ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Virgin Media TV and Broadband: the outdated, unreliable but cheaper alternative to Sky.

Updated on November 25, 2015

Virgin Media Broadband: line rental

More and more people are choosing to ditch their home landline telephone numbers as mobile phone usage becomes more popular, but ditching the landline means you can't have broadband. Almost every broadband supplier (including Sky) buys broadband from BT "wholesale" and then sells it to you white-labelled under the own name.

Enter Virgin Media (previously called NTL). Unlike all other broadband service providers in the UK, this cabled service doesn't use BT technology to deliver services to your home. Instead, it uses a network of independent hardware installed in most major towns and cities in the UK and generally delivered by fibre-optic cable to a port somewhere outside your home; and then via coaxial cable to your property. This allows Virgin Media to generally provide much faster speeds of internet than BT currently can because the original cable system was more up-to-date than the old fashion copper-cable system that BT owns.

But here's the catch - if you want a 'deal' on your broadband package with Virgin Media you'll be forced to by line rental as well. This is a con, because unlike other suppliers Virgin Media doesn't deliver broadband to your property along a telephone line.

So why do Virgin Media charge a line rental with their broadband packages? Simple: more money. Every other company charges it so they do too.

But Virgin Media is really fast, isn't it?

It's true that Virgin Media offer some incredible speeds compared to other suppliers. I myself am apparently being served 152Mb broadband speeds from Virgin Media.

The problem? The majority home home computers have a maximum ethernet cable speed of 100Mb per second. That means that if if you do manage to get 152Mb at your home router, by the time it's gone along the cable and into your computer you're now down to a maximum of 100Mb. If effect, you're computer has throttled the speed down by 52Mb.

An example of 152mb Virgin Media broadband connection
An example of 152mb Virgin Media broadband connection

And for wireless users, the speed reduction gets even worth as very few wireless devices can transfer the speeds of a wired Ethernet connection.

Of course, having all that speed does mean that if you have multiple people using the broadband at any one time (like you on your PC, your partner of their tablet and perhaps a child gaming) you will feel less lag than say a 20Mb connection. In reality, however, 100Mb compared to 152mb is really difficult to notice a difference it. Here's my speed from a 2014 laptop over wireless (taken from my laptop when no one else was using the internet and at 19:20hrs on a weekday:

As you can see, I'm able to achieve just over 31Mb. If with a 500Mb connection I'm never going to be able to transfer more than 31Mb/sec of data over the connection.

The upload speed is incredible though - that's one thing I will say. If, like me, you're interested in producing websites and Youtube videos, the ability to be able to upload at over 10Mb/sec over a wireless connection is very handy and a definite plus of Virgin Media broadband.

What about reliability?

I was with Sky Broadband previous to Virgin Media for about 3 years and I can count on one hand the problems I had with reliability of the service. Sadly, the same can't be said for Virgin Media.

In the past week I've had a dropped connection - the router has flashing green lights (never a good sign) and the service can be down anywhere form 10 minutes to a few hours.

Sadly, phone Virgin's Customer Services department really make you feel you're banging your head against a brick wall: they make you switch everything off, plug in to the router direct, check if there's an active connection (clearly not or it would be working!) and all this after spending 5 minutes going through all the options on the phone system.

I'll be honest now - I don't have any stats - but my experience (and my next door neighbour who has been a Virgin customer for over 8 years) is that the reliability of Virgin Media is anything less than to be desired. Look on the Virgin Media support forums if you don't believe me.

Tivo: the most disappointing product in the Virgin Media line-up

If there's one product in the Virgin Media package that really feels cheap it's TiVo, which is Virgin Media's answer to Sky+. This clunky, out dated and extremely slow TV service looks ancient next to a Sky+ HD Electronic Programme Guide (EPG for short). It's slow to react to the remote control and not exactly east to navigate, either. I did ask Virgin why it was so clunky:

@BluesF1Brother I'm sorry you're not a fan Ritchie, we're always trying to improve the service and we're constant... https://t.co/8o7ZI5A5xn

— Virgin Media (@virginmedia) May 21, 2015

On the plus side it does currently have a Netflix application (additional subscription required). As a Netflix fan this was appealing to me when I was considering Virgin Media as a service provider. However, navigation the app is awkward and exploring new titles even more so. So much, that I've ended up plugging my laptop into my TV via HDMI to make real use of the Netflix app. Android Smart TV now on order!

Ending a Virgin Media contract early without penalties

When Virgin Media increase their prices (which they've done to me twice in 8 months) you're allowed to leave your contract within 30 days with absolute no penalties. It's a law.

So, if they hike your price and you're still in a contact ask to leave. They'll try their best to stop you, but by law, they can't. For more information see the blog 'How to end your Virgin Media contract early (without penalties)'.

Summary

OK, so I've been pretty hard on Virgin Media, but for for good reason. Using a friend Sky+ HD box for a weekend babysitting showed me just how much easier (and faster) Sky is. That said, Sky seems to be more expensive as a package.

What really annoys me is Virgin's insistence that I must pay line rental to have broadband. That really cheese me off because it's totally unnecessary and would reduce my monthly bill but £15 a month. Especially when the reality is that Superfast Broadband really is more of a marketing ploy than a real benefit to a home consumer.

Personally, with the improvements in Smart TV's and online streaming, I'm likely to ditch everything other than broadband soon.

Thank you for reading this Hub. I hope you found it helpful and learned something new today. I would love it if you would share it on your favourite social media account such as Facebook or Twitter. Ritchie Hicks is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk. Buy supporting this Hub and following the links to Amazon and Ebay you encourage me to bring new, refreshing content to Hubpages and help people out with new ideas, hints and tips; without it costing you a penny.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)