August 14, 2011

Virgin Media's strategy encourages piracy

Am I alone in thinking that the current strategy followed by Virgin Media is encouraging illegal downloading of TV content? VM deny us high profile content (Sky Atlantic the obvious example) but give us the means to easily acquire it illegally with broadband speeds in excess of what any non-downloading citizen would require. Does anyone need 100mb download speeds if they don't indulge in content downloading, let alone the ridiculous 1.5gb currently being tested?


Moroboshi said...

It's the elephant in the room, and Virgin will be very aware of it. It works in their favour though, - VM customers get all the premium content they want in a quick and (fairly) easy fashion, and VM don't have to pay Murdoch for it.

Ultimately linear content platforms are going to go away and everything will be on demand through dozens of platforms. When this happens VM will be ideally positioned, but Sky certainly won't. So VM will get the last laugh, and for now they just look the other way while VM customers download at will. A win-win I guess you could say, albeit one which is currently rather illegal.

Square eyes said...

What a comical statement

there are people out there who have neither Sky or VM, we are talking some other ADSL service who will download programmes from various torrent sites. Are to blame VM for them as well?

Nialli said...

"We think you deserve more. So no matter which of our fibre optic broadband packages you chose, you get unlimited1 downloads. That means you can download as much music, as many films and as many photos as you want without having to worry about going over any kind of limit."
"Download an entire music album in as little as 5 seconds; a TV show in around 30 seconds, a high quality movie in as little as 1½ minutes and a high definition movie in around 7 minutes. 100Mb really excels when the whole house is online at the same time – whether for streaming HD videos, downloading HD movies, gaming online or accessing everyday services. With 100Mb broadband there is plenty of connection for everyone!"
Given that there are so few legit movie and TV download sites out there, and there's no mention in the advertising as to legal content, it's brazen.

Square eyes said...

That being said you have still failed to answer the question

are we to blame VM for illegal downloading?

The 100mb broadband statement is an example of what the service can do, other companies tell you they have unlimited fast broadband, again is that not promoting illegal downloading

Anonymous said...

Wish they could show as much enthusiasm with tv content as what they do with broadband !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Arjun said...

You seem to be missing the elephant in the room which is gaming. If vyou regularly get games from steam the files are over a 4gb on average and demos on ps3 and 360 are 1gb each. Also some people like to stream hd movies using consoles so it is useful for legit stuff as well but I think they should do more with it by having hd stuff on demand etc on the pc as well as trying to get the repeats of shows like game of thrones.

Arjun said...

Also there might be few tv and movie download places but the big machine that is apple has the monopoly on that stuff

Richard said...

There are lots of reasons people need bandwidth...
1. gaming on consoles.
2. multiple people online in the house
3. streaming from legit sites
4. working from home
5. downloading illegally.

Personally I need the bandwidth I have for working from home. When I do work from home I am regularly transferring very large files and lots of data both ways. Before I had decent download speeds I had to use a WTS session to do half my work.

As for illegal download, you need to think about how P2P works... you need peers with high upload speeds, you need lots of peers to connect to and then you need a super fast client device to achieve the high volumes of connections. I can only see a few situation where you will achieve the kind of speeds the pipe is capable of supporting.

Also VM throttle p2p download speeds.

The interesting question is how will we use the pipeline?

But then I remember when the first Terabyte server (maybe was first terabyte on PC based tech - can't remember now) was built by the company I worked for and in our local office I replicated the setup and built a 1/2 tb server.
We couldn't think of a use for that quantity of storage, it was more a concept demo for us. A little over a decade later and I have over 4TB of storage in my home. (granted its really 2x2TB as half is a backup)...
With over a decade of digital photography and digital videos, its amazing how quick you can fill storage. My last family holiday was over 30GB of data. Since my boys were born I have taken over 2K snaps per year.

The point is, what we think today is ample, we find tomorrow is a pittance to what we need.

If VM can build the high speed pipe, lets encourage them to do it and we will purchase as we need it. I pay the same (ish) now as I did when I first had a cable modem with a 1MB speed, and I got upgraded time and again and just upgraded to 30MB because it worked out cheaper after a deal they had on recently for existing 10M subscribers.

Erich said...

It seems like VM have "encouraged" piracy far more actively in the past. They promoted download speeds for MP3s and movies long before legal services to acquire such things were widely available, and their own usenet service obviously hosted tons of pirated music, movies, etc. With many legal services around now. as well as gaming and other bandwidth hungry things to do on the internet, multiple internet devices in each home, etc, I think there's a far more legitimate case to be made for high speed connections than ever before.

As for the ever popular subject of where Sky Atlantic fits into all this, I don't really think it significantly adds anything to the piracy issue. Piracy is obviously already very common, and I hardly think the 12 people watching Mad Men or Boardwalk are going make much of a difference.

As for Sky, it's only to their advantage that more and more people get these high speed connections as well, as this gives them the option to essentially deliver content via VM's network, something they have previously been denied. They could effectively choke off VM's direct access to content this way, but still have access to their customers. Think about it, if you have an internet enabled TV, a subscription to a Sky internet service with Sky Atlantic and all that good stuff in a quality comparable to what you get through sat, which would easily be possible even on a 30mbit connection, who needs VM's TV packages?

Oblonger said...

Reminds me of the thinking behind the riots this week. Everyone saying it's not their fault that they're nicking stuff.

Square eyes said...


