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Networking The Internet United Kingdom Technology

Virgin Media Demos World's Fastest Internet Service In the UK 115

siliconbits writes with word that yesterday, "UK-based cable broadband provider Virgin Media announced that it has begun testing internet speeds of up to 1.5Gbps in London using four startups from the 'Silicon Roundabout' hub as lucky guinea pigs. The 1.5Gbps trial, Virgin Media claims, uses the same cable infrastructure and technology that powers the broadband service for millions of households in the UK and is even faster than the projected 1Gbps speed that South Korean ISPs are proposing to implement in 2012. Earlier this year, ARRIS announced that it is working with SK broadband to deliver speeds of up to 800Mbps by combining 16 Downstream channels."
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Virgin Media Demos World's Fastest Internet Service In the UK

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  • Yet more broadband out of reach of pretty much everyone. I'd find it far more impressive if Virgin were to, you know, actually expand their current cable coverage....

    Fat chance of that happening though. I'd say it's about as likely as BT bringing faster-than-ADSL1 speed Internet access to the majority of rural parts of the UK this decade.
    • Anybody know if Virgin have put down any cable in, say, the last 5 years?

      The block of flats I used to live in are no older than that... and not one of them is cabled, despite the other end of the street having it.

      Didn't stop them putting leaflets in the post box every few weeks trying to get us to sign up though...

      • Didn't stop them putting leaflets in the post box every few weeks trying to get us to sign up though...

        I think that's the standard amount for "we can't actually provide this service in your area". VM cable actually is available here and I've received two A4 packages from them each week since I moved in (nearly 1 year ago). They make the 90s' AOL and Compuserve mail barrages look tame by comparison.

        • They make the 90s' AOL and Compuserve mail barrages look tame by comparison.

          They send me things, addressed by name, telling me that I should sign up for their service - and I've already signed up for their service.

      • They do actually lay down new fibre in areas near existing fibre. They're SUPPOSED to do a feasibility study on places like yours - near an existing fibre installation, if there's enough subscribers and the amount of cable required is below a certain length, they'll cable up the place. Like I said, supposed to, but it seems this process is very selective.
        As far as I'm aware, they haven't actually "enabled" any new towns (apart from a recent trial of some town to see if they could deploy fibre over a telegra

    • by r0ball ( 1848426 )
      Yup. I live in a pretty recently constructed high-rise in central London, about 4 miles from the 'Silicon Roundabout' and I'm lucky to get a stable ADSL2+ connection of 3.5Mbps down, and Virgin's not an option here. Their coverage is pretty sporadic in London, never mind the rest of the UK.
  • Bullshit! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2011 @02:12PM (#35897346)

    Speaking as a Virgin Media customer I can say this wheeze is just more marketing. Their network is mostly a pile of shit that's degraded and throttled to hell if you use it for what it's built for longer than ten minutes during peak time. Fact is, if you're one of the overwhelming majority of customers you're probably going to put up with an even shittier service when this is rolled out.

    This is the same tired old Branson formula. (Yes, I know Branson doesn't own Virgin. He's just a major shareholder and sold out the customers to pocket a license fee each year for the Virgin brand.) Create impressive sounding headline, "borrow authority" from some young and desperate startup and schmooze all your media pals with juicy but meaningless drivel, gouge as much as you can then sell it off for three times what it's worth before you get rumbled.

    • I have to say this doesn't mirror my experience. When I was living in London last year I was on their 50Mbps service (partly because it was the only one without throttling or transfer limits, partly because BT wanted some absurd amount of money for the privilege of flicking a switch at the exchange to allow us to pay them a monthly subscription) and it did what it said on the tin - a house of four fairly heavy users managed to get speeds consistently within about 15% of that advertised, which is perfectly a

      • Virgin Media are an appalingly bad company to do business with, they seem to see customers as victims for them to rip off at every opportunity. They lie without conscience or remorse whenever it suits them. Never do business with Virgin Media or at least read the small print VERY carefully and if you think to yourself - well that means they "could" do x but they never would, think again.
        • To be honest my time with Virgin Media's cable service was excellent. 50MB did what it said it would, all the time. Full stop.

          Now Virgin Media National, their ADSL arm, is a completely different and infinitely more frustrating matter.

          • by Jezza ( 39441 )

            Yep same here. The service has been at least as reliable as anything else I've used, and the speed is usually about what they claim. All in all, I'm pretty happy with it.

            Now I've never had a problem with it that needed more than just a "cycle the power" style solution (and even that isn't required very often). So they've not given themselves a chance to screw up (you only really find out what a company is like when things do go wrong - if they "do the right thing" then well that's when it matters).

    • by ydrol ( 626558 )

      Even for standard browsing their network is poor. I'm on Virgin 30mbps service, and had snappier browsing on BeThere's ADSL where I could only get 3mbps,
      Also I seem to have more random outages with Virgin that with ADSL.

