versonnen

Virgin Media, part 2

Introduction

It has been many months since I wrote about my first experience with Virgin Media. To be honest with you it is actually pretty good so far. However, there are a few things that I should mention that I don't like so much.

The Good

The Service

The service itself has been pretty stable, there have only been two or three outages, but these did not last long. The speed has been tremendous, and it's stability is noteworthy. Below is a statistical image showing this:

Stability result from Pingtest.net

In regard to restrictions and throttling, I have to be honest and say that I didn't really notice these. On a typical day I would probably download up to 15 GB. Once I passed the 4 GB threshold, the throughput would marginally decrease to about 40 Mbits and if I continued it would decrease even further. Nonetheless this did not bother me in the slightest.

The Router

The router seems to be well built. As far as I can tell it is a modified router from NetGear with custom firmware. One of the things that I was excited to see was that the router has a gigabit switch. One rarely sees these on the routers given the customers of ISPs; it is also rare on average consumer routers as well even though broadband speeds are constantly increasing. In some countries even you can get as a normal customer broadband packages that start at 100 Mbits. The router that I received from Sky Broadband when I first joined did not have a gigabit switch.

Another nice surprise was to see that the router UI, and the firmware itself, allows the user to make a lot of changes that are normally only available in retail routers. Furthermore one can look the logs and other status information about various aspects of the router, including the modem.

The Bad

The Router

One of my major criticisms is not at all with the service, but instead with the hardware. I, as part of the package, received the new Superhub 2. Let me list the problems:

  • the user interface is slow
  • it has some quirks that make changing settings tiresome. one tends to have to have to reboot the router after every major change for it to successfully apply the change
  • the Wi-Fi signal has a good range but a low stability, meaning I would get every few minutes disconnected from the router. Even when I was right next to it
  • though it includes a good deal of features and options to change, it does not give options to change the DNS IPs

My solution to the latter problem was to simply deactivate the router's DHCP server and use my own. Regarding the other problems, I simply try to avoid doing anything unless it is necessary. Furthermore I don't use the Wi-Fi unless I can't avoid it.

Throttling on ports

I noticed that Virgin Media doesn't just throttle traffic in general but seems to throttle ports as well. I haven't specifically noticed this on port 80 or 443, but for port 22 (SSH) they do throttle. Below are two images that I print screened from FileZilla. I did a test where I downloaded a file from a high bandwidth server over both port 22 and one greater than port 1024.

Running on port 22 Running on port greater than 1024

As can be seen, there is a noticeable difference. If you have the option to change the listening port of your SSH server, do so. Otherwise you'll be throttled to about 2.5 Mbits.

Overall

My experience with Virgin Media broadband has been pretty good so far, apart from the issues mentioned above. I did however find some sort of solution for all of them, and it has been steady going. Considering however that I get this service at a reduced price, I can't really ask for more.

Extra

Virgin Media recently decided to do a supercharge, meaning that most of their customers would receive a free upgrade to a higher speed package. In my case I'm going to be supercharged to 100 Mbits. I have a few friends who are not getting the upgrade due to them being connected to an older exchange. That's a bit of a shame, it'd be nice to see if Virgin Media gives compensation for this.