VM do not throttle p2p download speeds, and before you start coming out with more rubbish you don't know about, I work for VM.

they have a traffic management policy which kicks in if you download more than you allowance, but that is for any downloading not just p2p & if you do exceed the limits which start at 1.5gb up to 10gb between 10am & 3pm or from 750mb to 5gb between 4pm & 9pm.

If you do get managed you are limited for just 5 hours and you will not be limited again for the rest of that day.

I have left out the small package, because that is for those who just like to check emails & on-line banking etc...

My question would be - If you are on the 30mb service during the day and you are being traffic managed, what have you been doing to use 10gb???

flotsky said...

I don't think VM have much choice about not having the Sky Atlantic content though.

Declan said...

@Square eyes

This is from VM's Traffic Management page on their website:

"File sharing

At peak times we also slow down the speed of file sharing traffic – that's services like Limewire, Gnutella, BitTorrent and Newsgroup (Usenet) traffic. You will, of course, still be able to use these services, but downloads and uploads will take longer during these peak periods."

Page URL is

So VM seem to be under the impression that they are throttling P2P traffic at peak times. Or are you saying they claim to, but don't actually enforce it?

J.C said...

@Square eyes

You might well work for VM but you certainly have no idea on their traffic shaping policy and how it operates. FYI hitting a 10Gb limit is pretty easy if you are an IT Consultant working from home.

I think Nialli has hit the nail on the head and is something I have been thinking about for some time. For example Sky Atlantic has just signed up the new season of Entourage which I love and so I feel forced to obtain it from other means. And I'm sure I'm not the only one.

paulselby1 said...

They also have binaries on their newsgroup server that give you access to all the latest US content

Anonymous said...

Who cares? I for one support torrenting shows unavailable to us.

Square eyes said...

I download p2p almost everyday, I know for a fact that my speed is not slow or restricted in anyway, shape or form.

What it says & what takes place are 2 different things.

streaky_7 said...

Well I for one can see the point Nialli is making. I cannot say for certain it's something VM have planned a strategy around but as they won't put out for Sky Atlantic I for one am glad I have great broadband speeds. As I have suggested before on this blog in other threads regarding sky Atlantic, VM may not provide u the channel to watch the programmes but they do provide u the means to download it i.e. Fast stable broadband. Ultimately I believe whether u do or not is up to you. That can't be on VM or anyone else. It's your choice. But VM do certainly give u the means! Should u decide to do so!! For the record I thought boardwalk empire and game of thrones were excellent........

Richard said...

This is not a BB forum it is a Tivo, HD TV blog site.

THe point Nialli makes is interesting, but p2p is actually not something my mum would understand or my wife. They will be interested in Sky Atlantic, and choose services because of contentand as such would probably choose Sky.

So the volume of piracy would be small compared to the volume of conversions. (IMHO)

@square eyes... as someone said, you should read your own companies information. You missed the point of the p2p throttling... it kicks in a cetain times...

'VM have reserved a minimum 75% of their downstream network capacity for time critical applications such as gaming and VOIP. If P2P traffic on a link exceeds 25% of the link capacity during the defined peak time, it is slowed down so that only 25% of the capacity is received by P2P users. 75% of the capacity (150 Mbps) is kept available to be used by the so-called time critical traffic on that link. The P2P traffic at peak times receives a maximum of 50 MPs shared across the number of concurrent P2P users. For the purposes of this article a EURODOCSIS 3 bonded downstream channel group (4 channels) of 200 Mbps data bearing capacity is assumed.

If the time critical traffic runs over the reserved 75% of capacity (which can certainly happen in heavily populated areas), then the P2P traffic is further squeezed by that excess. So, if the volume of time critical traffic is 80% then P2P is squeezed to 20% (40 Mbps per channel shared among however many users).'

Richard said...

for those interested, the source for the nice explination of p2p traffic management is...

dated july this year.

It also talks about why some people are throttled incertain games eg world of warcraft.

Richard said...

apologies to everyone else, but I do need to respond to the snipe at me.

@square eyes
If were a game of poker I would bet that I would beat your hand with my 20+ years in the IT industry as both Hardware and Software product manager for some of the top companies in the world and up until recent years when I took a less customer facing role, you could find me quoted in the media a lot for my opinion (not reading company messaging)... Your call!!!

I should also suggest you read what people write... where have I said I am traffic managed? What I said is I wanted high speed.

If I am transferring 200MB+ files to the office, I don't want 1Mb/sec upload speeds as I had before. You are showing a high level of ignorance if you assume people only download. The high bandwidth is for uploading too.
And actually when I get throttled, it is because of my upload volume not download volume... again read your own traffic management policy.

as for your download speeds during p2p, how do you know if you are restricted? Do you know when how to tell if the lack of bandwidth on the seeds/peers are the problem or when it is the pipeline on your side? There is a difference between fast enough and full speed. Assuming you have a 30MB pipe are you saying that you always get over 3,700KB/s download speeds? Wow - i'm genuinely impressed if you do.

Now the cards are on the table, lets stop the games and keep with the serious discussions which are way more fun.

@Nailli - sorry :-( don't normally bite and won't do it again.

@JC & Declan thanks :-)

Square eyes said...


Yes, I can track the usage on the downstream & upstream.

Plus don't really give a toss about the 20years IT or who you say you have worked for, nice bigging yourself up mind, you are entitled to think & say what you like.

This post was about piracy, which falls into the broadband domain.

And since you don't make the rules about what people can post, that would be Nialli, I will continue post what the hell I like without having some arrogant sounding ass telling me otherwise.

Sorry Nialli for rant