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Virgin Media UK Fault Cuts Uploads to Nearly 0Mbps in Watford UPDATE2

Monday, May 11th, 2020 (12:05 pm) - Score 13,058
virgin_media_uk_street_cabinet_engineer_at_work

Broadband ISP Virgin Media UK is trying to fix an unusual fault that reduces upload speeds for some users in the Watford (WD18) area to just 0.07Mbps, while download speeds are unaffected. Customers have seen their access slow to a crawl and the struggle to contact the provider’s strained support team hasn’t helped.

The problem itself appears to have started on Thursday (7th May 2020) and we have continued to see sporadic reports today. According to one of those who complained to ISPreview: “Uploading has stopped working (tests show 0mbps!). Started since Thursday. I’m told VM estimate fix by 18th May!,” said VM customer Chris.

In reality uploads haven’t stopped working completely, but they have slowed right down into the often deep sub-1Mbps territory (reported speeds vary between 0.2Mbps and 0.07Mbps) and that will certainly be making for quite an unpleasant experience when using the internet (uploads may not play the same sort of role as downloads but they’re still vital and very slow speeds can have a big impact on response times).

A number of related topics about this issue can be found on Virgin’s Community Forum (here, here and here), all saying the same thing and complaining about being unable to reach Virgin Media’s support team. In fairness Virgin, much like other telecoms operators, is currently under significant workforce strain due to COVID-19 and this has had an impact on their support channels.

Sadly Virgin Media’s service status once again page fails to mention the fault (this has become quite a common gripe with VM of late), although those who requested a line test did receive the following message from the provider: “We have detected an issue that may be affecting your broadband. This issue is caused by interference on our network impacting multiple customers in your area.”

At the time of writing we’re still helping VM spot the issue and are awaiting an official comment. The problem itself is quite a rare one but “interference” (noise) is indeed one of the ways in which it can occur, which is more likely to occur when you have a combination of issues in a particular area (e.g. reduce capacity, extra use of DOCSIS contention etc.). However latency seems to be fairly stable. We will update again later.

UPDATE 12:28pm

Virgin Media has just this moment added a Service Status message for the issue, which includes a fix time of 6pm today.

VM’s Service Status Message

We know of an issue in your area that results in loss of service.

If you think you’ve experienced a loss of service, please register it as you may be eligible for bill credit if your service isn’t restored within two full working days following your registration.

You might find that these services are intermittent at the moment: Virgin Fibre, Interactive TV, Catch Up TV, TV On Demand TiVo® or V6 home menu. We are sorry and working hard to resolve this for you. … We have identified the problem and an engineer is on their way.

UPDATE 12th May 2020 @ 11:19am

The Service Status message has now shifted the fix time back to 6pm today rather than yesterday, but some customers are still separately being told that it may not be resolved until 18th May.

UPDATE 12th May 2020 @ 1:17pm

A spokesperson for Virgin Media told ISPreview.co.uk: “We’ve resolved an issue which was affecting upload speeds for some of our customers in the Watford area and we apologise for the inconvenience caused.”

Leave a Comment
36 Responses
  1. Avatar Billybob says:

    “Uploading has stopped working (tests show 0mbps!)”

    so how were they able to upload this comment ? 🙂

    anyway, slow / crap uploads on VM is like water in the sea…
    I get the impression VM are playing games in production they should be playing in QA especially with their every hour offline thing a little while back … i think their engineers are doing stuff on live equipment without testing.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Hence the third paragraph :).

  2. Avatar M says:

    Typical VM . Even when multiple people report the same problem they still do not care because their computers say everything is okay every time so they have the enjoyment of metaphorically calling the customer a liar by making them turn everything off and on and checking for viruses. Upload speed was never in VM’s vocabulary too. They still do not recognise how important having a good upload speed is. Hopefully DS 3.1 will help that a bit more. It is also convenient for them and — quite frankly — suspicious that the USO automatic refund system by OFCOM was stopped too because it is needed more than ever at a time like this.

    1. Avatar Stephen Wakeman says:

      Automatic compensation is not part of the USO – that basically applies to a minimum speed requirement.

