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Virgin Media complete 50meg rollout and trial 10meg upstream
Wednesday 15 July 2009 12:03:43 by John Hunt

Virgin Media is about to complete the roll out of its 50meg DOCSIS 3.0 based broadband service and is celebrating this by reducing the monthly cost of its XXL package from September to £38 a month, or £28 a month if taken with a phone line. This is quite a large drop from the current pricing of £50 a month without the phone line, or £35 with, which should make the service affordable to more people. Crucially, the 50meg service is currently free from any traffic management that is imposed on the lower speed products.

"As the first company to bring broadband to the UK ten years ago, the completion of our next-generation network marks another pioneering moment for internet access in the UK. We are delighted with the performance and reliability of our 50Mb service, and with the customer feedback. Now the roll-out is days from being complete, we're ready to take 50Mb to the next stage of development and reinforce our leading position in the broadband market."

Jon James, (Executive Director of Broadband) Virgin Media

Virgin have also announced a new pilot to trial different upload speeds including an upstream speed of 10meg. This is made possible via the new DOCSIS 3.0 network (the technology can support over 100meg upstream), and is looking to explore both the technical capabilities as well as the user demand for higher upstream services. This comes along side the previously announced pilot of their new 200meg broadband service in Ashford, Kent. No dates are yet set for when this may venture out as a live product, but it does show Virgin are a significant step ahead of BT (who are currently piloting 40meg services) in the speed wars.

A virgin Media branded laptop has also been announced today, called the Freedom Netbook, with a retail value of around £300 but to be available free with certain 24-month mobile and fixed-line broadband connections. It features an Intel Atom 1.6GHz processor, Wireless networking (including 802.11n), but doesn't have a built in 3G modem, so a USB dongle will still be required for access to mobile broadband services.

Comments

Posted by otester over 7 years ago
Why oh why is it that the worst ever ISP has the best network (fibre)?

Also screw the government for hindering BT, apparently they wanted FTTH long ago but were denied.
Posted by AndrueC over 7 years ago
Well done to VM - so far.

It remains to be seen how long it remains free of traffic management though. I've also read reports from people complaining that they rarely get close to 50Mb - although that could be down to the site they are pulling from.
Posted by doowles over 7 years ago
Great news that 10mbit upload is being tested. Been waiting for something like that for years.
Posted by otester over 7 years ago
@AndrueC

On the Virgin 50Mb page it says it has traffic management. Now could this have just been updated and the actual traffic management page (still says N/A) hasn't?
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
Yep, as the rollout is complete they are, as they have previous stated, rolling out traffic management onto the 50Mbit service.
Posted by lloydio over 7 years ago
i would be happy with 10mb upload!
Posted by otester over 7 years ago
@Dawn

To be honest, even with TM, you can still ram 180GB a night down it (5.5TB a month). So as long as the speed and ping is good, I couldn't really complain.

VPN/Encrypted Usenet would needed though as VM is hostile to P2P.
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
10 up... oooh that's gonna be a big carrot for a lot of online gamers
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
Erm? No, it certainly will not be. Games don't have massive bandwidth requirements, what matters is ping and packet loss, which VM tend to be terrible on.
Posted by Dixinormous over 7 years ago
Very clever marketing, they'll 'trial' 10Mbit upstream in a couple of areas where the network can support it, such as Warrington which had *months* spent cleaning it up, then roll out a lower speed. The 10Mbit figure is in people's minds now though.
Posted by herdwick over 7 years ago
the press release says "The 50Mb service continues to be free of traffic management."

http://pressoffice.virginmedia.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=205406&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1307695&highlight=
Posted by herdwick over 7 years ago
and the Ntoes to editors says "The 50Mb service continues to be free of Subscriber Traffic Management (STM) subject to Virgin Media’s Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). "

so which is it to be ? managed or not ?
Posted by kendal01 over 7 years ago
depends which way you look at the gaming dawn. xbox live and psn don't have that many dedicated servers so people host their own games. with the onset of broadband most developers have become very lazy with the netcode now. you struggle to host a decent 16 player game on 2Mbps upload. i went back to the original quake a few months ago(yes people still play it!) and i managed to host a 16 player room with no lag judging from the messages from the other players.
Posted by chrysalis over 7 years ago
end of the day VM's STM often beats non STM traffic on dsl isp's. the STM on VM's 20meg product is higher then my adsl synch speed.
Posted by otester over 7 years ago
One thing many over looked it bonded ADSL2+, 44Mbps services are currently available;

£35 + 2xLine rental
Posted by samperry209 over 7 years ago
Dont care if its 200Mb im staying with o2 because the customer service is far better and its miles cheaper!
Posted by uklad77 over 7 years ago
@herdwick

There is no STM on XXL, however VM reserve the right to ask those who use the service to the detriment of other users to change their habits.

