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back to article Virgin Media keeps mum as punters fume at crippled web access

Some Virgin Media broadband customers have struggled for weeks to access a number of websites over the telco's network - but the company is keeping schtum on the exact cause. The Register has learned that a "sizeable" number of VM's subscribers are frustrated with the ISP for failing to offer a workaround to the ongoing …

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Anonymous Coward

What *is* going on at VM towers ?

Completely unrelated (?), but their newsgroup access went paws up over the last few days. Turns out it's outsourced to a company called Highwinds, who, upon being contacted, fixed it in 3 hours, so massive respect to them.

I wasn't filled with confidence when I tried to report the issue to VM, who's first reply was "if you're having problems with usenet, you need to speak to usenet first ...."

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FAIL

Business as usual...

As a long standing domestic VM customer this is no surprise. Standard practice is:

(i) Don't admit to anything on the service status page if at all possible;

(ii) Direct support calls to overseas call centres who are not provided with relevant information about outages;

(iii) Tell customer that the problem will be investigated and they will be called back but fail to do so;

(iv) Fill the forums with employee sock puppets who tell users how great the service is.

Most of the time the service is good but on the occasions that it isn't there is a total failure to give a shit at VM.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Business as usual...

Pretty sure all those points can be leveled at most/all other broadband suppliers.

At least all the others I have had to deal with.

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Facepalm

Re: What *is* going on at VM towers ?

Isnt it amazing that the people you rely on to support your Internet related problems, dont even seem to know anything about the Internet.

You would think that anyone doing a job would at least be interested in the stuff they are doing enough to investigate and even play around with it...

Or maybe I just dont understand the "I dont want to be one of the unemployed statistic" mentality... :-/

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Re: Business as usual...

I had experience with fast.co.uk in the past and they were excellent. Knowledgeable, polite, quick, would call back, etc. . If you don't mind a little more expense I'd thoroughly recommend them. I'm with VM at the moment and I'm just counting the minutes until my contract expires.

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Working for me...

Is it only Virgin Media that is having this problem then (if it is as they claim occurring further down the line you'd expect it to be more widespread) or is it a case that all coders use Virgin Media?

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Well I at least have no trouble accessing stack overflow. Believe works interwebs in VM too and never had trobule with SO there either. Still a bit of a strange cockup and not being broken doesn't make up for shit mobile data stuff.

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I bet it's the bloody traffic management again...

I remember when WoW was unplayable for a number of days. Virgin kept saying it was peering this and Telia that and eventually accepted that their idiot "traffic shaping" software had cocked everything up.

I left them for their sheer incompetence managing that one incident and have never looked back.

I will try my best never to be one of their customers ever again.

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Joke

DNS is always affected when a peer drops out

even email.virginmedia.com within their own network?

ahh, yes, we'll route it all through space, through the hub-bubble, to the netherlands failover, thats what we'll do!

Going out of orbit to come back in? This feels like a globally liberating joke *hic hic*

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FAIL

Me Too

I've just switched to Virgin Media - fortunately just on a monthly contract, specifically to get their unlimited, tethering-friendly data deals... and it's significantly worse than the underlying T-Mobile, which I was switching from. I've seen DNS errors some of the time (so that's definitely part of the problem), but while sometimes the data speed is pretty good, the rest of the time it's non-existent. It's a complete joke

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Silver badge
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Re: Me Too

Um this is a story on the broadband (cable) network not the mobile one.

As to the problems I still get buffering on BBC iPlayer and live TV and very "blocky" images but using Unblock-US I can stream HD from Netflix in the USA without a problem any time.

As I have a 60 Meg line I would expect BBC to not buffer whether using VM's DNS or a Canadian one.

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Silver badge

@Big_Ted Re: Me Too

I thought that VM had buffer storage inside their own network for iPlayer, etc. so they didn't have massive peering charges from the outside world?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Big_Ted Me Too

Depends on the technology used. If you are using a TV box (V+, tivo etc) supplied by VM then you are using their internal iplayer caching/distribution thingy. If you are using iplayer from a web browser, you rely on the CDN that BBC send you to when you load the video (to find out the CDN, right click when a video is playing and look for two letters to the right of 'h264').

To decide if my buffering is a peering issue or external routing issue, I find out if the CDN node im using is within the virgin media network or not by (while video is playing) doing a netstat, looking for port 1935 and doing a traceroute then IP whois to that address.

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Glitches

Streaming audio giving more regular hiccups over the last few weeks too, usually signifies a snafu somewhere in their network. This story popping up at least means I can stop getting angry with my router.

