back to article Virgin Media boss AND ex-Murdoch man: BSkyB broadband is 'lousy'

Virgin Media boss Tom Mockridge has lashed out at BSkyB by claiming that its broadband service is "lousy". Such a jibe might appear - on the surface at least - as an obvious moan from a rival player, but his vehemence might surprise some considering that Mockridge was the deputy chairman of BSkyB, which is 39 per cent owned by …


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  1. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Sieze the opportunity

    > "We're not perfect but we have got a lot better than we [ Virgin Media ] were,"

    Not too surprising, since they have do so much scope for improvement.

    Personally the only complaint I have about Sky broadband is the godawful help desk. However, once you can get past or short circuit that, their actual techies have been both helpful and reliable.

    1. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Re: Sieze the opportunity

      My major problem with sky is their refusal to supply basic information to their customers (yknow, like their PASSWORD) so you HAVE to use the preprogrammed sky router. Aside from that, their service seems reliable.*

      *not been a customer myself but have several friends with it, and yes, I know there are unofficial ways and means of extracting said data, but you shouldn't HAVE to.

      Virgin on the other hand, are just a joke

      1. Steven Raith

        Re: Sieze the opportunity

        Martin, you can thank me later:

        Self-signed SSL, but I've used it before and it works. Not sure how recently it's been updated to include new hardware, etc, though...

        Steven R

        1. KapitanPingoloco
          Black Helicopters

          Re: Sieze the opportunity

          The latest router needs a different method and is Sky-manufactured (probably a decision born of their evident pathological need to force customers to use a Sky-derived, Sky-backdoored-most-likely, Murdoch-control-freak-extensionist router).

          I still hacked my password out of it. Using... Wireshark I think. Google for a method if you're reading this and in need.

          I'm selling it for £15 if anyone wants the 10x-power-cycled, barely used PoS.

      2. sorry, what?

        Re: Sieze the opportunity

        "Virgin on the other hand, are just a joke"

        I have been with Virgin Media since before Virgin (when they were NTL et. al.) and my personal experience has been anything but a joke. The phone and TV services are generally fine (have had to get an engineer out to resolve a TV signal strength issue twice in over 15 years) and the broadband is fab.

        I have called customer services perhaps once or twice a year for various minor issues, but nothing more than temporary loss of service (which they usually post in good time on their service status web page). The have been quick on all but one case to reestablish quality service. I suffered a 24hr loss of broadband and complained - they reduced that month's bill. Can't complain about that.

        Yes, I don't like the off-shore customer service desk - I have had difficulty understanding what is being said on a few occasions - but I understand the rationale.

        Yes, I don't like the way they seem to have stopped rolling out the service to new areas. That would affect consideration of a house move since I really like the 100mbps service I get.

        Yes, it is quite costly but I can't get the equivalent package from anyone else.

        I have no experience of BSkyB's services, but from what I understand I can't get the broadband performance I have with VM through Sky, regardless of cost. Or can someone correct me?

        1. g e

          Re: Sieze the opportunity

          In the years I've had SKY TV and broadband and phone I've never had to call support for anything.


          I think, perhaps, that's the difference that others are trying to point out. Of course I might just have got lucky... they're all paid-for services, though you get a reasonable discount for TV+Phone+Fibre(40Mbit, the extra for 80Mbit wasn't worth it imho) package.

        2. returnmyjedi

          Re: Sieze the opportunity

          I'm with you. Was an NTL customer for years, then VM before turncoating my way over to Uncle Rupe's BskyB. For the two years I was with them the supposed 8meg BB rarely reached a meg, I went through two sky plus boxes and for five months was being billed for a neighbour as well. The only thing that worked was the phone.

          Been back with Mr Bolt's company since last August and haven't had an issue (aside from having to pay for a Now TV sub to get my fix of nudey bumps and drained on sky Atlantic). Still works out cheaper than Sky's similar package, plus I've got 152 meg bb, of which I have no need whatsoever but was the same price as 60 so seemed silly not to.

          1. KapitanPingoloco

            Re: Sieze the opportunity

            What did and think your speeds were, and what did say your reliability was?

            NOTHING else matters but the real-world performance, which the above sites test better than any other single point of reference, in my experience.

