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UPDATE Virgin Media Boosts Top Cable Broadband Speeds to 200Mbps

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015 (7:30 am) - Score 36,233

As expected Virgin Media (Liberty Global), the national urban-focused UK cable operator, has today launched another “free” increase to their subscribers broadband speeds up to a maximum of 200Mbps (Megabits per second), but it’s not as much as had been expected and uploads remain unchanged.

The announcement won’t come as much of a surprise to our readers because Virgin Media has a long history of delivering “double speed” boosts every 18-24 months or so and recently a number of 300Mbps trials had been spotted (here), which was followed by confirmation that they planned to do another upgrade (here) and today we know the outcome.

But what will come as a surprise is the fact that this time around the increase isn’t a “double” boost at all and it may be perceived as a little underwhelming by those who had been expecting more. On top of that Virgin will also rebrand their top “ultrafast” broadband packages once again and bring them under the “VIVID” banner.

As with prior boosts the latest increases will be delivered by using Virgin’s existing DOCSIS 3.0 / EuroDOCSIS cable platform and the upgrade itself is due to be deployed as part of a phased approach over the next few months, with 90% of the roll-out being completed by the end of 2015 and 100% by June 2016 (note: it begins on 1st October 2015).

Existing customers will be given the OPTION to upgrade from their current package for “free” (we’re told that users won’t need to re-contract for this). Just remember that Virgin Media’s prices, much like those of other ISPs, have recently been rising and we expect more of the same going forwards (this helps to pay for such improvements).

Virgin Media’s New Broadband Speed Tiers

Old Speed: 50Mbps [3Mbps Upload]
New Speed: 70Mbps [5Mbps Upload]

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

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

The move compliments the operator’s £3bnProject Lighting” network expansion, which will bring their predominantly urban services to 17 million premises (60%+ coverage of the UK) by 2020 (here) and that’s up from around 45% today.

In relation to this the first trials of future DOCSIS 3.1 technology are also expected to follow in the near future (the latest info. we’ve been given is “sometime in 2016“), which means that within another 18 months we might see another boost. Comcast in the USA is performing a similar upgrade between 2016 and 2018, which will deliver speeds of up to 1Gbps (1000Mbps).

Going forwards Virgin will also need to be mindful of BT’s plan to roll-out 300-500Mbps G.fast broadband to 10 million homes over the next 5-10 years (here, here and here), but the advantage Virgin has is that they can deploy to a larger number of premises and in a significantly shorter period of time (months instead of years).

Gregor McNeil, Managing Director of Consumer at Virgin Media said:

Our message is simple: if you want to be certain that you are signing up to true ultrafast broadband speeds of 100Mbps and above, Vivid from Virgin Media is the new standard.

The speed of a customer’s broadband connection matters; when you have more you can do more.”

Mind you it’s worth remembering that not all of Virgin Media’s customers are able to get even yesterday’s top advertised speeds (a few areas still appear to be oversubscribed) and those that do can sometimes still experience the dreaded “buffering” effect on video streams, which can be caused by all sorts of other complicated network issues (it’s not always related to headline service speeds).

Never the less most of the operator’s customers do appear to get a decent speed and their performance is always ranked well above the other major national providers (most of those are stuck with slower FTTC), while past upgrades have broadly shown that the ISP can deliver the capacity that’s needed to cope with such upgrades.

On the other hand most consumers probably won’t fully utilise even the speeds offered by the operators new entry-level package (70Mbps), let alone 200Mbps, and we wonder if Virgin aren’t also missing a trick by not offering a truly low-cost option to compete with the likes of Sky Broadband, TalkTalk and PlusNet. But then they’ve always prided themselves on being a “premium” service.

At this point it might be worth saying that Virgin Media often follows such boosts by launching a new cable router, which means that a future SuperHub v3 could be just around the corner and we’ve already been given the first hint (here). In the meantime their existing SuperHub 2AC router can still cope.

UPDATE 12:44pm

Good news folks, after initially being told by Virgin Media’s PR team that there would be NO upload speed changes, we’ve now been informed by them that in fact there will be a couple of small increases (see the corrected values above). However it only seems to apply on the 70Mbps and 150Mbps packages, with the new 200Mbps tier remaining on uploads of 12Mbps.

Leave a Comment
49 Responses
  1. Avatar dave says:

    the maximum speed increase is 50% instead of the 100% that we thought that all tiers would get. Disappointing. The upload speeds staying the same is the most disappointing thing though. A 20Mbps tier would dramatically increase virgin’s marketshare as it would temp a huge number of ADSL2+ users to virgin as it would be faster.