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Bronze badge
FAIL

I'll be glad to get rid of them, now I can pickup freeview telly again.

I'm sick of their service policy; when anything goes wrong you have to sit at home for half a day for an engineer callout, whilst he works on a box two streets away and phones you when he's done. Waste of time, all of them.

I'm also pretty sick of the latency they add in through their useless shaping and cacheing. Pages with lots of embedded imagery might as well be on dial-up.

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"We're talking to internap at the moment.."

Perhaps InterNap is taking 40 winks.

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Happy

Terrible

Some developers might actually have to figure out the solution to their problems all by themselves.. How terrible.

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FAIL

Re: Terrible

I quite agree. Also I think all doctors should stop sharing the results of their work with each other, because obviously the effort required to solve a problem is what's important, not the solving of the problem itself.

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Mushroom

Bits of MyVirginMedia are tits-up too - can't add new e-mail boxes

Everything seems a bit flaky at the moment. I have been unable to access my Manage Profile page at My Virgin Media for at least a month and a half. Log in and select it and you get a 'Oops, something's broken ... try again later' message.

Not only can't I add new e-mail boxes, I can't change passwords - not good if you think a password may have been compromised.

First call to VM resulted in second line support saying it will take a week to fix.

This how mow changed to 'yes, we know there's a problem, we have frankly no idea when it will be fixed, it will need the rollout of the new VM portal'.

The insulting thing is the *********s can't even be bothered to update the error page, so there are presumably people "trying again later" and trying in a week repeatedly.

I've tried to suggest both by phone and e-mail that they change the error page to make it more accurate/informative "It's broken, we know, don't call us... no we don't know when it will be fixed", but for some reason they won't.

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IT Angle

haa, now that explains a few things.

On Thursday I was having some very strange problems. Couldn't connect to Google and a few random others mainly whois websites but I was trying to workout where the tracert was stopping.

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Silver badge
FAIL

Its

usually facebook stop responding say about 8pm when its been fine all day, a quick peek with the non-virgin mobile shows its not FB

And the comment about their indian call center not knowing shit is right because they've had the cabinets open here on a scheduled thing... called india...no we dont know why its down oopss your 45 seconds are up I'm transfering you

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Anonymous Coward

Home and work customer

At work we have a 30Mbps leased line with SLA from VM, and at home I have a 10Mbps domestic cable broadband connection from VM. I would assume both would use the same backbone for transatlantic links, and I've never had any issues with my VM connection getting to StackOverflow.

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Pint

No problem here, move along please.

Wonder if they've just fixed it, or it affects just some customers? I can access Stackoverflow.com just fine in Manchester with Virgin Media.

I've had the 100 Meg Fibre To the Cabinet / Coax to the house for several years now, and have had virtually 100% reliability, and speeds which rarely drop below 75Meg even at peak times.

I raise my glass to Mr Branson!

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Coat

Perhaps the Virgin tech goons should post a question on Stack Overflow about fixing this... wait.

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Anonymous Coward

Usain Bolt and Mo Farrah are the wrong guys to be promoting this company. I understand Oscar Pistorius is having trouble holding onto sponsors these days, and he's definitely a more fitting spokesperson.

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I was with Virgin for years ending up on their 100 line.

I got sick to death of buffering youtube clips, over the top traffic management etc.

I moved to Skys unlimited BB about 9 months ago, I only get 18Mbps instead of 100 but for the last 9 months I can watch HD youtube clips with zero buffering etc.

Its also completely unmanaged.

Sure if I download a big file it takes 5 - 6 times as long but I'd rather than and a service that works as it should than what I was paying Virgin a LOT more for.

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Anonymous Coward

YouTube buffering

I'm on 60Mbit/s broadband from Virgin and downloading file is great. But YouTube always buffers when I ask for 720p or 1080p.

Is this deliberate ? Is there a work around ? In the US, some people have posted work arounds by blocking specific IP addresses but they are different for each cable operator.

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Anonymous Coward

Why not...

...try switching to OpenDNS temporarily and see if it makes any difference?

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FAIL

Re: Why not...

OpenDNS only showcases more VM problems and adds more delays into a flaky service. Been there, drank the bong water trying to get around perhaps the worst ISP DNS ever delivered.

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Bronze badge

Re: Why not...

Strange. I use OpenDNS and/or Google DNS servers by default, wherever I go. At least then I don't have to worry about what happens if an ISP's DNS servers are dodgy.

