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 …

    1. Spazturtle Silver badge

      Re: Backup

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

      That's just silver lining, plus the fact that you would only notice if you were making a phone call at the time of the outage.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Backup

        Phones stopped working, still do now and then its just you probably never noticed or just waited until it started working again. It was just usually never vital to make an instant phone call. At worst case you'd ask a neighbour or use a phone box. We didn't demand perfection and just got on with life rather than acting like the world had just ended.

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: Backup

          We didn't demand perfection and just got on with life rather than acting like the world had just ended.

          Well said.

          For businesses relying on a working internet connection the answer is simple - have an independent backup. For all other uses, crumbs, no internet or TV for a couple of hours is not the end of the world. Annoying perhaps, especially if it's for much longer than that and you miss your favourite serial, but you can always catch up later, and in the meantime, don't you have any books in the house? Any DIY that needs doing? Have a long relaxing bath? Walk the dog? An "old fashioned" radio to listen to? A family to play Monopoly with?

          Or - and here's a thought - the TV that you are using to watch cable via a box is pretty much guaranteed to have an aerial socket on the back*. If TV is such an important part of your life, pay an aerial fitter a few pounds to have an "old fashioned" aerial installed and take advantage of normal broadcast TV forever after, for free. Many TVs will even operate as simple PVRs if you plug in a USB drive, though usually without the ability to record one thing while watching another.

          And when the dust has settled there is usually some kind of compensation available, if you want to chase it down.

          M.

          *yeah, my old Trinitron has a socket but is analogue only, but let's face it, just about everyone will have a digital-capable TV these days

          1. illiad

            Re: Backup

            " pay an aerial fitter a few pounds" ???? NO!!! :( :( I asked them about that ( to changer my ancient one fro a new one, (around 50 quid for the aerial), they said 100 or more just to get on my roof on my small 2 up 2 down... :(

            1. PTW

              Re: Backup @illiad

              About 4 to 6 weeks Sky subscription then for the average prole...

            2. Martin an gof Silver badge

              Re: Backup

              around 50 quid for the aerial), they said 100 or more just to get on my roof

              Bearing in mind these are "Joe Public" prices, and an installer can undoubtedly find cheaper elsewhere; bog standard TV aerial about £11 or a really nice one able to pull in over quite long distances about £42. Very nice aerial cable, about 54p/m when bought on a reel.

              Climbing on the roof is a dangerous task, particularly for older houses with steep roofs and maybe slates instead of concrete tiles, but unless there are real reasons to do so, it is often safer and easier to screw an aerial onto the wall of a house, rather than strapping it to a chimney. Wall bracket about £20 or a chimney mounting kit (you are not allowed to screw into a chimney), under £5 plus a mast of some description.

              I've done a few DIY aerial installs in my time, but there are some roofs I will not climb on to - an aerial installer will have roof ladders; I don't. Our current house, with a low-pitch concrete-tiled roof is very easy and relatively safe :-)

              And the point made earlier about monthly Sky or Virgin subscriptions is extremely relevant.

              M.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Backup

            For businesses relying on a working internet connection the answer is simple - have an independent backup.

            Even simpler - use a business internet connection, not a domestic one. The nose you pay through buys you not only a proper failover, but adequate financial compensation.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Backup

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

        That's just silver lining, plus the fact that you would only notice if you were making a phone call at the time of the outage.

        The chances of you noticing the outage were proportional to the number of teenage(*) kids you had.

        (* 'teenage' back then meant 13 to 17, not 8 to 35 like it does now.)

    2. andy 103
      Coat

      Re: Backup

      is that silver lining.

      No, it's the copper cabling.

    3. EddieD

      Re: Backup

      What do you count as a reliable service? I have VirginMedia (and no, I don't work for them or anything else) and in the last decade you can count the number of noticeable outages I've had in the last decade on the fingers of one hand - I'd call that pretty damn reliable.

      Chris Addison on Mock the Week summed it up (this is a slight paraphrase) "We have the total knowledge of the Universe at our fingertips which is utterly amazing, but let it go down for five minutes and we're all 'AM I LIVING IN A THIRD WOLD COUNTRY THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS OH MY GOD THE HUMANITY'"

      He has a point. We should all know that things can happen to IT systems that you can't plan against - what is most important - and here I will accept the criticism of VM - is communicating with the customers. Having a recorded message on your helpline that tells you to consult a webpage when your internet is out is pretty awful.

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "my internet service has gone down, plus landline & tv is intermittent."

    Eggs...basket.

  2. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Sounds like a power issue alright..... in their regional routing place

    I keep losing connection to game servers as my packets go AWOL.

    I'd call their helpline....... but since my vermin media phone seems to only work for 5 days after an engineer has tried fixing it again..... I cant be bothered

    Just wish there was an alternative beyond crappy open retch 'fibre broadband' around here

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And that's the problem. Unlike openreach, which is open to providers, VM have a monopoly and they can raise their prices when they feel like it.

      1. illiad

        so tell me where else you can get 300Mbps or more around greater london ???

