That's where El Reg went.
All else seemed ok though.
Virgin Media customers have been struggling to access websites via the telco's network for the past four days, after routing errors crippled the service. The ISP's punters have griped about the problem on VM's forums and various El Reg readers have been in touch to complain that they can't currently access their beloved tech …
In my experience, Virgin Media have almost continuous issues on their backbone network. Routing problems are common place, but so too are other signs of degradation such as packet loss and sudden large increases in round trip times. If you're with them, switch to a proper service provider (the clue lies in the words "provider" and "service") as soon as you can.
"isn't VM the governments bitch now for "blocking" TPB"
N, it's a company that fought and lost a court case, forcing them BY LAW to block it.
As for using proxies, chances are they are there to reduce bandwidth usage you no, what proxies do.
Unless you are using Anon proxies run by the intelligence services; Oooo sorry I forgot they wouldn't use honey-traps to catch the naughty people would they?
"Fought" is at least a couple of levels too strong for this- in reality they whined a little that it was going to cost money, and said something along the lines of "not without a court order", which was duly provided. Virgin did nothing more to prevent it than simply turn up in court and whine "do we really have to?" like a five year old being told to eat it's greens.
Same here. No problem at all.
I think a lot of these VM problems that people whinge about are very localised - granted, it's a problem for them and others affected but in three years I've only had silly minor problems (an hour of downtime when the cabinet was opened by kids down the street, and once "lost" a pay-per-view movie because the interactive service on the TV cut out, that they then refunded - everything else has been lost in the noise of me just using my connection as normal).
Given that I'm online or using home as a proxy for much of the day, I think I'd notice terrible service in my area. Guess it's just a postcode lottery thing. Or maybe these people get lots of kids opening their street cabinets and rewiring stuff, I don't know.
I wish I could, I'm stuck with an old cable modem that doesn't allow a DNS change at the moment.
Still, that'll need to be swapped out soon enough in order to accommodate the latest upgrade in speed on the minimum packages (a Motorola modem from 2001 will only last so long!)
Well you *could* set the dns manually in the dir-615 router they provided. (It works a LOT better if you install DD-WRT router firmware on it). No idea about the others as I don't have them so do not know how locked down they are. You don't have to use the dns VM provide if you have some sort of DHCP server at home and get that to act as DNS to your devices, just remember to set to the OpenDNS routers and not take the offering from the Modem.
To re-iterate, though, this has NOTHING to do with the problems experienced with VM recently.
I was unable to access a couple of sites Friday through Saturday but other than no problems.
When I looked at Virgin Media's Service Status the error was described as
"unable to access part of site"
which struck me as a bit odd. Like it had been written by someone who didn't understand the problem or had English as their second language.
The status currently says 'OK'.
"Like it had been written by someone who didn't understand the problem or had English as their second language."
i.e. Virgin's "Support". Viring screwed my email a while back, and I got three different and ludicrous responses from India. Only by threatening to close our account did I get to speak to someone who knew what they were talking about.
Our internet went on is a couple of weeks ago. I thought it was a temporary problem, as we were at time clearly connected, but no web or email etc. Modem lights suggested as much. Anyway, support say that our modem needs replacing, and we agree a date and time for the engineer to come.
He or she never arrived. There's no record of anyone being called out for us. And the net came back fine a couple of hours later.
I'd love to complain about this, but am damned if I can find a snail mail address.
Branson and Customer Services are concepts alien to each other. He always does this to companies. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
... who can recommend a fast and reasonably priced VPN service? VyperVPN?
I'm sick of Governments, ISPs and advertising agencies grubbing through every packet. And now it seems that we'll suffer outages, degraded performance and higher costs (to pay for all the monitoring) to boot. Bastards.
My gripe with Virgin is their issuing the Netgear DGN1000 to their ADSL customers -- a router which has had pretty negative reviews. Worse, Virgin customised the firmware. The router didn't seem to work very well until a recent firmware patch was issued.
I suspect the patch from Virgin only became available some time after that for the standard Netgear version of the firmware.
Orange, who previously used the DGN1000 have recently replaced it with a non Netgear model.
An ordinary off the shelf DGN1000 I bought was terrible for not letting wireless clients access the internet. The problem - but no solution - is well documented in the Netgear forums.
