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Virgin Two for £20 

Since the days of Nynex and Cable and Wireless and then NTL I have had analogue cable television, for a while now I have been nagged to upgrade to digitalTV, but until very recently one of the channels I view a lot was an extra on digital whereas on analogue it was a standard channel.

I used to pay £24.50 a month for a phone line and cable TV, for the last year or so this has been discounted to £16.50. The phone line I used little as originally it was for fax and now I tend to scan and send by email. So when after the NTL takeover by Virgin and prices were commoditized and finally the TV 'medium' pack was changed to the 'large' pack I took the plunge and upgraded.

As I had all the wiring it was just a case of the engineer bringing a new box and attaching a couple of different cables. My old Nynex box had a coaxial connection to the TV and now of course it's SCART. Also being installed in place of the redundant phone line is 2MB broadband as its two for £20, three for £30 or four for £40. The other options being landline phone and or mobile phone.

Everything was arranged over the phone, an installation day and time (AM or PM) were agreed and two engineers were delighted to see all the caballing installed - early Easter for us - as the time agreed was Thursday before Easter in the afternoon. Total install time was around 30 minutes and I now have digital TV.

To be precise I think it's 111 TV channels and 41 radio channels. The box I have is made by Samsung and is 31x22x6cm and has a slot on the front occupied by a Virgin viewing card.

The only problem I have so far had is occasionally when you turn it on from standby is that the interactive BBC options do not appear, you get the 'press red' and when you do you get a 'loading please wait' after a minute this disappears and sometimes the only way to proceed is to turn off. The reason I use this 'interactive' rather than the two channels available via Freeview is that there are sometimes up to five sports streams and often there is stuff that if it is shown at all it is heavily edited.

While the standard service does not include a PVR you do have access to a range of programs that you can view up to a week after broadcasting, Channel 4 features heavily but also some other channels with the notable exception of ITV. I notice that with what I have viewed the breaks are still there but no adverts are shown so you go to the break and then immediately start again with the next section.

The engineers check that the TV part of the service is working correctly, however apart from supplying a long enough lead to reach your PC they will not have anything to do with the Broadband installation.

Onto the Broadband. Only on one occasion has this not worked perfectly and that was with a fault caused nearby that knocked it out for a day. The helpline is in India and while they do speak English it is sometimes hard to understand, when I asked when the fault would be repaired I got 'today night' fine when you think about it but not immediately obvious.

They supply a small modem box 11x10x2.5cm and an Ethernet cable to go from the modem to your PC. The connection from the modem to the input is somewhat different from a normal phone line in that the cabling is by coaxial lead.

For the install you are supplied with a CD and following the install choices were fairly straightforward, at the end of the install you need to turn the modem off and wait around 15 seconds before switching it on again so that the details you have entered can be updated.

If only the email side had been as easy. Maybe I was unlucky but the information given is not that helpful. While Virgin say they do not support Outlook Express it will work, however over the first week I had various problems sending and receiving and why the technical support normally got it working it was only by me having to reveal my password, surely this does not need to be done. The outcome was that no settings were wrong and when I said what has been changed the answer was it has been refreshed. However over the last month or so all has worked correctly.

All in all getting Broadband (at 2MB with no usage limit) and over 150 channels of TV and radio as well as the ability to watch a number of programs for up to seven days after broadcast is to me anyway a good package for £20 a month.

http://allyours.virginmedia.com/websales/product.do?id=11025

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