After promising to increase upload speeds earlier this year, UK based Virgin Media has started rolling out the upgrade with Enfield, Huddersfield, Sutton Coldfield and Warwick being the first to see improvements. Upload speeds now start at “Up to 1Mb/s” for the 10Mb service, “Up to 2Mb/2″ with the 20Mb service, and 50Mb customers receive “Up to 5Mb/s”. All speeds are subject to the usual fair use restrictions, with 50Mb customers throttled to 1.75Mb/s for five hours if they hit 6000MB of uploads between 3-8pm. Even at the throttled speed this is a small improvement over the old upload limit of 1.5Mb/s.
A very nice upgrade for it’s customers, I still wish Virgin would set themselves apart from the market standard of “unlimited” broadband that really isn’t.
Details of the trials have been leaking out for a while, and today Virgin Media has launched their 50Mb Cable broadband service. Priced at £35 a month with a Virgin phone line or £51 a month without it’s not cheap, and I haven’t been able to find any mention of speed caps on the web site. It’s hard to believe there aren’t any speed limits during peak hours when the 20Mb service was capped so heavily (down to 5Mb after 3 Gb) but maybe that’s what you pay for. The new service comes with a rather nice wireless N router, although you have to pay a £50 service activation fee so it’s not exactly free.
The most interesting part of this service is the 1.5Mb upload speed. I’ve written about backups on Mac’s and Hackintosh’s several times and the one thing that stops me using online backup services is the pathetic 768kb upload speed of my 20Mb broadband service. Not really an issue at the moment though as I’m not interested in paying more to Virgin Media, and their web site says the 50Mb service isn’t available at my address.
Increase your ADSL speed with the BT iPlate
For those suffering slow broadband speeds over an ADSL connection help may be at hand. The BT iPlate replaces your master phone socket and filters out electrical noise caused by other appliances in your home.
Microsoft and Washington Attorney General target scareware
Fed up with those popup windows warning that your computer is infected/corrupted and only by buying a piece of software can your computer be saved? So is Microsoft and it’s doing something about the problem.
Nintendo reveals the new DSi
Larger screens, two cameras, SD memory support and an MP3 player are some of the features of Nintendo’s latest handheld.
Apple threatens to close the iTunes music store over increased royalty rates
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Seagate Freeagent for Mac reviewed
And it’s not brown.
Apple readying more Snow Leopard Beta’s
Hopefully coming to a Bittorrent server soon. Now the developer focus on the iPhone is dropping off Apple is pushing ahead with Snow Leopard beta releases for developers.
Engineering Windows 7: Managing Windows windows
A lot of though is going into Windows 7, hopefully the engineering teams will have more say than the marketing team on what ends up in the final release.
This one’s getting more convoluted than any soap opera. News broke recently that Virgin Media has done a deal with the BPI and will send warning letter to any of its customers that the BPI accuse of illegal file sharing. It appears that Virgin Media are now trying to backtrack on this, and have told the BBC that there is ‘absolutely no possibility’ of banning internet users or taking legal action. This is despite 800 users receiving letters from Virgin Media in the past month that are in envelopes labelled ‘Important. If you don’t read this, your broadband could be disconnected’. So no chance of sending conflicting messages. Read more…
The new system was proposed a while back, but the American Federal Communications Commission has now adopted its new definitions of Broadband speeds. Anything under 768 Kbps is now refered to as First Generation data, with Basic Broadband covering 768 Kbps to 1.5 Mbps, and several band above this.
This is just what the UK needs, so ISP’s can be brought to task for offering connections that perform at less than promised levels. Is there much chance of this happening?
If you listen to many ISP’s recently the future of the internet is pretty bleak. ‘Selfish’ p2p users are slowing the service for everyone else, and superfast 20Mbit connections with ‘no boring download limits’ are really hamstrung by speed caps. On top of the virus, spyware and trojan threat the internet might soon just fall over under the ever increasing traffic of Youtube and the countless other video services being unleashed each day.
