back to article Virgin Media? More like Virgin Meltdown: Brit broadband ISP falls over amid power drama

Virgin Media, one of the UK's largest broadband and TV cable providers, is suffering an outage right now. If you can't access the internet or watch the telly, then it's not just you. It's quite a few of you. It appears the blackout includes business and home connections, and kicked off around 4pm BST today. At the time of …

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Should they email you notices

via that internet connection that doesn't work? =-}p

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Re: Should they email you notices

Really should have an auto service that sends an SMS to customers to let them know their service may be experiencing issues in their area, and hopefully, an estimated fix time.

It sounds like a no-brainer basic concept. Less people would be likely swamp their customer lines to find out what is wrong.

Disadvantage is an easily accessible record of how often the service goes down for the customer though.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Should they email you notices

"Really should have an auto service that sends an SMS to customers to let them know their service may be experiencing issues in their area, and hopefully, an estimated fix time."

That requires competent company staffs and real ITs, which is too expensive. Better to get cheap high-school drop-offs on the customer service line and monkeys on the technical support line.

/s

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Headmaster

Re: Should they email you notices

Less people would be likely swamp their customer lines to find out what is wrong.

Fewer.

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FAIL

Re: Should they email you notices

We rang VM up once due to problems with the internet service.

An automated response told us the lines were busy but they would be able to accept reports through the web form.

Oops.

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Re: Should they email you notices

That might work if you also get your mobile from them.

I don't and deliberately don't hand out my mobile number willy-nilly

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Re: Should they email you notices

>Really should have an auto service that sends an SMS to customers...

At least 1 ISP (A&A) send sms / email notifications already and much appreciated.

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Re: Should they email you notices

@Teiwaz

Cost is a small issue there too. SMS cost money.

I can't see them being keen on paying £X000+ each time they have a fault for text messages. they'd need to do another price rise, and we've all just had this years!

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Re: Should they email you notices

I can't see them being keen on paying £X000+ each time they have a fault for text messages.

Perhaps the additional cost will be an incentive to keep large scale incidents to a minimum?

For that matter surely SMSs would only represent a significant cost if they keep on failing to provide the service to such a large number of customers? Small scale outages would presumably be less of an issue.

For me personally Virgin Media has been on the whole reasonably reliable. It's when things inevitably fall apart - as it will always do occasionally with technology - that the problems start.

Keeping customers informed isn't their strongest point apparently and when I asked them via Twitter this morning what had happened the previous day they couldn't give me any information. Given the scale of the outage I don't think being willing to tell such a large chunk of customers why they weren't getting the service they were paying for is particularly unreasonable. Apparently Virgin Media disagrees.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Should they email you notices

> Really should have an auto service that sends an SMS to customers to let them know their service may be experiencing issues in their area, and hopefully, an estimated fix time.

Any company will think that's a terrible idea. It's telling the customer "we broke your service, you really should switch to someone else." Many won't realise because they're out at the time or weren't using the network. Many will think it's the just some problem with the interwebs and not know who to blame. But tell them it's your fault and they all know.

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Re: Should they email you notices

SMS don't cost money to the network provider; they are the ones who are charging you!

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Re: Should they email you notices

In addition to developing the system, that requires them to pay for all the text messages. I used to work for a cable company and I know just how resistant to systems that can run up unpredictable, potentially-large charges they are...

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Re: Should they email you notices

its still pointless. when my vm broadband goes down i usually check the status page via my mobile, it always shows 'no issue'. Then you click on the diagnose and it says 'unknown issue', finally phone up and after the switch off and on again 'what colour/lights do you have' they tell you it is down in your area. useless.

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Re: Should they email you notices

Ive found the virgin mediia fibre service very reliable.

The eTV they claimis 300 chaannels is really 100 channels, then the same 100 channels in HD, annd then the same 100 channels an hour later. And then you subtract all the dross (reality TVv, repeats, cooking, travel, sport) you end up with about 30 actual usable channels, that merely show the same repeats over and over.

The customer service is dismal to average, providing you dont mind sitttitng with your eart to a phone liistening to lift music for half an hour or more.

But the worst bit is the way they relentlessly jack the price up at regular intervals, you start off paying £40 a month and the next time you look at the bill its £70 or £80 and still rising When Bransons Necker Island got trashed by a hurricane, the bills went up the folllowing week..

I told them to stick it many years ago.

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Status page

Their status page is rather worthless at best of times. I've lost count the number of times it claims everything is fine when there are faults (confirmed by calling their customer "service") in the area.

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Re: Status page

While mine, in London, was fine when I logged in after 6:00pm the comment about VM's status page is something I can confirm. I've experienced outages in the past when not only was the status page not showing it, but their own front line staff hadn't been told. So they took me through the usual checks, then passed me onto an engineer who promptly says, "Oh yes we've had a lot of reports in your area..." or "Yes there's an outage..."

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Coat

Re: Status page

Well, the internet was out in the area and they could not login and update the status pages. Mine is the biker Jacket ---->

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Preston Lancashire area fine and working all day....

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The internet or the status page ;)

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Lancashire area seems to be fine. Bolton and Blackburn are good.

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it depends on the backbone I think. preston and blackburn is the old Telewest backbone. Ours in cumbria is the old 'wight cable'. probably different infrastructure.

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If your internet connection is important to you, you should have a backup circuit.

I have a Zen primary circuit and a cheap crappy Plusnet secondary and automatic failover, its not rocket science.

