Broadband News

ASA points out to Virgin Media that latency is not download speed

While the new rules for broadband advertising do not come into effect until April 2012, we today see the ASA appearing to be more knowledgeable about the issues around broadband speeds and latency.

Someone complained about the amount of jitter (variation in latency away from the standard value) on their 50 Meg service, due to an advert in a PC Gaming magazine which said "So what would it be like to have the UK's best gaming broadband? A magical connection that solved all those problems of lag, unfair deaths and connections slowed by family members using the same line?".

We noted that Virgin referred the ASA to the Ofcom report "UK Fixed Broadband Speeds" and stated that the claims made in the ad were substantiated within that report. However, they did not provide an explanation of how the report substantiated the lower lag time claim. Furthermore, we noted that, as stated above, the Ofcom report identified that Virgin's 50 Mbit/s service had higher upstream jitter than all other services, aside from their own 20 Mbit/s service.

Since we understood that Virgin's 50 Mbit/s service suffered from high upstream jitter, and because we understood that jitter was a significant factor which affected gaming performance, we concluded that the overall impression given by the ads was misleading.

Extract from ASA Assesment

It seems that Virgin Media in its original response to the ASA had used the Ofcom report to highlight the download performance of its 50 Mbps service, while forgetting that for gaming it is not the raw download speed that matters but the latency for individual packets of game data to arrive and be delivered over the connection. Generally bad jitter is exhibited as a gaming character jumping around and is caused by a variance in latency from one packet to another. In fact a low latency but slow 256 Kbps symmetric product would be more than adequate for playing almost all online games, it would be just very slow at getting large game updates.

What is a surprising admission is that the advert was not written by Virgin Media but by the magazines own editorial team, thus avoided the usual Virgin Media review procedures.

We should also point out that while various Superfast Broadband services (cable, fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC), fibre-to-the-building (FTTB), fibre-to-the-home (FTTH)) have sufficient speed to allow multiple people to use a connection at the same time without impacting on areas like gaming, if any one person's activity saturates the upstream or downstream this will increase the latency and jitter significantly. The only solution is to use Quality of Service (QoS) settings to do things like prioritise gaming UDP traffic and TCP ACKs.


Jitter aside their gaming ad's have made me chuckle for some time. They have been aiming them at gamers (obviously) all whilst significant areas of their network suffer an issue making Xbox live and Warcraft (+ other games) unplayable since a change in traffic management. This started all started in April! And it still isn't fixed yet.

  • GMAN99
  • over 9 years ago

plus there appalling load balancing on the upstream channels, found out how to make the hub switch channels and found channel 3 is performing the best out the 3, but still 9.30pm battlefield 1943 felt that unstable period

  • scootie
  • over 9 years ago

there latency fault thesholds are insulting to customers, i gave up trying to get the 7day wait reply time forum staff to understand the jitter is killing gaming before even there thesholds allow them to monitor the load, yet alone wait for fix dates to come and go which last for months if not years. bandwidth 32/3 24/7 avg ping,jitter rubish 24/7 worst during TM periods

  • scootie
  • over 9 years ago

the amount of times i phoned the so called "technical staff" at v.m. about jitter ping speeds was a joke all they know is unplug router and modem wait 20 seconds plug it back in. that doesnt work like paying for 50meg getting 17meg thats not fair xbox live is waste of time its full of lag you see your kill running away you shoot him in the back empty a clip he turns 1 shot your dead its pathetic i told v.m. to stick it all uk bbands are trash i should know ive tried them all

  • toewad1
  • over 9 years ago

"the advert was not written by Virgin Media but by the magazines own editorial team, thus avoided the usual Virgin Media review procedures."


Does much of this kind of thing go on?

And how daft do Virgin have to be to not review an ad with their name on it before it gets published?

  • c_j_
  • over 9 years ago

VM wave there wand to make this article posted on there forum vanish

  • scootie
  • over 9 years ago

I had both the 100Meg Virgin cable service and FTTC service running at the same time. FTTC was giving 20ms pings and 1ms jitter and Virgin 50ms ping and 20ms jitter during peak times. Guess which service I cancelled?

  • maniac886
  • over 9 years ago

I'm on poxy VM - got 20-60% packet loss between 4pm and 2am, min ping 10ms, top ping is ~3000ms - getting FTTC and will drop em

  • toady777
  • over 9 years ago

Xilo has started offering FTTC btw.

  • otester
  • over 9 years ago

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