Be and Sky also have similar clauses in their T&Cs
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
"Posted by Dawn_Falcon about 6 hours ago
Erm? No, it certainly will not be. Games don't have massive bandwidth requirements, what matters is ping and packet loss, which VM tend to be terrible on"

Not an Xbox live gamer then Dawn? Bigger upload means better hosting. I know ping/packet loss latency is a factor but a bigger upload for Xbox live hosting is a big need for gamers in the UK. So.. Erm yes... I'm not saying VM can deliver all of those but a better upload is what gamers want for Xbox live hosting, fact.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/people/padhye/publications/xbox08.pdf

A stable 1MBit upload is sufficient for 8-player Halo 3 serving, and it's one of the more bandwidth-hungry games.

I'd suggest getting a QoS-capeable router and assigning the Xbox's IP priority if you're having issues...
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
Kendal - It comes back to QoS. Especially if you've got the Xbox hooked up wirelessly, usually it won't have access to anything like the 2Mbit upstream you theoretically are providing it.

(And wireless QoS is...expensive in CPU time for routers, make sure you get one which can actually handle it!)

And yes, it's nuts that they don't simply release dedicated servers for public use like other games, you can still make them entirely dependent on Live! signins...
Posted by kendal01 over 7 years ago
i don't have any wireless, i find it unreliable and it is also unsuited to gaming environments.qos is not end to end on the internet so until that happens higher bandwidth is possibly the cheapest and only solution. your also talking about a 3 year old game which is only slightly better for bandwidth requirements as the online component cuts down on detail levels, hit points etc.
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
Dawn, I'm trying not to laugh don't but its hard. Try hosting Gears 1!! on a 1Mb up connection, no chance. I know what QoS is and I don't have any issues myself I also know what upload is needed for decent games, regardless of whatever publication you post as I'm an Xbox live gamer myself. Try posting your "1Mb is enough" for good hosting on xbox.com forums. Gears, Gears 2, 16 Player COD4 & 5. 1Mb will not cut it, which is why I rightly said more upload will be a great carrot to dangle for gamers.....
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
.....You should maybe read up a bit more than just a quick search on google and talk to real gamers who use the service day in day out.
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
Even Virgin Media (for once) realise faster up is what gamers want:-

" In addition to trialling the technical capabilities of the DOCSIS 3.0 network, the trial will explore the demand for higher upstream speeds for bandwidth hungry families, on services such as video conferencing, multiplayer gaming and home working. "

http://tinyurl.com/kokxnz
Posted by ElBobbo over 7 years ago
Probably because VM don't want to advertise the real reason people care about decent uploads; that's "transferring" high quality/large quantities of media. You may also want to consider that the xbox360 is just not a suitable platform for a non-dedicated (ie. host and play) server.

Posted by kendal01 over 7 years ago
the 360 and ps3 are just fine for host and play elbobbo. why do i know? because i've used them on a commercial link. 18 player games on cod4/5 with said link with no issues at all.
Posted by ElBobbo over 7 years ago
Good for you - perhaps not so good for the rest of the people on your "server". There's a good reason dedicated servers are preferred. At any rate, games really don't need large amounts of upload bandwidth, they need rock solid, low latency, low congestion connections.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
Kendal01 - Halo 3 is relatively /demanding/ in terms of netcode bandwidth for several reasons...and the reason why the detail is lower is because they are not dedicated servers. Allowing proper dedicated, hosted servers would sort that out.

Gman99 - Well yes, when you've got a game whose netcode is buggier than an anthouse, you're going to see issues. Shock, horror.

