Virgin Media CEO: Net neutrality is "bollocks," promises to breach agreement with customers

Neil Berkett, the new CEO of Virgin Media (my ISP at home in London, along with BT) has announced that he considers Net Neutrality to be "a load of bollocks" and he's promised to put any website or service that won't pay Virgin a premium to reach its customers into the "Internet bus lane."

As a Virgin customer, I'm not paying to see those services that bribe Virgin to reach me, I'm paying to reach the entire web, whichever bits I think are useful, as quickly as Virgin can deliver them.

Theoretically, I'm locked into a Virgin plan for another six months, but as far as I'm concerned, they've just announced that they're violating the agreement by announcing that the services I can reach will be systematically slowed down unless they pay Virgin extra. That means that we're now null and void. I'll be calling to cancel today.

Who's with me?

In an interview with the Royal Television Society’s Television magazine, far from covering up their intentions, Virgin Media’s new incoming CEO Neil Berkett - who joined the Virgin Media Board just a few days ago - has launched an attack on the ideas and principles behind net neutrality.

“This net neutrality thing is a load of bollocks,” he said, adding that Virgin is already in the process of doing deals to speed up the traffic of certain media providers.


Update: Charlie Stross is pissed -- and he's convinced that Virgin drops packets if they detect a router on your network. This jibes with my experience too.


  1. that’s it, i’m out. i hereby will boycott all virgin merchandise and services. what is being attacked here is my daughters future and i won’t give one slim dime to virgin anymore. have to throw away my phone now.

  2. I see the name change from NTL Telewest to Virgin Media has done absolutely nothing to their customer service. Hope you have more success moving away from them than I’m currently having with our business ADSL, they claim they’ve no longer got access to BT/Ofcom’s migration code database.

  3. Before the end of the week, Branson will issue a retraction statement and give every subscriber something for free.

    Branson is hugely pro-innovation, you can only expect he won’t be happy with this. And Virgin are known for giving free stuff to unhappy customers.

  4. I’m really surprised that you have taken the reported words of a new CEO as cause enough to try and start a campaign. I’d rather wait to see outcomes.

  5. His ‘bus lane’ comment succinctly demonstrates exactly why net neutrality is so important.

  6. Cory, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the cancellation of your contract, please keep us updated on how it goes.

  7. I dropped Telewest (now the ‘better’ half of NTL^H^H^HVirgin Media) for Internet service four years ago.

    I ditched them for many reasons, amongst them:

    -broken transparent proxying
    -random service outages in the middle of the night that lasted 2+ hours with no warning or subsequent explanation
    -asymmetric upstream smaller than it should be to use the downstream properly
    -consistent failure to reach claimed downstream speeds
    -customer service from hell – even better with NTL
    -dodgy pricing if you don’t take their TV service
    -phone line not optional, and subject to frequent outages

    I have ADSL from Zen now, works fine unless it rains for a few days thanks to my leaky BT line.

    Virgin Media has a lot more in common with Virgin Trains than their planes.

  8. “Theoretically, I’m locked into a Virgin plan for another six months, but as far as I’m concerned, they’ve just announced that they’re violating the agreement by announcing that the services I can reach will be systematically slowed down unless they pay Virgin extra. That means that we’re now null and void.”

    I wonder if that argument will hold water. Let us know, and record your call for our convenience (and probable laughter)!

  9. If I had to guess I’d say this is related to the whole iPlayer bandwidth consumption thing – saber rattling to try to improve their bargaining position when asking the BBC and government to cover some of the costs there.

  10. Well that’s just great, isn’t it? Let us know how you get on, Cory – I’m with Virgin too (at the minute)

  11. Just curious, is Branson the “good” guy or not ?
    All i read / heard bout him was that he put(s) an immense amount of money in renewable energy-things (my english kinda sucks, i hope you get what i mean) and stuff like that (philantropist ?)
    Never heard any evil, villainy stuff or something :P

  12. We received a letter from VirginMedia just last week mentioning BBC’s iPlayer service in passing as a great reason for getting their broadband service so clearly they’re not feeling the pain too much.

