Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Virgin Media (TeleWest) v. Be Broadband

I've been using Virgin Media (was TeleWest) broadband for a number of years. I started with cable TV, phone and broadband. I dropped the TV when FreeView became available and TeleWest started charging more than about nothing. I got fed-up with the price gouging on the phone and switched back to BT, having also in mind that I now had an easy route to getting ADSL as an alternative to cable modem.

I've been on Virgin's 20 Mbit/s service since it launched here in Bristol. The last time they hiked their prices I threatened to leave and move to Be Broadband. Virgin offered to keep my service at the old price and I stayed.

Last week I got my Virgin bill through. £37 for 20 MBit/s; up from £27. Now Be looked interesting. Since my last flirtation with Be two friends have started using the service and give good reports. So, I check out Be's offering.....

"Up to 24 MBit/s" for £18. Mmmmm. Now, given my distance from the phone exchange, I guess I should get ~16Mbit/s down and at least the same upload as I get at the moment. Working through the details I find that £18 doesn't include e-mail (no problem - I use Gmail) nor webspace. Webspace is a bit of a pain - I don't use very much, but I do have some old pages I'd like to keep. However, a little investigation shows that £2 per month will cover that.

Seems like a no-brainer to me. So, I phone Virgin to cancel......

"You can only get 8Mbit ADSL in your area" say Virgin. After a discussion where Virgin try to persuade me that I'll only get 8 Mbit (in fact 6 where I live) they do offer to drop the cost to £29. No deal, I'm off.

They've been phoning me at work. Yesterday and today. In fact twice today. First off I explain Be offer me 24 MBit/s - it's ADSL 2, not ADSL Max. They ask me what I want to stay; I say £18 per month. They say they get back. They call again. This time they explain that my exchange is not enabled for ADSL-2 - "Look at SamKnowsBroadband". We look at the site. "See, ADSL 2 isn't live yet". I tell them that Be don't use BT Wholesale, they use local loop unbundling with their own ADSL 2 kit. Virgin are not convinced and don't make me a better offer.

Meanwhile, when I get home, my new ADSL modem/wireless/wired router is sitting waiting for me. Now all I have to wait for is the line to be activated.

I wonder if Virgin will make me an offer?

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