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Virgin Media UK to Launch 350Mbps Home Broadband Package UPDATE2

Thursday, February 15th, 2018 (7:36 am) - Score 36,538
virgin media cable network street works

Cable ISP Virgin Media (Liberty Global) has published their latest Q4 2017 (calendar) results, which saw them pledge to introduce a new 350Mbps broadband tier and add 159,000 premises to their UK network coverage. Virgin’s total broadband base also grew by +24K in the quarter to total 5,104,300.

The final three months of 2017 were fairly quiet for Virgin Media, although we did report on some problems with their business service (here) and the decision not to extend their network into Northumberland (here); the latter suggests that they may be adopting a more cautious approach to higher risk deployments.

Meanwhile the operator’s £3bn Project Lighting network expansion, which hopes to reach an additional 4 million premises passed (2 million of these will be via FTTP) by the end of 2019 or 2020, delivered 159,000 new premises passed in Q4 (up from 147K in Q3, 127K in Q2 and 102K in Q1 2017). Once completed this should raise their coverage to around 60% of the UK but progress is continuing to lag behind.

Readers will recall that VM originally projected to reach “up to” 800,000 extra premises during 2017 but in the end they only did 536,000, although this was set before last year’s problems with overstated progress were discovered (here and here). In total some 1.1 million of the 4 million extra premises target have so far been completed but this also includes earlier work from 2015 and 2016.

Today’s update also included a pledge to introduce a new 350Mbps home broadband package from this spring, which is faster than their current top option of 300Mbps. This will come as little surprise to existing subscribers since the ISP appears to have been supplying the service to customers who requested it for quite a few months and businesses have had it for awhile, but at least it keeps them a little bit ahead of Openreach’s new 330Mbps capable G.fast.

Mike Fries, CEO of Liberty Global, said:

“We ended 2017 on a high note, as we delivered our best rebased revenue growth of the year in Q4, along with 4.5% rebased OCF growth for the full year and $1.6 billion of Adjusted Free Cash Flow. These results were driven by solid performances in Germany and the U.K., together with continued cost efficiencies from our Liberty GO program.

Virgin Media, our largest operation, steadily improved throughout 2017 and posted 5% rebased OCF growth in Q4, its best performance of the year. We successfully executed the price increase last November and continued rolling out cutting-edge products like our WiFi Connect and V6 set-top boxes, which we will continue to aggressively deploy in 2018. Early last year, we overhauled Project Lightning and subsequently reported progressively improved new build totals, including the delivery of nearly 160,000 premises in Q4 2017, a quarterly record.”

Separately the operator revealed that they had a total Mobile (EE MVNO) customer base of 3,002,800 (up from 2,975,500 in Q3) and 70% of their broadband base are now on an ultrafast (100Mbps+) capable package. We should also add that Virgin Media has 4,440,100 telephone customers in the UK (usually taken with broadband and TV bundles), which is down from 4,455,800 in Q3.

On the financial front (see results) the operator saw quarterly UK revenues of £1,187.7m (up from £1,137.6m at the same time last year) and their total capital expenditure for Q4 reached £108m (down from £129.4m at the same time last year).

Elsewhere the Gigabit capable DOCSIS 3.1 network upgrade appears to still be on the back burner, although their existing EuroDOCSIS3 network does have enough capacity to deliver a 500Mbps package if they really wanted; we suspect that Project Lightning is now taking more priority. We’ve also long expected to see faster upload speeds but this too has yet to materialise.

Sadly we’re still awaiting news of their long-in-development latency fix for the SuperHub 3.0 router (here), which has yet to surface despite the problem first being identified all the way back in 2016. Not forgetting the official start of their IPv6 rollout that is expected to begin fairly soon.

UPDATE 1:20pm

Thanks to some of our readers for pointing out that a new firmware update for the Hub 3.0 has this week started rolling out that appears to resolve, or at least mask, part of the known latency bug with their router (here). Virgin’s PR team has repeatedly promised to keep us informed about this but they seem to have forgotten to do so.