            Then try connecting ten computers at once, all streaming Youtube HD videos. That should be like water off a duck's back to a 152Mb connection. Bet you it starts faltering, due to VM using fake trickery in their network, like over-reliance on web-caching and various other fake internet and under-investment in real capacity...

        3. Martin-73 Silver badge

          Re: Sieze the opportunity

          I think the problem with VM is that they're dependent on installed kit that was installed by 200 different companies in the early 90s, hence the varied experiences. I've never had ANYTHING but trouble from their kit, from utterly non-responsive tivo boxes, to modems that drop the connection with no provocation, through tv lines that fall apart when exposed to UV... And their cabinets are rusting and falling apart (due to being made of thin sheet steel, not even galvanized)

          I am not sure if sky offers FTTC, but if they do, that should beat their service

        4. Russ Pitcher

          Re: Sieze the opportunity

          I've also been with Virgin (née ntl, née CableTel) since the minute they dug a trench outside my house and I've had a somewhat different experience.

          I had about a 30% uptime for the first six months with many, many hours on the phone CableTel simply lying to me about where the issues being 'outside their network'. Being the geeky type I immediately proved them wrong and got 3 months service for free. To be fair the service improved rapidly and was generally stable, although the customer service was a joke for years. For the past three years or so however, the service had been terrible. I get outages of an hour or so around once a month and every three or four months I have outages of many hours. The customer service is awful - I have more than once spent over FOUR HOURS waiting in a queue - and despite me providing plenty of appropriate diagnostic information, they insist I walk through their muppet script to get the same details and perform the same tasks I've already done myself. They often blame my pc/router/switch/weather/cat and only after an hour or so agree to send an 'engineer'. The outage will then get mysteriously fixed some hours (or days) later, some time before the engineer is due. If he does turn up he's almost invariably stumped and we're on to round two of the customer service merry-go-round. In fairness, I've had superb engineers on two occasions who have identified the problem in minutes and undone the bodge job performed by previous poorly-trained staff.

          The only reason I haven't moved is that I can't bear to go from a 120MB connection down to a 3MB ADSL one - the only 'competition' there is in my area. As soon as OpenReach finally realize that they need to lay fibre to the cabinet, not just the exchange, before the punters can sign up then I'll happily change my intermittent 120MB cable for a hopefully stable 70MB of FTTC.

        5. Graham Marsden

          @sorry, what? - Re: Sieze the opportunity

          Whereas I often have problems with Virgin, such as my broadband connection freezing for several seconds on an intermittent basis with no rhyme or reason that I can report to get fixed.

          On several occasions over the past year or three I've called their Customer Services because of a fault that they say is with my computer/ router/ whatever and that they'll have to send out an engineer in two or three days, when the fault is actually with their system and it would be a waste of time sending an engineer, but their drones are too dim to realise this.

          I also sometimes don't get the promised speeds and see downloads slow to a crawl.

          The only reason I don't switch to another provider is that my BT line has been cut off (quite literally, someone has taken a pair of wire cutters to it and it ends half-way down the wall!) and they want silly money to re-connect it which would wipe out any savings or benefits I might get by changing.

          1. koswix

            Re: @sorry, what? - Sieze the opportunity

            That's how I ended up with Sky - BT wanted 120 quid to reconnect my phone line, Sky did it for 20.

            My sky broadband has pretty much worked from day one, at close to the maximum speed (19.8 mbit last time I checked). But then I live in a city, and the exchange is about 3 streets away. YMMV.

        6. KapitanPingoloco

          Re: Sieze the opportunity

          The problem is, it's a postcode lottery what quality of service you get - and VM over-sell in KNOWN over-subscribed areas, just allowing the contention for bandwidth to build up and up - and then problems with pings, and traceroutes, let alone high-bandwidth usage...

          They've improved (so my mates tell me). However, their shady, dishonest tactics, put it this way - I could probably win in a court case for a refund should I ever feel like it.

          As for "fixed with 24hours and a reduction on that month's bill"? Try having to do that five times within a month when you're housebound and have just wasted your unpaid time troubleshooting YOUR network - and what you can see of theirs - and they STILL are ignorant of / won't tell you the truth (and instead of investing in network capacity - waste money on 'engineers' who can't tell if a tower PC is wired or wireless networking without asking - when there's no problem with the house network in the first place, it's a known capacity issue on VM's network).

          Unforgivably-incompetent, sorry.

