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Virgin Media UK Pilots 200Mbps Broadband Speeds 179

Posted by timothy
from the quickly-now-quickly dept.
MJackson writes "UK cable operator Virgin Media has announced the first real-world customer pilots of up to 200Mbps broadband services using DOCSIS3 technology from Cisco, which could make it one of the fastest Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the world. Following successful lab trials, the 6 month long pilot started last week in Ashford, Kent (England), and will ultimately employ 100 customers in the testing process. The pilot will, among other things, test future online consumer applications, including High Definition Internet TV (HD IPTV) and the ability to deliver applications and support for home IT needs through its network. By comparison J:Com in Japan supplies broadband at up to 160Mbps and Cablevision in the US supplies broadband at up to 101Mbps. Like Virgin Media, both companies use DOCSIS3 technology for broadband over cable networks."
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Virgin Media UK Pilots 200Mbps Broadband Speeds

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  • Stop it! (Score:5, Funny)

    by FredFredrickson (1177871) * on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @02:00PM (#27848743) Homepage Journal
    Just shut up, ok? Last month, my provider finally converted me from 1.5 mbps to 7 mbps. (Fairpoint, just bought Northeastern USA from Verizon) Do you understand that only now can we start using things like Netflix Watchnow and the like? Oh, but Youtube, for whatever reason, still buffers for 5 minutes.

    Anyway, my point is this. Stop bragging, you're seriously making me want to stab my eyes with grapefruit spoons.
    • Re:Stop it! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by smallfries (601545) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @02:05PM (#27848831) Homepage

      Don't worry, if it's anything like any other Virgin product then the throttle to 1Mb/s will kick in after 5 minutes. And as for BitTorrent, yeah right...

      • by Aranykai (1053846)

        Lets see, excessive use of 50GB would only take a little over 34 minutes to reach!

      • Re:Stop it! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by CarpetShark (865376) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @07:50PM (#27853403)

        Don't worry, if it's anything like any other Virgin product then the throttle to 1Mb/s will kick in after 5 minutes.

        Yep. ISPs can invest in all the technology and great-sounding packages they like, but while they have throttling at arbitrary and unspecified limits that consumers cannot find out then their offers amount to precisely fuck all squared. I'd gladly take any 2Mbps unmetered ISP that guarantees no limits and no metering, over any 8Mbps service, or even a 100MBps service. Broadband is about having a reliable, always on connection that I can trust to be there, and can predict the capacity of, not about having some ultra-fast thing that can't be used.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by twokay (979515)

        At the moment their top 50Mbit tier is totally uncapped [virginmedia.com]. I guess if you raped it constantly they might say something, but at least in comparison to their other offerings it is.

        If im going to be capped id rather be capped during the times their network is under the most load, than some blanket 50GB/100GB cap for the month. Which is what seems most common. At least i can make full use of my 20Mbit connection during off-peak times.

        If i wanted i could leave bittorrent running for ~12hrs at night and not hit any

    • Re:Stop it! (Score:5, Funny)

      by formattedFury (1549017) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @02:06PM (#27848861)

      Oh, but Youtube, for whatever reason, still buffers for 5 minutes.

      I'll make an insightful comment once the rest of this page finishes loading on my connection...

    • Re:Stop it! (Score:4, Informative)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @02:11PM (#27848941) Journal
      It's okay, it's Virgin Media. For those of you outside the UK, this means:
      • Upstream just about fast enough for the TCP ACKs generated by saturating the downstream, but only just.
      • Soft caps, so if you download more than a GB or so, or upload a few hundred MBs, you get throttled back to ISDN speeds for a few hours.
      • Painful technical support that's been outsourced, off-shored, and dramatically reduced in size in spite of being understaffed to start with.
      • Subscription to the same government-approved (but not government-controlled or publicly-accountable) censor as the other major UK ISPs (the IWF).
      • Phorm.

      Virgin Media are so bad they almost make BT look good. Almost.

      Stop bragging, you're seriously making me want to stab my eyes with grapefruit spoons.

      At least you still have grapefruit spoons. They are no longer sold in the UK, due to health and safety concerns over people cutting their mouths (I honestly wish I was making this one up - you can still find them in second-hand shops, but good luck finding new ones).

      • Re:Stop it! (Score:4, Funny)

        by FredFredrickson (1177871) * on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @02:16PM (#27849023) Homepage Journal
        So, wait.. how do you eat grapefruits?
        • Re:Stop it! (Score:5, Funny)

          by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @02:27PM (#27849183) Homepage Journal

          So, wait.. how do you eat grapefruits?

