back to article Virgin Media customers complain of outages across UK

Virgin Media is seemingly suffering a series of outages accross the country, with aggrieved customers using alternate methods to air their ire at the telco. A number of Virgin's customers have been in contact with us over the past day or so to complain about not receiving the service they have paid for. "All I could get from …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is the correct term for the state of the network "deflowered"? i.e. "Virgin is f***ed"

    1. TRT Silver badge

      I believe the term is "depucelated", from the word "puce", a shade of brownish red which may be described as that of the blood spots left on bed linen after washing, "puce" being the French term for "flea" and the origin of the blood spots in the bed linen! So you can see where the term "to depucelate" comes from. Thank the gods for modern detergents.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Downvoted due to TMI-induced "ew" and its unexpectedness. Yes a bit pathetic of me, sorry.


        Sometimes links are better than explanations especially for us timid over-sensitive types!

  2. Blotto Silver badge

    surely just a normal day?

    Just Virgin's normal service, what are people complaining about?

    1. EddieD

      That's a wee bit unfair - I'll admit that when my internet supplied by VM cuts out, I'm the first to grab the Uzi and yell "MY INTERNET OR YOUR FIRST BORN YOU BEARDY BASTARD", but if truth be told, the service is pretty reliable - I've had no outages that have lasted more than an hour for a long time, and normally I get within 10% of the notional speed.

      There was a time - around 2007ish, when for period of about 1year I was getting about 10% of my notional speed, and being blanked by customer service, but since then it's not been bad.

      Of course, if, when I get home from work, things aren't working, I'll be looking for a phase plasma rifle in the 40W range, or failing that, a General Electric Minigun.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Geez, My VM connection drives me round the bend. The kit is awful so I have no way of knowing whether the line goes down or just the hub. Restarting the hub normally fixes it but needs doing every week. Whether this resyncs the connection or it is just the hub playing up I don't know.

        The speed fluctuates like the Blackpool Big Dipper and the Tivo box is so slow that I often just turn the TV off rather than struggle to search for the programme I want - such a clunky UI with a mishmash of stuff all over the place. Their BBC iPlayer used to buffer like mad every ten minutes or so - even though it wasn't a standard bandwidth issue. I am now actually please to have a smart TV as the Catch Up apps load about 10~20x faster than the Virgin box and no buffering ever on iPlayer (unless the Hub goes down again).

        As soon as I get a few spare hours I'm going to look for an alternative. But have no idea who yet.

      2. Hockney

        Upvote for the Rankin reference. Have a sprout.

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "I've had no outages that have lasted more than an hour for a long time, and normally I get within 10% of the notional speed."

        Same here. First I heard about "widespread VM outages" was a few minutes ago when I read the article.

        1. Paul Shirley

          Another user with few complaints about the infrastructure. The annual haggling the price down not so fun. Despite living in one of those red hotspots only 1 specific site showed repeated failures yesterday, hard to pin on VM.

          However the superhub3 is the work of the devil. Bugridden, slowing to a crawl weekly and seemingly incapable of maintaining good WiFi connections to any device, however close. Luckily I'm too busy working to suffer it's known latency problems gaming, doubt they'll fix that before I retire though.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There is plenty to complain about with Virgin; their prices and price increases, customer service, slow DNS lookups, but I have generally found their infrastructure is mostly reliable.

      It does go down and get flaky occasionally. It is more often up and close to advertised speed but like most I remember the glitches and lost hours more than I do the weeks of it working as expected.

      Had one such glitch about 11:30am yesterday but no real problems.

    3. phuzz Silver badge

      Much as I'd like to join the "virgin are incompetent scum" brigade, our service has been ok for the last year or so.

      Maybe every two-three weeks we start getting really bad pings, but a quick (actually, quite slow) reboot of the router sorts that.

      Several years ago we used to have a lot of problems which seemed to be down to a lack of capacity on their network, but touch-wood, it's been ok recently.

      It seems very much a case of "Your mileage may vary".

      Their customer service does suck though.

      1. Zot

        I routinely reboot the "hub" every week now to stop it slowing down. Is it really so badly coded that it runs out of RAM? And why can't they do POP3 with their email, it's a wonder they are still around.

  3. John G Imrie


    We have asked Virgin Media to comment on the state of its services and will update this article when they respond.

    I heard that Virgin Media have tried to send 6 comments to The Register, but for some reason their email isn't working.

  4. SniperPenguin

    If only there was "competition" in the cable sector.....

    I know, odd concept.