    1. Avatar JamesM says:

      If people are stuck on say 8/0.5 then it will anyway – that’s what I had ages ago. It’s what 2.5 max if you have AnnexM anyway

    2. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      At the start of the day Virgin told us there would be no upload speed changes, although the PR team apparently weren’t given all the facts (this is the problem when you focus too much on downloads) and now they’ve come back to say that in fact the uploads will get a boost.. except on the top package:

      · 70Mbps is 5Mbps

      · 150Mbps is 10Mbps

      · 200Mbps is 12 Mbps

  2. Avatar ileikcaek says:

    If it is 12Mb upload on 200Mb download it’s an absolute joke. I am very disappointed that the upgrade isn’t as exciting as many were lead to believe.

    The vivid branding sounds stupid too.

  3. Avatar Roy says:

    As others have said, the pathetic upload speeds totally cripples Virgin broadband. Most people won’t notice a download speed increase from 150 to 200mbps. It’s just marketing fodder.

  4. Avatar Sheep Pimp says:

    I’m glad and sad that the day has come when I’d dissapointed to have a 50Mbps increase (and for free).I work in the ISP industry so I know a lot of people in the country still recieve terrible speeds due to location so wont be moaning about this increase.

    1. Avatar Eosa says:

      Bask in my glorious 0.024mbps download, Sky Broadband Unlimited, Livin’ in the future!

  5. Avatar mrpops2ko says:

    I hate to make the same point again, but I would actually be happy with this if they just scrapped the Traffic Management policy they have. 12mbps could be ok, but when it gets throttled down to 5mbps when you actually use it – well then you have an issue.

    1. Avatar Brandon says:

      VM actually only throttle upload speeds during peak times and do not throttle downloads at all now. The upload thresholds are also higher than many competitors and only really affects the heaviest users (Streamers, Torrentors, etc).

      It is also a little-known fact that if you have a genuine use for high upload limits, such as Twitch / Youtube livestreaming, you can request that Traffic Management is switched off altogether, although this is done on a case-by-case basis and can depend who you have on the phone.

      More info: http://my.virginmedia.com/traffic-management/traffic-management-policy-30Mb-or-higher.html

      ——————————
      I am not affiliated with any organisation, ISP or otherwise, and any advice is as-is and should be taken at your own risk.

    2. Avatar Brandon says:

      Sorry, I read your comment wrong.

      Thought you were talking about the 125Mbps downloads.

    3. Avatar Robin says:

      Hi Brandon, do you have any more info on how to get the Virgin Media traffic management removed from my account?

      I basically asked specifically before I bought the packagae about traffic management, the guy told me that webpage was out of date and would no longer affect me. Tonight I stream some video games to twitch.tv, after 1 hour my speed is cut by 65% and I can no longer stream. I called them up and after a 1 hour call basically they couldn’t find out anything about removing the limits for me. So I’m stumped, I need no limits on my upload since I do livestream and upload to youtube regularly.

      Thanks.

  6. Avatar Gareth says:

    Virgin have no intention of offering the fastest speeds they can. They are simply making sure they stay slightly ahead of BT, so they can keep charging the customer top whack for an outdated product.

    Sky & TalkTalk have just turned on the new fibre network in York and are already offering up to 940Mb!

    1. Avatar dave says:

      bt is supposed to be using vectoring soon which is supposed to bring 100-120Mbps, which would presumably make their lower tier 50-60Mbps i think. I suspect that is why virgin increased their 50mbps tier to 70mbps. The problem is that some of those people are getting 9.5Mbps upload whereas virgin only offer 3Mbps.

    2. Avatar DTMark says:

      Isn’t Virgin’s top upload speed 12 Meg, which is probably about level with VDSL’s average, some will get more, some less..

      Here, the VDSL estimate is 3 to 7 Meg up. It’s miserable – I get 50 Meg up with 4G. Well, between around 37 and 50 Meg. Even at top whack VDSL is still only 20 up, BT’s FTTP only 30 Meg.

      The speed league tables seem to only focus on the downstream, with upstream being the poorer cousin. People who use their phones with social media a lot might well find that disconnecting it from the Wi-Fi at home brings faster upstream speeds when it goes via 4G which is a fairly depressing state of affairs in this day and age of supposed “fibre”.

    3. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      BT has been deploying Vectoring since the late spring, but they’re only doing so very selectively and it’s not being used to push speeds beyond the 80Mbps cap. G.fast is their main focus going forwards.

