back to article Long-suffering Virgin Media victims see no end to vid PURGATORY

Here on the networks desk at Vulture Central our inbox runneth over with complaints from fed-up Virgin Media customers who feel that they are being roundly ignored by the telco, which is yet to fix a network peering problem with a mysterious third party. The major buffering glitch is causing havoc with punters who are …


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  1. Big_Ted

    What makes it even worst is

    If I try to watch something from BBC iPlayer it buffers and shows really bad pixelation.

    I then enable Unblock-US VPN service and go for Netflix USA (or any other country) or Youtube etc and get perfect HD streaming no problem.

    This is really crazy and means that to watch iPlayer I have to use my 3G broadband connection to get a good picture and no buffering.

    VM really need to sort this out or they will lose a lot of people to other services. Thankfully I have not been inconvenienced enough to want to switch but if I do start to see buffering I will deffinately go elsewhere.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What makes it even worst is

      +1 Also using my 3G mobile to stream HD video now as it does not work on VM.

      On a side note I did a speedtest on my mobile and the upload was 3.5 times faster than my VM fibre connection!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What makes it even worst is

      If you have VM if you have their TV service isn't it easier to watch iPlayer via the TV?

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. jimborae

    The ill informed may think that Virgin Media dont want you watching BBC iPlayer in HD for fear of clogging up the network.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That's paranoid conspiracy talk there Mr jimborae...

      ...and just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean that you're wrong...

      AC...well, obviously...

    2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      And another paranoid proposition

      If they wanted to drive you onto watching Virgin cable video instead of third-party Internet online media, this might be how they'd do it.

      In the debate over online network neutrality - which in Britain we simply don't have - one of the use cases of a non-neutrality policy is for a video supply company to be able to throttle or block Internet video supplied by third parties. I think it wasn't even secret, it was in people's business plans.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: And another paranoid proposition

        Actually its a better way to drive people to alternative connections.

        4mb ADSL that works is better than 100mb cable that doesnt work.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >The ill informed may think that Virgin Media dont want you watching BBC iPlayer in HD for fear of clogging up the network.

      I was under the impression that iPlayer was exempt from VM's traffic control - ie, it doesn't count towards your download quota in peak times.

      1. ed2020

        @AC, 16 November 12:06 GMT.

        You were under the wrong impression. All traffic counts towards your download quota.

      2. Cynical user

        Virgin TV OnDemand

        Remember of course, Virgin have two different versions of iPlayer/OnDemand

        TiVo connects to the standard online iPlayer and streams the same content as at via a dedicated 10Mb line

        V/V+ content is specially encoded by the broadcasters for VM and stored on the local headend.. then delivered to your box as a conventional TV channel.

        (One of many reasons I'm quite happy with V+ and specifically don't want TiVo)

  4. Chris 171

    Not just video

    I stream audio at 192k for a majority of the day - guaranteed glitches at least 3/4 times an hour on a 20meg connection.

    Wondering if it might have anything to do with them prioritising thier own streaming services?

    Either way VM, you shout about having the best network....

    Make it so!

    1. I think so I am?
      Thumb Up

      Re: Not just video

      You know they will have Patrick Stuart in their next TV ad.

      We supply light speed broadband - "May it SO!"

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Not just video


        Brent: Christ! WTF?!!! WHY DID YOU JUST SHOOT ME IN THE KNEE YOU F****ER!


        Brent: OH S*** THE OTHER LEG AS WELL??? FFS, STOP IT!

        VM: Data capped.

  5. HP Cynic


    Once my TalkTalk contract ends I was going to make the leap to Virgin after coming to believe they were now one of the good ones.

    1. DJ Smiley

      There is no good ones, only varying levels of bad.

      For what its worth, every time I've had a problem with VM (which has been 3 times in about 5 years) they've been rather prompt and nice about fixing it.

      The time I phoned up and said I felt I was paying too much, and wished they'd do me a better deal.... well they did, 3x the broadband speed with a free modem upgrade (doing it via the site was asking £50 which I laughed at).

      Cue screaming over their terrible super hub, but I always planned to run it as a modem (I basically did with the old one via DMZ). My only issue is sometimes I hit their limiting hard, and they break xbox live when they limit it (The core xbox live service works fine, but *some* games which appear to use p2p connections get limited, making that unplayable).

