back to article Virgin Media blames Activision for Call of Duty lag problems

Virgin Media has blamed coders of the popular Xbox Live game Call of Duty: Black Ops for slow connection issues that are hampering its service. "We're aware some of our customers are experiencing issues whilst playing Call of Duty: Black Ops on Xbox Live. Xbox Live traffic isn't managed by our systems so we've taken a close …

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  1. D Rome
    FAIL

    Console nubs

    This is why PC gaming will always win!

    1. Miek
      FAIL

      Oh dear

      Get over yourself nub-rubber

    2. Citizen Kaned

      yeah...

      because ATI havent fucked up brink for many people have they?

      drivers so bad than my 5 year old 8800gtx gets better fps than my brand new ati 6970!

      btw - im a pc gamer and console gamer. some games are much better on consoles and some better on pc. elitism just makes you look like a dick

      1. ph0b0s

        -1 for the PC elitest

        As another PC gamer, stop giving us a bad name with your obnoxious attitude.

      2. CD001

        ATI - Brink

        Weirdly I'm still using an older ATI 5850 and I've not had any specific issues with Brink - the one serious issue I have is with the fact that ATI can't write drivers and I get that lovely IRQ_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL BSOD periodically when running games.

        Catalyst 11.6 driver is supposed to resolve the Brink/ATI issues that (other) people experience.

    3. The Fuzzy Wotnot
      Alert

      Really?

      I don't play games but your comment seems typical of the the sort of 12 year old mentality I have come to expect from the console vs PC game argument protaganists. The game companies wonder why no one else wants to get involved, women, families, etc, in online multiplayer games when it's full of sad, spiteful people like you, perhaps they should spend a day trawling the forums like this to find retarded comments like yours, then they'll realise why no one else wants to play.

      You obviosuly don't respresent the sensible, mature players who can play with some grace but I tell you this, you certainly make me and a lot of others thankful we don't game online.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE: Console nubs

      PC online gaming traffic still goes over the same wires you muppet.

      Bandwidth is not the issue, latency is - online gaming requires little bandwith but quick response times.

      I don't know exactly what Virgin are doing with traffic, but historically they have not been overly honest in that department.

    5. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Meh

      I would agree but

      Having to wait normally over a year or an eternity for games that come out on the console really grinds my gears. Also means when we finally get games they're old or if we get them at the same time just converted from console.

    6. M Gale

      PC Gaming sector

      That would be the businesses that find it perfectly acceptable to install layer upon layer of malware onto your computer, slowing your machine down with needless bullshit and all under the guise of "anti-piracy", right?

      PC owner here, by the way. If it has compulsory Steam installation, is made by EA or Ubisoft or anything similar, then it goes straight back on the shelf. Couldn't give a shit about the reviews. It's a toy. I can live without it.

      Amusing to see many of these such games being ripped and torrented within days of release though.

      1. stu 19

        Steam ? you're Reamed

        Hear hear on Steam, I've always hated it and when IU tried to fire up BC2 last weekend for a quick go and got to yet another black screen, I removed it and steam and every other steam game from my pc.

        Maybe if I need and FPS fix I'll need to get an XBox or PS3, I'll probably keep my PC too in the hope the the MMO genre gets a grip too.

        I don't think its really about any particular developer, ISP or drivers, it because the bandwagon went from a fairly small trailer like affair to a hug train very quickly which mean some stuff just gets pushed out before its ready (as in stable or fully tested) in order to be viable in a busy market place.

        The only way to stop it, or get it improved, is for gamers to hold onto their cash before spunking it on the next FPS clone, only to find its just the same as the last 3(0) they bought.

        I've been guilty of it also, I like a good FPS as much as they next person.

        Back to UT 2003 anyone ?

  2. xpert_con
    Childcatcher

    full of sh*t

    Maybe if the service wasn't throttled at a whim it wouldn't be an issue?

    1. frymaster

      or maybe not

      a) throttling isn't "on a whim", but more importantly

      b) on the lowest service VM offer, while being throttled, there's MORE than enough bandwidth for gaming. whatever is going on, it's not due to lack of bandwidth

      1. Pypes

        @frymaster

        I don't know specifically which throttling method you are referring too (as VM have several different, and overlapping throttling policies) but in the case of STM (the one they hit you with for actually using you connection for more than 2 minutes) then afaict it's implemented by reducing your upstream bandwidth down to sub-dialup levels, just enough to cover TCP ACK packets for your reduced 20% downstream.

        In practice this pretty much limits your connection to a single person doing basic web browsing, as soon as you start using your upstream for things like photo uploads, p2p or gaming your ping time will shoot up to several seconds and you start dropping packets left and right. It is essentially no longer fit for purpose and wont be for another 5 hours.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @pypes

          Which overlapping throttling policies are these then? Which sub dial up speeds are you talking about? Are you sure you are not confused by the pre and post upload increase policies? I'd also like to know where you got your info of the reduced 20% downstream as well. As there is no evidence that VM do any of what you claim on their site. In fact I've not seen anything that would back up your claims at all.