    4. Avatar Darren says:

      DTMark, what is the usage policy like?

    5. Avatar DTMark says:

      I’m not aware of any “usage policy”. One of the networks, Orange, I think, seems to block SIP connections while T-Mobile doesn’t. Our modem can connect to either of the two networks/cells and I had to put in a workaround to make our “phone line” work.

      Mind you we use a VPN so I wouldn’t know if anything was normally throttled or blocked (the VOIP is directly via the modem so not within the VPN scope)

  7. Avatar John Evans says:

    People complaining about speed upgrades, stop your moaning! I would kill just to have 10mb down never mind upload as I can only get 0.5mb down in my area. If 10mbs up isn’t quick enough I would be worried about what you’re actually uploading.

    1. Avatar Stephen says:

      I second that John!! I would be over the moon if I has 10MB/s anything!
      My speeds max out at 1.6/0.3 and although my home is surrounded by towns with FTTC & 4G, I will probably never receive either. So close yet so far.

    2. Avatar Gordon says:

      What am I uploading that I need the extra speed for? Tons of radio shows. I’m the tech for a couple of radio stations where I edit all the audio and upload it to the server. 168 hours a week of stuff takes a l-o-n-g time to upload at VM’s pathetic speeds. There, you asked !
      Tough if you get bad speeds in your area, I can’t help that. If VM can increase the upload speed then they should do, I can use it happily in my area. Yes, I’ll happily take the “I’m alright Jack” attitude if it suits. I get sick of hearing people moaning how bad their speeds are in poor area as I can do nothing about it.

    3. Avatar Hedges says:

      So using a residential service for non residential use.

    4. Avatar Gordon says:

      @Hedges – no, Community and Hospital radio, voluntary…

    5. Avatar Hedges says:

      But using your own home connection! Does the hospital not have decent internet? Your use IMO is not residential use.

    6. Avatar Gordon says:

      @Hedges – the hospital does have Internet, but we’re not allowed anywhere near it. Perhaps you can do better, asking them to give unfettered access to their precious networks to transfer radio shows and other stuff ? I’ve tried for years and the brick wall gets higher every time.

      VM are happy that I’m not abusing their system, I’ve mentioned the stuff I do plenty of times when trying to get issues resolved. To explain further, I am disabled, I am stuck at home a lot of the time, I do this voluntary ‘work’ because it gives me something to do instead of becoming a vegetable. Sad that you can’t see the good this does, not just for me…

    7. Avatar Clark says:

      168 hours of audio at 320kbps equals less than 5 hours at 12Mbps.

      Or less than 1 hour of uploading per day. Why do you need faster uploads?

    8. Avatar Gordon says:

      @Clark You’re supposing I get those speeds and it’s a consistent upload, it’s more complex than that. I’m on 100/6 at present, going to 150/10 by the end of the year.
      To try and explain fully would be meaningless to anyone who does not know about the way the radio station systems work. It’s very much on the lines of 1) remove last week’s audio for a given hour, 2) upload new file(s), 3) tag and enable for that slot, 4) repeat ad nauseam.
      The stage of uploading the file is the slowest part.
      I’ve used EE Mobile broadband when VM has been down and get 57/20 on 4G at home. My upload time goes from an average of 105 seconds per file to under 40 seconds – big improvement.
      I don’t have capacity via my EE account to upload all the files so would really like VM to extract their digits and get us on to DOCSIS 3.1 instead of these little nibbles at 3.0

    9. Avatar Clark says:

      So you subscribe to a product from a company without the highest upload speed they offer and then you moan about how slow it is? Hmmm OK if you say that is a valid complaint.

  8. Avatar Hedges says:

    Well said John. I would kill for Virgin Media and its consistent performance, stuck here with BT Infinity FTTC with 24Mb download and 7Mb upload. FTTC and Infinity is useless.

    1. Avatar JamesM says:

      Thats a distance from the cab issue nothing more.

    2. Avatar Hedges says:

      Its actually a cable issue, the cabinet is literally right outside the house next door, 10 metres if that. Cable problem confirmed by the half dozen engineers who have tried to fix it. The copper wires up the street are not ducted so can not easily be replaced, there is no spare pairs left either. BT claim the service is working satisfactory and will not replace the cabling (cost obviously). The BT infinity checker must be lying estimates the full 76Mb for my house and has since the service went live. BT Infinity is rubbish nothing more!