        PLEASE, NO PROMISES, just *actually* active!!! :)

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          I've only got VM's 200mb service. (Some discussions around the dinner table so maybe She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed will agree to the upgrade). But since I get every drop of my 200 I'd assume I'll be able to get the 360mb too, in due course -. Maybe a few bunches of flowers. For She, not for VM.

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Business opportunity..

    Website with a title such as titsup-again showing current TITSUP sites and list the last time(s) they had an outage. Sell links to their competitors alongside.

  4. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

    I miss working at NTL back in 2000

    Nobody knew what they were doing, and nothing worked properly. But it was so exciting.

    1. Down not across

      Re: I miss working at NTL back in 2000

      I have to disagree with you on that. Back in those days NTL's early Cable Modem service in Cambs was rock solid. I don't recall a single outage all the time I lived there.

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Re: I miss working at NTL back in 2000

        You don't remember the "transparent proxies" that used to fail all the time? Manually specifying the proxy servers used to get around it. This was Cambridge in about 2004, are we talking about the same time period?.

        1. Down not across

          Re: I miss working at NTL back in 2000

          You don't remember the "transparent proxies" that used to fail all the time?

          Isn't old age is wonderful! It allows you to forget things. I'd completely forgotten about those.

          Yes, the proxies were bad, but affected only small amount of what I was doing online. And as you said were easy to work around.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I miss working at NTL back in 2000

      The jerks at NTL who went around buying up all the local cable companies - and then failing to provide cable connections to the areas they used to cover - seemed to know exactly what they were doing.

  5. Oh Homer Silver badge
    Trollface

    "I’m cut off from important things I need!"

    Ah, the battle cry of warriors bravely fighting First World Problems®.

    Dammit, Janette, I wonder how you would've survived in the 70s. You know, pre-Internet. Pre-everything, really.

    We used to have to walk 200 miles to work each day, and it were uphill both ways, etc.

    But seriously, I fully sympathise with people paying for stuff that doesn't work, and strongly endorse the implementation of service level agreements to compensate you when it breaks, but unfortunately the plastic modern world in which we live would simply collapse entirely if legislators mandated that everything had to work perfectly all the time - or else.

    So rather than whining about teh internets being brokeh again, as it (and everything else) is on an alarmingly regular basis, why not just chill out, drink a beer and read a good book?

    1. Sonic531

      Re: "I’m cut off from important things I need!"

      Pretty sure there's already legislation in place in the UK such that if your service breaks then You're recompensed for the days it was down automatically.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "I’m cut off from important things I need!"

        Pretty sure there's already legislation in place in the UK such that if your service breaks then You're recompensed for the days it was down automatically.

        I don't know why this is getting downvotes. It's absolutely correct.

        The recompense as defined by law is pro rata per day on the retail cost of your service.

        So, if you're paying £30 a month, and (for example) it's April, you will be refunded a whole £1 per day of the outage.

        If your business turns over less than £365 per year, then, that's really good news!

    2. GetMeOuttaHere

      Re: "I’m cut off from important things I need!"

      It is rather amusing when punters rage when something breaks and they don't know how to deal with it other than to jump on social media via their phones and more or less declare their lives are over because they can't access the internet from their computers!

      And it's not just ISPs, but major websites in general- if Twitter, Facebook, Instagram; or online banking like Nationwide, Barclays, NatWest etc - if they go offline for more than 15 minutes, people will post where they can declaring that said websites are fucking useless, terrible services, have lost business, need money boo fucking hoo!

      They then declare "I'm leaving this useless bank" or "I need to post on Facebook urgently so people know how I am coping!" But they never leave the bank, they never leave Facebook because they know it's too important to toss aside

      First World problems indeed - we have become too reliant on so many things but never consider a Plan B for those random Tits Up moments.

      Shit happens: end of.

  6. Nick Kew Silver badge

    No signal at all since February

    ... and many months before that it was a sick joke, with frequent timeouts on web and mail, and 'phone unusable.

    The difference between Virgin and BT is that when BT went titsup they delivered a next-day fix. For Virgin, a next-year fix is clearly too much to expect. Good thing I've got that 4G backup connection from a real provider.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No signal at all since February

      Do you have any details for the BT that fixes things next day?

      I’m familiar with the services of British Telecom, but they typically are only in the early stages of being surprised that something isn’t working (particularly if the service has built in redundancy over diverse paths - or at least that’s what the customer is paying for...). Typically account and service managers “urgently looking into the issue” lasts two to three days before the the excuse bus comes rolling into town. “Urgently sourcing replacement hardware”, “vendor is addressing a major system fault” and finally “we really don’t understand how we missed the thing you have been telling us is the issue for the last week”. They aren’t too bad if you have existing services and have no faults with them and never have the pain of ordering new services or believing their delivery times...

    2. illiad

      Re: No signal at all since February

      sure would be nice if peeps said WHERE in the whole of UK they were!!!

