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back to article Virgin Media vid misery blamed on unnamed peering network

Virgin Media has blamed an unnamed peering network for crippling its broadband service, particularly at peak times, for some folk. The Register contacted the telco after a number of peeved VM punters complained of yet more problems when downloading data, leading to video streams and the like stuck on buffering. One reader told …

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WTF?

Why is this news?

I'm dealing with routing issues every other sodding week when staff complain they can't access such-and-such a site. This is a BT Infinity line BTW.

Why do these constant BT issues never make Reg news?

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Anonymous Coward

scale

Although not mentioned in the article, most VM customers cannot use Youtube in the evening without constant buffering. While I feel your pain, at least in this instance its the scale of the problem and it being such a popular site.

If you add all the other problems VM users have with streaming iPlayer, netflix and oversubscribed area's causing gaming latency problems, there is a good chance so many VM customers are angry and ranting in el reg's direction.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Why is this news?

We've written about BT downtime many times in the past; just drop an email Kelly (click on her name in the story) or to news@theregister.co.uk with some info, and if the problem looks widespread then we'll follow it up.

C.

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could be more than virgin

I am on BE (subsidiary of O2) and various video streaming services (iplayer -particularly bad, 4od and Dave also poor performance) have been dire lately. I know they have had problems in the past with a peering provider.

Watching these services through a london based vpn server was a great improvement.

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Anonymous Coward

The issue is still ongoing in central Bristol. YouTube is unusable after 5pm or on weekends - and the problem is getting worse, not better. It's so bad that I'm leaving Virgin.

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FAIL

Its ongoing all around Bristol too! Every evening and weekend - cant even load up a web page. Seems to coincide with the 100Mb rollout in the area. The internet is unusable for pretty much every VM customer-except for the 100Mb customers, who dont seem to notice any problems at all. Been given every excuse under the sun, and just recently found out that the fibre infrastructure needed to support it hasnt even been installed. 'Utilization Issues' they call it!

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Bronze badge

It's been getting a bit better for us in the last couple of days, in central bristol.

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Anonymous Coward

you can include the 100 meg customers in that...

getting 1 meg down, pretty much nothing up and pings of over 3000Ms to bbc.co.uk Virgin say they will fix the problem by the end of January, but given their last 3 "fix" dates have come and gone I frankly don't have any confidence they will fix things by then - at least we're not paying for the service in the meantime...

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I'd had a couple of problems around a fortnight ago with streaming services (eg Film4OD) at peakish times, but they seem to have more or less sorted themselves out now....(I'm in London, FWIW).

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Bronze badge

Huh. And I thought it was just my new flatmate spending too much time on BitTorrent.

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Silver badge
Facepalm

Huh, and i thought it was me spending too much time on BitTorrent

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Can't remember the last time VoD worked properly on Virgin Mediocre

I gave up trying to watch anything (like the F1) live over Virgin over a year ago. iPlayer in HD? Forget it unless it is 4am and you only want to watch 3 minutes of it. YouTube, best not go up to 720 unless you want to leave it to buffer for 1/2 hour first. This is M25 area, so perhaps I shouldn't be surprised with terminal traffic congestion... About the only traffic that does come through at full speed are broadband speed tests, I am sure that is just a coincidence though...

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Mushroom

Re: Can't remember the last time VoD worked properly on Virgin Mediocre

Me too: I've stopped using iPlayer and am in the process of weaning my movile etc away from Virgin Media so that when I leave - and I will - it won't be too many changes at once.

The sang that the competitin isn't much better is indeed a snag, but the bean counters at VM have to see the exodus before they will do anything it seeems.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Can't remember the last time VoD worked properly on Virgin Mediocre

"About the only traffic that does come through at full speed are broadband speed tests, I am sure that is just a coincidence though..."

Ever noticed that if your broadband is ridiculously slow and you go to speedtest.net and run through their test a few times your connection miraculously speeds up? I do seriously wonder if there's not some underhanded jiggerypokery going on at VM.

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Re: Can't remember the last time VoD worked properly on Virgin Mediocre

No conspiracy I'm afraid.

This issue is affecting LINX only. Speedtest decides what server to use by checking the pings. Thus, when this issue is happening, speedtest will test against servers VM doesn't go over LINX to, because the pings are lower.

Some more information:

http://community.virginmedia.com/t5/Up-to-100Mb-Speed/Very-poor-performance-between-7pm-and-12am/m-p/1505368/highlight/true#M4909

http://community.virginmedia.com/t5/Up-to-100Mb-Speed/Very-poor-performance-between-7pm-and-12am/m-p/1554170/highlight/true#M7223

(not sure if the two issues are related or not)

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Anonymous Coward

Meh

I live in the Romsey ward of Cambridge and am a VM customer, the peak time traffic rates are a steaming pile of shit. We're paying for a 20mb line and we're lucky if we get dialup speeds most evenings.

Fucking pathetic.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Meh

Virgin Media don't sell a 20Mb package...

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Sim

Re: Meh

they used to a while ago and that is what my Virgin Media service is currently because I have not upgraded it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Meh

Except it isn't since anyone on the 20Mb package automatically got upgraded during the summer. The only reason you might still be getting 20Mb is because you've got an old modem that doesn't support higher speeds even though your line does. I'd recommend requesting a new modem from Virgin if their superhub wasn't so god awful.

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Silver badge

Re: Meh

Not all areas have been upgraded yet, let alone the entire network in just one short summer. I too am still on a 20Mb/s package. I phoned and asked about the 30Mb/s upgrade and was told that is still a chargeable upgrade despite the fact my modem was changed to a superhub "by default" when the Tivo was installed, so it's "just" a config change. (yes, I did read last Friday Bofh column!!!!!)