Stop whining when your only provider goes down and you're too cheap to pay for a backup service.

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This.

Someone quoted complaining about lost clients... Well they actually lost them the moment they made the cost decision to use residential broadband with no failover.

Even if you don't want an additional fixed circuit then tethering off a 4G connection is perfectly acceptable to get things done these days.

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Anonymous Coward

Not just residential

It didn't just affect residential connections if the updates from our leased line provider (runs on a VMB tail) are anything to go by. At least we had a backup connection that ran over FTTC so whilst it wasn't anywhere near as quick we still had an element of connectivity. But it's back now so I'll see how many pence we get back in SLA credits for our 3 hours of "downtime".

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Anonymous Coward

Didn't BT's back haul go titsup at ths weekend...

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If your internet connection is important to you, you should have a backup circuit.

Absolutely. Which is exactly why I have crappy DSL backup in case VM plays up. Which is not that often, but when it does it tends to be a while or at best intermittent for quite some time.

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Re: Not just residential

We have a VM leased line. That stayed up.

We also have a VM-managed, but BT-supplied leased line. That one was down on the timing in the article.

We also have half-a-dozen staff complain that their Internet was "really slow" at home last night (quite what they think I can do about that, I'm not sure!)... almost all of the BT.

I'd be inclined to think that this is at least partly "BT equipment not joining to VM network" rather than just VM on its own - a lot of their connections are now just ordinary BT-resell stuff, not VM at all.

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If you're using a 3/4G dongle as a backup, just bare in mind that a cheap pay-as-you-go SIM from O2 or Vodafone will probably block any VPNs you usually run. EE seems to allow them though. We've been told to upgrade to the (much) more expensive business service if we want VPNs over 3/4G.

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Helpful VPN advice. Ironically my Virgin BB was restored after being down for most of Monday morning a few hours before this big outage and it stayed up. I was busily shopping for one of those Wifi routers with in-built 4g Modem when it came back.

In the meantime I was running over my phone tether and can confirm that 3 sims don't have the VPN restriction. At least their 'full fat' phone sims any way, cant confirm their data-only sims, but 3 are usually less 'death of a thousand cuts' than the rest of them. ie no extra charge for tethering etc etc.

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If you're looking for recommendations, we use a lot of Draytek routers (2832 specifically) at work, together with USB 3G dongles as backup and have only good things to say about them.

For slightly cheaper you could go for an ASUS router and run Merlin's firmware.

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Stop whining when your only provider goes down and you're too cheap to pay for a backup service.

Or simply don't have the money.

Stop assuming people are living sufficiently comfortable lives that they can afford this. It might not be much to you (even for a 'crappy' line). It might not be feasible for many others.

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Better our switch as provision for two CELL dongles, so it falls over to the THREE network..

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Anonymous Coward

I keep an unlocked Alcatel portable hotspot into which I can insert any spare live data SIM. Then, should the broadband go down, I still have connectivity. (It's been handy a couple of times.)

Why this is beyond Mr. Whining Businessman up there is beyond me. Incidentally, if you think he's whining now, wait until he receives his £1 per day outage compensation.

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can confirm that three dont block VPN on their payg. Wife has an 8gb three contract and that gives you SD netflix outside the data allowance and they allow wifi share. perfect for outages.

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Lost Packets

My monitoring shows lost packets at almost exactly 4pm here in North Yorkshire across two Virgin Media installations but no extended outage.

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Happy

Fine Here...

And has been all day in the Midlands, what outage :-) (via VM)

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Anonymous Coward

Seems OK

Here in Sittingbourne at 2000.

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Re: Seems OK

I've heard Sittingbourne is 20 years behind.

Confirmation.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Seems OK

Not as far back as your so-called humour.

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Re: Seems OK

that sounds like maidstone talk. South of M2 envy.

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Byz

No problem here

In the southeast all tv's and internet working fine :)

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K
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Fine here...

Sutton, South London..

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Anonymous Coward

No problems in Manchester but then again we have gravy you great southern shandy drinking softies.

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Steak and Kidney puddings

I can just about manage without gravy at the chippy here in the midlands but have to return back to the northwest on a regular basis to get a steak and kidney pudding fix.

It seems completely unknown elsewhere in the country and the efforts served up by gastro pubs cant complete with a Hollands steak and kidney pudding chips peas and gravy

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Re: Steak and Kidney puddings

get a steak and kidney pudding fix.

It seems completely unknown elsewhere in the country

Unless you have a supermarket nearby. Or can cook..

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Re: Steak and Kidney puddings

It seems completely unknown elsewhere in the country

Completely unknown except for in every Asda or Iceland or Tesco or Sainsburys.

Four for £2.25, quite expensive for dogshit en-croute.

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Devil

Re: Steak and Kidney puddings

Having lived near the factory that made them for nearly 15 years. You wouldn't eat a Hollands pie.

Just saying.

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Re: Steak and Kidney puddings

Being a Wiganer I wouldnt eat a hollands pie either. Dont get me started on those pukka things. Pooles pies for me.

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Backup

What happened to the days of expecting a reliable service,

I can't remember in the old Post office days having outages, phones just kept on working, or is that silver lining.

What happened to Virgin having backup power ?

or are they cash strapped, that they cut back on that,

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Backup

What happened to the days of expecting a reliable service,

Two things:

Beancounters don't care.

Customers don't matter.

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