Virgin Media update their Traffic Management policy…

…and make their Broadband package practically useless to most users.

Virgin have updated their throttling policy aparently making it fairer to everyone.  Except it doesn’t make it fair at all and isn’t any better than the existing throttling policy.

Size L customers (4MB) can download 800MB anytime from 4pm to 9pm before triggering the system to throttle their connection down to 1MB for the next 5 hours.  Currently the limit is 750MB from 4pm to midnight when you’ll be throttled to 2MB and this only lasts for 4 hours.  Bear in mind the upload spead gets reduced also and this has a big effect on the overall speed of an internet connection.

There’s one important thing to note here: if you hit the limit at 8:59pm you will be reduced right through to 1:59am unlike the current policy where you went back up to full speed at midnight even if you had only just been throttled.

This effectively stops Virgin Media customers buying software online (taking advantage of cheaper prices) or downloading legitimate software like Linux which comes on a CD or DVD image.
Gamers who frequently apply patches to their games at over 1GB for some patches or taking advantage of the Steam network where you buy and download whole games online will be screwed if they try and do it from 4pm to 9pm.

The original policy is here and the new policy is here. note that there is a restriction on upload as well as download. (these links may be updated soon please comment if you notice the change)

The story is on the register also here.

I’ve emailed Virgin for their comments as I’m interested to find out why they are putting a positive spin on this.  I’m certain that comments like ‘you can still download as much as you like just at a slower speed’ will come out but this is hiding behind the broadband providers definition of unlimited.  Virgin Media advertise all over the place that they provide an unlimited service yet this is blatently a limited service as you are limited to using the full speed you pay for only during off peak hours, unless you make sure you download next to nothing at all.

Don’t download the new Linux distro, don’t apply windows updates, don’t buy software that you’ll need to download and don’t update your games between 4pm and 9pm.  You may also notice that taking advantage of Virgins ‘awesome’ broadband plus service will not do you any favours, or watching BBC’s new online content, listening to the radio downloading podcasts… it goes on and on and on…

So, while many more broadband customers are doing all they can to encourage users to make as much useage of their services as possible, and the government themselves want bigger and better broadband for Britain I am gobsmacked that Virgin Media’s policy is to discourage the use of Broadband during the hours people are most able to use their service, especially if they have to go out to work every day.

Will virgin be reducing the charges for Broadband?  What about introducing charge throttling?  for example a customer on a 4MB (£25 per month) connection being throttled to a 1MB connection when reaching the 800MB has now dropped into the band equal to a customer on a 2MB (£18 per month) connection.

Lack of HD and Sky channels, more aggressive Broadband throttling, Higher prices for on demand movies and content is proving that Virgin Media are in big big trouble indeed.
Given the exodus of customers earlier in 2007 when the Sky channels were dropped I forsee another exodus as people move to a fairer and cheaper Broadband service of which there are a great many.

It’s going to cost me a lot of money to move but I think I am one of the people sick to the back teeth of Virgin Media’s constant reduction of value in the services they offer.  One day the investors are going to wake up and realise that Virgin had a lot of potential but they have no customers.

Customers = Money even Richard Branson should know this; I know he’s not the one in charge at Virgin Media (he just provides the brand name) but he better wake up and smell the coffee real soon as this kind of thing results in a lack of trust in a brand and that will hurt Branson more as it will ripple through all the other areas tagged with the same name.

I am the caffeine coder and I am pi**ed!

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