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Virgin Media NOT opening up broadband network to wholesalers
Tuesday 05 May 2009 08:15:27 by John Hunt

Update - 15:25
Virgin have confirmed this afternoon that they have no "secret plans", as alluded by the Guardian, and in fact no plans at all to unbundle their broadband network, making it available on a wholesale basis, as they plan to keep focus on their current high speed broadband offerings.

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Virgin are looking at opening up their broadband network to other providers in a move that could place them as a competitor to BT in the wholesale market. This would allow other service providers to sell the underlying Virgin products such as their 50Mbps broadband along with services such as telephone lines and television products.

Although the move has been mooted in industry circles for a while, the news in the Guardian yesterday indicates that Virgin may have this up and running within 18 months. One possible reason for the move is perhaps to preempt Ofcom forcing unbundling, similar to how BT were forced to open up their exchanges to competitors several years ago.

Whilst Virgin do not have the nationwide coverage that BT do (Virgin cover around 57% of homes), they do have a valuable fibre/coax based network which can help drive take up of faster broadband services. BT's competitive fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) service is expected to cover around 40% of homes by 2012, but will probably only offer speeds up to 40Mbps. In contrast, Virgin already offer 50Mbps now and are able to upgrade this to 100Mbps when there is demand. This puts Virgin a large step ahead of BT and will definitely help them draw in other ISPs who will want to be offering the fastest service possible to help keep their customers onboard.

This is not to say that BT will be displaced from their role in providing the majority of broadband connections. Virgin don't have plans to build out their network to a larger area, so the 57% coverage is unlikely to change. What may happen is that this could drive down wholesale prices of broadband as BT try to ensure that service providers stay with their wholesale service. It could also induce a larger disparity in prices between the areas that have Virgin services available and those that don't, as with BT not having competition in some areas, prices could remain stagnant.

Comments

Posted by browney over 8 years ago
This can only be a bad thing. At least currently any way.
Posted by AndrueC over 8 years ago
I disagree. It's a good move. Let's get this ratified by Ofcom. Make sure that VM have the same business opportunities as BTor. Then perhaps we can push BT away from the areas where VM already have a digital fibre presence. Let BT grab whatever profitable areas are still outside of VM then have both companies work together to fill in the gaps where profit is harder if not impossible.

It almost sounds like a viable plan :)
Posted by Dixinormous over 8 years ago
This can only be a good thing, competition is good and infrastructure competition like this spurs investment.
Posted by LizzyAdams over 8 years ago
Or more likely, investments won't be made and all existing (and new) customers suffer with a deteriorating service quality as more people sign up.
Posted by ceedee over 8 years ago
While I agree that this would be "a good thing" for users, I can't understand how VM can 'rent' my connection to another provider, undercut BT Openreach *and* increase revenue.
Maybe I'm missing something?
Posted by KarlAustin over 8 years ago
In theory it's a good thing, but who in their right mind would want their reputation based on the VM network as things currently stand?
Posted by Dixinormous over 8 years ago
Depending on how things go companies that use VM as a wholesale partner would be very inclined to move their customers across, especially those who may be on longer lines.

This isn't about VM giving up their retail customers as they tend to have them on multiple products and contracts but about grabbing some of the business from BT's Wholesale options.
Posted by browney over 8 years ago
How would the support work though? I mean engineer visits?
Posted by ian72 over 8 years ago
Moving customers from BT Wholesale lines is fine except that if those customers want to stay with BT for phone line then a 2nd line/cable would have to be installed for virgin BB - and that may not be very cost effective for the supplier or the end user.
Also would make moving between suppliers much more difficult again.
Posted by Dixinormous over 8 years ago
Having broadband delivered via Virgin's network would need a new cable installed however given that Virgin only charge 30GBP retail for this I imagine it not being expensive. You could easily retain the BT landline as the VM service is delivered over coax.

Engineer visits would be the same as for retail and for BT Wholesale DSL, they would come from Virgin.
Posted by AndrueC over 8 years ago
You have to split retail from wholesale as BT have. That way the crappy margins remain in the retail sector and only impact the number and size of call centres and marketing departments (the latter always being improved by a good slash and burn exercise).

With a bit of luck it shields the physical network from the tight-wad customers :)
Posted by herdwick over 8 years ago
been done before - AOL over cable since 2002 I think.