To get a more honest opinion read the article posted at Ars Technica a couple of days ago. It makes a pleasant change to read an informed and intelligent assessment of what is really happening to internet traffic levels. The summary is that the internet is doing quite well and coping through ongoing upgrades and improvements, but the last mile connections to our homes are in need of upgrading. Our ISP’s control this part of the chain and they don’t seem too keen to spend the money to drag us into the 21st century. When legal video streaming is looking more like the next big thing it’s not going to be a case of if we all need high speed internet, but when.
The American Federal Communications Commission is in the process of redefining what it considers to be ‘broadband’ speeds, to aid tracking the availability of internet access across the USA. Data rates are to be divide into five categories:
- 200Kbps to 768Kbps – first generation data
- 768Kbps to 1.5Mbps – basic broadband
- 1.5Mbps to 3Mbps
- 3Mbps to 6Mbps
- 6Mbps and above
The first of these categories is the interesting one, as anything under 768Kbps will no longer be classed as broadband. Would this mean someone paying for a 2Mbit ADSL connection but getting less than 768Kbit would not be getting what they paid for? I can only hope we get some similar classification in the UK, even if current 50Mbit trials would make the categories already redundant.
Read the full story at Cnet news.com
I struggled to decide what title to use for this article, since it covers several aspects of a company that doesn’t seem to know its arse from its elbow. The important bit first is some advice for any existing customer of Virgin media, especially those with the £37 a month ‘Broadband XL’ package and a Virgin Media phone line.
Have a look at this page, then call Virgin Media’s customer services on 150 from your Virgin Media phone line, or 0845 454 1111 from any other phone line. Select option 2 to change your package, and tell the customer services person you want the same deal as new customers. They will say they can’t offer you that deal as it’s only for new customers (I was offered a package for £55), so tell them you want to cancel all your Virgin Media services. You will be transferred to the ‘retentions’ department, who should agree to move you to the new prices if you take a new 12 month contract. Read more…
Three weeks after Virgin Media told me they would send a new cable modem it finally arrived. I suppose I should be thankful since it only took 20 days to get here when they did advise to allow up to 28 days. It’s really one day to get here as the package was sent yesterday, so I guess my name was added to the next batch to be sent out (am I being cynical wondering how long new customer have to wait?).
I had to call Virgin support to get the MAC address added to their system. Fortunately this was an 0800 number so I didn’t have to pay 25p a minute to sit in the queue like existing customers wanting technical support (sorry, being cynical again). The modem, a Scientific Atlanta 2100, sprang to life within a minute of the MAC address being activated, and it’s looking good so far. I fired up a torrent download and was seeing 1.6MB/s with peaks of 1.9MB/s. Thats a bit faster than the old Motorola modem, and it was looking great until the cap kicked in and I’m now crawling along at 500KB/s.
I’m hoping that’s the last of the lockups that were pinned on the Motorola modem, so I will post again in a week or so if all is going well.
I’ve been on the Telewest/Virgin Broadband service for many years. So many in fact I can’t remember when I joined. I have emails to my Blueyonder address from early 2001, so that’s at least 7 years. Without wanting to sound like a preachy old git, it used to be a good service. I started on the 512Mb connection, and always got it. 2Mb, 4Mb, 10Mb and now 20Mb speeds have followed, but the last one was a very mixed ‘upgrade’. I was happy with the Telewest Blueyonder 10Mb service. Download speeds were usually over 1 megabyte a second.
Then Virgin took over, and heavily publicised the doubling of broadband speeds. My connection went to 20Mb, but I saw very little speed improvement over the 10Mb service. The biggest shock came when my download speed started dropping. I eventually found out that Virgin were capping the download speed at 5Mb if you used too much bandwidth between 4pm and midnight. I say eventually found out because unlike the 20Mb upgrade Virgin didn’t publicise this change. The 20Mb service is still sold as unlimited, as shown here, or here. No disclaimers, asterisks or anything else to say it’s not an unlimited service. Only it isn’t, as shown here.