          I see I've been downvoted for having the sheer cheek of posting a researched comment with proof. but then this is the internet and you can't let indisputable facts get in the way of a good argument.

          1. Pypes
            Angel

            @micky

            Well the separate subscriber traffic management (STM) and the throttling of p2p and newsgroup traffic would be two, they both have different and overlapping schedules, I can't remember if there is a 3rd (I know their DSL users have additional traffic management)

            As your in the mood for research I suggest you intentional hit the STM (you'll have to wait till tomorrow now) and then head on over to your broadband speedtester of choice, I'll bet a pound to the penny that you'll find your upstream bandwidth limping along at almost exactly 3% of your reduced upstream (which I mistakenly quoted as being 20% when it is infact a far more generous 25%) This 3% is the hypothetical minimum upstream required to support a given downstream over TCP, you'll probably also get a nice healthy 150ms ping time to boot, that is provided your not doing anything else at the time, in which case you'll be lucky if you can even get the page to load.

            STM times / limits etc are detailed in this handy little chart....

            http://www.virginmedia.com/images/tm-table-su-large.jpg

            Don't say I never did anything for you.

      2. stu 19

        no it isn't

        Current "throttling" tehcniques involve rejecting a certain number of packets at whatever bandwidth your connection is at. This is for 2 reasons that I can see. 1. it works 2. gives an element of plausible deniability - "we're not throttling or slowing down your service" <we are just rejecting a % of your traffic, with some invisible algorithm that we can remove quickly so it looks like it was never there and it look to you like bad network service>

        So throttling like that impacts everything regardless of the bandwidth you actually have.

        .

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Err...Go to VM and check out the policy

      It is not on a whim...Their throttling is actually pretty fair..

      http://shop.virginmedia.com/help/traffic-management/traffic-management-faster-uploads.html

      On a 30Mb connection if you download 10Gb between 10Am and 3PM with no limit on upload or 5Gb between 4PM and 9PM (upload in the evening on a 30Mb connection is limited to 4.2Gb) you get reduced to 75% of max speed...Which still gives you a connection speed of 7.5Meg down to play with. On the next teir up (50Mb +) there is no fair usage or throttling apart from upstream in the evening which is limited to 65% of the speed when you reach 6Gb. Pretty high limits compared to alot of ISPs considering these are daily limits not monthly.

      Maybe this "gamer" is still living at home with parents and can't convince them to get more than the 10Mb connection, but even then, does the XBox really use 750Mb of data in an evenings gaming?

      My PC version of Black Ops has no problem with lag, on a VM 30Mb connection.

  3. Miek
    Thumb Down

    Absolute Crap

    I had problems with connectivity on Black Ops (PS3) which was corrected by upgrading my Virgin throttled 10M connection to 50M, problem solved.

    I found that if I watched a couple of iPlayer shows and had an hour on Black Ops I got throttled (punished) for using the bandwidth I was paying for.

    Virgin's service has been growing progressively worse over the past two years, they seem incapable of delivering the bandwidth that they sell to their customers and then punish customers for using that which they are paying for.

    1. frymaster

      fool and his money

      while being throttled there's more than enough bandwidth for gaming. what's far more likely is that there was some sort of issue with your connection; going to 50 meg involves changing from DOCSIS 2 to DOCSIS 3, and an engineer visit. Chances are whatever they did resolved your issue.

      and let's not have any crap about "using what you're paying for"... you're on a consumer broadband connection. You're paying for a contended service -> you are getting what you paid for, unless you're paying at least 3 figures a month

      1. Thomas 4
        FAIL

        +1 more unhappy VM customer

        The router they supplied for my connection is a clapped out D-Link that drops connections like a whore drops her knickers. On the rare occasions where I'm not getting disconnected, I enjoy regular lag spikes and a lot of rage from my teammates as my connection costs us yet another victory.

        1. deviAnt Ostrich

          i feel your pain

          My old ok vm router (netgear) bust a few weeks back (everything it downloaded was corrupt), so I got them to send a replacement. A really cheap looking DLink arrived (admittedly very quickly). Since I've had this - I've experienced very similar problems to you. I don't do much gaming anymore - but I can't count how many times it's needed rebooting due to the delay between clicking on a website and it showing up on screen getting often upwards of 20secs. Switch off router - switch back on - everythings hunky dory again for maybe an hour or so...

          Think I'll be investing in a better router - any suggestions as to which?

      2. Stu_The_Jock

        "contended service"

        I'd forgotten about all this shared-capacity stuff since I left the UK. Move to Norway, get Altibox fibre to the home, and get a true broadband feeling. We signed up for 10Mbit (up and down), but because we took TV and phone service got free upgrade to 15, and later to 40Mbit. Last test i ran was disappointing though, 38Mbit down, 43Mbit up speeds. For equiv of about 80 quid a month for the internet (no limits), Cable TV package and 2 phone lines.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    title

    In the vid he said he downloaded black ops via a torrent.

    I don't want to get all holier than thou, but unless Activision are distributing their games via p2p now, if you're going to pirate a game don't expect it to work. Fair enough, if you paid for it, complain till they fix the thing. But downloading illegally, you don't have a leg to stand on..

