Broadband News

Virgin Media tries to assert that unlimited cannot apply to DSL

The hyperbole of advertising is under the ASA spotlight this week, a series of Sky Broadband adverts promoting the 'totally unlimited' limit from the provider were complained about by Virgin Media. The competing provider felt the claim 'totally unlimited broadband' was misleading.

"Virgin said Sky's service could not be described as "totally" unlimited because the amount of data that a consumer could download was limited by the actual speed of the service, which was affected by a number of factors inherent in a copper DSL delivered service, such as distance from the exchange (known as 'signal attenuation'). They said the distance between a customer and the exchange affected their broadband speed and therefore the amount of data they could download in a given period. These restrictions were not applicable to all providers because some services, like those offered by Virgin, were not delivered over a copper wire. As an example Virgin stated that a 10-Mb/s Virgin customer with traffic management applying during peak times could theoretically download 87 GB of data over a 24-hour period, whereas a Sky DSL (copper wire) customer on an average speed of 7.5 Mb/s with no traffic management applied could theoretically download 77 GB of data in the same period. For these reasons Virgin considered the claim "totally unlimited" misleading."

Extract from ASA Adjudication

The ASA decided this case in the favour of Sky. This was considered at two levels, the basic 'unlimited' requirement that a service has no provider imposed limitations that were more than moderate, and Sky passed that test. 'Totally unlimited' is the next step up, and Sky passes once more because the operator does not impose any restrictions on their 'totally unlimited' customers.

If Virgin Media had won its complaint, it would have destroyed the market for unlimited broadband on ADSL/ADSL2+ and VDSL services, since they all use copper wire to deliver the signal. The statement by Virgin Media to the ASA on service delivery is slightly misleading since while they don't use twisted copper pair, a metallic coax cable does provide their service the last few hundred metres into every premise. The continuing claims of fibre optic services from BT and Virgin Media has support from a previous ASA ruling, where since these services have a higher proportion of fibre than ADSL, they can be called fibre optic.


So VM claim their broadband has infinite capacity ? LOL.

  • herdwick
  • over 8 years ago

'a higher proportion of fibre than ADSL, they can be called fibre optic'

Can't wait for those 4G wireless FibreOptic broadband adverts then.

  • FTTH
  • over 8 years ago

My old house directly opposite the exchange probably had less copper than the average VDSL2 or HFC installation! :(

I could have been using 56k dialup on that line, and by the ASAs standards have a 'fibre optic' connection.

  • driz
  • over 8 years ago

Priceless. Using Virgin's logic, it couldn't use "totally unlimited" either as it suffers from congestion on its share coax (which is also copper wire of course), so can't deliver the theoretical maximum amount of data either.

And let's not forget it uses throttling to cap heavy users, which is definitely not consistent with "totally unlimited".

  • New_Londoner
  • over 8 years ago

What a ridiculous complaint from Virgin. What result did they expect, what do they expect the consequences to be, why did they bother?

  • c_j_
  • over 8 years ago

"Posted by herdwick about 4 hours ago
So VM claim their broadband has infinite capacity ? LOL."

^ This.

  • Spectre_01
  • over 8 years ago

Of course, even fibre broadband suffers copper related problems:

(I hit a peak of three Openreach vans parked outside this morning trying to fix it ..)

  • irrelevant
  • over 8 years ago

VM is just mad that Sky's service is actually unlimited and doesn't have traffic management.

  • otester
  • over 8 years ago


Well of course, it's clearly faulty, falling well bellow the 12Mbps margn.

  • otester
  • over 8 years ago

Indeed VM are very much running near their capacity in most areas London and the midlands particularly

and their BB is limited, unless you are on their MAXIMUM packages, and there their are Reasonable Usage Allowances.

  • JonasT
  • over 8 years ago

Moronic hypocrites. Who spent the last five years throttling customers to 25% their advertised speed if they dare use their connection for more than 15 minutes at peak times?

  • qasdfdsaq
  • over 8 years ago

in plymouth VM is useless during term time, and in some area anytime.

  • damien001
  • over 8 years ago

Trust Virgin to take the high ground - at least they got their comeuppance!
As others have said, there is truly no "unlimited" - because of outside factors, beyond the real control of the ISP, but Virgin, with their sharps practices, had some gall hoping that this complaint would fly. Who decided on this course of action, I wonder?
Must have been one of the overpaid execs, I guess.

  • lelboy
  • over 8 years ago

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