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UPD2 UK Virgin Media Broadband ISP Users Affected by Website Routing Woes

Saturday, May 26th, 2012 (7:03 am) - Score 11,079
virgin media uk

An unspecified number of Virgin Media’s broadband ISP customers are currently being affected by a seemingly sporadic Major Service Outage / routing issue (Fault Ref F002014417), which has caused difficulties when attempting to load certain websites.

The “routing” problem, which is similar to the difficulties that rival BE Broadband (O2) recently suffered (here), is understood to have started yesterday morning (Friday 25th May) and remains unresolved. To make matters worse it appears to affect different websites for different customers. Sadly Virgin Media’s front line support staff haven’t been much help, as can be seen from this selection of quotes (Virgin’s support forum).

Customer jcmm33 said:

Same issue here as well, been like this all day. Sites like autotrader.co.uk don’t appear to be accessible, others like the telegraph.co.uk are waiting on other components to download (content from sites like cg-global.maxymiser.com, pixel.quantserve.com).”

Customer Sigma said:

I’ve just got off the phone with Virgin Media. It was a complete waste of time calling.

The guy was insistent that it was a problem with my PC and he asked if he could have remote access. I gave it to him and showed him that sites worked when using the webcache.virginmedia.com proxy, but not without, but he didn’t seem to understand the implications of that as he kept saying “so your problem is slow internet then?“.

Customer muchacho added:

Be nice if someone from VM actually came on and said they know they have a problem.

The people in the call centre are extremely dumb and it’s like talking to a tree.”

Thankfully Virgin Media was eventually able to recognise the problem and issued some further information, including a temporary fix, although the primary issue remains unresolved.

Virgin Media Support Statement

We are currently experiencing Routing issues which may cause issues when accessing certain websites. This is currently being investigated by the relevant departments. In most cases this can be resolved by using the Virgin Media proxy. I have outlined the steps needed to set this up below. This is a temporary solution and can be removed once the fault has been fixed.

The proxy goes in your browser.

The proxy to use is : webcache.virginmedia.com

The port number is : 8080

How to set up proxy in Internet Explorer:

1.On the Tools menu in Internet Explorer, click Internet Options, click the Connections tab, and then click LAN Settings. Under Proxy server, click to select the Use a proxy server for your LAN check box.
2.In the Address box, type the IP address of the proxy server which is webcache.virginmedia.com
3.In the Port box, type 8080
4.You can click to select the Bypass proxy server for local addresses check box if you do not want the proxy server computer to be used when you connect to a computer on the local network.
5. Click OK to close the LAN Settings dialog box.
6. Click OK again to close the Internet Options dialog box.

How to set up proxy in Firefox

You can use the proxy add on for Firefox by following the link here.

Or to enable proxy settings in Firefox:

1.Select Tools -> Options. ( In some Firefox browsers you have to go to Edit>Preferences usually in LInux )
2.Select Advanced.
3.Open the Network tab.
4.In ‘Connections’ area click ‘Settings’ button.
5.Select Manual Proxy Configuration radio button.
6.In the HTTP Proxy field please insert webcache.virginmedia.com
7.In the Port field please insert 8080
8.Click ‘OK’

We are sorry for any inconvenience caused but we will endeavour to get this issue sorted as soon as possible.

Sadly Virgin Media said that they “do not have a current ETA for this to be fixed“. It’s known that the above solution doesn’t work for everybody, with some reporting that it actually made their problems worse.

UPDATE 27th May 2012

Several customers’ report that the problem has this morning been resolved, while others claim to still be suffering from problems or even that it has actually got worse. Virgin Media has yet to post an update.

UPDATE 28th May 2012

The problem now seems to be largely resolved, although customers still appear to be seeing a lot of intermittent packet loss / jitter issues (e.g. causing lag spikes in fast paced online multiplayer games). Speculation points to the situation being caused by some form of new or changed content filtering system (Traffic Management / Deep Packet Inspection).

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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37 Responses
  1. Virgin Media’s latest service status update states that the issue won’t be resolved until 7pm tonight (Saturday 26th May) – mind you, it had previously stated that it was to be resolved by 10.30pm last night!

    There’s also speculation on VM’s forums that this may not actually be a routing issue as customers are able to resolve domain names and “ping” sites, but just not get any content delivered, leading to some speculation that VM are “tampering” with or intercepting content!!

  2. Avatar Stanley

    Hi I noticed this yesterday.
    My solution was to edit /etc/hosts file
    adding the line

    0.0.0.0 cg-global.maxymiser.com

    It is rather annoying to have to do this.
    Solution should work for windows and linux.

