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New Virgin Media UK Trial Hits 2.2Gbps Broadband Speed AGAIN

Tuesday, April 20th, 2021 (10:05 am) - Score 16,320
virgin media fttp cabinet engineers team

Broadband ISP Virgin Media (Liberty Global) appears to have expanded last year’s DOCSIS 3.1 based trial, which took place in the Berkshire town of Thatcham (here) and pushed their network to “hyperfast” download speeds of up to 2.2Gbps (214Mbps upload), to include parts of Southampton (Hampshire) and Manchester.

At present the fastest speed you can get on the DOCSIS 3.1 side of their network is 1Gbps (average of 1,130Mbps download and c.50Mbps upload), which applies to both their Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) and Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) powered lines. The ongoing upgrade plan means that this should become available to all the 15 million+ premises covered by their UK network by the end of 2021 (here) – at present it reaches 7 million.

NOTE: D3.1 improves performance by utilising enhancements like Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM), which can encode data by using multiple carrier frequencies, and boosting the amount of radio spectrum up to 200MHz. This also supports other enhancements like Distributed Access Architecture / Remote Phy (R-PHY) – here and here.

However, the D3.1 standard they use is theoretically capable of achieving peak downstream speeds of up to 10Gbps and 2Gbps upload, which means that Virgin Media has scope to push beyond 1Gbps in the future to help keep pace with rivals. The previous trial in Thatcham was a useful way of demonstrating that, and for the first time they also applied D3.1 to their upstream channels, which pushed upload performance to 214Mbps.

As we understand it the expanded Proof of Concept (PoC) trial that has just taken place in Southampton and Manchester, which is very similar to the previous one, has actually dropped back to use the current upload speed of c.50Mbps – via the older EuroDOCSIS 3.0 standard.

At the time of writing we aren’t entirely sure why they’ve done this, but it could be an indication that they may launch a 2Gbps download tier before the upstream side is fully ready to be boosted (nothing in this trial required additional infrastructure or civil engineering works).

Jeanie York, Virgin Media’s Chief Technology and Information Officer, said:

“We invest more than £1 billion into our network every year to deliver leading connectivity today, but our talented teams never stop pushing forward to ensure we’re ready to power our customers’ connectivity needs for whatever comes next.

Our services are being relied on and used more than ever before, and these innovative trials in Manchester and Southampton demonstrate how Virgin Media’s existing network is fit for the future with hyperfast, multi-gigabit broadband speeds delivered straight to customer homes.”

As before the operator also used their latest HUB 4.0 (TG3492LG-VMB / Gigabit Connect Box) router for the trial and you can see the specification for that at the bottom of this article. The HUB 4.0 is VM’s only router with DOCSIS 3.1 support, although they have made the device available on some slower packages in certain areas and to help tackle issues of high utilisation

One slight bugbear here is that the HUB 4.0 only has 1Gbps capable LAN ports, although you can of course still harness a speed of 2.2Gbps by using multiple WiFi and LAN ports. But we’d still hope that any future 2Gbps tier will ship with a more capable router (it may not).

As fun as all this sounds, it’s worth remembering that those with a 1Gbps capable line will already struggle to make use of such speeds and pumping that up to 2Gbps+ won’t make that any easier. On the other hand, as gigabit-capable lines become more common, then so too will multi-gigabit broadband packages and, eventually, even services that can harness that sort of speed. But right now, this may be more about marketing than practical use.

Being able to make such speeds available across a network of over 15 million premises (capacity allowing) will no doubt help to keep even their older HFC networks competitive for some years to come. We expect to see a 2Gbps package to launch in the future, albeit after the D3.1 deployment has completed.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
52 Responses
  1. rbb says:

    I know multi gigabit download speeds are useful in the long term but I wished virgin would prioritise IPv6 and higher upload speeds first

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      The reality is that IPv6 isn’t something that most consumers will be demanding (it’s one of those seamless parts of connectivity that often get overlooked), while the vast majority of their consumers are more interested in download speed. Sadly they also need to finish quite a big project before the switch on faster uploads can be flicked, but it is coming.. eventually.

    2. CarlT says:

      Upload speeds are more expensive and difficult to deliver via cable. However as they build out their DCCAP/DAA network – https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2021/04/virgin-media-uk-trial-telestes-distributed-access-architecture.html – alongside upgrading the amplifiers and ONTs, which on newer kit is a case of replacing a single component, they can go to high split.

      The current networks vary from 5-50 MHz upstream, 86-750 MHz downstream to 5-85 MHz upstream, 108-1218 MHz downstream, with upstream ranges from 5-65 and 5-85 MHz and downstream ranges from 86-860 to 108-1002 MHz.

