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back to article Virgin Media broadband in two-day wobble

Virgin Media customers in London and the South East have been rocked by internet outages that cut them off from big sites including Wikipedia, Yahoo! and the Guardian yesterday and this morning. Reg readers bombarded our inbox to report pockets of dicky service, which seemed to start on Sunday morning and is still ongoing for …

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Anonymous Coward

Bristol affected too.

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Anonymous Coward

Problems in the South-West too.

I noticed problems at the weekend when trying to access BBC news. I could get text (slowly) but not images. Had similar issues with other websites. Virgin's web sites seemed OK. Their service status now says there's an issue in my area.

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OK in Cambridge

Or at least it was yesterday afternoon.

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Last week my service was off for 7 day's and last night was spotty at best. I have had 5+ years great service from Virgin and Telewest but I am noticing more downtime and serious issues of late. I hope this isn't a sign of things to come because I don't want to go to ADSL anytime soon.

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Flakey week

I had a flakey week last week, Sunday was down twice, Tuesday down again twice and I dropped out again on Thursday for no good reason. Streaming audio still seems spotty.

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FAIL

Working from home

Being a Vermin Media user myself I can sympathise with those who have been affected by this, but I think that people who pay for a residential service whilst using it to work from home can hardly complain.

Yeah you pay £40 a month for the service but, compared to the costs of a dedicated business line, that ain't really that much. If you are working from home and stability of your connection is really that important, then maybe you should look into paying for something that is better suited to your needs, i.e. something with an SLA on resolving faults, guaranteed uptime, etc... and quit whinging when your residential service proves to not be up to scratch for your business needs.

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@Gareth

I'm glad I'm not the only who thought this. There's a reason they differentiate between residential and business, after all...

(FWIW I've been with Virgin for about 18 months and have found their reliability to be about equivalent to BT who I was with for about 2 1/2 years. Both were fucking disastrous to get set up initially, but adequately competent once things were up and running...)

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Service

Connection stability should be built into every package as standard. Implying that home broadband users should accept spotty unreliable access is a bad precedent, you don't expect satellite TV to cut out in the middle of the football or a low cost commuter car to drop its wheels half way to work.

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Wow

you expect the same service as someone who pays more eh? I hate to break it to you, but people who pay more are always going to get better service levels. Welcome to Earth.

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Stop

aye

or just run two lines i.e. a cable line and an ADSL line (from a different company of course!) then load balance them (or failover). Probably cheaper than an SDSL type arrangement.

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Unhappy

@Thomas 18

No, mate, that's not how it works.

You know the way that cheaper home packages have crappier upload speeds, higher contention ratios and download caps, compared to the more expensive packages? There's a reason for that, and it's to do with the expected uptime and performance provided with the service. The same logic will apply to the pricing you'll be offered if you ask for a dedicated SDSL business line - it won't be cheap, but on the other hand you'll have a contract in which usefully short resolution times and penalty clauses for the provider are specified.

I'm not saying significant outages are excusable, but I am suggesting that purchasing a residential/consumer service for business requirements is a bad idea because your requirements are unlikely to be met, in the same way that buying a Segway when you need a car is a guarantee of future misery.

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My wife's office

Have their internet via Virgin Business. They just got a letter saying it's going to be down for an entire day so they can do maintenance. Not down overnight, or in the evening, but during the working day.

Full day of of no emails and no website, simply because they can't be bothered to do the maintenace overnight.

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Unhappy

No, Cap'n...

I don't believe it's so simple. A business contract + SLA may guarantee 99.9% (or whatever) uptime, but huge failures of this type on a pretty expensive (by my standards) consumer line are not to be shrugged off as "oh, well, you get what you pay for". This lets ISPs off the hook.

I use a BT pipe reseller and have been recommending them to my clients recently because of their excellent uptime and UK support lines. I pay £35pm for an 8Mb 45GB service that only ever cacks out when the backbone has a spazzy, as in the London Exchange a while back. I expect this level to be maintained even though I'm not paying for a leased line.

