Are the dark days over for Virgin Media customers?
Virgin Media for a number of months earlier in 2017 was causing much debate over its performance with what seemed like an increasing number of customers struggling to stream video and other tasks that should not have unduly stressed a fixed connection speed service like DOCSIS, the culmination of this was the CEO appearing on BBC Watchdog promising to do better.
At the start of July 2017 we published our Q2 2017 analysis of how Virgin Media was performing and the key message was that while Q2 2017 was bad the final month of the quarter June showed an improvement and with another month passing by we share our July results which show a significant improvement.
The quality score is looking at the stability of the download speed during a speed test and is independent of the actual test speed, put simply to get a really good score which is considered 1 or less you would expect the gauge needle to shoot up quickly to your connections top speed and stay there.
Full marks to those who have spotted in the graph that the quality score is under 1 for many areas, we have removed the value of 1 cap that we usually use to display results to try and convey the level of change we are seeing at Virgin Media. To make the quality score a bit simpler to understand we plan to band results into six letter based grades A (best) through to F (worst) in the next couple of months. The monthly speed test results still employ the 1 is the best score system and similar with what the test reports to an individual and to help identify the best providers and areas to score A in our rescaled system a score under 0.75 is likely.
It is not just the quality score, we are seeing the Virgin Media average start to rise once again in June and July again after an almost static 12 months even though faster services were being sold and particularly in May there was a lack of people obtaining speed test results such as this 300 Mbps speed test result.
If Virgin Media can get the code updated for its SuperHub 3 to provide a fix for the Puma issue that affects throughput and latency for some customers in addition to the amount of improvements to the local nodes and core network then it will have a product that will make millions of people happy again. Getting the core network and other issues resolved are critical before much faster DOCSIS 3.1 products are launched and with other Liberty Global providers pushing on with DOCSIS improvements and 500 Mbps and potentially Gigabit cable services the decades old coax cables will be able to stay ahead of Openreach and BT Group where while a full fibre future is in discussion in reality is still looking like a xDSL competitor at scale for some time.