Virgin Media – Fibre Optic Broadband


Thursday, February 21st, 2008. 8:44am

David Howarth, (Cambridge MP)

Virgin Media supplies me, and many of your constituents with Broadband internet. They wrote to me this week to say: “Virgin Broadband comes via fibre optic cable”. It clearly doesn’t as normal traditional metallic cables bring it into my house.

Virgin media have been at this game of lying about the fibre optic nature of their network for some time, and when Googling around my latest letter my attention was drawn to a recent ruling by the Advertising Standards Agency with respect to Virgin Media on the issue of them saying they deliver Broadband by fibre optic cable:

http://www.asa.org.uk/asa/adjudications/Public/TF_ADJ_43928.htm

The ASA investigated Virgin Media under ” CAP Code clause 7.1 (Truthfulness) “, and despite the fact that they lied found them not in breach as they determined it was “not likely to mislead”.

I find the tone of the adjudication incredible:

“One complainant objected that the poster was misleading because they believed that the delivery of broadband from the street into the home used metal co-axial cable and not fibre-optic cable.”

It is not a matter of belief, the complainant clearly could see metal co-axial coming into his home, as I can into mine, to suggest that this is anything less than a matter of fact is absurd.
The ASA appear unaware that in some countries in the world, notably South Korea, fibre optic cabling to the home is common.

They could even find examples of fibre optic to homes in this country:

“BT Openreach, Land Securities and British Sky Broadcasting are considering deploying a fibre optic to the home network in the Ebbsfleet Valley due in August 2008″:

http://insight.bt.com/news/Faster-broadband-coming-to-Ebbsfleet-Valley/

Given fiber optic cabling to the home does exist, I think the ASA ruling is wrong and a clear likelihood to mislead is present.

How are we going to get a true broadband Britain that is internationally competitive if the Broadband suppliers are able to lie to their consumers and tell them we already have it?

Britain is backward in this respect, the Government letting Virgin Media tell the public we’ve got fibre optic broadband is not the same as actually getting the network in place. Getting a fibre optic network in place to UK homes and businesses is something I think crucial to the future success of the UK.

Why is the ASA supporting Virgin’s lies, and not BSkyB’s complaint?

As the ASA have ruled, clearly wrongly in my view, my next step is to write to you and ask you to raise this though the channels you have available to you. Perhaps you could raise this in Parliament, pass my email to Chris Smith the ex. Culture Secretary and ASA Chairman, or send it to the appropriate minister?

I have of course approached Virgin Media directly, and they have written to me to say:

Thanks for email to Virgin Media enquiring about laying fibre optic
cable in your area.

We wish to inform that. as of now we don’t have any update about laying
fibre optic cable in your area. However, as we get the information about
the same, we will make sure to inform you through relevant media.

I have also approached trading standards, who referred me to the ASA.

Please do not feel obliged to spend time and money replying to me, I am
happy to have simply had the opportunity to make my opinion known to you.

Many Thanks,

Richard Taylor

23 comments/updates on “Virgin Media – Fibre Optic Broadband

  1. Romeo

    Loool … listen mate, first go & check Wikipedia.

    First you wouldn`t possibly have fiber optic straight into your Network card … Why?
    1st there is not an adapter to fit it yet
    2nd the adapter would blow up.
    3rd the meters on the fiber optic say that it takes 10Gb/s-50Gb/s but the manufacturers say that it could go up to 500Gb/s with no problem (but has not been proven yet.

    Your network card can support 100Mb/s maybe if you`ve spent some $$$$ you might have a 1Gb/s network card. The speed on CAT 7 FTP cable (mostly used on networking) is about the same 1Gb/s up to 100-150 Meters

    So why would you think someone would drag a fiber optic cable straight to your house …? do you think you`ve got some kind of global enterprise in you garage? do you host all Google`s servers in your loft?

    The ISPs are pulling fiber optic to make sure “local networks of their customers” get full advantage of the whole network and the full speed from the server.

    So the only way you would have a fiber optic dispenser on your house is if you are in the middle of your Local Area Network & at the end of a Fiber knod.

    1. Fred Edwin Duncan III

      In regards to Romeo’s post, you are misled about fibre optic. It is possible to have a network card for a fibre optic cable, sound cards have used fibres for years, & regarding the amount a fibre can handle, it has been proved because the telephone cable between this country & the U.S. & Europe, & in many other places around the world, are fibre optic & laid in the 60′s. They handle thousands of calls & data from the stock exchange. A glass fibre is virtually limitless. If a fibre optic cable is bottle-necked to a piece of copper coming in to the house, it isn’t true fibre optic. Virgins Coaxial cable still handles upto 200 tv channels so this is the reason for them installing fibre optic, because the normal broadband was useless with the copper all the way from source with the channels as well. This is what still makes the bottle neck going back to copper, it is absolutely ridiculous.

      South Korea does have true fibre optic because the spent billions renewing the existing infrastructure & including it in new building.

  2. Richard Article author

    Fibre to the home / Fibre to the premises is an established technology, widely used in those countries with which the UK needs to be able to compete in the future if we are not all to get much poorer.

    There are already areas of the UK where it is available:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fibrecity

    I want to see investment in infrastructure capable of enabling the UK compete with the rest of the world. I do not want to see the UK left behind economically, educationally, and socially due to the lack of internet connectivity.

    The UK’s current networks are not fit for the future. We are a long way behind countries like Japan and South Korea and need to take a leap forward.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8282839.stm

  3. rob p

    that shut hm up lol stupid fool. of course you can get fibre to you house, just not everywhere yet, and the network card would not blow up as you cant even connect a fibre cable to a 100mb card. Romeo sort it out

  4. rob p

    also, Romeo, if there is not an adapter to fit it yet then how can the adapter blow up?