          When they were Telewest, they had very occasional outages, but were GOOD. Best in class broadband and service.

          Then NTL rebranded as Virgin Media and took over.

        7. PeterM42

          Re: Sieze the opportunity

          Agreed - VM fix any problems quickly and give you money back for excessive (many hours) downtime (does NOT happen very often!!).

          My girlfriend had SKY and quit when they tried to charge her extra because she was NOT taking the TV package!!!!!. Their wireless router was CRAP as well.

          Agreed it is a pity VM are not rolling out their excellent cable/fibre everywhere, 'cos who the hell wants to suffer BT with their pricey fibre? Certainly not my g/f. BT stands for Bunch of Tossers!!!!!!

      3. adnim

        Re: Sieze the opportunity

        I was moved to Sky from Be There. I thought I would give them a chance as I am inherently lazy. I can't complain so far. My connection is the same speed +/- 1meg (approx) 12-14Mb/s depending on the weather... Something between me and the exchange doesn't like the rain. It hasn't gone down yet, I got a static IP, I use a BiPAC 7800DXL router, I don't use Sky DNS and my bills are the same. Nothing to hate yet despite looking for a reason.. I like small independents that make a nice living not multinational corps that take the piss. Unfortunately there are none left.

      4. KapitanPingoloco

        Re: Sieze the opportunity

        Yeah, ringing Sky and asking why they think this is OK, is like asking a monkey why his shit stinks. He's not even aware of the concept of his shit being bad...

        I rang them and made the girl at the other end feel really small (which was a bit harsh) but she couldn't answer simple questions in English to the technical level required to do her job, and was reading from a script so badly that I may as well have read their website.

        Virgin are shit too.

        Very shit.

        Sky's speed was half what O2's were before we were whored to Sky without asking. Sky blame their line-grading testing for this. Fuck-off Sky, you set that too conservatively in the first place, whilst I was running custom firmware in order to handle any line issues (and the line was 100% hundreds-of-days-uptime stable on O2, since O2 could do their job using Be's network, since someone fucking well INVESTED in that network, simple engineering, far from rocket science).

        Virgin I left since they lied to me about over-selling in my street, and the faulty signal I was getting as a result. They told me it doesn't count as a fault on their system until SEVEN individual customers have reported it. Then you couldn't ring them after 22:00hrs each evening to even start the ball rolling on fixing a fault. Then the neighbours wouldn't be tech-savvy enough to accurately-detect a fault, so add extra time. Adds-up to Virgin foisting the job that their own network monitoring equipment should be doing, onto their own customers. Whilst charging a pretty penny, too. Then when you DO get through to a proper, British, Tech Support person who knows what's going on and has access to actual network information, you are told that "yes, the street's over-subscribed, and no, we're not going to do anything about it - there's some upgrade work due in THREE MONTHS."

        Under UK law it is a CRIMINAL (not civil, contractual) offence to knowingly sell something you cannot provide. Including bandwidth.

        Where is the worthless government and CPS when you need them?

  2. Chad H.

    He's right BSKyB's broadband is lousy. Gave em 3 months to fix a fault, all I got out of em was fake platitudes and apologies. When I demanded to know what was going on, all I got is "we so sorry, we fix it soon, be patient", a month later when I said "tell me in 30 days what the fault at least is or I quit" I got "we so sorry, we fix it soon, be patient, please dont go"

    And of course, because its a LLU line i ended up having to go BT to avoid paying someone to install a new line... and then BT did me the indinity of charging me £30 just to cease the broadband service when I lef them...

  3. Naughtyhorse


    Sad to report I have been a VM customer since they were ntl!

    and am pretty happy.

    (in no way related to the new hub and upgrade to 50Mb/s they just gave me for a 1 off fee of £5)

    1. GreggS

      Re: Satisfied..

      Agreed. I've been with them for several years now, via Sky & O2(before Sky bought them) and have found them to be very reliable and easy to deal with.

      (also in no way related to the fact I just got an upgrade to their 150Mb/s service, saving myself £5 per month in the process for a one-off fee of £5)

      1. Bert 1

        Re: Satisfied..

        Beginning to think I was diddled with my upgrade to 150Mb for £5 less a month and a £49.99 fee.

        Maybe I should call them for a £44.99 refund?

        1. wolfetone Silver badge

          Re: Satisfied..

