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HongKongJohn
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Are Virgin Media Trying to Push Game Streamers and Their Audiences to BT Infinity or Other Providers?

Modest Network Usage, Still a Problem for Virgin Media

I'm an occasional games streamer on Virgin Media and wanted to post on the forums after seeing many people get upset with the service on Twitter over thresholds and limits, and thought I'd pass on my £0.02 and see if anyone else has similar issues here.

My overall broadband usage is 'very modest' (to quote a Virgin Media representative on the phone who was looking at my account!) but I occasionally stream or commentate online games, and as a result when I do stream it can sometimes be for between 8 and 12 hours at a time.

It's possible sometimes that I use minimal amounts of network bandwidth, and that I only stream once a week or once per fortnight where I'd like a continuous uninterrupted upload service for up to 12 hours.

Streaming Games is an Ongoing Issue with Virgin Media

When this (streaming) happens, Virgin Media's 'threshold' for broadband usage (sometimes triggered, sometimes not, very unpredictable) will start to kick-in part way through a stream. This means that my upload speed gets throttled at some point, at which stage the stream I'm broadcasting either slows down or in some cases just cuts out entirely. Regardless of which, the quality of the stream reduces to a point where it's pointless to continue, and anyone watching switches off.

You can see Virgin's current threshold policy here:

https://my.virginmedia.com/traffic-management/traffic-management-policy-thresholds.html

You'll see that even on the VIVID 152 or 200 products, a stream of over 3,000MB over a 2-hour period results in a 2/3 reduction in upload speed.

Virgin Media Lifts Some Caps, But Misses the Point

A while ago, Virgin Media removed some of the caps on the network:

https://recombu.com/digital/article/virgin-media-kills-peak-time-downloas-p2p-throttled_M12875.html

Unfortunately, this completely misses the point from a streaming point of view as removing caps on the download speed does absolutely nothing to help anyone that streams. In fact, quite the opposite - if Virgin Media reduced download speed by 90% but left upload speed untouched, I would have no issue with this at all.

Ultimately, Virgin Media wants to reduce the amount of illegal P2P traffic going through it's network. I understand that and can see why it's a concern to them as a company. But allowing people to download as much as they want at full speeds with no restriction, and only limiting upload speeds, doesn't do much to restrict downloads, while continuing to disrupt streamers and gamers. 

BT Infinity Better for Gamers?

According to the traffic management page on BT’s site, gaming, VoIP calls, streaming, P2P and Newsgroup traffic is neither blocked, slowed down or prioritised. Even at times of high network congestion, BT won’t slow down heavy users. They might block some torrent sites etc. which is fine, but won't shape the traffic on their network which feels like a huge plus.

I've loved Virgin Media broadband since getting it, and speed wise they've been blasting the competition out of the water where I live for a while now - but I'm beginning to feel like after several years, if they still want to restrict anyone who streams (yes, 3,000Mb upload over two hours is 100% encompassing of any streamer worth their salt) then I feel like I'm being pushed away to using a service that caters more to a modern audience. It's a shame too cause I think Virgin's customer support, call centres and general manner is really good, just that the core service seems to be going about managing their traffic in the wrong way - allowing downloads to be unlimited while restricting people that want to use their upload.

It seems odd we live in an age where Twitch was bought by Amazon for a billion dollars and online streaming is a huge growing medium, but anyone who is serious about streaming has to steer clear of Virgin Media. I wonder if that's the official message they're trying to send to their gaming and streaming audience.

Right now, streamers regularly vent their frustration at Virgin Media...type "virgin media throttle" into Twitter and you get loads of messages like this, coming in every week:

https://twitter.com/BUK57/status/707933453891858433
https://twitter.com/SirKaru/status/704097656587603968

Loads of people in the UK are very publicly advocating that if you have anything to do with game streaming, to go elsewhere. These people, when streaming, are also letting their audiences know - they're the community's loudspeakers, so even people just watching streams (download) are affected and know of these issues if they watch gamers regularly.

Anyone else in the same boat or would like to see this change? I wonder if it just hasn't been brought to the attention of the right people.


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VocTer
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Message 2 of 19
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Re: Are Virgin Media Trying to Push Game Streamers and Their Audiences to BT Infinity or Other Providers?

This is actually one of the reasons I remain with Sky as my Broadband provider.

Prior to the introduction of fibre to my area, they did everything they could to ensure I had enough upload speed to stream reliably, even in low quality. Since providing a fibre service they have ensured that I remain uncapped, even when broadcasting a 24hr livestream in 1080p & at 60fps.

Everything I have seen shows that Virgin will not give that level of care to streamers wishing to use their service, meaning I remain with Sky despite not wanting to make use of any other bundled service required (SkyTV & landline).

