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Virgin Media Failing to Fix Peak Time Broadband Latency and Peering Woes

Saturday, November 17th, 2012 (2:11 am) - Score 3,133

Cable ISP Virgin Media UK has so far failed to completely resolve its broadband peering problems, which re-emerged over a week ago and has left many customers to suffer from high latency (bad for multiplayer games) and video buffering problems during peak times.

The situation, which has resulted in numerous lengthy topics on the ISPs support forum (examples here, here and here), was originally caused when Atrato began pushing “abnormal amounts of traffic” through Virgin’s public peering links at LINX (London Internet Exchange) in October (here); this overloaded them and caused a spate of slow speeds and high latency (ping) woes.

Similar problems have also occurred at different times throughout the year and for some reason Virgin Media appears unable to keep a lid on them. Admittedly other ISPs, such as BT and O2 (BE Broadband), have also been hit by nearly identical problems during 2012 but seemingly none so frequent as Virgin.

Mark Wilkin, Virgin’s Help and Support Forum Manager, said (13th Nov):

As a result of an issue with a third party peering network, some of you have been having trouble with intermittent buffering when trying to stream video from some sites, even though your general broadband speed was unaffected. Towards the end of last week we began rerouting traffic on certain peering links and we’ve seen that have a positive impact. We’re continuing to work with them and expect further improvement this week.

Beyond that, we’re working on further improvements to minimise the effect that the degradation of any particular peering link has on this sort of traffic. We’re also working on a similar issue with YouTube (F002222178) with Google.”

Some customers have experienced an improvement with Virgin’s most recent tweaks, although experiences vary and many are continuing to report problems. The ISP will need to be careful as the past couple of months have been filled with bad publicity about banned advertisements and service performance woes like this one.

Consumers will typically endure only so much before a persistent problem causes them to jump ship, which will become more viable as rival FTTC services extend their reach. On top of that video gamers and youtube fans tend to be some of the most engaged and vocal when problems crop up.

As a side note it’s not known which of the ISPs peering providers is to blame for this latest spate of problems.

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