    1. Shades
      Megaphone

      Cloth Ears

      He didn't say that at all. He said he played Modern Warfare 2 >while< downloading a torrent, and that didn't suffer from the same lag problems as CoD:BO does (presumably even without downloading a torrent in the background).

    2. SakuraNoSeirei
      WTF?

      Confused..

      Think you got a bit confused there mate. The video doesn't mention anything about downloading it from P2P, rather the comment underneath states that "all console gaming traffic is now P2P", in other words the info being passed from gamer to server and back again is run as P2P, not that the game itself is being downloaded illegally.

      I'm also surprised that Virgin Media or Activision don't know what this problem is. Something similar plagued Champions Online when it was first released. On some ISPs it worked fine, on others it was lag-a-palooza. Turns out it was nothing to do with traffic management per se, rather it was some ISPs buffering the traffic going and coming from the game. Cryptic managed to set up proxy servers that solved this problem, and although the architecture won't be exactly the same, it's entirely possible that Activision could as well.

      I'm not saying that is the problem, but it sure does sound familiar.

      1. VinceH Silver badge

        Letters, digits.

        "rather the comment underneath states that "all console gaming traffic is now P2P", in other words the info being passed from gamer to server and back again is run as P2P"

        Yup. Which is very likely to be the cause of the problem if it seems to be occuring during the hours in which P2P and NNTP traffic is throttled (together, as one).

        Ironically, this policy was introduced to reduce lag for online gamers.

        (Until the next popular online activity comes along, then they'll throttle online gaming to reduce lag for that.)

    3. Annihilator
      FAIL

      Try again

      "In the vid he said he downloaded black ops via a torrent."

      Might want to get your ears checked out then. He "played MW2 while downloading a torrent" - i.e. he tested the lag on MW2 while heavily utilising his line and didn't experience a problem.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Pirate

      Re: "Title" - torrents and downloading illegally *off topic rant*

      <piracy - p2p & torrent - rant>

      Just because you use torrents or download an "illegal" version of software, which the guy in the video never stated, doesn't mean you aren't _paying_ for the software in the first place.

      I always found it best after _purchasing_ a game to go download or create an "illegal" version. By removing the DRM I've seen improved network performance and some bugs appeared to be fixed.

      One should expect the version they paid for to work... The reality is that it is much easier to download or create an "illegal" version than to prove some DRM is a piece of crap. Download vs duke it out against some $1000 an hour lawyers.

      I know sometimes DRM doesn't affect the performance.... But I sure am happy to see cracks for software I _purchased_.

      And yes I believe all DRM is crap, but I pay for the software I use. I even went to a record store over the weekend to purchase some music CD's.

      Don't hate torrents, hate people, for we are the abusers.

      </piracy - p2p & torrent - rant>

  5. Diziet Sma
    Mushroom

    I wonder if an official complaint to ofcom the toothless dog can be made?

    Virgin Media traffic shaping policy is a joke. As a long time customer of the service (back in ntl days and before where I live) I am beginning to wonder if a formal complaint can be made. You pay for a fast service but because of the ludicrous policy you can't actually use it. You hit the arbitrary download limit in less than 1 hr and get traffic shaped with a 75% drop in speed for 5 hrs. Total bs.

    Actual policy is here:

    http://shop.virginmedia.com/help/traffic-management/traffic-management-policy.html

  6. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Virgin Cable sucks for everything

    Can I point out that Virgin Cable appears to suck all round, it's just more obvious on low-latency connections, but it could also be due to activision not hosting any servers "close" to VM.

    As Miek says, it's not worth paying for premium connections, and they regularly announce some "good news" where things cost more while you get less.

  7. Chris Wood

    Packet loss always the problem for me

    I'm on VM and have experienced huge problems with packet loss and jitter which I've really struggled to explain to their support staff. On the surface the download speeds and latency seem fine, which is all they seem to care about, however any kind of 'real-time' application such as VOIP, gaming etc really suffers.

    Having spoken to about 10 different support workers in India who all seem convinced that Internet Explorer settings are to blame (despite the same problems persisting across Linux and iOS devices) I've pretty much given up. The problem does seem to have lessened recently, so maybe VM have started addressing some of their capacity issues.

  8. Dward
    WTF?

    n00bs

    I'm a 10mb Virgin Media customer who plays Modern Warfare 2 on the PS3. I have a kill-to-death ratio of 1.3 and have not noticed any problems. I think n00bs just be n00bin' and can't admit it...

  9. Dai Webb

    My experience...

    I experienced lag in many games while using VM's 20Mb service (it was far better on their 10Mb service) and now I have a 1Mbit service (crap due to the distance my new house is from the exchange) from Andrews and Arnold I have very little, if any, lag while playing the same games (CoD, Battlefield Bad Company 2, Forza 3).

    I reported it several times to their tech support and all they did was send out a man to replace the cable modem, which solved nothing.