No OFCOM issue here as VM aren't deemed to have Significant Market Power and hence can't be required to allow 3rd party access. That's why BT don't *have* to do it now either in "Market 3" areas.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 8 years ago
ian72 - Well yes, forcing the cost of moving away up is the major reason I can see an ISP doing it!

Of course, (and they won't mention this ofc) it's a material change in the service and the people involved can break their contract over it.

If you're in an allready-oversubscribed VM area (again, most of them)...run.
Posted by Drefsab over 8 years ago
A lot of this still hasn't been announced, for example are they going to wholesale their own network out or just do offer duct sharing? Personally id like to see the duct sharing option more than sharing virgin's own network, that way its fair to customers of both isp's.
Posted by john (Favicon staff member) over 8 years ago
According to Virgin, this isn't actually happening at all. (See update).
Posted by Dixinormous over 8 years ago
Most of the Virgin Media network isn't oversubscribed. While there are a number of complaints it's to be expected given the number of customers. Most areas with 50M deployed have very few capacity issues.
Posted by AndrueC over 8 years ago
Well..I said it sounded like a viable plan. There's clearly no room for that kind of crazy thinking :(
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote"Most of the Virgin Media network isn't oversubscribed. While there are a number of complaints it's to be expected given the number of customers. Most areas with 50M deployed have very few capacity issues."

If all this were true they wouldnt have stupid and daily traffic management... Its only a matter of time before the 50Mb service gets managed (probably when they reduce the price or run some half assed special offer and millions sign up to it).
I can see the fury now when it happens and punters swearing how they are paying 50 quid a month for a half baked service.
Posted by chrysalis over 8 years ago
I find it laughable someone commented who would want their reputation reliant on a VM wholesale service. The same people who let BT wholesale wreck their reputations? Cable as a whole is a superior technology, synchs that hold, garuanteed connection speed, and better fault resolution processes (although this is down to company policy rather than the tech.
Posted by Dixinormous over 8 years ago
Depends what you consider as oversubscription to be honest. If you describe it as anything where a customer cannot achieve peak speed at peak time you'd best be glad that your UKO service shares backhaul with the subsidised Sky service :)
I repeat that a majority of areas have 50Mbit deployed now and those *generally* have few issues.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 8 years ago
Dixi - In terms of core bandwidth? No. In terms of UBR overloading in many parts (i.e. the city)of the regions? Oh yes.

Per VM's press release the 50MBit service is stepping on the 20 to get its speed, true, but that can't last as the 50 MBit users numbers rise.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote"Depends what you consider as oversubscription to be honest. If you describe it as anything where a customer cannot achieve peak speed at peak time you'd best be glad that your UKO service shares backhaul with the subsidised Sky service :)
I repeat that a majority of areas have 50Mbit deployed now and those *generally* have few issues."

LLU ukonline customers do not touch Sky servers.
VM can not provide 50Mb to all areas ive seen with my own eyes one road get the full advertised speed while the very next road can not even get half the advertised speed and thats not just in peak times
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote"Per VM's press release the 50MBit service is stepping on the 20 to get its speed, true, but that can't last as the 50 MBit users numbers rise."

Indeed once the numbers (or those sick of the throttles) leap onto 50Mb they will have to do something, doesnt matter what system you use it will have a saturation point and a point their 50Mb becomes capped tripe like the rest of what they offer, no doubt they will still say its "FIBRE" LOL
Posted by Dixinormous over 8 years ago
Posted by Dawn_Falcon 1 day ago
Dixi - In terms of core bandwidth? No. In terms of UBR overloading in many parts (i.e. the city)of the regions? Oh yes.

Just as well 50Mbit uses different uBRs which can quadruple or more bandwidth available per home passed

CB - see above, performance of legacy network is no guide to overlay network performance, and I said that you share backhaul with the Sky service, same DSLAMs too.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 8 years ago
Per VM's own press release, 50 and 20 are sharing a network, and 50 is stepping on 20. Are you saying that VM are lying?