          You out-source the cutting to a country which doesn't treat you as a 2 year old kid and then simply import the remaining juice ;)

          • They took a film crew to a small village in India. Every day, under cover of darkness, container loads of British Grapefruits were dumped at the village border. Children as young as 5 were working 14 hour days in the grapefruit cutting sheds. Everywhere you looked there were people with mildly smarting eyes and slightly sticky fingers, was like something Dante might have written about. When the undercover reporter confronted the owner he just muttered something about lack of scurvy.
        • Re:Stop it! (Score:5, Funny)

          by eleuthero (812560) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @02:30PM (#27849239)

          So, wait.. how do you eat grapefruits?

          You don't. Sale of those potent carriers of citric acid was restricted due to too many emergency room cases caused by people who shot themselves in the eye with the juice when trying to eat grapefruits without grapefruit spoons.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        At least you still have grapefruit spoons. They are no longer sold in the UK, due to health and safety concerns over people cutting their mouths (I honestly wish I was making this one up - you can still find them in second-hand shops, but good luck finding new ones).

        You are. [johnlewis.com]

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by telchine (719345) *

        At least you still have grapefruit spoons. They are no longer sold in the UK

        http://www.johnlewis.com/230483123/Product.aspx?source=14798 [johnlewis.com]

      • by Afforess (1310263)

        you get throttled back to ISDN speeds for a few hours

        I wish I could be throttled to ISDN speeds, that's faster than my existing connection. Thank you AT&T.

      • Virgin's lies [virginmedia.com] about throttling are ridiculous, the thing is whoever is doing it is lying both ways, the higher ups (branson et al) have been told, and many customers also fall for it.

        Yeah right, if i don't encrypt them im instantly throttled. Fortunatly the threat of several hours also isn't followed through and as soon as i drop my upload rate below whatever is setting off thier sensors today, im fine.

      • by daybot (911557) *

        Upstream just about fast enough for the TCP ACKs

        Upstream ratios are poor, yes. They're 10/0.5, 20/0.7, 50/1.5.

        throttled back to ISDN speeds for a few hours

        Personally I think it's a sensible and fair scheme, but I encourage all readers to decide for themselves [virginmedia.com]. The 20Mbit throttle means 6GB in one peak period (there are two separate peak periods per weekday) and you're throttled to 5Mbit for five hours. Big fucking deal. The 50Mbit service is currently 100% cap-free but is considerably more expensive than the 20Mbit service.

        Painful technical support

        Oh please. Just power cycle your modem :)

        IWF

        Yes, they're as bad as everyone els

    • Re:Stop it! (Score:4, Informative)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @02:16PM (#27849019) Journal

      Oh, but Youtube, for whatever reason, still buffers for 5 minutes

      This is often caused by a badly-configured proxy. We had this problem on campus. In spite of GigE inside and a 34GB/s connection outside, YouTube still took a long time to start playing. It turned out that the proxy was configured to download the file and then pass it on to the client when it had it all. A lot of the time, the connection to the proxy would time out while the proxy was waiting for YouTube to send the whole file, but when you hit refresh it would load almost instantly.

      • So, on my home connection, connected directly to my ISP, what can I do? Call support and hope they know half as much as I already do about what they're supposed to know more than me? Honest question, tips would be appreciated...
        • Re:Stop it! (Score:5, Informative)

          by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @02:34PM (#27849291) Journal
          Do they have a transparent proxy? Virgin Media, the helpful people in TFA, run one but it used to frequently get overloaded. If you manually configure a proxy then you bypass the transparent one. If your ISP advertises proxy settings, try using them. If this doesn't speed things up, call them and complain.
          • by aj50 (789101)
            I beleive they stopped doing this several years ago (a shame really, you could hop between proxies by specifying them manually to get around download limits on rapishare)
          • by jchawk (127686)

            If they have a true transparent proxy then putting in another proxy will cause your traffic to hit the transparent proxy then the other proxy.

            The point of a transparent proxy is to force all HTTP traffic through it without giving the end user a choice.

            • If they have a true transparent proxy then putting in another proxy will cause your traffic to hit the transparent proxy then the other proxy.
              A transparent proxy will generally only catch traffic targetted at port 80. So if your "other proxy" is listening on a port other than 80 you can buypass the transparent proxy.