  3. Stanley,
    I’m glad that solution worked for you, however, all it does is re-route requests for one specific site, namely “cg-global.maxymiser.com”, to a black hole – it has no affect on other currently inaccessible sites!

    • Avatar Stanley

      Sure it’s not just cg-global.maxymiser.com that’s causing the problem, you can add as many entries into /etc/hosts in the form 0.0.0.0 offending-server.
      This is starting to look like package inspection gone bad. Not a dns/routing issue.

  4. Avatar Suzanne

    So glad I found this site – I was told by VM today that “There’s a problem with the web as a whole and it’s not our responsibility.” And that was it, after waiting 28 minutes for them to answer my call in the first place!

  5. Avatar Steveo

    there is a solid way round it which is to use a vpn service which means you are looking at the web from somewhere other than a Virgin media line

    i have been using this http://hidemyass.com/vpn/

  6. UPDATE: VM’s service status page has again revised the estimated completion time for this issue – it’s been put back (AGAIN!) by 4 hours, and is now stating the problem will be fixed by 11pm tonight – well over 24 hours since the problem began!

  7. UPDATE 2: Their service status page has yet been updated, this time putting the new estimated completion time back a further 24 hours!! …it now gives the Estimated Completion time as 11pm on SUNDAY!!

    This is appalling for what VM class themselves as a MSO (Major Service Outage)

  8. Avatar Alan

    We reported the issue to VM business support early yesterday morning which is affecting our 4x100Mbps leased line circuits. We can reliably get things to work and break by changing our source IP address (by swapping them around within our IP ranges) to specific sites; so it appears to me that they are load balancing traffic through some devices, probably based on an algorithm that takes source and destination IP addresses into consideration, but which are unaffected by ICMP pings.

    I said to 3rd line (business) support this morning that I thought that this looked like something that was ‘transparent’ – perhaps the devices that they use to block access to The Pirate Bay; a traceroute to TPB shows correctly, but going there in a web browser redirects you to their ‘we’ve blocked access’ page, but only time will tell when they enlighten everyone as to what is causing this extended MSO.

  9. Avatar keerat

    Hi,
    Can someone help. My laptops are not even detecting my wifi. They are detecting other wifis perfectly fine. My router is switched on as well. Is it related to above mentioned problem.

    • Avatar Andrew Crawford

      No keerat that is issue with your rotuer or wifi card, without doign more diagnostic which i dnt have time to do sorry, it cant say for sure

    • Avatar Stanley

      No, If you have a superhub it is normal, the superhub is quite awful with regards to wi-fi. your signal is probably being swamped by near by stations. Try setting it to a fixed channel, that might help.

    • Avatar keerat

      Hi Stanley
      How can I convert it to fixed channel?

    • Avatar Stanley

      Hi, as you have asked I assume you are using a super hub. Go to wireless network setting on your super hub scroll down to the bottom of the page to ‘Wireless Channel Settings’ and check the radio button marked ‘Manually select wireless channel’ below that you can select the channel.
      This is the only way I am able to get reliable wi-fi out of my hub, I hope this works for you.

  10. Avatar Andrew Crawford

    Just had time to reply to this,

    Firstly virgin techincal support generally cant help because there forced to use a very crap script only handful of agents arent forced to use it, if the agent doesnt use it they can be sacked, and the script isnt great and wont cover this, also virign dnt have many agents who acutally have techincal knowledge to try work this type of issue out so that why they wont accept it straight away.

    Ive been running some test, not really had a problem myself but have few family memebr who have, there definetely is some form of DPI running i would even say it is some sort of ilegeal traffic detecter, personally i run througha vpn and when inspecting teh traffic it doesnt show up, basically the sites that are afffected when i run it through my inspector it is showing a redirect to strange ip then it tries to route back to the original desntion

    • Avatar Stanley

      Black helicopter alert!
      Show us! I don’t have the time, all I know is that pings and dns work with virgins dns all as expected. web pages do not?? what is cg-global.maxymiser.com? I think it is some kind of data scraping CRM. Why is it causing so much hassle? does the cg = common gateway? I wish I knew. So now you have all the clues, you go figure!

    • Avatar JP

      This comment is a bit insulting to VM’s technical support agents. They are not script based, and are not sacked for not using this non existent script – I suggest checking your facts before you throw around cheap accusations.

