Finally got around to sorting out the old PC I had spare for my parents the other day (OMG, when did hard disks get *so* cheap – even diddy 2.5″ ones!) and then spent a frustrating time trying to get it working at their place. Having spent 13 minutes downloading a 3 MB file it seems time has come to get them a decent connection.
I’ve been with NTL (now Virgin Media) for a gazzilion years paying 25 quid a month. This initially got me 600kbit down and 128kbit up (which was pretty amazing in 56k modem days). Over the years this has been upgraded to 1Mbit, then 2Mbit and then a couple of years ago to 4Mbit. Ringing Virgin to find out about their ADSL offerings it seems that for less than 18 quid I could have a theoretical 8Mbit (likely to be 6.5 here) connection – which made my 25 quid 4Mbit seem a bit shabby…
After I’d got the info I wanted for my parents I quizzed them on my options. At this point it became very clear that although the old ADSL virgin.net and the old NTL are now supposedly all one happy family wearing VirginMedia hats they still operate very much like two seperate companies. The ADSL guy offered me the 18 quid ADSL setup – which while tempting would be hassle (I have a nearly new cable router etc) so I got him to transfer me to the “Cable team”.
After few mins on hold I get what sounds like a very small, very quiet indian lady who sounds like she is sitting in a very echoey tin box. Still, after a few failed attempts at explaining that no, I don’t want a phoneline thanks she grasps what I’m getting at and spends a while rattling at her keyboard.
“Ah sir, you have been long time with us. You do already have TV large for only 2 pounds instead of 14 pounds a month. This is already a good price sir”
I ask how I move to their ADSL offering. More rattling. Ah sir, there is an offer I can make. Instead of 25 pounds you can have your broadband for half price for 3 months and then ring us back to see what we can do”.
At this point I decide to go for broke and ask if she can upgrade my connection to 20Mbit. This excites her a little until I point out that I’d like it at half price which brings it in at £18.50. Still a considerable saving on the 25 quid I’m paying for 4Mbit. After a bit of discussion (well, repetition on my part really :)) they agree to this but will have to charge me the full 14 quid for the TV pack. I ask to cancel the TV.
More key rattling (I reckon they have a button to make fake keyboard noises)
“Ok sir I can do that for you for 3 months then ring back and we will see what we can offer you”
Result. I’ve ended up with a monthly bill of £20.50 instead of £27.50 and a internet connection that is (supposedly) 5 times quicker than my old one. Of more use, my upstream speed is now a more useful 768kbit (cable is good for downloads but they screw you on the uplink 🙁 ).
Of course, I don’t actually get that. Still, instead of the 3.5Mbit I was getting I’m now seeing a decent inprovement. In the mornings I’m getting more than this but evenings it drops off a bit.
Not bad ping times either. Maybe I ought to practice shooting so I can actually hit ben and foo at lunchtimes 🙂
Their offerings for ADSL seem pretty good as well. So far, I’m impressed with the new VirginMedia setup – lets see how it goes in 3 months time 🙂