I tried a Orange DGN1000 and that was really no better. Fortunately I now have a business class Netgear wireless access point that I plug in the DGN1000.
With BT's shoddy infrastructure which wiped out most of scotland recently...
and VM's shoddy DNS server with latencies as long as Australia takes.... and their DOCSIS modems reporting MAP timeout and rejection issues (Bandwidth & QoS profiling maps)
Theres no suprise it dont fricken work! I reported some central hub outages to the CEO and tech team, just the other year, due to dodgy routing, no doubt its only become systemicly embedded now!
Best advice I could give, reboot your modem about 5 to 10 times til it routes the hubs differently when you do a traceroute :-P
No real problems here (Oxfordshire), but I've had to re-boot the modem a few times, which is annoying and often a sign that trouble is in the offing but hasn't actually struck yet. Email access has also failed a few times, although this is not so uncommon with VM.
In my experience, this sort of behaviour is often a precursor to some sort of service change or announcement by VM, which is possibly why their regular staff are always so utterly clueless about what's going on.
Why am I still with them? Because when it works, I get the advertised speed, all the time. But with speeds going up everywhere, I am starting to think perhaps I could get as much speed as I need from a more reliable service.
Same here in Warwickshire - several reboots of the modem/router over the last 3-4 weeks. No major problems, though (for instance, I watched the entire Monaco GP on iPlayer on Sunday evening).
The overall VM provision down here is worse than where we moved from (though that seems to be well-known when moving from an ex-Blueyonder area to an ex-NTL area), but the up-time is still good. There still isn't a provider I would go to over VM, having been a customer of fibre-optic providers for well over 12 years now, though that could always change if things became too flaky.
This has nothing to do with DNS as some people have suggested. It seems that UDP traffic was allowed, but TCP wasn't - in all cases.
This wasn't a 'routing issue' in the conventional sense. Virgin wasn't not routing to specific carriers or IP ranges, this issue related purely to random IP addresses for random customers.
I run a fairly large website, and received complaints about access to one of our servers. Customers affected were in one geographic region only: between Birmingham, West Yorkshire, Liverpool and Manchester. That whole area. Customers from other areas were not affected (in relation to blocks to our services).
When we've had issues with ISPs previously, we've found our entire /24 inaccessible via a given route, and are able to route around it.
In this case, it was specific IPs, for specific geographic regions, and only TCP traffic being blocked.
Sounds like a config boo-boo rather than knocked out routes.
So glad we're getting away from these cow-boys of an ISP. They messed up our BT Inifinity install by refusing to hand over our number. As a result, BT had to cancel the transaction and we've had to go through the whole process again. This time round, Virgin did call us off their own backs acknowledging the termination of our services to them (which didn't happen first time round).
The acute traffic shaping (past a fixed limit), continous routing issues, modem disconnects for long periods and shoddy CS makes them not worthy of a provider. They even kept BSing my brother when he was at his university place. Kept blaming him/router when it was the USP over-loaded at peak times.
All the money seems to be going to pay Bolt for the ad campaigns rather than bulking their backbone connections.
I had issues with my connection but only when trying to use Google mainly.
Makes me laugh people saying it's because VM are about to hit us with some nasty suprise, and even makes me laugh when people say choose a real provider.
I would ask them who would that be then, that is going to provide me with more than 80Mb download speed and no usuage cap other than a speed reduction, and who actually has the capabillity to offer more than 200Mb on the current equipment sat in most peoples houses.
I see most people who complain are the ones who think it's ok to leave torrents running at there full speed all day and all night, and it's those people who cause the problems and are the 1st to complain when something goes wrong.
I am happy with my 100Mb connection soon to be 120Mb, I have no issues on normal use or gaming etc and to be honest I know what's in the pipeline so I am happy and will stick with them simply because NO OTHER ISP OFFERS A BETTER CONNECTION.
With the most recent VM usage caps, you can expect to be throttled by 75% for most of the day after 2 MINUTES of downloading at 100Mb speeds. Nobody who was actually a customer of these crooks would make the asinine statements you are making. The high numbers are for marketing and marketing alone. ALL real VM customers are abundantly aware of this.