UPDATE 2:08pm

At this stage it’s unclear whether the new firmware only resolves part of the latency issue, such as with DNS lookups (a big chunk of these are lost with the current bug), which would mean that the spike could still be present in TCP/UDP, albeit hidden from certain tests (ICMP and Ping testing). We are checking with VM. In reality there may be little that Virgin Media can do to completely resolve this.

Leave a Comment
59 Responses
  1. Avatar Rob

    Am I in the future? I’m already on their 350Mbps broadband tier and have been for a couple of weeks.

  2. Avatar Chris P

    Those additional premises are premises passed and not passed and subscribed aren’t they?

  3. Avatar Richard Leslie

    I think before getting too excited about speed, people should be aware of reliability of the signal entering their homes. I was on the Vivid 200 package but was forced away from the company as the connection would drop out almost on a daily basis. Despite numerous engineers’ visits and hub swaps/upgrades, the situation never really improved. There is a longer story here, but that relates to Customer Service.

    When I have used a much slower broadband from connection from Sky through adsl, I experienced absolutely no downtime.

    For me, reliability of the signal is far more important than speed.

    • Avatar Bill

      Sadly enough this is common, if Virgin stepped upto the mark they would at least be a serious competitor to Openreach.

      As is stands the consistency and quality delivered through the OR network is far superior to Virgin’s. Of course Virgin wins on cheap taglines that quote headline speeds.

      Their packages seems good on paper but many do end up switching back to a BT-based service.

    • Avatar DL

      I had quite the opposite experience. I was with Openreach in West London until a couple of years ago. ADSL up to 8mbps. I was wary of cable’s reputation, but when it became clear that my cabinet was never going to be upgraded to VDSL I switched to Virgin. I should have done it long ago. I got 100% of the advertised 100 mbps speed down and 6 up. Also upstream is not affected by downstream usage. Except for one week last year when my session kept dropping then reconnecting I don’t think that I’ve ever noticed a single disconnection or variation in speed. This year they doubled my speeds for free. OpenReach still have no plans to upgrade their cabinet that used to serve me. Let me guess: not enough demand in W11 so it’s uneconomical. What a joke. (Waits for comment from BT employee stating that I ought to have given OR thousands of pounds to fund a community cabinet.)

    • Avatar Simon

      indeed download is not affected by upload either.

  4. Avatar fed up virgin customer

    Interesting as well as their new Hub has an unaddressed issue in that it does not support the Bonjour Protocol, therefore Airprint doesn’t work, end result a lot of Apple users cannot stream media or more importantly print without an additional router.

    • Avatar rtho782

      Conversely, Apple like to use obscure protocols rather than industry standards and expect everyone else to support them.

    • Had all sorts of problems with Bonjour screwing up my DHCP / IP settings on Windows in the recent past, it’s the first thing I uninstall after occasionally helping my wife to backup her phone.

    • Avatar Mike

      “…their new Hub has an unaddressed issue in that it does not support the Bonjour Protocol”

      Neither do many routers on the open market, nor many network capable printers ive come across. If you have that much of an Apple crack addiction go buy a Airport extreme and use that as your router and run ANY ISP device in modem only mode. Change your name while you are at it also to “fed up Apple user” as its their weirdo devices aimed to apply to hipsters rather than working like everything else does.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      Never understood why Apple stores have so many people looking at things in them.

    • Avatar Mike

      Key word in that i suppose is “looking”.

  5. Avatar James

    100 is more plenty for most. I just wish they’d up the upload speed.

    • Avatar Phil

      Here here, the upload speeds are supposed to be sequentialy the same as downloads once DOCSIS 3.1 gets put through.

    • Avatar Carl Thomas

      DOCSIS 3.1 will do nothing for upload speeds. It’ll be released on downstream only initially. Think you’re thinking of full-duplex DOCSIS, a somewhat different thing.

  6. Avatar Tim

    Bit of a joke reading this. I have just moved into a new property only to find no Virgin. They should look to cable new developments first. Now I have go back to boring BT.

