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Virgin Media testing changes to traffic management policies
Friday 18 April 2008 09:40:15 by Andrew Ferguson

The cable broadband products from Virgin Media are going through a period where Virgin Media is trialling measures which it says will make for a more efficient network.

The trial is only being run at a limited number of locations: Preston, Wigan, Blackpool, Camden, Dalston, Enfield and Haringey. The big difference to the previous traffic management is that rather than a single time period to monitor usage in, three different time frames will be used. A copy of the Virgin Media statement has been posted by one of our forum users.

The three time periods in use in the trial:

  • Between 10am and 3pm only download traffic is counted
  • Between 4pm and 9pm download traffic is counted
  • Between 3pm to 8pm upload traffic is counted

The traffic usage is not cumulative, i.e. download traffic between 10am and 3pm does not count towards the total in the 4pm to 9pm window. People also need to remember that as the upload usage is counted between 3pm and 8pm, that downloading data will use a small amount of upload, and applications such a Sky Anytime, 4oD and the BBC iPlayer client can all use your upload bandwidth to share material to other users.

The trigger levels before the connection has its speed varies according to the package you are subscribed to.

Package 10am to 3pm download 4pm to 9pm download 3pm to 8pm upload Capped Speed
Broadband M 900 MB 450 MB 200 MB 1 Mbps (download)
128 Kbps (upload)
Broadband L 2400 MB 1200 MB 700 MB 1 Mbps (download)
128 Kbps (upload)
Broadband XL 6000 MB 3000 MB 1400 MB 5 Mbps (download)
192 Kbps (upload)

Previously it was announced that people on Broadband L who had been upgraded to 10Mbps from the standard 4Mbps would have the download speed cut from 10Mbps to 2.5Mbps. We presume that this 2.5Mbps will apply to those who have been upgraded already in the trial areas.

It is interesting to see a provider talk about abuse of its network and abnormal traffic patterns at a time when perfectly legal content in the size range 2GB to 4GB is becoming widely available. Admittedly the proportion of people downloading 2GB game demo's from Playstation Network, or renting a film download online is relatively small but times are changing and the rhetoric where providers always assumed that people downloading several GB a day were into dodgy stuff and thus fair game for getting their speed slowed down needs to change.

One way of considering these limits and those from other providers is that the Virgin Media XL product is a 5Mbps cable package that will burst to 20Mbps for short periods but sustain 5Mbps speeds for much longer.


Posted by keith_thfc over 9 years ago
I want to know when VM are going to stop lying to punters on their website/ads and start telling the truth about their traffic managed services.

"Plus there are no boring download limits..."

"unlimited downloads"
Posted by jrawle over 9 years ago
Does that mean that between 3pm and 4pm, only uploads are counted? How bizarre.

The more I hear about Virgin Media, the more I'm glad I ditched them a few months ago.
Posted by chrisw2 over 9 years ago
I find it odd that the service in Blackpool are being monitored and await the results with interest. Blackpool (Flyde area) declined to have cable infrastructure installed some years back and I suspect the majority of Broadband connections are via the telephone providers/BT network.

Like Keith it is is not the headline speeds that I find annoying, it is the contention speeds in the evening and weekends that get my blood boiling. I can get 6mb during the datime (a half mile from the exchange) butsppeds of less than 1 kb in the evening - rediculous!

Posted by paulnorman over 9 years ago
I think the issue for this traffic management on the VM network is in reality that VM do not want to invest any more money into the network. And as the network is already at braking point the only solution for VM is to move more to traffic management.

In this world today it’s all about profit and NOT SERVICE and more so here in the uk!!!!

PS…… I know as I used to work for VM (NT-HELL)……

Posted by keith_thfc over 9 years ago
"And as the network is already at braking point the only solution for VM is to move more to traffic management."

They could always stop marketing such a blatantly unsustainable service in the first place.
Posted by herdwick over 9 years ago
the downloads *are* unlimited - when do they stop ?
Posted by keith_thfc over 9 years ago
Herdwick - downloads are limited by whatever degree of traffic shaping is applied.

Download at your max speed x 24/7 = "unlimited downloads" as the ISP is not restricting you in any way.

Any degree of throttling = less than unlimited.
Posted by herdwick over 9 years ago
Downloads can also be limited by whatever degree of congestion is allowed to occur.

Fact is there is not a GB limit at which it stops working, so it hasn't a limit, so it's unlimited :-)
Posted by jrawle over 9 years ago
If you go to an "all you can eat" restaurant, and you eat quickly so that they run out of dishes, you might not mind sitting and waiting for the chef to cook some more. But if they tell you, "You've eaten enough for now, wait an hour" while other customers continue to eat, you're likely to complain about false advertising.

Most people can see the difference between congestion and an ISP's arbitrary limits. I don't know why you are so keen to defend Virgin and others' misleading advertising.
Posted by herdwick over 9 years ago
"You've eaten enough for now, wait an hour"

Virgin don't do that though, do they. The waiter just comes round to your table less often or the chef cooks more slowly.