    1. T.a.f.T.

      Spot the difference

      "Modern Warfare 2 on the PS3"

      His problem was with CoD on XBox? So that is a different game on a different console; true buying a lower powered console means you should expect worse game play but if matey says he can play MW2 fine on his xBox and not CoD it does point to either the game engine or the network traffic it makes being an issue.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      you say that

      But I've got MW2 KD of around 2.5 ish (haven't played for a while) and can tell you that most FPS, and black ops in particular are unplayable on a VM connection a significant fraction of the time.

    3. Annihilator
      FAIL

      MW2 <> Black Ops

      @Dward - whoopy for you and your ratio on MW2. Maybe you should try playing Black Ops, or as it's known: "the game the article is talking about". The video even mentions that MW2 is absolutely fine.

      1. Dward

        I have played blops...

        Excuse my blatant troll there ;-) I had blops for a while and noticed no problems. Played it loads, but went back to MW2 because I prefer it. Had no issues with lag/latency in either game. Perhaps it IS a throttling issue then, because I don't do a lot of downloading... I can't view the video from work so was unaware that MW2 was unaffected - I just assumed traffic from both would be treated the same? Very strange...

  10. David Evans

    That'll learn ya

    Trying to play FPS games via P2P is a mug's game. Be interesting to see if VM tested games where everyone in the game was on-net versus games where there was a mix of ISPs. I'm guessing its the offnet traffic that's being throttled.

  11. Chris Eaton
    FAIL

    Warcraft and Virgin issues also!!

    This happened with Warcraft also (also an Activision game) and there were 26 pages on their forum from Virgin customers about this.

    My latency went through the roof and would only allow me to play without doing raids ...all the lovely virtual gold I lost :(

    1. M Gale

      "Play FPS games via P2P"

      How else do you expect to play them? Someone has to be the server, unless of course you're paying silly amounts of money for your own co-lo box or getting locked into some publisher-owned-server deal that can be switched off whenever the sequel comes out. Then who's the mug?

  12. Ian Stephenson Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Affects World of Tanks (PC) too

    EOM.

  13. Rogerborg

    Heh, "managed", nice newSpeak

    Try throttled. Or strangled. Or held down and donkey punched while being violated by a rhino.

    And all the time, a PR bunny simpers "Oh, golly gosh, no, we don't 'manage' that sort of thing[1]! Gee willickers, no sir, no we don't."

    [1] Sotto voce: "to the best of my knowledge"

  14. Shaun 2
    Mushroom

    lol

    BLOPS running fine on my PS3 with Virgin 50Mb..........

    1. T.a.f.T.
      Happy

      FLOPS

      Look at you showing off with a console that can run a game and NIC (I have one too, great arnt they :-D)

  15. GrumpyJoe
    Unhappy

    Got a friend in the Electrical Engineering industry...

    he's SEEN some of the equipment Virgin inherited fron NTL. Some of it is older than the dinosaurs, so it wouldn't surprise me that different people in different parts of the country get different experiences...

    I don't think they've got the money to upgrade it to the point it is actually useful... but... it's STILL faster than any ADSL connection I could get from BT where I live, sadly.

  16. ph0b0s

    Basic diagnostic logic.....

    "However, Reg reader Paul claimed that he hadn't experienced the same problem with any other UK ISPs when playing the online game."

    This says it all. I think lots of people would be jumping up and down if this was a problem with the game. If it is just happening with one ISP, it then looks fairly obvious who has the problem. This bit of basic logic has been missed by the article writer as well.

    "Earlier this year a gamers' lobby group reported Activision to the UK's Office of Fair Trading.

    Gamers' Voice, which was founded by Labour MP Tom Watson in 2009, claimed in January that the Call of Duty: Black Ops game failed to function as advertised. Gripes included sudden disconnections from multi-player sessions online."

    Also other ISP's trottle P2P, etc so Virgin must be doing something else unique. Since Virgin are trying to deny even basic diagnostic logic, customers may well have to vote with their feet.

    UK's worst gaming ISP indeed.....

  17. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Not just gaming.

    The whole network is FUBAR. So far this year, VM have managed to lock the old NTL webspace so you can't remove/update/delete any files. They admit they have no idea how to fix this.

    The upstream routers failed and were down for 6 days before VM admitted a problem.

    They 'forgot' about many of the old NTL modems (that don't support latest speed upgrades) that they were replacing 3 years ago. Mine was only replaced last month.

    Web routing appears to be broken. The network looks to be using random routes to sites. This got much worse when they started pushing 50Meg to our area. But the network has loadsa capacity.

    For the last Five months the internet has been unusable during peak hours unless you want to stream video. But they don't manage traffic.

    NTTP traffic was so (un)restricted that the servers were timing out, and this in text groups, christ knows what the binaries were like.

    And forget Bittorrent. Fire up a client and within 10 minutes the whole connection across all protocols was throttled back so hard you face planted your monitor.

    But tech support were always there. Not sure where there was but they were there. No bloody good either even after you got past 'Roger' or 'Amy's' strong accent and lack of understanding.

    And then the fecking robbers put up the prices! Twice in less than six months.

    They would kindly price match BT, but only if I wanted to tie myself into another 12 month contract. (I had an add on package I wanted to delete, you can't do that without a new contract.)