    The main point of the letter was to announce to customers that they were going to increase people’s bills by £1 unless you signed up to their ‘e-billing’ service by June and no longer received paper bills. Getting your bill online was then referred to as a £1 ‘saving’ later in the same letter. I don’t know who is more stupid, them, or me for being a customer simply because they were cheap at the time.

  13. Now I’m confused… What’s an internet bus lane? In real life the traffic in the bus lane gets to travel faster than the rest of the traffic – what’s he trying to say?

  14. You can’t exactly call them greedy–
    Virgin Media’s 3-yr average net profit margins: -1.4% (yes, that’s negative)
    Google’s 3-yr average net profit margins: 26.1%

    I’m always surprised at the level of fury around this issue. Very popular data-heavy sites could reduce performance of all other sites if packets were treated on a first-come-first-serve basis. The companies are being site-egalitarian. They’re also ensuring that the sites putting the most pressure on the tubes are paying for the enormous infrastructure costs. Frankly I prefer that over my parents being charged even more when they don’t YouTube/BitTorrent/whatever.

  15. Wow. And Branson calls himself a progressive. If I wanted restricted access I’d buy Compuserve or Prodigy – oh wait – they went out of business, didn’t they?

  16. What a shame! This statement has really tarnish the great image Virgin has established… although majority of their customer will just carry-on using Virgin Media since the general public in the UK are so used to getting rip off left right and centre.

  17. For everyone’s information, I’ve heard great things about the ADSL2 provider Be ( I’ve just signed up for them – after a warning about multi-week waiting periods on the site, they’ve said they’re going to activate my account in 4 days!

    The packages they offer are cheaper than Virgin (£18 for their “unlimited” package) and offer a lot faster connectivity (up to 24 meg downstream and 1.3 upstream for that package).

    Haven’t used them yet, so they might still suck (although I’ve read some glowing reviews), but at least they’re still theoretically net neutral.

  18. Annoyedcapitalist: the empirical evidence from Internet2 researchers who’ve used the best-available QoS mechanisms is that the management costs of these systems are ALWAYS higher than adding the capacity necessary to obviate them:

    Network operators want to charge us *three times* for our connections:

    1. I pay for my broadband

    2. Google pays for its broadband

    3. My ISP charges Google to connect to my broadband

    This is just rent-seeking, exploiting a regulatory monopoly — the public’s largesse — to pick the public’s pocket.

    Imagine that you ran a successful independent pizzeria, Annoyedcapitalist’s American Style. When I call you up, BT says, “You’re ringing a basic-tier pizzeria. Please hold for 2 minutes, the time we delay calls to Annoyedcapitalist’s American Style because they haven’t paid us a ‘premium tier’ fee. Their line isn’t engaged — we just don’t route calls to them as efficiently as we might in order to maximize our revenue. In the meantime, if you’re hungry for pizza *now*, why not try Domino’s, who have paid for premium-rate call-routing.”

    That’s a pretty sweet racket for BT — whose lines and right of ways have been paid for by the public, directly (through subsidy when they were a public entity) and indirectly (though free and low-cost rights-of-way) — but how is this good for the public, pizza, or capitalism?

    If BT or Virgin want to run a purely capitalist enterprise, let them negotiate for every foot of sewer and every pole they string their wires through, and pay market rates for them. But if they’re going to get this stuff at public subsidy, they need to act in the public’s interest — or someone else should be given their wires and the mandate to run them.

  19. >> For everyone’s information, I’ve heard great
    >> things about the ADSL2 provider Be
    >> (

    Be are owned by O2, and I was with them for a few months and they were great, until O2 released their own branded service which was cheaper (esp. if you have an O2 mobile, £7.50 pm for 8 Mbps capped ADSL2+) and I moved over penaalty free :o). And yes, they are pretty good; my ADSL2+ connection gives me 500 Kbps downloads as oposed to the 220 Kbps I was getting on an equivalent ADSL (BT’s DSLMax) connection.