    1. Martin Summers Silver badge

      They used to be separate franchises until ntl swallowed them all up. All of those franchises were saddled with debt from their network rollout. If there was competition they'd have to do exactly the same and we'd have it all over again. It's an expensive game laying cables so actual competition on the scale of Virgin is just not going to happen.

      Of course there's the argument to open their cable network up wholesale but I don't see why they should, private investment put that infrastructure there unlike BT who were nationalised. Besides, just like BT (in most cases) they'd be running the physical network anyway.

      1. GruntyMcPugh

        "They used to be separate franchises until ntl swallowed them all up"

        Indeed, but they were geographic franchise areas, so they were only ever competing as smaller entities against BT, not significantly enlarging customer choice.

        I was assimilated by ntl: , then went on to assimilate a couple of other sites. Now Virgin are national, it's perhaps time to look local loop unbundling for them too, seems unfair BT have to allow resellers on their infrastructure, but VM don't.

      2. 6491wm

        Wholesale Virgin

        NTL (as they were then) did try(voluntarily) going down the wholesale path with AOL in the early noughties shortly before the Telewest merger, but IIRC it never went anywhere

  5. adam payne

    I'm going to guess at, firmware update gone wrong, followed by an underground fire and then someone putting a borehole through their secondary cables.

    1. NonSSL-Login

      Or a digger out in the road went through the cable. Always happen when I turn up at a regional office and being the IT guy fiddling in the server room, all eyes look at you, wondering why you come to their office and break their worktime internet browsing ability.

    2. Mark 110

      Back in my Telewest days I was in charge of attempting to identify outages by trending calls coming in then a quick bit of network diags to see if I could identify the scope before prioritising and bouncing off to the network guys. It wasn't uncommon for us to think we had a major outage when in fact it was a number of little outages.

      Summer was particularly bad for a few reasons:

      - Heat - whoever built some of the original networks should have tried to not put so many cabs in south facing spots with no shade. And used less heat sensitive kit.

      - Rats - more active in warm weather and like to nest in cabs and use the cabling as nesting material

      - Children - more active in warm weather and like to use their destructive nature on cabinets. We could map a distinct spike in calls between when the kids broke up for the summer and when they went back to school in September.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Yesterday there were intermitent outages in Edinburgh.

    As far as I know, they seem to be related to updates in the network, as we received a letter about possible outages and "reboot the router" this week.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Edinburgh

      That sounds like normal upgrade work, it's not an unplanned outage if they're sending you a postal letter weeks before ! I bet your speeds are better now too ?

  7. NonSSL-Login

    The outages hide all the horrible latency and packetloss on the local nodes that people are proving with their ping graphs.

    Technically they are not Bearded Bransons customers as Virgin just let the cable guys use his name for a fee. Its not a Virgin company.

    1. Dabooka

      Not a Virgin Company

      It doesn't matter though, not really.

      They bought the right to the brand, consumers buy into it = a Virgin company. They can't disassociate themselves, even if it is standalone or sold off now (whatever the state is. American owned is it not?)

      Edited to add; still better than TalkTalk

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Not a Virgin Company

        Here's a full list of Virgin brands which aren't owned by Virgin any more.

        1. wyatt

          Re: Not a Virgin Company

          Once they were screwed they were no longer virgins..

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not a Virgin Company

          Virgin Brides?? Seriously???

      2. GruntyMcPugh

        Re: Not a Virgin Company

        Liberty global innit? Although even in my day (I worked for ntl: in the noughties) it was American money then, under Barclay Knapp.

      3. Primus Secundus Tertius

        Re: Not a Virgin Company

        As far as I know it is owned by megamogul Malone and his company, Liberty Global.

    2. EddieD

      Aye, but for us customers of VM he's a convenient Emmanuel Goldstein.

  8. jeffdyer

    Branson has nothing to do with Virgin Media anymore. What are you lot like?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Branson has nothing to do with Virgin Media anymore. What are you lot like?

      It's a bit like the way that the bath-salted mentalist John McAfee will always be inextricably linked with the security software that bears his name.

      1. Korev Silver badge

        Sadly I can't imagine the Bearded One ever making a video as good as the how to uninstall McAfee one...

    2. Mark 110

      "Branson has nothing to do with Virgin Media anymore."

      Not strictly true. He licenses them permission to use the brand. Part of the license conditions are that the licensee should maintain a high level of service and not tarnish the brand. There are mechanisms in the license for remediation or termination if those conditions are broken.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Branson has nothing to do with Virgin Media anymore."

      Yes, but when you're in a pickle you need someone to blame.

  9. Valerion

    Con artists

    Glad to see they are investing all the extra money from the latest inflation-busting price hike into network stability...

