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Virgin Trials 200Mbit Broadband, Reports Strong Q1

Gordon Kelly


Virgin Trials 200Mbit Broadband, Reports Strong Q1

Virgin Media is back in the press again today and this time it wants speeds that go even faster...

Following news that it may unbundle its cable network the contentious ISP is taking real world tests to a new high with the first customer pilots of 200Mbit connections. Virgin claims this to be the fastest implementation of DOCSIS3 technology in the world, ahead of services in both Japan and the US which currently top out at 160Mbit and 101Mbit respectively.

Who are the lucky testers? It's those jammy residents of Ashford, Kent once more who were also the first to trial Virgin's 50Mbit service way back in September 2007. The tests will last for six months to assess performance and commercial viability - something which could be hard to justify given the real world limitations of wireless N technology already make 50Mbit a challenge.

"We're really excited to be embarking on this journey of discovery," said Virgin CEO Neil Berkett. "With the only true next generation network in the UK, we're at the forefront of innovation and understanding when it comes to ultrafast broadband services and the 200Mbit pilot will give us further insight into how true ‘wideband' services might be used by consumers."

May this finally be the first test where we can say: Too fast, don't need it? Or have I just broken the primary rule of the savage downloader?

In related news Virgin Media has reported its finances for Q1 2009 with total revenue virtually unchanged at £936m compared to 947m during the same period last year. Earnings were back in the black however jumping from a £2m loss in Q1 2008 to a £13m profit. Customer additions across broadband, television and mobile phone divisions were also up 47,300 to 3.73m, 30,600 to 3.65m and 62,900 to 712,300 respectively.

Given the current economy, they're impressive figures.


Press Release


May 6, 2009, 7:26 pm

It sounds like they'll need all that extra bandwidth if they plan on opening their network up to other ISP's.


May 6, 2009, 7:56 pm

Virgin Media - moving ahead but not finishing the job first. I don't think I'm alone in having problems getting the bandwidth promised. How about they get what they sell now working before doing the next thing. I've had an average less than 2Mbps since starting to pay for 10Mbps three months ago! Infrastructural issues are the cause according to their technical support team. With no fixed dates promised for correction.

BT sent me a cocky letter when I switch from them to virgin media, saying I'd regret it. Guess what, they were right.


May 6, 2009, 9:01 pm

Have to agree with savaged here, this sounds completely ridiculous. Me and my house mates are on a 20Mb contract with them, we get that 20Mb speed for about 2 hours a day at absolute best, early in the morning. By about 2 in the afternoon its usually down to 10Mb and by 7 in the evening were lucky to get 2Mb, some evenings I've even had download speeds slower than my upload........... We weren't even being capped as the upload was still at the full 700Kbps, not down to its 250ish cap. Now I'm back living at home on my parents BT connection even though its only 3Mb, its 3Mb all the time and I can deal with it. I would much rather have 3-5Mb all the time, than 20Mb some of the time, and 1Mb some of the time.


May 6, 2009, 9:22 pm

I can't agree about the speeds, have always got what they sold me or a bit higher. I'm on the 2mbit connection but I think I have a low contention ratio so speed is fine. but! traffic management is ridiculous, dropped down from the premium product because of it and now they get me by the back door - making the min 10mbit and charging me £2 a month more for something I don't want. they must be setting themselves up to sell something to us or that speed is pointless.


May 6, 2009, 11:49 pm

The good thing is that once that trail finishes and that 200mbit is opened nationwide, they'll have to offer it as an option to the wholesalers. So hopefully some one like Be*, if they expand to cable, will be able to offer it as well.


May 7, 2009, 12:03 am

Up to 200Mbit, absolutely pointless. How about you start selling connections with typical values Virgin? I'm apparantly on a 10Mbit line, it achieves that only between 2 and 5 in the morning, currently I'm at 600kbits download.... 11 upload! Piss poor, don't go with Virgin


May 7, 2009, 7:06 am

200mbit would still take 30 minutes to download a full blu-ray disc so if we want connections that enable us to fairly instantly buy movies online we need something closer to 4000mbit (4Gbit).

200mbit connections would allow full blu-ray quality HDTV and streamed films though.


May 7, 2009, 7:14 am

And on the speed issue, building a database of real speeds would be easy - it would just require Ofcom to force Virgin and BT Wholesale/Openreach to give them everybody's sync speed (or better, line stats), that way you'd be able to tell pretty accurately what speed you're likely to get by the speeds your neighbours are getting.

How people would feel about allowing it though, I don't know.


May 7, 2009, 9:02 am

@Xiphias - it's called streaming... the movie could start immediately while it is still downloading as accruing a large buffer would be no problem.

Rob Chapman

May 7, 2009, 3:26 pm

I'd rather have unlimited 20mb than (i.e. Be There) than 200mb with an draconian FUP.

Or even better a 20mb/20mb residential option.


May 7, 2009, 7:20 pm

@Gordon: Streaming only works when you want to watch the movie there and then, it doesn't offer the opportunity to hear about a good film during your lunch hour, buy it and then shut down your computer until the evening when you'd want to watch it.

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