Friday, June 27, 2008

Unemployment Diary, Part 5: Virgin Media, net neutrality, and "a load of bollocks"

When we moved into our current place, my fiance and I got Virgin Media for our TV and broadband (and theoretically our phone calls as well, though we'd already had a BT line installed and we continued using that). Almost immediately the broadband exhibited problems. We'd lose all connectivity for periods of a few seconds to a minute or more. If both of us were surfing the internet or playing online games at once, one of us would frequently find our download speed significantly impaired.

Then double unemployment hit. And what do unemployed people do? That's right, they play World of Warcraft all day. World of Warcraft doesn't require massively fast download speeds, but it does require a stable connection. As time went on, our connection got less and less stable, to the point that playing online games became more or less impossible.

While surfing around to see if others were having the same problems with Virgin, I found this article, and this blog post from science fiction author Charles Stross.

For those of you who don't know what net neutrality is, it boils down to this: ISPs treat traffic from different sources equally. If, say, the BBC serves a byte of data and The Sun Online serves a byte of data, my ISP treats those two bytes of data as having equal priority. What Virgin Media's CEO is saying, essentially, is that Rupert Murdoch should be able to pay Virgin Media to serve his byte of data before the BBC's byte of data. (Or, of course, that the BBC should be able to pay to shift its byte of data to the front of the queue.)

Now, I have no idea whether Virgin Media's service has been so rubbish because our traffic is being deprioritised or throttled, but I do know two things.

1) Virgin Media's service has been rubbish.

2) Virgin Media's CEO has called the concept of net neutrality "a load of bollocks" and threatened to relegate traffic to "the bus lane" unless the site serving said traffic pays Virgin Media a a shedload of money.

Bad Virgin Media, no biscuit.

We got ADSL installed on our BT phone line today. This means we're now using just one of the three services Virgin Media supply via cable. When our contract is up, we'll go back to good old-fashioned Freeview for our TV and Virgin Media's time will also be up.

And Virgin's TV service was out for half an hour yesterday. During Wimbledon, no less.

Days since leaving the house: 0
Fiance's clothing status: Shirt and pants. No trousers, but at least he's not giving the neighbours an eyeful when he walks in front of the window.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Christine and sorry to hear you are having issues. If you could email me at, I will make sure I get you in contact with the right people to get things fixed.
Best regards,

1:27 PM  
Blogger Stevyn Colgan said...

Christine - a little meme to while away a minute or two ...

This latest from Em.

List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your Summer. Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they’re listening to.

I do visit the blog fairly regularly. I'm just lazy when it comes yo comments. Thought this might make up for it. x

1:16 PM  
Blogger Stevyn Colgan said...

Oh, and ignore the bit about 'Em'. I cut and paste done line too many, daft sod that I am. Tchah.

1:17 PM  

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