      1. Chris007

        @DJ Smiley

        There are good ISPs out there. You have to look and be prepared *not* to pay peanuts.

        I use BE via Andrews and Arnold. Never have any lags and can easily watch 4 Sky Go streams (@ the full 2.9mb/s per stream) during the evening. They offer support that is teccie based and you can even chat to the owner on IRC. No throttling of any protocol. check them out at

        I don't work for A&A - just a very satisfied customer for the last 10 years.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If you are looking to stream video or play 3D multiplayer games online, Virgin should be your last choice due to the jitter on their network.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        At the time of this post.

        Xbox 360 no1 online: check (playing Halo4 online, no reported issues)

        Xbox 360 no2 online: check (playing Halo4 online, no reported issues)

        This PC online: check (downloading a couple of rar files and streaming a video from livestream, no issues)

        Laptop online: check (browsing, no issues reported)

        All this on a 20 Mb VM connection.

  6. EddieD

    Go to the top..

    Reposting with my pre-espresso spelling errors removed...

    Go to the top...

    Send mail to good old Mr Neil Berkett - mark it Private and Confidential, so theoretically it can only be looked at by people directly authorised by Mr B - and let him know your frank and honest views.

    It probably won't achieve anything, but at least you will get your complaint registered.

    It does make those ads that the ASA was so riled about seem doubly ironic.

    I really must get round to having a BT line installed - how much does it cost these days?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      BT Line install

      The cost is free if you ask them nicely (they don't publicise the free reinstallation but it is always available).

      1. Steven Batchelor

        Re: BT Line install

        Yes free maybe, but a few months down the line you have a problem and they charge you £99.00 for the repair... I know am taking them to ombudsman over it. The engineer blatantly lied in his report over the fault and made up the rest...

  7. Miek

    I think that this is all deliberate, VM haven't got the bandwidth to provide what they've offered so they try to dissuade their users from trying to use youtube and iPlayer by placing a cap on the amount of traffic allowed to enter their network from those popular services.

  8. Lee Dowling Silver badge

    Last week, I watched an hour's program on iPlayer about cells, nothing unusual.

    Earlier this week, I watched Bruce Almighty on iPlayer from start to finish, nothing unusual.

    Yesterday, I caught up with a lot of the comedies I'd missed last weekend on iPlayer - and some in HD - nothing unusual (one stream took a little while to buffer, but F5'd and it worked fine).

    On Virgin Media, with their Superhub (modem mode), on their lowest Internet tariff. So it's either not as clear-cut as a particular peer not working, or they are having problems related to their local back-ends and leased lines, not the main connectivity.

    That said, they should really name-and-shame in order to sort it out. You're an ISP. If people can't connect to the largest UK Internet service, you're dead in the water. Sort it out.

    1. The BigYin

      Came here to say something similar. Just lucky (for now) I guess.

    2. DJ Smiley

      Up vote for you - I'm in same position - I download rarely, but if I do, I *do* get limited - and its all "legal" downloading; I work with archiveteam.

      If I haven't downloaded recently, I seemingly never have any issues. (never == 3 issues in about 5 years, all resolved quickly).

      1. Badvok

        Just to clarify, the peering issue is only during the evening peak period (7pm - 11pm ish), for the rest of the day there is no issue so if you aren't having an issue is it perhaps because you aren't hitting that peak period? If you aren't getting the issue even during the peak period then you are very lucky.

        1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

          Guess which time ALL of the above downloads were referring to?

  9. Richard 81

    Noticed this too

    Ironically, my connection seems a hell of a lot slower since the "bye bye to buffering" upgrade.

    1. Thomas 4
      IT Angle

      Re: Noticed this too

      My connection seems a hell of a lot faster since my "bye bye to Virgin Media" upgrade.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Noticed this too

      Mine too - so i downgraded to 60Mb.

      It's better now...

  10. VinceH Silver badge


    I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who spins his mouse round and around the buffering "hourglass".

  11. nordwars
    Thumb Down

    I experience this on VM "National Broadband" (ADSL)

    I have the problem on a daily basis. Although my ADSL connection is fast for normal downloads, and gaming pings are acceptable, youtube buffers big time (haven't really tried other video streaming services). So it's apparently not restricted to fibre optic customers.

    It's such a PITA to change providers though that I am battling on.

