VirginMedia 50Meg Home Service - 3 month Trial - Week One

I was the lucky person in the team selected to test VirginMedia’s new 50 meg cable broadband service. I am right at the start of a 3 month trial, and I thought I would start the ball rolling with setting the stage with my setup at home, information about the installation, and my initial thoughts.

Chez Heidi there are currently 4 computers – 3 Macs and 1 PC (not including one MacBook that is dual booting XP). They all currently connect wirelessly to the shiny and very sleek looking Virgin Box via an Apple Extreme Base unit. I am going to try wired later on, but at the moment lets finish the introductions.

Installation of said shiny box was carried out by a very nice and knowledgeable engineer called Delroy, who despite a terrible allergy attack due to my cats, soldiered on til the end, and answered all my questions, and was thoroughly professional.

The secret to the Virgin service is the fact that they use N router technology, the Apple Extreme handled that perfectly, and all the computers in the house (apart from the elderly PC) can access the N signals. Another plus for the N wireless is that I live in a street where everyone, it seems has wifi – but no-one else appears to be using a dual band wireless router apart from me, so whilst they spend their evenings changing wifi channels (kind of like that scene with the remote control from Poltergeist), I fly happily in the distance looking back and sniggering.

So the first test using  just after installation yesterday afternoon, on wireless gave me this:, some of my later tests were in fact faster, and I tipped onto about 49.2 meg a couple of times.

The evening bought a slightly different story, the iMac furthest from the wireless source went down to as low as 30meg peak time, which I attribute to people escaping from the football that was on last night, but more testing is needed. By 11.30pm, the download speed was back up to a respectible 45meg.

So all in all at first site I am impressed, with the installation, the ease of setup, how well my Macs were catered for (I am sure it may not have been the same for a Mac owner say 3 or 4 years ago), the consistency of the overall speed, even with the drop mid evening.

I plan on testing how to optimise the XP boot of my MacBook for the connection – XP doesn’t automatically cope well with that speed, and I want to do some side by side testing with the Virgin service and my still connected BT Business Broadband.

As an aside, I am a heavy duty user, I use Virtual Worlds a lot, do machinima, and am constantly uploading vids to people all over the world. This is going to be a tough test for Virgin, I am very interested to see how they do, but so far? So good.