Broadband News

Hints of the forthcoming Virgin Media speed changes

Virgin Media is yet to announce its upgrade programme schedule that once completed should see customers on 100 Mbps, 200 Mbps or 300 Mbps download speed products.

Invariably one of the things someone does with a shiny new broadband connection is test it and see whether it can reach the speeds suggested and those taking part in the pilots appear to be doing exactly that.

Speed test from new ultra-fast Virgin Media connection
One of a growing number of Virgin Media speed tests at faster speeds

This test was done using our newer version of the speed test at labs.thinkbroadband.com/speedtest with the older version still available. So if you do see faster than expected speeds on maps.thinkbroadband.com for Virgin Media it suggests someone on the pilots is in that area.

What is clear is that the launch of faster Virgin Media products will push the UK average broadband speeds even higher, and while many will be happy with the extra speed, this will widen the gulf between those able to get anything superfast or ultrafast and those stuck in areas where no significant upgrades have taken place for a number of years (e.g. exchanges with only IPStream Max (up to 7 Mbps downloads over ADSL) as the only broadband option).

With the average speed test results for Virgin Media currently running at 52 Mbps, we might see this leap to 100 Mbps, but when this will happen depends on how fast the roll-out of the network upgrades is and how many decide to remain on legacy packages. Upload speeds are generally expected to be 6 Mbps, 12 Mbps and somewhere in the 15 to 20 Mbps region for 300 Mbps service. Though as with previous upgrades, sometimes the download speed is upgraded before the upload.

What is clear from our own testing of Wi-Fi based connections is that even with decent AC based equipment to get the best speeds an ethernet cable is still king or you need to be in the same room as the wireless access point. One concern as 802.11ac grows in popularity is that with its option for an 80 MHz wide channel it may introduce the congestion issues to the 5 GHz band that many are only just escaping from on the invariably full 2.4 GHz band.

Comments

BT must be extremely worried about this.

They spent billions investing more money into the ancient aluminium/copper network, to enable speeds from 20-76mbit on vdsl2.

Meanwhile, Virgin Media was bought out by an american company, had billions invested in it which enables them to greatly expand the cable footprint over the next few years.

Virgin Media can roll out DODSIS 3.1 to enable 10 Gbit/s downstream and 1 Gbit/s upstream speeds in the future - while BT will be limited to 20-76mbit for many years to come.

G.FAST will cost BT tens of billions to deploy, so it's not going to happen.

  • Dave2150
  • over 2 years ago

What's the point of having such speeds, if this crawls to 10Mbit down during peak times? My current 150/13 connection is probably oversubscribed and competing with too many other people in the area. I experience lots of latency related issues and the download speeds become very poor during the evening peak times. Unacceptable...

  • Saltank
  • over 2 years ago

@ Saltank - that's an area by area problem. It's by no means network-wide. Some areas have problems and suffer from oversubscription. The backbone can handle these speeds just fine, so for those of us lucky enough to live somewhere that we get full speed any time of the day, more speed is nice.

I do hope you're complaining regularly and refusing to pay full price for such a bad service. You'd probably be better off on ADSL2+ if the speed reduction is so drastic.

  • weegiegeek
  • over 2 years ago

The problem is also peering. Even outside of peak times, certain services would suffer, compared to say, Sky FTTC (which I used to have).

Haven't had time to complain, I have done more than my fair share of that a few years ago when service was completely unusable and they lied about their cancellation policy. Then I moved and couldn't get FTTC, but fortunately VM have laid some new cabling which partially solved the contention issues.

  • Saltank
  • over 2 years ago

@Saltank, as you can see in the imagine above, the 220mbit connection was tested at 21:17 on a weekday, so the network is indeed capable of sustaining such speeds.

Congestion happens no matter what ISP you're with. Sky, BT and countless others have had congestion problems in various exchanges over time, it's not a unique problem to VM.

  • Dave2150
  • over 2 years ago

True, congestion can hit anywhere. But it seems that VM suffers the worst, giving truly unreliable latency. To fix that, VM will need to be splitting fibre segments - there equivalent to rolling out extra FTTx cabinets. But congestion can start in an instant, and take many months to fix.

