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Broadband ISP Virgin Media UK Trial 2Gbps Plan with 200Mbps Upload

Tuesday, Nov 21st, 2023 (8:49 am) - Score 9,360
virgin_media_gigabits_van

UK ISP Virgin Media (VMO2) appears to be conducting yet another trial of 2Gbps download speeds (we make this their 4th or 5th in so many years), but this time around they’ve managed to ramp the upload speed back up to 200Mbps. But so far as we can tell, this is currently only being tested on some of their latest XGS-PON lines.

Just to recap. Virgin Media are currently in the process of upgrading millions of their legacy Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC / DOCSIS 3.1) powered lines to support the latest Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP / XGS-PON) technology, which is a programme they’re aiming to complete by 2028. On top of that, they’re also rolling out FTTP to an additional 5-7 million premises – via nexfibre – using the same technology.

NOTE: Both VMO2’s HFC and FTTP networks are technically capable of 10Gbps speeds, but only the latest XGS-PON side can deliver symmetric performance (i.e. faster upload speeds on HFC are still a challenge).

Over the past few years’ we’ve seen Virgin Media conduct a number of 2Gbps speed trials (usually at a profile rate of c.2.2Gbps) and they’re widely expected to introduce a package at this, or a faster rate, in the near future. But one aspect that does tend to change is their upload speeds. The original 2Gbps trial in 2020 (here) was, until now, the only one to ever test an upload rate of 214Mbps, while those that followed tended to use 50-100Mbps (104Mbps is the current rate on their 1Gbps package).

The reality is that pushing 200Mbps uploads across their older HFC network, while possible, would still be quite challenging to do today and hence why the latest trial in Scarborough (and possibly other locations) seems – so far as we can tell from the feedback on our forum (here) and elsewhere – to have only been conducted with those covered by their new XGS-PON network.

The 200Mbps upload rate is also in keeping with Virgin’s desire to deliver a 10:1 ratio of download to upload performance. Customers on the trial, which previously delivered a slower speed, have also been informed that, as well as being boosted up to 2Gbps/200Mbps, they’ll also be able to continue using the speed for free until 15th March 2024. A nice little Christmas present. Credits to Martyn for the spot.

Copy of Virgin’s Speed Upgrade Letter to Trialists

VMO2-2Gbps-Trial-Letter

A spokesperson for VMO2 confirmed the move and told ISPreview: “We’re always testing and investing in exciting new features for our customers, and our trials play an important role in ensuring we continue to provide the ultrafast gigabit speeds our customers rely on.”

UPDATE 10:16am

Added a statement from VMO2 above.

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Mark-Jackson
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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
23 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Matt says:

    I wonder what the justification is for having asymmetric speeds on an XGS link is. I know that there’s the openreach competition argument or staying broadly aligned to the DOCSIS packages but it doesn’t seem much of a differentiator.

    1. Avatar photo Anon says:

      Money.

    2. Avatar photo NE555 says:

      1. Business reasons: VM have a large and profitable leased line business which they don’t want to undercut.
      2. Traffic management issues. In short, it’s much less risky for the ISP to offer a consumer unlimited 2000/200 service than an unlimited 2000/2000 service.

      Downloads tend to be self-regulating: there’s only so much content you can watch, or games you can download and play in a day, so higher download speeds generally mean the same amount of data downloaded in a shorter amount of time.

      However, bulk uploaders (especially those doing peer-to-peer filesharing) can fill whatever upload bandwidth you give them 24×7 – generating more traffic than the price they pay covers, wrecking the business model for a low-cost home service.

      Hence it’s down to which the market finds more palatable: data caps, or upload speed limits? And it turns out that most people are scared of data caps.

      If you really need to send 2Gbps 24×7, then you buy a leased line. If you want a cheap home service but only want to send *bursts* of traffic at 2Gbps, then do it the background and spread the uploads over a ten-times larger time period.

      Some smaller ISPs (e.g. Cityfibre-based ones) are happy to accept the risk of abusers on their network with symmetric uploads, because they are so desperate for every fraction of a percentage point of market share. Openreach and Virgin are not.

    3. Avatar photo mike says:

      3: They don’t want to have the marketing complexity of a two-tier network. It’s likely they’ll limit speeds in FTTP areas until most of their network is FTTP.