    They were surprised when I declined their offer and went elsewhere.

  18. Daniel 31
    Go

    lag.... What lag?

    Virgin Media customer here, I have none of these issues. Dunno what all the fuss is about :-p

  19. The Guv
    Mushroom

    Pro BT Grenade Thrown!

    I can't get VM in my street - I am stuck with BT Broadband.

    In the last 3-4years of online gaming I've never had an issue. BT BB is very good for XBL. I find it really surprising that VM have put gamers in the same bundle as filesharers. Sucks to be with them...

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Independent measures

    I had problems - I used speetest.net and pingtest.net. Speedtest always indicated 30 Mbit/s, however, I suffered significant packet loss as measured by pingtest.net. After several calls to Virgin, they told me to turn off packet inspection (this did solve it) and said they were working on it and the router software would be upgraded. They never called to let me know, but I turned it back on a few weeks ago and with packet inspection on, it all works fine.

    The 50Mbit/s service is not traffic shaped at all, perhaps I'll upgrade when my contract is up or better still, perhaps BT will have rolled out their high speed product by then.

  21. Chris Collins 1
    Thumb Down

    VM side problem

    The problem is actually very likely congested upstream channels on VM's UBRs. Even tho they now have 3 methods of traffic management in play they still suffer from upstream congestion on a significant number of UBR ports. This causes jitter which will cause game lag. Especially on FPS games. VM are looking like idiots trying to pretend they have no issues causing lag. The official ofcom report shows VMs average jitter is 4x the average adsl isp.

  22. DEAD4EVER
    FAIL

    cod black ops

    i had this game for ps3 aswell and i couldnt play a full match without it either freezing or lagging or host migration or locking up the console altogether. so i did the decent thing and got rid of it i sent it back to the games store for something else and you know why cause activision doesnt want to have deadicated servers instead they rely on peoples connections. why do people buy cod its getten old now anyway. and ive heard mw3 wont have deadicated servers to so it will suck for multiplayer with the same issues. if i was to choose between cod mw3 and bfbc3 id bf without a doubt least it has deadicated servers cod sucks end of. all those black op patches made no damn difference.

  23. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    WTF?

    WTF?

    Although I despise VM a lot (and thats a lot due to traffic shaping, service going out, 1/2 the internet not being available because of some twat updating the routing tables) can I be one to say I've never had any trouble game playing

    A good old fashioned 2 hr left for dead session eats up about 80 meg of your precious bandwidth... so it aint throttling that gets you, unless you've just downloaded a 4 gig movie......

    But then I seem to get very nice 5msec-20msec pings to my regular game servers on my poxy 10 meg connection.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So...

    Amy I missing something here? As I see it...

    What VM are saying is that:

    1. There is nothing wrong with their networks.

    2. They are not throttling or shaping the traffic.

    One more fact for them:

    3. Only VM customers are suffering.

    So the only conclusion we can draw is that Activision are deliberately throttling or shaping traffic for VM customers.

    Yeah, right.

  25. lotus49

    VM speed fine

    I have a VM 50Mbps connection and although I never get 50 I regularly see 30 down and 10 up so in my area at least, there is nothing wrong with the bandwidth. It's not the most reliable service ever having been down three or four times in the last year but never for more than 12 hours.

    There may be latency issues but fortunately for me I don't game online (see first comment for one of the reasons) nor do I use any other latency dependent services.

    Can someone please explain to me how Virgin's network specificially discriminates against Black Ops traffic but not MW2? I'd be interested in the technical detail behind that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Coat

      I'd get that looked at

      I have the 20mb service at the moment and mlabs shows i get 19 down and 2 up. When i had the 50mb i didht actually get 50 but 45+ was common. You might want to check its not human error and they put you on the 30mb package by mistake whilst billing you for 50mb.

  26. Alex Brett

    QoS might help

    Part of the problem is if your upstream is saturated, then the decisions the cable modem makes about what to drop are often braindead, and leads to some of these issues.

    By putting in place appropriate QoS at the router level that means what leaves your router is capped to the level of the upstream link, you can make sure your prioritise interactive things such as games, VoIP etc at the highest level, TCP ACKs at the next, and everything else (so large downloads, web browsing etc) at the lowest - when I did this on my connection everything suddenly became a lot better!

    1. CD001

      Only downside being

      With the VM SuperHub (it's just a frigging wireless router/cable modem combined) it's well, Netgear... with custom firmware.

      I'll have a look tonight to see what they've done with the QoS settings.

      I'm on the VM 30Mb/s service with the SuperHub and I'm not convinced that it's actually better than when I was on the 20Mb/s service with the old DOCSIS 2 standard cable modem and my own router (I only "upgraded" because my router packed up and it was cheaper to upgrade the connection with VM and get the SuperHub than it would have been to buy a new router)... the 30Mb/s service seems somewhat more erratic

      - download speeds vary more; on the 20Mb/s service is was damned near always about 18-ish (unless the server I was connecting to was congested), on 30Mbs it seems to wander somewhere between 15 and 25.

