Why is UK broadband so bad? Virgin Media 50mbit customers complaining

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Over the last couple of weeks KitGuru have been receiving emails from readers complaining about the current state of UK broadband services. Many of us in dear old blighty hear about fantastic services in Sweden, with speeds up to 500mbit even being offered now. No caps, no limits, just pay the fee and use the internet connection. Sounds logical right? Not if you live in the United Kingdom…..

Lets take Virgin Media for example, a company who are constantly promoting their 50mbit services as some of the fastest in the UK. Sadly it looks as if their services aren’t quite as fast as many would expect.

VM broadband Why is UK broadband so bad? Virgin Media 50mbit customers complaining

One reader emailed us to say “Virgin Media 50mbit isn’t even close to 10mbit in my area, in the evenings its around 2mbit which makes me think they are oversubscribing the services. What makes it even worse is that Virgin have practices in place which ask their customers NOT to download high levels of data between 9am and 9pm. So basically when im at work the lines are faster, but even if I was at home I would be monitored for breaking specific limits. Then when I get home at night, the service is appallingly slow. I am not paying for 50mbit to simply surf basic internet websites at night with only a fraction of the rated line speed being given.”

Checking online we can see that there are many threads complaining about Virgin Media’s high speed services in various parts of the country. Threads such as this, this and this are only a handful of the hundreds easily found from search engines. Looking into unofficial cable support forums in the UK highlights many other complaint threads with a ton of problems. Not only are Virgin Media monitoring downloads for 12 hours a day, but they have placed traffic management on both P2P and Newsgroups activity as can be detailed here. Many of their customers are receiving warnings about ‘large amounts of data’ and have even taken steps to limit their own bandwidth, to no avail.

One of our readers emailed us with a copy of the Virgin Media bandwidth email he received:

Detrimental Use of your Broadband Connection

We wrote to you on 21 December 2010 to let you know that your broadband usage was having a negative effect on other Virgin Media customers in your area.

As a result we asked you to reduce your level of uploading and downloading during our busiest hours, from 9am-9pm.

Unfortunately, it looks like your broadband activity is still having a detrimental impact and therefore you are in breach of our Acceptable Use Policy.

It’s now really important that you change the way you use your broadband connection and move a large proportion of your heavy use outside the hours of 9am and 9pm.  You can still take advantage of our unlimited service, but we need to make sure that other users aren’t adversely affected by the way you use your connection.

If your broadband usage doesn’t reduce during these hours, we’ll have to temporarily suspend or disconnect your services and we might not be able to let you know beforehand.

If you have any questions or need help sorting this out, just give us a call, quoting the reference number above, on 0845 234 7007 between 8am and 8pm, 7 days a week.

Yours sincerely

xxx xxxx
Virgin Media

Our reader said that he then contacted Virgin Media by phone to find out what he was doing wrong, and that the department wouldn’t give him any detailed information on how much data he had transferred. He then called customer services to complain and they looked into the issue for him. He was told that he had downloaded 60GB of data throughout December between 9am and 9pm.

While 60GB seems like a lot of data, in reality, for a 50mbit line its really not much. He was simply told to stop downloading data between 9am and 9pm. The customer services representative told him that when a third letter was sent out, he had 10 days to reply adhering to Virgin Media’s terms or he would in effect be disconnected.

Our reader told us he was paying over £100 a month for HD TV, broadband and telephone services on their ‘VIP’ package, which funnily enough stands for ‘very important person’.

KitGuru can understand with such fast connections Virgin Media need to monitor customers data, but it would appear that they are oversubscribing and they are incapable of delivering the rated speeds. The next logical course of action would be to improve their networking capabilities, but instead they are rolling out a 100mbit service.

How are they going to handle 100mbit lines if they are currently experiencing issues with the 50mbit service? With data restrictions between 9am and 9pm, P2P and newsgroup throttling and many customers getting a fraction of their ‘up to’ speeds, is it really wise doubling the bandwidth for their customers? While claims of ’100mbit’ looks great in ad campaigns and to get new customers, perhaps Virgin Media might want to look into taking better care of their current customer base. Getting new customers is great short term, but holding onto them is the key factor to really growing your business.

KitGuru says: The UK is so far behind many parts of the world with shoddy internet connections. Will it change in the near future?

