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UPDATE Virgin Media DNS Fail – 3 Weeks of Woe for League of Legends Gamers

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 (8:22 am) - Score 9,122
league_of_legends

Customers of cable broadband ISP Virgin Media, specifically those who play a popular online multiplayer PC game by Riot called League of Legends (LoL), have been struggling to connect to their favourite pastime for approximately three weeks due to a problem with the operators now notoriously flaky Domain Name Servers (DNS).

The Domain Name Servers (DNS) are a vital component of Internet connectivity and ISPs typically use them to covert IP addresses (e.g. 123.45.53.89 – IPv4) into human readable form / domain names (e.g. example.co.uk) and back again. But sometimes bad peering / routing and or administrative errors can result in such DNS servers failing to work correctly and hampering connectivity to online services.

The problem for LoL players appeared to start during early January 2015 and have now persisted for almost three long weeks. According to some sporadic updates by Virgin Media’s community support staff and customers, the issue began after Riot made changes to their DNS servers and Virgin updated accordingly, along with all the other ISPs.

During the above process something went wrong and Virgin’s 3rd party Content Delivery Network (CDN) provider, which has not been named, now seems to have blocked the ISP from being able to update their related DNS records (this can sometimes happen if an ISP makes an incorrect change and thus poisons the DNS table, but there may be another reason).

Never the less Virgin Media’s support staff now appear to be equally frustrated with the situation. “We have done everything our end and are continuing to do everything we can to fix this. We aren’t the ones dragging our feet,” said one of Virgin Media’s Forum Team members, John_G (here). The last update was posted yesterday (copied below).

Virgin Media Forum Team Update

Sorry for the lack of update for the last two days. I don’t have much more I can reveal to you (which is grinding my gears). In short, you’re still going to see the same issue from your end which as Genzzry points out so eloquently is that our DNS servers aren’t resolving.

At our side there’s a good reason why this has not been fixed yet due to a 3rd party. Not us and not Riot, though this is totally on our side of things to sort now. We’re in contact with Riot again this morning and they’re doing their best to help us get this sorted by any means possible.

I can post an ETA if you’d like but frankly this date will keep getting pushed back due to the delays, so I’m not going to make you any promises. The fix should take a matter of seconds but there are other factors playing havok.”

In the meantime some customers have been able to circumvent the problem by swapping the ISPs DNS servers to either OpenDNS (details) or Google’s Public DNS. In fact we often find it’s better to do this in general as the performance is usually a little bit better and some intentional filtering / hijacking systems imposed by ISPs may be similarly avoided in the process.

But swapping DNS servers, which is a lot easier to do than it sounds (i.e. it comes down to just changing or adding two numbers into a couple of boxes), may not work for everybody. For example, some people do not have admin rights to change the necessary details and others who do make the change have found that it introduces more lag (latency) into the game than if Virgin Media’s own servers were working.

As usual in these situations the 3rd party involved has a commercial relationship with Virgin Media and so for various legal / political reasons the ISP is being careful not to vent too much public fury in their direction by naming and shaming. Separately some believe that a similar issue may have caused last year’s similar connectivity woes (here).

UPDATE 22nd Jan 2015

We haven’t had an official response from Virgin Media yet, but their support staff suggest that the problem is now resolved. However customers report higher than usual latency and some connectivity problems with certain servers.

Elsewhere we note that some EE and Vodafone based Mobile Broadband subscribers are experiencing similar connectivity issues (here).

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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.
Leave a Comment
3 Responses
  1. Avatar Sanjiv

    Its not resolved and they are full of it. Same issues for years they never have had reliable latency.

  2. Avatar Virgin Media Unhappy costumer

    I paid 40£ for 120mbps but virgin media gave me 70mbps, lag spike and disconnectivity. Utterly fed up with virgin media. Made few complaints but they never seem to care.

  3. Avatar Simon

    This Dns problem is stil on, and virgin done nothing about. it’s not how u treat your customers, get this sorted!!!!!!!!!!!!

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