I won't become enraged at the odd outage, as it's not a bussy line, but the tosspot service dished out by Virgin, et al is simply bollocks.

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@Blitterbug - if your contract is for a consumer service, and does not involve the provider acknowledge in any way that they may cause you loss of revenue due to outages (planned or otherwise), they it's not "letting the ISP off the hook", it's *abiding by the terms of the contract*. Regardless of how much you pay for your consumer service, if it's consumer service the terms are going to be better (for the ISP) than they would be on a business service.

Yes, it sucks. Yes, a lot of companies seem keen to do what Apple have done and get businesses grudgingly accepting the same level of service that consumers will accept. I have a similarly expensive consumer line at home, and downtime is as frustrating for me as anyone else.

Nonetheless, if you have *business requirements* and you can't take the loss involved in this kind of downtime, the risk-averse option is to buy a business service that accounts for them. You can argue otherwise all you like, but if you're argument is "I didn't have a contract for this level of service, but I expected it anyway" you're not going to get very far.

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Pint

Ahh / penny drops

Thanks El Reg for bringing me this news; as a virgin media customer, I was trying to figure out why Flickr and Wikipedia in particular weren't loading (or gave connection timeouts) and I suspected Virgin Media had something to do with it.

Glad to know that the ISP is to blame and that the problem might be fixed, althought not being able to randomly look things up on Wikipedia is seriously going to affect my pub quiz score tonight.

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Anonymous Coward

Luckily I managed to get to an external box located in France using VNC, confirmed it VM screwing about.

It was quite bizarre. I couldn't get to DeviantArt all day even this morning it was still off, Amazon would work about 50% of the time. The BBC would work 1 in 10 times!

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Silver badge

I would like to add PSN to the list of sites not working last night. My Virgin Broadband has sucked balls for at least two years.

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Anonymous Coward

psn? via the ps3s built in wifi? *cough*

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Coat

Blimey, Virgin must be expensive...

... if MartinShovel is "renting his garments". Like the imagery, though.

Let's see...

Spend/spent

Lend/lent

Rend/rent

er...

Mend/mended

I've rent me coat.

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FAIL

In my experience, VM "support" = recite a script and then tell you an engineer is coming to look at your modem sometime next Thursday. For every issue.

Part of the script is (or was, until I gave up calling them) "what Windows patches have you applied?" leading to great confusion when you respond "none, I'm a Mac / Linux user".

Luckily, in the last 10 years I've had little cause to call them. Just recently though ...

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Anonymous Coward

Had to call the samaritans...

..after spending 90 minutes on the phone to VM about this problem sunday afternoon.

25 minutes in the support queue before getting a guy at the Indian call centre who I explained the problem too and advised that many customers are having this issue at the moment. He proceeds to tell me the problem is with my browser and there is no problems there as his ping tests to me came back ok. Asked for second line support and he transferred me to some premium service that wanted to charge me a subscription to login to my pc remotely to fix the problem with MY computer.

They said they had to transfer me back to support and I said as long as it is not the Indian call centre, go ahead. More time in the queue before getting...the indian call centre answer and be totally useless again.

Just got a text message while writing this to say the fault has been fixed and upon testing I can get to some of the sites again that were problematic before. So it seems the info VM provided about new equipment needed and meeting with a peering partner was lies. More like they undid a change to traffic management settings that broke it in the first place...

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Linux

"They said they had to transfer me back to support and I said as long as it is not the Indian call centre, go ahead. More time in the queue before getting...the indian call centre answer and be totally useless again."

The man in disconnections kindly offered to put me through to Liverpool Technical support when my 50MBs service was running at a measly 130KBs and surprise surprise I got a lovely young woman in India.

The service sucks, the support sucks.

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Anonymous Coward

re: indian vs uk call centres

i get the impression it depends on the time of day. The uk call centre ( i believe they are closing the good one in liverpool and epanding the not-as-good south wales one) is open during regular office hours, and the indian one is at all other times. Unfortunately, most people work during office hours, so not many people get to speak to the uk centre...

Of course, this is speculation...