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Why is UK broadband so bad? Virgin Media 50mbit customers complaining, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating
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  • Colin

    I would have went for 50mbit, but their 20mbit is rubbish so id be paying more for worse connections. 50mbit was great for a while apparently when they werent capping it, applying throttling and sending out letters to customers paying a lot of money. its poor and they will lose a lot of customers.

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  • Jon

    I am with BT, paying £20 a month, its not a great service either. I almost went to Virgin last month but my friend already has it, and we have watched his line speed get worse every week. he is about to leave.

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  • Nick

    One pissed off VM customer here. I have opened threads on their support site, which was a waste of time. They are chasing figures to get customers. I bet they are losing most of them once they actually use these ‘great’ lines. Im moving to bulldog.

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  • Frank

    BT are crap too, I was billed £40 for going over my limits. Someone in the UK needs to sort out these bunch of monkeys.

    First company who can deliver 20mbit solid 24/7 without caps or limits will take over the UK, cause no one can do it. its 2011 not 1999.

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  • Gareth

    I have VM 50mbit cable – no complaints. I get full upload and download speeds (5/50) assuming the other end can keep up. I wonder how many of these speed complains are due to dodgy wireless networks? If you want 50mbit downloads use a LAN connection.

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  • Raymond

    50mbit here and its great during the day. after 5pm it drops to 10mbit maximum. then after midnight back up to 50mbit. I dont download much, just like the speed when I need it for movie streaming and a few other things. but its not really a good service as I know in certain parts of the country they are struggling to keep it steady at close to rated speeds.

    its why they say ‘up to’ all the time, to cover their butts.

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  • Scott

    50 Mbit here, not got much to complain about. If the other end can keep up, I always get 48Mbit + speeds. I do on average 150GB a month, had no complaint letters, but I do the majority of my downloads “after hours”. That said, the recent rise in complaints could be due to the new (not so) Superhub, which currently has a throughput issue. Also has been mentioned, how many complaining are using Wireless? I do however detest/protest the Speed Throttling going on for P2P and NNTP, which also appears to affect Steam and Xbox Live. So much so, that if I can’t download when I want because of this throttling, I’m considering dropping down to 30Mbit. Should also point out that the 3-4 ADSL suppliers I have tried have been much worse than Virgin. Grass isn’t always greener.

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  • Thomas

    I agree with Scott. the grass is covered in crap in the UK, no matter which provider you go to. VM are one of the best, of a bad bunch. hopefully some american group comes in and sorts it all out with a good service.

    A good service, that would be a shock !

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  • Wander aimlessly

    Nonsense company to be direct to the point.

    They are chasing big figures and delivering a substandard service

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  • Colm

    Once telewest and NFL merged it’d even downhill ever since. Service constantly gets worse as they add more and more restrictions to cover the fact their network can’t handle all the customers. Stop getting new customers until the network is upgraded

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  • http://www.catapults.co Stephen Johnson

    Ive been a customer for 2 years – its not the speed of service that is my problem but how often there is NO service!! Time to look for another ISP

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  • keith

    Im a very unhappy VM customer. They are rubbish. Their support is non-existent. Engineers pointless. Call centres, well……I had 8 months of terrible intermittent internet last year. It was great for a few months. Then went back to normal a few months back. Cant wait to leave. Im only interested in gaming. VM’s upload speeds, high ping, intermittency and high loads of their exchanges makes the lines unplayable for online gaming. For the record im hardwired into a router and i know how to maximise my router settings. If i didnt the games would be completely unplayable. Im self taught, thats how bad their support is. Looking for a dedicated gaming ISP if anybody knows of any.

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  • wez

    Surely you lot have heard of sky broadband? I’ve been with them for the past 3 years and moved a few times. Every connection i’ve had with them has run at 17-20meg and never capped or throttled in the day or peak hours…I was told this is due to sky customers using the sky games like casino and stuff but i could be wrong.

