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Standard User mixt
(experienced) Sun 31-May-09 21:00:11
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50Mb Broadband - You may want to read this...


[link to this post]
 
Hi all,

Not posted here for a while so figured I would change that. Mainly to advise people about the new 50Mb cable broadband package from Virgin.

My landlord upgraded our connection from 20Mb to 50Mb a couple of weeks ago, so I feel I should give some feedback / hints / tips to anyone looking at doing this. You may want to weigh up if it's really worth upgrading, and if it's going to be of benefit to you.

My findings and performances of 50Mb are some what... confusing, to say the least, but let me give you some basic information.

When you upgrade to 50Mb, Virgin will give you a completely new type of cable modem. This is because the product operates on a whole new set of frequencies on the cable, due to the standard rising to DOCSIS 3.0. As such, because this is such a relatively new product, if you do upgrade, there is a good chance that, in your immediate area, you'll be the only person (or one of very few) that are actually not contending with any other 50Mb subscribers, meaning you will actually see 50Mb speeds. This, however, will probably change as more users migrate onward and upward.

For the record, the exact sync speeds are this (taken from the cable modem):

DOCSIS Mode : DOCSIS 3.0
Max Traffic Rate : 53000000 bps
Max Traffic Rate : 1750000 bps

Once installed, you'll want to do a speed test. This is where things got interesting, for us at least. Firstly, out of all the tests I've done on this 50Mb connection, I have only ever got true / pure / absolute 50Mb speeds (eg. downloading a file @ 4.8 MB/sec) by directly plugging into the virgin cable modem (no NAT router involved). And, here's the interesting part. I was only able to do this on my MacBook Pro. I have a flatmate who has a MacBook as well, and he got the same result. As soon as I switched the MacBook to my Acer Windows Vista laptop, the best I could do was 20-30Mb/sec. I suspect the reason for this is because all MacBooks have Gigabit ethernet, with the Virgin cable modem itself also supporting Gigabit ethernet. At least they (Virgin) got something right here because this means rather than 50Mb saturating half of a 100Mb fast ethernet connection, it only saturates 5% of a Gigabit one, meaning full speed is possible - which is precisely what I observed on my MacBook Pro.

The next test I did was plugging the supplied Netgear WNR2000 router into the cable modem, and then CAT5ing in my MacBook Pro again. The WNR2000 does not support Gigabit ethernet, only fast ethernet. The speed test was marginally slower, struggling at times to reach full 50Mb on my MacBook on 100Mb ethernet compared to being directly wired into the modem at 1 Gb ethernet. The Vista laptop drops down to 20Mb (even worse!).

The Netgear WNR2000 router supplied by Virgin supports the new high speed wireless, up to 300Mbps. I'm not that clued up on the latest wireless stuff, but to run at that speed, I'm presuming it gobbles up all available WI-FI channels and that isn't nice to any neighbouring wireless networks. Don't expect to see these kinds of speeds if you are in a built up area as there are bound to be neighbouring wireless networks that will overlap with your channels, and thus degrade the speed you can obtain wirelessly.

So in short, it would seem that 50Mb is getting so fast now, that there are a number of brick walls you may want to / have to address, if you are going to get the most of out going 50Mb. These are:

1) The type of OS/computer you are running. I'm guessing the reason the MacBook Pro can max out the connection, and a Windows Vista laptop can't, is not only due to its Gigabit ethernet support but also how the hardware and/or network stack has been implemented on the system (my guess is that it's network stack implementation more than hardware, since my Linux box also gets reasonable speeds on our 50Mb broadband). Yes, I suppose you can go ahead and try and tweak the RWIN/MTU on your Windows box to try and gain improvement, but in all honesty, I've never had a requirement to do this and, personally speaking, you shouldn't need to do this. So I'm going to just be blunt and say - I'm not a fan of Macs, but in terms of their network stack, it's streaks ahead of Windows any day. And this is also probably the reason Sebastien uses a MacBook Pro in the ThinkBroadBand Speedtest Video. smile

2) The type of router you go for. It seems that 50Mb is a speed that is beginning to show up routers that just aren't up to handling fast traffic at this speed. Maybe look at upgrading your entire network to Gigabit ethernet. The Virgin cable modem itself supports Gigabit ethernet but the Netgear WNR2000 router they've supplied us doesn't. Which is just stupid, as that is effectively the bottle neck on the connection now.

