back to article Virgin signs up record ultrafast broadband subs

Sales at Virgin Media rose 3.2 per cent to £1.2bn for the UK broadband provider's second quarter compared with the previous year - as it signed up record ultrafast broadband subscribers. Operating income fell 24 per cent to £79m mainly due to "increases in related-party fees". Business sales rose 5.5 per cent to £167m, while …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Meh

    Great news,,,,

    so will BT and the others be able to access these connections?

    No? Thought not.

    1. m0rt

      Re: Great news,,,,

      Cable was never a public utility service.

      The phone network was. Which was then taken out of public ownership and that action created the telecom monopoly that BT became.

      Virgin are free to offer this to other communication providers, and indeed offers a lot of its infrastructure to provide backhaul for things like mobile phone masts.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        WTF?

        Re: Great news,,,,

        So how much of the Fibre network and IP backbone was laid when it was a public utility?

        1. hplasm
          Gimp

          Re: Great news,,,,

          "So how much of the Fibre network and IP backbone was laid when it was a public utility?"

          So how much public broadband subsidy have BT squandered on sport tv?

      2. AndrueC Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Great news,,,,

        Virgin are free to offer this..

        At the moment yes, they can do what they want. But whilst I don't particularly argue with the main thrust of your post don't forget that Ofcom do keep an eye on VM and have considered imposing wholesale access rules on them before. They just haven't (yet) rated VM as having market dominance.

        On the wider issue of ex-public ownership I would like to point out that it was Maggie Thatcher who invited the cable companies in instead of allowing BT the broadcasting license it asked for in exchange for a national FTTP roll-out. If we were to assume that BT really would have done the entire country (yes, I know a bit of a stretch) then a case could be made for blaming VM for the current state of affairs. In its various previous incarnations it made a big of a bog-hole of rolling out and only very recently got into profit.

        1. AndrueC Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Great news,,,,

          Additional information about Maggie, BT and the cable companies(possible pay wall).

          "Unfortunately, the Thatcher government decided that it wanted the American cable companies providing the same service to increase competition. So the decision was made to close down the local loop roll out and in 1991 that roll out was stopped. The two factories that BT had built to build fibre related components were sold to Fujitsu and HP, the assets were stripped and the expertise was shipped out to South East Asia."

        2. Ralph Online

          Re: Great news,,,,

          And even if Ofcom were to judge VM to have Significant Market Power (SMP) in Fixed Broadband services, I believe it's very difficult to unbundle an HFC-based network.

          ACM (the Dutch regulator) is keen to impose some requirement on Ziggo to unbundle, but there seems to be many technical hurdles that nobody is very motivated to overcome.

          1. AndrueC Silver badge
            WTF?

            Re: Great news,,,,

            I believe it's very difficult to unbundle an HFC-based network.

            I'm curious why that might be. Sub-loop unbundling, yes. Clearly each cable can only be served by one node (or at least sharing a cable would be difficult). But I'd have thought each node sends its data back to the head-end over Ethernet. Even if not I'd expect the head-end to aggregate it as Ethernet before sending it on. So what are the technical impediments stopping VM offering a GEA equivalent?

            But even that's not needed. All VM have to do is agree to isolate other CPs traffic through their network and route directly to them or allow the CPs to take their traffic off at regional nodes. That's what BT wholesale does. Once the data is travelling over Ethernet it should be easy to allow other CPs to get involved.

            The only difficult bit I can think of is that VM will have to get better at how it manages node capacity. Their customers might not have much clout but other CPs are going to get arsey if their customers are suffering because of poor capacity management by VM.

            1. Ralph Online

              Re: Great news,,,,

              There is A WIK consult document on the ACM website from July 2014 that goes through many of the issues with Docsis networks. I can't claim to understand it properly...

              1. AndrueC Silver badge
                Happy

                Re: Great news,,,,

                goes through many of the issues with Docsis networks

                Yes but DOCSIS only concerns the coax cable part. If you look at this wikipedia article you can see that..

