Virgin Media customers continue experiencing broadband issues

26 May 2017   By Samantha Smith

VIRGIN Media customers are still reportedly experiencing peak time slowdowns in their broadband speeds, almost two weeks after they first reported issues with their service.

virgin media shop sign
Credit: Jevanto Productions/

The issues first came to light when a number of Virgin customers turned to Twitter to vent their frustrations with the service they were receiving, yet tests conducted by Thinkbroadband have revealed that some are still experiencing latency problems.

However, Virgin Media have stated that this issue is affecting less than 1% of their customers, and that it's equivalent to a loss of only 0.98% of their network's capacity.

And while it might be argued that it points to a Virgin Media reliability problem, there's a suggestion that the issues stem from peering difficulties between Virgin's network and the London Internet Exchange (LINX).

Not related to the NHS cyberattack

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On Friday May 12th, it was reported in various news outlets that Virgin Media customers were having trouble with drops in speed or complete outages. One perplexed customer wrote:

And with similar problems being reported London, Leicester, Nottingham, Bristol, Manchester and Leeds, there was unfounded speculation that the issues had something to do with the worldwide cyberattack that also hit the NHS:

Yet while mainstream media interest in the problems soon died down, they nonetheless continued for various customers, with complaints being made via Twitter up until at least May 17th.


Specifically, customers were experiencing issues with high latency, meaning that it was taking longer than usual for data to travel to and from their devices and the server they were using.

High latency causes particular problems for online gamers and those who use video chat services such as Skype, causing them to suffer lag.

Yet as the tweet above makes clear, speeds were also affected, and it now seems that they've continued to be affected more than a week later.

Once again, this is evident via the continued presence of customers griping on Twitter, yet it also emerged via tests conducted by Thinkbroadband.

Fortunately, the latency issues don't appear to be so extensive now, yet the tests revealed an inconsistent level of variation in latency and speeds, suggesting that a small minority of customers are still having a hard time almost two weeks after problems were first encountered.


However, while the persistence of these issues - as well as the fact that Virgin Media experienced outages in December and January - might suggest that Virgin can be an unreliable broadband provider at times, it's worth noting that the recent hiccups seem not to be entirely their fault.

That's because it now appears that the recent issue is to a large extent a peering one affecting Virgin Media's network and LINX, the London Internet Exchange.

For those who aren't aware, LINX are an association of the UK's internet service providers (ISPs). Together, they agree to "peer" their individual networks, meaning that they exchange data and user traffic, so as to avoid having to pay additional costs whenever they might need additional bandwidth.

According to Virgin Media, they're currently having a difficulty in peering (i.e. interconnecting) with the wider LINX network, which would explain why they're experiencing capacity and latency issues.

As they explained, the problem was "caused by a link failure resulting in the loss of around 0.98% of Virgin Media's broadband capacity. This will affect these customers at peak times (after 6pm)."

Such a link failure was also what was suggested by certain forum users, who have claimed that lag issues disappear when using a virtual private network (VPN), which circumvents LINX.

And neither it wouldn't be the first time that an ISP's customers have suffered outages as a result of peering difficulties.

For example, in July 2016, BT customers experienced continued headaches loading webpages and accessing the internet, with a spokesperson for Openreach eventually stating that the problem was "due to power issues at one of our internet peering partners' sites in London".

And then there are non-LINX related outages and mishaps that ISPs can suffer, with Plusnet's in September 2015 being a notable example, not to mention TalkTalk's infamous hack from the same year.

Customer satisfaction

Given the peering explanation for the recent episode, it becomes apparent that Virgin Media aren't entirely at fault, despite what may have been insinuated in media reports.

And while this latest issue and past outages might imply that they aren't very reliable, it should be stated that Ofcom's customer satisfaction data tells a different story.

For instance, in Ofcom's recent Service Quality Report, 91% of Virgin Media customers reported being satisfied with the service they received, compared to only 84% of BT customers and 83% of TalkTalk customers.

This just goes to show that, even if a news story might suggest the worst, it's worth investigating the bigger picture before coming to any conclusions.

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