And quadruple /in theory/. But the frequencys are not there in practice, especially since the old network is still there as well.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote"CB - see above, performance of legacy network is no guide to overlay network performance, and I said that you share backhaul with the Sky service, same DSLAMs too."
Would you like to bet money that within lets say 18 months the 50Mb service from virgin is throttled either through their own greed or a price reduction that attracts an influx they cant cope with and have to throttle people... Id lay my lifes earnings on it happening, it happend with their other services there is no reason it wont happen to the 50Mb.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
The 20Mb service a couple of years back had no LIMITS, then bam out of nowhere daily throttles came along. Doesnt matter what system they are using the moment its saturated in users they will do the exact same thing.
Sky and ukonline backhaul AFAIK is different and not shared, its been discussed in ukonlines forums before, even if it were shared i dont give a toss, it runs at full rate 24/7 unlike virgin and thats all that matters.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
Virgin its clear are liars, first they harped on about 150Mb and now they are blabbering about 200Mb, if they pulled that off on their FIBRE TO THE CABINET NOT HOME services they will be doing better than some of the fastest FTTC services in Europe, some how i doubt they can do that with uprates so poor and throttles and caps all over the shop.
Posted by Dixinormous over 8 years ago
HFC based services and xDSL based FTTN are totally different things Mr Burn. There are no FTTC services that do 200Mbit.
It's clear you don't know the difference between the architectures if you think they're lying, it's easily achievable with off the shelf equipment.
Posted by Dixinormous over 8 years ago
Incidentally Dawn and again as I mentioned a while ago 50Mbit isn't stepping on 20Mbit for its' additional bandwidth at all, 20Mbit is actually borrowing from 50, and the frequencies are there in practise, if they weren't the service wouldn't run. I suggest both you and Carpet both read up on this stuff a bit, your assertions about it technically are quite wrong. It has limitations though they are nothing to do with what either of you think.
Posted by Dixinormous over 8 years ago
Lastly as I feel like St Jude posting here Carpet no-one is or has ever disputed that STM will be applied to the 50Mbit just that it isn't there right now. VM announced that it would have it or something similar applied when rollout complete last year.
Lastly there is no area on the VM network where 50Mbit has downstream congestion. As I said before they are different logical networks so performance of 2/10 and depending on if it's migrated yet or not 20M is nothing to do with 50M performance.
Posted by XANTIA-1975 over 8 years ago
Lets face it with all the traffic management and now the gov't expecting ISP's to snoop on us whats the bet before 2012 we all say stuff the net... I plan to.....
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote"HFC based services and xDSL based FTTN are totally different things Mr Burn. There are no FTTC services that do 200Mbit.
It's clear you don't know the difference between the architectures if you think they're lying, it's easily achievable with off the shelf equipment."

Its clear from the story they plan on still using FTTC to provide that dreamy 200Mb... Quote"The press release highlights that the 200Meg pilot is the fastest deployment of cable broadband in the world, with only fibre to the premises deployments offering faster services."
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
As i said FTTC cant do those speeds, and certainly not to the thousands of customers they have. Virgin seem to think they can though, like i said....LIARS
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
Oh and if its so easily done with Off the shelf equipment why did they even bother with 50Mb and their so called 150Mb trails in the first place... Heck if its that simple to do why not just hook everyone up now.... You make it sound like they just need to nip down to PCWorld for a few cables.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
Also even if they ended up supplying this so called 200Mb, whats your theory on the cost??? Considering 50Mb (WHICH WILL no matter what you say) at some point be a limited service for £50... Roughly double the cost of ALMOST any other HEAVILY throttled and capped service in the UK. I dread to think what price they would want for their 200Mb, what will the up rates with this 200Mb be.... Face it they liv e in damn cuckoo land
Posted by Dixinormous over 8 years ago
Burn I can't really be bothered. You have no clue what you're talking about and appear to think BT and VM would be using the same technology on FTTN deployments. As a very small hint have a look at the cable coming into the home.
You're all too easy with your opinions but have no idea what you're talking about and have very clearly shown it here. VM actually deliver a few Gbit/s to homes on their network. Get a clue and come talk with me. And I said nothing about STM beyond that it's coming so no idea what you're wittering on about there.
Posted by Dixinormous over 8 years ago
As an addendum off the shelf equipment is very different from what you find in PC World. It's one thing to buy a piece of equipment that costs a few thousand quid, another to do it a few thousand times and it somewhat adds up. While your opinions are strong you really do have no idea what you're talking about and just use everything people say as an excuse to criticise whomever you don't like the look of even if as in this case you have no clue what you're talking about. Go study the difference between xDSL based FTTN and HFC based FTTN and we'll talk some more.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 8 years ago
Dixi - Then VM are lying in a public press release? Sigh.

And thanks, but I happen to believe one of Verizon's senior techs who's worked with BT in the past over you, given his explination is actually logical and he gives references
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote"Dixi - Then VM are lying in a public press release? Sigh."