    • by jo_ham ( 604554 )

      That's the exact opposite of my experience in two separate houses in two different areas with Virgin. One with 10mbs and the other (my current place) with 50Mbs. I haven't had a problem in either place, and routinely get the full 50mbs with almost no service outages or other broken issues.

      Virgin have been excellent in my two experiences, to add to your anecdote.

      • Same on their 10Mb/s service here. Never had any problems getting 1.1MB/s downloads (here or my last house), and the throttling has only rarely kicked in for me. In fact, the only time that it's happened was when I had to upload 10GB of videos to my publisher. Their traffic management policy [] only lets me upload 800MB between 4PM and 9PM, and after that it drops to 25% of the normal speed for 5 hours. Avoiding uploading between those hours and I got it all off in a fairly reasonable time. For downloads,
  • This will come with a 1.5 gigabit cap to keep the "bandwidth hogs" at bay.
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      And slashdot will throw a hissy fit about it as usual. An uncapped 1.5 Gbit/s line could transfer 475 TB a month. If you take something like Amazon EC2 they bill bandwidth at $0.1/GB give or take a little. That means 475 TB works out to $47,500 per month. Sure sometimes the marketing is dishonest, but truth in advertising would only get you the truth - not fifty grand worth of bandwidth for a fraction of the price.

      • As I've said (somewhat unpopularity) several times before: overselling is not inherently a bad thing, it's a necessity for efficient use of resources. Similarly, bandwidth caps are not an inherently bad thing, since they help to make the usage of the shared resource fair. What is very bad is (a) calling a capped service 'unlimited' and (b) setting the caps in the hope of limiting usage and running up overage charges, rather than using a straightforward formula based on total capacity divided by number of us

        • Virgin doesn't charge for going over their limits. They publish their traffic management policy [] (currently no caps on their 50Mb/s service, and ones that I've rarely hit on their 10Mb/s one). If you go over the caps, which only apply at peak times, then you are throttled for 5 hours, and then your connection resets to the normal speed after that.
  • I can get up to 60Mbps with Powerboost Technology (TM). Just wish the bloody benchmarking utilities wouldn't keep lying to me saying I only get 7.6Mbps... I don't know why they're being so dishonest. Seriously what could they possibly gain?
  • yay? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by vawwyakr ( 1992390 )
    I am sure in this crowd I'll get booed...but what would I use this for? I can already stream HD video. I suppose it might be good if I was downloading HD videos for viewing later, I guess amazon is letting you do that now. But my bandwidth I get on basic FIOs is more than enough about 99% of the time. I find more often that the source is the bottleneck not my pipe. I'd rather see them focusing on widening their pipes so they can't whine and complain (or charge you to hell) when people actually use the
    • At some point we can stop waiting and just have things at a perceivably instantaneous rate. It isn't about filling the pipes 24/7 it's about getting what you want when you want it. 5sec at 1.5Gbps or 50sec at 150Mbps. Who would go for the latter?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Now I can hit my monthly bandwidth cap in what? 27 seconds?

  • You could have a 1.5Pbs (peta* bits per second) connection to your ISP, but when the rest of the Internet sucks, at what point does how big your pipe to your ISP become irrelevant.

    I know that the big UK ISPs are all peered with the BBC so things like iPlayer don't even touch "the Internet" so it could be good from an IPTV point of view with established players, but that's only a transient benefit.

    From a wider point of view, would I notice much difference between my current 8MB (give or take) ADLS and 1.5Gb

    • iPlayer's HD streams are only 3.6Mb/s, so even Virgin Media's slowest package can happily stream two of them at once. BluRay is typically about 30Mb/s, so 50Mb/s gives you a bit of head room and 100Mb/s goes above the maximum quality for BluRay, or lets you stream two BluRay-quality movies at once.

      When I was doing my PhD, I had a GigE connection on my desk, which went to an Internet connection that was fast enough that I was never aware of the contention. The bottleneck downloading from somewhere like

  • Pointless (Score:5, Informative)

    by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@world3.nBLUEet minus berry> on Thursday April 21, 2011 @02:18PM (#35897440) Homepage Journal

    Virgin aggressively traffic shapes its network 24/7 and has download limits in place most of the day. When you go over the limits your connection is throttled back by 80% or more (combined up/down speed).

    This is just a publicity stunt. They like to claim they provide a high speed service but the reality is that their network just isn't up to it. If it was there would be no need for throttling. VM should fix their current problems before rolling out ever faster and ever more pointless speeds.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Get your facts straight, they only do that on the budget services. Go to the 50mbps service and you'll have no caps and no throttling, you just need to avoid their shitty "super hub" rebranded Netgear modem/router.

    • by ydrol ( 626558 )

      A useful link with the exact numbers []
      This is excluding p2p shaping - but still more readable than anything on Virgin's website.