As a VM customer, I agree that they throttle and that the numbers are marketing ploys to snare the kind of people who change their electricity provider every year for £14 cashback ...
... but it's so damn fast. Way faster than any other home connection I've used (home business doesn't count) - I notice a considerable difference between my cable connection and the ADSL connections of my family and friends.
On another note, I don't pay for so called "100Mb", I'm on one of the lower packages. After two downgrades in connection over the last year (not including when they "double" the connection speed for free - i.e. nothing happens) I've noticed no difference in speed, but it's still consistently faster than any other connection I use and rarely ever kicks the bucket.
So you're happy with the 75% speed reduction after hitting just 1.5GB usage in the afternoon? If so, you're the first. Damn fast is only damn fast if it is so for more than a few minutes at a time before the 75% speed reduction kicks in. Since these new caps in April, the service and its associated marketing has gone beyond a joke into simple criminal territory. Add the usual genius business move of then insulting all your customers who complain and you have the next Tiscali, on collision course with the ground.
You evidently have something against VM, because you're just making crap up.
The throttling for 100meg customers kicks in after 20 gig of downloads between 10am and 3pm, then the same again between 4 and 9. The only people who have a 1.5GB cap are those on VM's legacy cheapest deal. Oh yes, and for everyone above 20Mb/s, throttling is only 50%, not 75%.
Is it really that hard for you to schedule your bigger downloads to after 9pm when the service is truly unlimited? Many of the torrent apps have built in schedulers to allow those all important Linux ISOs to be grabber out of hours. At least with VM they clearly publish the download limits and the times they apply.
Yes, some of us are very happy with Virgin. And the impressive speeds. It means we can grab 700MB ISOs when we want them (like VS 2010 as mentioned in another news item). But if we want to get a lot of stuff, we need to think about it.
This comical claim of "being capped in 2 minutes" is a theoretical joke that most people are not going to experience everyday in practice. And if they are hitting that kind of limit everyday, then they need to learn a bit of planning. (I also can't understand why they complain. If they don't like it, change ISPs. Simple.)
I get to experience the ADSL "Service" that some of my clients are given in this city of Brighton. And it really doesn't touch Virgin. Especially when things go wrong. (If you think VM support is bad, you should try calling a few other ISPs!! Cheap call centres are used throughout the industry)
Yes, we all get different experiences based on our different usage patterns and the postcode areas we live in. I've been with Virgin 9 years, and don't plan to go anywhere else.
(Where's the edit button?) I meant to add that there were no problems over the weekend for me on the general browsing and downloading side. The only trouble I've had is the ISP mailservers run by Google are playing up. Normal mail is unaffected, but trying to use any ntlworld.com addresses are having login problems. Swapping back and forth between smtp.ntlworld.com and smtp.virginmedia.com seemed to get round it on Sunday. Now it just seems to have given up hope.
"I see most people who complain are the ones who think it's ok to leave torrents running at there full speed all day and all night, and it's those people who cause the problems and are the 1st to complain when something goes wrong." - get over, please. put the tarnishing brush away.
There's something called traffic shaping, then there's acute traffic shaping based on ridiculous bandwidth caps. It should be the 100 and 120Mb/s connections that should get throttled, not the lower end 10 - 30Mb/s end. I don't care if you pay more money; the same rules should apply to you too if that's the way VM sees it.
I'd rather have a slightly slower speed during peak when the ISP can switch on more agressive P2P traffic shaping to ensure all customers get a fair connection.
If I pay 20Mb/s, 40Mb/s or 100Mb/s, I'd expect that sync'd speed to be like that all the time. That's what I'm paying for. Not to have it slashed by 75% if I watching too much iPlayer to download a couple of linux ISOs.
VM has had its fair share of routing problems and peering problems, with the latter happening pretty consistently over the last 6 months. This time however it was different.
Only certain traffic had issues. For example ping/icmp echo packets were routing fine. HTTP was hit and miss although ssl traffic seemed to be more troublesome along with sites had redirects in them. If there was a redirect on the main page of a site, it just did not work. I noticed that clicking on a google search result or any site that had lots of variables seemed to either fail or take a long time to go through.
