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Virgin Media cable service traffic management update
Thursday 29 May 2008 15:09:46 by Andrew Ferguson

We covered some six weeks ago the new time periods and trigger levels that Virgin Media was testing for its DOCSIS based cable services. CableForum.co.uk now has the news that Virgin Media is starting to email some users of its cable service who it feels download or upload excessively to inform them of the new limits. For those who are not sent a copy of the letter Virgin Media has updated its website to show the new levels too.

Package 10am to 3pm download daily trigger level 4pm to 9pm download daily trigger level 3pm to 8pm upload daily trigger level Capped Speed Daily maximum usage
Broadband M 900 MB 450 MB 200 MB 1 Mbps (download)
128 Kbps (upload)
15GB
Broadband L (10Mbps) 2400 MB 1200 MB 700 MB 2.5 Mbps (download)
128 Kbps (upload)
67GB
Broadband XL 6000 MB 3000 MB 1400 MB 5 Mbps (download)
192 Kbps (upload)
134GB

It should be noted that your downloads are also restricted even if it was just the upload traffic that passed the trigger level in a single time period. To give people some idea of what the 200MB trigger level on Broadband M means, online gaming equates to around 30MB/hour of upload traffic, so it is unlikely you will trigger the traffic management. Homes where this will be a problem are if two people are gaming, or someone uploads a batch of photos to an online photo site for instance.

The system appears to be a move to define the peak period as being 10am to 9pm, but with such an early end to the evening peak period there is a real chance that people will simply delay large downloads to just after 9pm which will impact on even the light users at this time. Certainly this effect has been seen on several providers over the years and a busy network where contention is happening can result in higher latency or worse packet loss impacting on real-time type activities like streaming and gaming.

The daily allowance which is what the limits boil down to is generous compared to many BT Wholesale based products, which for Virgin Media is fine if they just want to compete with BT based products. Alas most Virgin Media areas also have unbundled ADSL2+ services from providers like Sky and O2 that while suffering from line length issues meaning only 3 to 5% will see 20Mbps speeds from ADSL2+, people will be often be able to get a service that is faster than the 2Mbps of Size M for around the same price or less and generally be able to do more with the connection.

One big problem with daily allowances is that they will impact on those who download a lot just one day a month, as well as homes that download masses every day. Which means the 1% of affected customers will not be a static affair, but over time will mean an increasing percentage of their customers will at some point have triggered the system. Over time this may mean that while a company would be happy to churn away the heaviest users, it may actually lose those who are occasionally above average. In Virgin Media's case the fact that many will have telephone or cable TV bundles could see an impact on more than broadband revenues.

2009 should see the 50Mbps cable broadband products appearing, and it will be interesting to see what price premium is charged and how much extra freedom this buys for people.

Comments

Posted by keith_thfc over 9 years ago
Of course most customers who sign up to these contracts will never know about these restrictions carefully tucked away halfway down the page in the 'help' section.

All most customers will see is the sign-up/product pages which still say "no download limits". In fact I can't even see any asterisks/mention which give any hint of a FUP let alone the heavy throttling already in place.
Posted by Saltank over 9 years ago
I am ashamed of Virgin Media for ruining themselves with this garbage. I want BlueYonder back without any limitations.

Posted by AdamGz0r over 9 years ago
Blueyonder was the daddy in its time, Virgin need to pick theyre traffic management policy and stick to it, Ive lost count of how many times they have changed it now.
Posted by kitkatnodogs over 9 years ago
I agree with saltank and AdamGz0r, things have never been the same since the Virgin buyout.
When Branson took over I expected great things. (What a disappoint.)Bills go up service goes down. The only good think is customer service will be free from Sunday
Posted by kitkatnodogs over 9 years ago
Sorry I mean broadband support will be free.
Another think I object to is the Five Pound charge for paying your bill over the phone.
As a pensioner I pay a few bills this way, and the most I get charged is One Pound. Vergin is charging 500% They are hiting the people how can least afford it
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
Why are you people still with them, they keep altering the traffic policys thats a change for most to what you signed up for, just tell them where to shove their service and move on.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago
If you can afford not to have a bank account, kitkatnodogs, you can afford to pay the charges for non-DD payments.
Posted by AdamGz0r over 9 years ago
At the end of the day Virgin Media in my area is still pretty good, full 20mbit 24/7, and I can download as much as I want unlike when I was on ADSL.

