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Does Virgin Media have any tricks up its sleeve?
Friday 14 February 2014 15:27:31 by Andrew Ferguson

For a good many years Virgin Media has been the king of download speeds, but even with the prospect of a 152 Mbps connection as its top tier it seems that people are not rushing headlong to signup.

The latest set of financial figures show that Virgin Media (now part of Liberty Global) has 4,510,500 broadband customers (4,375,700 cable and 134,800 ADSL), which is an increase of 22,500 compared to the previous quarter. The cable broadband sector showed reasonable growth of 38,400 but this was offset by people leaving the off-net ADSL product which Virgin Media has stopped selling now.

In terms of speed while Virgin Media offers very fast products there are still 26% of its cable broadband customers on a slower than 30 Mbps product. Though with new sign-ups over half are apparently signing up for a 60 Mbps or faster product.

In terms of broadband appeal we suspect that it is the relatively low upload speeds of the cable broadband services that are holding many people back and the confusion arising from the two words 'traffic management'. While VDSL2 is limited due to the physics of signal attenuation, even at a distance of 1km from the fibre cabinet the upload speed of VDSL2 can match or exceed the Virgin Media 60 Mbps service.

The question really now is what can Virgin Media do beyond pushing headline speeds, increasing their cable footprint and pro-actively chasing agreements to cable up new build estates would boost their figures we suspect, but these are dependent on what level of investment Liberty Global wants to make. Real innovation would see Virgin Media starting to deploy a pure fibre network for new build premises, stealing the march from the BT Group which scaled back its own original plans for FTTP roll-out.


Posted by adslmax over 3 years ago
Virgin Media will never be the king of upload speed. BT FTTC is. But, I do believe one day BT FTTC will be the fastest king in this UK of both download and upload. BT can do this.
Posted by dsilkstone over 3 years ago
I want symmetric speeds ideally, and fibre is probably the way forward in the long run. Virgin do need to cable up more streets but I wonder if this would attract the attention of OFCOM who would then demand they open up their infrastructure to other resellers in the same way BT Openreach are obligated to do?
Posted by pcoventry76 over 3 years ago
As you all know I am guilty of downloading lots and I had to come back to VM as I had no other options. Anyway been told by the |CEO's office whilst it's unlimited I am using it too much.

Fools clearly can't see that for some reason they are not even bothering with STM,. I suspect because people have jumped to FTTC in the areas they can get it.I download lots of PS4 games from the " Sony network partner" and that's too much.Their network in short just can't cope.
Posted by timmay over 3 years ago
"not part of Liberty Global" Do you mean NOW?
Posted by pcoventry76 over 3 years ago
i saw 2 guys on my road last week running more fibre through the ducts. probably a repull?
Posted by pcoventry76 over 3 years ago
I was going to mention that Tim but I ran out of characters
Posted by dogbark over 3 years ago
7 Jun 2013 - Liberty Global doesnt Completes Acquisition of Virgin Media. Powerful combination doesnt creates the world's leading broadband communications company.
Posted by Bob_s2 over 3 years ago
With VM in effect pulling out of its ADSL offering there is know where much VM can go unless they extend their cable coverage and to date other than lot of talk that has not happened other than the odd token bit of new build

They really need to seriously look at infilling existing coverage areas and building our from them
Posted by stator over 3 years ago
VM does have one trick up their sleave: Massive price rises every year, over the past few years it's been about 10% per year. They don't just give new customers special offers, once the special offers run out they pay a lower price than old customers. I have a 10mpbs service and it's so poor that I wouldn't even consider upgrading to a faster service.
They also charge more for a stand alone broadband connection than most other ISPs do for Landline + Broadband.
When I move house I'm ditching VM.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
Oops 2nd time in as many weeks I've typed NOT and should have typed NOW
Posted by magicuk27 over 3 years ago
Does this RFoG bring anything to the market? Like a £350 setup fee for that equipment in premises and allows them to stop using docsis and rubbing a full fibre service over the existing coax network?
Posted by Dushyant over 3 years ago
VM doesn't want to increease its network due to the EU/UK competition law. If they have a larger network they could be forced to open it up.
Posted by Dixinormous over 3 years ago
VM will have higher uploads coming at some point - their upgrades are geared towards this.

Will be a while before they start deploying FTTP though. Fibre Deep HFC and DOCSIS 3.1 will be ample for the foreseeable. Just like BT moving fibre closer to the home a step at a time.

Speeds wise they're probably going to standardise with the rest of the UPC family at some point. UPC NL/IE offer 200Mb/10Mb, PL 250Mb/20Mb, CH 250Mb/15Mb, etc, etc.
Posted by adslmax over 3 years ago
@ Dixinormous - VM will have higher uploads coming at some point - their upgrades are geared towards this.

No, totally rubbish. They won't do it. Virgin kept repeating saying it stay at 10:1 for upload
Posted by Dixinormous over 3 years ago
In which case when they hit 200Mb download they'll have 20Mb upload, hence higher uploads are coming.

No idea why I'm wasting my time on this but the upgrades I was referring to are network upgrades, currently 2 x 18Mb upstreams are bonded, they are moving to 2 x 27Mb and will be adding a 3rd and 4th upstream in time.