    • by jonbryce (703250)

      At least you don't have Phorm to worry about, or Virgin's exceptionally poor customer service.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mr2cents (323101)

      Just imagine, flying over the ocean at nearly the speed of sound, with a computer sitting on your lap performing billions of calculations each seconds, a battery-powered machine whose workings have been grafted with atomic precision into ultra-pure silicon. It communicates with a satellite orbiting the earth that bounces the data back, and it finds it way though a worldwide maze of wires that spans the earth like mycelium. Technology has come a long way.

      All that to play online tetris.

  • Knowing VM (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    200Mbps down with traffic shaping that'll cut you'r speed to 2Mbps after the first 5GB of transfer. Consumers don't need this kind of download speed, what we do need is more upload speed say a 5Mbps symmetric service.

    • They'll never get any meaningful data out of these ~100 test users. Sure, I could use 200Mbps, but I wouldn't want to if I knew my ISP were watching me like a hawk.

      Try pretending you're only downloading linux distros at 200Mbps! You'd have them all in fifteen minutes, and the rest is warez and tentacle porn - almost by a process of elimination.

  • In other news.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @02:08PM (#27848895) Homepage Journal
    ....the US overall reaches new broadband speeds of nearly 20mbps for half its citizens in the year 2025!!!
    • by sponga (739683)

      Uhh you must live in the desert.

      Most everybody has the 20/5 package from most cable providers and FIOS.

      • I wish. I am in northeast NJ, which is literally line of sight to NYC (about 20 miles, or 45 minutes on a good day) and a *very* affluent community with a lot of business folks.

        Comcast is our cable co, Verizon does phones.

        Well, I've been corrected - Comcast provides a 50/10 package for $140/mo, which is still throttled and capped. And I'm not giving Comcast any more money.

        Verizon is putting in FiOS at the extreme edges of the town. Their best DSL offering is 5/768

        Currently, we have 3/384 through Att-resold

        • by sponga (739683)

          The 50/10 is throttled, that must really suck if that is true because I have no idea what they would throttle it at(5hrs maxed out?). Time Warner around here didn't say a peep when I was downloading almost over a 1TB a month through SSL; although I don't touch bittorrent with a 10 foot pole.

          You must be caught up in that fiasco of New Jersey and Massacheusets; where they are one of the last holdouts on Verizon mass adoption. Check out DslReports.com under your ISP for more insight and you might even find a w

          • Just on dslreports actually, and doing some other researching.

            Turns out, actually, that DOCSIS 3 doesn't stand a fucking chance against FiOS. I know Verizon sucks, but they're literally doing almost entirely what we paid them to do 10 years ago; they're replacing (or trying to replace) their entire physical copper plant with fiber, then running the phone over that.

            That takes balls, even if you are given the money. But now, Comcast's single-wire coaxial cable and per-block amplifiers can't compete. Verizon c

  • Shenanagins (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IP_Troll (1097511) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @02:10PM (#27848917)

    Cablevision in the US supplies broadband at up to 101Mbps

    Cablevision has announced that they are going to offer 101 Mbps service. Hold off on giving them credit until they actually do it.

    • This announcement is the same thing. 100 people in Kent are getting 200Mb/s, for a time-limited trial. The fastest Virgin Media offer is 50Mb/s, and they haven't finished upgrading their network so you can only get this in some areas, with 20Mb/s being the maximum everywhere else.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Algan (20532)

      The Virgin announcement referred to an initial trial limited to 100 customers. From what I've read on Optimum Online forums, the number of trial customers currently having the Cablevision's Ultra package is probably an order of magnitude higher. Also, they claim the new package will be available throughout their entire footprint on May 11, unlike the staggered rollout that Virgin appears to be planning. Anyway, come next week, I plan on taking them up to the task ... we'll see

  • by mc1138 (718275) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @02:11PM (#27848925) Homepage
    Rather then trying furiously to single out their biggest users and punish, we have a company thats actually focusing on improving their infrastructure to provide a better experience. I'm not sure which will help their image more...
  • If my Cable company had any competition, any competition at all - perhaps someday I might get a chance to switch to a service like this. Oh well - I guess I will just have to make due with 6Mbps for the next decade or so.
  • by ganjadude (952775) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @02:11PM (#27848937) Homepage
    Yeah, maybe in house, when no one else is connected.. and the sun is at the perfect angle and theres a fish hopping through the air in the middle of the atlantic. But not just any fish, you see this is a special fish, the fish of broadband. And he only shows up but once every fortnight and if you look carefully, you will hear him laughing at us all in the distance
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I see you too played Zelda on the N64.

