Skip Navigation

Virgin Media introduces traffic management for top 5% of users
Tuesday 08 May 2007 07:08:10 by Sebastien Lahtinen

Virgin Media ( has published details of its new traffic management policy which it says will affect the top 5% of its users who are heavy downloaders. Virgin is yet another company that is adopting a policy to deal with the problems associated with unmetered bandwidth use.

Some balancing factors to restrict utilisation to sensible levels which are sustainable to the ISP financially are absolutely essential or the speed of service to users as a whole will deteriorate fast. Whether this is in the form of 'per gigabyte' charges, fair usage policies, usage caps, traffic shaping or simply left down to contention is a choice for each provider. Virgin compare the problem to a traffic jam which is a very good comparison in terms that most users will be able to understand.

On the basis of their analysis, Virgin concluded that just 5% of customers were downloading such large amounts of data that the service for other users in those areas were being affected. It quotes a figure of 3GB just during peak times and equates this to 750 music tracks in the space of a few hours.

Virgin have announced that at peak times from 4pm to midnight, those users will find their speeds will be 'moderated' (i.e. slowed down). The extent of the traffic management will depend on which package you're subscribed to. If you are slowed down, this will last for four hours from when the traffic management is applied.

Package Allowance Maximum Speed Capped Speed
Broadband M 350 MB 2 Mbps (download)
200 Kbps (upload)
1 Mbps (download)
128 Kbps (upload)
Broadband L 750 MB 4 Mbps (download)
512 Kbps (upload)
2 Mbps (download)
192 Kbps (upload)
Broadband XL 3 GB 20 Mbps (download)
512 Kbps (upload)
5 Mbps (download)
256 Kbps (upload)

The allowances before speeds are slowed down are quite low for the Broadband M and L packages. Even occasional downloaders, who may be slowed down by simply downloading a single film from a rental service, may be affected. We note, however, that the capped speeds are still quite generous and the effects of the limits are quite short. We do expect Virgin will need to tweak the numbers, in particular to deal with the very highest of downloaders who can still maintain a 5 Mbps speed on the Broadband XL package.

One of the strengths of Virgin's plans is the imminent launch of the up to 20 Mbps services, which will mean an even better experience for most users who can receive information quicker than ever before. The restriction on the heaviest users will start to take place at the same time as the speed upgrade for those on its Broadband XL (extra large) package.

Overall, this is a necessary step which Virgin have accepted needs to take place to make sure the majority of users experience a good level of service. We expect, however, that they will need to tweak the formulae to find the right balance.


Posted by BlackAle over 9 years ago
The maximum upload speed on the XL service is 768Kbps, not 512Kbps
Posted by farrina over 9 years ago
It would appear that should any of the connections be used at their advertised speeds for more than 21 minutes then download speeds wlll be reduced by up to 75%.
One has to question why the 20Mb service has been released if it is reduced to a 5Mb service after 21 minutes - for marketing purposes?
Posted by keith_thfc over 9 years ago
Do customers really believe Virgin are only shaping 5%?

Given that this ISP lies about its unlimited service they can hardly be described as honest.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
I couldnt find anywhere on their site where they mention what the upload speed is for any of the services. Their broadband over the phone is crap, they have lost sky channels, and also charge you £5 extra if you dont want to pay by direct debit, Virgin suddenly look like they are another thats becoming a company to avoid like the plague. Well done virgin you Stuffed up Telewest good and proper and you aint even been fully in charge a year yet.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
Also Virgin are still touting on their site...
"What does unlimited broadband mean?
No download limits. Unlike some of our competitors, you get unlimited downloads as a basic right so you can load up on music, films...whatever you're into."
A OBVIOUS LIE, and their AUP policy doesnt mention anything this news item mentions... Avoid these bozos unless as farrina correctly points out you only want to use ya connection at full rate for 20 odd minutes a day... Pathetic.. 20Mb dont make me laugh!
Posted by Ephexis over 9 years ago
It's just a shame to see this, and from a Cable provider where you'd think bandwidth would be more plentiful.

Giving people 20mbit connections and then restricting them is not great. However, these limits aren't too bad really, 3GB from 4pm-midnight and you go down to 5mbit, you can still download but just at 5mbit..

For the other 16hours a day you can max out your 20mbit connection, so it's not too bad.

It's just a shame they choose to do it, it spoils the internet really.
Posted by Hysteria over 9 years ago
CARPETBURN - You can still download as much as you want, just the speed is restricted.
Posted by ezrollers over 9 years ago
The way the article is written it implies that this traffic shaping only affect the top 5% downloaders.

