back to article Virgin Media flushes pipes clogged by piles of Spotify fans

Virgin Media has been forced to reconfigure routing of its network traffic after some of the telco's customers complained that Spotify kept jamming, The Register has learned. The music-streaming service inked an "exclusive" deal in July last year with Virgin Media to dish up Spotify bundled with various broadband packages to …


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  1. Jeebus

    This wouldn't happen if they downloaded all their music like normal people. Arf.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Somebody downvoted that!

      PS - Jeebus, there's no need for the 'joke alert' icon either - you comment is true.

    2. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

      Can I ask a silly question here?

      Instead of hundreds of thousands of people downloading files from TPB, what's to stop hundreds of people getting the files off Virgin and selling copies to thousands of people in their local pubs?

      (Not counting Virgin's evident disabilities, of course.)

      That's what my generation used to do back in the good old days.

      1. jon 72
        Thumb Up

        Re: back in the good old days

        Damm straight, at the end of the day DRM or not it still has to come out somewhere and my patch leads are waiting.

      2. Anonymous Coward 15

        Re: Can I ask a silly question here?

        When I were a lad, we had to etch the grooves on stone tablets...

    3. MacGyver

      Funny, because it's true.

      Most likely (pure speculation follows), Spotify has only a 5 second buffer for the copyright holder's protection, to keep the pirates from coping out the buffer's contents to another file. So basically in order to stop a pirate that can get their music from various other places anyway, their service is basically useless. If their buffer settings allowed for bytes instead of time, I don't think the sporadic bandwidth would be an issue, I mean what are these streams anyway 5mb a piece? 5mb is about 5 seconds on a modern connection.

  2. TeeCee Gold badge


    I take it that Spotify fans are easy to identify by the very careful manner in which they sit down?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, one thing you cannot call their service ..

      .. is "spotty"


  3. JDX Gold badge

    Almost Unusable

    "On Virgin Media here in Edinburgh UK and can confirm that Spotify is almost unusable – every song will play for 5 seconds, stop for 10 seconds, play for another 5 secs and so on."

    And that's only almost unusable?

    1. EddieD

      Re: Almost Unusable

      Aye, way up here in the sticks we have such short attention spans that we like listen to things in 10 second bursts, but 5 is pushing it :)

      I get my Spotify fix through VM, but so much of what I like was either never there, or not there now :( so I haven't noticed it.

      1. Law

        Re: Almost Unusable

        I'm in my 5th month of the 6 month premium free trial (via Virgin Media).

        I've not had any of the problems described here but I have had the same problem as EddieD - alot of music I normally listen to isn't there, and the stuff that was there 3 months ago is now removed. It seems like if you're into older and new pop music then you're okay - but if you want something other than pop it's pretty hit or miss.

        It's a shame really, because of the library holes (and random withdraws) I don't think I'll convert to a paying customer. Will just go back to downloading via Amazon MP3 or whatever, and syncing between devices again.

    2. JimmyPage Silver badge

      Re: Almost Unusable

      but it makes modern music sound so much better

  4. Robert Ramsay
    Black Helicopters

    I wonder...

    any connection with


  5. PyLETS

    DRM and a noisy Net

    Jeebus is right. File sharing of unencrypted content makes for much more efficient use of bandwidth. DRM distribution policies by their nature have to compromise integrity of content delivery against security of protection measures . For example, having a 10 second buffer allowing for streamed content to be delivered earlier than consumed and at a potentially higher feed rate would enable uninterrupted listening or viewing despite 5 or 10 second network outages (which I get on VM occasionally). But this kind of sensible response to imperfect network behaviour opens up the possibility of buffer copying, which makes the whole DRM scheme less secure than any scheme involving supplying the content with the keys needed to decrypt it is going to be anyway.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: DRM and a noisy Net

      Careful now, you may feel the wrath of the person who downvoted Jeebus's original comment/(joke).

      There's no room for common sense/efficiency/etc when copywrong dollars are involved - you should know that by now.

      1. Jeebus

        Re: DRM and a noisy Net

        There's one guy who seems to follow me around the site down voting everything no matter what, I think it's Orlowski to be honest.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: DRM and a noisy Net

          There's one guy who seems to follow me around the site down voting everything no matter what,

          Oh dear! you've incurred the wrath of troll/fruit-boi. I have noticed the same behaviour when I post something the fruit-bois’ don't like, but that's what AC is for :-)

    2. nexsphil

      Re: DRM and a noisy Net

      It doesn't matter how large (or not) a buffer is - anything streamed can be captured and copied. The DRM implementers are yet again suspiciously promoting piracy.