Try not to mislead in support of your narrow definition of unlimited. There is no GB limit.
Posted by keith_thfc over 9 years ago
"Fact is there is not a GB limit at which it stops working, so it hasn't a limit, so it's unlimited :-)"

Herdwick - if the speed is throttled down to zero would you still call that "unlimited"?

Think you need to look the word up in a dictionary such as the one below:
Posted by uniquename over 9 years ago

As you say, Blackpool will be interesting if they don't have cable.

But if you are on VM ADSL, why not migrate out? My speeds normally increase in the evenings from around 4500 to around 5000-5400, and that's with an IP profile of 6000 so a theoretical maximum possible of about 5700.
Posted by ceedee over 9 years ago
Technically speaking, herdwick is right -- VM's traffic management is not a limit.
But most users (and prospective customers reading the adverts) *aren't* technical so using that definition will mislead them.
There's no doubt that in plain English, slowing someone's connection because of prior over-use is a limit.

Or as I like to put it: Unlimited but not limitless...

ps. Good to see that ISPreview read tb!
Posted by uklad77 over 9 years ago
So Virgin get it in the neck for being upfront about their traffic managment policy.

I tried to look up TalkTalk's Fair usage policy. I couldn't find it until page 12 of their terms and conditions and then it states

'we have also applied a fixed limit or a cap (which is currently 40 ‘gigabytes’) to the amount of data that you may download and/or upload'

Even the BB M management above is 44Gb per month in total! And it isn't even a fixed limit
Posted by keith_thfc over 9 years ago
uklad - How exactly are VM being upfront about traffic management? Is it clearly indicated on their product page?

Have they contacted all customers to notify them of the traffic management?
Posted by aethandor over 9 years ago
uklad77 - Virgin are not upfront at all about what they are really doing. After 6 months of having my broadband speed throttled in the evenings and weekends to approx 7.8kbps I have told them to get stuffed. I was getting little more than dial-up speeds for broadband prices. Sure I could download as much as I liked overnight and during their non-peak hours - but they would make me pay for that in the evenings - even though I always ceased my heavy downloads before the peak time started - by providing an apallingly slow service.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago
Certain people need to give me an apology, because no, they really can't bump the headline speed without slashing real speeds.

uklad77 - No, it's not a fixed limit. It's far, far, far lower on overloaded UBR's (most of the network now) and the speed when limited is also in those areas often sub-dialup. Even "off peak", pings when I had VM rarely went under 300-400ms!
Posted by chrysalis over 9 years ago
People are starting to sign up to ntl:telewest business cable broadband, basically the same with better SLA, free uk support and no STM (traffic shaping) they are not been dettered by the higher prices.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago
You're still going to see the effect of the overloaded UBR's, unfortunately.
Posted by neBuloid over 9 years ago
ha, best thing would be for VM's customers to start leaving in droves to ISPs who don't mess around in this way with their customer's Internet connection. A good example would be, owned by O2. As soon as their bottom line is affected, watch them start investing in their network like they ought have done a year ago
Posted by comnut over 9 years ago
As I have said before, almost *every* isp is doing it these days... the main problem is, they have now just realised that the technology cannot support the dreams of the salesmen... there are only so much ISPs you can 'leave' until you 'run out' of them!

Posted by cskla over 9 years ago
Most XL customers pay £37, I pay £25 as I said enough of the problems, either I pay a max of £25 considering I live next to the BT Exchange where Be Internet is available, so they agreed. So I say if you are having problems, log them so that there is proof of the calls being logged, then push them to lower the price so at least you don't pay silly money for a silly service. If you still don't like it, leave them, simple as.
Posted by F00Nian over 9 years ago
"Posted by chrisw2 6 days ago
I find it odd that the service in Blackpool are being monitored and await the results with interest. Blackpool (Flyde area) declined to have cable infrastructure installed some years back "

The vast majority of Blackpool has cable access. It was owned by the former Telewest company, today its Virginmedia.
Posted by stiffy over 9 years ago
Nothing to do with the 50meg service about to be released?

I suppose that will be a 10 meg service with bursts of 50meg. Its all hype, mirrors and advertisment Bull crap.
Posted by rajrad11 over 9 years ago
VM is pathetic. I wud suggest my frnds not to go for VM Broadband as I experienced the pathetic service.
Posted by blakes-23 over 9 years ago
I don't think virgin is using those traffic management policies. I turned my computer my speeed was limited to 1mb when I phoned broadband support they said I had downloaded over 300mb and would have that limit for 24 hours and I'm on a 4mb connection

Posted by do_one over 9 years ago
its rubbish i downloaded a game for my ps3 and now i got traffic manegment im paying for 10 meg and now i got speeds of 2. getting punished for all these llegal downloaders
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