    Of course, my mother and sister are both still stuck at 1 Mbps via cable, paying over twice as much as I do for ~4 Mbps, and unable to use any ADSL services as their phone lines (and tv) are operated by the same company. Oh yes, and that would be Virgin then. :oP

  20. Well that’s me just having cancelled my subscription to Virgin Media.

    Now I am off to get my land line reconnected so I can get the current pick of the litter ADSL24 to be my new ISP.

    Oddly when I told them why I was cancelling they wanted to know where I had read about the “total bollocks” statement.

    I said Boing Boing, and the guy actually wrote it down to forward to the powers that be.

    Completely ignoring that that the intervew was with Royal Television Society’s Television magazine.

    Seems mad to be persuant of who is reporting something rather than which idiot CEO is shooting his mouth off.

  21. Why did you ever go with Virgin in the first place? As UK ISPs go, they are quite poor; the rates are high and the service is non-existent. There are several good ISPs available anywhere in the UK that has ADSL service – Zen and the various Entanet resellers (adsl24, usfsn, etc) – so there’s no good reason to use a poor one.

  22. I think a lot of Virgin customers are like I was, actually NTL/Blueyonder customers who suddenly found themselves kidnapped by these clows.

  23. @#18:
    yep, I have used ‘Be’ ( as my ISP as well for the last 3 years and the’unlimited’ service is really unlimited in every sense of the word and really reliable service and speedy customer service as well. Totally beats BT / NTL which i have also used previously until i switched. Even when i moved home they got my service up and running again in less then 2 weeks.

  24. @#22 Asuffield,

    Internet in the UK is a joke, the most expensive Zen Broadband allows only 50Gb downloads in a month.

    Haha, for a whole family to use that, say maybe 2 adults and 3 children, that’s 10Gb a month each pretty much.

    That’s insanely low, that’s what? maybe a few piracy downloads, say 3 seasons of scene quality releases? 2 720p movie releases? or 2 DVD ISOs? 10 720p tv shows? not even 2 games!

    Even for the father of the family who uses the internet legitimately, that’s maybe 30 streamed TV shows (around one a day on 4OD, BBC iPlayer, ITV catchup), then he can’t download any more albums from itunes…

    Sorry but I’m here in Switzerland getting 15mbps downstream (maybe drops to 8 during peak hours) and unlimited download, it’s about time the UK caught up I say.

  25. Cory @#19, you don’t even need to invent new hypotheticals. There’s a story, although possibly apocryphal, that the automatic exchange was invented because a telephone operator favoured one business (her husbands’) at the expense of another (the inventor’s), misdirecting calls for the latter to the former. The new automatic exchange, the story continues, wouldn’t have such bias.

    The situation here is similar. It’s done for money rather than nepotism, but the end result is the same.

  26. @#4

    It seems like a perfectly good reason to take action to me.

    If you just sit on your rosy-red backside, waiting to see outcomes, you haven’t made a damn bit of difference in directing what that outcome might be.

    This is so obvious that I’m amazed it needs to be explained. Cory and a bunch of other folks boycott (or attempt to boycott) the product of a company where the CEO has loudly gone on record with an very aggressive statement to the effect that he plans to exploit his customers.

    Then there is your approach, in which you drop trou and curl yourself over a large log with your buttocks in the air, and wait, wait to see what happens.

    Hmmmmm. I wonder which action (or lack thereof) might possibly let the company know that their customers won’t allow themselves to be screwed?

  27. Corry, I hear what you are saying “paying three times” … the general trick backbone providers play is that since they themselves are charged for capacity (on layer 0 – the cable) in terms of the highest of either outgoing or incoming … it means that if they have 10G outgoing the incoming traffic is “free”. However, since the users of outgoing (web-sites) are totally different from incoming traffic (ISP) they average the costs out and assing relative value to each … clearly a web-site is willing to pay more/GB than a end-user.