      - connection doesn't seem as stable; it's fine for HTTP traffic but Steam/Online games it very occasionally has a habit of dropping me out.

      - latency seems to vary more; ping on the 20Mb/s connection - to games servers based around London - used to be between about 8 and 15ms - 30 on a bad day... now it's more like 30 on a good day.

      Whether they're doing something weird with their DOCSIS 3 kit/connections, whether it's the "super" hub or what... I've got beggar all idea but the 30Mb/s service isn't actually better than the older 20Mb/s service (though, weirdly, for me it is actually cheaper - they dropped my monthly charge by £2 when I upgraded. A loyalty thing for having been with them since they were <s>great</s> Telewest).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      QoS - yuk!

      From personal experience I wouldn't mess with QoS. The first thing I do is turn that horrible feature off. Most routers are not powerful enough to analyse every packet passing through and so ends up slowing your connection down. If you struggle ever to get high transfer rates such as 30Mb, 50Mb, 100Mb or whatever turn off QoS completely and you may find you get much higher speeds.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Works great

    on Talktalk fibre :)

  28. andy 29

    it is dire

    There is very definitely an issue. I have posted a number of times on that and other forums regarding the problem. Started earlier this year for me. I've had my connection looked at, had an engineer out. Still not good. I've logged issues on all games in a session before, see my posts. They say my connection was unmanaged. I have a 10 Mb connection and all was well until earlier this year.

  29. Charles E

    Lag

    I'm having trouble with lag lately. I'm still playing (get this, you won't believe it) Halo 1 for Mac. The main host is still running after all these years. But it seems like the only people that play it are in regions in South America, small "guilds" within a regional subnet but with high pings from any international site on the net. So what happens is the guild and the host are all close together with low latency, and everyone else who joins is a half second to two seconds behind. The guild kicks everybody's ass, especially the host who has home server advantage.

  30. StooMonster

    PC gaming experience

    On my VM 50Mbps connection -- waiting for 100Mbps install -- i regularly get 48 or 49Mbps downloads but what's better is PC gaming.

    My pings on many (if not most) UK servers are in the low single digits, and servers outside the UK pretty darn good too.

    I don't do much internet gaming on my Xbox, so not sure on the performance there. Whatever they are doing or whatever the problem is, it's not happening on my PC.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    VM Customer

    I have been VM Customer since NTL era and before that i was using Compuserve on some yoghurt pot and string modem. I lived through the NTL Hell days the telewest merger days, the VM re-branding days, the systems merger days and now the traffic shaping days. Overall i still rate VM as probably the best ISP IMHO after canvassing other opinions from others on different networks this is based upon experience as well as periodic google mlabs tests which generally show that my asynchronus cable modem, link of whatever speed rating was closer to the advertised speeds than any other ISP i have tested.

    However they are a bit crazy, the other week tech support tried to tell me that the virgin media wireless router with separate cable modem that they gave me and which was broken didn't actually exist and therefore they could not have ever given it to me. It was a "computer says no!" situation and took a earnest chat with their customer retention department to convince them otherwise. It would appear that their tech support is set up manage their new home hub combined modem and wireless router but their network also has to cope with a motley collection of cable modems, some of which are very old and i doubt have had firmware upgrades for years.

    When i played WOW (before the traffic shaping era) i had a lag issues but this was normally WOW server end as it was universal across ISP's . I also played BLOPS on XBOX and i did have lag issues which i often used to excuse my worse than average Console FPS abilities. That said the lag was an issue that was worse at different times of the day as you would expect and these times of the day also coincided the the busiest period which of course are also the traffic shaping periods.

    IMHO it is VM's fault, their numerous legacy systems, their occasional (local) network capacity issues and their traffic shaping policies all combine in a perfect storm that is further aggravated by BLOPS coding which appears to try to code out lag issues by smoothing the curve.

    My advice run mlabs regularly, keep records, hassle VM as even if its not their fault they will be better at hassling others for you than you will be.

    My latency at this time is 66ms

  32. peachy001
    FAIL

    nightmare

    it isn't just the Xbox Live. YouTube is often poor too. Bit I can avoid that. The killer is the Xbox connection which is shocking at times. I have called to complain, but they have been poor at coming back to me. Come on Plusnet, deliver me some cable services.

  33. Stup1dW0man
    WTF?

    Pointless

    **FACEPALM**

    What a pointless news story and even more pointless response from VM.

    As someone previously noted, if it only affects VM users then one of three possibilities exist:

    1) The developers have hard coded VM's IP range or something specific in their game to target VM's IP traffic

    2) Most/All people that are experiencing the issue just so happen to be VM customers

    3) It's an issue at VM's end.

    Why an article was dedicated to this drivel is beyond me, and whomever the spokesperson is from VM should be shot - and his replacement forced to have a framed copy of Occam's Razor on his desk.

    http://www.experiment-resources.com/occams-razor.html

  34. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Pint

    CoD? You can keep it.

    Give me a nice old school action platformer (happy birthday, Sonic!) - none of the technical hassles and a lot more fun.

