Virgin Media to launch monthly speed test programme

Virgin Media has informed ISP Review that the operator intends to launch an interesting new monthly broadband speed test programme, which will measure the accuracy of major speedtest sites with its forthcoming 50Mbps service.

The reasoning behind this is certainly sound because many consumers may not realise that Virgin's service is capable of going faster than the tester's own server. ISPreview's own tester points out that accuracy above 8Mbps will diminish because the web server simply wouldn't be able to keep up.

It's worth pointing out that this isn't merely an issue that speed testers have to grapple with; customers will also need to be mindful of where they expect the service benefits of owning a 50Mbps connection to come from.

Many online services such as web servers for websites, instant messaging clients and newsgroups are frequently forced to limit their bandwidth output. Even popular file downloading sites have to restrict their bandwidth output to a few megabits per connection, thus balancing the load and preventing the service from becoming unusable.

Naturally it comes down to the age old dilemma faced by operators and consumers alike and one that is epitomised by an all too familiar question - "Do I really need a super fast connection?". For the most part you don't, although the underlying infrastructure improvements that come with such developments are where the real meat is at.

Meanwhile forthcoming Internet video, especially online HDTV services, currently lack the 'stability' of connection speed to work without a proper next-gen connection. Sure ADSL2+ may be capable of 'up to' 24Mbps but how many would actually receive even close to that? The technology is far too variable, hence the need for products like Virgin's 50Mbps.

It's understood that Virgin intend to publish the results of these tests along with the methodology on its website. The first round of testing will commence at the end of this month, with the first publication of data currently scheduled for 3rd November. Speed testers have always been anecdotal, although they do provide for a handy reference and we look forward to seeing how they all cope for the first semi-national scale next-gen service.

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