    It leads to an interesting situation where a cost to the back-bone provider from London to Milan can be different from the cost from Milan to London in the same carrier (in Europe this is not the case, in the more cut throat market in the US this is already the case)

    In effect net-(non)-neutrality is already in play for the backbone providers themselves (very few BB network own their own fiber, most rent it in long term lease)


  28. What is the point in the internet, which is supposed to be free when your ISP force feeds you crap you don’t want and restricts the good stuff you want. I can already imagine the stuff they will want you to see: Virgin Media stuff. My friend is on Virgin and I will be sending him a twitter informing him of this travesty in net neutrality. I don’t know why companies don’t get it. People want to do what they want to do. They want freedom.

  29. Cory,

    You’re probably aware of this, but your friend here is the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999:

    Note in particular the following examples in Schedule 2 of terms that may make a contract unfair:

    1(j) enabling the seller or supplier to alter the terms of the contract unilaterally without a valid reason which is specified in the contract;

    (k) enabling the seller or supplier to alter unilaterally without a valid reason any characteristics of the product or service to be provided;

    – both of which it seems Virgin Media could reasonably be accused of in this instance.

  30. hmmmmm…clearly, what is required here is a balanced and considered response to an unfortunate corporate policy:YIYIYIYIYIYIYIYI!!! DEATH TO VIRGIN! JIHAD! JIHAD!JIHAD! YIYIYIYIYI!!!!!!!

    do take note, Mr.Branson.

  31. A handy reminder of why I chose Zen from my ADSL line – their reputation for customer service etc, and the hope they would put their customers first – rather than last.

    Also good timing, as I was increasingly being tempted by a package deal for broadband/TV etc, but there’s no way I’d go for Virgin now, so at least there’s one lost sale – plus anyone affected by reading my Tweets/Blog etc…

  32. #7 – The phone line isn’t compulsary, I didn’t have one with virgin for ages until I realised that it worked out far cheaper to get one from them than not

    Personally I’ve not had much problem with Blueyonder/Virgin

    I’ll wait and see what happens… a vague threat in an interview by someone a few days into the job shouldn’t be taken that seriously at this stage.

  33. Once again we (customers) have suddenly become “the product”.

    I remember how disgusted I was when I first time realized that with cable TV _I_ am the product to be delivered to various marketing and advertising agencies.

    It looks like the Internet will be heading the same way if we allow it.

    I a dark future there will be no interaction with the information on the Internet. We will simply sit back quietly while we are blasted with informacials (with the occassional facebook page to keep us hooked).

    Surely this is due to the trend of ISP consolidations and take overs. Once an ISP has a large user base they will start exploting additional revenue models using their customers as leverage in any negotiations.

  34. As a virgin, I already feel somewhat boycotted :D

    Nice moves folk. I’m almost tempted to sign-up just so I can cancel.

  35. Actually, I’m willing to see what happens … as far as I can tell, the download speed I get from any particular site depends not just on how fast my internet access is, but on how fast they provide the data. With Virgin (as with many other ISPs) I can spend more money and get more bandwidth … this CEOs comments could mean they will allow certain companies to pay for me having more bandwidth to download stuff from their sites.

    If it’s a site I’d use anyway, I get faster downloads, and if it is not, then as long as Virgin don’t slow down anyone else, I have exactly the same experience.

    So if BMW wants to sponsor The Onion to have faster downloads (either by increasing their bandwidth uploading or increasing my bandwidth downloading) then I’m happy.

    If ITV or Channel 4 want to pay to have their stuff download quicker over Virgin (or even better, Sky One!) then I’d be happy with that too.

    I don’t see the problem with getting faster downloads paid for by someone else. And since he didn’t say anything about slowing anyone down, I’m willing to wait and see.