Not to mention also by his own waffle they are providing people with differing technological services, whilst telling them it is something else entirely. Their services are complete and utter rubbish they must have the most capped and limited so called "FIBRE" service on planet Earth. I cant wait until the 50Mb pile of tosh has daily limits imposed, ill be sure to be back with a 2 fingered salute to his stupid Virgin supporting, followed by gloating how correct i am.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
I personally hope their service is not subjected to the same rules as BT with regards to opening up to competitors, the last thing i want is to read more waffle from an ISP to find out if when i take their service bob the builder is going to come and dig my garden up witter on about how im going to get hundreds of Mb/s download, before he runs off leaving me with a 1970s style TV box and broadband with pings so high you would think the core network was on the moon.
Posted by Dixinormous over 8 years ago
Nice Vitriol Carpet and sums up just how seriously people should take your opinions.

Dawn - No you just misread the press release. No offense to him but unless your Verizon tech has done a DOCSIS 3 rollout, which I doubt given he works for a telco, he wouldn't know how the sharing is working either.

Basically I have seen the VM DOCSIS 3 deployment - he hasn't. 32MHz of reclaimed ex-analogue spectrum used, 295 - 327MHz - I'll produce more stats.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote"Nice Vitriol Carpet and sums up just how seriously people should take your opinions."

Oh no what i say is true PURE FACT. Pick any website on your precious Virgin service, do a screen grab of ping times to it..... Ill be happy to make it look like a snail.

As to install, i have a front garden, mainly grass, tell me how they are going to get the cable from the pavement to the side of my house without destroying my lawn?

Finally their TV box, it has a 1970s style, ive seen slimmer VHS recorders.
Posted by Dixinormous over 8 years ago
Posted by CARPETBURN about 1 hour ago
'Oh no what i say is true PURE FACT. Pick any website on your precious Virgin service, do a screen grab of ping times to it..... Ill be happy to make it look like a snail.'

Certainly.

http://www.dixinormous.me.uk/carpetburn.zip
Posted by Somerset over 8 years ago
CB - one way is to make a slot with a spade, the grass soon grows over.
Posted by Dixinormous over 8 years ago
And all was quiet...
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
LMAO good try now do it from your home connection.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
Oh and did i not say PING?? Still laughing at your torrent though, all that blanking out of titles and you forgot to blank the hash on that file LMAO. Also curious why your capping had not kicked in at 1.11pm based on the days use. LOL Good try though.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
Oh and one final tip.....
Never post links to your own website a whois gives any old fool here your personal details...
Dont worry though KARL i wont tell anyone you have a nice webserver and use it for torrents, tracerts and kid people its Virgin LOL
Posted by BlackAle over 8 years ago
It's funny, CB asks for proof from Dixinormous, he provides it, but still CB spouts a load of nonsense.
Posted by Dixinormous over 8 years ago
Carpet... did you see where the reverse traceroute went? I'm fairly sure my website isn't hosted on Mortlake CMTS 06. It's also on shared hosting - no root access.

If you have a look I also suspect you'll find Mortlake serves West London, yes, it's an old address!

I gave a couple of pings, and what do you think a traceroute is? It's a ping with incrementing TTL starting at 1!

Lastly I'm on 50Mbit, which has no STM.
Any other questions?

Wow an MD5 hash... I'm worried, I gave away an MD5 hash.

That is VM 50Mbit performance, if you like further demonstration can be arranged.
Posted by Dixinormous over 8 years ago
Incidentally if you're going to take the Michael out of the whois details on my website at least get the name right, it's CARL with a C, not a K :(
Posted by Dixinormous over 8 years ago
I have a couple more minutes, then I have to phone my webhost and tell them that their web server's default gateway is 94-172.192-1.cable.ubr06.mort.blueyonder.co.uk, a cable router on the VM network... Carpet did you actually traceroute to the website, as a hint it's nowhere NEAR VM's Mortlake site, it hangs off leased circuits in Bristol.

I use shared hosting, I can't run apps like that on it as I don't have root / Administrator!

Apparently my web server is running Windows XP and runs uTorrent, Live Messenger, and worse still it runs on Wireless (Intel Wifi icon in systray).
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
LMAO yeah, yeah, blah blah your Virgin line is the same speed as your dedicated server...... Of course it is......Run along
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