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cje85
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Message 3 of 19
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Re: Are Virgin Media Trying to Push Game Streamers and Their Audiences to BT Infinity or Other Providers?

The DOCSIS technology used by Virgin Media doesn't have a lot of upstream bandwidth. These networks were made for cable TV which was largely designed to carry one way traffic (a TV signal) from the headend to the subscribers home.

Things will get better in the future with DOCSIS 3.1, but not for another year or two.  If you need a faster/uncapped upstream then a BT based service is the best way to go until then.

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HongKongJohn
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Message 12 of 19
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Re: Are Virgin Media Trying to Push Game Streamers and Their Audiences to BT Infinity or Other Providers?

It looks like I've solved the problem. Happily moving away from Virgin Media to either TalkTalk or Sky as of next month - have tested with help of neighbours and can confirm that both offer a higher consistent upload speed (higher than the 200Mbit package Virgin has) and most importantly, with no throttling policy.

The download speed might not be as fast (both still above 50Mb), but I am thrilled to be moving away from a system that penalises *uploaders* (i.e. gaming streamers) and fails to discourage serial *downloaders* by making sure that anyone who consistently downloads illegal content, can continue to do so at full speed.

Looking forward to finally being able to stream for more than an hour or two without risking the stream suddenly collapsing at a moment's notice.

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VocTer
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Message 2 of 19
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Re: Are Virgin Media Trying to Push Game Streamers and Their Audiences to BT Infinity or Other Providers?

This is actually one of the reasons I remain with Sky as my Broadband provider.

Prior to the introduction of fibre to my area, they did everything they could to ensure I had enough upload speed to stream reliably, even in low quality. Since providing a fibre service they have ensured that I remain uncapped, even when broadcasting a 24hr livestream in 1080p & at 60fps.

Everything I have seen shows that Virgin will not give that level of care to streamers wishing to use their service, meaning I remain with Sky despite not wanting to make use of any other bundled service required (SkyTV & landline).

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cje85
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Message 3 of 19
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Re: Are Virgin Media Trying to Push Game Streamers and Their Audiences to BT Infinity or Other Providers?

The DOCSIS technology used by Virgin Media doesn't have a lot of upstream bandwidth. These networks were made for cable TV which was largely designed to carry one way traffic (a TV signal) from the headend to the subscribers home.

Things will get better in the future with DOCSIS 3.1, but not for another year or two.  If you need a faster/uncapped upstream then a BT based service is the best way to go until then.

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kradlegna
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Message 4 of 19
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Re: Are Virgin Media Trying to Push Game Streamers and Their Audiences to BT Infinity or Other Providers?

Im rocking vivid 100.... I have no issues streaming at 720p due to me knowing my bandwidth upload cap ( 1250MB per hour) which means at a bitrate of 2600 for obs i can stream just under the 1st threshold meaning no cap for myself hr for hr even in peak times. Once the new upgrade to 150 hits I'll be able to stream 1080p at 30fps at the full 3500 bitrate if i want to without hitting the cap yet again.

Downside is for those without the higher packages as you say does cripple streamers. Hopefully virgin will sort this, they removed thresholds for download speeds now its time ro remove upload speed caps.
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oache
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Re: Are Virgin Media Trying to Push Game Streamers and Their Audiences to BT Infinity or Other Providers?

Docsis 3.0 can support download speed UP TO 600 MBs and Unlimited upload.Like most people i travel in Europe ,in terms off internet speed we are like 50 years behind>we dont have compettion on the market just people that provided us same internet from a central company.In other country`s is like this :

UK : BT provide internet for  >> All adsl,vdsl providers

         Virgin Medis is like a fish tryng to survive in this world

         Hyperoptic  1 GB internet ,downside need to be more people in 1 area to be enjoy this service

Most of the Europe : 1 GB internet ,very low price compared with UK ,no capped internet in terms off upload

                                   Most Company had the choice like to rent the lines from a Central Company,but they decided to do theyr on network and invest in this things

                                    Wath is the good side and bad of this thing:IF you dont like a company you move to another one,but they dont have a clear law about this thing in most cases.Good Side you have a 1GB internet speed with a upload speed 200( Good no?)

                                      Docsis 3.0 (UK vs EU ) UK they have a lot of restrictions

                                                                                Europe same technology DOWNLOAD 500 MBs Upload up to 100 MBs

The question is when they will stop to lie that is not possible?

And think about this If you dont have no one to compete wath is the point ?

          

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Superuser
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Re: Are Virgin Media Trying to Push Game Streamers and Their Audiences to BT Infinity or Other Providers?

