      It is true that I do need more connections to max out usenet, but that's not really a problem.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Speed is NOT everything

    When I cancelled my Virgin service it seemed incomprehensible to the call centre worker that I was ditching a 50Mb service to take on a 6Mb DSL service.

    From 15:00 onwards just about every week day Virgin fell flat on its arse, stuff would break so I bought a router with 3G backup to fill in the gaps.

    Plusnet might be just BT with a flat cap and a skinny dog on a bit of string but at 15:05 most days it makes Virgin look rather silly.

    TOP TIP: Do not upgrade your package to a higher speed, you will get a new contract that you cannot end for 12 MONTHS.

  17. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge


    does'nt the ASA say to the ISPs

    No more running 'unlimited' adverts with little * that you then add a small subtext at the bottom of the ad in a 3 high font saying

    *subject to usage caps, and technical problems

  18. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    "Unlimited" seems to be a word with a binary meaning..

    It is or it is not.

    Otherwise it's "limited" or "within these limits, which are blah blah."

    All else is BS.

    6 (of about 400+) ISPs control 93 of the UK broadband market.

    That's about 394 suppliers who people could go to.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Had this same discussion only the other week with an ISP Acc Mgr...

    In my office I have a backup DSL line that is truly unlimited (no small print about data caps) but runs so slowly it's not used as the main internet pipe, so they can 'say' unlimited I guess. Anyhow apparently it will be fibre enabled in the near future. I told the provider (Eircom) that I'd think about using their fibre as our primary internet pipe when it is enabled at 70/20mb but then I realised that they have a data cap on their business fibre products (but not their home ones) which we'd exceed at least by a factor of 4 per month..... So what's the point in that? We'd pay more in penalties for exceeding our data cap than the mad expensive price we already pay for the existing MAN fibre from the premises....

  20. Dave K

    Still a pigging mess

    I live in hope that at some point, there'll be none of this "moderate restrictions" grey, blurry line crap. Instead, the ASA and broadband companies might start to actually report the truth. Have a service with no limits or throttling? use the term "unlimited". If you do apply throttling/limits, you don't call it "unlimited". It'd be simple, easy to follow and truthful.

    Until that time however, we'll still be stuck in this crap situation where broadband companies are allowed to bluntly and blatantly lie about the services they offer whilst getting away with it scott free.

  21. Faye B

    One man's poison

    Perhaps when they say unlimitied they mean there will be an unlimited number of excuses to limit your access. And perhaps when they say no capping they really meant 'put a sock in it, you mugs'; an easy mistake to make.

  22. Daz555

    Virgin's policy is in black and white and has been since they started traffic management. I don't get the drama. I mean what sort of idiot bases their purchasing decisions on advertising campaigns featuring Usain Bolt and Doctor Who - surely we should always look at the detail before chucking away our money?

    Anyway, I signed up for Virgin broadband 512Kbps about 12 or 13 years ago. I now find myself on 60Mbps having not actually ever asked for an upgrade - which is odd, but there you go. During that time my broadband connection has only once been unavailable to me (for about 3 hours). Yes that might be just down to blind luck - but I can't criticise Blueyonder/Telewest/Virgin's provision of my broadband in all those years.

    As for the top 3% of users who get hit regularly by the throttle and find that the Game of Thrones Series 2 1080P torrent takes an hour longer to download - so what - have a cup of tea and stop moaning - or go find another ISP.

  23. Adrian Bridgett

    I fail to see why they can't just uphold the definition of the word "unlimited". Either it is, or it isn't. The world won't end if they say "16Mbps broadband (fair usage limits applies)" rather than "16Mbps unlimited broadband*" *fair usage limits applies.

    And the ASA might stand a chance of being seen as something other than a toothless waste of space.

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