      Networks that are newly built can be moved to 5-204 MHz upstream, 258-1218 MHz downstream with the change of a filter though this presents problems.

      Using the full 5-85 MHz mid-split allows 4 x SC-QAM / DoCSIS 3.0 upstreams, then a 32 MHz OFDMA DoCSIS 3.1 band which should be more than enough to allow sale of 100 Mb upstream.

      Going right up to 204 MHz upstream is tricky, requires no ‘legacy’ set top boxes and filters to be placed to prevent upstream from the DoCSIS 3.1 modem hitting the 3.0 set top boxes, but it’s doable and gives enough bandwidth for 500 – 1000 Mbit/s upload speeds on top, expensive, tiers.

    3. Ben says:

      > The reality is that IPv6 isn’t something that most consumers will be demanding

      Yet. Although Google now sees more than 50% of requests from Belgium and Germany arrive over IPv6 (see https://www.google.com/intl/en/ipv6/statistics.html). India is up to 56%! IMO it’s only a matter of time before someone launches a game or some other application which relies on peer-to-peer connectivity over IPv6, and then IPv4-only ISPs will be forced to acknowledge that they don’t provide access to a significant portion of the internet.

    4. Mr W says:

      High speed broadband is all well and good but I only wish is the virgin broadband we have in Witney oxfordshire wouldn’t keep dropping out all the time!

  2. Billy Nomates says:

    The hub 4 also has 4 x 1Gbit ethernet ports, perhaps they could do a LAG ?

    Can’t say I like the hub 4 to be honest. I’ve got a dirty great attenuator on the back of mine, and I used to keep it up on a shelf but it falls over now due to the cable + attenuator. It now has to sit on my desk taking up desk space.

    1. JP says:

      Could move the attenuator up line!

    2. dark jaguar says:

      I also fund that the Hub 4 gets very hot as well and the WiFi connection is very unstable (5ghz) but then again I probably have so much interference in my home with a wireless soundbar with wireless rear speakers and a Bluetooth connected dyson fan and also Bluetooth controller for ps4/ps5.

      The only channel that seems to be the least interfering is channel 36 for me.

    3. Blueyonderer says:

      Link aggregation does work but needs to be Round Robin style, rather than static LAG if I understand things correctly. Usually, only business class routers carry this feature. I get the full 1.1Gbps download speed using this method. Since all four LAN ports are aggregated, theoretically this could provide up to 4Gbps but I’d hope a new hub with multigig LAN ports would be available if/when speeds ever get to this level.

    4. mike says:

      It does have a hidden LAG feature that’s enabled in modem mode. Quite a few people use it to squeeze out extra speed since the Gig1 service is actually provisioned at over 1Gbps

  3. Ig Og says:

    Yet a change of email address completely destroys their entire system.

  4. Diane Radley says:

    I had an engineer out just over a month ago and the engineer said that we had a problem with the WiFi in in our house after I had been on the phone for over a month talking to a representative where I was getting different answers from different people but finally I got through to one that understud that we was having trouble with our WiFi and was going to sent the said engener out witch he check our equipment and found that we was having trouble getting WiFi in the house even though we have WiFi busters but still can’t get it upstairs where the engineer said that we should have one of the new busters that virgin are doing boster pods and he said he was going to write a report and submit it but we are still having trouble with our WiFi and still not heard oat from virgin yet about it

    1. Sabtain says:

      Their pods and superpods go out of stock within minutes I doubt you’ll get one soon

    2. Stephen says:

      I think you mean boosters? And they’re terrible. You want to get yourself a decent mesh wifi kit, invest the money (~£150) and you won’t regret it. Virgin’s own equipment is awful.

    3. New_Londoner says:

      @Diane
      I gave up on your post as the lack of any punctuation made it unintelligible to me.

    4. André says:

      @New_Londoner Yes, maybe I’m just getting old and grumpy but I too eventually gave up.

    5. Practice your spelling says:

      Please write a report. Please.. post a picture of it here when you do. We want to see how illiterate you are in the too.. go back to school..

    6. John Travell says:

      Concur about scrappy WiFi, I only have a hub3, and while wired broadband is rock solid with very little downtime, the WiFi is very unreliable. My solution was (is) a TPlink RE651, used as an access point rather than a range extender. I have it cabled directly to the hub3, with virgin WiFi disabled. I now have strong WiFi throughout the house, even through 2 brick walls.

  5. boost says:

    Will D3.1 finally see Virgin’s E2E latency come down to FTTC levels?

    1. Aitch says:

      I hope so! I really hope this upstream 3.1 doesn’t take an age!

    2. CarlT says:

      Probably not.

    3. Aitch says:

      @CarIT

      If you wouldn’t mind explaining, please.