      • by ganjadude (952775)
        funny thing, That was not even originally going to be a funny post I was just gonna rant on CV but than I didnt want to troll and I was not even thinking zelda it just kinda came out... guess I got zelda on the subconscious mind!
  • by GPLDAN (732269) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @02:14PM (#27848993)
    Lest anyone think DOCSIS 3 is just new hardware at both ends, let me assure you - it isn't.

    From: http://www.cable360.net/ct/strategy/emergingtech/34304.html [cable360.net]

    The DTI specification has a distance limitation of 200 meters between the CMTS and edge QAM modulator. There are ideas of utilizing global positioning system (GPS) to sync multiple time servers to allow the edge QAM modulator to be in a hub site and the CMTS in the headend.

    The US of A is a big place. Much bigger than say - the UK. Or Japan. Each of which are about the size of Texas and Oklahoma combined. The US of A is MUCH MUCH larger. You start running into economies of scale, since your HFC needs to run to individual neighborhood drops.

    It's a much bigger problem, and not quite the answer to FiOS dropping MMF right into your home.
    • by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @02:27PM (#27849187)
      True. The answer is for municipalities to run fiber to the home and then lease access to providers who want to sell to those customers.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @02:30PM (#27849243)

      That only explains why broadband penetration is so low. That does not explain why the quality of service is universally poor. There are plenty of regions in the US that are as dense and populous as these countries with 3.14159 petabit/sec connections, yet in the US we get crap no matter where you live.

      • I get 20/20 from FIOS and it's damn good. No caps, no overages (15TB in 6 months), and I could get 50/20 but I'd rather save the $$$.

    • by aj50 (789101)

      As big as Texas and Oklahoma combined? Please.

      Texas alone is nearly three times larger than the UK (and nearly twice as large as Japan).

    • by Mex (191941)

      I've heard places like California and Texas compete for "Biggest economies" of the world. Why don't individual states support internet broadband development? Is this a restriction at the Federal level?

    • Each of which are about the size of Texas and Oklahoma combined. The US of A is MUCH MUCH larger. You start running into economies of scale, since your HFC needs to run to individual neighborhood drops.

      Just so you know, "economies of scale" are something completely different. They refer to the cost savings of doing a larger number of the same transaction. Mostly this relates to being able to spread fixed costs over more units made/sold. However, there are also economies of scale in variable costs like sh

      • by GPLDAN (732269)
        You are correct. I should have said dis-economies of scale - but then I would just be making language up. I should have corrected it.
    • by jonbryce (703250)

      If you are in the 50% of the UK population that is even remotely rural, cable is not available. I see no reason why availability in cities and large towns in the US should be any different from the availability in cities and large towns here.

    • by grumling (94709)

      That's why you don't put edge QAMs out in the hub all alone. You run a SONET style backbone from the headend and put your CMTS in the primary hub, use MUX'd AM fiber to the secondary and demux to the nodes.

      200 meters won't even get across the primary hub in some of the places I work.

    • by N7DR (536428)

      Lest anyone think DOCSIS 3 is just new hardware at both ends, let me assure you - it isn't.

      From: http://www.cable360.net/ct/strategy/emergingtech/34304.html [cable360.net]

      The DTI specification has a distance limitation of 200 meters between the CMTS and edge QAM modulator. There are ideas of utilizing global positioning system (GPS) to sync multiple time servers to allow the edge QAM modulator to be in a hub site and the CMTS in the headend. /quote>

      Um, as an author of the spec that covers the edge QAM in the above quote, I'm scratching my head wondering what on Earth that quote has to do with anything on-topic. The DTI spec (which is to do with timing across devices, which has to be very tight) basically says "for now, keep these things close together so we can keep the timing in sync". Eventually, if it becomes important (which it isn't at the moment; if it were, we'd have done it already), there'll be another spec that will describe how to keep the timing sufficiently synchronised when the devices aren't all in the same building.

      I'm at a loss to understand how that quote somehow leads to the title "DOCSIS 3 is a bitch for the US of A". DOCSIS 3.0 was, after all, designed in the US and the spec work was driven essentially entirely by US cable companies.

  • Bizarro world (Score:2, Insightful)

    by get quad (917331)
    Something about "Give me Virgin speed" sounds a bit off-putting. Strange days.
    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      What's so strange about "virgin speed"? In Appalachia, if she can't run faster than all her brothers, she's probably not a virgin!
  • "Real" Broadband (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @02:20PM (#27849081)

    The U.S. will not catch up with other countries on the race to national broadband until:

    1. The definitions of what a "broadband" connection actually is are cleared up
    2. REAL competition is introduced to drive down competitors costs (the cost for cable internet access is still outrageous!)
    3. The content of the internet mandates broadband connection speeds to experience.

