Bro, do you even upload?

Virgin Media like to promote themselves as the fastest, most dynamic broadband internet provider on the market. Most of their TV and media advertising tends to focus on their speed, how breakneck exhilarating it is, and how it’s much faster than other UK providers… however.

One thing they aren’t very keen to advertise is their upload speeds in comparison to downloads. If like me, you have essential requirements for solid, fast upload capacity, you may want to think twice before looking at Virgin Media.

Simply put, Virgin’s download/upload ratio is around 10:1, so your upload is roughly 1/10th of the speed of your download, so if you have the up to 50mbps package, you will get less than 5mbps upload (currently stated as 3mbps max by Virgin*). In comparison, BT use a more generous download/upload ratio of 5:1 – effectively at 52mbps download you will be getting 10mbps upload speed – this carries on as you increase your speed with BT; however for Virgin the ratio means that even at 200mb+ download, your upload is still not going to be anything special. On basic, starter packages, BT’s upload speed is more than three times faster than Virgin’s – yes, that’s right – three times!

If you use FTP for transfers, or other online file transfer services, stream live feeds or even use your connection for gaming or broadcasting, Virgin’s upload speed is likely to disappoint. The Virgin business or gamer specific packages do offer greater performance and will provide a better upload capacity – however they come at added cost and so if you compare like for like, standard UK domestic service, Virgin will not give you upload capacity that is satisfactory in my view.

The download to upload ratio, the fact that it is not advertised at all, both of these things led me to develop a negative impression of Virgin Media’s services. Furthermore, the network also experiences repeated issues with connectivity, a term the support team and engineers refer to as “over-utilisation” – patchy, slow or non-existant connectivity are the end result, and trying to get a solution or even a time-frame for a fix on this type of thing is incredibly painful and frustrating with Virgin. Googling and reading forums confirms that this type of problem is widespread across the UK and that Virgin suffer frequently from these technical problems.

In fairness, I have 2 friends who are with Virgin Media and they have not experienced the over-utilisation problem so maybe I was just unlucky. Maybe.

To summarise, Virgin Media was unsatisfactory from day one to me, I stayed for the duration of my minimum term contract and then immediately left to return to BT. I could not recommend the Virgin package to anyone, unless they lived in an area where the Virgin network was the only viable option.

*Note: Virgin Media’s advertised speeds for download and upload of their fibre broadband packages can be viewed here.