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  • http://www.mauledbymoomins.webs.com John

    What a surprise, Another dissatisfied Virgin Media customer!
    I upgraded to the 50mb broadband from the 20mb broadband because my partner and I both play of World Of Warcraft and Xbox Live so we thought we’d benefit from the increased download speed….It was faster….for about a day after it was installed then it got progressively worse until it got so bad that we called up Virgin and they said the problem was our new “superhub” which is a load of superbollocks! They sent out a new superhub and the service was the same still slow and crappy and disconnected whenever the hell it wanted. Another phone call to Virgin, Apparently they’re installing some upgraded equipment to help deal with the increased demand which was meant to be done by the 16th of June and we were going to be reimbursed for the two months which we had not been recieving what we were paying for so we thought okay we’ll be happy with that.
    Called up today to check on the progress….NO IDEA WHAT EQUIPMENT WE’RE ON ABOUT! As for reimbursement for paying for something we didn’t get “You still had internet access didn’t you?”
    “Well yes but the people we’ve spoken to before said we would be reimbursed. We’re only getting about 2mb of broadband”
    “Well you see it says UPTO 50mb it doesn’t actually mean you will get that”
    “We’ve never had that, If we aren’t going to be getting any faster broadband then why did you reccommend that we upgrade from the shit 20mb broadband to the shit 50mb broadband when there’s no difference”
    “All I can offer is our apologies sir we’re working on the matter”
    That was the end of the conversation, as usual Virgin Media customer services have excelled themselves.
    Most annoying now is that because of the shit broadband only one of us can use the internet at one time so I’m watching the tv which is also crap…updates at stupid times of the day, freezes regularly and since 13:00 on the 16/06 no decent signal on any bloody channel, I’m paying nearly 70 quid a month for this service or lack there of so I think to combat the shit broadband and shit tv i’m going to have to learn to speak Swedish and move to Sweden to actually get decent broadband and be able to watch the tv….let’s face it, it’ll be quicker than waiting for Virgin to sort out their shit!
    so to summarise…..

    VIRGIN MEDIA IS SHIT!

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  • Phil

    The problem isn’t virgin its BT who have a monopoly on the network and they “maintain”. They neglect the network with poor investment and lack of care of those who can’t even get coverage. On the world stage in terms of broad band BT is a pathetic and miserable company that’s putting a wall in the foggy road of Britain’s economy. They need to pull a finger out and update their economy harming neglected network.

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  • keith-e

    VM is total rubbish and i cant wait to leave they are terrbile and have been since they introduced their p2p throttling and 50 meg lines. ISP suicide if i ever heard it. Its crippled many peopls gaming experience on the network. Cant wait to get BT infinity. Had a comparison done of BT VM’s 50 meg line using Broadband grapth meter(measures latency ie lag spikes)and the BT line is far more stable. VM take the mickey out of their customers. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

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  • Gene

    Its nothing short of theft.
    Taking money and NOT delivering.
    If it was tangable goods then Virgin would be taken to court and they WOULD lose.

    They keep subscribing more and more customers and expect them to use less and less.

    Pure theft.
    Lies.
    Theft.
    More lies.

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  • SadFace

    Virgin Media service is awful! I have got 50mb service and have been using it for a while but it seems that the connection get worse by the day. Just so that you know its not me who did something wrong; i am a CISCO student.
    1. The person who came to install the thing didnt know what she was talking about and just rushed through it.
    2. I have the superhub which is apparently supposed to be the best but sometimes it just disconnects all connected devices.
    3. Lets put into perspective how bad it is. I cannot stream a 720p youtube video without having to pause it ever few minutes.
    Note: This is during peak hours. BUT how on earth i am not able to stream a YOUTUBE VIDEO!!! with the best connection available to public in my city.
    I am going to phone up tomorrow and if they dont sort things out I will not be a happy bunny and that will be last time i will be using VirginMedia services.

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  • Gareth is a bellend

    i am plugged into the LAN as we speak. you must work for virgin media customer service. pretty sure most ppl here know how to connect to a wireless network and/or have tried LAN to see if there was any difference. speeds are still capped at 2mb/s at BEST!

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  • Pingback: Virgin Media give 100mbit customers upgrade and reduce cost | KitGuru

  • ASANDHU

    Please do not sign a contract with VIRGIN broadband as they are a whole heap of sh*t…poor service, sh*t broadband and when you call there technical support line to tell them how sh*t there service is the guy on the phone said to me ‘ the reason why your internet connection is poor, is because your laptop has other software running in the background??WTF…Excuses me i work in IT myself and that certainly does not make sense, how the f*ck they got a job i dont know….

