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Author Topic: Please God British Broadband ASAP to rescue Marple from Virgin shambles.  (Read 4302 times)

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Howard

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From the Skype website:
https://support.skype.com/en/faq/FA1417/how-much-bandwidth-does-skype-need

It shows, depending on what quality you want and how many people are on the call, the minimum and recommended bandwidth.

By the way, if you're checking your speed, I'd recommend you use https://fast.com/ as well as speedtest.net. Fast is owned by Netflix who built it after getting fed up of ISPs throttling the video stream and then blaming Netflix for the problems. If you're running on a cable Internet connection you will generally get 10:1 download to upload ratio which is part of the DOCSIS specification. This was designed in the specification because people consume much more data  than you transmit in generally usage (web browsing, media streams etc). Skype and video conferencing is an anomaly because you generally transmit on a 1:1 ratio unless you're group calling. The same goes for ADSL connections (the "A" being asynchronous meaning upload and download are out of ratio).
Howard

Cyberman

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Yes Howard - thanks for that - very informative. Our Virgin system is now OK at 90Mbps after I did the modem reset but the wi-fi from the Superhub2 is weak at the house extremeties so I will look up the Mesh option. Thanks again.

CTCREP

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Fascinating stuff. Thanks Howard.   Any thoughts on the minimum upload speed for reliable communication with things like Skype?

Howard

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Most consumer grade routers are pretty terrible, and VM's Superhubs are no exception. I've been with whatever flavour of  company services Marple (Nynex, Cable & Wireless, NTL, Virgin - they all use the same infrastructure, they just bought the forerunner out) for 20 years and in my opinion, as someone who works in IT, the best thing to do is put your Superhub into modem mode and run your own router because in British houses, with lots of brick walls, for a good wifi signal all over the property, you often need more than one access point or to put the single point in the middle of the proerty. Most times, it's just sitting by the wall where teh cable enters the house, or is next to the TV.

Before you even consider wifi, the best thing to do is run cable, ethernet is best. If you can't do that, but have coaxial cable for TVs in the house you can use something called a MOCA adapter. Both standards can give gigabit speeds over short (domestic length) runs of cable. That sort of speed isn't needed in most domestic environments but actual physical wires give you the best networking experience in terms of interference reduction and reliability.

If you can't or don't want to run cable, the best domestic wireless solution is often a mesh system where you have access points around the house and they swamp the area giving you coverage everywhere you need it. In the past, I have run three mesh points in my 1880s brick property over four floors and got an excellent signal everywhere. There are a number of mesh systems out there but eero and Google Wifi are pretty good systems for home users. Nowadays, I use semi-pro Ubiquity gear, but that's not necessary for most people.

For wireless you have two flavours, 5GHz and 2.4GHz. 5GHz is faster but has shorter range that doesn't travel well through brick, whereas 2,4GHz is slower but with a longer range. Modern wireless systems often have the choice of two networks with similar names, but some also have the ability force devices onto a specific frequency. Generally streaming media devices for TV are best on 5GHz as long as they are in decent range of the access point and anything that's not so bandwidth critical can go on 2.4GHz. You might also find that lots of devices on 2.4GHz, along with bluetooth devices and badly-behaved microwave ovens can cause poor signal.

The other thing to think about is what channel your wifi is on. If your neighbours are using the same channel (in this UK these are generally 1, 6 or 11 for 2.4GHz) as your network, that can also cause interference. Most modern wifi systems negotiate with each other and choose the most appropriate channel when setting themselves up. 5GHz, with shorter range, is less prone to interference. You can use an app (such as Wifiman by Ubiquity https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ubnt.usurvey&hl=en_US) to see what the wifi envirinment is around your property.

Finally, you could always use powerline adapters, which plug into your mains and use your electrical wiring as a communications network. These are generally slower than modern wireless systems and, depending on how the wiring is organised in your house can give you anything from 10Mbps (very slow) to 150Mbps (so-so) but are pretty stable and modern ones are relatively decent at filtering out electrical noise. Bear in mind that most high-def streams are usually less than 4Mbps from services like iPlayer and Netflix, powerline can be a decent solution.