  2. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

    Whose to say they won’t do it in the near future, but I think this piece from earlier in the year may help to set some of the context for their decision-making:

    https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2023/04/virgin-media-uks-xgs-pon-full-fibre-upgrade-to-go-live-later-in-2023.html

    Issues of network capacity are another concern.

  3. Avatar photo anonymous says:

    If you have an ALTNET in your area offering symmetric speeds, chances are they are probably cheaper than VM, don’t do ridiculous price increases every year, have better customer service, so I know which one I would choose. I don’t see they are doing themselves any favours by not being symmetric in XGS-PON areas. People realising cloud uploads are much faster on symmetric services and allows other things like off site backups a reality.

    1. Avatar photo Cognizant says:

      And what if you only had VM as a full fibre choice?

    2. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      So my comment started “If you have an ALTNET in your area offering symmetric speeds”. If you don’t then its VM (whether VM or eventually a wholesale provider on NexFibre) or FTTC/ADSL/4G/5G, depending on what is available.

    3. Avatar photo I love Starlink says:

      @Anonymous

      I wish! ALtnet nope, Virgin, nope, well sort of. Goes past my street does not actually go down it.

      Lucky sods!

  4. Avatar photo lol@virginmedia says:

    200mbit ahahaha.

    1. Avatar photo Anon says:

      Bankruptcy. Hahaha

  5. Avatar photo Roger_Gooner says:

    As Mark says this is not the first 2Gbps trial and several of VM’s trials never made it into commercial use, but in this case I think it’s a prelude to a rollout as XGS-PON gets ever bigger due to both project Mustang and nexfibre (with Upp’s network due to be integrated into VM’s in 2024). There won’t be 2Gbps on the legacy DOCSIS networks as VM is flat out working to migrate them to XGS-PON.

    1. Avatar photo FibreEng says:

      Flat out where exactly?

      In areas that are feasible and easy overlays? Not heard much about mustang since it was announced.

    2. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Project Mustang is getting close to having upgraded about 1.5 to 2 million premises, and most of that was during 2023 in the ramping-up year. It is a VERY active programme right now, with a huge amount of activity. But it’s also one of those things that you generally won’t hear much about on the PR front (upgrades aren’t as sexy to talk about as new build areas, until they result in new products).

    3. Avatar photo GG says:

      Lots of new cabinettes around here (Hemel 31) and signs they are being wired up. Some new boxes on the OR poles too.
      Hoping the pullback of F&W won’t mean VM ease off though. VM have a near monopoly around here for people who can get them, if they get a move on the alts will have a hard time competing other than on price.

  6. Avatar photo I love Starlink says:

    Nice to see it finally got out there. It’s been public knowledge for over a week.

    Good article to read thanks

  7. Avatar photo charlieh says:

    I would rather have 60mbit DSL than megagigabits from Virgin. Not an exaggeration.

    1. Avatar photo Thief says:

      I did!

      I switched to FTTC ~70 Mbps down ~20 Mbps up from Virgin 100 years ago when Openreach enabled FTTC in my area because I’d had enough if Virgin.

      I kept it through Virgin offering Gigabit, while I was still on 70 Mbps FTTC.

      My area has just been enabled for Openreach FTTP and an altnet, so I can finally have any speed I like without Virgin being involved.

      “Ding dong the witch is dead”.

    2. Avatar photo Thief says:

      That should be “Virgin 100 Mbps, years ago” not “Virgin 100 years ago” haha

  8. Avatar photo Anon says:

    All this talk about 2GBPS. Tell me, why can’t Virgin fix their horrible Packet Loss/ Bursts?!?! I know people on 1Gbps still getting shafted by their inconsistent lines.

  9. Avatar photo Winston Smith says:

    Ou of interest, does anyone know if the previous HFC trial with the 200 Mbps upload was entirely DOCSIS 3.1 in the trial area (i.e. no DOCSIS 3.0 bands for customers not taking part). Did VM have to give everyone in the trial area a new router?

    1. Avatar photo XGS says:

      It wasn’t, no. Believe it was conducted on mid-split network so room for 3.0 and 3.1.

      https://broadbandlibrary.com/mid-split-high-split/

  10. Avatar photo Haleemyay says:

    Joke company . They can’t even do symmetrical speeds. But hungry for money overpriced trash

Comments are closed

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