                "..One way to think of a CMTS is to imagine a router with Ethernet interfaces (connections) on one side and coaxial cable RF interfaces on the other side. The RF/coax interfaces carry RF signals to and from the subscriber's cable modem."

                And once you have Ethernet you can share it by coming up with pretty much any routing plan you want. Split CP traffic at the head-end, at a regional node or to a fixed peer link. The latter is the easiest. Instead of VM sending external traffic to LINX, Level3 etc. it routes all the data to/from certain addresses to PlusNet, or Talk Talk or Pulse8. You'd probably want to set up a VPN to isolate the traffic but that's easy enough.

                Technically you could argue that it's pointless and even wasteful. It probably is. But what it does is create a market where CP's can compete. You'd have to regulate things so that VM couldn't undercut the other CPs but that's easy. Split VM into 'VM openreach' (cables) , 'VM Wholesale' (handles the routing malarky) and 'VM Retail' (continue to sell the service to customers). Personally what I'd suggest is give serious consideration to merging 'BT openreach' with 'VM openreach' and 'VM Wholesale' with 'BT Wholesale'.

                I think I should stop at this point as the howls and screams coming from the VM board are starting to annoy me :D

  2. ro55mo

    Oversubscribed

    Every evening my 100MB Virgin fibre optic FTTP connection drops to 6MB's or less. I have a rolling credit on my account I have complained so much. If I use it after midnight I get about 80MB's and that is also running the signal over powerline adaptors.

    1. chris 17 Silver badge

      Re: Oversubscribed

      @ro55mo

      how do you get 100MB connection from VM?

      surely you mean 100Mb = 12.5MB

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oversubscribed

        No he clearly states he has FTTP, not the 100Mbps that the great unwashed get over copper coax

    2. blahblah

      Re: Oversubscribed

      Every Network has winners and losers.....I get 210Mbps day in day out

  3. handle

    "The proof is in the pudding"

    No it isn't, it's in the eating of the pudding.

    But don't forget Virgin's dirty little secret - upload speeds.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: "The proof is in the pudding"

      But don't forget Virgin's dirty little secret - upload speeds.

      ..annoying jitter and speed reductions in peak hours afflict quite a few of its users as well.

    2. smartypants

      Re: "The proof is in the pudding"

      Regarding upload speeds, I don't think it fair to criticise vm... At least for home use.

      The service is quite transparent about upload and download speeds, including throttling rules.

      For domestic use, upload versus download bandwidth is focused on download for good reason. If upload speeds were far higher, everyone would suffer from a generally slower service and a domestic supplier would be mad to deviate from the policy which makes most people happy most of the time.

      If you want symmetric upload and download performance, then by definition you are not a domestic customer.

      1. handle

        Re: "The proof is in the pudding"

        I take your point, smartypants, but upload speed is becoming more important with our ever-increasing cloudiness, and I'm not sure this was anticipated when the specification of DOCSIS 3 was hammered out. According to the Wiki, they appear to be addressing that now with version 3.1+.

        We're not talking about symmetric communication here - just slightly less blindingly asymmetric.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    New homes pah!

    What about those of us who are saddled with the old NTL Coax 'last mile' eh?

    Or I would be if VM would connect me up. My house was build after NTL had laid the coax. So whilst said coax goes past the end of my drive, they won't connect me up.

    There again, pretty well the whole street is on VM so the speeds in the evening are piss poor at the best of times. Perhaps it is best left alone.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: New homes pah!

      Have you registered with Cable My Street which is part of the Lightning expansion mentioned in the article? If you have neighbours in the same boat it's worth getting them to register too.

      https://cablemystreet.virginmedia.com/#!/cablemystreet

      1. Dave Lawton

        Re: New homes pah!

        Not here :-

        Welcome to Cable My Street!

        It doesn’t look like our cables reach your corner of the country just yet. But by registering your interest, you could help bring Virgin Media services to your area!

