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Is ‘fast’ UK Broadband a con? our readers think so

When it comes to broadband, the United Kingdom still lag behind many other countries. If you read many of the advertisements posted online and on television you would think that we had many ‘quality' high speed options to choose from.

We reported in the past that Virgin Media advertise some of the fastest speeds in the UK, but forums are filled with complaints from users who subscribe to their services, including 100Mbit. It comes down to the usual tactic of ‘chasing high figures' to impress the general public – after all, which sounds better to you? 10mbit or 100mbit?

What many people are finding out however, is that during peak times, such as between 5pm and 12am (no longer stops at 9pm, its 12am), their service performs very poorly, often dropping to only several mbit. We had one reader named Jeffrey email us to say “I read your article on ‘Why is UK broadband so bad?'. I can't believe that Virgin Media can get away with capping the line speed so regular. Between 5pm and 12am my service drops to only a few mbit. It is the same at weekends. If I didn't work and was home all week I might be able to use it at close to the advertised speeds, but I generally seem limited to 5-10mbit. Newsgroups are very slow also, but they are packet filtering. My 100Mbit line is often running at under 5mbit. What kind of service is this?”

This was only one of many emails we have received over the last couple of months, and it seems no better for many other customers who have moved to the 100mbit line.

There are many forums in the United Kingdom which have complaints over the service, even the official forums are littered with unhappy customers. There are some forum threads you can see here, here and here.

There are even websites dedicated to warning people against Virgin Media problems.

User ttwii said “after 3 weeks of 30mb awful speeds the help desk told me to downgrade, yes that's right downgrade to 10mb, some flannel about our local council not letting them dig up the roads and the 10mb being on a different cable.  and now on 10 it is even worse not even 1mbps. strange how at the stroke of midnight all is back to normal”

The root of the problem, seems to be oversubscribing in many areas of the country, and instead of opting for more realistic figures such as 10-20mbit which could be fully uncapped, and free from packet filtering, they are chasing higher and higher speeds in the hope of attracting more customers. The situation can really only get worse instead of better – the more customers who join, the worse the service will get. Unless the network gets a total makeover and upgrade to counter the rising user count.

Kitguru says: Does Virgin Media really suck? share your views.

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8 comments

  1. BT are no better, I get crap speeds at night. UK needs a new law to stopp all this ‘up to xxx speed’ crap. Either we get the speeds they advertise, within a 10% variable or they should compensate customers. I get often 45% of my rated speed.

  2. Virgin media aren’t bad here (southampton). I dont download much but I have never had any failed service and websites load quick for me.

    My brother lives near London however and he says its rubbish at night, often under 1MBIT! (100mbit service).

  3. Virgin Media are best of a bad bunch.

  4. We would welcome an opportunity to be conned. Not having that opportunity for superfast fibre broadband or listening to all the promises are more of a con…

  5. 12pm or 12am?

  6. I cancelled virgin media 3 months ago. I had connection problems at night and was downloading at 50k from my 100MBIT line, just outside london.

    They are getting away with it, and using the ‘up to’ as a way out. Ofcom need to target these guys, they are charging a lot of money for oversubscribed services.

  7. well I wish I had your luck and had access to the speeds you mentioned above
    sadly because my Phone provider here have no open port I have to use an EDGE
    network that look more like DialUp

  8. Why is it I can get 1Gb broadband abroad for less than I pay for a tenth of the service here in the UK? We have become a third world country when you talk tech these days.