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Virgin Media shows that connection speed is just part of the equation
Wednesday 30 May 2012 11:17:20 by Andrew Ferguson

Virgin Media entered into an agreement with Spotify in 2011 that meant Virgin Media customers got special deals to access some time ago, but it appears that the streamed music service has been running less than smoothly for consumers, with tracks playing for a few seconds and then stalling, and playing again.

The Register has quotes from several Virgin Media customers, and comments from Virgin Media, who seek to reassure customers that the poor performance of Spotify on their network was not down to its traffic management policy. Alas the real reason is more fundamental, and appears to be due to a lack of capacity on some peering links at peak times.

"Virgin Media has been investigating a problem some customers have had with streaming music from Spotify during busier times of the day...

We have identified a recent issue with congestion between the Virgin Media network and Spotify's data centre which can occur intermittently during peak times.

Following some routing configuration changes, this congestion should now be alleviated; however further analysis is being conducted and additional routing changes or capacity upgrades will be implemented as needed to avoid re-occurrence of this issue as the popularity of the service grows. We apologise for any inconvenience."

Virgin Media statement

What is most worrying is that these peering links should have been monitored, and the congestion noticed previously, suggesting perhaps there is a policy of running their peering links close to full or full at times. The end result of this is that customers would be able to get full speed to any test located on the Virgin Media network, but those on external links may or may not have been affected depending on which route the data entered or left the Virgin Media network on.

As access speeds increase between consumers homes and the providers network, this traditional bottleneck is vanishing, and the important of peering increases, along with the ability to cache popular content on a providers own network.


Posted by Firefalcon over 5 years ago
Whats most worrying about peering links and congestion with spotify? Screw spotify, people have long long been reporting issues with gaming especially streaming services like onlive. On top of this they sit there sponsoring console tournaments.

They put so much emphasis on speed, but its all smoke and mirrors if you really care and want to use it for a specific purposes.

Posted by Apilar over 5 years ago
Not just Spotify, OVH also (one of the biggest hosts in Europe).
Posted by LT38 over 5 years ago
amazing how VM start blaming spotify for there over ustilised lines as per usual not a chance of them admiting they cant provide the speed needed to run spotify or you tube or iplayer, netflix,lovefilm or anything else that requires streaming
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Just add it to the list of other complaints about congestion and high pings, high jitter latency in the network

Like you say Firefalcon, big bold ad's lots of fireworks and whizz bangs but it does seem that behind the last mile high speed access is an over utilised unkept core, always chasing higher access speeds but no emphasis on making sure they can actually move data from A to B
Posted by Joppy over 5 years ago
VM is like the M25 motorway, should be fast but too much congestion and collisions.
Posted by KarlAustin over 5 years ago
This is nothing new with Virgin, they are well known for running their network "hot".
Posted by JonasT over 5 years ago
Agreed, VM cant provide a service capable of streaming online video without buffering, and im on 100 Mbits. Gaming has become acceptable but still not good.
Posted by tazz_uk over 5 years ago
Going by the forum it seems its not just the peering links that run at 100% before they look at it... It seems the whole network does...
Posted by qasdfdsaq over 5 years ago
What KarlAustin said.

People in the know have known this for years.

Course Spotify is a special case, a specific commercial partnership with direct links between both parties and no intermediaries to blame.
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
But, they don't mind all the hundreds of ugly parking ticket dispensers they have dotted around the borough!
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
wrong thread muppetry on my part
Posted by Leaside over 5 years ago
Spotify is only one example-- I'm a heavy user of BBCi, and end up having to download everything I want to watch, as otherwise there are frequent buffering pauses- particularly on HD content.(and this is on a "so called" 30+ mB connection!
Posted by JonasT over 5 years ago
i get the same buffering on a 100Meg connection, BBC streaming test shows 3 results 10 Mbits 1.5 Mibts and 3.6 Mbits Yet speed tests report 106 Mbits. all in all they are dire for streaming
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
Which speedtests report 106 Mbps? It may be that some are routed out over the less congested links, or algorithms works to give good results even when congestion exists.
Posted by otester over 5 years ago
This is why I'd rather have a 5Mbps DSL connection over 100Mb VM.

When speaking to my mate whoes on VM 30Mbps on MSN, as he gets packet loss some of the messages don't get through and I don't find out until he asks why I haven't replied.
Posted by afenemer over 5 years ago
im supposed to be 100meg?on a good day might be getting 30 meg.this has been going on for the last six months getting fed up with the promises to fix the problem.vm get your act together.
Posted by bazbuilder over 5 years ago
Virgin Media? what a joke!! A big legal bunch of bigots... They give you up you 120mb d/l speed, crappy 10% upload speed, unlimited usage hooray, some might say.. BUT what they don`t tell you is... YOU CAN`T USE IT (detremental use of broadband) I was told last year"you are not allowed to d/l between 9am & 9pm" This year told "you are not allowed to d/l between "midday & midnight" WTF are we paying for?????
I`ve been advised to take these issues to the ombudsman. All I ask, "is it worth it???"
Posted by Mr_Fluffy over 5 years ago
Like many folk we have had a cable junction point outside our house for a decade or two now, ever since the days of "NTL Hell" and we keep having Virgin Media shovelling processed forests through our letter box.

Needless to say, it has not been hard to resist their blandishments knowing what their actual performance is like from neighbours foolish enough to give in. Our decision was made even more obvious by Be enabling our exchange, giving us a low latency, negligible contention, and apparently truly unlimited service which we have never regretted taking up.
Posted by scootie over 5 years ago
shame there servicing such a big debt, do you think they would of gone full fiber if they had the wonga.

i get the bandwidth 60mb an 2.8mb 24/7 not the same for jitter, an avg ping, but ok on packet loss. Switching upstream channels its clear to see where the jitter bug hides. Why wont they lower the upstream capacity fault thresholds? and keep the gamers as happy as they can be on docsis tech
Posted by Firefalcon over 5 years ago

See, called it, go visit the virgin media forums and there are a ton of people complaining about xbox live, lag, poor connection, poor performance, etc. Stupid.
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