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Networking The Internet United Kingdom Technology

Virgin Promises 100Mbps Connections To UK Homes 247

registerShift writes "Virgin said it will roll out 100 megabit-per-second broadband connections to homes in the UK. The company said users will experience speeds 'very close' to what's advertised as it plans to deploy cable instead of ADSL used by competitors. 'There is nothing we can't do with our fiber optic cable network, and the upcoming launch of our flagship 100mbps service will give our customers the ultimate broadband experience,' Virgin Media's chief executive officer, Neil Berkett, said. This is just days after the FCC announced aims of 100Mbps by 2020, and companies panned it as unrealistic."
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Virgin Promises 100Mbps Connections To UK Homes

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  • 100MB? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by NCG_Mike ( 905098 )
    I can't see why a domestic user needs that speed. I've got virgin cable and the 20MB is plenty for me. Perhaps this has something to do with their Tivo deal and on-demand content?
    • Re:100MB? (Score:4, Funny)

      by badfish99 ( 826052 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @03:25AM (#31282340)

      I can't see why a domestic user needs that speed.

      So that you can exceed your download cap in 5 minutes instead of half an hour?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by khchung ( 462899 )

      Yeah, 640K got to be enough for everybody!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by timmarhy ( 659436 )
      listen here, i can't see why you are wasting money on a whole 20mb. all i need for my BBS connection is my 2400bps modem. i get pages of text (in colour!) in mere minutes! after all it's all anyone should need - do you think you NEED all that HD streaming video, itunes, web applications, email, pictures......
    • Re:100MB? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @03:58AM (#31282452) Homepage Journal

      Youtube 1080p videos still require some buffering on my 5mb connection. Did I mention they're compressed 1080p? It's pretty compressed video, but it's still compressed, and only in stereo. And only 30fps. Some of us have screens that support larger than 1080p. Some of us have computers that can handle 1080p at 60, or even 120fps. Imagine if Mozilla couldn't complain about which compression method we use because everyone simply had enough bandwidth to stream uncompressed video.
        I, for one, welcome our 1080p+, uncompressed 120fps streaming video lords

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by EdZ ( 755139 )

        I, for one, welcome our 1080p+, uncompressed 120fps streaming video lords

        24bpp * 1920 * 1080 * 120 = 5,971,968,000 bps
        I'd enjoy a 6 gigabit connection as much as the next geek, but that's faster than some internal connection buses! Heck, until PCI-E v3.0 is ready, that would saturate a 16x slot!

        • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

          I'll come out and say it then, if you won't. 5,971,968,000 bps is enough bandwidth for anybody.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by petermgreen ( 876956 )

          Heck, until PCI-E v3.0 is ready, that would saturate a 16x slot!
          No it wouldn't, not by a long way! PCIe 1.0 has a raw bitrate of 2.5Gbps and a data byte rate of 250MBps (that's a capital B for bytes) PER LANE.

          x4 would cover your uncompressed stream with room to spare (though in reality the netwok card carrying it would probablly be x8 since 10 gigabit is right on the theoretical max of 1.0 x4 and it's good to have some slack).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by coolsnowmen ( 695297 )

        video will always be compressed, even if it is non-destructively so. It would irresponsible to implement a system otherwise.

        • Once we have 1.18 Gbit/s connections, then uncompressed 1080 might be possible.

          • But why? Music started as uncompressed but we're quickly getting to the point where you can't even buy music that isn't compressed, so why would movies move in the opposite direction?
            • Uncompressed video is magnitudes more information that uncompressed audio.

              Here's my rough calculation for uncompressed hi def video ...

              1920 pixels x 1080 pixels x 24 bit color x 25 frames per second

              = 1244160000 bits per second
              = 1215000 kilobits per second
              = 1185 megabits per second
              = 1.15 gigbits per second

              And that's using the more generous 1024 base than the sneaky 1000 base that the DSL companies use when reporting speeds.

      • Youtube 1080p videos still require some buffering on my 5mb connection.