Also, the Virginmedia network, especially compared to ADSL-based networks, is exceptionally reliable. Even the modern "fibre" networks run over the old BT systems still use the old copper telephone wires from the cabinet to your house; the "fibre" part of the name is only fiber to the cabinet. Often these copper lines to the house are decades old limiting the speed to 80Mbps max. Cable TV systems have coax to the premises which means that potentially, they could run at up to 1Gbps. However, to be fair, no-one in a domestic environment, really needs much above 70Mbps for speed; it's generally the traffic density that matters. In terms of reliability, in the last 20 years, I've probably lost connectivity less than once per year, and most of those outages weren't the provider's fault. Often it's a power outage or a JCB that cause the problem, rather than a network misconfiguration.

Bit of a brain dump there, and not sure it makes complete sense, but it might be of some help.
Howard

CTCREP

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Thanks for the feedback. Fascinating to hear the router can have 2 settings.
We ended up on Virgin years ago when the Romiley TV transmitter was only providing 5 Freeview Channels. Now we would probably think again although we still get access to more TV Channels through Virgin.

Up until my recent Broadband tests I hadn’t realised that the Broadband speed is so significantly different between a wired desktop and a tablet or phone on wifi. 

 I have been trying to contact a friend, also on Virgin, via Skype with him using his phone. Although I can call him, he can’t call me. However he says he can contact others by WhatsApp, so presumably the problem is more likely to be a hiccup in setting up Skype. He says he occasionally gets “poor connection” notices on his phone, which set me off on the Speed Test route, and I wondered if the reduced connection speed when using a phone would have anything to do with it.

I have just done another comparison, and although my phone has a download speed of only 25% of my desktop's speed, it’s upload speed is about 75% of the desktop's upload speed. So back to it being more likely to be a Skype setting problem and the Poor Connection at his end needs investigation.

BacardiMan

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I have been with Virgin for 2 years, i currently get 210mbps download and 20 upload.
To ensure a good strong signal, Virgin set my router so it has two streams, a 5g and 2g. I use the 2g for Zoom, MS Teams, Webex, GotoMeeting ( i have worked from home since 1999).
Download is 30mpbs and upload is 11.5 with 2g.  i have over 20 wifi plugs (lights, 4 google homes, garden pump, fire, water feature etc) hanging off the 2g (as most of those devices only work on 2g), with 5 cameras, work laptop, no problem at all.

My annoyance with Virgin is its so bloody flaky.  the google home when streaming can suddenly stop (could be the app, i dont know) and it completely dropped on Monday whilst playing online poker (free version) and the same on an ipad etc. Netflix occasionally pauses and the TV is hardwired to the router.

My BT Homehighway from 1999 (64k ISDN) was more reliable.

andrewbowden

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As far as I am aware Virgin is the only one offering Fibre direct to your house. I believe BT Fibre is only Fibre as far as your nearest Street Green Box, so overall it will be  slower, and slower still the further away from the Green Box that you live.

Yes, most BT-based fibre broadband is Fibre To Cabinet, rather than Fibre to Premises.  And that does make a difference.  But not necessarily that much.  As in my normal broadband speed is over 70mbps (strangely coming in at 20mbps tonight - something to keep my eye on), yes I could go for Virgin's faster products, but I'm not sure I'd notice much difference.  Well i probably would because download speed is only part of the picture.

If you're working from home and doing lots of video conferences right now, upload speed is also important.  My upload speed is over 20Mbps (even today when the download is dodgy.)  More than enough to handle HD video calls.  Virgin Media's 100Mbps package has an upload speed of a puny 10Mbps.  Virgin Media's 100Mbps+phone package is £33 a month, where as mine (with Plus.net) is about £20.   

It is true that Virgin Media, being Fibre to Premises, can offer far faster packages that BT currently do.  Although whether it's worth the actual expense is a whole other question.

amazon

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Yes, try switching the Router Off for 15 seconds then On again, it is usually the first thing Virgin would recommend. Once it has re-set itself it may well be better.  I am fortunate to have a fast and steady service from Virgin, and my Router sits next to my computer. As far as I am aware Virgin is the only one offering Fibre direct to your house. I believe BT Fibre is only Fibre as far as your nearest Street Green Box, so overall it will be  slower, and slower still the further away from the Green Box that you live.