    • Avatar Andrew Crawford

      i know my facts 😉 and it is true they do use scripts and majority of agents are forced to use it

  11. Avatar Zyga

    From my conversation with NTL staff it sounds that the whole issue is related to VM’s “Big Brother” project to monitor the activity of VM broadband clients a lot tighter. My company is running 3 data centres across the country so we usually talks to the enterprise support. The issue have got something to do with the Virgin’s content filtering and blocking servers. Our tests shows that ICMP traffic as well as all NSLookup queries being resolved but but the packets monitor on our firewalls showing that the traffic being trapped by Virgin after successful handshake with web address. It seems that Virgin is preparing a nasty surprise in the near future for their users. So don’t be surprised if an access to P2P services and Torrent sites will be banned on VM shortly.

    • Thanks Zyga – that’s a really insightful post! ..and I fear you may be pretty spot on as to the underlying reason for this ongoing MSO 🙁 …it would also explain VM’s complete silence now on this matter over in their support forums!

  12. Avatar Another Affected

    Their support forums are one of the places I can’t get to, which is probably for the best as it would only serve to remind me of all the other problems with the service.

    Telewest Blueyonder used to be simply the best (long time ago now), which makes this spiral into oblivion that much worse. The traffic throttling (shaping) was BS to start with and a result of not investing in the capacity to back up all their advertising for new customers. Overselling themselves by lying and misleading. Redefining the word Unlimited until it has no meaning anymore.

    This Deep Packet Inspection is a thing they have been looking at so if any good comes from this it will wake a lot of people up to it and teach them ways to avoid it (VPN) or just mitigate it a bit https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere.

    Virgin Media as it’s called now (bad move selling that branding Branson) have a terribly expensive phone line/calls package, the broadband is bad value too with FREE SPEED DOUBLING that barely brings it back up to a par for the actual speeds people get on a day to day basis.

    The ‘churn rate’ as they call it must be going through the roof.

    • Avatar Andy Gilmore

      I have read all the posts with great interest. I lost all broadband speed last weekend. I’m connected to the exchange at 12mhz. I have been in the line to virgin everyday and every night. I even went or a purchased a new router. Every night the operatives, having taken control of my PC for up to two hours, running numerous tests and copying them confirm that it is not my end, but a virgin issues. The very next day they close the fault. The people on the phone won’t let me talk to the ‘Team 2’ department. I have tried everything. In the end I cancelled my contract today and have arranged a migration to BT. Hope fully they will get me of the crap cable and wireless equipment in the exchange, where I think e problem is and put me on BT equipment. BT happened to be cheaper.

  13. Avatar Rachj32

    IS anyone else still having issues ? I can’t get on half the sites i want and the proxy thing isn’t working for me. Apparently we had our speed ‘double’ last week (yeah right !) and now the web is fairly useless. Grrrr

  14. Avatar Brassed Off

    I have Virgins 60Mb service at home with SuperHub (Trades descriptions act as it should be called Supercrap). I had issues yesterday that ended in me having to phone Virgin, Please select from one of the following 17 options, now select one of the next 4, now one of the next 7 and now one of the next 4 – Now while you sit in a queue for 20 minutes please select your own music – Blimey, Classic pop, Classical or some other equally mundane crap. 20 minutes in I get this charming man from Bangawhore, Clearly not in the mood for a non techie customer who in fact was very technical but just couldn’t understand a darn word he was saying and having an attitude problem from the outset didn’t help either. No service issues at all on Saturday was his reply (REALLY) my iPad using a 3 account suggests otherwise looking at your own service status.

    So he remote connects, tinkers by removing all check boxes in Router including security, changes WiFi channell and some other bits before problem resolves itself ironically on some sites not others. Thanks mate your 1 rupee an hour quality of service does Virgin customers proud. Roll on my exchange upgrade so I can use Zen Internet again.

    Wish I’d never left them.

  15. Avatar Curious

    Funny how there’s been not one VM ‘lover’ on here bigging up the network. I wouldn’t be surprised if they started blaming BT for all these issues….

  16. Hello everyone,

    Has this issue been resolved? My very strong impression is that it has not. There is also a goodish chance that it has nothing to do with virgin and is actually a backbone ISP problem.

    I run a website as above, most of whose customers and subscribers are UK-based, and they’ve been struggling to access it on account of routing issues. A lot of virgin customers are affected, and their problems started last weekend. Interestingly though, even more BT customers are affected and my webhost company is convinced that I have a problem with backbone ISP routing, which, one would imagine, in the UK is handled by BT..