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Con artists

      Seems like every 6 months for the last three years I've been getting letters saying they are going to put up my bill by another £5 a month.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Con artists

      Liberty have to pay for their Formula 1 acquisition somehow.

  10. wolfetone

    Project Lightening? Ha. More like Project Drizzle.

    1. Z80

      Lightening your wallet perhaps?

  11. cd / && rm -rf *

    Virgin on the ridiculous.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Agincourt and Crecy!

        Re: Virgin on the ridiculous.....

        "Isn't that a Nun having intimate intercourse with a clown......."

        There's an error there. The Nun having started having intimate intercourse with the clown would no longer fulfil the basic criteria required of a virgin.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Virgin on the ridiculous.....

          Reminds me of the time two nuns were cycling down a cobbled street and one of them says "I don't think I've come this way before" to which the other replies "must be the cobbled street"

  12. Ben Rose

    As much as I like to kick them when they are down...

    ...working just fine for me in Surrey.

  13. Plunn

    How on earth can anyone tell. the service is so bad and laggy. Maybe someone's realised how easy it is to DoS the Hub 3 (Sorry just can't bring myself to write Sup*** Hub) as its a steaming pile of Intel Puma 6 based crap.

    So wish I could go back to my Hub 1 :(

    1. Fading

      Modem mode.....

      I still have a Hub 1 - it sits in modem mode next to my netgear nighthawk router. All my wireless problems have been solved.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now I feel so much better about telling the Vermin Media salesdrone that, whilst I'd love for all of my neighbours to take up their offer and thus (potentially) reduce contention on my own (FTTC, but non-Virgin) connection, I myself wouldn't touch it with a shitty stick.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No problems here, 150+ Mb/s speeds as usual :-)

    Everything looks great !

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No problems here, 150+ Mb/s speeds as usual :-)

      That's super if only everyone posted such amazingly helpful comments.

      Mine's working fine as well, I'm under Area 20 located in Manchester.

      What this enables people to do is reboot their modems if they are local to me because if mines working then so should theirs. (usually, depending on the fault)

      Please think about that when you want to post your amazingly good news.

      You can go back to cats and pron now.

  16. sorry, what?

    Maybe I've just been really lucky, but...

    I have experienced just one day where I had no internet access over the last 18 years of being an NTL/Virgin customer. With some approximation, that gives me a value of 99.985% availability over that time, which seems pretty reasonable to me.

    1. BA

      Re: Maybe I've just been really lucky, but...

      I've had the same experience.

      The only time the service was down for any noticeable time was when the network suffered from Fiestaitis (could have been Corsaitis) but after it hit and ripped the green cabinet from the ground and bounced off a wall it was hard to tell.

      Even then the service was up again 12 hours later.

    2. Primus Secundus Tertius

      Re: Maybe I've just been really lucky, but...

      Not my experience. They struggle to hit two-nines reliability.

    3. GruntyMcPugh

      Re: Maybe I've just been really lucky, but...

      Same, I worked from home for the best part of a decade, I think I had one day out in that time. More reliable than the train journey I used to make to the Office : -)

    4. NonSSL-Login
      Thumb Down

      Re: Maybe I've just been really lucky, but...

      While I had about 98% uptime/internet connection with Virgin over many years, 50% of the time it had packetloss, horrible jitter and slow speeds.

      99% uptime sounds good but when you can't game or stream things due to congestion on the line and all the related problems, the uptime stat becomes a bit meaningless. Give me 95% uptime and a clean non-congested connection over a 99% uptime congested all over the place shit one.

      After so many years of fibre problems, Virgin couldn't pay me to go with them now. Every FTTC service I have had since has been flawless. The network topology virgin uses, DOCSIS, was just bad for congestion but they can probably hide the flaws better with the higher speeds and more stream connections they use now.

  17. Tom Paine

    Nice story

    I like it when El Reg picks up on increased background levels of DownForEveryoneOrJustMe type complaints like this.

    I have no TV or Broadband in the TW15 area, do you have an update on this ?

    I've never had cable anything. Do they deliberately make it so that you can't just press a button and failover to ye olde stream-powered broadcast TV? Or is it a case of "why it's easy, press this button out of 75 on your remote control., navigate through to this menu, press "OK" three times, then press "Override", then stand on one leg and recite that thing about coffee from Dune, backwards" complexity and terrible UI design? I helped an elderly retired friend from the pub install a fancy all-singing and dancing curved screen monster last year and between the BT STB, the Freeview, the damn thing's own UI, and the confusion caused by not really knowing which device's UI it was actually showing you,.. well, I got it working in the end, but it was a lot more faffing about that anticipated.