    We're probably closest to #3... but we are bogged down in legalese for #1 and #2 is frighteningly far away. Until the government forces competition for the cable companies into existence... prices will remain through the roof. Money mongers are everywhere...

  • by Itninja (937614) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @02:22PM (#27849109) Homepage
    I just got Comcast's 'Ultra' package that gives me 50Mbps. But since it's capped at 250GB monthly, I can't exactly use it as much as I want. What good is crazy fat bandwidth if one gets shut off after three days?
    • by EdZ (755139)
      Virgin? 250GB? With their current package, more than 5gb a day will cap you at ISDN speeds for a few hours. Blanket caps are generally listed at 30GB a month, if listed at all.
  • by aztektum (170569) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @02:24PM (#27849143)

    Pf, 250 Million-bits...!? I demand 1 Billion-bits! [slashdot.org] *pinky to mouth*

  • by Mascot (120795)

    My cable company has had a pilot customer running at 1Gbps since late last year.

    I suspect the real news here is the technology Virgin Media are using, not the speed, but it's a bit hard to tell from the summary and I'm too lazy to do the editors' job for them.

  • Virgin ("We've Never Done It Before, And We Don't Really Know How To" [today.com] Media), operators of Britain's only cable television network, has launched a new 200-megabit Internet service.

    "That's 200 megabits total over the day, usually," said Virgin Media phone menu robot Mark Schweitzer, "but it's very fast when it's going. Plain old ADSL can't hold a candle to it. You can hit your download limit in minutes!"

    Customers will be able to add the boost free for three months, after which they will need to pay an ad

  • by the_B0fh (208483) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @03:09PM (#27849789) Homepage

    Why is 200mb/s the one of the fastest in the world when they're doing 1gb/s up and down in Japan? You call 1/5 of that comparable to 1gb/s?????

    • by pleappleappleap (1182301) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @04:44PM (#27851003) Homepage

      200Mbps IS comparable to 1Gbps. The comparison reads:

      200Mbps < 1Gbps

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Anything that lets you transfer a full BD 1080p stream in faster than realtime (~50Mpbs) is fairly comparable if you ask me. I got 20Mbit now (for real too), and whether downloading a new Linux CD takes me 5 minutes (20Mbit), 30 seconds (200Mbit) or 6 seconds (1Gbps) doesn't really matter. I wish my upload was better though, I only got 20/2Mbit and wish it was symmetric like 20/20Mbit. Give it another few years and it'll probably be standard anyway...

  • Today Comcast and Time Warner announced 200mbps service. Now you can exceed your monthly bandwith cap in an hour.

  • On a related note... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sockatume (732728) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @03:19PM (#27849891)
    They're opening their network to other broadband companies [guardian.co.uk], as a way of increasing revenues and heading off any issues with monopolisation of cable infrastructure. (They gradually hoovered up most of the UK's other cable companies.)
  • What's the point? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by British (51765) <british1500@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @03:34PM (#27850097) Homepage Journal

    What's the point of all these increased downstream speeds if the upload speeds for your favorite sites, etc are still the same? Let's make the other end faster!

  • 200Mbps (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Taibhsear (1286214) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @03:43PM (#27850197)

    with 180Mbps being used by the UK government to spy on you.

    • by Sockatume (732728)
      Strictly speaking, all 200Mbps are being used to spy on you, because they're going to monitor all unencrypted internet traffic.
  • Regards: a Scandinavian.

    Sorry , couldn't help myself.

    • by mjwx (966435)

      Regards: a Scandinavian.

      Sorry , couldn't help myself.

      That's OK, in Australia we consider crappy internet a good trade off for warmth and beaches.

  • Of course the British would be the first to be able to download porn at 200 Mbits/second. They are the ones that really need it!
  • to be realistic, you can burn through a gigabyte in 40 seconds with those speeds.

    250GB is only 3 hours at those speeds.

    What will they do?

    What's the point of having those speeds available, if you burn through your month's ration in 3 hours?

    6 hours for comcast's DOCSIS 3.0 implementation. A month's ration in 6 hours. Something's gotta give fellas.

    Linux is not piracy. Netflix HD is not piracy. Game demos over Xbox Live are not piracy. Hulu is not piracy. Steam is not piracy.

    Something's gotta give.

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