I never said 1MBit was enough, that's your take and not mine. 2MBit, with proper QoS? Yes, that is likely to be enough for 16 player...
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
If you didn't agree with the article you quoted why post it? QoS is irrelevant unless there's congestion. Configuring QoS locally means nothing unless two or more devices are competing for bandwidth which we aren't even talking about. My first post was about 10up being great for gamers - it is. You said it isn't and started on with your gamers don't need bandwith etc etc. Ask any Xbox live gamer if they want more upload to host, they'll all answer yes.
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
Posted by ElBobbo about 1 hour ago
"You may also want to consider that the xbox360 is just not a suitable platform for a non-dedicated (ie. host and play) server." Hmmm Microsoft seem to think differently and they've got millions of customers. p2p gaming isn't the best no but that's the service that's out there, suitable or not. The Xbox 360 is suitable, our internet connections are not.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
QoS on your LAN, Gman! Which U am talking abkout, because it's usually a BIG ISSUE for gamers which they IGNORE. 10 up is largely irrelevant for gamers, 2-3 is fine and ping and packet loss are critical make-or-break issues for gameplay quality.

Microsoft thing a lot of things, but they've been lazy on game servers (remembering you're paying for their online services) and it hurts their users. That the 360 needs to reduce detail in 'net games like Halo 3 is a shortcomming of the 360, not net connections.
Posted by ElBobbo over 7 years ago
GMAN99: Just because MS offers it as an option doesn't mean that it's the right one. Nor does being popular mean that everything about it is good, for example take the sims or spore, both contain DRM but are ridiculously popular. The same MS that you believe is correct about the capabilities of the xbox doesn't support your claims that such high bandwidth is necessary. Don't get me wrong though, the more bandwidth I can eek out of these greedy bastards the better.
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
If we are discussing p2p gaming vs dedicated servers and which is best, your not going to get an argument from me, I'm with you. I'm not a fan of it, nor lazy netcode. But we aren't talking about that, we are talking whether more up will benefit gamers, it will. Its a case of throwing more bandwidth at the problem, not ideal no but it will help and that's why gamers will see this trial and think its great.
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
I'm also not sure what your talking about the capabilities of the Xbox all the time for? Run a 360 on LAN and have a 16 player match and its (obviously) faultless. There's nothing wrong the Xbox as a host , its what its connected to that's the problem. Our net connections don't suit p2p gaming, but more upload will mask that issue.
Posted by ElBobbo over 7 years ago
I think the thing I'm trying to get through is that while VM may offer you 10Mbit up instead of 1Mbit, you may not be entirely satisfied with the result, because the rest of their service (for some/most) is so poor in terms of the other properties of the connection; latency/congestion/etc.
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
And with that... I do agree...
Posted by kendal01 over 7 years ago
i wouldn't deny packet loss and latency are not issues for gamers but they always have been since the days of modems. dawn, average requirements for a game nowadays is up to around 150Kbps per connection so that shiny 2Mbps upload isn't that good for anything more than 12/13 players.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
Kendal, game dev here. 150Kbps is on the "what the heck are you *doing*" high side of things. Most MMO's, for example, can still run on dialup. This is *not* a coincidence.

And once more, very often IME the problem is that other users are using bandwidth (even an "idle" PC can generate a fair amount of packet chaff) and QoS is usually very helpful.
Posted by kendal01 over 7 years ago
i see, so your a jack of all trades and master of none. game data accounts for approx 75-100Kbps and the rest usually the voice chat part.
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
And what is the point of throwing MMO's into the pot? Its a totally different traffic flow, no-one hosts MMO's on their PC's/Xboxes at home. As games develop in terms of complexity and bandwidth requirements and the numbers of players in the game grow (which has been happening since Xbox Live started) upload bandwidth requirements get greater. And that's the way it will be unless/until the Xbox Live model changes and I don't see it changing so... as I said at the start, more up appeals to gamers.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
You're making precisely the same mistake again. There is no need for there to be an upward trend in data rates, and in general it /hasn't/ happened, with a couple of exceptions (GoW1).

