Cable operator Virgin Media has confirmed that customers of their recently launched Vivid 200Mbps broadband package (here) are seeing their average Internet download speeds at peak times drop to 130Mbps (October 2015 Data), which is below the previous top package tier of 152Mbps.
The new information came to light after the operator updated the statistics on their Broadband Speeds information page, which revealed that users of the 200Mbps package achieved an average speed over 24 hours of 170.05Mbps (Megabits per second) and 130.85Mbps during peak times (8pm-10pm).
By comparison customers of the operators 50Mbps package got an average of 51.81Mbps over 24 hours and 47.12Mbps at peak time, while those on the 100Mbps package received an average of 97.18Mbps over 24 hours and 83.93Mbps at peak times.
The data itself is also likely to be fairly reliable as it’s based off statistics gathered via Virgin Media’s own “Broadband Performance Panel“, which use customised monitoring routers powered by SamKnows and the typical speeds were also recorded with a standard Ethernet (LAN) cable rather than unreliable WiFi. Mind you we do not know how big the sample size was.
Some are likely to point to the results as evidence that Virgin Media may be struggling to deliver the necessary capacity to fuel their new top tier package, although it’s worth remembering that residential connections are generally “best efforts” style services where network capacity must be shared between many subscribers (i.e. your speeds can suffer at peak times when lots of people are all gobbling data at the same time). This is just one of the reasons why “up to” is so often prefixed before the service speed.
One of the main benefits of the shared capacity approach is of course that it helps to keep consumer broadband prices at an affordable level and customers would face dramatically higher bills if residential ISPs only offered connections with un-contended (dedicated) capacity, like a lot of high-end business grade connections.
Equally this just goes to show that sometimes paying extra for the fastest package doesn’t always deliver quite what you expect. It also raises a question mark over whether or not Virgin Media can supply a future 300Mbps tier to home users, assuming that’s the direction they take next year (so far this has only been confirmed for business customers).
UPDATE 25th Nov 2015
We are still awaiting an official line from Virgin Media, although it’s been suggested that some of the SamKnows panellists might have been using older kit and that this could be to blame for the slower readouts, which sounds plausible. However they weren’t talking about the router, but rather the use of Cat5e LAN cables, which raised a wry smile and look of slight puzzlement from my end.
Not that Cat5e cables don’t suffer from some smaller problems caused by electronic or other interference, but.. well we’ll wait for the official statement.