          "Maybe I should call them for a £44.99 refund?"

          If it wasn't for your £44.99, the previous 2/3 posters wouldn't have been able to get the upgrade for £5. As the man from Virgin Media said, if people offer you something for free you're paying for it somewhere else. Except, you're paying for the freebie.

          1. Bert 1

            Re: Satisfied..


            So you're saying that we should be paying 1/3 each, and both Naughtyhorse and GreggS owe me 44.99 /3 = £14.99 (I've kindly rounded down :-) )

            Where do I invoice please?

    2. Spanners Silver badge

      Re: Satisfied..

      Me too but I even had a spell with Sky and it was seriously poor.

      I was with NTL, then Virgin. It had its problems but the performance was good. The only flaw was the "superhub" that reset at random. I think it did start to get better in the end.

      Our kids told us that Sky was better all round and we ended up moving. It wasn't but it did cost more for a fairly similar TV service a slightly shonky phone line and a pathetically slow and unreliable broadband.

      We have now dropped all skys products, gone Freeview and Virgin broadband. Who needs a landline anyway? I'm now saving a lot of money and having a good experience with a Google ChromeCast.

  4. Gordon 10

    Meet Mr Pot & Mr Kettle

    Mr Pot : You're a tosser

    Mr Kettle : You're a bigger tosser

    Mr Pot : No no I insist you're the bigger tosser.

    A pox on both their houses.

    Pirate icon as they are both scurvy dogs.

  5. Stretch

    I can confirm... a paying customer that Sky broadband is lousy. This is an apt description. When I first got their service I was receiving only 0.5 MB/s. I'll repeat that.

    0.5 MB/s!!!!!!!

    That's equivalent of what I was getting from NTL in 2000.

    So I phoned up and had a massive go at them. As you do. With lots of sarcasm thrown in. And the next day my routing changed. And suddenly 10 MB/s.

    But the problem was they blamed me soooo much. It must be MY fault that its slow. And they have a dumbass script:

    Them: "Oh, its the Wifi. Please connect your laptop directly to the router"

    Me: "I'm not using a laptop and I'm already using a network cable"

    "Is the WiFi on the laptop broken?"


    Them: "Please close all applications and run the speed test"

    Me: "Ok all closed apart from the speed test window in chrome and i get 0.1 MB/s at the moment."

    "Please close chrome too"

    "But its running the test?"

    "Please close chrome and run the test again"


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I can confirm...

      I also got that!!!

      Them: "It must be because you are on WiFi"

      Me: "I'm not on Wi-Fi, It's plugged into the ethernet socket"

      Them: "Have you tried connecting over Wi-Fi"

      Me: "No, this machine doesn't have Wi-Fi"

      Them: "Why not?"

      Me: "??? Because it's a desktop sat right next to the router plugged in via 100mbps ethernet rather than 54mbps Wi-Fi on a good day... and the router itself is reporting the poor speed not the computer so can you actually stop following the script and just get somebody who actually knows what they are talking about on the line?"

      Them: "So have you tried connecting via Wi-Fi?"

      Me: "*sigh* Yes, yes I've just connected over Wi-Fi and got exactly the same"

      Them: "Have you tried rebooting the machine"

      Me: "Yes it's nothing to do with the machine"

      Them: "Can you reboot the machine again"

      Me: "*sigh* sure, here we go, rebooting (3x seconds later) it's rebooted - exactly the same speed"

      Them: "You sure you rebooted?"

      Me: "Of course - are you accusing me of lying to you?"

      Them: "It was just very quick sir"

      Me: "It's a fast machine"

      Them: "Oh, and it's still the same speed?"

      Me: "Yes"

      Them: "Um I don't know why it's not working, let me check you Wi-Fi settings again"

      Me: "This machine doesn't have Wi-Fi"...

      repeat cycle another few times before finally being told:

      Them: "OK I'll raise a case with 2nd line and you'll get a call back within 12x hours"

      36 hours later, no call

      Call back,

      repeat above cycle another 2x times at their insistance despite telling them it had already been passed to 2nd line.

      Gave up and switched to Virgin

      1. KapitanPingoloco

        Re: I can confirm...

        I thought you WERE talking about Virgin's tech support. It was like that for me, Indian call centre tech trained monkeys (not racism - a description of their performance level and usefulness - and ability for thinking outside the box / script).

