Skip Navigation

Virgin Media opts for 200 Mbps top speed for now
Tuesday 29 September 2015 10:03:49 by Andrew Ferguson

We have been spotting Virgin Media cable broadband 200 Mbps and 300 Mbps speed tests for some time, but the news that free upgrades starting October 1st with a maximum speed of 200 Mbps may disappoint some who have their sights set on 300 Mbps. The new fact is that the new speeds will be grouped and sold with the marketing phrase of Vivid referring to the 100 Mbps and 200 Mbps packages.

Virgin Media customers will be given the choice of upgrading for free from 50 Mbps to 70 Mbps, 100 Mbps to 150 Mbps and 152 Mbps to 200 Mbps. No changes are expected on the upload side and our understanding is that the 300 Mbps speed tier may still appear but not until some point in 2016. The 200 Mbps speed tests should look something like this.

Summary of download speeds for Virgin Media August 2015
Summary of upload speeds for Virgin Media August 2015

The two speed profile charts on the left show the spread of users speeds as seen by our speed test in August 2015, so in the next few months we should start to see the profile change as the new speed points increase in popularity, 90% of people should have had the upgrade option by the end of 2015 with the rest by June 2016. It is not totally obvious but on the right hand side of the upload profile you can see speed bumps from people who have previously opted out of the fairly regular free upgrades. The large spike on the left hand side of the upload chart is down to more symmetric products such as the London Underground Wi-Fi and other public Wi-Fi ran by Virgin and also includes some business connections and RFOG (full fat FTTH) connections that are being toyed with.

The free upgrades to some extent counter balance the annual price rises and also by offering speeds that should almost always beat FTTC based connections winning customers in new Project Lightning areas should become easier. Though given FTTC has competed alongside Virgin Media for some five years or more it may not always be an easy sale.


Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
I kind that downstream profile kinda shocking.

Given that the access network itself, the coax, doesn't place much of a restriction on speeds, like FTTC, you'd expect the shape of the graph to be in humps at each profile point - like the upstream graph.

There are inflection points, but there isn't much of a horizontal line after each one ... suggesting the throughput is being naturally limited by something other than the package speed.

Coax congestion? Backhaul congestion? Traffic profiling? Hard to say, but it is strange.
Posted by tmcr about 1 year ago
Disappointing that uploads speeds are being kept as is, despite the 50% download speed increase. No incentive for me to go from 100 to 150... :-(
Posted by glasspath about 1 year ago
To WWWombat - Presumably a lot of speed tests undertaken will by people using non-optimum connectivity in the home - testing out WiFi range or using smartphones etc. I guess this will lower overall averages and cause the effect you notice (which could certainly also be caused be the issues you mention and even others beyond Virgin Media). To tmcr4 - I agree it's a pity about upstream - the old promise to restore 10:1 seems like a dream now!
Posted by ZenUser27 about 1 year ago
Yes such a shame. No reason to go back to VM now. I was waiting for the 300 but at 200 I have more than that now via 2 providers.

Never mind
Posted by generallee94 about 1 year ago
"rolls eyes" I suspect many who recently switched to Virgin amongst the news of these upgrades will be leaving when price rise comes through..

I was looking forward to getting the 100/6 upgrade from 50/3, it would make up for the price increase coming in the next few months, but now I'm probably going to look at getting the package upgraded and get my loyalty credits back..

Also isn't pushing 70Mb/s to customers with 3Mb/s upload going to push some performance boundaries..

70/3 isn't anything I'm interested in anyway.
Posted by generallee94 about 1 year ago
PS. Love the mis-representation of the 'Vivid" advertising, like they're trying to say they upgraded something, like DOCSIS 3 > 3.1... oh but they didn't so why is there network a next generation network...
Posted by cks22 about 1 year ago
So I’ve just had a knife stabbed in my back with the announcement of no upload speed increases and now this morning I’ve just had the price increase letter so now the knife is being twisted before withdraw.

I will give the 20 odd Mb download speed extra a miss because I’m sure it will be chased up with another price increase a month later.
Posted by generallee94 about 1 year ago
Virgin be playing catchup on network upgrades.. they have given very little attention to it in my experience, I spoke with EX area manager a month or so ago for my area and he said that he got sick of dates moving back and no actual investment being put into the area... he said they just had to keep it ticking over and try do something with the stuff they had which wasn't a lot but getting easier with the numbers leaving for Openreach services, this has small affect of the mixture of network faults and over-utilization... another neighbor is looking at options but business linked to ex-TW line
Posted by davrowen about 1 year ago
ISPreview is currently claiming the new speeds will be 70/5 150/10 and 200/12 ( ).
Have any claims about the new speeds come from an official announcement by VM? AFAIK an official announcement is not expected until 1st October.
Posted by JHo1 about 1 year ago
"a maximum speed of 200 Mbps may disappoint some". Where's that "rolls eyes" icon. :-)

Posted by generallee94 about 1 year ago
hmm, ok then if the upload speeds are going to go up like ISPr are saying then it s not all that bad I suppose.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
I reckon the "some" who are going to get upset are just the ones who already pay for the 152Mbps tier.