  36. Magician, you’re missing the point. Say I want to run a video service. I can buy all the bandwidth in the universe, a bundle of fiber as thick as a baby’s arm going straight into my server, and it won’t make any difference to Virgin’s customers. Virgin is saying that it doesn’t matter how fast they get the data from me — all that matters is how much I’ve paid them to reach Virgin customers.

    So, realistically, how will this work? Will every person who wants to serve files to the Internet have to buy a data connection and then bribe *every ISP in the world* to deliver the packets faithfully to their customers?

    Shouldn’t Virgin’s first service priority be giving me the packets I asked for at the fastest possible speed?

  37. The point is that the net isn’t neutral, hasn’t been for a long time. smaller (i.e. country wide) will have to buy transit from the global players (i.e. AT&T, SPRINT, LEVEL3, NTT, etc.) and their prices differ … meansing it will cost an ISP more to deliver on say a LEVEL3 network than on an NTT network in ASIA but possibly the inverse in Europe.

    The public is used to a “one price fits all” approach but at the same time not market has seen the price errosion the Network market has seen … which means the sales models are fixed margin based ==> different prices to reach different networks …

  38. Cory,

    I’m inclined to strongly recommend Be as well. My company switched from 2MBit/sec SDSL to using Be’s “Be Pro” ADSL service a couple of months ago. We’re getting nearly as much upstream bandwidth as we had with SDSL (1.7MBit/sec vs. the 2MBit/sec we used to have) but we’re now consistently getting 13-15MBit/sec downstream which is lovely. And it’s £22 a month (plus £10/month for 8 static IPs) vs. the £200 a month we were paying for SDSL.

    Customer service has been excellent. I’ve raised 3 support issues so far, all of which have been resolved within a matter of hours.

    We have had one instance of downtime, but they warned us a few days in advance and it was from 3:00-4:00 in the morning.

    According to my router logs, we’re using an average of 4.3GB/day of data (130GB/month) and they haven’t complained that we’re abusing the service as yet. That seems to argue in favour of the “really unlimited” claim. Bearing in mind how cheap the service is, I can’t help wondering how long this will continue though…

    I stumbled across this article because I use VM (cable, not ADSL) at home. I’m going to switch to Be in early May (when my VM contract expires) because VM’s service sucks in so many ways I don’t even know where to start. If I hadn’t already decided to switch, this news would have been the proverbial ungulate-crippling straw.

    Incidentally, if you do decide to sign up with Be, they’ll waive their setup fee if you’re referred by an existing customer.

    Hope the above helps.


  39. Signed up to comment on this one. I’m with Virgin and I thought the bandwidth throttling which gives you a quarter of the advertised speed from 4pm-12pm (often goes to 2-3am) was a compromise I could live with that still allowed me to download what I want.

    This however is pushing things too far. I’m already fed up trying to stream video without constant pauses and now it seems that situation will not get better, but actually worse.

    I’m going to wait and see how this one plays out but I will dump Virgin if this isn’t addressed soon.

    BT is no better, in fact I’d say they were much worse with real caps on how much you can download and I’m still stinging from being banned from their “Anytime” service for using it “Anytime I wanted” which was an abuse of their service apparently!

    Still, staying on topic, this needs to be addressed with people voting with their wallets. Do not underestimate the importance of net neutrality I’d say.

  40. Like a lot others, i was someone quite happily using Telewest/Blueyonder for ages untill Virgin took over.

    It’s simply quite amazing how quickly downhill the service has gone since Virgin took over.
    -I’ve been forced to upgrade from the mid-speed package to the max speed one, so when the daily throttling system (which Virgin introduced) kicks in, it still goes just about fast enough to be usable.
    -I was prevented from playing WoW for an entire month due to virgin’s network giving a 30% packetloss to that destination. took multiple (paid for) calls to get it fixed.
    -Then there’s the Phorm fiasco
    -And now this comment about net neutrality…

    Virgin, why are you actively trying to make your customers hate you? a Year ago Virgin was the sign of a good brand i’d be happy to buy stuff from, now the name is getting driven into the gutter.

