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Virgin Media’s Next Broadband Speed Boost Edges Closer as 300Mb Spotted

Friday, April 10th, 2015 (3:27 pm) - Score 25,685

Over the past few weeks we’ve seen a growing number of Virgin Media customers report a range of unusually high speedtests, which appear to lend additional support to the widely rumoured introduction of a new top 300Mbps download speed tier.

The unofficial news of another forthcoming double speed boost is nothing new and indeed we’ve mentioned the plans quite a few times since late last year, including as part of our Summary of 2014-15 Technology Changes. Such increases are usually deployed “at no extra cost“, although price rises that push above the level of inflation do tend to follow further down the line (just as they do with other ISPs).

At present the latest plan appears to focus on downstream speeds and there’s currently no certainty that Virgin Media’s upload performance will finally be given a much needed boost, although the indications do hint at an improvement (e.g. the new top-tier might see uploads rise from 12 to 15Mbps). As such we’re currently anticipating the following changes, which might surface sometime around the summer and late 2015 (note: this is not yet officially confirmed).

Virgin’s Predicted Cable Speed Boosts for 2015

Current Package: 50Mbps [3Mbps Upload]
New Speed: 100Mbps

Current Package: 100Mbps [6Mbps Upload]
New Speed: 200Mbps

Current Package: 152Mbps [12Mbps Upload]
New Speed: 300Mbps

The big change we’re seeing now is with the prevalence of Virgin Media customers who are making public their speedtest results, which appear to show improvements that mirror the above predicted increases.

Reports like this have cropped up all over the place since mid-March, such as here, here and not to mention in Thinkbroadband’s testing. It’s now arguably Virgin Media’s worst kept secret, although the operator cautions that it may only be a temporary trial.

A Virgin Media Community Support Agent said:

We are always trialling new faster speeds and this temporary speed increase is free of charge.

We will be returning your speed to the original tier of service when the trial ends but in the meantime please enjoy the free temporary speed increase on us 🙂.”

In fairness we can still recall the 200Mbps testing that took place several years ago and yet the related product never materialised. However, given BT’s plan to deploy G.fast tech and 500Mbps to “most homes” in the not too distant future, it’s understandable that Virgin Media, which are also busy extending their network to reach 60% of the UK (here), would want to keep ahead of the game.

Crucially any new boost will still be using Virgin Media’s existing DOCSIS / EuroDocsis 3.0 cable platform and not the latest DOCSIS3.1 technology, which will shortly see its first UK trials, yet the commercial deployment won’t follow until a little later (2016 perhaps). Naturally it would also make sense for Virgin Media to combine as many of these big upgrades and infrastructure investments together as possible.

Leave a Comment
20 Responses
  1. Avatar FibreFred says:

    Great news

    If you can get Virgin cable 🙂

  2. Avatar Bob says:

    At this point i think upload should start being a question.

    There’s only so many hundreds of mbps download they can give before people start wondering why the upload is still way lower than FTTC’s 80/20.

    300mbps download is getting into the not needed for most people category. Upload on the other hand is being starved.

    1. Avatar FibreFred says:

      I would say that 150Mbps is already in the not needed for most (for now) category

    2. Avatar GNewton says:

      @Bob: Agreed, the upload bandwidth tends to be neglected by most broadband network providers. Stupid statements like what speeds are needed don’t help. What matters is the ability to order appropriate broadband services for the individual needs anywhere in the UK. This is not the case at the moment.

    3. Avatar Darren says:

      I agree upload needs more attention but don’t agree with the need argument. We don’t need anything, we won’t die if there is no internet.

      The faster it is though the better, admitedly the faster it is the smaller the gains of going even faster are but faster is still always better to some degree.

    4. Avatar Astroturfer says:

      Who said the upload isn’t being increased?

    5. @Darren – “we won’t die if there is no internet”

      I suspect the average teenager might disagree with you there! 🙂

  3. Avatar Darren says:

    Upload will still be rubbish.

    So I will have to yawn.

    1. Avatar dave says:

      I agree, i’d rather they make the top tier 250Mbps with 50Mbps upload.

    2. Avatar M says:

      Upload? Virgin Media does not know what that means any more.

      “Thou shalt consume and not create!”

  4. Avatar Astroturfer says:

    DOCSIS 3.1 modems can use the 3.0 channels and new DOCSIS 3.1 channels, fully backwards compatible, so not an issue there.