Have you tried using    https://checker.ofcom.org.uk/broadband-test

Having done the test myself I find the results can be very variable, but on average it appears that the speed drops to 50% if I use WiFi to my Laptop, and even 25% to my tablet.  Both Router and Tablet are relatively old now, so that may have some effect.

So if you are using WiFi to connect then it is worth considering investing in a length of Ethernet cable. You may already have a short length of Ethernet cable, so see if connecting the laptop to the router by cable makes a worthwhile difference.  Below is what an ethernet cable looks like. The plug is about 1cm wide, rectangular and has about 8 pins. It may be any colour but has some form of clip to ensure the plug isn’t accidentally pulled out.

But the first thing is, as has been said, try switching the router off for 15 seconds which, when it is switched on again allows the router to find the fastest connection.

I would be interested to read other peoples results.
Have run the test three times two out of three  tells me running poorly , third time was ok .

CTCREP

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Yes, try switching the Router Off for 15 seconds then On again, it is usually the first thing Virgin would recommend. Once it has re-set itself it may well be better.  I am fortunate to have a fast and steady service from Virgin, and my Router sits next to my computer. As far as I am aware Virgin is the only one offering Fibre direct to your house. I believe BT Fibre is only Fibre as far as your nearest Street Green Box, so overall it will be  slower, and slower still the further away from the Green Box that you live.

Have you tried using    https://checker.ofcom.org.uk/broadband-test

Having done the test myself I find the results can be very variable, but on average it appears that the speed drops to 50% if I use WiFi to my Laptop, and even 25% to my tablet.  Both Router and Tablet are relatively old now, so that may have some effect.

So if you are using WiFi to connect then it is worth considering investing in a length of Ethernet cable. You may already have a short length of Ethernet cable, so see if connecting the laptop to the router by cable makes a worthwhile difference.  Below is what an ethernet cable looks like. The plug is about 1cm wide, rectangular and has about 8 pins. It may be any colour but has some form of clip to ensure the plug isn’t accidentally pulled out.

But the first thing is, as has been said, try switching the router off for 15 seconds which, when it is switched on again allows the router to find the fastest connection.

I would be interested to read other peoples results.

wheels

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Mine never has any problems, the only problem I have with Virgin Media is having to haggle with them every year to remove their price increase. 

Condate

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Virgin was of in most of the country on tuesday its still slow now im on 100 mb .in Marple bridge area ..

It's fine in Marple. My connection to work has been rock solid all day.

amazon

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Mine dropped out for an hour or so yesterday or the day before (sorry, I'm losing track! ) but otherwise OK.

I've just run a test and it's operating at 91.7Mbps compared to the 100Mbs it should be, which I guess is within reasonable tolerances.

However, I have seen quite a few people complaining on FB over the last 2 or 3 days so I think there is a problem of some kind in some areas.
Virgin was of in most of the country on tuesday its still slow now im on 100 mb .in Marple bridge area ..

Cyberman

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Thanks to folks who replied. The problem is now solved by (I'm ashamed to say) turning it (the hub) off and on again. I assumed that the hub either worked or it didn't - I didn't realise there was a half way house. Must have got itself in a twist during one of the recent outages.

admin

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Anyone having problems with Virgin Media at the moment?

Mine dropped out for an hour or so yesterday or the day before (sorry, I'm losing track! ) but otherwise OK.

I've just run a test and it's operating at 91.7Mbps compared to the 100Mbs it should be, which I guess is within reasonable tolerances.

However, I have seen quite a few people complaining on FB over the last 2 or 3 days so I think there is a problem of some kind in some areas.

Condate

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Anyone having problems with Virgin Media at the moment? My fibre service has been really slow for 2 days (1.5MBps instead of 200). Unusable for 2 people WFH. Can't get through to a human to query it - just an automated test which might reset the router which is not an option. I suspect they are having issues nationwide but it would be good to know a fix is in sight.

I retract my comment from last Nov. saying VM are good, but I stand by the comment that their customer service is crap.

No problem at all here. I've been working from home using my VM broadband, connecting remotely to my office PC, so I would have noticed any network issues.