Is this the case? if so how can you get yourself off the top 5% downloaders list?
Posted by Vigilant1 over 9 years ago
Almost exactly what I expected prior to adding Virgin Media broadband to my cable & compulsory 'phone package on their "3 for £30 offer." I gave them the benefit of the doubt, the speed does not even reach 2Mb on the Thinkbroadband or BBmax speedtesters. So much for Cable Internet. Thank goodness I retained my BT phone & IDNet on an ADSL connection.
As usual, anything fronted by Branson is high on hype & low on actuality. Except for his airline.
Posted by Ephexis over 9 years ago
ezrollers I think they are actually saying that these limits will only affect that top 5% of users, not that it will only apply to preselected heavy users. It will happen to anyone using above those limits at those stated times, they are just saying that the top 5% are all that would really go over those limits.
Posted by Jevo over 9 years ago
And how do we check how much we have downloaded?

And to Quote "Ephexis:- Giving people 20mbit connections and then restricting them is not great. However, these limits aren't too bad really, 3GB from 4pm-midnight and you go down to 5mbit, you can still download but just at 5mbit..

For the other 16hours a day you can max out your 20mbit connection, so it's not too bad."

So I finish work at 4pm and I am in bed for 12pm I get up at 6 start work at 7..mmm I'm maxin out my broadband!!!!! Might as well get the cheapest package going and save myself around £430 a year.
Posted by Ephexis over 9 years ago
Note you don't have to be in attendance to max out your connection ;)

Infact, most will prefer to do it while they aren't at their machines, since it will end up providing lag for online gaming and such.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
@Ephexis, please then kindly explain what Virgins quote of "Unlike some of our competitors, you get unlimited downloads as a basic right so you can load up on music, films...whatever you're into." means??? surely if it has a limit between any hours during the day you are not getting "UNLIMITED DOWNLOADS" are you? "Basic right".... they wouldnt know the meaning if it slapped them between the eyes.
Posted by farrina over 9 years ago

Virgin's take on this is that you still have unlimited downloads, which technically is true, but once the speed cap comes into force it just takes longer to download the material.

The thing that really infuriates me is not the throttle but that they are not clearly stating it on their website. Its well and truly buried.
Posted by ezrollers over 9 years ago
I was afraid that would be the case.

350 MB and 750 MB for M and L is very low indeed. I probably go over the 750 MB just from arsing about on youtube.

Botton line, from 16-00 you can only use your connection at full speed for approximately 50 minutes and that is best case scenario. Start at 16, at 16:25 get capped. Cap expires at 20:25, get full speed until 20:50, get capped again until 0:00

I would have disliked less a cap based on the average monthly downloaded amount. This way it would truly be the top downloaders who are capped, not everybody who strays from the righteous path.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
Yeah farrina, that may well be Virgins take on matters but when they are limiting speeds on the 20Mb service down to 5Mb at certain times that is hardly what i would call "unlimited downloads as a basic right", Infact its not allowing you to download to the maximum the service you PAY for allows... So its far from a basic right and as far from unlimited as things get IMO. As exrollers pointed out its better to have a system like this then a fixed monthly limit on a service which is so high in speed, but at the same time their advertising is misleading and dishonest.
Posted by farrina over 9 years ago
Well I am voting with my feet (and wallet) after 6 years with TW that was and have ordered this (not much more than VM - I live less than 1km from my exchange) uploads look nice and apparently they become upset when you download more than 350Gb a month.


Posted by keith_thfc over 9 years ago
As usual the real culprits are the ASA and Ofcom who allow ISP's to lie about the service being unlimited.
Posted by shaunhw over 9 years ago
What a joke. They advertise 20mbit "unlimited" connections and they clearly cannot provide that. Otherwise they would not need to cap and throttle at all. They should be brought to book, along with the other isps that seem to try and hoodwink customers.
Posted by chrysalis over 9 years ago
Interestingly the author of this news post seems to think the 5mbps will need a rethink is that upwards or downwards?
Posted by jrawle over 9 years ago
What annoys me most is that I'm forever getting junk mail from Virgin for additional services, and also receiving sales calls on my mobile which I find very obtrustive, yet they haven't had the courtesy to notify customers about these limits. Their website still advertises "No download limits - unlike some competitors". I've been in support of Virgin in the Sky dispute. But their rip-off phone service blocking 0844 dial-through numbers, and now this, makes their service look less and less attractive.
Posted by EnsignRo over 9 years ago
Given the potential to download up to 2TB a month for £37, lies or no lies, I wish I could be a Virgin customer!
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
^^^ you might want to re-calculate that, I could be wrong (cant be bothered to get the calculator out lol) but i think you will find if they limit the 20Mb service for 8hours each day to 5Mb you wouldnt be able to do 2TB. Besides what rags people more then anything isnt the fact they cant do 2TB a month but the fact they are paying for a service which for oly part of the day gives them the speed they are paying for.
Posted by GJaxx over 9 years ago