        For me (and many other people, you among them apparently) Youtube videos always buffer slightly too slow. It only happens with Youtube and if I launch 3 videos at the same time, they all buffer at the same just-a-few-percent-too-slow speed.

        The solution is to start buffering a few videos and while you watch them you keep buffering new ones in other tabs. Of course that's not what you'd call convenient and they periodically fsck up their client so you can't pause before the video's running. But until our fri

    • Re:100MB? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Cimexus ( 1355033 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @04:03AM (#31282462)

      Personally the reason I'm looking forward to fibre-based networks is not so much the increase in downstream speed (my 24 Mbps ADSL2+ service is great for the moment), but better upstream speed (my 1 Mbps upload rate is becoming increasingly inadequate as the size of data I upload increases, e.g. uploading photos to Flickr which are 6+ MB each).

      ADSL (and to a lesser extent cable) are highly asymmetrical services. You can get symmetrical DSL links (SHDSL for instance), but they tend to have lower aggregate speeds (e.g. 5Mbps/5Mbps) and be very expensive. Fibre gives us the opportunity to have some truly beefy, symmetrical home links, which we'll need as applications become increasingly two-way/interactive.

      Put it this way. I'd rather have a 20/20 Mbps connection than a 100/1 Mbps connection (or even a 1Gbps/1Mbps!). Upload speed is nice!

      • by RMH101 ( 636144 )
        can you route externally to a virgin home IP address now? You didn't use to be able to when it was NTL, which meant running any server services wasn't possible.
        • by gazbo ( 517111 )
          Accessing servers remotely isn't a problem. However they still don't offer static IPs, which is a pain in the ass (although in practice you DHCP the same address).
          • I can't remember the last time Virgin/NTL switched my IP. Been with them 6 years now, recently upgraded to 50mbit, couldn't be happier! (Note, the Dlink router they give you will take DD-WRT)
            • by gazbo ( 517111 )
              That's useful to know. I went for the 802.11n router - is that the one you're talking about? It would be nice to stick a proper firmware on there because although the shipped one is adequate, the lack of customisable QoS is a pain when the throttling kicks in (I couldn't justify paying for 50mbit just to avoid throttling a few days per month)
      • Considering all the HD videos people are uploading, your best example for wanting fiber is to upload photos?

        honestly my measly 1mbps up is fine, I'm more concerned with wireless. iPhone is one of the few phones that upload videos wirelessly, but to save the 3g network it first compresses the crap out of the video, and even then it takes several minutes to upload just 1 minute of highly compressed standard definition video. We really need better wireless.
        • It was just an example from personal use, as I don't personally upload videos. But precisely - that's another thing that would benefit from higher upstream speeds.

          Plus when I send photos, I send lots. Several hundred photos would easily equate to sending a video.

          • Perhaps, but you could quickly batch convert hundreds of photos to smaller sizes and higher compression within seconds using free programs like irfanview, and no one would miss the resolution because no one has 12 megapixel LCDs, but try quickly converting a HD video with a freeware program, even quad core takes hours
        • I forgot to add that when you're uploading from a pc you can just click upload, open another window and go about your day, doesn't keep you from work. But when you're on a phone uploading a file you might have to leave that window open while you wait minutes for it to upload. Course this is all new to phones, I've had 10/1 Mbps at home for ten yrs, but it's frustrating to pay for all the hardware and not have a fast infrastructure to support it
      • by Krneki ( 1192201 )
        20/20 Mb line here for 26E a month. ^^
    • by Malc ( 1751 )

      I think it changes the way you use the internet. In fact I'm quite happy getting 6mbs down at the moment. What I'm unhappy about is is the 448kbs upstream. It's pathetic, and BT will not do a thing about it. Even full speed residential ADSL2+ is slow upstream, and this is a much bigger problem.

