back to article Virgin Media broadband goes titsup for 3 hours

Virgin Media was hit by a major broadband service blackout early last night that affected an unspecified number of the telco's five million customers. The company confirmed that the downtime started on Tuesday evening. "If you experienced a loss of internet connection between 5pm and 8pm on Tues 17th January, we experienced a …


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  1. Tom 15


    They might have been down between those hours but there was a much larger period of time with ~20% packet loss from LINX... it was still happening up until an hour ago

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I was having trouble for a couple of hours beforehand. Couldn't even ftp a 16k file properly.

      This morning's been fine though.

      Rather than doubling my speed I'd rather they sorted out the quality of their service - I don't need 60Mbps, I need reliability.

      1. Velv

        Speed AND Reliability

        Just for balance, I have less outages and trouble from my Virginmedia line than I do with my Mum's ADSL line. I've had one VM outage in the last three years, and that was at 23:00, so I took it as a hint to go to bed. (just a customer, no connection to any telecoms vendor)

        1. G C M Roberts

          Lucky duck!

          I've had about 5 or 6 outages in the last yr with VM. Fortunately they always refund customers, unprompted, for loss of service. Oh wait...

          My fave ISP is Be, never had any issues in 5 yrs with them just my chuffing BT line or feckless BT engineers at the exchange pulling my card out instead of someone else's.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          RE: Speed AND Reliability


          Virgin Media seems to get an awful lot of flack, but to be honest, I have never any problems or speed contention with them – even last night was only a couple of disconnects and some packet loss, not outage and I put that down to the online game I was playing until I read this article!

          Compare that to all my family and there sodding ADSL pile of shite that has been up and down like a yo-yo over the years and the speed slowly sometimes direly in the evenings.

          Their customer service is shite though, but luckily I’ve never really had to experience much of it.

          Re the previous posters comments on speed, I also don’t need, and practically nothing can make use of these 100Mbit+ services – but give me that upstream boost you said yonks ago would be upped to 3.5Mbit – that would be very useful for my VPN performance :-)

    2. CmdrX3

      I agree. I didn't actually notice any downtime, but there was definitely big problems outside of those times. I was having trouble connecting to quite a few websites at 3.45pm.

    3. frymaster

      VM also having LINX congestion issues unrelated

      the LINX packetloss issues are/were because an undersea cable had been cut. This meant traffic that otherwise would have been using it was shoved onto LINX, causing congestion.

  2. Neill Mitchell

    No doubt...

    Another router firmware upgrade that went wrong. Spin doctors will ensure we never know.

  3. Big_Ted

    Didn't notice it.........

    Between 6 and 11 last night I downloaded 8 gig of data and streamed Netflix with seeing any problem.

    At the same time surfing the net worked fine as well except for ebay not loading for about half an hour.

    Looks like I am one of the lucky ones as my office and head office stayed online as well......

    1. Big_Ted

      thats without not with.....

      thats without not with seeing any problems.....

  4. Purlieu


    I was able to get to most sites e.g. amazon but ebay, BT, and a few others were off, very odd

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Yes, that was my experience as well until I made the mistake of rebooting the cable modem, then it wouldn't reconnect at all! So, I went out instead...

      1. Richard Crossley

        Nice one Virgin.

        I went to the pub and interacted with real people.

    2. Thomas 18
      Thumb Up

      Same symptomn here

      Many sites working but some not.

    3. Absent

      Same with me, large sites like Google were fine. Some would only deliver text, others were completely unreachable.

  5. Alex Walsh

    We suffered from this. The webpage status showed no errors but I figured since the fault page was taking about 5 minutes to load and constantly timing out, that there was actually a problem.

    Only the second or third time we've had connectivity issues in the 5 years I've been with NTL/Virgin, so not overly fussed.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Also affected the National Ethernet Services

    The outage also affected the National Ethernet Service used by businesses between 17:00 and 20:00ish

    1. scoopy

      seemingly just some

      Affected only one of our national ethernet serives (out of six or so) between 17:25 and 19:20. Also dropped packets on out DIA internet feed.