That's maybe 10% of VM subscribers, so around 2% of UK premises.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
Interesting point on the effect of people leaving for Openreach.

Ofcom's graphs show VM's market share dropping from, IIRC, 23% to 20% over 5 years. That has effectively freed up 15% of their network capacity, on average. Perhaps focussed in areas where over-utilisation rears its head.
Posted by comnut about 1 year ago
well we will wait for the *official* figures...

why not check out who will do 1000Mbps UPLOAD and download??? :D
Posted by comnut about 1 year ago
Posted by AndrueC about 1 year ago
@Wwwombat:"Given that the access network itself, the coax, doesn't place much of a restriction on speeds" how do you work that out? Coax has bandwidth limits and with each cable being shared by multiple properties there most certainly are limits.

And it's even worse for upstream. Cable modems have to rely on TDM to manage the upstream packets and due to cable lengths that imposes severe limits. That's why cable upstream speeds have historically been poor.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
I meant precisely what I wrote. The coax itself doesn't place much restriction on speed. If VM wanted to, they could release a 500Mbps package like ComHem, and *any* house attached to the coax could get that speed with the right CPE. No distance limitation involved.

The fact that the coax is shared, and can (and does) get congested, is an entirely different problem. The limitation isn't the coax itself, but how VM have chosen to deploy it. If your quote of what I wrote extended down to my final paragraph, you'd see that I mentioned "coax congestion" explicitly.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
I found the TBB's blog article from November 2014, showing the spread of speeds for VM (and other ISPs).

The inflection points downstream seem to be in similar spots, suggesting there hasn't been many people upgrading packages in the last 10 months.

The inflection points upstream *have* moved noticeably, with more people able to get slightly higher upstream speeds. It looks like some of the technical limitations are being ironed out across various locations.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
Is there an article/blog planned with an update to those Nov-14 figures?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
@WWWombat You mean for the other providers?

Maybe in October, once the Q3 data processing rush has finished.

We will be doing on 1st the monthly ISP roundup, around the 7th UK regional coverage.
Posted by leexgx about 1 year ago

the limit is not the coax its the amount of line cards that are in the main green cab that converts the fibre into DOCSIS coax network, most cabs now have above 100 downstream channels and above 15 upstream channels, i doubt that uploads on Virgin are going to be any higher then 20mb for very long time as the Upstream speeds on docsis are very low (congestion happens at the master green cab it self due to lack of upstream channles)
Posted by pauley1234 about 1 year ago
Do think they should be concentrating on getting the existing network stable before rolling out faster speeds. I've been on 152 mbps for some time and it used to be rock solid. Since July I've had massive problems with utilisation in my area and my speed will drop to 20 mbps at peaks and sometimes even in so called quiet times (such as right now at 3:45pm). They have a review date set of 9th December. I don't want 200 mbps, I want my current speed, stabilised!
Posted by snadge about 1 year ago
im with VM and I using a 5Ghz WiFi adapter with triple anetnna built into my PCI-E x1 Port and Im in a room above the router, one of the antennas is broken and I can get about 95Mbps MAX on speedtest but on torrents ive seen 103Mbps - its great but as soon as the weekend comes it does get a bit jumpy but still doesnt drop below 40Mbps
Posted by Dixinormous about 1 year ago
There are no line cards for broadband in VM's cabinets.

Most of the network does not have the ability to carry 100 channels, that requires 1GHz plant. That capacity is also shared with TV and VoD.

None of the network has 15 upstream channels of capacity. The newly built/upgraded stuff has 80MHz of upstream bandwidth of which some cannot be used full stop and again some is needed for other things.
Posted by Dixinormous about 1 year ago
The most capacity deployed to a single node for broadband right now is 16 downstream channels and 4 or 5 upstream channels. 800Mb down, 108 or 135 up.
Posted by chrysalis about 1 year ago
speed profile doesnt surprise me wombat, congestion in my view is widespread on the VM network, but there is always claims its limited to tiny areas.
Posted by comnut about 1 year ago
As I said before, If you want something ELSE other than 'massive speed' (eg a 200MPH car that does not have to chance to get that fast on UK roads)

then DO NOTE that almost 5 million VM customers blindly love the speed, and boasting about it..

If you want more specific things, choose *popular* ISP from this list...

and note that Zen is now becoming a 'victim of its own success' by getting too many customers to manage easily...
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
I did indeed mean for the other providers too - but particularly to see profile graphs like that Nov 2014 blog.

The shape gives you something of an idea of the way things have changed throughout the community, and not just at the median/quartile points.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
UK wide one added to the end of monthly speed test table
You must be logged in to post comments. Click here to login.