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Facepalm

No surprises

VM don't seem to know much about anything unless a global press announcement is released. Confiming problems in the Southwest. It has been glitchy since early Sunday morning, dropping line speeds of 800kb/s instead of the usual 5mb/s. Would have posted in the VM forums but guess what..

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Dundee troubles and fix

I had very laggy slow connection starting late Thursday and into Friday night. I changed my network box's DNS to DynDNS and the problem immediately went away. Dunno if that's connected or helps anyone else.

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I use OpenDNS myself

And I have seen no issues whatsoever - I'm in the (south of) Watford area.

I'll run a speed test tonight, but I don't expect to see any problems.

So is it a Virgin DNS issue?

ttfn

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1A

Been getting this problem here in liverpool too. Its almost like DNS server problems. I am getting around it though by using a VPN.

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Anonymous Coward

MartinShovel

[quote] MartinShovel said on Twitter: "I'm in Brighton & I still can't access sites like the Guardian & the Independent" [unquote]

LOL - I love this. it says all you need to know about Twitter, Brighton and those 2 newspapers :-)

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Alert

And Manchester

lost access to Wikipedia etc on Sunday at around noon and just got them back (13.30 Monday)

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Anonymous Coward

Lemon tart

Thesse turd eating fucktards are completely useless and will lie and spin you endless bs until you're about ready to commit suicide.

I had severe problems just outisde Cambridge for months. Endless calls to their pointless center having them tell me all sorts of garbage that's my fault that was provable nonsense.

After some months, and after trying and failing to move to ADSL (unusable in my town) and realising I'm forced to use only VM cable, I mailed the CEO and the problem was fixed within a week.

If getting these festering losers to fix anything can only be managed by nagging the CEO *directly* it's a pretty piss-poor company.

I complained to Ofcom about them. Twice.

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Anonymous Coward

Yes...

... but tell us what you really think?

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Anonymous Coward

forced? Dont make me laugh.

How did you manage before signing up with VM? Do that.

If you've only just moved to the area, and internet is *that* important to your life/work/whatever, id have thought you'd do a better job of scouting the place out before moving there...

option 1) No internet

option 2) dial up

option 3) move house

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dcd

No problems at all London N1

Could it be because I use my own DNS settings?

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its a routing issue nothing to do with dns. (i run my own dns too)

Im in the midlands and was badly afected by this all weekend, many sites were paintfully, and some not accessible at all.

fortunately it seems to have been fixed now.

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No problem in SE6, but I use my own DNS settings too.

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Anonymous Coward

Rubbish

My Virgin Media connection has been awful for the last week since we got it (SW England). Unfortunately I'm in a shared house, and I neither directly pay the bill, or had any say in who we signed up with..

Hurrah for 50meg, we can hardly manage a stable 1meg connection.

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Black Helicopters

Longer than a couple of days

I've had this kind of performance for the last week or so and I'm in Bracknell on the M4 corridor and as such, pretty well connected.

I simply assumed it was because we'd told them we're cancelling in a month!

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Same problem in Nottingham

Virgin Media told me that there are no problems, and yet I haven't been able to access Wikipedia for several days now. I don't read the Guardian, fortunately.

Everything seems to be working now.

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Boffin

Deep packet inspection changes?

When the latest DPI was rolled out in our area (south wales) we had the same problem - some sites would not load, or only partially load (eg, some sockets worked fine, other sockets would time out).

At the time I was lucky enough to have servers in the portions of the public internet affected by the problem. I performed tcpdump packets captures on both ends of the link and noticed that some packets being sent from my servers were not arriving at the other end, despite the full SYN/ACK handshake stage taking place.

Ping and traceroutes showed zero packet loss. The problem did not exist on ports such as SSH, HTTPS or other random ports. So, to me, the problem was wholly related to something at the TCP layer on port 80. My only conclusion would be that something was meddling with the packets on that port inside of the virgin media network, which led me to the guesstimate conclusion that Virgins deep packet inspection/filtering system was going nuts.

Of course, they never admitted as such ;)

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??