      • If you move to an LLU provider (eg: Be), you can get a theoretical 20Mb down/2.5Mb up. Some of the top-end BT contracts will give you a whopping 883K up but, in general, I agree with your sentiment about upstream speeds being more of an issue now.

    • by Eudial ( 590661 )

      Domestic users don't currently need it because domestic user don't currently have it, which means content providers don't provide content that requires it. Same way there was no sane reason for a domestic user to have a broadband connection of any variety in the '90s, when content was adapted for modem-users.

    • by Krneki ( 1192201 )

      I can't see why a domestic user needs that speed. I've got virgin cable and the 20MB is plenty for me. Perhaps this has something to do with their Tivo deal and on-demand content?

      And 640kb of RAM ought to be enough for everybody.

      The fact that you can't see past tomorrow, doesn't mean other can't.

      The next big thing will be 3D Movies and games.

    • I can't see why a domestic user needs that speed. I've got virgin cable and the 20MB is plenty for me.

      Perhaps this has something to do with their Tivo deal and on-demand content?

      There was a time when you'd only see a single computer in a house. That time has passed. Most homes have more than one computer.

      I have three genuine computers in our house (mine, the wife's, the kid's)... We also have a DVR that can download stuff from the Internet, a set-top box that can stream Netflix stuff, and a couple consoles with Internet connectivity.

      Our needs are fairly low. While we may very well wind up with a few on-line games and a couple Pandora streams at one time, it isn't like we're try

  • by kamapuaa ( 555446 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @03:07AM (#31282260) Homepage
    Widespread fast broadband access is key to a healthy economy and world-leading software industry. Just look at Japan, where...ohh, wait.
  • Abstinence (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 26, 2010 @03:11AM (#31282270)
    A 100MBs line will just create more virgins.
  • Yes but.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by mrsteveman1 ( 1010381 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @03:19AM (#31282312)

    ...what is she going to charge?

  • Not fibre (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tomtomtom ( 580791 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @03:23AM (#31282328)

    It really, really, *really* irks me that Virgin's advertising constantly goes on about it being "fibre optic" where ADSL is copper.

    Fact is, Virgin is NOT fibre optic in the sense that their advertising implies - at best and in some areas only, they have fibre to the cabinet. They do not offer fibre to the home anywhere (which ironically BT actually are offering in some new-build areas). BT also has FTTC in some areas already and is rolling this out into more rural areas to improve speeds there.

    • Re:Not fibre (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Cimexus ( 1355033 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @03:52AM (#31282432)

      I agree that this is a bit misleading. Virgin isn't alone in doing this - it seems to be a common thing for FTTN (fibre to the node) networks everywhere. In my city (Canberra, Australia), there is a company called TransACT ( that has an extensive network which they also like to advertise as being fibre. But it's only fibre to each distribution box (each servicing 50-100 homes), then a short copper link which they run to the premises. They run VDSL at 52 Mbps over the copper, delivering IPTV, phone and Internet access. So like the Virgin proposal, it's only fibre to the node, not to the home. Some areas are being upgraded to VDSL2 which brings speeds up towards 100 Mbps.

      Not to say that's a bad thing - the short copper runs mean you are guaranteed the advertised speed (unlike ADSL2+, on which you get 'as fast as your line will allow', which can be pretty bad if your copper line is more than 3 or 4 km long). But to contrast their 'fibre' network to 'crappy old DSL' is plainly wrong (especially considering they even use an xDSL technology for the last mile!).

      • by sam0737 ( 648914 )

        But who (average consumer I mean) want real FTTH anyway? Which means you will need to pay for the Fiber-Copper converter, or get a Fiber capable network card.

        • Why make your life harder converting fiber to copper, pulling copper cable inside the house, using a modem to convert copper to utp and so on when you can just get a fiber to utp adapter for less than 100$....
          The reason they chose to work with adsl and dsl and all that crap is because they can lock users into their own telephony and modems they give you are if not cheaper then proprietary - you'll pay a dollar or so rent for it for as long as you subscribe when it probably costs them 20-30$ a piece.