    The migration path isn’t like ADSL to VDSL to G.fast where you leave one to go to the other, Virgin can easily run DOCSIS 3.1, 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 just as they’ve been running 3.0 and downwards.

    1. Avatar SSUK says:

      Excellent points the Virgin network can be expanded and speeds increased so much easier than BTs current rollout.

  5. Avatar Phil Coates says:

    As I said elsewhere, pretty much a 1st world problem for those of us on <2Mbps with no access to fibre/coax/mobile internet.

  6. Avatar bob says:

    This is an artificial boost. p2p traffic is throttled at 3.3megs (on the 50mb tier) As for direct downloads, no site will send a file out faster than 10-20mbps.

    As for uploads, p2p is similarly capped well under the speed you’re actually paying for. So aside from pirates, the only people who care about upload are streamers or business customers, and both of those should be paying for business tier anyway.

    So sure, 150-300mbps looks impressive on a speed test site, but in reality Virgin provides very little extra (couple megs extra in p2p) for the upgrade. However the big numbers are the excuse needed for the inevitable price bumps.

    1. Avatar ben says:

      I disagree with you there.

      PS3/PS4 etc all use the full download speed, as does Steam.
      If you use Windows 8 onwards, alot of content is downloaded so the full speed is used again.
      Linux software updates are the same.

      I welcome 300meg, and as soon as the SH3 comes out I will be getting it.

    2. Avatar Steve says:

      Bob is spot on, i have the 152Mbps service with VM and i can never get anything downloading at the maximum speed, i have raised many a thread on the support forums about it, as long as you are getting decent speeds from the VM hosted speedtest.net instance they are all happy. I have challenged them to give me real world examples of sites i can use to test speed, ive suggested MSDN as that always gives decent speeds, not with VM though the max speed i get is 5-6MBps (not the max of around 15-19MBps). VM have also confirmed that sony throttle PSN so you wont be getting full download speed from that.

  7. Avatar Christopher says:

    I have to agree with Ben here, the speed increases are being taken advantage of by people doing more and more things online as well as in any household with more than one child hitting their teens, there can sometimes be upwards of 8 or 9 devices connected to the internet meaning that the connection is still being shared.

    In one family with three children all in their late teens and early 20s they currently have 5 smart phones, 3 tablets, 3 desktop computers, 6 laptop computers, two playstation 4’s, and an Xbox one. When any of the children have friends over, this number can increase by three or four devices quite easily. During the youngests birthday party, with 4 of his closest friends attending, they each brought their tablet, smartphone, and laptop, meaning another 12 devices were active on that network.

    In that case; 300mbps is not enough to allow a significant speed reduction to be noticed on the entire network, even with 2 wireless networks and multiple repeaters, and wired connections used as much as possible. Unfortunately they cannot get Virgin media, despite being in Putney, London. Which means they have to rely on multiple (4x) BT 76mbps (running at closer to 43mbps) which are bonded using the router which I purchased for them last year. Obviously if they had access to the Virgin media connection; they would not need two connections to make things work correctly.

    One of the parents works at home occasionally, but nowhere near often enough to justify paying for a business connection. Especially when getting the same connection speeds cost around between 1.5x and 2.7x the consumer service from the same provider, that is, other than Virgin media, which only charge around 1.2x consumer rates.

    Even in a house with a couple in, there will typically now be two tablets, laptops, smartphones, and the TV and any games consoles will be connected to the Internet. This is where the download speeds come into their own.

    The problem most people forget is that one person/device in a majority of cases does not use the Internet connection at once. There are typically more than one person/device in use at once, meaning that the connection is being shared between the devices connected.

    1. Avatar Christopher says:

      I said 4 connections and then 2. They have only been on 4 connections for a little over 3 months now!
      My apologies for the mistake, please consider this my correction.

  8. Avatar jamesm says:

    I didnt know you could get 4!? I could get 4 and bond them

  9. Avatar Luke E says:

    Old Speed: 100Mbps [6Mbps Upload]
    New Speed: 150Mbps [10Mbps Upload]

    Old Speed: 152Mbps [12Mbps Upload]
    New Speed: 200Mbps [12Mbps Upload]

    I am on the top package atm, but I will be downgrading seen as though I will not be getting an increase in upload speeds but everyone else on lower packages will be. They should have moved the top tier package upto 20Mbps upload.

    Note to Virginmedia; WE WANT UPLOAD INCREASES NOT DOWNLOAD!

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