  7. Mad Jack

    How would we know the difference? It goes titsup all the time!

    1. Gareth.


      I suggest you contact their technical support department because my colleagues, friends and family who are also VM customers don't experience many (if any) problems at all with our connections, and that's across numerous locations spread throughout the country.

      If we were talking about their customer services or their billing departments, however, then I'd be agreeing with you. Those areas of VM do appear to be run by a bunch of incompetent idiots who are, undoubtedly, the first generation within their families to actually walk upright. But, I find the techie side of the company to be exceptionally well run, and they put BT and the ADSL companies I've used to shame.

      Before I get downvoted as being some sort of VM shill, I'll just point out that I have no connection with them at all apart from being a broadband customer (although I ditched them for telly and phone after they messed me around after moving house).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I'd like to second that.

        Last night's outage was quite frustrating. No broadband service, 150 customer service line was permanently engaged, and their service status web page wasn't updated with info relating to the incident for a couple of hours after it started - in addition to which it runs like an absolute dog on a 3G mobile web browser... we really don't need the massive graphics on a status page, guys.

        But, I've been with VM/Telewest for over ten years and can't actually remember suffering any other broadband outage whatsoever, so on balance I'm not gonna bitch about it.

        1. jp1000

          I don't second that at all

          I've had repeated instances of glacial connection speeds, 8 SECOND ping times and so on - at two separate locations (albeit in the same town). The customer service is utterly useless - they've admitted to me that they don't even know the difference between bandwidth and latency and yet refuse to put me through to second line help. I wouldn't touch them with a barge pole, even Sky are better.

  8. Oliver Mayes

    Oh, is that what that was?

    I could access some sites but not others, all seemed fine from my phone on 3G but ironically I couldn't get to the Virgin service status page to check if there was a problem. All slowly came back over the course of the evening though.

  9. Mike Street

    I was affected...

    and was down for some time. Even now, Wednesday 11:50, some sites and services are slow.

    The services is generally fast & reliable for me, and even my own systems have been known to have the occasional outages, so I am not concerned.

    Stuff happens, but as far as I can tell, the world didn't end, so all's good.

  10. Chris 171

    Taking their own advice..

    And switching it all off and on again....

    Though what ever they did has certainly fixed the glitching I was getting on web radio so not all is lost.

  11. Luke McCarthy

    Later outage

    In Leeds there was an outage about 2 AM, although it lasted maybe 20 minutes (guess).

  12. Allan 1

    3 Hours?

    More like 12hrs so far, its till ongoing, with many pages still timing out, including google. I know that things happen, but I wish they wouldn't lie about it with statements like "3 hours" when its bloody patently obvious they aren't fixed yet, 12hrs later.

  13. David Harper 1

    No problems in Cambidge

    I haven't seen any problems with my VM broadband service in Cambridge.

    I've been with VM since the days when they were still NTL, and I find their broadband service very reliable. Like Alex Walsh, I've only experienced a tiny number of outages that lasted more than a few minutes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Oh yes there was ! However, I found the problem to be more DNS related than routing.

      1. PC Paul

        DNS and Routing for me

        I had DNS and routing problems, but that could be because I had my DNS set to and (Google) instead of Virgin.

        tracert to any of the big sites went very slowly and stopped responding after the first 5 or 6 hops.

        1. jonathan1

          Ditto on that front, however, I had the opposite. Using the virgin DNS I couldn't connect to any american servers namely most of Microsoft and the wikias. (Lost xbox live :o( and Netflix sad times).

          I applied Google and Opendns, I was back up and running. Hmm maybe it was the opendns that allowed it to work then....

        2. Angrysmiley

          Same issue here... Some sort of routing related event? I was unable to ping/traceroute any of the DNS root servers I had in my named.root (which was updated last week) while this happened. Timed out on the 3rd or 4th HOP.

  14. TRT Silver badge


    It was flaky all night and into this morning, resulting in me missing an email about a change of venue for the training course I was supposed to be on today.