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      Wasn't Virgin Internet one of the few ISPs in the UK that is definitely into the 3-strikes thing and all that? Plus, actively managing traffic to prioritize paying content producers?

  • Whatever (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2011 @02:21PM (#35897484)

    Here's the problem 1.5Gbps download, 0.5mbit upload. Still takes you a week to send grandma a video of your childs first word because the uplink is unreasonable. May as well burn it to dvd and drop it in Royal Post.

    The ISP's should be required to have uplinks that are no less than 1/8th of the of the downlink.

    • by Durzel ( 137902 )

      Not sure why the above is marked Informative.

      I'm on the 100Mbit service with Virgin Media and I get over 9Mbit/sec upload. Obviously you're never going to get equal download/upload capacity because you'd have businesses hanging their racks off them.

      Proof: []

      • I wish they'd offer a symmetric service. 10Mb/s down is fine for me (for now), but I'd love to have 10Mb/s up as well. They haven't rolled out the 100Mb/s service in my area yet, but I'd happily pay the same for 10/10 that they charge for the 30/3 service.
  • Imagine... (Score:2, Funny)

    by N0Man74 ( 1620447 )

    Wow, I hope we can get that in the US as well! Can you imagine how awesome it would be to be able to hit your monthly usage cap in 3 minutes?

    • Data caps are based on how much you actually download, not how fast your connection is. If you download 250gb in 3 minutes, it doesn't matter that you could have downloaded that 250gb in 3 weeks on a slower connection. Either way, you have 250gb of content. Just loading up isn't going to cost you 1.5gb because you only download ~100kb just like you would on a slower connection.

    • Move to Chattanooga, Tennessee and you can get close with 1Gbps:

      I realize it's 500 Mbps slower than 1.5 Gbps, but given those speeds and current consumer capabilities, what's 500 Mbps among friends? (at least for the next few months)

      • ...of course, Chattanooga's EPB apparently has symmetrical upload/download speeds and, as of a few months ago, had no caps. Therefore, the entertainment value is greatly diminished as you wouldn't get to scream your way into the brick wall of a bandwidth cap.
  • And here in Canada we top out at 16-24 Mbps.
  • by Dr_Barnowl ( 709838 ) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @03:15PM (#35898114)

    i) What the hell does anyone need 1.5Gbit/s for, unless they are a business.

    That's more than 50 HD video streams. Know anyone with 50 TVs? Maybe when full immersion holographic projectors are invented, you'll need that much for conferencing.

    ii) For that matter, what the hell does anyone need their current top tier product for?

    Apart from warez, of course. About the only answer I can come up with is more immediate delivery of videogames ; it took me 3 hours to download Portal 2 on my 10Mbit/s connection, and I had to wait until after 2100, or I would have been throttled back to 2.5Mbit/s after the first 750MB. 3 hours is mildly annoying, but I'm prepared to put up with that occasionally to save some money on recurring service fees.

    iii) Because they don't invest in infrastructure, I don't get to use the service they advertise.

    Sure, 10Mbit/s isn't the coolest new thing. But it sure would be nice to have it all the time. Now I'm back to doing things I hadn't done since the modem days, scheduling any big downloads to coincide with un-throttled periods (ie - the small hours of the night). If I need to download a DVD ISO (e.g. Knoppix) during peak hours? Tough underpants, all the people running torrents spoiled that because they didn't anticipate it (despite "downloading movies, music and games, faster than ever before" being the core platform of their marketing).


  • Virgin Media will shortly trial 1.5Gbps cable Internet, but only to festering dot-com media cocks [] who live actually around Shoreditch itself.

    "As the pace of technological change increases," said the ISP in the press release all the papers copied word for word, "it is vitally important to public health that these people have as absolutely much incentive as possible never to leave their homes. Wanking themselves silly over gigabytes of high-definition porn also reduces their likelihood of reproducing."

    With th

  • Living in London...
    and yet...
    Can't get anything from Virgin Media except via my BT phone line.
    I am surrounded by areas that have cable access and yet it is not available here, and every time I check there are never any plans to install it.
    Just waiting for BT infinity to become available. This keeps slipping but at least I can be confident it will happen this decade.

  • Please bring a connection to my house!!!!

    sign my petition "Congressional Reform Act of 2011". []

  • ...>1Gbit/s is currently not on the top of my list of residental broadband problems. Sure, more bandwidth is always nice, but there is a long list of issues that impact me more, like the crappy unreliable modems/home gateways that is provided by ISPs, the bufferbloat issues in them that cause latency to be intolerable, the lack of IPv6, the underprovisioned networks, etc...
  • We'll have this in the USA soon, with a monthly cap you can hit in about three hours. Then it reverts to a generous 56kbps (actual speeds may vary) for unlimited downloads.
  • With most users' data caps in Europe you'll hit your monthly cap in, what 2-3 hrs?

The absent ones are always at fault.