back to article Virgin Media broadband latency headaches still not fixed six months on

Latency issues with Intel's Puma 6, used in gigabit broadband modems, have yet to be resolved for Virgin Media customers using the UK company's superhub 3. The issues with Intel's Puma chipset first appeared last year and have been the bane of many online gamers' lives. A spokesman for UK cableco Virgin Media said: “We have …

Anonymous Coward

Bye bye Virgin

Apart from the fact I'm no fan of the beardy boy wonder, I've had enough of the slow speeds and high latency. They have taken too long sorting this particular issue out.

They also keep raising their prices, at a time when wages are generally stagnant.

So long VM! I will enjoy the money saved each month by not using your services.

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Re: Bye bye Virgin

Give them a call and see if you can get your bill down. They do keep raising them and it's a point that made me finally call them to discuss why new customers could get better deals. By the end of that call the bill was almost half what it was prior and by almost I mean around 48%. It doesn't solve the latency issues but you might get extra off until this is fixed. It's worth a shot if you're still thinking of staying.

I guess I'm lucky in that I still have an old SuperHub 2.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Bye bye Virgin

That is very good advice to share!

I already made my mind up to leave and save money. They phoned up a couple of times and offered to lower the monthly price by £11. But I decided I can live without it, particularly as I can hotspot to my phone or to a neighbouring wifi point. I don't download a lot, don't do any TV streaming/online videos, nor online gaming. I'm not a huge downloader either. So I decided it wasn't worth paying for it (or for any broadband service) any more.

The regular price rises, erratic speeds (particularly in the evenings) and high latency issues with the SH3 are the issues that made me question the need to have the service at all.

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Re: Bye bye Virgin

Global/Liberty/UPC are renting the name from Branson.

They have legacy issues.

Likely the only solution for these is to replace with a non-Intel solution. It seems like a design flaw in the chip.

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Re: Bye bye Virgin

If I have to fight and go out of my way for a reasonable price, that's probably a reason I wouldn't want to be a customer any more too.

You know who gets my business? Businesses who give a toss about their customers rather than penny-pinch from them all. They are quite literally deliberately giving old grannies, happy customers, etc. a duff deal in order to make more money, if you think about that kind of sales tactic.

That said, do you know the suppliers that I hang on to for dear life? The guys who say "Well... we *can* do that for you, but it's not really our area of expertise. Let me give you the details of a company we sometimes work with who can do that better.", or even "Look, I'm not going to lie to you, you probably can get the kit cheaper on Amazon, but we have to earn a living".

As I tell all the companies that visit me at my workplace SPECIFICALLY to get a slice of the pie that I manage, I don't care about cheapest, and neither does my workplace. That's secondary to you being around next year, and doing me favours if I need them. If you're going to be around next year, I need you to make sufficient profit. If you're going to go above and beyond when it's an emergency for us, you need to make that back the rest of the year. We will PAY for that kind of service.

I am positively amazed at how many companies then continue with their "we'll undercut everyone" sales spiel for - sometimes - hours afterwards.

There's a reason that - in certain areas, like AV, etc. - I have one preferred supplier, use them exclusively and don't even bother to compare quotes or even go so far as have someone quote against them. We literally would not change them if someone was going to quote half the price. Because I *know* they will do us proud, and be there for us, whereas any fly-by-night can do a one-off cheap deal and then I'm stuck without support, with whatever they've left me with, and no-one will want to touch that stuff afterwards.

Virgin, to me, have good service. A lot of places don't have good service with them, but I can't replicate that my end. In over 6 years, my Internet cut out once because the kids pulled the cables from the street cabinet. It was back on in an hour. I get the speeds I'm promised, I have no latency issues (actually ALWAYS have the lowest ping on games), and it just does what I want. So I don't personally begrudge them the money I pay. But if you have to negotiate a 50% drop in cost every single time, rather than them just sending you a letter and dropping 10% off "for a good customer", then I would worry about who they are screwing over to do that. It's not me. But the day it is, I'll be gone.

Did it before with PlusNet - they were FABULOUS and technical and right on the ball, and even had a "Yeah, you know what you're talking about, let me put you through to tech" system that worked (e.g. changing ADSL interleaving settings because of latency on an SSH connection, that solved the problem in FIVE MINUTES from me phoning up with none of the scripted shite). The second BT took them over, they lost all that goodwill in minutes and I've never used or recommended them since.

Look after your existing customers.

