Feeds

Virgin Media calls foul on web speed testers

'We're just too quick for you'

Top three mobile application threats

Virgin Media believes it is being shafted by comparison sites offering ISP speed checks, and has called on them to improve their techniques ahead of the launch of its 50Mbit/s upgrade.

Switching sites are becoming an increasingly powerful force in the near-saturated broadband market. uSwitch recently said the tightening of household belts during the ongoing economic turmoil had prompted more internet users to change their ISP.

Virgin Media now says its lab tests show the web-based methods used by the comparison sites are often flawed, and that it will publish the results online. The firm is worried that mismeasurements of as much as 40 per cent will be further amplified once it boosts its top package from the current theoretical 20Mbit/s maximum download speed to 50Mbit/s next month.

Virgin Media has written to the biggest comparison sites to raise the concerns and pledged its own engineers' help on improving methods.

It's made some progress. Michael Phillips, product director of the comparison site Broadbandchoices.co.uk said: "The new 50Mbit/s product Virgin Media is launching is ahead of current testing technology. Consumers come to us for reliable information and we share Virgin Media's desire to improve the accuracy of the speed testing. We will work with Virgin Media to explore ways that we can develop our testing methodology."

Web-based speed testers typically work by timing how long it takes to download and upload a small file. Virgin Media charges that such a test only measures how long it takes for a file to get from one place in the internet to another, rather than actual throughput on a customer's line. The files transmitted are often too small to give an accurate picture too, it alleges. Other factors like processor power and the speed tester site's traffic can also skew results.

The issue has been kicking around in ISP and regulatory circles for a several months. When it launched a new broadband code of practice in June, Ofcom said it would build a new hardware-based speed testing method to provide consumers with reliable, independent performance data. The pilot network deployed by the industry analyst firm Samknows in May was the first stage of that programme.

Virgin Media of course hasn't intervened now for purely altruistic reasons; Ofcom's data won't be ready for public consumption for several months. More accurate speed checking will be in its interest when 50Mbit/s rolls out, as it'll be pushing its speed advantage of DSL rivals hard. ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Virgin Media so, so SORRY for turning spam fire-hose on its punters
Hundreds of emails flood inboxes thanks to gaffe
A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally
Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru
AT&T threatens to pull out of FCC wireless auctions over purchase limits
Company wants ability to buy more spectrum space in auction
Turnbull leaves Australia's broadband blackspots in the dark
New Statement of Expectations to NBN Co offers get-out clauses for blackspot builds
Facebook claims 100 MEEELLION active users in India
Who needs China when you've got the next billion in your sights?
Facebook splats in-app chat, whacks brats into crack yakety-yak app
Jibber-jabbering addicts turfed out just as Zuck warned
Google looks to LTE and Wi-Fi to help it lube YouTube tubes
Bandwidth hogger needs tube embiggenment if it's to succeed
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.