Virgin Broadband unlikely to win any races if startup founder's experience is true (Updated)

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A Little Bling For Your Holiday: Hands On With Ulysee Nardin's $1.1 Million Watch, the UK’s long-established independent broadband comparison website is today adding a Home Broadband Awards to its roster. The winners will be announced at the end of January 2011. Why do we raise this? Well, with many entrepreneurs running their businesses from their homes, home broadband is becoming a big issue.

More independent measurement of home broadband can’t come too soon for one Virgin customer. Startup founder Azeem Azhar, a former board member of Ofcom and CEO of PeerIndex, wrote an excoriating post about his home connection to Virgin Broadband in which he lambasts the service and concludes that “the Virgin network leaks packets”:

I sent approx 15,000 packets out on Sunday 19th to a range of different servers via my VirginMedia connection:

To my local router: 0% packet loss – my network is fine
To 10.51% packet loss, RTTs all over the place
To 9.7% packet loss, RTTs 49ms average, but all over the place
To (their own webserver) 10.9% packet loss
To (a core VirginMedia router) 10.9% packet loss
To (a core VIrgin router) 10.5% packet loss
To (another Virgin router) 11.4% packet loss

In other words, the core Virgin network is leaking like a sieve.

He goes on to say:

I tested them for nearly two years in parallel with another ISP. I’m no neophyte, having been a telecoms and tech correspondent, and having sat on advisory boards at Ofcom (for several years) looking at just these issues. It is an epic fail–and one which I cannot believe lives up to their contractural obligations or their marketing claims. Virgin, of course, don’t have the grace to accept these problems and have refused to let me out of my contract.

We’ve contacted Virgin for comment and will update the post with their response.

Update: Virgin has now responded. A Virgin Media spokesperson said: “We take pride in delivering the best broadband service in the UK and have been independently recognised as the only provider that delivers consistently on advertised speeds. We are very sorry to hear that Mr Azhar is suffering problems with his broadband service. The issues Mr Azhar has reported are very rare, and having run some remote diagnostics we can see Mr Azhar’s modem is reporting a number of errors suggesting a physical problem with his connection causing packet loss, potentially related to damaged cabling. We have spoken to Mr Azhar and are sending a senior technician to investigate at Mr Azhar’s earliest convenience. We apologise for the inconvenience.”

  • maurice

    sorry if your “running a business” you should be using a real connection. Or are you talking about those fantasists who think they are an entrepreneurs because they watch the apprentice.

    Ironically Sir Allen has little time these low quality small businesses saying what they realy need is an insolvency specialist

  • Heleen

    In 2000-2001 I ran a software start-up called iowatch that remotely monitored ISPs allowing users to claim refunds on their SLAs (99.99% uptime, my a**) and point out at which router faults occured. We issued a fantastic report naming and shaming ISPs. Sadly company ran out of cash, but it’s nice to see the baton has been taken over!

  • Azeem

    Hey Mike
    Just to clarify I was a member of the Ofcom Consumer Panel, not the full board.

    Yes–this was one of my two home connections not the office connection.
    The office connection is (as of today) provided by @techhub and their ISP which appears to be Exponential-E (whoever they are), and rather good. It was previously provided by Verizon Communications (Europe).

  • Azeem

    BTW, BeUnlimited is really superb, if your copper is up for it.

    • Mohammad Al-Ubaydli

      Funny you should say this Azeem.

      I loved BeUnlimited’s customer service (superbly technical people at the end of the phone) but had to switch to Virgin because of the constant line drops at home. Of course the drops were because of BT’s network, which UnLimited had no control over, so we chose Virgin’s new network.

      We have the 50 MB version. I’m not technical enough to check for packet loss, but I definitely have fast connectivity than before. (Every few months we lose connectivity for a day, but after they fix the problem we get back to high speeds.)

  • Greg

    Mike – minor comment, but just to let you know, it seems peerindex’s domain name is – your link has

  • Kieran McGrady

    Let me start by saying that I don’t know how leaking packets would affect the network.

    However, I used talktalk for several years before switching to Virgin about a year ago. Talktalk was the worst product I have ever used in my life. Very slow (even though I paid for extra speed and bandwidth) and their customer service was a joke.

    Virgin has consistently delivered the exact speed I paid for, their customer service is fantastic, and the price (when bundled with TV) isn’t bad either. I would definitely recommend them.

    Just my two cents.

  • Richard Taylor

    I also use the Virgin 20MB service and can’t praise it highly enough. By far the best broadband provider I’ve had (in 16 years).

    I did have some problems last night (when this published test was executed) but that is far from typical.

  • wol

    i would so tap that ;)

  • Manoj Ranaweera

    Good to get this feedback as I am thinking of switching to Virgin from TalkTalk for home connection. I have been living with TalkTalk for many years with major setbacks. I was a NTL customer before switching to TalkTalk when they offered free broadband (bundled with Voice) few years ago.

  • Mike Butcher

    We’ve now updated the post with Virgin’s response.

  • moncler

    like it very much

  • Anonymous
  • virgin or sky

    What i suggest to entrepreneurs to get a reliable Static ip based broadband if the internet is their source of income.

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