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Re: Bye bye Virgin

After that huge pointless rant, care to tell me who does care about their customers? Because it isn't Sky, BT, Vodafone, EE, Orange, O2, Virgin, Purenet, Zen or any of the others I can find...

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Re: Bye bye Virgin

I'm not with them but I constantly hear good things about Andrews and Arnold although I think they are pricey. I guess you get what you pay for?

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Re: Bye bye Virgin

Warning.. the superhub 2 has some serious security flaws that are not going to be fixed.

I'm a new customer since April... I've had my share of problems already... But I was paying £35.40 a month to sky for 40Mb fibre, phone and free calls 24/7 due to a discount they offered me the previous year to stay.

This year, they jacked the price to £46.99 and offered me nothing to stay... So I left and was offered the same kind of deal with Virgin with 100Mb for £32 a month for 12 months and 40 a month afterwards.

So I took it, saving £15 a month for 12 months and £7 a month after seemed like a decent deal.

Then the problems started

First the engineer pulled a 2.5m section of skirting from the wall attempting to fit the new box.

Then I discover that my call screening isn't working and after days of trying to figure out why... discover it's because I have no caller ID. I then get my first bill and find I've been charged for calls that should have been free.

What they did was sign my onto the basic calls free at weekends only when I asked for the same as what I had before with Sky... Free calls 24/7 plus 30 international destinations... although I was happy to drop the international side of it. I found out that if I wanted both of these it was going to be an extra £14 a month... making VM £9 a month more expensive than Sky were.

I made a complaint and whilst it did take a few weeks to resolve, as local manager got involved regarding the damage.. They compensated me for the damage, enough for me to buy some filler, some adhesive, some more wax for the wood and so forth... came to around £31.49. Then I got the caller ID at no charge from now on... and then yesterday they gave me the free calls at no extra charge... at least for the next 12 months. So next months bill will be about 51p and then continue at £32 from then on.

Come April next year, I shall either see if I can get a better deal or try BT for 12 months instead... I don't bother with the TV side of things as I can't be bothered with broadcast TV any more. But for now... over the next 12 months I'm saving about £264 of my bill.

Sky on the other hand.. continued to try and charge me after I had left, failed to respond to a complaint except to write and aske me to 'call' them when my complaint explicitly told them to put everything in writing... and then passed my disputed account to a debt collection agency... So I've escalated it to ofcom... which if memory serves costs Sky a fee to resolve... a 'fee' that is far higher than what they were trying to rip me off for.

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Wheres offcom?

Virgin are constantly lying to their customers as a matter of company policy. This is almost beyond doubt.

When their support is spoken to about this issue, and its a BIG issue, we are fobbed off with the normal excuses and attempts to blame the customer.

last week I was told to let them reset my modem and the "PROBLEM WOULD GO AWAY" This was after the "support" remoted onto my machine and looked at my network card settings. Did a visual check of my network adapter which is called "wireless", then told me they had found a problem and fixed it.

No offense, but my actual network card is a wired connection, I renamed the second adapter "Wireless" when I was making a screen shot to explain something else in some documentation. "Wireless" is also a wired NIC

NB : For those without the problem, when the router goes over to software, its not always seamless, and can result in a total disconnect for 30 seconds.

So not only ping rates going through the roof (over 500 in games that bother to count that high) , but total disconnects.

All this from a £150 a month service.

Virgin customer Gordon Pryra totally fucked off with Offcom for allowing Virgin to act in this way

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Re: Wheres offcom?

Wheres ofcom?

Fast asleep under a stone, same as ever.

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Re: Wheres offcom?

Why the hell are you spending £150 a month on an Internet connection? That's some stupendous leisure fund, there. Downgrade, buy a decent router, stick the Virgin stuff in modem mode, and make the decent router QoS prioritise your gaming traffic over the kid's YouTube.

Everyone's always amazed on my game servers because I have lower ping than them, even when the server is in their country and not mine. It's got nothing to do with speed (I'm only on the "basic" 75Mb package that they forcibly upgraded me to from the "basic" 30Mb, that they forcibly upgraded me to from the "basic" 10Mb), but making better use of the connection.

If you're stressing a £150 a month fibre connection, you really should invest in a better router (one month's subscription at that price!) that can take all that load away from a crappy piece of ISP-supplied junk and just turn their hub into a glorified media converter instead.

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Re: Wheres offcom?

This, so many times over.

I actually built my own gentoo router to try my skills out and used it like this. Was beautiful. Eventually I shelved it when we moved house, but I'm planning to pickup a good router with QoS again as soon as I can afford one.