152Mb will start off with 12Mb upstream, when they go to 10:1 with it it'll have 15 - higher upstream.
Posted by Dixinormous over 3 years ago
Incidentally your suggestion that FTTC can outperform Virgin's cable network downstream is absurd.

Without pair bonding BT's FTTC deployment can't reach 152Mb, even if you're sitting on top of the cabinet, and Openreach have shown no interest in pair bonding yet. Even with pair bonding VM could relatively cheaply upgrade to be out of range of 2 pair bonded FTTC.

More to the point BT have no interest in competing with Virgin on headline speeds and never have.
Posted by -Alex- over 3 years ago
VM should probably focus on network quality instead of trying to go for silly numbers, and rebuild a reputation of providing the best service possible.

Stop bullshitting the numbers with traffic management.
Posted by kozmyk over 3 years ago
!0:1 ? I'd like to see 10:1. I've been getting 20:1 since I signed up for VM 60MB. Then they oversubscribed our area and it took them 3 months to stop the contention shortages/breaks. And it's still unreliable.
Posted by RandomJointer over 3 years ago
Poor numbers from Virgin compared to BT, Sky and TalkTalk.

There is no point them expanding their footprint whilst they are losing the battle in their existing coverage areas.
Posted by roughbeast over 3 years ago
The only thing preventing VM from achieving a more symmetrical service is the architecture of its street level. It is fibre to the node, but then shared coax to the premises via a cabinet. This is fine for download speed, but not for upspeed. I took part in the Coventry trial and got 385Mb/24Mb on a shared coax.
However if VM were to invest in new build estates their local network would surely not be built with the drawbacks they inherited from NTL et al. They would be wise to ensure that each premises got its own line, but of a better quality than BT's twisted pair copper wires.
Posted by NewForest over 3 years ago
Andrew, I'm very confused by your statement: "even at a distance of 1km from the fibre cabinet the upload speed of VDSL2 can match or exceed the Virgin Media 60 Mbps service."
The linked article ( suggests 24 Mbps is a realistic VDSL2 downstream connection speed at 1km. So in what way does it "match or exceed" VM's 60Mbps? Surely I must be missing something... (in which case, don't shoot me)!
I have a real interest in this as I live 1km from my BT fibre cabinet and I’m thinking of getting FTTC! So please clarify!
Posted by NewForest over 3 years ago
...and I was about to rule out BT-based FTTC in favour of Virgin Media, for the precise reason that your table suggests I'll only get about 24Mbps from FTTC.
Posted by brandscill over 3 years ago
Virgin Media upload speeds are a joke.

When they last did the double speeds campaign they promised they'd double upload and never did. People on 30 get 1.5 and 60 get 3. You need to be on the 120 package to see a 10:1 ratio.

I for one will be moving back to a non cabled area so will take BT ADSL, then if I move to a a fibre area I'll finally be able to make a fair comparison.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
@newforest Have double checked and you quoted the all important word UPLOAD.

In short in terms of uploads you can beat the 60 Mbps.
Posted by generallee94 over 3 years ago
I've given up on VM, I have used them for many years and the last 3 or more if them on a top broadband speed tier but for the 1st time in years I've lowered myself to the bottom as there's no point of huge download, there is the need for upload and personally I too am f@cked off with the STM, reliability, customer service and price increases for other people and services of which I do not subscribe. Would rather a pn adsl line if I could achieve 10mb down and 1up until FTTC.
Posted by pcoventry76 over 3 years ago
my neighbour was saying earlier he does not get any STM but he does get the midnight run letter every few days. I am glad I left. I am on unlimited tethering on 3 but as that is stopping from 4th of March I will have to look for an alternative when my contract is up.
Posted by NewForest over 3 years ago
@andrew Oops sorry for my oversight - now it's my turn to apologise. That'll teach me to post so late at night / early in the morning (depending on your sleep habits)! A person can't be expected to read every adjective at that time; it's just that sometimes they are crucial to the meaning!
Posted by otester over 3 years ago
BT FTTP trumps VM, so that's speeds out of the way for now (DOCSIS can go up to 1.2GBps down/200Mbps up).

The main issue with VM is stability, there are many areas that get sub-standard speeds, high pings/packet loss during peak times.

Seems the solution to both issues is network upgrades, but then VM is in debt, in a collapsing economy.
Posted by MacMuser over 3 years ago
We send and receive huge files in our work, when we used BT, the best ADSL2 we could get was 5Mbps down and less than 1 up. With our move to Virgin that became 50/5. Now it is 120/12 which realistically is 15 megabytes down and 10 up. This is more per second than we used to send via courier la few years ago.

The other aspect is bandwidth. After work, two Internet TVs, a couple each of smartphones, tablets and computers share the broadband at the same time with each device having a decent throughput for predominantly downloading and streaming without stuttering.
Posted by pcoventry76 over 3 years ago
i thought you were on business until you said 120/12 be careful there VM wont like that at all
Posted by brandscill over 3 years ago
@pcoventry76 unless they just work from home from time to time
Posted by otester over 3 years ago

If you live in a VM area then chances are it won't be long until you get BT FTTC, then you can get 330/30.
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