  35. nyelvmark
    Happy

    It's good to know

    ...that everyone has trouble getting responses from Activision Blizzard. I'm surpised they didn't get an automated response, though, telling them to uninstall all their add-ons and contact them again if the problem persisted.

  36. Pabs
    Pint

    VM Customer for 10 years

    I'm a gamer, PC, xbox and PS3. Been using VM for 10 years now... I know what to look out for for ping responses and I can say I've not have much trouble at all on either device, with the exception of the PSN being terribly slow for downloading.

    Online gaming is fine, albeit I have the 50Mb service, but only been on that in the past year.

    Service has been fantastic! Only a few downtimes in 10 years so I can't complain :)

  37. Simon B
    Megaphone

    Activision - Silence is a sign of guilt

    If Activision are not in any way at fault them why aer they ignoring EVERYONE regarding this? Not even a 'it's not us.' Silence is a sign of guilt even if it be partial guilt, if you ask me.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Useless!

    I'm on VM 50Mbps, I get near maximum download/upload speed and play X-Box on-line.

    It's groovy, but I'm crap at gaming so I can't actually comment on what the connection is like and if it affects my gameplay (although the scenes in the video are very familiar ie. people coming out of nowhere and making me all dead and stuff)

    What I do know is that when surfing the tinterwebs the page load times are absolutely appalling.

    Ping times in general are very high (no don't ask specifics cos I'm at work and can't do a test here and now!)

    Any BOFH today......

    I'm stuck with em though, until BT drag themselves into the 21st century anyway, as ADSL speed here maxes out at about 1.5meg.

  39. CockKnocker
    Gimp

    Easy Solution?

    I experienced virgin media broadband when I moved into my new flatshare. Get home from work, maybe watch an episode of top gear on iplayer and then the internet connection flatlines thru throttling. All games were unplayable online, bfbc2, left4dead2, world of tanks, you name it. Needless to say I promptly took over the house internets, set up with a sky broadband package and never looked back. Everything worked lovely. Sounds like im bigging up sky here but their broadband policy regarding throttling / traffic shaping is very good.

    TLDR : Virgin Media are fekking awful, use a different ISP.

    Gimp icon cos I like gimps.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    DOCSIS

    I think the issue for most people will be contention ratios on the 10mb / DOCSIS 1 which is very very busy if a much tidier network. DOCSIS 3 being the new kid is much less busy although a little untidy but latency is lower as is contention. If your looking to game then you should not be on the 10mb / DOCSIS 1 connection especially if the game your playing makes even average use of P2P protocols like BLOPS (i believe) and instead get yourself upgraded to the 30mb / 50mb DOCSIS 3 connection.

    Eventually VM will have to adjust its Fair use / traffic shaping Policy to allow exclude game based p2p but in reality I expect that they would just ignore the problem and wait until the capacity of the network expands so effectively the 10mb / DOCSIS 1 is retired and the base level package jumps to 30mb which is likely as the 100mb service roles out. Of course the latter is not a fix as games develop more and more of them will use p2p protocols and push more and more data about.and so without an evolution of the fair use and traffic shaping policy in a few years the problem will come back after they think they have fixed it.

    Its annoying, it can be fixed but whether is much demand or appetite for VM to fix it rather than wait for it to fix itself as their network develops.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    VM, almost as bad as BT.

    I'm a VM customer, have been for years (well, in my current address since it was NTL) here in Cambridge.

    My connection turned to shit, overnight, around Feb/March. Over two months I couldn't even get their Customer Fail Center in India to even acknoledge I had a problem. Latter calls usually involved me screaming at them down the phone. Understand that at this point my conneciton was borderline unusable during prime time for even web browsing let alone gaming (in my case WoW or StarCraft 2).

    Found my way to their support forums. That at least got my problem identified; fucked up UBR, over utilised and poor load balance. I was then informed that a 'fix' was scheduled for mid July...

    Cue email to the CEO. Problem fixed the following week.

    My in-game latency in WoW now hovers around the 45ms mark. Not quite the 35ms mark I had back before the nonsense, but not the 10k to 20k I had from March to mid June.

    VMs problems are, to a huge extent, entirely due to their abomination of an excuse of first line customer support.

    I can get ADSL here, but I'd be stuck with BT (no one else has gear in the exchange, or its not unbundled depending on who you ask) and they're worse, I tried it in May as a potential solution.

  42. The BigYin

    VM seems fine to me

    There again, I'm usually only playing Sauerbraten.

  43. Piercy

    vm..

    with VM its the jitter which gets you its well known they are crappy for it. I thought it was my router and stuff. turns out it wasnt. and things only got worse when we upgraded to 50mb. then took us 2 months to downgrade and get our old equipment back. Its still not right but its livable.

  44. Drefsab

    hmm

    What I suspect its happening is the deep packet inspection that happening to identify what traffic is doing what and then apply traffic shaping to p2p traffic is identifying the packets used by CoD as p2p traffic.

    I would expect this is because of some recent change in the games client server code probably for security/performance improvements. I've seen VM's DPI identify anything thats encrypted as p2p if its goes over ports other than 25 and 443 etc.