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Call me paranoid, but I have a hunch it's something that can't be fixed by firmware, perhaps a design fault with that chipset. Hence they'll just string us along until they run out of Suberhub 3 stock and go to a 4 or 3 with a different chipset.

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Anonymous Coward

Yes, a firmware update shouldn't have taken this long, so it would seem your suspicions would carry a lot of credibility.

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Yep, there will be some kind of workaround in the firmware that will cost some of the spec'd performance of the modem.

I have one, though this is the first I've heard of this problem (didn't notice anything that affected my use). Virgin should stop rolling out the SH3 and offer a replacement to existing users.

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Anonymous Coward

I guess the customer profiling firmware didn't compile from ARM to Intel very well, more compiler optimisations needed.

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Can't say I've seen a problem with my SH3

http://www.speedtest.net/my-result/d/12518362

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Re: Can't say I've seen a problem with my SH3

Which shows you have no idea of what the actual issue is.

When the modem is stressed, control switches from hardware to software.

result is massive swings in latency and disconnection.

Ironic considering that this is on the top of the range router sold to gamers as the best they can get.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Can't say I've seen a problem with my SH3

Even without stressing it, the first hop was a few milliseconds high. All previous routers were 1ms or less!

But yes, soon as online gaming, streaming, downloading came into play with other users, things got a lot worse as you describe.

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Re: Can't say I've seen a problem with my SH3

"Ironic considering that this is on the top of the range router sold to gamers as the best they can get."

Ours was free, which is part of the reason it's in modem mode with a proper router behind it.

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This is why I refused the SH3

Moved house recently and had VM installed as it was a new build bloody miles from the nearest FTTC enabled cabinet. The engineer was reluctant but in the end let my keep my SH2 from my old place. Good thing too it looks like!

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Anonymous Coward

Office of Fair trading?

They supplied equipment that doesn't meet standards agreed by contract. Open shut no?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Office of Fair trading?

They supplied equipment that doesn't meet standards agreed by contract.

You really think that they would have a customer contract promising any measurable level of performance? You know what their T&C actually say? Clause C:2 "Due to the nature of the Internet, we cannot guarantee specific levels of performance for Internet access."

Sounds simple enough, but let me translate into English. Clause C:2 as it is meant: "Due to the demand for obscene profits by our US parent company, required to make a very rich fat old man even richer, we (Virginmedia) don't give a flying fuck about our customers. Your responsibility is to pay our outlandish and ever increasing bills. Our responsibility to you on equipment, speed, latency, reliability, DNS performance..... nada.. If you're not happy, you customers can just fuck off, because we just don't care."

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Re: Office of Fair trading?

The key phrase here is "standards agreed by contract"

If BT can sell copper and call it fiber and ALL ISPs were able to sell "up to x MB" while giving you a fraction of the amount. Or the famous "fair use policy"

then I am sure that Virgin can give you any old pile of crap and be covered legally.

OffCom on the other hand are supposed to be covering these sort of rouge organisations with an aim to protecting the consumer from bad customer service which they all seem tomake their business model.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Office of Fair trading?

> You really think that they would have a customer contract promising any measurable level of performance? You know what their T&C actually say? Clause C:2 "Due to the nature of the Internet, we cannot guarantee specific levels of performance for Internet access."

If the marketing materials for the Super Hub 3 made claims about its performance (e.g. being top of the line, low latency), then that would generally countermand any Ts&Cs which disagreed, due to the way consumer protection legislation works. Given that the issues in the Intel Puma chips are fairly well documented ...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Office of Fair trading?

In addition to UK contract law, there's also whatever the Sale of Goods Act (as amended) is now called, which in general requires that services must be delivered "with reasonable skill and care".

Seek help from someone who understands these legal things. Make it painful for the supplier.

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sorry, but I like virgin

My campaign to keep my neighbours on BT must be working, as I'm getting excellent sustained bandwidth from Virgin. Downloads at well over 200Mbps, sustained, and uploads on a Sunday average around 21.5Mbps (when I'm shoving 50GB at Youtube).

It's not cheap, but I can't get those speeds from the competition, and I hate, loathe and detest BT anyway.

However: Yeah, I have the SH3 and every three minutes or so Rocket League stumbles for half a second, which does indeed cost us goals. It's deeply frustrating and I do want it fixed :(

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FAIL

I had a SuperHub 3 for a few days in order to get VM's 300Mbit/s service, but with the latency issue it performed slower and with less stability than with 200Mbit/s on a SuperHub 2. Even modem mode with a decent Asus router to do the heavy lifting didn't help. Went back to SH2 200Mbit/s in the end.