  15. Lee Dowling Silver badge


    I went down for 10 minutes (3G sticks save your life). When it came back up, everything worked right through to this morning when it was still working.

    Admittedly I rebooted the router quite quickly but it the router status page just said "Access Denied" on the row where it normally gets access, so looks like it only lost connection to some kind of authentication server to get an IP address.

    Funniest bit was going on VM's service status page, being asked for phone number, account number or postcode and being told that both my postcode and my VM phone number attached to the same line as the VM broadband I was having problems with and my VM telly wasn't a VM customer.

    Maybe it was just internal connections at VM nearer my end? It came back up and I carried on, though, (after realising that my 3G provider somehow routes 192.168.10.X IP's (where my VM router normally sits) but not 192.168.20.X IP's (where my own wireless router sits) even though it was allocating me something in the ranges). Confused me for a minute until I realised it was stamping over my normal wireless route to the router.

  16. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Not just then...

    Damn service has been up and down like a prozzy's nickers. Since Monday this week the service has randomly dropped out around midday, only to reappear hours later (requiring a modem reboot). Was down last week for about 16 hours on one day and another 8 the following day as well. Of course, when finally through to some hell desk minion called "Tom" (blatantly in a call Centre in some other country where the first language most certainly wasn't English), the response was "There were no problems", "The internal systems show a problem, just not the published status", "Engineering work is being done", "There is a fault, will be fixed in 48 hours". Confusing: Hell yes.

  17. M man


    we have 4/11 guys on virgin. so sods law the night it goes down the three support guys were all virgin guys. lucky nothing major went down,

  18. Tim Nicholls
    Thumb Up

    Hello, Virgin Media...

    ...have you tried turning it off and on again?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    They had a router overheat in Poplar according to the Reason For Outage they gave us.

  20. Jamie Kitson


    I think you should always replace "outage" with "outrage", much more gravitas.

  21. millap

    Our 100Mbps Big Red connection was suffering 30% packet loss from certain portions of the internet up until 10am this morning so it seems it wasn't just the broadband peeps.

  22. Matt Hamilton

    False beards

    And Usain Bolt was seen wandering around shiftily in the vicinity wearing a false beard and a pair of RJ45 crimpers.


  23. Mark Webster

    In my area (north London), Virgin's broadband services goes down at least twice a month - as in, the router reports "Denied" when authenticating with the ISP. This usually lasts at least 20 minutes. And it always happens while I'm QUITE busy doing time-sensitive server administration.

  24. AndGregor
    Thumb Up

    Good Job..

    I cancelled my VM contract in the day before the phones went into meltdown. Cancellation fee.. dream on my friend, dream on.

  25. PatientOne

    Had wondered what was going on.

    I found I didn't have internet connection at about 6pm last night. Rebooted the modem (it's an old one) and everything was fine. Didn't notice any issues at all after that.

  26. iMess

    I too suffered..

    Newsgroups worked fine, but accessing steam and websites was hit and miss in SW UK. All good tho, mostly fully operational by 1am. This is only the 2nd blackout i've experienced with Virgin and really not that bothered, just watched a few movies. I do wish they would mention something on their homepage tho.

  27. EzJ

    Every cloud has a silver lining...

    I noticed that I had no internet connection around 7.30pm yesterday when I tried to play Battlefield 3 on the PS3. After rebooting my wrouter around 8.00pm everything gradually came back alive. The great thing was that there seemed to be an awful lot of instances of people just stood still in Battlefield 3 meaning I managed to unlock 2 new guns by killing them all :D

    As other posters have mentioned, I cannot even remember the last time I had internet connection problems with VM and I have been with them for over 10 years.

    Actually getting Virgin to do anything for you though, that is a completely different kettle of fish. When I called the televised number to upgrade my tv package I was told that I had called the wrong department :s I was passed to a second department who only managed to wipe my entire package. The third department managed to get me up and running again. I really would have thought that the departments you call to try and give them more money would be the ones that run most efficiently but this is most definately not the case with VM :s I prefer it like that though to any alternative ;)

  28. Nights_are_Long

    Wasn't just the BB.