  7. Avatar Ryan Arbuckle

    I’ve been on VIVID350 for a month or more now

    http://www.speedtest.net/result/6926756406.png

  8. Avatar Ryan Arbuckle

    Oh and my SH3 had a firmware update 2 days ago, which resolved the latency…

    Firmware: 9.1.116.603

    https://www.thinkbroadband.com/broadband/monitoring/quality/share/9c206c44037f286b7f42c83d8bd04fec

    (Ignore the red, i had the hub off)

  9. Avatar mike

    It’s really great. They provision it at 400Mbps and I get speeds of around 380-390Mbps.

  10. Avatar Mark

    Been on Vivid 100Mbps for over a year, then in July last year something happened…

    http://www.speedtest.net/result/6465104407.png

  11. Avatar Tony

    I was on vivid 100 and most of the time went for a coffee while the page downloaded or the tv froze due to slow speed. Called virgin and was told the problem lies in the fact that I plugged it into the wall socket and there is nothing they could do. Tech support is a joke as the guy did not realise that electrical equipment needed to be plugged in. Would suggest sorting out current issues before increasing speeds that virgin cannot deliver

  12. Avatar Vaughan Starkey

    It would be nice to get more than the 100 Mbs I get on my 200Mbps package!

  13. Avatar Marguerite Robertson

    I had wanted to change over to Virgin about 3 years ago but it was not available on my Side of the Close. I spoke to someone about it and was basically told that they (Virgin) wouldn’t pay to to dig up about 15ft of road!! Still not here!! How long do we have to wait??

  14. Avatar Stuart Gibbons

    VM still doesn’t even exist where I live, never mind 300 speeds.

  15. Avatar Andre Sinclair

    I wish Virgin would concentrate on supplying there existing 200mb customers with the speed they are charged for.
    I’m on 200mb but often only get about 15 or 20 me.
    And there latest router has very poor wifi

  16. Avatar Anthony Young

    Funny how they want to offer 350mbs when I pay for 200 mbs and get 15mbs. only get excuses when I call them !. Be nice if they could make what they offer work before they start offering more I think.

  17. Avatar Virgin is Crap

    Whatever speeds they provide it will still be a shit service with even worse customer support.

  18. Avatar Mario

    Can confirm, the firmware update solves the latency spikes!
    In the graph we can the before and after the update which happened around 2am last night!

    https://www.thinkbroadband.com/broadband/monitoring/quality/share/2c200af1f0c827a22ff22d252550fdb7bbe7f18b-15-02-2018

  19. Avatar Andy

    While in Plymouth Devon a Virgin representative said are you a Virgin customer. I said no I live in Cornwall and asked if Virgin would be coming to Cornwall. I was told no as there are not enough people in Cornwall. Obviously Virgin have not done their homework. Come on Virgin pull your finger out

  20. Avatar Mike

    Funny those that state slow speeds do not post test to prove it but those with great speeds do.

    • Avatar John

      Easy to fake a bad test.

    • Avatar Mike

      I doubt any of them are even with VM, so not so easy to speedtest.net fake that. Unless they are so sad they are going to steal others speed tests posted elsewhere and try to claim its their own.

    • Avatar John

      Of course their not, I bet all the people on VMs forum posting speedtests of congestion aren’t either.

      Haha, some sado accused me of posting someone elses speedtest on here once, they went to the trouble of reporting it to admin who deleted my comment with despite having no proof. I then proved it was mine. Some people can be so pathetic.

    • Avatar Mike

      Congestion has nothing to do with the news item.

  21. Avatar Beverley Lee

    Does that my speed of broadband will upon mine

  22. Will my broadband speed group go up to could you please let me know

  23. Avatar Warren

    I’m a Virgin custoner. I had 250 mbps now switched to 100 as contract expiredeals and price shot up. Recently in York Talk Talk have been fitting UFO cables and that is 1000mpbs. As soon as they have finished installation I going to try that. Only £21.70 a month too.

  24. Avatar Vince

    Virgin have been offering the enhanced speed for a while if you’re already on Vivid 300 – at least in my area.

    http://www.speedtest.net/my-result/d/35135680

    Essentially Vivid 350 will replace Vivid 300.

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