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Virgin is a stupid name anyway. On the one hand it sounds sexual and the other it reminds me of an elite grinning bearded goblin hypocrite globalist and we are paying him every month a fee for the terrible brand license.

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Boffin

Virgin is a stupid name anyway...

... it reminds me of an elite grinning bearded goblin.

Ooo, you sound like a psychiatrist's dream...

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Re: Virgin is a stupid name anyway...

'Virgin' sounds sexual? Is this about absence and shadow creating that which is not there? He's an artist!

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You use the word globalist as if it's bad? That's one of old beardy's good points.

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Thumb Down

Not the only problem with the SuperHub 3

My SH1 died and I asked to have a replacement sent to me. Not possible they said. Wait days for an engiineer to come, they said.

He installed a SH3. I later found that it can't support port forwarding rules and DMZ at the same time. With the "firewall" on, one works and the other doesn't, and vice versa.

Never heard of that, they said. Not possible to send you a different SH, they said. So I asked to refer them to the Vigin Media support forum. The effect was the same as if I'd used a Jedi mind trick. A SH2 arrived the next day.

I'm sure the individual staff members aren't inherently dishonest; more likely it's a bad management ethos that's filtering down to the support personnel.

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Re: Not the only problem with the SuperHub 3

"I'm sure the individual staff members aren't inherently dishonest; more likely it's a bad management ethos that's filtering down to the support personnel."

It's more likely that they have very few to no SH2 in stock and they need them for those customers who are clued up enough to understand the SH3 problems and are demanding their SH3 is replaced with something which works. This leads to VM staff making every effort to "upgrade" anyone with an SH2 so they can take it it away and use it to placate the "squeaky wheels", probably under management instructions.

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Bronze badge

Pretty sure this chipset is what caused our horrid experience with Comcast's branded Cisco DPC3941 router. Random, but seemingly rhythmic, latency and packet loss...

Also note: if you obtain a static IP through them, you are required to use their routers:

DPC3941: see above

SMC D3G: uselessly broken IPv6 support, no wireless

We opted for the latter + Ubiquiti UniFi AP AC Pro, to good effect. Sucks about the lack of usable IPv6 though.

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Silver badge

Liar liar pants on fire

A spokesman for UK cableco Virgin Media said: “We have been working closely with our Hub 3.0 supplier and Intel and expect field trials of firmware to fix this issue to begin shortly. These will need to take place before wider rollout. We apologise to any customers affected.”

Fuck these guys. The latency issue was raised when they were trialling this piece of shit modem back in 2015, and still they did nothing.

I've got two months left on my contract, but who do you go to from here? Every other ISP is equally shite...

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Coat

Ironic

A little ironic that the fix for latency problems seems to be suffering from a latency problem

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the fix

log into the sh3, change 'router mode' to 'modem mode', now connect a proper (masquerading) router and get a dhcp lease from the remaining single ethernet port on the sh3 that's still working. the sh3 doesn't get stressed any longer. this method also bypasses the braindead sh3 software. the external router can now do e.g. port 25 nat.

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Re: the fix

This doesn't work.

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Re: the fix

"change 'router mode' to 'modem mode', now connect a proper (masquerading) router and get a dhcp lease from the remaining single ethernet port on the sh3 that's still working. the sh3 doesn't get stressed any longer."

Makes zero difference to the latency issues.

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Anonymous Coward

Subjective

I can't help but think that a lot of the problems large numbers of people experience might also be due to parts of the network being neglected.

Im on VM and aside from the odd disconnection (once every couple of months, usually lasts 10 minutes or so and occurs about 2am) I experience no problems at all.

Im on a Hub 3 as well. I managed to get a free upgrade.

My speed is consistent (219mbps on speedtest.net) and theb atency (while slightly jittery) is very low pretty much all the time.

I am however using the hub 3 in modem mode attached to a Linksys WRT1900AC.

Perhaps the Hub3 just doesnt have the chops to be a router.

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Re: Subjective

Setup a latency monitor here:

https://www.thinkbroadband.com/broadband/monitoring/quality

And you will likely find you have the issue...

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Re: Subjective

A very useful service, I use it across multiple broadband accounts which offers a really handy way of comparing performance too. Helps to answer the "is it just me" question!

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Re: Subjective

https://www.thinkbroadband.com/broadband/monitoring/quality/share/dce144835358e772e8314f9084741f1096cd812b-24-07-2017

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Someone has set up a website to publicise this issue specifically: http://badmodems.com

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