As far as I know the upstream on the new Homeworks+300Mb add-on is not traffic managed for regular traffic, like streaming. Just on P2P and Newsgroups like other tiers.

http://store.virginmedia.com/discover/broadband/homeworks.html

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Superuser
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Re: Are Virgin Media Trying to Push Game Streamers and Their Audiences to BT Infinity or Other Providers?


oache wrote:

Docsis 3.0 can support download speed UP TO 600 MBs and Unlimited upload (Tosh - uploads have to request time slots from the CMTS so it's impossible to have Unlimited uploads.) .Like most people i travel in Europe ,in terms off internet speed we are like 50 years behind>we dont have compettion on the market just people that provided us same internet from a central company.In other country`s is like this :

UK : BT provide internet for  >> All adsl,vdsl providers
Wrong - at best you can say they supply the infrastructure via Openreach to reach the consumers on the last leg, but many providers have their own equipment in BT exchanges.  Look up local loop unbundling.

         Virgin Medis is like a fish tryng to survive in this world

         Hyperoptic  1 GB internet ,downside need to be more people in 1 area to be enjoy this service

Most of the Europe : 1 GB internet ,very low price compared with UK ,no capped internet in terms off upload
Provide evidence to back up this statement!  Certainly when I look here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cable_Internet_providers there are some who provide 100Mb/s upload (notably in Estonia) but looking throughout the list they appear to be the exception rather than the norm)  Note even in Estonia the 100Mb/s upload is only offered where the infrastructure can support it.  And this is the key thing.  Before Virgin can offer anything faster they HAVE to upgrade the infrastructure.  That's not going to happen overnight.

                                   Most Company had the choice like to rent the lines from a Central Company,but they decided to do theyr on network and invest in this things

                                    Wath is the good side and bad of this thing:IF you dont like a company you move to another one,but they dont have a clear law about this thing in most cases.Good Side you have a 1GB internet speed with a upload speed 200( Good no?)

                                      Docsis 3.0 (UK vs EU ) UK they have a lot of restrictions

                                                                                Europe same technology DOWNLOAD 500 MBs Upload up to 100 MBs

See above

The question is when they will stop to lie that is not possible?

And think about this If you dont have no one to compete wath is the point ?

          


 

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HongKongJohn
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Message 8 of 19
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Re: Are Virgin Media Trying to Push Game Streamers and Their Audiences to BT Infinity or Other Providers?

Why would Virgin Media not say on the record if their traffic isn't throttled elsewhere, and how is Homeworks different to their existing packages?

I still find it perplexing and a real shame that traffic gets throttled on Upload rather than Download, which is counterproductive to combatting people who use Virgin exclusively for piracy (assuming these people exist and Virgin are trying to stamp them out). For £50 a month on the higher packages as well it's not as though we are subscribing to a budget service. Maybe it is time to find out if we can make the switch to Sky.

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Re: Are Virgin Media Trying to Push Game Streamers and Their Audiences to BT Infinity or Other Providers?

@HongKongJohn

Please understand while the needs of users may be changing in view of usage of the upstream, the technology for end users on home networks has always been designed with delivery of content FROM the internet to the user, not the other way round.

This should be evident from the channel plan in current DOCSIS modems.

8 Down working at 256QAM as opposed to 4 up working at 16QAM (of which only two are used)  VM are moving towards 64QAM on the upstream which should in theory allow better data rates.

The Hub 3 does have more streams but the network needs to be able to support them.

And here's the main issue.  Under the current infrastructure, a few users on a segment hogging the upstream can degrade Downstream performance for everyone.  Why?  Because to transmit data requires that you request a timeslot from the CMTS, in order to do so.  If someone is transmitting a lot of data that means fewer timeslots available and therefore general performance on both downstream and upstream suffers for everyone.

Ravenstar68

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Re: Are Virgin Media Trying to Push Game Streamers and Their Audiences to BT Infinity or Other Providers?


HongKongJohn wrote:

Why would Virgin Media not say on the record if their traffic isn't throttled elsewhere,

You mean like where they openly state the upload thresholds here? https://my.virginmedia.com/traffic-management/traffic-management-policy-thresholds.html

If by 'elsewhere' you mean not by traffic management, then that's like asking where congestion happens on the roads. Everywhere and nowhere. No sensible answer can cover every location and time on the roads or on a network, particularly on a highly contended upstream. BT don't publish their data either.

and how is Homeworks different to their existing packages?

Homeworks is pitched between business broadband packages and the current home broadband packages.

I still find it perplexing and a real shame that traffic gets throttled on Upload rather than Download,

It's the nature of the design of cable networks and what the majority of people want. If society revolved more around producing content than consuming it then things would be different as companies would market to that need.

which is counterproductive to combatting people who use Virgin exclusively for piracy (assuming these people exist and Virgin are trying to stamp them out).

Show me an ISP that is in the business of stamping out piracy.

 

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