UPDATE BBC Editor on Virgin Media 50Mbps Pros and Cons
By: MarkJ - 17 February, 2009 (9:05 AM)

The BBC News website editor, Darren Waters, has written up a fascinating BLOG POST on his initial experiences with Virgin Media's new 'up to' 50Mbps cable broadband product. The blog makes for a very good read and points to the benefits of such a service as well as a few frustrations, such as problems with XBox Live connectivity.

Darren begins by explaining what he received and some of the problems experienced. His first gripe was with the supplied 802.11n (Wi-Fi) Netgear USB adaptor, which "doesn't work on Apple Macs". He was also unable to connect his XBox 360 (Live) games console wirelessly to the supplied Netgear WNR2000 router, which seems to be a known problem.

Speed also became an issue after several initial tests showed downstream rates of between 13Mbps and 25Mbps (upstream appeared to remain steady at the normal 1.5Mbps), which on occasion would drop to just 1Mbps when connecting through a wireless link:

After much hunting around on forums and a quick phonecall to Virgin I changed the encryption protocol on the router from WEP - the default setting - to WPA2 based on a recommendation. To my mind, this shouldn't make too great a difference in available speeds.

However, as soon as I changed the encryption protocol my speeds leaped back up to their previous high of about 25Mbps.

Despite these teething problems and the service delivering well below its advertised maximum of 50Mbps, Darren appears to be very pleased with his connection. He also pointed to stronger speeds (roughly 31Mbps) when downloading from the BBC's iPlayer, which Virgin Media has direct peering for.

Virgin itself has since said that there is no reason why Darren shouldn't be seeing speeds of 50Mbps on his connection. Darren has had the 50Mbps service installed for more than a week on trial and will be writing a speed diary of his experiences over the next week or so.

UPDATE - 9:31am 18/02/09:

Seems he's getting better speeds now:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/technology/2009/02/speed_diary_day_one.html


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