    2. Tom 38

      Re: I can confirm...

      When I first got their service I was receiving only 0.5 MB/s.

      Do you mean 0.5MB/s, ie 4 Mbit or did you mean 0.5 Mbit?

      Isn't this just an "ADSL can be shitty" scenario though? I expect there are people with VM ADSL that get a shitty 0.5Mbit too.

      Braindead support is braindead though. Be had excellent support lines, even the Bulgarians were super knowledgable and could fix any time I had issues.

      1. Stuart Castle Silver badge

        Re: I can confirm...

        "Braindead support is braindead though. Be had excellent support lines, even the Bulgarians were super knowledgable and could fix any time I had issues."

        True, and you can have the best and most reliable products or services on the market, but if you give your customers a bad experience when attempting to fix any problems, you aren't going to do well..

        I've never dealt with Sky, but I am a long term VM customer, and found that *if* you can get through to an operator who knows what they are doing, and *if* you can get them to send a techy out, then they can be good. Having said that, when I got them to upgrade cable, the techy they sent to change the box happily disconnected the rest of my AV equipment and just hooked the new box up to the telly. Took me hours to get it all connected and working how I wanted it, and I have spend hours on the phone trying to persuade the customer support person that my slow download speeds where a result of their bad networks and not my computer.

        The less said about BT the better. Suffice it to say, I needed the main socket in my house replacing once. They told me they'd do it free. I asked for a Saturday appointment (couldn't get time off work) and asked if it would cost me anything. They said no.. Engineer turns up on Saturday. Apparently they'd already done some diagnostics on the line and determined that the socket needed replacing (I had not told them this). The engineer replaced the socket and a few minutes later was gone. I got a bill for £110 a few days later.

        Regarding Be, I used them as an ISP for a while . Couldn't fault them. When I had the Be modem installed, BT initially refused the order to enable ADSL on my line. Be could not tell me why this was, as they were not informed, but they told me who to phone and exactly what to ask them. As it turns out, when BT installed my phone sockets a few year ago, they did not update some database somewhere (something they repeatedly failed to do during the several visits I had to fix problems with the line in the intervening years as well), so, when I ordered ADSL, the system refused as I was not down as having phone sockets. BT corrected the database and allowed the order. Anytime I had a query with my Be service, it was dealt with efficiently and politely, and any problems were solved.

      2. Martin-73 Silver badge

        Re: I can confirm...

        Indeed had VM ADSL and got shitty 0.5 mbit. Which stayed connected for about 10 mins at a time. With 09xx support numbers. That's part of the reason for my hatred of the company. (Same line had worked before at 1.5Mbit with no disconnects on, before NTHell took over and renamed it virgin mediocre)

      3. Stretch

        Re: I can confirm...

        You are right, I meant Mb/s.

      4. KapitanPingoloco

        Re: I can confirm...

        O2 Home Broadband (not related to Be, staff-wise, as I understand it).

        I rang the FREEPHONE number to check a minor technical issue with their implementation of ADSL:

        It got picked up very quickly;

        It was staffed 24 hours,

        The person at the other end knew at least as much as I did about networking (there's a first time for everything).

        They said that they often worked 2nd-Line, which is why...

        but in my fantasy version, I really think it was some monitor at the NSA / GCHQ because they really were too good a quality of service for a home ISP Tech Support rep...

        Maybe that's why Telefonica / O2 went out of business in the home broadband market... I would have paid double what little I was paying (plus mobile profits subsidising it, obviously).

        Sky were a can't-win joke.

    3. koswix

      Re: I can confirm...

      >>So I phoned up and had a massive go at them. As you do.

      No, as /you/ do. When I need someone in customer service/Tech support to sort something out I tend to find that not being a complete arse hole to them is far more effective.

      And as someone who (sadly) works in customer service I can confirm that the people who "have a massive go" are the ones that get bumped down the to do list and receive the bare minimum of help.

      1. KapitanPingoloco

        Re: I can confirm...

        That's them being too sensitive to work for their shitty companies, staffed with arsehole bosses, then. It's not the irate customer's fault, no matter how indiscrete they are down the phone to the poor tech support person. If the company creates problems due to a shitty business model, refusing to give their tech support the tools they need, and lack of investment in any of the stuff that avoids the irate customer - then the staff should respect this and not ALSO take it out on the irate customer, since they're the last person to be at fault.

