Tuesday, April 06, 2010

I'm going to leave Virgin Media (and so should you)

I've been with Virgin Media since they were Blue Yonder and then NTL and have consistently upgraded as faster cable connections arrive. I like lots of bandwidth because sometimes I need to download large files quickly but I find that for Skype, iPlayer and the plethora of other bandwidth hungry apps you can never have a big enough pipe.
Several times over the last couple of weeks my connection has slowed to a crawl. This screengrab from my 'phone is typical - unusable for anything other than email or IM. Eventually I called tech support (which is often a painful affair!) to be told that I'd fallen foul of the traffic management cap. All the details are in the title link. Bear in mind I never signed up for this - they introduced it without fanfare last summer and the details are show in the table below;

So let's take the slot between 16:00 and 21:00 - if you pull more than 3.5gigs across your connection you trigger the cap and they slow you for five hours. "Hang on, who downloads three and a half gigs of an evening?" you ask - but it's not the downloads that get you. We're talking about an 18,000 second slot which (do the calculation yourself) means that if you run your connection at two megabits per sec (it's actually a tad less) you fall foul of the cap - ten percent of what you pay for (on my twenty-meg connection) will give them the excuse to slow you down.
So - in a household of teenagers it is by no means unusual for more than one person to be watching the iPlayer (Sarah and I on the TV using the Wii, the boys of their computers) - so that's 2 or 3 x 800kBits per sec, maybe a bit of Skype (around 400 kBits per sec) and add to that a download or two and you've fallen foul - and over recent nights I have every evening!
Part of the problem has been the dodgy DVB-T tuner in my PVR - I've been downloading BBC shows in HD rather than recording them!

Virgin's response is one of fairness - why should some people hog all the bandwidth? The implication is that their network (the only one that is 100% fibre-to-the-cabinets as their adverts remind us) isn't up to delivering the bandwidth we have been sold. This is bogus because when I raised this with them their response was to try and up-sell me to the fifty-meg package which has no restrictions! It's a marketing strategy. I bet when they launch their 100meg connection the fifty meg one will suddenly have limits introduced to 'maintain a fair usage model'.


HeavyLight said...

If you can find a comparable ADSL provider that doesn't restrict traffic at peak times for similar prices to VM, let me know?

Kev King said...

Who will you go to, they all have fair use policies these days???

Phil Crawley said...

Well Simon (other engineer here) uses Be Internet who do a 24 mBit aDSL2 which is entirely un-capped and un-restricted.
I'm going to give them a go. They are just a connection provider - no email or free webspace etc.