This is a link to a discussion on VM's 'Traffic Management' policy. Customers are not happy, myself included. I should be on 10Mb but my current speed varies between 512Kb and 5Mb on a good day. At time of posting it's 2.6Mb and I have downloaded nothing as yet. Is this all just a blind for a network which cannot cope with the number of subscribers using the service?
Posted by SYLAR over 9 years ago
i think this is all horseshit i believe a lot of customers would prefer to leave the 10mb connection alone and get better upload speeds as virgin have probably one of the worst upload speeds around it says upto 512k you actually upload at around 60k. 20mb sounds as though its another attempt by branson to make fast cash and not deliver the goods. what would he do if half his customers left. the way hes going he will have no sky channels rubbish capped internet and no customers.
Posted by BlackAle over 9 years ago
^^ 512 kilobits = 64 kilobytes, so 60KB is about right for upload speed after overheads are taken into account.
Posted by SYLAR over 9 years ago
blackale whichever way you dress it up its still crap upload speed compared to some. and as stated earlier false advertising by virgin still and no letter from them explaining this capping of speed it sucks.
Posted by bigmiketmt over 9 years ago
i assume there is no option to stay on the exsisting service without upgrade.SO WE INFACT ARE GONNA BE FORCED INTO A CAPPED SERVICE BY THE BACK DOOR.There should be the option to decline the upgrade but no we pay more for a lesser service as has been pointed out b4 the tv packages are the perfect example.....
Posted by SYLAR over 9 years ago
yes i totally agree its the big guys forcing the small guys to do as they want you to i for one will be leaving virgin as now the contract i had with them must be void so i will have nps leaving
corporate rape i call it thats exactly what they r doing.
Posted by viperkick over 9 years ago
well since this traffic management as been inplace ive not manage to get any download speed and im on 10mb. You ask me alot of people will be leaving its just crap relaly crap i will be leaving soon as i find another isp
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
What most of you are all forgetting is if you are long term customers from telewest/NTL days and Virgin suddenly change the terms of the service you signed upto even in a small way you can do something much better then just whine... LEAVE them, legally you can say no thanks to them and go else where with no punishment or charge (expect to have to fight, not to get charged if you are under a contract) but by law they cant stop you leaving within a certain period if they change the terms.
Posted by davesp over 9 years ago
I have just checked the Virgin Media web-page & it is still saying that they 'do not restrict or have no intentions to restrict the amount that you can download'. I have just tried to find out how close to the new allowances that I coming & the obviously Indian helpdesk person had absolutly no idea what I was talking about. In my opinion; the service & product is going down-hill since Virgin got involved.
Posted by ra2uk over 9 years ago
I have been getting the new upload speed for a while now. When you guys are talking about unlimited downloads then VM are still offering that, if you go to many ISP's they will charge you more once you reach your cap, where VM are just reducing your speed. I agree that 3GB is too low for a 20Mb package and that needs to be looked, may be up to 10GB in the peak hours, but it is still better than most ISP's. Remember most other ISP's rely on the BT network so you will not get close to speeds VM offer unless you are really close to the echange.
Posted by skyman1 over 9 years ago
I would love it if they cap my speed to 2mbps.

