The mother of all broadband?

49992kbps Yesterday, the broadband internet service into my home office that I receive from Virgin Media was upgraded from 20Mb (what Virgin calls its XL service) to the latest 50Mb (XXL in Virgin parlance).

The first thing you do when doing anything to your net connection is to try and find out how fast it is. Is it really 50 megs? The engineer ran some tests as part of the installation which showed close to the advertised speeds, up and down. Those tests were to Virgin Media’s own servers which may or may not reflect real-world use.

So I ran my own at a variety of commercial places, the latest one early this morning: a quiet time so I would have been surprised had the speed not been close to what it ought to be.

And it was, as the screenshot shows.

Whatever the actual speeds are, the service is unquestionably a great deal faster in a broad and general sense: web pages loads quicker, MP3 files download quicker, an hour-long  Skype conference call last night seemed to be a whole lot better, etc.

From a technical point of view, there are major differences between 50Mb and the other speeds offered by Virgin Media – much to do with a different network type and the fiber-optic cables, I gather – so a different type of cable modem is needed. The one the engineer installed, made by Ambit,  is pretty snazzy and wouldn’t look out of place as an art work on display.

Part of the upgrade deal with Virgin Media was a new wireless router and USB mini-adapter for a non-wired computer to connect to the network. Both are N standard products from D-Link, and very good ones indeed (better, in my perception, than the Belkin N+ router I already have).

I’ve had some interesting experiences with Virgin Media recently, some of which have severely dented my perceptions of the company. They offer terrific products and services but look out if you expect reasonable service when you call with a problem to solve.

samueljackson-virginmother Anyway, as Samuel Jackson says, I now have the mother of all broadband.

At least, until the 200Mb service arrives…

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

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