3) And don't forget, it's not just about the link speed. It's about the actual processing power inside these routers and how fast they can process multiple streams of NATed connections on your network. Cisco springs to mind - or if you can't afford one of them, possibly D-Link (now owned by Cisco) - or if you're an uber geek, build a dedicated Linux box to perform your NAT and routing instead.

To sum up, your computer's OS network stack needs to be slick - very slick. You'll probably need to ramp your network up to Gigabit ethernet to see full 50Mb, all the time. And you should consider either purchasing a nice fast gigabit ethernet router, or build your own (Linux). If you fail on any one of these 3 factors, you'll be hard pressed to get the full 50Mbs most of the time. This is my honest opinion, based on what I've experienced from the connection so far, but it would be interesting to hear from others who have also toyed with this new product from Virgin.

Hope you found this rant useful. Comments welcome!

Now on Virgin Media (50Mb/Cable)
Was with Be* Un Limited and before that ZeN
Is Linux routing your internet connection?
Need to make BIND geo-aware?

Edited by mixt (Sun 31-May-09 21:10:01)

Standard User EnglishRob
(knowledge is power) Mon 01-Jun-09 11:33:05
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Re: 50Mb Broadband - You may want to read this...


[re: mixt] [link to this post]
 
I do wonder if the actual network card in the machine makes a difference. I mean my server has a cheap Realtek 100Mbit card in it and although it's fast enough to stream HD video I dare say I don't get the full speed whereas my Vista Media Centre PC copying files to my notebook which has a broadcom network chipset running on Linux gives me nearly full speed.

I do agree the point about routers though, until I replaced my little Linksys cable router (which I was just using as a 4 port switch) I was saturating the network at 20Mbit/sec. Replacing that with a beefier 100Mbit 24-port Linksys switch resolved this (although it's a bit overkill).

I dare say when the time comes that I upgrade to 50Meg (or faster) I will replace the majority of my networking kit with Gigabit anyway and build a dedicated machine running IPCop with a couple of Gigabit cards in it.

Rob

----------------------------------------------------------------------
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Virgin Media XL 20 Meg broadband.
Entanet via Vivaciti was about 7.6Mbit/sec down and 800k up, now more like 3 Meg down and 500K up (migrating on Thursday 9th April).
BT Broadband option 3? & BT Vision on it's way (yes I've sold my soul to Phorm)
Standard User gman1978
(newbie) Sat 18-Jul-09 11:37:05
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Re: 50Mb Broadband - You may want to read this...


[re: mixt] [link to this post]
 
I previously had Virgin connection (fibre optic cable) 10 mb connection and never went below 9.7 GB connection using standard cable modem and D-Link DI 604 router (2 machines) using Ethernet cable.

I then upgraded to 50 MB and had problems as the connection was only 1 MB with the new cable modem and Netgear Wireless -N WNR 2000 router. I was able to resolve by changing the Intel PRO/1000 PL Network card setting for LINK SPEED from 100 MBPS FULL DUPLEX to auto detect or 100MBPS HALF DUPLEX ( yes half DUPLEX).

I thought all was well but I found that I was only getting 35 MB connection and starting changing MTU setting on the router and PC (various links regarding DR TCP and TCP optimizer) and I had spent about 5 hours researching and testing but it would not go above 35 MBPS so I tried connecting straight to the modem and got 48.2 MBOS connection.

I have since discovered other posts and links on the web regarding the Netgear Wireless -N WNR 2000 and will update. Hopefully I can find another solution or tweak - if not Ill be researching HIGH speed routers. I had even tried my original D-Link router but itís the exact same speed as the Netgear.


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Standard User mixt
(experienced) Sun 19-Jul-09 03:43:05
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Re: 50Mb Broadband - You may want to read this...


[re: gman1978] [link to this post]
 
Since my original post, our setup has now changed, with positive results.

The WNR2000 NetGear merely acts as a wireless access point now. The routing of our connection I have replaced with a dedicated Linux router, with two 1 gigabit capable ethernet ports. This means that the connection from it to the virgin media 50Mb cable modem is now 1 gigabit ethernet, whilst our LAN side remains 100 Mbit ethernet (which forks off to various connectivity methods such as power modulators to send the network over the mains and the WNR2000 for wireless access).