    (by the way there are adapters for fibre interface)

  5. EAB

    It’s all about the difference between FTTC and FTTH. Fibre to the cabinet (at the end of your street) or Fibre to the Home.

    In the UK, under the policy of NGA (*Next Gen Access), basically the providers will be upgrading to FTTC. Yes, some countries do FTTH, but this is unnecessary considering FTTC will likely provide the 100Mb stipulated by the likes of Ofcom and UKGov as being sufficient for all the public.

    As far as I understand, the fact that your internet travels it’s last 50m from the end of your street into your cable modem by a co-axial cable is unlikely to make much of a difference.

    If in 5-10 years time we realise we need much faster internet, say up to 1Gb or faster, then it shoudln’t be too much problem to upgrade the street-cabinet to the home link to a Fibre cable, on an ‘as needed’ basis.

    Yes it seems Virgin is pushing it a bit with their ads, but frankly I believe they are doing a great job already by pushing the industry forward with respect to all the other rather latent telecoms companies that we have in the UK…

  6. Martin

    I have just received a letter from Virgin Media (being a customer of theirs) about their latest price increases. The ‘M broadband’ product is to “Increase by 50p”. But crucially, they do not say what the price actually is.

    This furthers my view that Virgin Media have a very murky pricing system. Try finding out from them what the official prices for existing customers actually are. They seem to bear no resemblance whatsoever to anything advertised online.

    Perhaps people could post here what they are actually paying? :)

  7. Richard Taylor Article author

    For a couple of years I’ve had good deals along the lines of those they offer new customers.

    Recently though they’ve refused to do anything better than £25/month for “8MB” broadband internet only. I am hoping that at some point I’ll get back to a better deal – maybe about £10 a month less than that; but it appears it is a bit like many of these things, if you don’t chop and change regularly and leave things alone for more than a year or so you get switched to a poor deal.

    For a period they called me irritatingly regular basis trying to get me to take a telephone from them too.

    Councillors take an interest in other utilities, bus provision, etc. and as Virgin and others can only operate as a result of the wayleaves given by the councils I think it would be right to ask councillors to lobby for things like clear and fair pricing.

    Things like their cancellation charges, and minimum contract periods are also not particularly friendly to a city with such a high turnover of population.

  8. Richard Taylor Article author

    I thought I’d also mention the speeds I get. They vary dramatically.

    In practice, with a data transfer I do regularly I get 1 MBps in the early hours of the morning, but only 0.068 MBps at during the day and in the evenings.

    When I spoke to a Virgin Media sales person once they told me they were trying to standardise their prices on the £25/month rather than having some on great deals and others paying over the odds.

  9. Richard Taylor Article author

    I actually have “Broadband L”, which is now, according to the Virgin Media website “up to 10Mb broadband”, and my last two bills have been £25.69 and £26.25; I have been told by letter today this will be going up by £1 from 1 April, but as Martin found there is no mention in the letter or accompanying booklet what the actual prices are.

  10. Joe Harley

    Sounds like Virgin are acting a bit close to the edge here, I think they’re now starting to clean up their act regarding getting standardised pricing in – They’re on certain compare broadband sites which list by area their speed and effectiveness

  11. Joey

    Hey I just came over from the Middle East .. they are using FTTH ( Fiber to the home ) services in all the homes in Dubai and surrounding areas….Fiber terminates in the house at a junction box that handles TV, Phone and Internet, you then use your own broadband router like Linksys or Netgear to send that wonderfully clean internet signal over cat 5 to your home Pc’s or via wireless to laptops ect … Magic setup … we will get there one day … I hope …

  12. Adam

    hi guys im considering getting virgin broadband but i live in the garage that is converted into my bedroom and its not attached to the house would they be able to out broadband in that room for me ?

  13. Paul Steadman

    the original quote is right, some people may think virgin are getting a fibre to your home instead of coax, they may assume they get a new modem, they may not understand. someone should ask what they would get if they upgrade to fibre, if virgin do all the better but i bet they bullshit about fibre in the street somewhere, but you could be hundreds of meters away on the end of a coax (that will be the bottelneck.

  14. Dean

    I’ve been paying for 100MB download and 100 MB upload fibre to the home in my Japan families house since the year 2000. At that time they were already talking about Gig broadband.

    A small fibre cable around a 1mm thick come into the houses modem. Router things like that can be attached to that.

    What Virgin are selling is NOT fibre optic broadband, well at least not to your home and those that have been outside the UK.

  15. mug for using virgin

    Virgin has gone rubbish, I use mine mainly for online gaming. When I get host I get the worse games ever I cant kill any body. When I ring virgin they says its down to xbox live but its not, xbox live is just a match making service. My connection used to be ace I could kill with just 1 bullet. Its never seen the light of fiber optic. A virgin media box was knocked over by an out of controll car that skidded on ice and snapped 2 fat cables going in to the box, I had a look and it was just coaxe. Virgin say that 1 node in the street could pump out unlimited bandwidth, it that was the case why do they have so many in the streets, 1 should be enough to run the country.

    If virgin were to sell cars this is what you would get:- a ferrari enzo fitted with a lawn mower engine, looks and sounds good, says its fast but goes no where. Just like there services. Some thing should be done about the virgin saying they use fiber optic.

  16. Paul

    Lancs England
    Virgin putting their prices up for non cable guys.
    They are getting out of the non cable business by pushing us away. They depend upon brand loyalty but don’t reciprocate

  17. Fred Edwin Duncan III

    Because of this ruling, all the fibre optic adverts are now misleading, they make u think all broadband is, is fibre optic, & how many people are actually paying for fibre optic & only being connected to a standard phone line, because ‘they don’t know’ & so are being ripped off.

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