While the new wave of broadband speeds from Virgin Media are not going to involve automatic upgrades for existing customers, as the months go by and new customers sign-up plus existing customers request upgrades we should see a distinct change in the average speeds recorded by Virgin Media.
Our package listings for Virgin Media have been updated to reflect the new entry 100 Mbps service and the new 300 Mbps top speed package. There has also been a bit of price tweaking and the addition of the new Virgin TV V6 set-top box to selected triple play bundles.
We won't be immediately changing our analysis of Virgin Media speed tests for our monthly reports, but once we see a significant proportion (likely to be a few months) on the new speed tiers we will adjust how we handle the product splits. Our coverage analysis does use the maximum speed sold by various providers to arrive at an 'Estimated Maximum Mean Download Speed' figure and with 49% of UK premises going from a maximum speed option of 200 Mbps to 300 Mbps and thus once we add the Q1/2017 data we will update this figure, so you can expect a jump from the current 131.5 Mbps for the UK.
Ofcom will be pleased that the 300 Mbps is now a standard product, as with their 300 Mbps definition of ultrafast the UK will jump from just 2.4% to above 51% in their next analysis later in 2017.
For Virgin Media the roll-out is also well timed to coincide with any changes to broadband advertising, since their own sampling of a small number of connections is going to mean they will have average broadband speeds for their entry level product two or three times faster than BT Consumer VDSL2 products. The move towards 'more honest advertising' does carry the potential to backfire though, as consumers are so used to the 10% rule invariably not delivering and many seem to overlook or forget the personalised estimates given during signup and with the new rules if as expected do require average speeds in adverts those getting below the advert speed may well become more vocal and we are well aware of the modern ability for a small number of people to have a disproportionately loud voice on social media.
Some suggest that full fibre is the solution to the problems with speeds, but that only fixes the variability on connection speeds due to the physics of distance, something DOCSIS cable broadband has already fixed, there are still many factors that can influence the speed the consumer sees. Put simply providers across the planet provision consumer broadband on the proviso that just a small proportion will be using their connection to the full extent at once and any provider that increases the maximum potential speed for customers without ensuring that peak time capacity has expanded at a rate to more than cope is asking for trouble down the road.