I use the mains method to get traffic to my room, with a top speed on any speed test being around 10 Mbits (on a good day) - even though the power modulator units we have can (apparently) do up to 85 Mbits. I've not bothered to look into this as I'm not a speed freak and as long as my connection works, I'm not fussed.

However, our land lord was reading a networking forum online (he was on the mains setup like me too) and noticed that NetGear had done some kind of driver/firmwire update for the wireless USB dongle that they have been supplying with the NetGear WNR2000. He applied that update, and I then switched the wireless support on the WNR2000 to the full 300 mbits, auto channel mode. This, as far as I can tell, gobbles up all available wireless channels that it can, and makes use of all of them to achieve absolute highest wireless throughput with supported hardware (such as the NetGear wireless USB dongle he has). He then ran a speed test, wirelessly.

Lets just say, I was blown away. Considering the wireless signal has to go through 2 thick walls, he now consistently gets 40-45 Mbits downstream, no problems at all. Infact, it is probably the fastest connection in our flat as all other wireless devices probably use the slower wireless protocol when associating with the WNR2000 (54 mbit or slower, and all that).

I also believe that when the WNR2000 was doing two things at the same time (eg. acting as a wireless access point AND routing traffic), this also slowed it down. Now that the routing and NAT part is done via a dedicated Linux box, and the link speed between it and the cable modem is now 1 gigabit, it has one less thing to worry about, which would explain why we now consistently get crazy speeds.

It's not often that things surprise me, but one torrent our land lord had going had a seeder on some kind of leased line (or fat pipe) because from this one guy alone, he was pulling blocks for the torrent down (wirelessly) at 2 megabytes per second. That is FAST for broadband!

I'm liking 50 Mb, but as I said in my original post, you need to look carefully at your LAN infrastructure if you are going to get that across all devices on your LAN because most consumer things just aren't up to handling these kinds of speeds (standard wireless and LAN over power/mains adapters are good examples of this).

Now on Virgin Media (50Mb/Cable)
Was with Be* Un Limited and before that ZeN
Is Linux routing your internet connection?
Need to make BIND geo-aware?
MySmokePing
Standard User robertuk702
(newbie) Sun 26-Jul-09 12:11:10
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Re: 50Mb Broadband - You may want to read this...


[re: mixt] [link to this post]
 
I am thoroughly livid with Virginmedia at the moment.

Half a mile away in Wolverhampton a street can get 50mb broadband....my street...nope...still in the process of...

Errr why????

Not one person could give me a definitive date or reason when or why it wasn't available at Virgin.

They are totally and utterly useless. Customer service is appalling.
Standard User pete_thomson
(fountain of knowledge) Sun 26-Jul-09 14:06:05
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Re: 50Mb Broadband - You may want to read this...


[re: robertuk702] [link to this post]
 
The rollout is not complete AFAIK.

Virgin Media 20Mb/s
19,707kb/s - 790kb/s @ 24/10/2008
Standard User pcoventry76
(knowledge is power) Sun 26-Jul-09 18:13:20
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Re: 50Mb Broadband - You may want to read this...


[re: pete_thomson] [link to this post]
 
It is that's why they are now working on 10MB upstream

Or so the media and their press releases suggest.
Standard User pete_thomson
(fountain of knowledge) Sun 26-Jul-09 21:45:29
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Re: 50Mb Broadband - You may want to read this...


[re: pcoventry76] [link to this post]
 
My father in law can not upgrade yet, so in my eyes that's incomplete.

Virgin Media 20Mb/s
19,707kb/s - 790kb/s @ 24/10/2008
Standard User krazykizza
(experienced) Sun 26-Jul-09 21:55:40
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Re: 50Mb Broadband - You may want to read this...


[re: mixt] [link to this post]
 
Is the device your using to connect able to recieve those speeds over wifi? Might be because your Apple computer is using new technology that supports it?

Sorry about the lateness of my reply smile

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
AOL > Virgin Media > Tiscali > Falconnet > UKFSN > Norfolk Internet
256k > Shapped 512k > 1mbps! > 6.5mbps > 4.5mbps > 2-9mbps + 883kbps upload

ADSL2+ Hell. 33db att, 6-26db SNR, After all we are just the 'end user' arn't we.
Standard User pcoventry76
(knowledge is power) Sun 26-Jul-09 23:43:58
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Re: 50Mb Broadband - You may want to read this...


[re: pete_thomson] [link to this post]
 
That's a fair comment, They aren't doing everyone though worth checking.
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