And no, VM is a terrible terrible terrible choice for gamers. I cannot recomend it for gamers at all!
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
I didn't realise "I" was making any mistakes as I'm not the one who is programming these games for Xbox live. Not sure how I can make it any clearer to be honest. If you want to host more people in a game on Xbox live, you need more upload bandwidth, not hard to understand to be honest.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
Your stated "As games develop in terms of complexity and bandwidth requirements". But there has not been an upward trend in said bandwidth usage, with a few very much out of place exceptions.

Posted by EnglishRob over 7 years ago
I think I'll stick with 20 Meg for now. As much as I am tempted by just spending another £8 a month for an extra 30MBit/sec (well, up to 30 Meg extra) at the moment I just can't warrant spending the extra.
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
What a ridiculous statement. I was a beta tester for live and could host on 256k at the time. Can I host any of todays games on 256k? Halo 2, Gears 1 or 2, COD4 or 5 etc etc? Obviously not... and your a games dev yeah?
Posted by Dixinormous over 7 years ago
Dawn - where's this evidence apart from your own personal experience in a bad part of Cambridge that VM is such a bad choice for gamers? Epitiro, whose stats I have access to, appear to give a different message. Thought you'd know better than to tar the entire country with the same brush due to your own experience.
Posted by Dixinormous over 7 years ago
That said as you appear to be the authority on everything from current generation broadband through to next-generation development and rollout worldwide, passive optical networks, games programming including the netcode, regulatory issues, infrastructure deployment costs, business cases, right down to even what bandwidths people need maybe you do know about VM.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
So you're saying that VM use different hardware to give radically different experiences in different parts of the country? And no, not Cambridge - London, Leicester, Oxford and Manchester.

All the same.

And sure, so...you're "the man" then. Heh. I happen to have several friends working at ISPs and I know lot about 'net gaming and associated (like, oh, market sizes and potential), because I really /have/ worked in that field.
Posted by Dixinormous over 7 years ago
I never said I was 'the man', nice if wasted try.

Shocked you don't know this but yes the hardware and network construction is different. As a reminder VM is a combination of several different local networks built to different standards with different equipment. At least 3 different builders using different design and equipment in the 5 areas you mentioned.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
So why would the network issues be identical? Oh right, it's not a /technical/ problem per-se, it's that not overloading the UBR's means they're paying more for expensive hardware than they need to.

The areas lucky enough to have a deacent connection simply have very few subscribers and are on the minimal amount of hardware needed to connect the area.

And I was making an implication as your claims. Which you dropped on your foot quite nicely.
Posted by Dixinormous over 7 years ago
There are a few different issues which can cause packet loss or poor latency. Congestion unless serious doesn't significantly affect either latency or packet loss.

It is of course nonsense that some areas are 'lucky enough' to have no issues, if they were that bad there'd be no customers!

At some point when you actually get that forum account resolved you can try and explain how next-gen broadband is related to gaming, in the interim I'll leave you bashing VM, guess they're next to LLU on your 'things I hate' list.
Posted by Dixinormous over 7 years ago
Anyway on the subject in hand lots of positives to take from this, we'll see if they can deliver.
Posted by Dixinormous over 7 years ago
Posted by Dawn_Falcon 3 days ago
Yep, as the rollout is complete they are, as they have previous stated, rolling out traffic management onto the 50Mbit service.

The press release specifically states the service is to remain free of STM for now, and also 50Mbit has been on the traffic management pages for a while - always as N/A. It's not coming at the same time as the rollout completion.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
So they've changed their mind then - that was their clearly expressed origional plan, though.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
I don't "hate" LLU, I simply don't believe that it exists under an equitable economic model

(for example, BT should be able to charge cost+% (said % being determined by Ofcom) for any works involving it, and they should of been able to say that "environmental conditions in our exchanges are x (as long as it was reasonable), your kit will have to function it that")

My experiences with VM have ranged from terrible to reasonable over the years, but mostly more towards terrible.
Posted by Dixinormous over 7 years ago
I can certainly empathise with a very mixed bag of experiences from VM. I am perhaps somewhat more enthusiastic than normal having spoken with some contacts and very much liked what I heard. We are in danger of seeing them spending some serious money on the network, fixing the big nodes that caused both capacity and noise issues on their network which have caused my 50M to be so utterly rubbish recently.

I live in hope, if not the PCP is literally less than 30m of cable away :)
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