    My Phone was acting up last night from about 6 - 10pm, The broadband was fine but call's in would not connect and calls out didn't get a dial tone.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Our VM phone hasn't worked properly for months, eventually after several engineer visits we managed to get a re-pull, which they somehow did without ever bothering to knock on the door, and has failed to fix the problem. The phone outages seem to correlate suspiciously well with the rain.

      Now I'm just waiting for a good cold snap so we can have our annual television / broadband outage, when VM brought up all this buried coax I don't think they had any idea what a shoddy pile of crap some of it was.

  29. squilookle

    Mine went down, but I only got VM put in on Saturday (had enough of getting disconnected twice a day on TalkTalk) and I've been getting disconnected every 5 minutes on Virgin. I believe this "Superhub" is the cause of the issue.

  30. Monty Burns

    Those of you reporting some websites reachable/some not....

    That doesn't appear to be a VM issue and could be something further down the food chain. I had exactly the same at work (BT broadband) and the same sites wouldn't work at home, or would work but very slowly.

    On the side, I was playing WoT's from 5pm to 6pm, shopping in the USA with the wife from 6 to 8 and then helping a friend out in SWTOR onwards until about 10. No issues (other than my first paragraph) I could pinpoint to VM for me.... i'm on 100meg in "sunny" Slough, maybe it was lower tiers that were hit?

  31. Atonnis

    I was hit...

    I had about three hours of outage time. Got home to no connection, tried to call their lines but was hit by either a busy signal or a message saying 'Sorry, lines are busy, please try again later'. Practically, I had a line up and running but received no DHCP-assigned IP address.

    *shrug* I suppose it happens - Virgin Media's cable connection has been far more reliable and solid than my previous ADSL connection, and when there is an outage on this scale it's natural that the support lines get inundated.

    The only thing that irked me was, when looking through my documentation, it just kept telling me to 'go to our website' - if I could've got to the f---king website I wouldn't have been calling!

  32. Jop

    What they didn't say

    was that it also took down tivo boxes and telephone lines. The VOIP they use for systems such as calls to 150 also went down. Calls to that number said it didn't exist or engadged on many attempts. Couldn't even make calls to friends which I found strange. TV guide and video on demand also down.

    Had complained to VM about issues at many peering/transit points of theirs for days before this happened.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How could anyone tell?

    I mean it barely works even when it is supposedly working.

  34. Onid
    Thumb Up

    virgin media is pretty good overall

    We've been with virgin/ntl for at approx 10 years in various locations in the south east. for about a year I had adsl services as no ntl at location at time. Had more downtime in that one year than I've had failures with ntl/vm in 10 years. Must say though the modem/router combos they supply are absolute shite... But can't fault the service though. As for yesterday's downtime - I generally avoid calling support unless I determine there's a local issue. I logged on my 3G to see status/ twitter and couldn't even reach VM website - figured this is a big one no point calling this one in!! Wife was going no u must call them they might not know - I was like I'm sure they do... 10 mins later everything was back on (after assembling lenghts of usb extension cables to get phone to a good reception area in the house.... typical... spent 30 -40 mins doing this then it all comes back !!

    Cheers VM!!

  35. a_mu
    Thumb Down


    they are just getting ready for the doubling of speeds,

    double the quantity of internet packets, and lets see what happens.

    one interesting effect, on the broadband monitor results I have seen,

    after the outage, the average ping times were well down.

    but soon rose as the network came back up,

  36. mark jacobs

    All your eggs in one basket...

    I have been a Virgin customer since they started, and before that, NTL, and before that Videotron. Basically, as soon as Videotron put fibre-optic outside my house, I was on it like a randy dog on a bitch. Virgin have the worst customer service. When it went down last night (from 3pm to 8pm for me in Harrow), my phone, broadband and TV all went belly up, and left me without any recourse other than to phone Virgin customer service on my mobile. Their lines immediately went to "Call Rejected" so I could talk to nobody, couldn't get a service update and basically didn't know WTF was going on! At least Digital Freeview through the house aerial worked!