I start most my downloads at midnight and they carry on through to the morning, during the day I havent been hit with the traffic management as its only traffic inside those hours which trigger it at which time my usage is minimal.
Posted by murry9k over 9 years ago
Is it just me or do the daily limits not add up? With these limits in place its impossible to reach the maximum limit, ie on a size L the most you could reach at full speed is only ~47GB.
So what's even the point in the daily limit?
Posted by herdwick over 9 years ago
On Size L without triggering the throttling you can download ~64 GB/day, assuming you get the full 10M. If permanently throttled you would get 71.2 GB/day, or 2136 GB/month - how many providers would accept that ?

Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago
Quite right, it's looking like they're monthly limits.

And herdwick, so basically they should boot the few abusive people? Wow, by jove you've got it!
Posted by AdamGz0r over 9 years ago
They are not the monthly limits that is for sure.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
What herdwick fails to realise though is its not just abusive people that get punished... look at the mid timeframe 4pm to 9pm.... All you need do is a couple of iplayer episodes or even just download the FULL windows xp sp3 update (i assume herdwick still updates his PC???) during that time and you get throttled...... Throttled for keeping your machine up to date and the virgin network healthy.... how nice of them.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
Its all well and good saying how much in theory you can download in a month, thats not in question, oh and many 'unlimited' providers will allow similar things, but just like virgin they will throttle you.
The difference here is even if you just downloaded 500Mb in the whole month on 1 day, for that day you get punished, sorry but IMO punish the people that punish the network, dont punish those whos use is only occasional though. Herdwick knows i slate BT, but even they in a way are better than virgin in this regard, atleast they try to punish only the hardcore users.
Posted by AdamGz0r over 9 years ago
The difference between the limits in the morning compared to in the evening are quite dire, personally I dont know what theyre playing at with this one but like I said already this doesnt affect me but I am sure it will affect alot of families who will have just bought theyre kids cheap laptops, who are usually only online 4-9pm when the limits are at theyre worst.
Posted by Canopus over 9 years ago
Thank God I've left this demon IP, I would be penalised every time I uploaded a batch of photos to my printers. I could have sent them in multiple small batches, but, then they would have been treated as separate orders with delivery charges on each batch.
Posted by Rutland over 9 years ago
What alternative is there to hethieving Branson? We cant get BT broadband and have no other alternative.Any suggestions? Why can't someone supply wireless broadband?
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote"What alternative is there to hethieving Branson? We cant get BT broadband...."

Ive never came across anyone thats in a virgin cable area that cant have a BT phone line in which to use the internet. Are you sure about that?
Posted by lloydio over 9 years ago
I really dont see the point in them offering 20mb if there worried about there network coming to a stand still. I think they need to get some more bandwidth before they start rolling out 50mb!

I have wondered why I have only been getting 1mbs down and 100k up. Well im glad i am still in my cooling off period so they can come and take there gear away. Next stop be24!
Posted by Etsefars over 9 years ago
"unlimited" means limited in virgin dictionary. i`m fed up with the TM... i`m not even larg downloader.... but it sims i`m geting panished for some few system abusers... i`m thinking living virgin... and i hope people live them in masses... The "unlimited" thing is not legal in my book...
Posted by Etsefars over 9 years ago
I have being told that the 4mb L is going to be upgraded in summer to 10mb, but so far nothing happend in my area. but let say if it happened, i can not see any point why i choce the 10mp, I rather prefer the 4mb that i paid for uncapped, rather than 10mp capped.... I think virgin is going to lose a lot of customers over this.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago
Etsefars - yep. Same thing happened with the 4MBit upgrades. I was happy with 2. When 4 came along, my service got slower. Each "speed upgrade" since then has had the same issue!
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
Too much promised speed...... Too many using it.... Thats the problem right there in simple terms Dawn.... Virgin are hot air and promises, when the service *cough* is over sold the hot air and the balloon (PUN intended) burst in dramatic fashion.
Posted by daniel2000 over 8 years ago
link to most update policy an update revew is needed
http://allyours.virginmedia.com/html/internet/traffic.html
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