          • Not really, the real reason is so they don't have to spend lots of money digging up the old copper and replacing it with fibre. I don't know how your phone company does it, but in new build areas BT intend to put fibre in from the start, not copper.

        • Me!

          And it's 'Fibre To The Home' not Fibre To The Desktop, ISP's don't expect you to deploy fibre gear throughout your existing infrastructure any more than cable providers expect you to have a home cable network. Everything is output over Ethernet once it's in your house.

          Or were you looking for a +funny?

  • It better be the “very close ABOVE” kind, or they just admitted to not giving you what they advertise. Which would be illegal, wouldn’t it?

    • They use the magic words "up to" in their advertising, then they can sell whatever they want as whatever speed they want to call it.

      • by RMH101 ( 636144 )
        that's because it's going to be variable, as the last mile isn't fibre optic. See also ADSL connections that promise up to 8MB - your ISP can't guarantee the signal quality between exchange and your house. they can average it out over multiple subscribers and give you an indication by your postcode, but that isn't going to tell them if you have a dodgy cable run from telegraph post to your house that reduces the speed slightly.
        • by Tim C ( 15259 )

          that's because it's going to be variable, as the last mile isn't fibre optic. See also ADSL connections that promise up to 8MB

          Well I can't comment on what exactly the cable coming through my wall is, but I have Virgin cable broadband and my experience is that I get pretty-much every last bit of my "up to 10Mbps" connection.

          That compares extremely favourably with my old ADSL connection, which while advertised as "up to 8Mbps" actually reported a line speed of ~2Mbps and rarely delivered much above about 1.5M

    • In much the same way as they can advertise 'unlimited' data plans I assume, with some small print on the bottom of the screen essentially saying YMMV.
      • To be fair, Virgin do seem to be pretty good about meaning unlimited. They do throttle (aka "traffic shape") at busy periods if you've been slurping big time, but I'm not aware of them imposing bandwidth caps or disconnecting anyone.
        • And they don't throttle at all off-peak, which is very handy. I had to upload several GBs of videos to my publisher recently (mainly screencasts, using Apple's animation codec, which produces very large images for editing) and I could leave the upload running from 8pm to 3pm the next day without any throttling. Of course, it would be nicer if they provided enough upstream that it didn't take a few days to upload everything...
  • The quality of the Virgin brand is not honored by its out of date NTL service infrastructure. It really should be addressed if these services are to be of use to Small business individuals, Research students and the like. A friend of mine who's 20MB connection I share via wireless when I visit him was offline for a whole week, because he was late in paying bill by a couple of days. Having paid the bill, it required two visits by differing engineers and the modem being replaced as they knocked it out. Wher
  • by oljanx ( 1318801 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @03:57AM (#31282446)
    I'd like to have a 100mbps connection while downloading games, videos and the occasional large file. Beyond that, I don't really need it. With 100mbps I could pull down a gigabyte in less than a minute and a half. At those rates my household would probably spend less than two hours a month actually utilizing the full bandwidth potential. And between the four of us we're online almost 24/7. I'm assuming Virgin is expecting the same from most of their customers. And as soon as heavy users start stressing their network, you'll see caps imposed.
  • Availability... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by paulhar ( 652995 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @04:02AM (#31282460)

    > "There is nothing we can't do with our fibre optic cable network,

    Apart from get it anywhere near approximately 50% of the population, and that is mostly in the very dense urban areas. Sure, wonderful if you live in an area that NTL cabled back in the 90s.

    • Re:Availability... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bsa3 ( 200 ) <brad AT facefault DOT org> on Friday February 26, 2010 @04:50AM (#31282692) Homepage

      Indeed. Has to have been cabled before all the cable companies merged into Virgin, because they haven't laid a single meter of cable since and never will again.

      • Re:Availability... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @06:39AM (#31283188) Homepage

        Ding. I work in a 90's era business park that can only get crappy ADSL. The NTL/Telewest/Virgin cable runs end just across the road, and they are adamant that they have no plans to extend it. This is business custom they're turning down here, and what's amazing is that their attitude is quite openly "Nope, not interested. Go with BT."