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    more balance

    It was a bit shaky here last night, but i've been with ntl/vm for 11 years, and had less than 4 days outage in total,. Customer service can be a bit dodgy, but any slowness in speed, which has happened a couple of times, gets sorted out very quickly here.

    I'll take em over a bt line any day :)

  38. Phil the Geek

    Going downhill fast

    I've been a Virgin (previously Telewest) customer for about 15 years and it seems Mr Cockup is visiting more and more often. I was affected by yesterday's outage and it's already happened once again tonight. Maybe Virgin should say it's a SOPa/PIPA protest.

  39. Lloyd
    Thumb Down

    Yesterday was kinda okay

    Got booted off Rackspace but everything else was okay, however, it's been down since 4pm today, it'll allegedly be fixed by 8:20am tomorrow.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On the upside...

    One thing I have noticed, is that after the most recent outage (you don't hear much about the friday 13th January one affecting some business customers for 5 hours...) my maximum upstream (connected via Vigin's Staverton site) has jumped to "up to" 5Mbps from a heady 1.6Mbps.

    In fairness, their tech support doesn't seem to be great and the community support forum is mainly to get support from the community rather than virgin, BUT even including the recent outages, I have found it to be the most reliable broadband connection at home i've been fortunate enough to have and usually one of the fastest.

    Yes it does get terrible at times, yes it can take them a week to sort out a routing problem affecting VPN connections, or months to sort out bandwidth issues or replacement wireless access points, but on balance it could be worse.

    Perhaps i'm one of the lucky ones!

    I do wish BT would upgrade my local exchange so i could get "infinity" for redundancy however - dial-up just doesn't cut it when you're providing I.T. support on call...

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We had a power cut...

    at around that time.

    VM would be doing jolly good if they kept my connection up while that was going on...

  42. mknight1701

    I was affected and very annoyed especially with the lack of information regarding the issue. I had internet but was struggling for Domain Name queries to be resolved. A routing issue! Do they not have fail over equipment in place for such issues?

  43. Andrew Dancy

    We had a National Ethernet line out for about 90 minutes in the end. What was frustrating was that we couldn't get through to Virgin and nor could our hosting provider (who supposedly have direct access to senior Virgin technical contacts). We ended up getting our info from a combination of the UKNOT mailing list and the Andrews & Arnold IRC chatroom.

    We eventually found out from other sources that a router overheated in their Poplar POP. They failed over to a standby router, but after about 30 minutes that one went bang as well apparently.

    The Linx issue was separate, as mentioned previously.

    Still, to be fair to them (and believe me that's difficult!), it's the first outage of the Ethernet service we've had since it went live about 9 months ago...

    1. p0tn00dl3

      Packet loss/VM

      Alot of the issues people were having yesterday was due to a BT issues there was high latency and packet loss between level 3 and BT for most of the day. As for the VM fault that was caused (allegedly) by a aircon failure causing a router to over heat, they then switched over to another router in the same building (wtf ?) that also over heated and all hell broke lose.

  44. Scorchio!!

    Not the only time

    This happened to me around 19.00 on the 17th. I've been here before recently with the death of their cable modem, and suspected its replacement was the problem. Somehow it is a relief that the problem was a different one, because it does take a little while to talk to something with two arms, two legs and what passes for a brain.

  45. Peter 53

    Is it just me..

    ... or did anyone else wonder how people with no internet connection managed this:

    "El Reg was inundated with emails from unhappy VM customers affected by the outage."

    1. Scorchio!!

      Re: Is it just me..

      "... or did anyone else wonder how people with no internet connection managed this:

      "El Reg was inundated with emails from unhappy VM customers affected by the outage.""

      I believe there may be a dial up link, though I'm happy to be corrected. Also there are probably one or two of the pay as you go dial ups left, and I won't be surprised to hear that people have dual broadband accounts, and that there are one or two people (in e.g. Swindon) who use local free Wi-Fi, dangerous crap though it is.

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