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  • steptoe

    The biggest problem is oversubscribing in a lot of areas, there are more people wanting and expecting the advertised broadband speed than Virgin can supply without spending massive amount on upgrading the cable infrastructure (which they are not going to do in a rush or without being pushed), and Virgin admit this but not publicly.

    If you live in an area that has limited take-up of Virgin broadband then your laughing as your speeds will be flat out pretty much all the time. I try to restrict mine to the hours ‘suggested’ of 9pm to 9am as I also received a letter last year even though I pay for the XL package and use it as it should be and not for FaceBook or checking my emails.

    We also have 2 laptops and the desktop so when all 3 are connected during the evening and the wireless in running the capping kicks in pretty quick, along with the streaming service we have via NetFlix then we are the lucky few that can still have a fair service once the capping starts, plus the green box is very close to the house with not much take-up in this street. Most people seem to use Sky as there are plenty of dishes on the walls.

    Virgin bangs on about streaming full HD movies and how many MP3s you can download but when their customers actually use it for what they advertise it for we are penalised. I have also applied for the hardware to monitor Virgin broadband 24 hours a day under an EU program to report on weather broadband companies actually DO deliver what they advertise and can and have fined companies who are in breach of their own advertising. I am waiting to see if I have been excepted. Virgin apparently suddenly take an interest when informed on this piece of hardware that sits between the router and modem and logs ALL broadband useage and speeds which in then sent to an independant 3rd party for data collection weather you are using the internet or not and your line speeds then magically appear to get very stable and stay that way.

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  • http://vm gaspurge747

    im pretty sure virgin media are terrible and getting worse.

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  • Allie

    Useful Virgin contact emails
    neil.berkett at virginmedia.co.uk; Executiveteam at virginmedia.co.uk; Marina.Noden at virginmedia.co.uk

    Useful companies to forward on your complaints

    RipO...@bbc.co.uk; watc...@bbc.co.uk; Robe...@financial-ombudsman.org.uk; comp...@financial-ombudsman.org.uk; mult...@thekmgroup.co.uk; sout...@bbc.co.uk

    Summary of VIRGIN:
    Two people under one house, trapped into a VIRGIN contract, with our separate account numbers.
    Customer 1, was already into his contract and when moved in with Customer 2, VIRGIN started his contract from the beginning again.
    VIGRIN misleading advertising regarding fast speed, they can’t even get you connected to the internet
    VIRGIN technicians that lie and damage your PC and internet connections
    VIRGIN rude customer service
    VIRGIN CEO, won’t answer questions
    VIRGIN I don’t care ‘you’re stuck in a contract now’ attitude

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  • Taha

    Virgin Media are TOTAL garbage, do not go with them. I live with my parents, who are in charge of our internet (if it was up to me I would have gotten a decent ISP a while ago). I game and need a STABLE line with low latency and not continuous capping. Virgin commit all of these sins whilst claiming to be giving you a 30/50/100mb connection. Mine is the 30 but I barely get 2 download and 0.5 upload. The ping and latency are ridiculously high also. Every time I call them there is some excuse. Virgin have overloaded an out of date infrastructure and are actually LYING to all of their customers. For customers in the VAST MAJORITY of the country, they DO NOT DELIVER the speeds that they advertise and that you buy.

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  • Steve Burke

    I agree with above. Virgin are milking customers for money. I am now paying for 60GB service and getting less than 10 – usually 5!. The service is less reliable than when I was on 2MB with good old Telewest! Its been downhill ever since – except for the prices. Branson should be ashamed!

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  • Bill Dudley

    I have a 20MB unlimited contract with virgin. The have recently increased my speed to 60MB (confirmed to be up and working in my postcode) yet when i do a bandwidth test at non peak times i struggle to get even 20. So obviously they are lying about increasing my speed.

    Then to make matter worse, i receive letters to home home, tell me that i am using too much of my unlimited download limit and if i fail to reduce the bandwidth used i will have a cap put on my UNLIMITED download 60MB connection.
    So after about 3 letters, i limited the amount i would download, and kept this up for a while. About a month later all of a sudden my internet is USELESS and time between 18:00 – 00:00. If i try to watch a movie online, it never finishes buffering, if i play a game i get the most FRUSTRATING lag pinging me back and forth. My P2P downloads cant even reach 100kbps.