        Given that their residential service is much more expensive than a BT/Sky package, and that their only USP, content on demand, hasn't been meaningfully refreshed in months, I guess they've decided to just turtle up and squeeeeze their existing customer base as much as possible, rather than invest in getting any new custom.

  • Sure, it'll be great if they actually put this out and sell it at a reasonable price then don't count on it. What? You've never seen vaporware in the broadband market before?
    • Well the 50Mbps package costs £38, all of £5 more than I was paying for 20Mbps and a phone. So I really don't see where you are coming from... And I've had a substantially better service from cable that I have ever had from ADSL, but as always YMMV.
  • Missing words (Score:3, Informative)

    by Rik Sweeney ( 471717 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @04:16AM (#31282518) Homepage

    Virgin Promises Up To 100Mbps Connections To UK Homes

    What you'll really get is something completely different

  • Well 100Mbit is all good and well but considering Virgin have some serious traffic shaping going on (4-12 peak time speed cap if you, err, use your connection iirc). It's a shame they don't just release a plan where they WONT cap you (ie you pay us XYZ for 200gig etc)
  • DPI of your internet connection [] at twice the maximum speed currently available on their network!

    I'll stick with my favoured LLU ADSL ISP (Andrews and Arnold [] - No filtering, no shaping, almost constantly get max connection speed in my area (8Mb/s), first line support is an engineer, not a child with a script).
  • Then its just like S Korea. Any provider can tap into the shared box and link you to their back haul network, beyond cable or adsl.
    The real trick is the telco nodes seeing you as a bunch of adsl users rather than a single users.
    If you live in a new estate or flats with optical rolled out then your just another consumer who would have got a customer pipe deal in the past for the $$$.
    The real trick is the back haul and shared links around the UK.
    If its all saturated in the city or suburbia and then ont
  • by Aceticon ( 140883 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @05:51AM (#31282986)

    The stated speed of 100MB/s will only work as long you don't actually use it that often. If you use Bittorrent and/or Youtube/iPlayer too much Virgin will trottle down your connection (they do it alreay with their current 40MB/s fibre offer.

    Oh, and by the way, your connection will be silently censored.

    And let's not forget that Virgin is also a media company: if you, your kids, the neighbour (that managed to hack into your Wireless connection because you used no or easy encryption) or anybody else actually downloads music-tracks/videos/games/apps from some fishy place or other through your connection, expect a call from the appropriate industry's lawyers.

    Last but not least, most Virgin companies have incredibly bad costumer service: even when their products are good, you can't trust them not to overcharge you, auto-renew your contracts against your wishes and/or other fishy practices. Usually they include incredible clausules in their contract designed to make it impossible for you to leave (good luck remembering to cancel your contract at a very specific couple of days in the year before they auto-renew).

  • When are they actually going to lay fibre to my town then? I realize 60k people is far too few for them bother with - no cable provider has ever rolled out cable to Maldon.

  • by Spad ( 470073 )

    I'm on their 20Mbit package at the moment; I don't really need any faster downstream at the moment, but I would like a faster upstream (currently 1Mbit), so what's the upstream going to be on the 100Mbit downstream package?

  • Cable is crap and will always be crap due to the way that its shared bandwidth.

    At least with my 1.5Mbps ADSL, I can actually GET 1.5Mbps even in peak time.

  • ...but this whole thing about "unrealistic" and yada-yada is very foreign to someone who has grown up in Sweden. I have had a 100/100 Mbit/s unmetered connection for the last 3 years. It costs me about 45-50 USD / month.
    This is not uncommon, rather it's the rule. It's also quite rare to see services below 10 Mbit/s unless you are in a rural area.

    The reason you don't see 100 Mbit conenctions in the US is because the big telcos are not feeling the heat, they are lazy.

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser