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back to article Virgin Media network collapses nationwide

The Virgin Media cable network collapsed overnight, leaving up to three million people without internet access for several hours in the crucial final shopping days before Christmas. Both broadband and digital TV services took a lie down just after 10pm on Monday. Virgin Media says "some customers nationally" were affected. VM's …

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DHCP

DHCP address assignments (leases) for some of its servers, which in turn caused IP addresses to be renewed en masse. No word yet on what the routine maintenance was. - WHY ARE THEY NOT ASSIGNING STATIC ADDRESSES TO ALL SERVERS? and just managing Set-Top boxes and Cable modems using DHCP.

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OK

Mine went down for about 30 mins, then came back up and was fine. Compared to the hassle I've had with BT, I consider that to be not bad. At least when it goes down big time nationally they have to get it going again - there's none of this 'reboot your modem' crap.

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Linux

@ David Neil

Far from preventing users from running servers from home, NTL actually used to support that (to the extent that they supported anything).

Once I got their broadband service, I tried to get a simple phpinfo() working on the so many megabytes of free web space. All I was seeing on the screen was <?php phpinfo(); ?> . First they told me it was my own fault because I was an evil penguin-shagging communist. So I told them I was borrowing a Windows laptop (when really I was just calling in a favour from a bilingual geek, who translated all their instructions for me) and did "exactly what they told me" (when they said open it in notepad, BLG said open it in vi, so I did; when they said drag the file icon into the window, BLG said "put" the file, and so forth, and yes I even used ASCII mode so it would put in the spurious CR characters for the host to have to take out again) and, surprise surprise, it still didn't work.

A few more support personnel later (including a Linux user, although he seemed to think it was because I was running Debian and not SuSE) and finally we hit upon the truth of the matter: mod_php was not enabled on the residential users' server and I would have to either upgrade to a business package, or run my own server from home.

They very kindly gave me the link to www.apache.org (as though I couldn't have figured that one out for myself) but not the link to www.php.net, and they didn't have any suggestion for dealing with the changing IP addresses apart from "Can't you just log into your domain control panel and edit the IP address every time it changes?" In fairness, the IP address actually only changed a few times a year (maybe that was because of how my client software was set up) but it was still a royal PITA when it did.

Also, everyone who joined the service after me seemed to get it cheaper and faster -- and so could I have, said the fliers they kept sending me every week, sometimes twice a week, if not for the fact that I was already a customer and therefore ineligible.

When my place of work negotiated a reseller agreement with a proper ISP, I chose a nice 2Mb connection with a static IP address, 20:1 contention and no up/download limits. And when Virgin dropped Sky One, I got Sky Plus. No point having HD though; at my age, I can barely see 625 lines, let alone 1080!

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Silver badge

Really?

I'm smack in the middle of the "affected areas" and I didn't notice a thing. It just carried on trucking for me.

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Happy

To be fair

NTL/Virgin have a pretty good uptime rate - like others have said when it goes wrong it goes titsup.com in a fairly major way - in the 12 odd years I have been with them they have been more reliable than BT or even Zen plus I can live with the caps as I just queue my big downloads for day time or early morning. Having to go to bed early once in a while is not such a bad thing ;)

Ohh and El reg finaly remembers who I am - Bonus

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@ Mark

why would virgin media give you back a months subscription when the service has been off less than 12 hours

virgin media can do without you freeloader types!

that is all

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Virgin Woes

This had nothing to do with IP address assigment nor a failed fibre link.A national network doesnt have a single point of failure nor one core switch through which all traffic is routed.NTL/Virgin have mutliple CSMT`s and UBR`s all over the country that diffrent neigbourhoods connect to according to there location.Behind those UBR`s is there DHCP`s.Its not possible for every one of these hop on points to fail at the same time.This sounds to me like a bad update to the modems/setop boxes that was rolled out prior to testing.Can i be bothered to check the DOCSIS report to find out.. i doubt it.Am i used to this new Virgin mess absolutely.Will i leave? Not likely as im cabled and BT open reach now that there franchised off charge handsomely to patch a line in.Who loses out? The consumer.. Oh well good ol Richard Branson.

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AJ
Stop

Get A Grip Morons...

... Wow so the network went down for 12 hours, big deal.

Considering I had broadband on cable from 2000-2007, and only ever had 2 faults max at a few hours each thats pretty good going. Shame I moved to a non cable area, but rather then go ADSL I went with wireless from T-Mobile,

Nice to see the freaks, and the register jumping on this story. Funny how the reg as been dead with no stories for days then they jump on this one - trying to fill in a few gaps and look busy are we?

And the statement in the article of:

"The Virgin Media cable network collapsed overnight, leaving up to three million people without internet access for several hours in the crucial final shopping days before Christmas"

Who the hell is xmas shopping at 9.20pm and expecting the items they buy to be delivered the following day when most cut companies cut off times for next day delivery is 5pm - Oh maybe this is to make the article sound more interesting to get a lot more responses... Hmmmm, the reg owned by the same company that owns sky now? Or you still think your impartial?

For people moaning about the downtime and wanting to go elsewhere, my advice would be GO FOR IT but when you have a problem with ADSL and get into the situation of your ISP blaming BT for your outage and BT blaming your own ISP and this goes on for weeks, dont go spouting your crap off and then saying 'right im going to cable' - spend sometime with your families and use the internet as going down as an excuse to get a life not cry yourself to sleep because you cant get online for a few hours!!

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Happy

Couple of hours outage = not the end of the world

Yep, round about ten-ish last night my cable modem also went into an infinite reboot cycle. I unplugged it and got on with my life for a while. Couple of hours later I noticed it was back up *and* I'd got all the dishes washed.

No problem! :-)

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No probs here..

I live in Ilford Essex and have been using Virgin Media for over six months. It's soo reliable.. I've had no problems at all and the speeds are good. On the 20Mb service I get a maximum of 17Mb/s through the line. Lucky me I guess, alhumdulilah.

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Fine here

I'm in the north west and I didnt get so much as the tiniest interruption in service. In fact, I took the opportunity to download those Linux ISOs i'd been meaning to get hold of faster than I'd ever done before on a Sunday evening :)

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@ A J Stiles

1080? Sky HD is 720 lines. (720p) 1080p would make their set top boxes

too expensive and take up too much of their current signal - and all 3rd partys involved only supply 720p signals too. SD is way lower than 625

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Second coming

With all the soppy wife stories it seems that there is going to be a spate of virgin births in about nine months time.

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Little Alternative

Bracknell was down from 09:30 till I went to bed 23:00. Again 192.168.10.x leases being dished out every 14 seconds for first 2 hours and then nothing.

Several commentators have suggested an alt service with better SLA's. Yes I have static IP ADSL (with Demon) but needed a backup to replace the excellent Wireless DSL I used to have that was supplied by Pipex (nee Liberty, nee Tele2) until they strangely pulled out of the market last year :-(

The only way I could go was cable where there is zero choice. Although Tiscali (as part of Virgin) said they could provide a business service technically they said they couldnt bill me! - I did offer to take the service for nothing.........

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@AJ

"Wow so the network went down for 12 hours, big deal."

You're joking, I hope? Decent telcos aim for 5-nines (99.999%) uptime. That's 5 minutes outage per year. At 12 hours outage in one go (99.86% uptime), any telco worth the name should just go into a dark room and shoot itself. I develop HA computer equipment that normally gets 3-4 nines, and we consider that barely acceptable for a datacentre, no way is it OK for a Telco.

Of course you could be in France. I had 97 hours ADSL outage the other week, and customer support that only called back to ask for details two days after the problem had been fixed. I could wish for service as good as Virgin...

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Anonymous Coward

@All you Virgin customers

are going to cause a DoS collapse in NHS obstetrics wards in about 9 months time - and it won't be an IT related one.

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Flame

Now, to correct a few

@people need to get lives

THANK YOU! Its just an outage, live with it.

@Get on the phone and threaten to leave!

"Get on the phone and threaten to leave and they will beg you to stay and offer you a retentions deal saving you a few quid each month."

People like you deciding to take advantage of this little loop to get cheaper broadband out every time your speed is 1kbit below what it should be should be ashamed.

Maybe if you weren't so busy getting deals, the PROPER PRICE you pay can potentially go towards maintenance. If your not going to pay that, well there is no hope then.

You signed up for a contract to pay X ammount of money, and get a connection that works, and if it doesnt work, it will get fixed, which it has. Don't like the terms? Go then, otherwise put up with what you signed up for.

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Big Deal..

The whole network never went down, I was back on by 11:30 as were many others...

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@ Ben de Mora

I would imagine that a Priority 1 would be a total loss of service. No Phone, No Net, No TV.

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Stop

Please

To all the Virgin defenders, get a life and spend your time on something more productive than defending a Billion £ corporation over it's poor QoS. Like supporting a Charity or going out for a meal, anything please.

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Unhappy

24 hours

My connection just came back, after just about exactly 24 hours out (in Reigate).

We also had a couple of hours' outage on Friday! Not too impressive... although it's been a long time (years) since the last major problem. In my experience, i'd still take this over ADSL!

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Linux

Network Outage - Liverpool

As someone who has just spent 9 hrs trying to help people through this problem I find it outragous that customers call my colleagues and I in liverpool 'Crap and unqualified'. My colleagues and I come from IT backgrounds myself working in Linux and Sun OS fields and almost all of us have CTIA or cisco qualifications. Sadly some staff working on the network are not as qualified as Liverpool. VirginMedia are in the process of attempting theoretical 50Mb upgrades however these would not bring down a Cisco Network. Nor was a fibre break in the core of the HFC. It was more likely a problem caused by trying to carry out routine maintenance. Be assured all the analysts @ liverpool will continue to try to get the network back up again - Liverpool seems to be all thats left of any technical ability to continue to work on the network, in this more and more sales driven new ownership of the business.

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Anonymous Coward

Update Failure

When I went offline I checked my modem logs. Sounds more like an update failure to me:

071217213155 4-Error X501.35 Unit Update Failed.

071217213155 8-Debug F502.1 Bridge Forwarding Enabled.

071217213154 4-Error E107.0 SW Upgrade Failed after download - Incompatible SW file

071217213154 4-Error X501.28 Unit Update - Not updating. This image is not for this platform.

071217213154 8-Debug M571.6 CM Cert Upgrade Enabled. Initiate via SNMP

071217213154 8-Debug M571.9 Missing CM Cert Upgrade TLVs.

071217213154 8-Debug M570.1 Motorola CM certificate required

071217213154 8-Debug F502.2 Bridge Forwarding Disabled.

071217213153 7-Information X500.0 Attempting Unit Update

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Unhappy

@Edinburgh

Only just got my BB up about 2 hours ago (8pm Tuesday) having been down from yesterday in Edinburgh. Wasn't happy.

To add insult to injury VM took the message off the status line before they'd fixed the problem and charge 25p/min for the internet support (they don't charge this for TV or phone support)! I don't need to be told to restart the modem and my computer, all I need if them to tell me their status and (if needed) send out a fecking engineer!

I phoned VM's customer service (phone 150 from VM phone and don't press and numbers) and moaned. Hopefully more people will do this and force VM to drop the stupid 25p/min charge.

If BT weren't so sh*te I'd consider switching to ADSL!

A Very Unhappy Virgin (Customer)

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Alien

Where Else?

"Most of the problems occurred in the North West, Yorkshire and the Midlands"

In the Watford area my service was out from 21:30 until well past 01:00. Haven't had an outage like that for a good long while and, contrary to other reports, my 4Mb service usually delivers me the whole 512KB/sec as promised. Of course, they still bill us twice per month for the wrong amount, but at least they only DD the right amount.

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@AC

SD is indeed 625 lines.

Indeed, the term "PAL" is often used informally to refer to a 625-line/50 Hz (576i, principally European) television system, and to differentiate from a 525-line/60 Hz (480i, principally North American/Central American/Japanese) "NTSC" system.

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Unhappy

VM technical ability

"Be assured all the analysts @ liverpool will continue to try to get the network back up again - Liverpool seems to be all thats left of any technical ability to continue to work on the network"

That's a bit harsh, the people who actually fixed it weren't in Liverpool and have extremely good technical ability, and boy did they need it. Give them some love, mate.

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@lsproc

lsproc what's your problem? I am just getting my moneys worth!

They should not offer deals that are not financially viable for them.......

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Unhappy

Ex Telewest

Well the 'North' bit is complete rubbish, I live in south london and lost my cable connection from 21:30 on the 17th until at least 05:00 on the 18th.