The system-wide upgrade for this area has been put off twice now and is currently expected "Jan 2013" (originally due June'12 IIRC), at which point my 20Mb/s is supposed to go to 60Mb/s as a free upgrade. ie "old" XL 20Mb package upgraded to the "new" XL 30Mb package and then speed doubled to 60Mb.

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Here's a variation

At peak time, VoD via the TiVo and V+ boxes is unwatchable, but fire up iPlayer etc over the broadband connection and all's well. This is in Preston.

Always seems to be some or other part of their network operating beyond capacity.

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Good to know...

At least it hasn't got anything to do with them advertising and selling capacity that they don't have.

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Sam Knows

I complained a couple of times and didn't really get very far. The third time I thought I'd ask for compensation, just for the hell of it. The very same day I got a call from a guy saying that they would be happy to give me a 50% discount until the network was due to be upgraded in Jan.

http://flickr.com/gp/jamiekitson/s29y41/

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Silver badge

Even on the XXL internet package

Iplayer and YouTube still buffer slowly and IPlayer is unwatchable at 720p or over.

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G4Z
FAIL

Also got the same problems, based in South Tyneside here.

I called up and complained myself about it earler today and they told me it was a local capacity problem and due to be fixed by the 21st. I also got £15 off this months bill.

It's been shit for me for at least 5 - 6 weeks now, when I tracert I can see the high ping is happening somewhere in the core and not local, it always happens during peak times with the main giveaway being the 500ms - 1000 ms pings which make playing any games impossible.

If it's not fixed this month I will also be off, 12 month contract be damned!

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@G4Z

If they bitch about the 12 months contract needing to be honored, agree with them and explain that is why the contract is no longer valid, THEY did not honor it. As such, then go to ask for severance payment from THEM.

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Better be bloody well fixed by the 21st - that's when they are "upgrading" mine to 60Mb here in Shields...

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Anonymous Coward

I'm getting really bored of watching the rotating circle instead of the Lovefilm flick I'm trying to watch, even in Standard Def (I gave up on HD ages ago even though it only requires 3Mb and allegedly my service is packing 60).

I'm seriously considering telling them to shove it and giving BT Infinity a go...but would it be any better...?

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Silver badge
Linux

"For a few weeks now access to YouTube, iPlayer, and other streaming sites has been getting steadily worse. It's so bad now that even 360p or 240p YouTube videos buffer so much as to be completely unusable."

+1 on my 100MB broadband. It has been infuriating at times, it only seems to affect video, other downloads don't seem affected too much by the problem. For me, I have noticed this increasing over a period of 2-3 months, with a small respite over the past week or so.

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FAIL

When I with Virgin, I told them about the crappy performance and they insisted it was just my line, so I wrote a small script to download a 5MB file once every 30 minutes or so.

The log showed the download getting slower and slower until it was barely dial up speeds at around 9pm, and then suddenly at 11.30pm, the speed magically shot straight back up. It was like this until around 8am where it started slowing down again.

They still claimed it was phone line, at which point I told them where to stick it and changed ISPs. Haven't looked back since.

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Alert

FWIW

I'm on VM in Nottingham and I'm not seeing these issues. Sorry :(

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Thumb Up

Brighton VM

I am in Brighton on Virgin/NTL and not having any problems. Watching a lot of iPlayer and YouTube on the TV without troubles over the last few nights.

I have also been downloading a lot of software, updates, service packs etc over the past week reinstalling and fixing a few PCs and still seeing fast download speeds at all kinds of odd times of the day. So seems fine all round.

Maybe it is 'cos I am still holding on to the ancient modem and don't have a Netgear box yet? Or maybe we just have a better service down here on the coast. Hard to tell.

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Silver badge

Radio, too

I listen to BBC Radio on-line (VHF FM reception is awful here) and that's been dropping out a fair bit too.

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FAIL

Nope!

Youtube still buffering here in Redditch.

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FAIL

Economical with the truth?

I've seen problems similar to these on and off for years with VM, across various tiers of service. What's quite interesting with the YouTube videos is that many cases I've found that the congestion and buffering can be eliminated by switching to a higher quality stream, which is so counter-intuitive that I suspect many don't even try it.

This behaviour has all the hallmarks of an inefficient transparent proxy on the VM network, caching popular content to minimise external bandwidth and so reduce peering fees. Because the higher quality streams are not played as frequently they aren't stored by the cache and the client gets a nice fast direct feed from the source server.

Every time this has been mooted in support forums VM deny running such a caching system. But in light of what's been said here, maybe that's a half truth. Perhaps it's this mysterious third-party peering partner who is running the bandwidth-impaired proxy on VM's behalf?

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I'll be back in Leeds soon on a VM broadband account, I'll report in with details then.

I've usually found no problems with speed or video streaming with them though.

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FAIL

Not their only problem...

http://community.virginmedia.com/t5/Wireless-Networking/Connecting-wireless-devices-needs-a-reboot-on-R36/m-p/1557998

nearly 50 PAGES of user complaints about the SuperDUD/SuperKRUD

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Bronze badge

I gave up on Virgin a few months ago (when my 100 Mbps upgrade was, I think, a year overdue on the original schedule?). Despite the so-called "50 Mbps" connection, online video tended to involve significant buffering, games had sever lag - and perhaps most interesting of all, uploading content over SCP to my own colocated servers was surprisingly slow - and consistently so, too. The server had plenty of bandwidth to spare (I could upload much, much faster to it at any time of day from any other ISP), smelling very strongly of some sort of traffic throttling.

Interesting that de-peering Atrato from LINX appeared to fix the problem; Virgin say they were peering with Atrato at both LINX and AMS-IX, although Atrato's main service offering is transit between the two ... forwarding loop between the two?

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