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By: MarkJ - 30 September, 2010 (12:18 PM)
free virgin media uk broadband upload speed boostCable giant Virgin Media UK has announced that it is boosting the internet upload speeds on all of its broadband ISP packages for FREE and introducing "smart" Traffic Management restrictions during peak times.

The biggest increase in speed will be seen by customers of VM's leading 50Mbps package, which currently offers upload speeds of up to just 1.5Mbps. Related customers will now be given more than three times that speed, pushing up to 5Mbps!

virgin_media_uk_broadband_upload_speed_2010.gif

The move is being seen by some as an attempt to keep up with the 10Mbps upload performance offered by FTTC on BT based ISP packages. It will also allow VM to overtake O2 ( Be Broadband ) in the upload performance stakes; O2's ADSL2+ upstream performance has traditionally come first in many speedtests.

Jon James, Executive Director of Broadband at Virgin Media, said:

"We’re once again pushing the boundaries of UK broadband with a true next generation broadband service that vastly outperforms struggling DSL-based services. With the huge growth in social networks these new upload speeds will help Virgin Media customers share their most precious moments and keep up with what friends and families are up to, whether it’s uploading to YouTube or even hosting a live videochat to show off baby’s first steps in high-definition."

However the advent of an updated Traffic Management system, which currently restricts broadband speed once you have exceeded a certain usage allowance quota (depending on the time of day and package), could be greeted with more suspicion.

VM claims that the new "smart" system has been designed to adapt to network conditions (i.e. heavy peak time network load) and ensure that normal surfing, including video streams from YouTube and BBC iPlayer, remain unaffected by P2P (i.e. Limewire, Gnutella, BitTorrent) and Newsgroup (Usenet) services. In other words, P2P will be slowed.

The system will reserve at least 75% of network resources for time-sensitive traffic, adjusting dynamically to overall network usage to ensure consistent performance for more customers. In compensation Virgin Media has also increased its peak time allowances for data transfer.
Virgin Media Traffic Management Policy
http://shop.virginmedia.com/help/traffic-management.html
Most of the big ISPs already restrict traffic to P2P at peak times. However Virgin Media will need to be careful and must make exceptions for applications that use P2P as part of their critical service.

For example, many online games (XBox Live, Steam, World of Warcraft etc.) make use of P2P and any restrictions on these can make those services and platforms unusable. However most P2P restricting UK ISPs do recognise this and make allowances in their filters.

As a side note, customers on Virgin Media's 50Mbps package will now also find their P2P traffic restricted. In addition, during peak (10am – 3pm and 4pm – 9pm) times, Virgin will slow the new 5Mbps upload speeds down to 1.75Mbps, if your upload usage is particularly high. Sneaky.

UPDATE 3:06pm

Virgin Media has informed us that the new limits will only impact p2p networks, not applications that use p2p principles (i.e. WoW, Steam and XBox Live should be fine). The cable operator added that its goal is to reserve 75% for video traffic, thus typically a customer might see a speed drop of about 50% on P2P transfers.
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