It is obvious VM were intercepting and messing with packets, be it DPI or something more sinister. The complete lack of information over this and the unwillingness for VM to provide any information says a lot!
This will be further efforts to prevent P2P which have the 'unforessen' side effect of peeping at your data. First it is their diabolical speed throttling policy brought in last month, halfing speeds for all users of more than 5000MB. This will be some Government-approved DPI to check for encryption!
That explains it.
I was unable to get into "The Register" from home (Manchester), all last weekend. Most other sites were OK, so I was blaming yourselves. Sorry.
I must admit that I've been very impressed with Virgin so far (I must be the lucky one?). I rarely get less than 80MB download speed, and reliability has been excellent (Touch wood)
That is a side effect of globalisation. They adopt business practices and attitudes from the USA.
I remember working somewhere and when there was a bug in the software, we would tell customers who asked us. Then they bought/merged with a company in the USA.
The first thing I remember getting was instructions that we should *never* use the word "bug" or admit to one. We were not told to lie when people asked us if there was a problem but I definitely wondered if that was what they were wanting.
So instead of "bug" we used the phrase "undocumented feature" instead.
No, there aren't any reliable providers left in the UK market and there won't be for so long as people want massive speeds for virtually no cost.
Reliable infrastructure and the people to keep it reliable are not cheap. Peering bandwidth is (generally) not cheap - yes, I know there are some reciprocal peering agreements but they're becoming less and less common now as cash-strapped providers look for some way to pay for the infrastructure the users are unwilling to pay for.
If you honestly think you can get a reliable 100Mb/sec downstream connection with no caps/throttling or limitations for the prices currently offered by Virgin then you are, quite honestly, delusional. EVERY ISP is recognizing the fact that bandwidth demand is far exceeding the cost users are willing to pay, hence the introduction of fair use policies, caps, throttling and more.
Until people are willing to pay for decent, reliable service it just won't exist - it's not economically viable.
all the small independents have good service and relatively open and transparent contractual arrangements. And dont throttle or shape or inspect your deep pan pizzas.
The do charge a bit more tho. And restrict how much data you can shift before paying extra.
You wont get virgins fibre services from them though- ADSL only.
Yep, Entanet's pretty good. They are a direct reseller for BT Wholesale. As an ADSL-only exchange we can only get 8MB here, but we get the rated speed. Always. That's 840K/s (though we had to request a line re-training) No outages aside from when the London Exchange goes titsup.
As we're not cabled for many miles around (despite being in the heart of Kent) VM ain't an option. Frankly I'm glad we don't even get tempted.
I've had these routing issues for a couple of years now. Its localised, someone across town doesn't get it. Now it appears to be getting more widespread for a few days, but I'm reasonably sure its also still affects _some_ customers (I've a theory its an older customer issue, rather than new ones).
My gripe for these last 2 years is that VM wasn't giving it any attention. They might now.
For me a bunch of uk websites disappeared off the grid for a few days. One day it was .com websites, specifically the google ones and some hotel booking ones.
Some of my friends running a website business couldn't get his own customers on VM to access their own website, also on VM. The customer service were so insulting that they're moving provider ASAP.
Mine was up and down all weekend, in the year since I moved into this house and got VM installed I've had the connection speed drop to 1/2 what it was to begin with, they forced out a firmware update to the router that completely broke the wifi, cut me off for a week due to a 'fibre issue' and then over this weekend I couldn't get to half of the sites I tried. In every instance they've provided absolutely no support beyond telling me to continually reboot my PC and modem until it comes back. I doubt there's a single support worker left with them that knows how anything works, they just read scripts at me and refuse to actually fix the problems.
My only other option is a 1Mb ADSL service with BT, so for now at least there's no reasonable alternative.
VM have a couple of problems here, and I look forward to reading the litigation that may result;
1. Failure to provide service to paying customers due to their actions and inactions;
2. Loss of Business for those business that virgin customers were prevented from using by the actions and inactions of VM.
On your marks, get set, litigate...........................
Read the Ts and Cs. This is not business grade hosting. You're paying £22-£35 pcm for your broadband. So you get what you pay for. A 99% uptime means you loose connection for 3.5 days a year. (I have no idea what the actual figures are, but they will be no worse than other supplies)
Anyway - it was sunny this weekend. You should have been outside. Or are you going to sue the sun because of your sunburn?
