Customers of Richard Branson’s Virgin Media broadband services will be able to access speeds of up to 50mb before the end of the year, making it much faster and easier to download items such as movies or music.
Some Virgin clients will also have their speeds double at no additional charge; this follows trials by the company last year, in Kent, where Virgin increased its top speed to 50Mb from 20Mb. By the end of the year the company believes that this new high speeds will be made available in more than 9 million homes across the UK.
In two weeks time, clients of Virgin’s ‘L’ package will be automatically upgraded to 10Mb from the present 4Mb without an increase of the monthly charge of £11.50. With this new speed and average TV show will download in five minutes and a full CD of music will take less than 1 minute.
Virgin are not alone in increasing broadband speeds without increasing the cost, this is in the face of steep competition forcing providers to offer more speed for the same, or even less money to ensure customer satisfaction.
Some observers believe that many of these providers, including Virgin, will struggle to deliver the advertised speeds to many households’ in many areas of the country. Broadband speeds are used to lure in customers, offering double the speed for example, 10 MB without increased cost, but in reality, the supplier may not be able to deliver any additional speed to that household.
BroadbandChoices, recently polled broadband customers and found that over 60% of clients were actually receiving less than 50% of the promised maximum speed.
There are a lot of different things that can affect actual download speeds, including poor quality telephone lines, and the distance the house is from the telephone companies’ exchange.
These problems aside, there is little doubt that broadband cheaper and faster each year. Four years ago, the average consumer was receiving only 0.5Mb and paying £27 for the privilege, in 2008 the average speed is expected to come close to 8Mb and the price will have dropped to £17 a month.