      1. Mectron

        Re: DRM and a noisy Net

        If you intruduce skipping and others unpleasant artefact in every song..... they don;t need DRM.

  6. Crisp

    Virgin Pipes Clogged

    Is that why my Pirate Bay torrents have been running so slow lately?

  7. Mectron

    This is what happen

    When you let iSP "ILLEGALLY" Throttle traffic. a fine of one or two billions and a court order to remove all illegal traffic shaping shoftware and to increase capacity instead will be a exemple for countries arround the world (ESPECIALY USA AND CANADA) to fellow.

    1. Intractable Potsherd

      Re: This is what happen

      Mectron - what makes you think it is illegal? I am not aware of any statute that would forbid an ISP throttling and traffic-shaping.

  8. El Gordo

    Network Monitoring

    I'm sure Virgin use customer complaints as their network monitoring.

    Ringing them up to be told that the local network is over capacity but that I am the first person to report it and this they haven't done anything about it is just a joke (it had been going on for months). I guess waiting for complaints is cheaper than proactively monitoring and upgrading stuff.

    1. teebie

      Re: Network Monitoring

      I upvoted this because anyone who manages to get hold of virgin's complaint department deserves some kind of reward.

  9. virgin bleeding media customer. CUSTOMER !

    I'm a virgin customer and...

    I'm going to the expense of getting a BT line installed so I can move to FTTC with an ISP who I like. The main driver ? Service a bit dogy (the POS super-duper-hub locking up) but mainly putting the throttling up on the 50Mb service (or what ever they've 'upgraded' me to this week).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm a virgin customer and...

      "...with an ISP who I like."

      As a BT customer more than once over the years, it won't last, trust me. BT have an entire department (possibly their largest) dedicated solely to ensuring that the company is as dislikable as possible. From racking prices up in increasingly sneaky ways while claiming they're actually cutting prices, to hiring staff on the basis of how efficient they are at being rude to customers, BT won't be happy until you despise them. And you will.

  10. toadwarrior

    must be a cable thing

    I have VM DSL and it's been perfect during all these issues people have been having recently.

  11. Jop

    VM customers usually have to put up with broken music/video streams for many many months before VM admit that they dont have enough bandwidth on the UBR or at Peering points. So 2 weeks to get a problem fixed is actually good for them!

    If they genuinely do not monitor bandwidth, congestion and their network, then someone needs sacking for not being proactive. It is more likely VM were hoping no one would notice so they could save a few pennies...

  12. James O'Brien

    forum post running to 20 pages

    Seriously if a forum post was that long I wouldn't bother reading that essay. Now a forum thread being that long on the other hand...

  13. koolholio

    QoS map reject events on DOCSIS routers? :-)

    DNS slow at responding? Peers go missing and fallback to longer routes causing unbufferable latency?

    Gotta love VM's infrastructure :-) lol!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And despite all this ...

    ... we have a whole generation of content providers who think selling gaming and video streaming services "in the cloud" is a good idea? The only way video and audio streaming works at all today is because it buffers N seconds or so; you can't do that for interactive streams.

    /me holds on to his round bits of plastic tightly!

  15. Neal 5

    Not a Ddos then,

    I guess it doesn't count when VM do it to themselves.

  16. the-it-slayer

    Surely another ultimate fail?

    If you're going to offer something for nothing as part of a subscription, surely they would of calculated a rough estimate of how extra bandwidth they'd need or which lines to bulk up before promoting the god damn thing?

    Although I've never had any problems with VM + Spotify Premium, I normally save offline copies of music and go from there.

    Again, VM should have a proxy that's serving these sorts of requests where the most frequently accesses music is cached and served directly from the local hubs.

  17. Tony Paulazzo

    >As a BT customer more than once over the years, it won't last, trust me.<

    Ok, BT customer for six years, out in the sticks where there is no virgin cable, perfectly happy with BT, just last year got upgraded broadband, rocking about 15Mbs DL (started off with less than a Mb), yet my cost has reduced year on year (just threaten to leave when your contract is close to renewal - works wonders).

    Yes, bad BT for Phorm etc but they did back off eventually, and it's not like other companies wouldn't try the same thing if they thought they could get away with it .

  18. Serif

    As another data point, I have the Virgin top end cable service (XXL or whatever it's currently called) and I pay Spotify a tenner a month for their premium service. I'm now seeing drop outs on my Spotify streaming where the music stops, buffers and restarts. If it isn't sorted out soon I'll be cancelling Spotify and writing them a letter to tell them why.

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