Being ex telewest (cable) I used to suffer almost no downtime at all, however since Virgin have taken over I have suffered 10 outages so far, the service from my point of view is certainly degrading over time.

If the UK did not have such crappy providers accross the board I probably would have switched ISP's but even at Virgin's level it's still better than most...

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Boffin

It's NTL, stoopid

i had their telly once - it took ages to change channel, when it worked, and when it didn't, i spoke to and met staff who couldn't have found work at dixons. Easy to forget with all the virgin gloss, but for this little reminder.

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Coat

fibre break

if a fibre is broken, stuff an OTDR on it and it'll tell you EXACTLY where the damage is.

For a laugh read the posts by the anonymous one, he is nothing if not inconsistent. Just some that I notice are :

He is in several different cities simultaneously, he only had it installed yesterday and he also had it installed some years ago, it was so bad he changed, but yet had the problem, and in a different comment, he had no problem!

I could go in, but I notice that what ever gets reported in El Reg, he has the problem and solution, and as the comments grow, so does his experience. Honestly, I look forward to his entertaining comments. Soon he may even rival Simon Trav.

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Happy

Contra-Net?

It's great to see how the net keeps all these e-males away from their spouses thus keeping the birth rate down... until the network goes tits up of course causing another form of tits-up! Virgin BB 8 megs here, nice 3.1kbps connection but the real pipe is more like 12 in practice - roll on my 12th and final payment date.

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@Andy

Are you referring to posts by Anonymous Coward? That just means that people have ticked the "Post anonymously" box (bottom left under the icons).

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Switched from plusnet to VM

After all the nonsense with deleted email, addresses presented to spammer etc.

Did have to reboot my cable modem - possibly as a result of this - and had a nightmare with the Indian call centre over the initial connection (which was sorted in minutes by Richard in Swansea).

We'll see which ends up more annoying but so far VM has not been too bad at all.

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Flame

Virgin on the ridiculous

They are getting worse. I have now started moving my tv and phone to sky after a really bad year.

The thing that really annoys me is the rubbish support that you get, I have been with Telewest for years and this is the worse service that I have ever experienced.

What really gets my goat is that after raising a complaint after not having a phone line for a week they resolved it by giving me a small refund.

I wasn't after money, I wanted to know how they could deny that my line was out for a week. They helldesk even had the cheek to say "how are you ringing then if your phone is out?".

As far as I am concerned I hope that they fail. Giving such poor service while charging a premium rate is not a successful business model. I said as much in a survey they sent me after my last complaint, I doubt that they take any notice of us sheep as they try to fleece us!

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GBR
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I thought I was talking to cowboys, then realised, they're Indians

What a waste of time the whole cocker-picking thing is. I've not had any type of service (BBand or TV) for days...so all your problems for the past 24hrs or so are peanuts.

Tried ringing faults and they hadn't a clue, just told me to reboot the set-top box and they would send a signal. Do they think I'm stupid, Im a computer technical engineer...work with networks day in day out. First thing I did was reboot...waste of time. The kit they use/supply are ALL reconditioned and are a minimum of 8years old (I have contacts who previously worked at NTL - they dished the dirt).

I've spoken with complaints as the Indians can just about speak English so they've no chance doing anything technical. Speaking to complaints...hurrah..English!!! I got the head honchos name - the MD of Virgin Media and postal address. There is a VERY VERY strong worded letter on its way to him. I don't hold my breath for anything back, let alone compensation for loss of service and earnings as I am self employed and need the BBand connection 24x7. If I get no joy I'll then be taking the complaint further...why should I pay for NO service..either from kit or support? I'll keep you posted.

Should I create a web site titled something like VirginMediamyarse , perhaps then I can tell the world and his wife how useless the "premium" service they advertise actually is.

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come back NTL, all is almost forgiven...

...and if you have one of the old-school NTL cable modem boxes, DO NOT LET THEM REPLACE IT. Vastly more reliable and immune to random firmware "upgrades".

Why his Sainted Beardness thought this was a decent idea, I'll never know. And does anyone actually watch Virgin1?

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Maunally assign IP

If VM assign a static IP address based upon your cable modem MAC address, via a DCHP, why not write down the IP address that has be allocated to you and then manually enter it and also manually enter your DNS servers (DNS IP addresses are freely available on the internet).