    Personally I'm one of those smug bastards who hasn't got a telly and only ever watches the odd programme, usually a bit of news but more recently the fantastic THIS COUNTRY, off the iPlayer.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Nice story

      "I've never had cable anything. Do they deliberately make it so that you can't just press a button and failover to ye olde stream-powered broadcast TV?"

      That's entirely up to the customer to have some alternate TV source such an an aerial and to know how to switch their TV from one source to another. I'm not sure how a cableco can make it difficult for the customer.

  18. Graham Triggs

    If there was any kind of proper FTTP competition for Virgin, I would have left them a long time ago.

    Over two years, and they've still done nothing about a fault ticket in my area, as well as continually postponing upgrades (whilst still happily charging existing customers top £££s for a lower service).

  19. Chris 125

    Just get out. Leave. Go elsewhere.

    I've had spotty Virgin (no, not that type of Spotty Virgin) for weeks now. Seems to be several upgrades going wrong combined with duff equipment judging by the different stories I get told when I phone in to remind them I'm due compensation.

    However - they've recently increased their prices.

    Under their terms, you're allowed to leave your contract if they put their prices up. I know there's little competition, but if you have just started an 18 month contract and found them to be shite, NOW'S YOUR CHANCE. You've got until September 30th to shift.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Go where exactly? To some other supplier of 250 Mbps broadband?

  20. drdr6

    Outage or DNS ?

    Is it a full-on outage, or "just" someone DDoSing their DNS servers ? (i.e. if you manually use someone else's DNS can you get service back) ?

    DNS performance (or lack of it) seems to be growing as a source of problems and poor browsing experience, particularly as websites load themselves up with advertising, trackers, social media links etc.

    1. Anne-Lise Pasch

      Re: Outage or DNS ?

      Full on outage. I use Verisign and Google open DNS and my Virgin service is like a jack in the box. Luckily I have a backup.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Project Lightning

    Lightens my wallet

  22. Salestard

    Capri Ghia, Rodders

    The VM network is old. In fact, at a core fibre level, some of it would be contemporary of a Capri Ghia - Mk3, with the tasteful beige/brown interior.

    VM (ntl:) was, is, and remains a collection of mid 80s cable companies, smashed together with bits of CWC (itself a mess of old cable companies), then merged inexactly with Telewest, who were - wait for it - an assorted pick n mix of old cable companies.

    Underneath the Usain Bolt, Beardy Balloon Crasher, slightly tryhard public facing surface, there lurks a thing called MetNet. MetNet was, in my day, actually pretty capable - although made up of shonky beta Alcatels and prone to doing funny things to itself during the network change window on a Tuesday night.

    During the period 2007 up to Liberty Global, Business and Networks were "run for cash". No money in, sweat the asset, let some other poor sap deal with it. Great plan, as long as it doesn't coincide with a prolonged period of commoditisation in both consumer and business sectors, the effective ending of voice revenues, and ludicrous increases in consumer data (iPlayer, for example, chews core bandwidth).

    Then we get to the big, smelly, clumsy elephant in the comms room; the age of the fibre. You need to run increasing dense muxing on the core, but your fibre spec won't support the latest lasers. Time to rip and replace - except that it is rather expensive to do over any significant distance on a deepsunk core that's been sterile for two to three decades, assuming the duct hasn't collapsed or subsided.

    Having worked for them, and having seen the literal wiring under the boards, it's a testament to the longevity of some of the designs and people at what was ntl: Networks that any of it works at all.

  23. Patrician

    Been with VM since Telewest days; not been a perfect relationship admittedly as they do seem to run their network pretty sweaty and are very slow to fix over subscription issues (twelve months to fix in my area when a 200Mbps connection would drop to 30Mbps between 17:00 and 00:00). But would so much rather deal with VM support than BT or Talk, Talk for instance; I have to do both as a part of my job and they're both far, far worse.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    23 fupping days

    23 fupping days I recently had no broadband from VM, because some knobbage broke my cable at the street cabinet. Many phone calls and tweets later, and I got refunded for those 23 days, but no compensation for them being the largest shower of bastards in the universe.

    1. Mark 110

      Re: 23 fupping days

      They probably didn't think it worth fixing until the kids went back to school and wouldn't just vandalise the cabinet again as soon as the van drove off. Just go and shoot all the children - won't happen again :-)

  25. Lee D Silver badge

    Never normally have a problem, but last night it glitched several times (for a few tens of seconds each time, which tells you how good it is normally, that I notice). No doubt it would show up on my SamKnows box that does the connection monitoring.

