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Superfast broadband - so long as you don't use it much
Member Name: brokenbricks
Disadvantages: Internet, Too many offers, Pricey?
My attention was first drawn to Virginmedia by their ability to provide internet without a telephone line. This was the deciding feature for me as installing a landline in my rented house was by no means a cost-effective solution! I opted for the 'XL' TV package comprising of 160 channels and the 'superfast' 20mb cable broadband package - smooth sailing so far...
Installation was fine. The engineer arrived promptly in the pre-designated 2 hour window and the whole process took about 40 minutes. No mess, no fuss and was given a 5 minute walk through of the services. Once finished I had full access to everything I'd signed up for - including the internet.
The telly is unfortunately the best part of the package! All the channels you need - including Sky 1 for the 24/Lost/House freaks amongst us - and even the 3 ESPN channels. Sky Sports costs more - I was quoted an extra £18.50/month for the four extra channels based on my package... maybe that's why clubs can afford to pay players £150k a week now?
There is a extensive anytime service with plenty of complete series available to view, enough to keep you occupied for months if not years. You can also watch anything on BBC iPlayer - which I found a very useful feature.
Here's where it gets ugly....
Broadband started off ok - I was warned speeds maybe intermittent for the first 10 days so I put down any broken pages down to my router warming up. The speed was amazing - at some points I was getting 11mb/sec download speed on torrents! However speed isn't everything - when downloading torrents I couldn't access webpages - very frustrating when there were three users sharing the connection! Also, streaming was impossible - forget Youtube or iPlayer. The average ping rate (courtesy of pingtest.net) was about 450ms. After a bit of googling (at work as it wouldn't work at home!) I found this to be a common complaint of Virginmedia customers - great download speeds but very poor upload rates. Several calls to customer services later and I decided to cancel my contract (thankfully they offered a 28 day no questions satisfactory guarantee!). A customer service agent also 'suggested' I was being traffic managed (i.e. restricted!). I don't see the point in advertising 20mb/sec download speeds if they don't let you use it!
Customer service -
Friendly and helpful to an extent. They're based in the UK which I believe means they actually value their customers, although were unable to provide a solution to my internet problems. My other complaint is that when I called to cancel, the operator tried to sell me a more expensive package - rather arrogant I thought!
Installation/box/router were all free - bonus! My package came to £58.50/month for 20mb internet and 160 TV channels - on the expensive side I thought. There are so many combinations of packaged pricing I shan't go into them in detail, but they seem to be in line with the market when it comes to internet/TV. I do think they have too many new customer offers though - they seem to change daily and 4 days after taking out my contract they started offering 50% off subscription fees for 6 months which was a bitter pill!
I'm with Sky now - after the initial outlay for the phone line I have a Sky+ HD box, Sky Sports & Internet for a fiver more than my Virginmedia package... much better!
Summary: Probably useful to a low media user but terrible for high-end usage!
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