    ALL OF THIS IS A SERVICE I AM PAYING HARD EARNED MONEY FOR!!!!

    They advertise 100mb internet, unlimited downloads. Lightening fast streaming and downloading. AND THEN THEY LIMIT YOU CONNECTION THE MOMENT YOU START DOWNLOADING! And all of this is LEGAL because a piece of paper called the FAIR USE POLICY says it is!!!!!

    This has got beyond annoying. They only way to show them is to CANCEL THE CONTRACT!!!!

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  • lolatu

    The majority of people complaining here just dont have a clue what they are talking about. I absolutely guarantee you that the virgin media cable service is fine absolutely no problem whatsoever. The Virgin Media ADSL service is as they report, but that is also the case everywhere. If your modem plugs into a telephone cable then you are on ADSL and will be very lucky indeed if your speeds reach 8Mbps. I have visited many houses all over the country that use the cable service and have never seen a single one with low speeds that couldnt be fixed. The main problem was people had the superhub in a room at one end of their house and the signal couldnt get through 4 brick walls to the other end properly. Other problems included the fact that they were sharing a wireless channel with half their neighbours. soon as I switched them to another chanel it was great. One other problem I recall was solved by switching to modem only mode on the superhub and connecting a router behind that. But I just think the vast majority of the people complaining here dont know what they are talking about and have are connecting through some kind of two wire ADSL modem

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  • Marvin

    yeah, yeah yeah, UK is like the worst country ever for car insurance and broadband, the internet connexion is horribly slow and you pay far too much for crap broadband, i’m from france, there i used to pay 20euros/month unlimited internet (real unlimited btw) very fast speed.

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  • aoighean

    been with virgin since they took over good ole telewest
    and never had a problem with connection
    upgraded to 50mbit to get away from the fair use crap
    not long after the upgrade they decided to apply fair use to the 50mb speeds as well
    not really an issue as i don’t uses p2p but they decided to apply this bullshite to newsgoups as well
    and as others have mentioned even streaming a poxy u tube vid can be painfull as certain time of the day

    but as there was no real compition for them i have never switched
    bt have finnaly upgraded ot fiber in my area so it’s time to jump ship

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  • Victor von Doom

    Hi guys, VvD from Romania. As I am in a business assignment in UK i’ve been horrified by the internet speed. I have at home a standard connection kicking 100mbs… here… 100 kb… shamefull

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  • leon

    England Branson fastest cunt on the planet Broadband none of you know what is meant broadband come to Lithuania . Show you poor people broadband Virgin broadband is shit UK is backgroun country doctors nhs engineers etc is shit

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  • Jez

    Rip-off Britain strikes again…

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  • Richard

    w

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  • Richard

    I was thinking about signing up for Virgin / Sky or another of the ‘big boys’ after the outages last week caused by the tube strike but I don’t think I will now after reading comments on this site. Presently I’m with UWC and since July they have been ok, not brilliant but far better than Talk Talk. Talk Talk were unbelievably bad and the customer service terrible. They were fine for years but one day I got a phone call asking if I wanted to ‘upgrade’ to their TV service, I said no and as if by magic my broadband stopped working, coincidental eh? I phoned up to complain and that is when the barrage of lies began. I switched. The thing is you get what you pay for. I pay about £8 a month and until the UK sorts the hardware out I’m not paying any more. As one commenter mentioned one company has the monopoly over a crucial part of it and is in effect holding back our ‘recovery’, an old school institution with connections in the right places, funny handshakes all round, and that old bloated pig of a company should be made to stand down and let someone else come in to revamp the entire system. But, that just isn’t going to happen because outdated ‘old boy’ institutions are as much a part of Britain as is tea, red buses and policemen with tall helmets as much as Aunty Broadcasting Corporation is run by old Etonians / Oxbridgers and the like and much of the government. Moaning about ot won’t do much, just drive the problem further underground. A new company will have to utilise more the mobile sector. Only a few years ago mobile coverage was bad here now why not build more mobile masts dedicated purely to internet connectivity?

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