This way if the VM DCHP goes "wrong" again you will still be able to connect.

Just a thought.

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Static IP address

If VM assign a static IP address based upon your cable modem MAC address, via a DCHP, why not write down the IP address that has be allocated to you and then manually enter it and also manually enter your DNS servers (DNS IP addresses are freely available on the internet).

This way if the VM DCHP goes "wrong" again you will still be able to connect.

Just a thought.

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IT Angle

Work from home and NEED BB??

If you NEED your BB then get NTL Business, UK call centre, MUCH better support and a different system/network if you believe what they say - oh and its slower (1.5mb I think) as well as more expensive. I work from home but have made provision for the odd time it all goes titsup (access to next doors ADSL wifi - I set it up & kept a copy of the wpa key for "security" reasons <grin>.

You have to be retarded if you are reliant on a home network for WORK. Like people who use FarceHosts or some other budget host for their mission critical websites and then whinge that their £10 a month hosting has ruined their e-com service - redundancy and reliability - I thought that’s what IT professionals were supposed to sell their customers ??

Some of you people make me laugh & keep a roof over my head with your stupidity - thanks

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I didn't notice

As I was having sex my girlfriend all evening. YA RLY.

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I notice that the lease time has been reduced to 3 hours

I notice that the broadband lease time has been reduced to 3 hours, its been like that for the past month! I'm sick and fed up of Virgin Media and its outages (they happen all too often), I'll be moving to SKY in the New Year.Virgin Media cable TV service is a joke, I've recently had a set top new box installed because of problems with the picture on the TV going blank or stuttering, its happening again, pathetic!

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reply to Reg Sim

try this site:

http://www.azureuswiki.com/index.php/Bad_ISPs#United_Kingdom

or

http://dslzoneuk.net/

I have heard that BE are pretty reliable internet providers. I use wor's computers so I wouldn't have a clue (we use BT here, I think)

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south was affected to

i am Bournemouth and i was affected. getting to the point where i am looking to switch

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Alert

Virgin Media unavailable...

Get this :

I'm in France at the moment, so it hasn't really affected me, but my family back in Birmingham are with Virgin Media's cable service, and they had the 'blackout' monday night. However, they've also had nothing since then, either!

I try to administer the router and network remotely, and noticed i couldn't connect to the router on tuesday lunchtime. Phoned my brother up, and he said they'd had nothing since the night before. Checked the Virgin status page, and it said they were having trouble in the birmingham area, and estimated 4 hours until it would be fixed. 9 Hours later, it still wasn't working. Nor Wednesday lunchtime. By this time i could hardly believe it, so I thought i'd check that it wasn't the router playing up and told him to connect the cable modem straight into one of the PC's via ethernet. Same thing, though (nothing).

I decided to write a very angry email to Virgin media through the broadband technical faults page, demanding immediate updates with regards to the fault. I don't expect to hear back from them to be honest. Seriously though, nearly 48 hours without a working internet connection now!! I'm furious (even though i'm not affected technically lol)!

THe worst thing is, the Virgin status page still displays internet as unavailable in my area, and the estimated time until revival is 4 hours still (from yesterday, 9pm)! They haven't posted a single update, so we're completely in the dark! What on earth do they expect us to do!?

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Unhappy

DHCP error

I thought it was something to do with DHCP.

My external IP address changed to 192.168.100.3

Damn engineers, I was going to phone their Tech support and offer them some help, but it would have cost me.

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mX
Flame

Problem still ONGOING after 4 days!!!

In the North London area NW1 I still have not got internet after 4 days now!!! Disgraceful!!!!

It has been going on and off for the past 4 monthys now, and that's it for me now Virgin, really tired of you, definately gonna switch over to a proper and reliable ISP!!!!

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Flame

Not just me then...

Well at least it's not just me then. I'm also going 4 days without internet. Have emailed them 6 times now, but still no response. Can't seem to get through to them on phone (probably because i'm in France...).

Disgraceful, really!

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Stop

Stop reading you modem logs...!

All of you unqualified to interpret your modem logs: why do you even bother to peruse them? FYI, all the 'SW update' failures you're seeing are failing precisely because they're for alternate models of modem to your own.

IOW: they're _supposed_ to fail.

HTH HAND kthxbi

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