Updated on October 17, 2009
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 Mediaâ€™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 â€“ much to do with a different network type and the fiber-optic cables, I gather â€“ so a different type of cable modem is needed. The one the engineer installed, made by Ambit, is pretty snazzy and wouldnâ€™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).
Iâ€™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.
At least, until the 200Mb service arrivesâ€¦