  6. Anna says:

    Will they finish the current upgrades first?

    1. CarlT says:

      First before what? The same network upgrades that’ll allow for gig service in some areas will enable this.

  7. Ben says:

    What’s the point of 2.2Gb speeds with a hub which has poor WiFi and only gigabit ethernet? This feels very much like “my number is bigger than yours”.

    1. Aitch says:

      My number is bigger than yours

    2. Mark says:

      I have to agree, I run a pfsense box and have the current HUB3 in modem mode with the HUB 4 still having gibabit ports seems to make anything over gigabit pointless without LAGG.

      I would much rather have a higher gigabit upload speed since more and more things are running in the cloud upload is becoming just as important.

      I’ve currently got cityfibre and openreach laying GPON full fibre in my area so will be switching over to cityfibre once that goes live for the symmetrical speed.

    3. Buggerlugz says:

      That’s exactly what it is.

  8. Adam says:

    It’s a shame UK ISPS do not utilise Cloudflare to provide the DNS backbone, I hate being stuck on my ISPS DNS servers, especially virgins.

    1. Aitch says:

      You don’t have to use their DNS at all. There’s nothing stopping you from going into their configuration and changing it to 1.1.1.1 or Google.

    2. GNewton says:

      You can use different DNS servers, you are not bound to using the ISP’s ones.

      As regards Cloudflare: We usually advise users to stay away from their services, it tends to slow down things, especially for web servers, contrary to what they claim as a CDN.

    3. mike says:

      So why don’t you just use Cloudflare’s DNS servers if you’re so fond of them? You’re not forced to use your ISP’s.

  9. anonymous says:

    The latency improvement that people refer to isn’t just DOCSIS 3.1. It’s removal of their analogue network monitoring entry point (PhyRE) and the CMTS needs a firmware patch doing that helps latency (low latency DOCSIS).

    https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2020/07/virgin-media-start-uk-rollout-of-remote-phy-to-improve-network.html

    https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2019/06/docsis-3-1-tweak-bringing-ultra-low-latency-to-cable-broadband.html

    1. CarlT says:

      What’s PhyRE?

  10. Declan M says:

    Gawn the virgin media

  11. Arbortheus says:

    Polishing a turd

  12. Ferrocene Cloud says:

    Good in the sense it piles on pressure for Openreach / City Fibre etc. to continue upping the offerings, and general competition and tech progression.

    Bit of a waste of time in the sense it would be very difficult for anyone to make much use out of it without a new CPE which has at least 2.5Gbps ports. I can also see this product causing a lot of problems for their support team with people “only” getting 1Gbps due to NICs, even if they do provide a new CPE with 2.5 gig ports.

    Still, progress!

  13. Ben says:

    Positive news. As others have said, I’d more appreciate better upload speeds and IPv6 though. My PC (with a brand new X570 Ryzen motherboard) can’t even do higher than 1gbps so unless I bothered to get a new network card, it’d be pretty lost on me!

    1. Jordan says:

      Wow thats bad, i have a b550 mai tomahawk motherboard which came with 2.5GBE and 1GB port. A 570 board should have 2.5 and 1gb too?!

    2. Jordan says:

      MSI*

    3. SimonR says:

      You *could* have multiple devices combined to use more traffic though.

  14. David says:

    Why not City of Wakefield?
    12Mbps, nowhere near 100MBPS let alone 2Gb.

  15. virgin rubbish says:

    YAWN

  16. Dave says:

    Really wish they’d do something to address the disparity in upload speeds, would much rather have a symmetrical 500mb than this.

    1. CarlT says:

      They are but needs far more work than doubling download speed.

  17. Dave says:

    Wow! Woopee! All this futuristic gear. Yet they cant update a faulty TIVO Box. This matters to the small guy far more than all this razamataz. ☹☹

  18. Simon Cordt says:

    Pmsl but what is the upload 60m? Because that’s all they will give you I personally have a 550m connection with a 37m upload absolute garbage.

    1. AQX says:

      Don’t use it then, go elsewhere.

    2. JP says:

      Yet you’ll keep paying them so what you expect them to do.

  19. Simon O'Rourke says:

    I just wish we had a similar cable provider like Orange (France) in the UK. Orange in France is offering customers 2gb download and 600mbps upload. Their upload speed is the same as my fastest download speed here!! Oh and their prices are cheaper as well in France.

  20. clic aqui says:

    El poliéster es una fibra sintética ampliamente usada en la industria textil. Se le suele presentar como una contraparte del algodón, que es una fibra natural reconocida por su capacidad de absorción y transpirabilidad. Pero en realidad, el poliéster tiene una cantidad de beneficios que son poco reconocidos por los usuarios.

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