That would be 3x the speed I get most nights!!!!
Posted by Stardog over 9 years ago
I was using Telewest Blueyonder before it merged with Virgin Media and it was flawless. Now I'm having trouble accessing certain websites including websites that are rarely broken such as youtube and other google websites. Youtube pages load but the video does not download. Someone else I know is having the same problem. I can't even access ANY (Google Blogger) blogs at all. I heard they half the speed of your modem after you've downloaded 750mb. So if you're on a 4mb like me they slash it to 2mb, which seems true after taking online speed tests.
Posted by theholt over 9 years ago
Just had 3 months of frustration trying to get to the bottom of slow download speeds. Finally, after badgering a senior Virgin Techie, he told me, Traffic Management starts at 2pm and finishes at 10pm. He confirmed 10/20mb users will have their speeds reduced to 2Mbps in this time zone. Based on the tests I have been running, this would appear to be the case (in fact they were slower). This is not for a select 5% as they are claiming. I do not download any large files so can't see how they can tag me as a high user! See next comment for remainder of this comment.
Posted by theholt over 9 years ago
Basically, the whole thing stinks! If your service can't consistently cope with more than 5Mbps, then why try and sell the fact you can. By the way, pre mid feb 2007, my connection was extremely good. bang on every time i did a test. Thereafter, it is up and down like a yo-yo. There also appears to be a further reduction to east coast usa servers which was not the case pre mid Feb 2007, coincidently, the same time NTL was rebadged Virgin!!
Posted by dreado over 9 years ago
Aha, this may explain my appealing connection speed of late. Why are we never informed about this stuff?! I have to say though; I think my speed has been subject to some much heftier capping than is suggested above. I could probably live with my 1Mbps being cut in half, but it seems to me it is more like 0.05 of the normal speed. Sometimes my email client thinks I’m offline!
Posted by dreado over 9 years ago
LOL that should say 'appalling connection speed', I think Virgin are messing with my browser too :p
Posted by Maddoguk2222 over 9 years ago
I can only have Cable (Telephone wires too old.) I have been on the L Broadband only for the past 2 years (Pre NTL)and have had no problems. I recently applied for an upgrade to XL. When I rang the company to find out why nothing had happened, I was told that it was for New Customers Only, (where have I heard that before?) I pointed out that there was nothing on the website about that and that will have to honour the contract. Eventually I got it. Since then my max has been 5 meg. If I could leave I would. At least I can download as much as I want so that is something I suppose.
Posted by stack1999 over 9 years ago
I am on 4meg, at peak periods i am getting less than 12½K in the full 8 hours of the peak time, there are a lot of lies being told by virgin, I always thought that Richard Branson was a fair business man. Stupid me.
Silly billy
Posted by poves over 9 years ago
I have only been on the 20 meg for 3 weeks and I have to be honest I get 19.77 meg average which you will agree is blisteringly fast , ha ha. The only problem is that it has to be 3 in the mornin. For the rest of the time I am on half a meg , what use is that unless your a bloody vampire..they are pants.
Posted by poves over 9 years ago
By the way I am getting a new modem and 2 months free service. If it does'nt get sorted shortly that will give me time to find another isp lol .. last laugh.. yes I am out of contract as well now !! hooray ..Good luck people.
Posted by Devlin over 9 years ago
Hi all..20meg..... 5 to 6 meg sometimes!! mostly 300 to 400 kbs!!! Numerous calls to VM and 2 engineer visits later!! I was told that it is a problem with the Baguley server and they dont "HAVE A CLUE" (Engineers own words) on "How to fix it"!!! SOOOOOOO I asked to go back to 10meg??? "Err cant do that sir!, dosnt exist anymore" WTF is going on..Called Ofcom and was told that they need more people to complain to them direct before they can do anything!!! So GET ON THE PHONE peeps... Oh and you can also call trading standards as they are advertising this service as an "UPGRADE"
Posted by stack1999 over 9 years ago
I am still getting only just 1 eigth of my 4meg downland speed, at the full 8 hours of the peak period between 4pm and Midnight, load of lies coming out of virgin now. Virgin tell it to loses its virginity soon. lol
Posted by sox131244 over 9 years ago
Odd really. Complaints that 20Mbs is not obtainable. I have just got 18.7Mbs. I am not greedy and I think that 3GB is a fair capping.
Posted by sox131244 over 9 years ago
Just a thought. Have you got the new modem that is required in most cases for the 20Mbs service? My new one was delivered in 4 days by Virgin. It's free (unless you want an engineer to install it!!!!!). My new one is a Webstar 2100. My old one, a Webstar DPX 100, still managed 12.6Mbs. Worth checking on Virgin site anyway.
Posted by sox131244 over 9 years ago
Me again. It is a VITALLY MUST to use ethernet connections. Even USB2 can't reach these expected speeds. Oh well! Good night. Yup, I'm a vampire.
Posted by stack1999 over 9 years ago
All i do is read my mail on Outlook express, read mail on Googlemail, chat on MSN and surf the net for the news and other interesting things. I am capped justfor using these. The 5% of usuers being capped is crap
I should be getting 4 MEG speed, but getting less than 100kbs, for 8 hours at peak
Posted by stack1999 over 9 years ago
Get this free download monitor, check your download how much of your allowance you use. This will prove what LIARS Virgin ISP is.
Posted by stack1999 over 9 years ago
I have come to the conclusion, you don't personally have to exceed the proscribed download limit, you have only to be in an area where another person or persons are exceeding the limit, to be capped, to be penalised for others is not fair.
Posted by ragtacker over 9 years ago
I must be the '' Lucky one '' i constantly d/l with VM @ 12-14 meg upload is at 736k. using the old DPX100. i have not seen any capping on my line, downloading movies 700MB in less than 7 minutes, so no complaints here, but if you want to mention SKY then i'll comment, they're sh1t.
Posted by Groovehound over 9 years ago
I'm not paying for 0906 number rates - so I made a complaint via the ISPA website. I suggest EVERY ONE OF YOU ON VIRGIN MEDIA - DO IT TODAY. Why? They're not about to reverse this new policy, but they were falling over themselves to ring ME, at no cost. So, if you ALL do this, they will be swamped! They have this capping policy ostensibly 'so normal users have a decent experience'. If that's so, why can I switch my connection on for the first time in the day at 6pm and still only get 300kbps then if this policy has any worth? Tell them: "INVEST IN YOUR NETWORK, YOU STINGY VIRGIN PEOPLE!"
Posted by beaver2 over 9 years ago
how does comment get downloaded
Posted by beaver2 over 9 years ago
Now I find my comments do get through. Just wanted to pass a message on to branson if he keeps up running virgin with all the complaints I have just read - 54 comments - he better sell fast.
Posted by stack1999 over 9 years ago
Virgin is bragging that since capping, the calls for help have gone down, Bo--ocks, they have gone down since the calls we're being charged at £.28 a minutes
Posted by SteMan over 9 years ago
I bet not everyone knows that your download limit is reset every hour. So if you have a 350mb limit, you could download 349mb between 4pm-5pm, then a further 349mb between 5pm-6pm.
Here's an email response I had with Virgin Media...