Had a Virgin leased line at work, and a Virgin connection at home, never had a problem with either. In fact, the whole school runs on OpenDNS on Virgin lines and 400 kids would tend to shout if things weren't working properly. Similarly, back on BT... ignore the ISP-supplied DNS entirely and just use externals.

If you have a problem, switch to Google DNS (8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4 - I know them by heart because I use them for everything, including DNS tests to see if it is the ISP DNS server going flaky).

And I don't see how using a different DNS server would add more delays to a service. I mean, it's possible, but I don't see how that would ever be noticeable unless your ISP was deliberately intercepting it (which Virgin don't, AFAICT). OpenDNS have London facilities, for a start.

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IT Angle

Re: Why not...

Agreed, i'm on 60mb VM broadband, I have no problems when using either Google's 8.8.8.8, 8.8.4.4 or our DNS servers at work. Only when I use VM's DNS do I get issus

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If at first you don't succeed..

When I first got my VM connection, I was pleased as punch. Coming from an 8MB connection, the extra speed was a pleasure..when it worked.

For months after signing up, in the evenings and even in the day time, packet loss would soar along with ping times. Download speeds would drop to less than 1MBPS on a supposed 100MBPS link.

It took approximately three weeks of calling support agents in order to get the issue fixed - turned out it was a hardware problem on VMs end. The problem was, every time I called back I had to start from the beginning again, usually with an agent abroad who had no intention of elevating my support request, even though it had already been elevated in a previous call.

My advice - keep calling up. If you don't get through to someone in the Scottish call centers, hang up and try again. They are the ONLY support personal in VM that are willing to even listen to what you have to say. Every time I got through to one of them, within 10 minutes I was talking to the correct support level, and eventually my connection issues were resolved.

Anyway..yeah..VM support leaves a lot to be desired!

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Anonymous Coward

ADSL or cable?

I can access stackoverflow.com with no problem at all. What isn't made clear in the article is whether it is VM's ADSL customers, cable network customers, or both that are affected. I'm on cable and have to say in 12 years, there have only been about five outages, one for about 24 hours when some building contractors dug up a cable, once for about five hours when we had floods in the area and the local UBR suffered a power outage, and the others for one or two hours each. I've never had any access problems, and always had great speeds.

ADSL customers, however, don't seem to get the same level of service.

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I am about to drop VM, this is just one of many constant issues. I've had years of intermittant problems caused by overselling of connections beyond capacity, rubbish support as detailed above, I rarely bother to call anymore because I know it won't speed up resolution or make a diference.

They upgraded me to 60meg for "free" then 3 months later increased my bill by over 12%... All sneaky tactics to hide hefty price increases but make out they've given you something for free. Time to vote with the old wallet, especially as in the evening my 60meg performs far worse than my 20meg ever did.

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G4Z
FAIL

my experience was also terrible

I used to use virgin 60mb line (still have it in fact as my housemate pays for it and hasn't cancelled, it's justa backup now) and it was awful. As soon as it hit peak time (i.e any time Ii wasn't at work or asleep) the latency went through the roof and the packet loss went mental. Forget streaming or playing online games, total waste of time. This went on for months so in the end I just binned it and got an ADSL 24 connection and am much happier. Now I can play planetside at 8pm if I feel like it.

I wouldn't recommend virgin to anybody, unless I hated them.

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Unable to ping the IP address for stackoverflow.com (198.252.206.16), tracert doesn't get further than the router I am using right now on VM cable

There are clearly some internets broken inside VM, has been like this for at least a few weeks, however phoning those VM dicks to report something like this is not good for your mental health!

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Stop

ahh virgin media

dare i mention the superdud?

ok, the wireless is better now after the firmware update but it's still the worst wireless router ever....and the engineer (who had to come round to sort disconnection issues - again) told me that there is a new superdud coming out with dual antennas!

but yes, they are still shite.

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah well, I got tired of the problems with Virgin Media (NTL was always a dud) so I swapped to BT Infinity and got what it said on the tin, not what the smarmy Virgin marketing department claimed. Half the price for a phone / broadband deal, reliable download bandwidth and double to upload. Sorted.

Now with BT for the next year or so, then we'll see. Who knows, Virgin might even get their act together within the next year !

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m00
FAIL

Fix it Virgin!!

It's been over a month now and no fix. Stackoverflow is massively useful to me and although I can still view pages through the cached copies on Google I would still like to be able to directly access the site and ask/answer questions.

Changing to Google DNS does not fix this, judging by the Virgin Media forums only certain areas have the problem and it's not specific to Stackoverflow, the whole 198.x.x.x range doesn't work in these areas.

Relatively minor issue for me but a big problem for others.

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