        Unfortunately, wage-slave muppets are the last people to live with any integrity, let alone stand-up for 'best practice in the workplace' etc.

        Disunity between the exploited and other exploited people results, instead of serving a steaming plate of whoop-ass on the bosses and Murdochs of this world who're driving all this piss-taking.

  6. Howverydare

    Happy VM customer

    As many did, I had to jump ship to Sky for the TV service for the soft porn and Formula 1, but left Broadband and phone line with Virgin. Even prior to, running all three with Virgin, I could call them up all manner of the night and someone would be doing their best to help, and only twice have I been without a service for any length of time and I didn't even have to ask for money off the bill; it was default - no service, no charge.

    Whilst Sky's sales side of things have always been pleasant, I've not had cause to call them. I'm sure there are plenty of people who have had shit experience with Virgin - excluding the SuperFail tragedy - but I know many folks who have nothing but praise.

    My only complaint would be that they cap me at a miserable 6Mbit upload if I have a bit of a session uploading files. Such a terrible hardship, given that anyone outside of a VDSL or leased line environment can't get close to that anyway!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was with O2 Broadband for several years getting a steady 11.5mbps (smack bang in middle of estimate BT Wholesale gave on their line checker) - was very happy.

    Almost as soon as it became Sky (like a week or 2x later) over the course of 3x weeks it dropped by increments of 0.5mbps to 4mbps.

    Repeated calls to support resulted in exactly nothing (with one support "rep" even telling me it was because I was using my own router - despite the fact that I had whacked back on their crappy Thomas router a week previously at the insistence of ANOTHER support "rep" and getting an even worse speed).

    By time it had dropped to 2mbps I switched to Virgin Media and got a nice healthy 60mbps on cable and not looked back since. If I do leave Virgin (because of moving to an area where I can't get it) it will be to BT Infinity. Can't live with slow broadband again!

  8. Anon5000

    Lousy VM Broadband

    Sky's free broadband is the same as their paid adsl broadband. No different at all. Tom has lowered himself to the usual VM standard of misleading. No ASA to ban newspaper opinions like what usually happens to VM ads.

    Having had both Sky and VM I would much prefer Skys lousy broadband over Virgins lousy oversubscribed broadband. Same with customer support and heldesk.

    1. Steve Gill

      Re: Lousy VM Broadband

      Whereas I'm much happier with my 100 Mb plus average connection from VM (with roughly one hour outage per year) than my next door neighbour is with his 4 Mb on a good day connection from Sky (with roughly 2 hours outage per week).

      It all so very depends on what's available at your location.

  9. Tony Pomfret

    I'd love to have VM speeds...

    However VM would have to lay a connection to my road and that just ain't gonna happen (VM never extended the original Ninex connection in my area)

    This VM provisions failure doesn't however stop me getting flooded with VM advertising post asking me to switch, Grrr!

    Oh well I suppose I'll have to wait for BT/Sky fibre then, could be a long wait though seeing as my DSLAM is according to BT "economically none viable."

    No choice so stuck with Sky Broadband Pro's 6 MB/s for probably the rest of my bloody life.

  10. Peter 26

    Virgin fan, but no more

    I was with Virgin from when they were NTL and luckily for me testing this new BB system in my area in ~1999. I would always promote Virgin over other services even in the early years when the customer service was truly shocking, simply due to the fact they have the better system as the only cable provider.

    I switched away from them about a year ago due to the throttling of certain network traffic (not the data caps, that's a different thing). What's the point of having >50Mb if you can't use it? Now I get 80Mb with BT Infinity that really is 80Mb and is totally unlimited, no throttling any network traffic and no data caps. As soon as BT open up FTTP for consumers I'll have a bit of that.

    VM\NTL spent all this money laying cable to give them massive bandwidth, but did FA with it. They could have gone leaps ahead in speed of other providers, but instead they just offered comparable packages. They market more about their cheapest deal than their massive bandwidth. They throttle their customers to stop them using their massive bandwidth.

    I'd totally confuses me why after all these years they never played up the one massive advantage they had over all the other providers, in fact if anything they downplayed it. It's like they are trying to fail.

    1. Gordon 10

      Re: Virgin fan, but no more

      That kinda suggests they don't have massive bandwidth then doesn't it. Whilst they may have it in the fibre - they probably have choke points in other places.