Here was my question in an email to them:

"Is the 350mb limit set to every hour between 4pm-12midnight, basically could I download 349mb from 4pm-5pm, then a further 349mb between 5pm-6pm and not get capped?"

Virgin Media responded with this:

"Yes, that is correct. If you stay below 350 MB every hour between 4 and 12, you will not be traffic managed."
Posted by ukbirdflu over 9 years ago
I do not do any downloads and yet my speeds between 5-11pm and afternoons during week end is less than 1 mb on a 4mb line and I am not the only innocent one getting this fate if you go to the and have a look the complaints and moans about slow speeds, some 20mb line people get even less than I do, their pseed sometimes go as low as 200kbs and they pay £37 per month!!!
Posted by BILL0BLU over 9 years ago
I don't d/load films or music but most of the time I'm lucky if my d'load speed gets above 0.6mg download speed. If I saw Branson or any of his cronies on fire in the street I wouldn't piss on them
Posted by xb0xguru over 9 years ago
"It is a VITALLY MUST to use ethernet connections. Even USB2 can't reach these expected speeds."

I can't believe nobody posted a reply to this, as it's nonsense.

USB 2.0 is 480Mbps, 4.8 times faster than a standard 100meg LAN connection. I have no idea what speed you've subscribed to, but you'll only have problems if/when you hit the half-Gigabit broadband speed. As it stands, once broadband goes over 100Mbps, most cable modem owners (like me) will need a change in technology as I don't have any gigabit Ethernet cards. Therefore, USB 2.0 would actually win.
Posted by acollingridge over 9 years ago
Although I am furious about this - unlimited should mean unlimited otherwise don't use the word unlimited - I would be ok with it if I actually got close to 5MB when I have inadvertently managed to use enough bandwidth to be throttled (as it appears I have been today) rather than the 2MB I'm actually getting. At that speed Cable is little better than DSL, so what's the point in paying the extra?
Posted by maxien78 over 9 years ago
im glad im with talk talk, my connection speed has neem 6meb throughout the day even when its supposed to be capped during peak hours. Im suposed to get up to 8meg. I was gonna go with virgin but talk talk started their service first. I dont mind if i was to get a low usage because i only pay £25 a month

OFCOM and Trading standards would love this though!! Im sure watchdog would love it too. Emal them, it only takes a few mins.
Posted by kouk2002 over 8 years ago
Although i accept its not 100% accurate when i get my speeds reduced, and it happens quite often since im addicted to anime, i have seen speeds less than 1mb in the download, and under 50kb in the upload. The fact im on XL in a 20meg area really makes this a huge cap, when i get capped it can last for more than 4hours, sometimes even full days, even normal browsing can near impossible with speeds worse than when i used to have dial up years ago.
You must be logged in to post comments. Click here to login.