  12. Nifty
    Thumb Down

    I think I know what is going on

    Bargaining is in progress - this is exactly why VM is being so cagey about it.

    There was an excellent chapter in this book about where Internet meets Humans:

    "Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet"

    ...about the annual conference in the U.S. where the real horse-trading about Peering takes place.

    Read it and see if you agree!


    The book was serialised in "Book of the Week" on BBC Radio 4 which is where I heard it. sadly no longer available on the iPlayer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I think I know what is going on

      What week was it? I might have access to another service that I can get at the archive.

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. squilookle
    Thumb Down

    I'm not the biggest fan of VM (In fact I can't stand them and I'm only with them because previous experience of other ISPs suggests the BT line to my house is made up of cotton wool), but I've been using Netflix with no issues.I haven't tried YouTube or iPlayer recently.

    The point of this rant though, is that if I did experience these problems, and I'm sure others who are experiencing the problems are in the same boat, then I would have nowhere else to go, as the other ISPs can't supply a HD stream (or a low resolution stream for that matter) without lots of buffering at all.

    So one of two things needs to happen. VM need to be treat like a monopoly in the areas where they effectively are and have their arm twisted to give the service their customers are paying for, or BT need to pull their finger out and finish this fibre optic roll out before the rest of the world discovers something twice as fast again, and we get left behind, again.

  15. RobE

    Was going to look at virgin but wont bother

    Was thinking Virgin were one of the better providers however after having heard they were awful from a relative and now having read this I won't even consider them - sky it is :)

    1. ZillaOfManilla

      Re: Was going to look at virgin but wont bother

      I think you needed this icon for your post!

    2. PeterM42

      Re: Was going to look at virgin but wont bother

      SKY!?!?!? - my girlfriend had Sky until they kept putting the price up, then tried charging her for services she did not have or want.

      DON'T DO IT! get a FREESAT box and someone else's phone/internet service (unless of course you are desperate for Sky's excess of sport channels.

  16. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge


    Any company that has gambling ads on it's home page should be avoided, they are greedy immoral scumbags.

    1. Thomas 4

      Re: scum

      Don't be too harsh. You'd probably get faster internet with gambling companies.

      1. Ilgaz

        Re: scum

        Ask cisco, they always go high end along with porn guys. They run the most reliable part of internet since the start.

        That card deck and nude lady must load fast or customer goes to another site.

        If I owned a company needing ultra secure and reliable web, ex xxx and gambling personnel would be my first choice with no visitors at work policy ;-)

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I get this problem a lot. I have always then run a test, seen high performance, done a and seen great performance and thought it was YouTube or iPlayer servers under too much load as I don't download enough to be bandwidth throttled. What a fool I have been.

    This, with Virgin's non-Superhub [I need a solution to this] has severely diminished my view of the Virgin brand.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Numptie

      Most ISPs have great throughput on I wonder why...

  18. Paul Webb


    It took me an extra 14 minutes to watch an hour long show on iPlayer last night. Still, at least it gave me time to put their relentless junkmail in the recycling.

  19. RobE

    Orange are the same

    Avoid Orange as well - awful network

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: Orange are the same

      When I switched from Virgin ADSL to Orange (now EE, if you believe the stupid mailshot I got earlier in the week), the improvement was dramatic. Everybody in the house commented how much better they were finding it.

      After about 3 months, the throughput started dropping, and even though I upgraded the line to ADSL2+ (which was strange, because when I switched, I'm sure I was sold 'the fastest service available from your exchange', but still had to upgrade to 2+ later), it is pretty poor. Pretty much any streaming service I have tried stutters, and not always at the times of day you would expect it to.

      I must go back in my firewall throughput logs to see where it really dropped.

  20. RonWheeler


    Do / can they cache a lot of this stuff? i'd have thought that since they can provide iplayer on their set top boxes they could provede cache based access to iplayer with a bit of redirection jiggery-pokery. Harder to do with youtube, but i'd have thought it would pay them to at least cache popular vids.

    1. Ilgaz

      Re: Cache?

      You mean the squid way of caching? Not sure if it would work for drm.

      If they do squid, they should remind the massive potential privacy issues which squid authors themselves state in its man page.

      Squid is perfect for corporate, even home.creates miracles especially for system updates, facebook , youtube but once it runs at isp level, it is very open to abuse or even black hats.


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