      Automatic compensation is a voluntary scheme and Ofcom themselves have temporarily suspended it. You can view their rationale and statement on their official website.

      The compensation scheme is not designed to protect customers in times of worldwide pandemic or force majeure situations. It’s supposed to encourage customers to subscribe to those providers which show good will by signing up to that code of practice.

  3. Avatar joe says:

    Did we ever find out what happened last time with VM

    1. Avatar Stephen Wakeman says:

      I heard there wasn’t actually any problem and that it was just millions of customers needing to turn their Super Hub off and back on again.

    2. Avatar CarlT says:

      Can’t speak for anyone else but the royal we applies here.

    3. Avatar joe says:

      Phew. Glad you made the effort to say nothing Carl as thats so much harder than an answer…

    4. Avatar CarlT says:

      You’re welcome, Joe.

      I’ll reiterate a bit – the public have not been informed of the causes of the recent Europe-wide service outages on Liberty Global.

    5. Avatar joe says:

      Yes I know the ‘public’ haven’t been informed. But usually the industry grapevine leaks it out sooner or later. Personally I’d not heard anything but Vm is not my area I thought others might….

  4. Avatar Phil says:

    Sounds like some sort of radio interference then, could be faulty equipment in the network or customer home or external to Virgin’s network which could be tough to track down. These are the sorts of problems related to using copper cable and why we should be mandating FTTP all they way and Virgin need to work towards upgrading their old co-ax cable to FTTP in the same way Openreach is.

    1. Avatar Matt says:

      Indeed. Although Virgin have used RFOG for their new fibre deployment, the last few metres are the only bits operating with RF.

      I’d be interested to see how much of Virgin’s legacy (non-fibre) is being migrated to fibre. I suspect this doesn’t fall under project lightning.

    2. Avatar CarlT says:

      The coax can carry symmetrical 10 Gbit. There’s no urgent need to replace it, which is why it’s hardly happened anywhere in the world.

      Not that it wouldn’t be happening in small trials or looked at but it’s far from urgent compared with the restrictions on twisted pair.

    3. Avatar Phil says:

      @CarlT

      You miss the point of comments in my post, I didn’t mention speeds at all. Speed is only one aspect, reliability is another. Ageing copper distribution networks are going to need replacing sooner or later with fibre, just because it is co-ax doesn’t mean it is immune from the same sort of issues that plague ageing POTS.

      Are you using co-ax in your own internal network?

    4. Avatar CarlT says:

      I think you missed mine which was that there’s no business case there. It’s traditionally running out of bandwidth that forces upgrades to FTTP.

      There are things not involving spending 11 figures VM can do to improve network performance and reduce the frequency of these issues that’ll probably happen first.

      I’m not disagreeing with you that it’d be great just that it’s not going to be on the radar. Even if VM did replace the coaxial with fibre between every home and every nodal cabinet right now they’d still be at the mercy of RF ingress during the transition period.

      My internal home network does have something akin to coax in some of it, yes, I’ve some twinax.

      I also, however, have fibre, twisted pair copper and wireless. A multi-technology mix 🙂

  5. Avatar Karl says:

    Been having the same upload problem. Should be getting 35mb on the 350mb but I’m getting 10 to 17mb. That’s invyhe SE7 area.

    1. Avatar NE555 says:

      What you have sounds like perfectly normal VM congestion / oversubscription.

      Where users see upload speeds drop to near zero, this suggests extremely high packet loss in the outbound direction – which could indeed be RF interference, misbehaving headend, fractured cable etc.

    2. Avatar Karl says:

      But I don’t used it that much and it’s the first time it’s ever done this.

    3. Avatar Stephen Wakeman says:

      Karl – you don’t have to use your connection for it to be affected by network congestion and over subscription.

      In fact if that’s the problem then it’s cangby there being too many people trying to use the connection at once.