      1. KapitanPingoloco

        Re: Virgin fan, but no more

        Exactly, hence why it was an utter LIE to call it 'fibre-optic broadband'. I mean fibre has provided ALL broadband's backbone for decades, right? So it's always down to a choke-point somewhere.

        Virgin's is the copper and cabinets / local routers and their backbone is flaky quite often, too. Postcode lottery as to where and when that is - you don't even get such postcode lotteries if principles of good engineering are applied.

  11. BigAndos

    I wanted to join VM, but despite the fact the buildings either side of me are covered my building was built recently and so they claim they are unable to supply it. I was a customer with them years ago and while the customer service was awful the broadband and tv were generally very good.

    However, as they aren't prepared to invest a single penny in extending their coverage I've had to sign up with BT infinity and sky TV. Fingers crossed, no problems with either just yet.

  12. Truth4u

    Sky is just dirty

    My friend and I were both Be subscribers, he went with Sky, I went with Zen.

    We're both equally happy with the respective services, it is just the same BT service basically.

    But I'm not supporting an openly amoral organisation so I get to be happy and smug. And I am within my rights to use my own decent networking equipment instead of junk.

    1. Truth4u

      Re: Sky is just dirty

      oh and Sky cold called me relentlessly, not even sure where they got my mobile number from but I never answered. This was in addition to calling me on the land-line and I did speak to them, but its always a different guy who knows nothing about the last call. I see it as a form of harassment.

  13. James 100

    Lousy broadband indeed

    My office line is with Sky right now (since they bought Be and moved the line over) - it's junk. The line itself is fine, as the preceding years of good service from Be proved, but Sky are hopeless. Hence I have a piece of paper with the MAC for leaving them on it. Why on earth Sky went and bought a perfectly good ISP, just to wreck it and lose the customers, I don't know.

    (I really didn't want to leave Be before the switchover, because FTTC became available just weeks later: moving to another ADSL ISP for the intervening weeks would have been a pain.)

    That said, Virgin are hardly wonderful ISPs: no static IPs, still no IPv6, and they went along with Cameron/Perry's braindead filter nonsense much too eagerly.

    I'll stick with a proper ISP thanks. A shame, a proper ISP using cable connections could actually offer a really good service!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm greedy..

    I have both Sky Fibre and Virgin Cable....and I find them very similar. I've replaced the Sky Router with one of my own but that was because I wanted to load-balance the outgoing connections.

    I've had problems with both support organisations but nothing insurmountable.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "maybe you should go to a proper broadband operator"

    If VirginMedia could be arsed to expand their "proper broadband" coverage beyond cities and *some* outlying towns, then many many people would do exactly that.

  16. DaveMcM

    I've currently got Sky fibre - signed up to it the day the OpenReach "Fibre broadband available here" sticker appeared on the cabinet at the end of my road - and I've had absolutely no problems in the 12 or so months I've had it - the connection is a pretty rock solid 40Mb down, 10Mb up.

    Before that I was on Sky's copper offering and got a consistent 2.5Mb of the "up to 20Mb" I was paying for, but that is mostly a geographical issue and no other copper provider could have done any better - in fact Tiscali managed to do significantly worse on the same line which is what prompted the move to Sky in the first place.

    In the Sky copper days I did manage to kill a couple of routers through overheating (my phone socket is down the back of my sofa by a radiator) but they were both replaced free of charge within a couple of days of a call to customer services with no quibbles, so what little customer services contact I've had with Sky has all been pretty positive.

    My only experience with VM is them filling my recycling bin with dozens of flyers a month advertising tv and broadband services that I can't even have because I don't live in a cabled area!

  17. codejunky Silver badge


    I wish VM had a line down my street. I would snap it up

  18. CBR1100XX

    Poughing cash

    Shame Virgin's not prepared to plough some cash into expansion. I'm on a new build estate and my cabinet supports ADSL only. No fibre at all. I'd switch to Virgin in heartbeat, but it has "no plans to cable that area". :(