      I have also see posts from peeps in spain saying how good the net is....:P

  7. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge
    FAIL

    1. Single point of failure, `nuff said.

    2. How long does it take to replace a "faulty power supply"?

    Cost-cutting to the point that redundancy and spare parts are no longer being considered? Interesting.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Power corrupts. Anyone got a Dranetz (or similar) going cheep?

      "1. Single point of failure, `nuff said.

      2. How long does it take to replace a "faulty power supply"?"

      I'm not sure I know, given that nothing important I've worked with ever had a single point of failure ;) but British corporate management seem to have plenty of expertise on the subject.

      To name but one widely and implausibly reported example:

      https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/06/02/british_airways_data_centre_configuration/

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm still waiting

    for one of their contractors to turn up and fill the holes they made in my front garden when they installed the cable. It's only been about 4 months now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm still waiting

      How else is the cable going to get to your house?

      1. Ian Moffatt 1

        Re: I'm still waiting

        They are supposed to fill them in though. Not just leave them there as an additional free of charge 'lawn feature'.

        Or were you implying an /s?

    2. illiad

      Re: I'm still waiting

      4 months and you still don't know how to use a spade???

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Outage?

    If there was a problem I never noticed it. Everything working just fine here.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Outage?

      Since it was an issue that didn't occur everywhere - which is quite clear - saying that you don't have the issue without locating where that is has to be either stupidity or trolling. Same thing really.

  10. Ian Tunnacliffe

    Still down this morning

    Been working on 4G since yesterday afternoon.

    1. wyatt

      Re: Still down this morning

      That reminds me I need a new internet bundle for my sim card!

  11. Anne-Lise Pasch

    Losing broadband is really annoying...

    ... I get that. But tweets from people raging that they 'lost 3 clients' etc, also really annoy me. Especially in London. If your business relies on stable internet... ensure you have at least one failover. Even if its a mobile phone dongle. Although why it takes ISPs so long to route around problems is beyond me, especially when this is what routers were literally designed for.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Losing broadband is really annoying...

      or even just wander down to somewhere with free wifi which is working.

  12. jms222 Bronze badge

    Cambridge

    Thank you Reg !

    Business service been down here since yesterday (Monday) morning the the cunts don’t even acknowledge an issue.

    I thought it was due to rain as a small amount of that such as we get in East Anglia does seem to upset their flaky wiring.

    Just got a call from them and visit imminent, Might just be my cable.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Huh?

    In southeast, but not in an orange zone., somewhat southwest of peterborough.

    Virgin actually better than usual yesterday, watched youttube lastnight, and no sound stuttering at all (usually, a fair amount of the time, it can't even reliably play an SD video without sounding like it's going through a tome zone like in White Hole

  14. Alex Walsh

    Some of the tweets show disgruntled business owners claiming they've lost clients - any business should have a 4G mobile WiFi hotspot as an emergency back up. Won't anybody think of the children?!

  15. Anonymal coward

    The first thing that Liberty Global did when they took over VM was to lose as many of the service vans/people that they could manage to get away with; the core infrastructure was lean enough (read 'under-manned'), but the vans weren't anything but a cost...

  16. Cuddles Silver badge

    Analogue Twitter

    I can't be the only one amused by seeing people complaining on the internet about not having access to the internet.

  17. Joe Montana

    Reliable internet

    If you depend on the internet, especially for your business then you should have backups... I work from home, and i have 2 lines (cable through virgin and a separate adsl over bt infrastructure), i also have 4g tethering available if necessary. I also have battery powered devices (laptop, phone) which can continue service for a while in the event of a power outage.

    Home internet connections are designed to be affordable and for casual use, where it's only a minor inconvenience if it goes down.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Reliable internet

      Looking at the guys business, it appears to be a one man business providing home energy certifications for property sales at £50/property.

      While a backup would be nice, I suspect it may take a significant bite out of the profits. Moaning on Twitter is almost free...

      1. Alien8n Silver badge

        Re: Reliable internet

        I was looking at that and thinking "who doesn't have a smart phone for business?"

        While it's entirely possible he's unable to connect his PC to the internet via tethering (your business means going to homes and you don't have a laptop?) it's almost unthinkable that he wouldn't have access to email. Even for the most basic of businesses there should be multiple ways to access emails. He certainly seemed able to get onto Twitter at least.

        This to me just strikes me as someone who hasn't thought about any contingency planning and is trying to do everything with the bare minimum. Hopefully this will persuade him to actually consider how he runs his business.

        (Edit - just looked at his Twitter feed and it would appear that he's a serial complainer with a huge sense of entitlement. Also, why are people still using gmail for their business emails?)

  18. Wolfclaw Silver badge
    FAIL

    Think it's about time that regulations are brought in to force ISP's to refund customers automatically for every 4 hour or part period of time service is down or impeeded, similar to to airline delays, but without so many dodgy get of jail clauses written in to stop them paying up. Then the network may improve, if it hurts their bottom line profits !

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      As good as that sounds the likely result is no better service just a reduced guaranteed service level so less chance of them having to pay anything.

      And why should anyone who suffered no inconvenience be compensated?

      I wish I had a pound for every tree which fell without a sound in the forest.

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