This inherent untrustworthiness is why I don't choose VM.

BTW ... Making 100/200/300 reliable will be costing VM. Deploying docsis 3.1 will cost too ... BT have already said they'll be deploying g.fast over the next decade, so we know they'll be spending. Tens of billions? Not likely. Five billion, perhaps.

  • WWWombat
  • over 2 years ago

Notice the upload speeds are still pants... however while Virgin Media might want to get this out soon they don't want to rush this rollout as it could prove a bad move for many customers, a lot of work will need doing, specially in areas like my own where Virgin have currently planned a lot of work on the headends and also street cabinet work to remove noise and also Amplifier replacements, Hopefully those price increases over the last couple of years are finally being put to use.

  • generallee94
  • over 2 years ago

Also are they going to reducing the amount of variable latency and jitter with the Virgin Media network... oh and of course reduce/eliminate over-utilisation issues plaguing some areas for the past 4+ years.

  • generallee94
  • over 2 years ago

97% of VM's network is fine for capacity. Still leaves of course 3% in strife.

There are other ways than node splits to mitigate congestion, however occasionally these end up being the only option and depending on the type of split this can get expensive and be time consuming.

It's certainly not as simple as building a new cabinet. There are ways, means, options.

  • Dixinormous
  • over 2 years ago

It'll be like the 150Mbps fanfare, they had almost no upgrades and pretty much only new connections took up the premium speed packages...
This will apply for all ISPs, there are no killer apps yet...anyone with a good 25 Mbps connection (from anyone) will be able to do everything they "need".
This will be the same for all ISPs getting people to take the faster packages when what they have now is adequate, sic. relatively low uptake (even in rural areas) for non ADSL packages.

  • themanstan
  • over 2 years ago

I agree.. no one needs anything above 30mb big households maybe 50mb but currently my 60mb is plenty enough for this heavy usage household..

It's just a mines better thing and I can gladly say and already do... mines actually better "but mines faster" yeah does it work properly though? "well errm?"

  • generallee94
  • over 2 years ago

Still a measly upload speed - 14 or so Meg on an apparent 200 Meg package. Probably traffic shaped as-well.

  • chris6273
  • over 2 years ago

I'd give anything to have true competition over the wire so customers are given the option of being truely removed from BT's ancient copper infrastructure.

  • crocks999
  • over 2 years ago

Pretty much a 1st World problem for those of us still on <2Mbps.

  • PhilCoates
  • over 2 years ago

@crocks999

Even if you would "give anything", then I very much doubt that most people would. It's precisely because people aren't prepared (in general) to pay the necessary large premium in sufficient numbers for a refreshed infrastructure that legacy copper is used.

  • TheEulerID
  • over 2 years ago

Yeah, I'd definitely like to see upload increased substantially, to at least 10% of the downstream like it was before the 152Mb was rolled out and we got stuck at the same upload speed we had with 120Mb, 12Mb.

Assuming we stick with 10%, the 152Mb should have 15Mb, not 12Mb. It's only 3Mb difference, but it makes a difference when you're uploading big videos etc.
That, or they could do away with the upstream STM altogether, that'd be nice.

  • weegiegeek
  • over 2 years ago

"What is the point of such fast download speeds?"
To be able to download the Windows Updates faster...

  • John_Gray
  • over 2 years ago

What a cheerful bunch the commentators here are.

Pretty much nothing noting that it's a good progression just a bunch of complaining about congestion, mixed in with claiming it's pointless, the upload isn't high enough, and VM need to magically fix the jitter inherent in DOCSIS and every other TDMA network.

The Victor Meldrew attitude is alive and well, it's just moved onto Think Broadband.

  • Dixinormous
  • over 2 years ago

I'm just really pleased my exchange in Suffolk has recently gone to a BT "Enabled Area" with number one cabinet on the exchange "Accepting Orders", I'm on cabinet 4 so hopefully I can move on from the ten year old up to 8meg soon.