    3. Avatar FibreFred says:

      BT Infinity is great, your cable isn’t tho

    4. Avatar DTMark says:

      Two sections of underground cabling in our village look like they’re finally being replaced after more then a dozen engineer visits to two customers over several months.

      That time could have been put to much better use rolling out fibre at least as far as distribution points. You’d think that was what would be done, but I’ll bet it will just be more copper, or copper to replace aluminium and the lines will still be too long for the service to be fast enough to bother with. It’s madness.

    5. Avatar Hedges says:

      Id be happy with something that just works as advertised from BT whatever the cable.

  9. Avatar Chi says:

    I was the on 300MB Download, 20MB Upload trial in Cardiff but today my internet went down and now I’m back to 152 down /12 up.

  10. Avatar DanielM says:

    Requested a cancellation. 40Mb is hardly a massive improvement and lack of upload increase is a bit silly.

    1. Avatar Hedges says:

      ‘Requested a cancellation. 40Mb is hardly a massive improvement and lack of upload increase is a bit silly.’

      40Mb download increase is over a 26% improvement, or close to 1.7 times quicker than what the government deem superfast (24Mb) improvement. id personally call that pretty massive. Whether you want it, require it or not.

      I do agree about the upload though they should had improved that on the top tier, not that its needed but to differentiate it more. Still near to twice the speed of my BT Infinity upload though. Some people just do not know how fortunate they are.

    2. Avatar DanielM says:

      @mrpops2ko

      i am 🙂

    3. Avatar Clark says:

      How can someone request a cancellation if they are not with the ISP concerned in the first place?

  11. 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!

    1. Avatar Gershon Dharmandan says:

      actually… we would like both 😛

  12. Avatar DanielM says:

    leaving them in 29 days but still got an upgrade outta them 😀

    max speed if anyone is interested: http://www.speedtest.net/result/4710561272.png
    Config: http://i.imgur.com/3Usadnh.jpg

  13. Avatar James says:

    Crikey you can barely move for BT v Virgin arguments here. Horses for courses – clearly both have the advantages and disadvantages. For me, BT has consistently underwhelmed and having been with Virgin for just over a year, I am impressed, exceeding the advertised download speed even at peek time and it would be hard to go back. Obviously BT has its place too, not for me but for others. But most importantly if there was no Virgin, or no BT, then the other would probably be rubbish. Healthy competition is good for us as customers and the pro BT lobby should appreciate Virgin for this alone and vice versa the pro Virgin lobby. Seriously though… first world problems…

  14. Avatar Paul J says:

    So I was on the 50/3mbit plan, I upgraded it to the new 70/5 a couple days ago on their website, but so far I’m only getting 50/5. I’m glad my upload is faster anyway.

  15. Avatar dave@vm says:

    The upgrade is FREE with no requirement to start a new n-month contract… SO when do we get STUNG with the catch? There’s always a catch! Will those people who go ahead with the upgrade get stung with a PRICE INCREASE once the upgrades have all been done?

  16. Avatar Gershon Dharmandan says:

    Will we get the upgrade if we buy the package now?
    Im switching from sky, and would like to get free speed….
    Also, is it possible to buy now, for the future?
    Can i buy now, but only use it in Feb?

  17. Avatar Greg says:

    the only down side to virgin media is the throttling of the internet, I use 200megs and if I use more then 3.5GB then I get throttled to 20megs for 5 hours, on a 200meg connection?! in a family of five just from streaming tv the 3.5GB is GONE… then I use yt on my tv as well as netflix, plus others who game and use the net, after 4pm my connection is 99% of the time at 20megs which is horrible

    I would never change isps from virgin media though

  18. Avatar Pete says:

    Hmmm, in Bristol and was told we were getting the 200MB upgrade last month.

    Just been to the VM Website and been told I am suddenly waiting potentially another year or more: –

    “Hold on tight
    Your speed boost is on the way…
    We’ll be in touch between July 2016 and December 2016 to tell you when your speed upgrade is ready.”

    Prices are going up next month though – right on schedule! The letter breaking the bad news about the price rises proudly told me about all the extra benefits I would be getting, which I will probably be getting next year, right in time for the next price rise.

  19. Avatar Blade bla says:

    We are with Virgin and have upgraded 3 weeks ago to 200mbps with a new cable router. I’ve been testing ever since we installed it and we are only getting 50mbps, how does that work!

    Virgin need to get their act together or I will be moving back to BT. Who are really much worse but I hate to be cheated and I feel this is what Virgin does.

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