  19. N000dles

    VM are rubbish too

    We used to use a bunch of VM Business broadband connections for remote access for our workers. Our first order they only managed to get 2/3 of the users connected within 2 months. 1/5 were left at not even getting to the site survey stage while being billed for an "active" service. Even the business accounts suffered from slowdown in the evenings and the support was woeful. I reckon I have been promised about 50 return calls in our time with them to only ever have received 2 calls back. We had one line not functioning for a week while our support ticket was put on hold due to the support rep getting upset that a Cisco router did not fit his script and he couldn't tick IOS as the operating system. He refused to progress the ticket until I told him which version of Windows or OSX the router was running. Explaining that direct from the router every alternate ping was being dropped when pinging the VM gateway was too much outside the script for him. Their reliance on call scripts and assumptions that nothing is wrong with the network until it says so on their service page was their downfall with us. They are also expensive with some of their leased line quotes coming in at £2600 p/m versus £850p/m with Verizon

    BT were able to take over with Infinity but their billing is such a nightmare we have just about finished moving the entire lot of FTTC connections over to Zen. It really does do what it says on the tin with them.

    1. KapitanPingoloco

      Re: VM are rubbish too

      Zen are good - not cheap but generally respectable - except I don't like their (mild) content-caching/web-caching system where Microsoft updates and the obvious content like this, is hosted locally to the Zen network. Last time I saw that, it was Sky corrupting a BBC News (live) website... bit dodgy ground that, considering Murdoch hates the BBC... (I have screen-shot evidence on disk for this claim incidentally).

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He must be joking

    I left Virgin after 5 months of my 100 meg broadband slowing down to less than 1 meg most days and evenings. Endless promises to fix the local issues causing the problem were broken and in the end I jumped to BT whose infinity broadband hasn't missed a beat for 18 months now.

    The headline figure on Virgin is great but when you have a problem you land up being fobbed off, waiting in repeatedly for "engineers" who don't turn up and then phone you to say the reason they didn't is because it's nothing to do with the cabling in the house / something they can fix,

  21. Frankee Llonnygog

    In all fairness

    They're both shite

  22. Cynicalmark

    VM ....database disaster

    Tried to get VM a few years back...told sorry but it wasnt down my street..told them a VM junction box was on my thats not theirs they said...told them my neighbours have VM....they said that cannot told them to forget it and went with Sky. Have fibre and good speeds and no issues with their call centre as my service has never faltered. I dont complain about having to 'hack' my router to get the info I need..makes it more fun :) VM sucked so badly even my neighbours switched to Sky

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No problem with VM from me

    I've just signed up for Virgin Media and have nothing but praise for them so far:

    1. I live in a leasehold flat so had to get a wayleave in order for Virgin to run the cable to my flat. 10 minutes after signing up on their website I had a call from the wayleave team followed by an email with the forms I need. I sent these to the Leasehold company and they dragged their feet so Virgin chased and chased, the same person (Sharon, lovely woman) from the wayleave team calling me every day to tell me what the status was. Approval granted, I was booked in for installation 1-6pm.

    2. Installation day arrives and at ~9:30am I get a call from the engineer who installed the cable. He said he'd had a few cancellations and changes to his schedule and wondered if he could come round now and get it done - of course he could! So he turned up at 10am and was done by 10:45, telling him I worked in IT and having a bit of banter with him he said he'd remove the walled garden so I didn't have to go through all the setup nonsense - a call to a colleague on his mobile and I connected my Mac and was online. He even complimented me on my Stone Roses mug I gave him a coffee in :-)

    3. My brother is already a Virgin Media customer and referred me using an offer on his account page, so my installation was free (should be £49.95) and so was my SuperHub 2 (which has gone straight into modem mode) and my brother gets £50 credit when I pay my first bill.

    4. I pay £20 a month for the first 3 months then £25 a month after that for 50Mb broadband. That's pretty good value if you ask me.

  24. Iain Hamilton
    Thumb Down

    Virgin's service is fantastic until something goes wrong. Their customer service is so incredibly poor it is laughable.

    I have had on and off issues with my Broadband and Tivo service for the last 12 months and recently managed to get them to agree that the number of faults was not acceptable and that I had been overcharged for a service I wasn't being provided with. This, however, took around 20 phone calls, a load of emails, a few letters, 3 complaints which were all upheld, eventually culminating in engaging with them on Social Media which actually led to it being resolved.

    They have major issues. It cannot possibly be cost effective to run support in that manor.

  25. Anonymous Coward


    ...I have talktalk, no fibre available, all the negative comments on Virgin & Sky apply and none of the positive. Want to move but would it be any better?

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