  • Saurus
  • over 2 years ago

Well in about 7 to 10 days we are due a visit from one of Virgin Medias Engineers to survey our area for fibre, and if all goes well, we will see if we move everything over to them, had way to many issues with our broadband and it doesn't look like we are going to get FTTP any time soon, would be nice to get 200 or 300Mbps would also be nice for a little more upload as well for content creators etc, but saying that 12.5Mbps isn't that bad for uploading videos, TBH I would be happy even getting up to 152 down and up to 12.5 up.
But we shall see what happens in the visit.

  • PaulKirby
  • over 2 years ago

@Dixionormous We can think and say what we want on here; welcome to the comments section :). It isn't good progression when the upload speed is almost the same as what it is at the moment on the 152Mbps package...

  • chris6273
  • over 2 years ago

WOW, 300Mbps before 9am then all the way down to 25Mbps by 18:00. Can not wait for the trails to end, maybe get some bandwidth back for the crippled network to degrade even more.

Yes I am happy with their failings

  • bartman007
  • over 2 years ago

I'd rather have 100mb with a lower contention ratio so that my pings drop back down to the 15~25ms range we used to get back when they only did 512mb!

  • Phunky
  • over 2 years ago

Posted by PhilCoates 1 day ago
Pretty much a 1st World problem for those of us still on <2Mbps
Precisely. Doesn't address the haves and the have nots issues at all. As for my 1.47mb. Words fail me.

Presumably everyone with neg attitudes drives around in a beat up mini. Sure it will get you from A to B but I bet when that fast car glides past, you go me too! I'm also certain I can always find something to soak up faster speeds. Currently, it's shut down as much as possible. No flash / video content else the browser seizes up. Moaners should try it one day. It's 3rd world!

  • 69bertie
  • over 2 years ago

VM need to look at upload speeds, the 6Mbps rate on a 100Mbps download option is pathetic when compared to BT and even mobile broadband now. I was persuaded to go from 50 to 100 to get a better upload speed. I can upload faster on my EE 4G mobile device (not phone), I've had 25Mbps UPload speed on that with 41Mbps down.
I have a need for faster upload speed which VM keep ignoring. 'Promises' made in the past have not been kept to have at least 10/1

  • tmcr
  • over 2 years ago

I too have been having constant conversations with VM since they "upgraded" the network last August and my 150Mbps speed dropped to 30Mbps and below in the evenings. Have been given 5 different completions dates (at one point the agent told me the previous agent had been lying about resolution date!). However, after a formal complaint I now have now been able to get refunds for the poor performance - will be contacting them again today as the resolution date has been moved yet again!

  • sgphillips
  • over 2 years ago

Wow, another round of speed increases I DON'T want, followed by another round of price increases I DEFINITELY DON'T WANT. Can't wait to dump these rip off merchants.

  • stator
  • over 2 years ago

@chris6273 Obviously I didn't say you couldn't say and think what you wish, just that you were being a bunch of Meldrews.

You assume that the currently being trialled 15Mb upload speed is the one that'll be on the finished product when network upgrades are complete. You are wrong.

Cable is always going to struggle for upload speed. Delivering upload on cable is expensive and people don't want to pay. Loads of work in progress, mind.

  • Dixinormous
  • over 2 years ago

People going on about this being a problem for BT but Virgins UK coverage is VERY small compared to BT. In my area the Virgin cable ends 200M from my property and I must confess that rather than have them reduce the roads and pavements to the mess they created in their coverage area, I'll stick with Sky/BT thank you.

  • RichBeardman
  • over 2 years ago

To say Virgin's coverage is VERY small may be true judged by map area but I think they can currently service over 50% of UK properties via cable. (I'm inclined to agree about the mess caused by digging but do you prefer the telegraph poles and wires that only BT uses?)

  • glasspath
  • over 2 years ago

@ stator

You nailed it.

  • joe_pineapples
  • over 2 years ago

@Dave2150
Quote" @Saltank, as you can see in the imagine above, the 220mbit connection was tested at 21:17 on a weekday, so the network is indeed capable of sustaining such speeds." UnQuote...

From where did you get this idea ?
(Also... 'imagine' above ? )

  • Popa_Mintin
  • over 2 years ago

Post a comment

Login Register