Your post was all fair and well in terms of technical analysis, but 'guesstimate'.... really? You're better than that sir.

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you are probably

right on that regard. Without knowing the ins and outs of their internal network its hard to say with 100% certainty. Maybe I should have said "if it looks like a fish and swims like a fish..."

;)

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Anonymous Coward

Week long, here in N4

Seventh day of complete outage for me, on TV and broadband.

Every time I called service support, they claimed it would be up by the end of the day.

It's been a total shambles.

An engineer is booked for tomorrow afternoon.

I work from home; just as well my Android was there as a MiFi backup.

Get a dedicated business connection?

Yeah. Right. I have 100% confidence in them fulfilling their SLA.

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And if they don't meet the SLA then you at least get to invoke a penalty clause.

An SLA never, ever guarentee's 100% uptime, it just gives you agreed comeback when it goes tits up

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Anonymous Coward

Only problem is I've yet to see an SLA that pays compensation that comes anywhere close to covering the inconvenience caused by the outage.

So how about this for an SLA. You screw up such that my connection is down for 8 hours, then I don't get any compensation, but I now have the right to immediately cancel my contract with zero notice and at no penalty. Any takers from the suppliers? Thought not.

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South Manchester Too

Lost virtually all web-services on Thurs, went out bought a 3G USB dongle on fri, posted on their official forums (to which theres stll no official staff reply). Called through to faults and somehow ended up speaking to someone in Liverpool not India. This was good because the Liverpool office is 2nd line, as in the people with a clue, as opposed to the script readers.

I was told by a very competent support agent, "There is a known signalling and routing issue at the moment, with the fix scheduled for the 20th. I apologize for this. The fault reference number is.... Once the fault is rectified, call customer services, with the fault reference, and they will credit you a small discount. In reality, its such a major fault, we have several teams working on it, it will probably be fixed before the 20th, but I can't garuntee that."

Sunday, about noon, stuff started working normally again, for me at least.

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Facepalm

Virgin's Support might be worse than BT's

which is saying something...

I called up Virgin Broadband and attempted to explain that I could ping my router fine, no problem, but when I pinged any IP address on the outside world (even my router's default gateway) I would get intermittent packet loss. So the irritatingly over-optimistic but not very helpful india call centre operative assured me he would fix the problem. And that's where the problem started, as he directed me to change my router's wireless channel to 13. I tried to explain politely that the evidence suggested this would make no difference because my internal subnet was working fine. Do you know what he said? "If you know so much sir, why don't you fix it?". Needless to say politeness ended rapidly. 5 Calls later to different departments (the TV department) they admitted there was a problem with the connection between the house and the exchange.

It's nice to know I paid for that service.

You never got this with BE Internet, who could resolve complex technical issues over the phone as they had techies on support, not useless script readers who don't know their arse from their elbow, and instead of escalating problems try to get you off the phone as fast as possible.

Not impressed at all, unfortunately we don't have a BT Landline at this address so we're stuck with a useless company like virgin media who hava staggering history of being terrible even before the re-brand (which has made little difference).

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Bronze badge

Salvation possible

Come back to BE, recommended to a friend and they went LLU with them. Line install cheaper than BT too.

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@ Gavin 8

I feel your pain. Had to switch from BE to Virgin cable for the same reason (lack of a BT landline or TV aerial in these flats). I miss a steady, reliable connection and responsive, intelligent support staff. (And I miss my HD Fox T2.) Sigh.

Although at this rate I'll be saving a bit. Currently getting about a 30% service credit a month thanks to repeated Virgin problems (broadband, TV, phone, the works).

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Anonymous Coward

Couldn't be happier with Be. A few years back I had a similar, but much smaller scale problem, with them. I couldn't access one site that I needed for work because of a routing issue out of their control somewhere in America. Their solution was to give me a free static IP address which fixed the problem and which I have had free of charge ever since (including moving house). Fantastic company.

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FAIL

Liverpool

Lost Virgin t'internet and goggle box on Saturday afternoon. We had to resort to gardening and watching DVDs!!

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