Read the Unfair Contract terms rules in the Consumer Contracts Directive'99.
Just because you put in the Ts & Cs that they must surrender their first born, does not make it stand up in court (just like most of the weasle words you find in IT software and services contracts)
The unfair terms applies to personal customers.
The BI case would resolve around the same logic that occurs, when somebody digs up and blocks a road to a shopping area, without authorisation, all those business get to present their lost earnings for the duration to the fool with the JCB and cones, except in this case it would be a fool with a keyboard.
Note they would not have to be VM customers themselves, they just have to prove how many sales they would have taken from VM customers on average during the period of the outage, and claim that loss.
Problem started for me 7.30am on the 24th, when I noticed it. It then got progressivly worse with more and more websites disappearing.
Then early afternoon on the 27th, about 1pm approx, things popped back to normal.
I had to set up a VPN to bypass their "routing issues", but thankfully, I have a friend in Germany who set one up on his colocated machine in Hetzner.
Its interesting to note that, while this so called "routing issue" was ongoing for me, all the websites were both pingable and traceable. It seemed to be only the content that was backholed.
It is possible for ping to work while http does not purely due to the packet size. Saw an issue on ADSL years ago when BT starting rolling out Fujitsu MSANs - no new customers on VPs over a certain size could view webpages but could ping using the default packet size. Gradually increase the packet size and you would eventually find a value that would not work (but too small to make changing MTU viable).
Virgin has has DPIMs on the network for years, since it is how traffic shaping functions. They have also had the capability and indeed have already been blocking sites (e.g. those on the IWF blacklist). The only problem I am aware of this causing thus far was the Wikipedia "Virgin Killers" incident, which was caused by all traffic to Wikipedia going through one proxy IP (the only way they could block one page without blocking the whole site)
I also had no trouble at all - I'm on what used to be NTL - maybe there is some connection?
All in all I'm quite happy with Virgin. From my point of view, they have improved over the last few years. The only problem I've had that was their fault was when they cocked up the Warcraft ports a while back. And even then, with a little work, I got to talk to one of their actual techs who said they were trying their best to fix it asap because all of them were Warcraft players themselves :D
"He added that the fault was logged as a "Major Service Outage" and said that "some very senior heads at Virgin Media" were being kept up-to-date with what had gone wrong and what progress was being made."
Surely the most senior "heads" are the fucking customers paying the fucking bills for fucking SERVICE!!!! How about keeping them informed for a change?
Every single 'effing time with Virgin. My Virgin webmail account got hacked recently as did a lot of other peoples... and did I hear ANYTHING from Virgin about this... NO. Did I get ANY apology whatsoever from Virgin... NO.
No indeed. I had to spend MY time searching the internet to find out that it wasn't actually my PC sending spam to everyone in my webmail address book, but Virgins compromised webmail service itself.
Quite frankly I'm glad to be shot of them. Morons the lot of them.
... end rant */
It seems reasonably clear from a good proportion of the comments here that this problem lies above layer 3 in the networking stack, i.e. the "routing" part. I would suggest that it's with layer 7, which means that VM are mucking about with deep packet inspection, and getting it spectacularly wrong in the process.
Why they may be doing this I leave to you to guess. Others have already suggested possible reasons.
I've been with Virgin for years, every time upping to their top tier for the simple reason that has never had traffic management on it.
I've been on the 100 service for the last year. If I don't use a vpn or ssl with different port, the newsgroups are throttled down to dialup speed.
If I buy say Portal 2 from steam, I will hit my limit before I've downloaded half of it, hence my download speed is halved. If I'm playing an mmo and there's a huge new patch and my guilds all eager to get on, again I will hit the download limit before I'm half way. I do not pay for the 100 service to have those sorts of limitations.
That aside, during the year on the 100 service, I've had constant youtube buffering and many other problems when browsing etc.
I've been on Sky Unlimited for a month, sure I get much less upload, sure I only download from newsgroups at 18Mbps, but every person in my house has commented on how much faster general browsing is and I haven't experienced one single buffer while watching HD youtube vids yet.
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