        Not likely to happen :( (the cabling, that is)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meh

    But we think the pace of that migration will need to quickly pick up if Virgin Media's triple play services are to prove decisive in the ongoing fight for market share with BT

    Nothing they do will be decisive in a battle for market share with BT, unless they do something about their roughly 50% population coverage. And since that would require significant investment, rather than just milking the assets buried long ago by defunct cable companies, there seems to be stuff all chance of that happening.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Meh

      "unless they do something about their roughly 50% population coverage."

      I vaguely seem to recall reading something in the article a few minutes ago about spending £3b and connecting up a further 500,000 premises over the next 4 years. But I could be mistaken.

    2. AndrueC Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Meh

      there seems to be stuff all chance of that happening

      Eh? Haven't you heard about Project Lightning?

      Not that I'm a huge fan of VM (they run their network too hot for my liking) but credit where it's due. They are finally growing the network.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Meh

        Eh? Haven't you heard about Project Lightning?

        Yes - infilling in areas where they already have cable, but haven't previously bothered connecting up particular streets, or even premises. Worth doing, but very much plucking low hanging fruit - it's not cabling up new areas to compete with BT Openreach.

        1. handle

          Re: Meh

          I've had Virgin but not Openreach availability for years.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cherry picked?

    It seems Virgin's success boils squarely down to not having to offer universal access and instead live off the legacy of the very high density streets the cable companies picked years ago.

  7. s. pam Silver badge
    WTF?

    The bigger secret...

    Is their entire network can do IPv6 but they're too damn lazy to do it!

  8. Joe Gurman

    Just curious....

    Do any of you lot in the UK know what "triple play" means?

    – Fan of minor, Olympics-shunned sport enjoyed by hundreds of millions of fans worldwide

    1. WolfFan

      Re: Just curious....

      Some of us not only know what a triple play is, we associated it with Annabel Chong (thereby showing our age) rather than with virgins.

      Oh. Wait. That _other_ triple play. As you were.

    2. Alistair
      Pint

      Re: Just curious....

      Oddly, leftpondian media delivery organizations use exactly the same expression, for the same package(s), even when its really a four play. Even those that happen to *own* Olympic shunned sport teams.

      < Hu's on first? >

      It *is* friday. And too damned hot. And too damned humid. Have a cold one.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just curious....

      Is this a reference to playing rounders while wearing pajamas ?

      Just joking of course, no sportsman would wear nightwear while competing :)

  9. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Tripe (or quad) play

    Internet/TV/Landline/Mobile.

    I'm guessing from this that it's landline that isn't counted.

    We have the first three.

    But VM mobile. No.

    We did have.our mobile phones from VM.

    But no more. A mixture of high charges and low service. When we came to renew our various contracts we found out that they didn't want to bother trying to retain our custom. Once you could have got a discount for being a long term customer, especially if you had a specific package in mind with a specific price, and one that a competitor is offering.

    But no more. Now it's "This is our price and you get a 10% discount". Even though you can get a better package for less money elsewhere.

    As to Customer Service. Virgin Mobile don't seem to know what the words mean. I have no problem with the phone and Broadband offer or service. But the Mobile service is just plain shocking, with operatives that also go into shock if they are pushed off the script. If you actually ask them for anything (such as a free month to make up for their badly messing up on something) it's all a stock "We can't do that." Not even an offer of a compromise or even an honest, "won't".

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Triple Play + Mobile = ??

    Quad Play? Nah.. Four Play always sounds a much more interesting proposition :-)

  11. Slx

    I'd expect Gigabit connectivity for "ultra fast"

    It's amazing that they're calling this "ultra fast"

    Over here in Ireland Virgin (formerly UPC) do 360Mbits.

    In this day and age, you'd really want to be offering FTTH-like speeds to be worthy of the the term "ultra fast"

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How many of those are dead?

    I know they treat their dead customers as if they're still alive. I know this because they still send bills, threatening letters from bailiffs and "It's not too late to change your mind" begging letters to my address in my dad's name, even though I told them weeks ago that he died and that the reason they know to send all that crap to my address is because I told them that there was nobody left at his address to read any post they send.

  13. jms222

    Now finally after 15 years my Virgin upstream isn't way slower than ADSL.

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