    I also have other UK customers affected who are connected through AOL and O2. This against suggests a wider problem in the backbone.

    I would be really appreciative of any update anyone can give me. It’s driving me to distraction that the service I provide is being thwarted by a process over which I have absolutely no control. I am not a BT or virgin customer myself so they will not talk to me, and they treat their customers as far as I can see like idiots, as above. It’s difficult to understand how you get these sorts of issues resolved, and of course my web host company has washed their hands of the whole problem, as it’s clearly a routing issue, as their site is visible through proxies, as above.

    Thanks Lucy

    • Hi Lucy,

      I’ve just spoke to Virgin Media this morning. I’m currently located in the Cardiff area which apparently is one of the areas which is being effected. Virgin Media claim they have a problem with one of their Servers which is currently being investigated as we speak. The Support Desk operative couldn’t be more specific, personally I think it’s routing/proxy related. They have a Maintenance window until the 7th June, they are also compensating customers off their next bill. I’ve been told just to sit tight and it will be resolved soon.
      I’ve used the PROXY settings which have helped, some of the larger websites are still taking a while to get there, but they do eventually.
      Hope this helps!!

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Virgin have their own backbone, why would you assume this is a BT problem?

  17. Avatar Radox

    Thanks for posting this. It’s amazing how hard it is to find stuff like this, when buried underneath older posts with their ‘solutions’. I think I’ll keep this site bookmarked.

  18. I have had very little internet connection (less than 0.35mps) since the start of May and since last Friday have had nothing at all. Now being told there is a national problem and they’re not sure when it will be up and running! However, a BT Engineer will contact me within 48 hours!! I was told this 3 weeks ago…….guess what – I’m still waiting! Over the last few weeks, I have been flannelled by VirginMedia and been told I’m the only one with this problem – first of all it was my filter, then my cables, then my laptop, my house phone, possibly my router or the wiring in my house!!! I’ve plugged in, unplugged, changed passwords, re-booted so many times and have lost count of the number of phone calls I’ve had to make!! So disappointed with the service and lack of interest from VirginMedia as a whole. I know the staff have a job to do, but come on guys try being honest with your customers instead of trying to flannel them. Meantime, I’m arranging to share my neighbour’s broadband connection! My next phone call will be to ask for my MAC Code – Goodbye VirginMedia.

    • Avatar Andy Gilmore

      Hi. See my post above. I have had the very same problem. I am based in London. They have remotely tinkered with my computer all week for hours, not appreciating that even with my main PC turned off, using this iPad wirelessly I still have no speed. The guys on the remote chat are good…..every night they conclude that it is lost packets and other problems at there end….the following day the big boss closes the job down saying nothing is wrong. I have voted with my feet. They wanted me to wait 14 days for my mac code. I shouted and screamed and got it In 10 minutes and have already arranged migration to BT which will be done next Friday.

  19. Avatar Phil

    It coming back again, same problem again! as it just started last night as I can’t access mny sites as it so slow!

  20. Avatar James

    I have been with virgin for six years. The first five years service has been faultless but this year has been poor. PLEASE VIRGIN sort it out quick or i will say bye as your broadband is the most expensive, so i expect the BEST.

  21. Avatar Amanda McCaig

    We’ve been unable to access 2 particular New Zealand websites for over a week. We can’t even access them from links on the New Zealand websites we can access. This is ridiculous. We’ve cleared and cleaned our system, and run every test, and nothing helps, so it looks like the problem is firmly in VM’s court.

    We’ve been customers since this service was Cable & Wireless, and have never had any real problems until Virgin took over. Not good enough.

  22. Avatar Henry

    I’ve been having poor/no broadband service from VM since early May. We changed the router, repositioned it in the master socket, all to no avail. Since then I must have called VM tech support >20 times, and it has been dealt with ‘by 2nd line support’ on at least two occasions. Finally one of the agents commented that in my area (SW Scotland) VM have been having serious problems at the interface with the national network since April. Their Service Status page doesn’t mention this, neither has any of the other agents I’ve spoken with. Menatime they’ve sent out Open Reach engineers twice who are not broadband trained, and they’ve checked out my voice line, which of course is fine. ALl this time they’ve been charging handsomely for the ‘service’. At times the download speed is so low, the BT speedchecker won’t even load, never mind register a reading.
    Are ISPs governed by any watchdog we can complain to such as OFCOM?
    I’ve given up calling them or responding to their insulting text messages. I’ll be switching to another ISP, after I receive my compensation.

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