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Virgin Media breaks gaming for its ADSL users
Monday 03 December 2007 15:45:07 by Andrew Ferguson

Virgin Media Off-net customers have not had the best experience of late, with some customers complaining of slow speeds for months. Now things have got worse with what looks to be a blocking of online gaming. Our Virgin Media ADSL forum section has plenty of people posting about the problem.

It is thought that some recent adjustments to the traffic management system are to blame, whether this is a mistake or part of planned changes to manage what appears to be limited capacity at present is unclear at this time.

Virgin Media has a fairly extensive fair use policy for its ADSL customers so to see the widespread problems we see now is even more surprising.

Monitoring traffic:
Well each week we’ll monitor how much data our broadband customers download during peak times only. We measure this in kilobytes (KB). Peak times run from 4pm till midnight. We then add up the total amount of data downloaded over the week per customer. We then rank the list of customers, heaviest users first. From this list, we pick out the top 5% of heaviest users over the week. We reserve the right to traffic manage these customers during peak times. Traffic management lasts for just 1 week and is only applied during peak times (4pm till midnight).

Traffic Management:
For the small number of customers who are in the top 5% of heaviest users, our traffic management solution will temporarily set download speeds to no lower than 512Kbit/s. This limit is applied daily, 4pm until midnight, for 1 week.

During off-peak periods our traffic management solution will automatically reset download speeds back to their full speed.

Each week we review our top 5% heaviest peak-time users over the previous 7 days. We then update the refreshed customer list to our servers for traffic shaping.

Extract from Virgin Media Off-net traffic management document

Interestingly it says that download speeds will be set to no lower than 512 Kilobits per second, which leaves customers getting below this speed wondering what is going on. In theory 0.5Mbps should be plenty for online gaming, so it seems unlikely the current complaints are all down to people who have been in the top 5% of users for a week.

We have contacted Virgin Media so that they can respond to this news item and hopefully have some good news for customers.


Posted by mcbazza over 9 years ago
Branson letting me off my £50 'exit fee' - that's the only good news I want from VM.
Posted by Futaura over 9 years ago
This article is a little inaccurate. The policies quoted are nothing new. What Virgin ADSL users are so angry about now is that they to be traffic shaping and port blocking every single user during peak times (as of a week or so ago).

It's not just gaming that is affected - many applications apart from web browsing and e-mail have been adversely affected. Including access to CVS repositories, the thinkbroadband speedtest and basically any other protocol not so common as http, ftp, etc. Their news server appears to be throttled to 0.5Mbps during peak times also.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
In simple terms Virgin Media are a scumbag company which is a victim of its own success, too much money on glossy ads, not enough money on infrastructure to meet the demand... I wont even mention their day dream of 50Mb, any life form with more brains than a moth knows that is never gonna happen.
Posted by bowtiejim over 9 years ago
Since using Virgin I've seen line speeds during the evening of down to 112kb down and 70kb up. The best speeds I've seen are 1.6mb down and 400kb up.
I've haven't seen any report about it over here, but an Australian Asian has formulated an algorithm which supposedly gets round the interference problem and permits the line to operate at max speed all the time.
Posted by jcym over 9 years ago
bowetiejim, unfortunately that won't help you and it was mentioned on here a while back in a news item IIRC. What you are talking about is an algorithm that enables an ADSL line to theoretically, IIRC, reach up to 200Mbps a second, i.e. using clever maths to eliminate or minimise the problems caused by interference such as crosstalk. However, you still need the capacity/bandwidth in the first place to be able to handle that and VM's very problem is a dire lack of capacity at peak time, not interference.
Posted by mcbazza over 9 years ago
Virgin Media's main problem is that they haven't invested in their BT Centrals, in line with growth in userbase.

At a rough guess, the reasons they don't want to invest in the centrals are:-
1. There are so many of them. VM doesn't have one POP, they have many throughout the UK. Each with its own centrals.
2. They are heavily debt ridden. So, by 'managing the situation' they save little money.
3. A deal was done earlier this year (Easter?) with C&W to utilise their extensive network and LLU rollout (which C&W own after buying it off Bulldog) to migrate users. Still waiting.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 9 years ago
The traffic management was mentioned as if a provider has this and still hitting problems where apps are not working it suggests serious traffic capacity issues.

i.e. the limit top 5% should normally mean everyone else is working fine. Or alternately someone got their maths wrong and there is lots of capacity spare but traffic management systems are limiting everyone.

The latter is not too far fetched BT Openworld did this many moons ago.
Posted by poshmoggy over 9 years ago
The most frustrating thing about all of this is being kept in the dark.

Virgin have now put up a service status message which provides only minimal detail about the issue and gives an open-ended fix date (one of their technical support staff told me it will be fixed "by the middle of next year"). If they were just to come clean and say what the real problem is, give a clear outline of what they are doing to fix it, and a realistic estimate of when 'normal service' will be resumed, then customers might have more respect.

Honesty is not the best policy as far as Virgin Media is concerned.
Posted by chrysalis over 9 years ago
VM cable (not dsl) issues may be solved next year the apparent need for their traffic management is because the old eurodocsis 1.1 they using but they moving to docsis 3 next year which will massively ease that point of contention. Various people who work for VM have also confirmed this.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
LOL ill bel;ieve it when i see it chysalis, you never saw as many complaints about telewest when they were running things as you see about virgin media, even if it is the infrastructure and they fix that i bet they still keep the traffic managing and the premium rate support so if even next year they can offer me the full 50Mb for a few hours a day they can still shove it where the sun rarely shines ;)
Posted by chrysalis over 9 years ago
they have to they got no choice, they can offer a poor 20mbit on docsis1.1 but docsis1.1 in some cases cannot do 50meg full stop so now they have no choice but to upgrade to newer ubr technology.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
You will get better odds of finding Elvis alive on the moon than you will virgin providing a solid 50Mb (even if you live next to their street box). Upgrade or not Virgin are screwed, they simply have too many customers and cant meet the demand, if they had spent less on aquiring other companys and glossy ads the service may have been what they trick you into thinking it is. As it is though its cack and will probably remain cack throttles, extra charges for non direct debit payments and premium rate support, id sooner burn my cash and atleast remain warm this winter lol
Posted by mcbazza over 9 years ago
With Branson's rockets, they have a better chance of getting to the moon to check for him, than they do of delivering a good internet provision!
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote"With Branson's rockets..."
LMAO good point i forgot wasnt he involved in some X-Prize space thing for the launch of the first reusable craft making 2 journeys in a week or something like that? LOL maybe they saw Elvis on their travels and are gonna promise a concert from him along with their 50Mb LOL. Honestly fingers and pies doesnt even come close to describing virgin nowadays.
Posted by mcbazza over 9 years ago

Master of none.
That's Branson.
Posted by cinnamongirl over 9 years ago
My year's contract with Virgin has now expired, I changed ISP immediately!
Posted by Robmonster over 9 years ago
He does make delicious pickle though...
Posted by trollslayer3 over 9 years ago
I'm just so glad I signed up when there was a 30 day guarantee. I'm pleased to say they honoured it and I'm now with a proper ISP.
Posted by herbertmunch over 9 years ago
I signed up with virgin media.
I canceled 2 days after 'service' was provided.

STAY AWAY FROM VIRGIN AT ALL COSTS! I would rather extract my teeth by banging my head against a filthy great british urinal,than spend another moment with VM.

I payed for 8mb, i got 0.5mb! what a joke. Even pipex(shudder), who i had the misfortune to be with for 12 months, could provide 6mb to my property.
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