    If it wasn’t for the fact the phoneline in our house was of horrific quality, i’d be quitting in an instant to go to ADSL.
    Ah well, should be moving out in a few months hopefully, i can guarantee i won’t be getting Virgin media there.

  41. ObBritishVernacular: Charlie Stross is pissed off.

    True, I have known Charlie to occasionally be pissed, but that is more usually related to a night down the pub rather than dealing with Virgin…

  42. Yes, Thanks Andrew!!! I just learned the word ungulate. 
    I find this discussion of internet service in the UK very interesting. I’m getting the impression that internet service in the UK is very expensive and is riddled with contingencies. I pay 15$ a month for DSL (unlimited of course, I don’t know any company that still charges piece bit in the US.) I get 2588kb/s down and 570kb/s up usually. I couldn’t tell you if that is good or bad for speed, but I can say that there are very very few times that I ever feel inconvenienced. I do know that there are faster services available, but just not in my area. I couldn’t tell you how much data I download in a given month as the question has never come up, but I know that I fill up an empty a 50 gig section of my hard drive every couple of weeks with Torchwood, Doctor Who, and other TV shows on top of all my graphic design goodies, ebooks, games, yadda yadda. I’ve never been contacted by my ISP for using up too much internets and never even thought of it as a possibility.

  43. Forget it, Cory. It’s telco-town.

    While I agree it ought to make sense to just add capacity, the industry is so riddled with regulation (much of it self-inflicted) that there will probably be capacity shortcomings for a while.

    Also, my numbners were off above. Virgin Mobile has net margins of -12.6%!! So if you don’t end up changing services, take comfort in the fact that for every dollar you pay them, they end up losing 13 cents. Take that, VM!

  44. Wait for the upcoming “exclusive deals” Virgin Media makes that only one corporation gets the super fast rates, and direct competitors get slowed down or blocked.

    Without Net Neutrality, it’s only a matter of time before internet companies are effectively able to act as censors for a fee.

  45. The problem is in limited alternatives. I don’t know how it is where you live, but here in NW, for any given city or area, you have maybe two decent broadband choices, and it comes down to the lesser of two evils.

    Comcast is the choice I’m with now, even though they have repeatedly stated that anyone using “too much bandwidth” is subject to immediate termination without warning. They follow through, too, as several people in my area have been banned from Comcast. The biggest problem with it is that they don’t even tell you what the upper threshold IS. It’s just “too much,” to be determined at their whim. Still, they’re much faster and more reliable than Qwest, the only other option here. Portland (OR), though, is trying a couple new deals; one to add a competitive cable internet option to the city’s own PUD, and another to try to create an umbrella of “free” (ad-based) wi-fi citywide. At least it’s options…

    Here’s hoping YOU have somewhere else to move to after ditching Virgin.

  46. There’s a good guide to switching providers (including details of your rights under current UK law), here.

    *sigh* The Virgin broadband at the place I just moved into is in my technologically semi-literate housemate’s name. I wonder if I can manage to convince him of the problem.

    I would try phoning Virgin, but they charge some ridiculous fee just to talk to a human on the other side…

  47. There’s also a dispute resolution process at OfCom (the Office of Communications), which should have some power over Virgin Media.


    Landline telecoms, mobile telecoms and broadband are becoming increasingly competitive, with new products and lower prices for businesses and consumers.

    Ofcom seeks to ensure that companies are able to compete fairly and that businesses and consumers benefit from the choice of a broad range of services. We take action to protect consumers from unfair practices;”

    Regrettably, and interestingly, Virgin Media is not a member of Otelo (Office of the Telecommunications Ombudsman) which seems to have slightly more power and be more effective. Virgin Mobile, however, *is* a member…

  48. And of course the last (or maybe first?) resort: Write to your government representatives about the issue of net neutrality, since the UK government seems to need a bit of a wake-up call on this:

    (bleh – that should probably all have gone in one post.)