  6. Avatar JP says:

    Been a nightmare all weekend and been unable to run my online business. 1st download speeds then ok download and rubbish uploads. Would love an official statement ftom VM to assure customers of what the problem is and has it been resolved as we have customers too which rely on us to provide our online content. Guildford area GU4

  7. Avatar Branson Richards says:

    VM haters are out I see? Alwatys been consistently good for me. But people don’t like good news, do they.

    1. Avatar Stephen Wakeman says:

      Tantamount to saying Lefties are out attacking the Government at the moment.

      Credit where it’s due.
      Criticism where it’s due.

    2. Avatar Annoyed says:

      It was great for me for a year or so, but has been terrible the past two and a half weeks.
      So what’s your point?

  8. Avatar Ian Green says:

    Picture is distorting and sticking on BBC1 the banner come’s up that tells you what is on next i have complained about this numerous times and i can’t get through to your company are you at work please let me know if you can fix this

  9. Avatar Northampton Virgin Media says:

    We have the same problem with RF interference /noise in Northampton since a recent reseg that they are refusing to fix been ongoing since feb

  10. Avatar Dane says:

    Cars got faster the speed limit came down.
    Internet got faster, speeds came down.

  11. Avatar David R says:

    Glad to read this, to see that I’m not going mad and there really is a problem in WD18! As well as the upload speeds in ~70kbps I’ve seen, I’ve also found intermittent connections and loss. Pings to bbc.co.uk and google.co.uk show between 4 and 7% of loss.

    One of the contributors in a forum post wrote: “Virgin Media problems page states there is no known problems in the area, then I run a test and it says there are known problems which are affecting multiple customers.” That’s exactly what I’ve seen. Their support page makes it very difficult to find a phone number. Even then the phone number advises you to refer to the website, or then to not call unless it’s critical given COVID difficulties.

    When I rang up at around 3pm I heard the “ETA of 6pm fix” from the automated system, but still seeing poor upload and intermittent cut outs now.

    Appreciate these are difficult times; it’s just frustrating that this makes it difficult to work from home and there’s not much information out there to go on.

  12. Avatar Brigsy says:

    Upload has been in the 0.somethings since the 7th. Online help says no known issues. Phoneline says there is and the eta of 1800 has been replaced with “We are trying to fix it but its a bit tricky”

  13. Avatar CarlT says:

    These are often very painful to fix 🙁

  14. Avatar SymetricalAccess says:

    What is going on at virgin media. The new data harvesting equipment not working as intended?

  15. Avatar Mike says:

    Looks like the problem is fixed in WD18. I’m getting 37mb upload on a 35mb service.

  16. Avatar Karl Fish says:

    Got rid of vm 2 weeks ago. Worst company in Enland. While I was a customer I spent hours of my day on the phone as nothing worked properly internet slow and dtopping out. TV always PIXLEATES. Always told there was no problem. Now with talk talk and freeview. So happy to be rid of this sub standard company

  17. Avatar Annoyed says:

    Had massive issues in Berkhamsted (area 31 / Hemel Hempsted). Started slowing at the end of April. Then slowed to around 5mbps up and down for over a week. They supposedly fixed that last Thursday (7th May) but that was only down speeds, upload stayed below 5mbps.
    At the end of the weekend it again crapped out – less than 100 mpbs down and 1-2 (at best up). It also became utterly unstable so I can’t vpn or zoom properly as both drop and reconnect.
    Now it tests anywhere from low 20s to (reporting on fast.com) over 600mbps at one point. In reality it seems less than 100, with terrible upload speeds.

    And to top it all, their helpdesk claimed Ofcom had banned them from giving refunds for poor service. So we have incomptence AND dishonesty.

  18. Avatar Michael Shears says:

    VM Uploads speeds in B31 are currently less than 1, mostly less than 0.5 mbs disgraceful how it dropped from 10 in May. Service states there is no issue, use a cable. Losing patience and having read this the clearly is an issue.

  19. Avatar Anonymous says:

    This has not been resolved. I live in the WD18 area and have been having this problem on and off for a long time. Seriously needs to be sorted.

  20. Avatar Issac says:

    There must be an issue it’s now August 12 and I have an upload speed of 0.05 MB

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