    It smelled of someone pushing new configs or similar, because all of a sudden the routes wouldn't pass traffic, but the modem was synced and everything else was okay. Then it would come back just after everything decided it was time to time out, but it wasn't a resync/reconnect.

    Went on into the night as I was trying to watch a movie (which I managed, but I had a couple of 30-second-spins while it tried to pick up the stream again).

    Something definitely happened because I don't have those kinds of problems normally.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Indeed. Up to 40% packet loss (from 0%) over at least two periods last night, according to my SamKnows analytics, and not just little blips.

      1. Salestard

        If it's in the core, the MetNet boxes I mentioned earlier are probably doing a thing internally called 'flapping'. Although I thought they'd ditched this 'feature'.

        Essentially the broadband traffic is hauled about the country on MetNet to the international handoffs. Due to basic geography, it'll pass through London Docklands, Birmingham Smallheath, and Manchester MetNet nodes (depending on where you are) before hitting Telia to leave the country.

        Any given path between points is fixed, unless congestion occurs (for whatever reason). At that point, the Alcatels decide on a new path and the circuit flicks over, dropping everything in the process. Once the congestion eases off, the circuit flaps back, dropping all the packets as it goes.

        This is theoretically fine until your network is approaching capacity, when the flapping can have a culmulative ripple effect, sometimes perpetually, as everything starts doing it, often in response. Packet abandonment ahoy. Doubly so at the three natural pinchpoints on the network.

        If you traceroute when it next happens, I'd wager a virtual pint on it being Manc or Smallheath discarding packets.

        If you're dropping between your hub and the local headend, that's just unexplained voodoo, please to be resetting your superhub Mr Lee, thank you for calling Wurgen Media, goodbye. (In truth, I can't remember what causes the local switch to turn Marvin, so here's some casual stereotyping about offshore support to keep you amused until someone comes along who does)

  26. vogon00

    Nice ASCII art at the end....

    ...of the article!

    Not living in a Virgin service area (thank $DEITY ?) one is 'meah' about Virgin and their network....but the class ASCII art is another thing. Nice to see some again:-)

    Now, where did I put that old fan-fold-and-sprocket-holed paper for the noisy old line printer!

  27. sikejsudjek

    Well there's nowt here in GL2 this morning.

  28. andy gibson

    Kodi users reporting?

    I wonder how many people who logged issues were incompetent Kodi users? There's a few FB support pages where users have posted "Kodi doesn't work, my internet must be down" when in reality its just a few streaming sources (usually football) which have been blocked and they've not bothered to check anything else.

  29. deconstructionist

    it is constant

    I have already make an ofcom complaint, this has been going on for ages if you check their routing during these issues which they say are "non issues" every time there is big issue which seem to be every other week looking at the connection they have on mainland Europe it regularly get switched to T2 providers or even lower with pythonesque routing.

    Then Hub sites start falling over ...odd that

  30. Mad Jack

    So the VM Spokespersons Email must have been HACKED by ROPEMAKER?

    No outage, huh. I would say in common with several others that the service is mostly OK, but they seem to have taken to regularly describing planned work as "faults", presumably so they don't have to post any warning about outages!

    Also if you call a CS agent or (quicker) get someone on chat it's pure pot luck what mileage you get. Some of them make stuff up to tell you IME.

  31. OliP

    Touch wood i live in a fairly under-subscribed area of South East London - so get the speed i pay for, but i have friends who regularly have issues.

    In my experience its usually the box falling over due to a bad firmware upgrade but i only use the superhub as a modem.

    a friend who has just moved out of london has been waiting 6 months for virgin to dig up 7ft of road to install his line - the excuses are amazing. each time the council has turned up to oversea the digging up of the road - which never seems to happen. When it finally got dug up and another engineer sent days later to do the install - it failed with the comment "no cable". good works guys.

  32. ZippedyDooDah

    What is this "Virgin" that people speak of?

    Has it never been had?



    1. drewley

      I'll just leave this here.

  33. MechaNikos

    Now unusable

    It's now become so bad, it's practically unusable.

    Daily cut-offs started back in May, around 10:30 and through to 11:30 in my area (21).

    It's now constant. Day or night.

  34. barny123

    I live in rented property and virgim busisness internet is provided by the landlord which makes geting any problems with virgin internet almost imposible AS WE ARE NOT ALLOWD TO KNOW THE LANDLORDS PASSWORD for some time we have been suffering intermittent access to the internet and rapid change in connection speed from zero to 130 mbs all the modem lights show as normal. This is in Leicester LE3 0DW

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