    I wonder if a workflow management tool would be handy for this process…

  49. Cory,

    You’re extremely welcome.
    Here’s hoping you’re successful in freeing yourself from VM’s evil clutches. They don’t deserve your money (or anyone else’s IMHO).
    I see Mr Stross is thinking about moving to Be. I’m just hoping they don’t succumb to the pressures that are currently screwing up the rest of the UK broadband industry. I fear that may be inevitable.
    By the way, totally off topic but I’ve just started reading Down and Out in The Magic Kingdom and it’s blowing my mind. Can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get around to looking at it. Do you mind me asking which of the many purchase options pays you the most? Amazon via affiliate link?



  50. hmmmm… I am minded to google “cheerleader chants”, file off the serial numbers, insert “BoingBoing” and “Cory” where pertinent and thereby commit a truly horrendous sin. Restrain me Brethren! (and Cistern)

  51. Titan ADSL.
    GBP 19.99 per month.
    30 gig max allowance on peak
    300 gig allowance off peak.

    Great customer service, real people answer the phone and help you.

  52. #38

    “So if BMW wants to sponsor The Onion to have faster downloads…..I’m happy.”

    So if they want to speed up the site you’re content eh?

    What if they want to slow down to a crawl your “BMW cars explode and burn people alive” expose?

    Corporate sponsorship always demands compromise.

    In australia a few years back there was a furore that the McDonalds monopoly based game had been found to be rigged.

    This was reported in full and with the Judges comments, which were not exactly complimentary to MacD’s.

    Except on one major network, where it was not reported at all.

    The news there is sponsored by McDonalds.

    It’s not about you getting info a bit faster, it’s about latrge companies effectively payig to have the data stream controlled to their benefit.

  53. Another vote here for Be. The service is truly unlimited – no caps, no traffic shaping, no blocking (other than some fairly sensible management of port 25). The Be-provided modem is not the best one in the world but it works and you can generally configure it as you’d like. It does concern me slightly that Be has ‘backdoor’ access to the router for updates etc, but not unduly so. ADSL2+ is more sensitive to line conditions esp attenuation, so you shouldn’t expect to get more than 15Mbps or so in the real world. I get 12.5Mbps downstream, 1.2Mbps upstream reliably.

    I have experienced occasional periods where my line flaps, sometimes as often as every other minute. I suspect this is my DSLAM trying to re-train my line for some reason. It always goes away within a day or two.

    All this said, bear in mind that Be is rapidly getting bigger thanks to all the positive press, and eventually they will run out of bandwidth too. Their AUP does allow for sanctions against ‘excessive use’ – though I’ve never heard of anyone ever getting a warning, certainly I download in excess of 200GB most months without problems – and they’re bound to have to look at traffic management measures eventually. But until then, ride the ADSL2+ train all the way into the station :-)

  54. Darn right. Virgin DSL is crap. The only reason I haven’t switched is the cancellation fee.

    I think it’s time to give Be a call.

  55. Stupid reamrks from a CEO who will be no doubt get spanked by Branson soon enough.

    Regarding the whole Charlie Stross dropped packets thing: His cable modem is probably complete shite. It has nothing to do with his router or ISP. There are a lot of modems that do not like routers but it’s not intentional. Just bad software, which you can do nothing about if you lease your modem.

    Mine, for example, occasionally refuses to give my router a DHCP lease until something else (with a different MAC address) is plugged into it. I can then plug my router back in and it works.

  56. Damn, I’m saddened by my fellow SlashDotters. More than half have no clue who Cory is, and most instantly dismissed him or said contemptible things about him.

    The funny thing is, Cory’s views seem to mesh will with those of the SlashDot community, and as a journalist he writes articles with those values that people in the real world have a decent chance of reading.