    What would be interesting is if someone could host a game on port 443 then have people connect on it, and see how things are, though im not sure they can do that on the xbox version of the game.

  45. Jeff 11

    Twaddle

    There are only three major areas where something can be going wrong:

    1) On Virgin's internal network

    2) With Virgin's peers that route to Activision

    3) On Activision's internal network

    The disposition of low-volume traffic should not affect a properly run network, and given the almost universally bad experiences people report with all latency-sensitive apps on VM, it's going to be either 1 or 2.

  46. Real Name
    WTF?

    Lag?

    I'm on Virgin media and I no haz lag.

    but then I am on 50MB...

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    VM may be right

    http://forums.thinkbroadband.com/gaming/t/4004845-maybe-its-not-my-connection.html?page=4

  48. Gary Del
    Mushroom

    XBOX Live Latency and MTU

    This could not only be an issue with latency (could test with a ping from a PC), ISP's cannot set a default latency for a protocol only a bandwidth limit (throttling), it is likely this could relate to an MTU sizing issue. I have come across XBOX Live MTU issues in the past.

  49. Carl Thomas
    Thumb Up

    Perfectly Accurate Virgin Are Worst For Gaming

    Officially - the same Ofcom stats that Virgin trumpet as proof they have the fastest downloads also show they have the worst jitter among their peers.

    That's the bit they don't like to talk about so much. :)

  50. Delbert
    FAIL

    Willy waving and VM

    Hardware issues aside it makes little difference what video card -new fast improved or five years old, multi core processor or other peripheral you are using aside from a decent network card and router on your home network. That is where the problems with VM lie and it has got progressively worse over the last few years. I play UT on a PC a game that is ancient in FPS terms and the ping has plummeted from low twenties to an average around 100ms with packet loss that frequently makes gaming a joke. Dead before you can move from the spawn point.At 2meg I was punching my weight and winning regularly at 10meg I get games that I cannot get a frag score above evens. Periodically I phone halfwits in a call centre 3 continents away I have had a VM engineer stood with me explaining what the issue was while a card reading git denied any problem existed.

    report card: could do better -if they actually did anything at all.

  51. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Get Paid For Saying That?

      If you didn't you should be, even Virgin's own PR aren't that fanboyish

  52. Stephen Gray

    No issues here

    I moved in March and since there was an existing cable connection here I migrated my 20Mb Virgin connection and upgraded to 50Mb. No issues at all with gaming, both me and my flatmate can play simultaneously with no lag or latency issues. The only time I encounter lag issues is when playing against Far Eastern opponents, it's almost impossible to kill them with long shots as they're flashing across the screen but close up no problemo. I don't play CoD, I'm a BC2 addict. I will admit the wireless router supplied by Virgin is playing up every now and then but when connected with cat5 there are no problems.

  53. Dale Morgan

    no problems here

    I've had an xbox 360, PS3 and PC, been with virgin media for years and never had any problems.

    If it was a VM issue wouldn't it be the same for all games on all platforms not just black ops? there would obviously be a lot more outrage if it was a VM issue.

    fire up an MMORPG, play on US servers and start a PVP match, no issues at all, same with any FPS, while I was typing this I thought id give modern warfare 2 a test and theres no lag!!

    I commend VM for taking the time and wasting resources looking into the issue.

  54. Max_Normal

    No issues in the Brighton area.

    I have Virgin cable and it FLIES. It is by far and away the fastest and lowest lag internet in my area. No lag, low ping, and MP3 download in a couple of seconds. I'm not a fanboi, I hate their customer service, tech support and contracting policy, but I even got told by a salesman in the Orange shop to get Virgin as it is the fastest for everything.

    I guess this suggests that the problem is area specific. Perhaps the hardware being used by Virgin in other areas is not up to scratch, or maybe the BT landline infrastructure here is so terrible (which it is) it makes Virgin look good, because here there is no other sensible choice (sorry haters).

  55. Brian Milnes
    Unhappy

    Virgin Media connection problems

    I'm getting very curious delays when connecting to some web sites. It can take me 20-30 seconds to access some web sites, but others connect straightaway. (And then revisiting, connections are quick.)

    This all smacks of Virgin doing some sort of DNS/"Safe surfing" techniques (and badly).

    Please, El Reg, get someone to talk to them and 'fess up!

  56. craigj2k11
    Thumb Up

    P2P Management

    Just to clear up, the STM is separate to the application managament. If you want to know how the p2p management works, see here:

    http://www.cableforum.me/index.php/topic,151.0.html

  57. brym

    What about the GSP?

    I don't know who hosts the XBL version of Black Ops, but it's GameServers for the PC. I regularly experience harsh lag for the first 3-5 minutes on all maps. 50Mb Virgin customer here, too. Also playing Eve, which is a P2P game. The only problems I've had with Eve have been related to their recent patch and subsequent patch fixes.

    Though Virgin aren't completely without fault. I'd suffered 9 disconnects in as many days in mid June, and Virgin's response was to send an engineer out to tell me that my area isn't cabled for a digital service. Nice one!

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