    Damn SlashDot internet elitists :(

  57. AGENT86:
    Petty slagging is how they distract themselves from coping with a difficult issue. Thankfully I’ve learned to slag people off only when it is anything but petty. :-)

  58. Damm, I’m with Virgin, and was thinking of moving to Be. More that it’s more convenient for the house I’m moving to. I hope that this puiblicity for them does increase the signup time :-)

  59. I’m absolutely on your side with this against Virgin. There’s going to be an all-out effort in the coming few years to re-make the Internet into the digital equivalent of US broadcast television.

    Everything that we find dear about the Internet is under attack by the ISPs and other media corporations.

    I’m off to research which movies, music, etc are made by Virgin, and then to TPB to download torrents of all Virgin products.

    I plan to never pay for another Virgin product in any medium. If I were a recording artist, director, film producer, etc, I’d make sure that I’m involved with ANYONE BUT VIRGIN.

    I guarantee, when this is over, they won’t be “virgin” any more.

  60. Agent 86 – You don’t get many people disagreeing with Cory on BB because BB is kind of Cory’s home, ya know? If you talk shit about someone in their own house unless you are looking for trouble.

    BB is a private blog, which means comments along the lines of “this is stupid” is just noise. On a community site like digg or /. it’s valid commentary on the quality or subject of the content.

  61. Wow, that was kind of garbled. Got interrupted while composing it. You get the point tho.

  62. @WeightedCompanionCube

    There were only two comments I saw in my quick browse-through that were valid criticism, and I actually took the time to thank them for providing reasons instead of jumping on the negative-bandwagon. The majority were rude, dismissive, and ignorant – they weren’t even talking about Virgin, simply Cory-bashing! One of my few bad experiences with a /. discussion, as I normally browse at +5 or +4-and-above. Somehow the negative comments rose to the top, stifling what should have been a lively discussion.

  63. Agent 86 – I think it has a lot to do with the context. Cory posts about dumping Virgin here, it reads a lot like an entry on a personal blog. By the time it gets reposted on another site, the opinion is that it’s some guy ranting about something, which isn’t really newsworthy.

    Digg and Slashdot don’t really relate to people (just like many diggers and slashdotters!) It doesn’t matter how famous someone is, you’ll get a lot of comments along the lines of “Who really cares what Bob/Linus/Cory/etc.. had for breakfast”

  64. Had a reply to my e-mail asking VM whether the comments in the original article were actually true:

    “With Virgin Media rolling out a 50Mb service later this year, we are uniquely equipped to cope with the demand for new bandwidth-hungry services. We strongly support the principle that the Internet should remain a space that is open to all and we have not called for content providers to pay for distribution. However we recognise that as more customers turn to the web for content, different providers will have different needs and priorities and in the long term, it’s legitimate to question how this demand will be managed. We welcome an informed debate on this issue.”

  65. It’s a shame that with all the positive things
    I read about Virgin all the time that this is their mindset. Well, I will never, ever, use a Virgin service again as long as this remains their attitude.

    Net neutrality for life!

  66. People need to be aware of this right now VM are actively blocking access to websites, more and more you might find sites they feel unsuitable blocked by timeout. Try with a proxy and lo and behold there they are working fine. Not talking about dodgy pron or anything but this relates to all the hassle about filesharing etc. They were testing blocking rapidshare recently too…

    They cannot be allowed to get away with this censoring the net!!

  67. As a customer of Be I can recommend them as they’ve been our ISP for over 3 years now and we’ve had no trouble with our connection.

    I do, however, have a comment to make about some ISPs. A while back I chose to take a Masters in Networks and Distributed Systems and during our term we were visited by a leading telecoms provider and were told the realities of telecom/ISP pricing models. In a nutshell, your ISP can offer you close to 100% of it’s bandwidth capacity but chooses to only offer you 50% because MOST customers would be happy with 50% as they a) don’t need more bandwidth and b) couldn’t tell whether they were getting a good deal or not!

    ISPs are running a business where they still believe they are offering a premium service. It’s up to us to convince governments that the world has moved on and the internet is no longer a “premium service”; it’s an essential form of communication as much as the telephone.


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