When will things get better for Virgin Media customers

When will things get better for Virgin Media customers

We talked last week about some serious blips in latency[1] that affected all the broadband quality monitors we have running for Virgin Media users and while nothing as widespread as this has repeated itself there is now a very wide variation in behaviour. So while latency is looking better it is not the same across the board and social media has people reporting total broadband and cable TV outages, or the inability to do things like a simple video stream over their 200 Mbps connection and we are seeing a downturn in performance from our broadband speed test data. Broadband speed testing is always slightly divisive since once a provider moves past the few thousand customer mark the networks get bigger and multiple routes exist and there may be some less travelled routes to sites that are not showing problems – but we are seeing reports of other testing services giving people much lower speeds than normal and this includes SamKnows boxes which are often seen as never being wrong.

The hardest thing to see is when people complain about status pages not loading and support advising them to try a different browser, or people complaining that they’ve been given fix dates of November or January. We run multiple versions of our speed test with partners usually running the more normal multi-thread test version and the more diagnostic version with single and multi downloads along with latency testing running on our broadband test[2]. The biggest impact to date has been the single download test which is designed to be more sensitive to congestion and other issues like Wi-Fi, and unless almost every Virgin Media speed tester is using Wi-Fi with 2.4GHz congestion the data all points to something not being well somewhere.

We have looked at our test and infrastructure and can see other providers recording 500 Mbps[3] to 900 Mbps[4] (Virgin test[5] at similar time) in the single thread test and while much rarer than usual there are some Virgin Media users getting respectable single thread results[6].

Virgin Media BQM with minimal peak time issues

Quality Monitor on Virgin Media with slight performance change at peak times

Virgin Media BQM with peak time issues

Quality Monitor on Virgin Media with rise in average latency and jitter at peak times What is very telling now is the wide variation in the quality monitors recorded by Virgin Media customers now, perhaps highlighting local optical node issues (maybe affecting a couple of thousand in an area) through to routes onto the national core congesting. In short there appears to be no single overriding cause and that means even if DOCSIS 3.1 arrives to solve local DOCSIS based congestion more work and money will need to be spent on upgrading core infrastructure links and better peering.

Virgin Media BQM with severe peak time issues

Quality Monitor on Virgin Media showing heavily delayed or lost packets at peak time

Virgin Media BQM with total service loss

Quality Monitor on Virgin Media showing peak time latency change and possible full service loss

Not everyone is having a bad time with Virgin Media, we believe the quality monitor below is from someone running their Virgin SuperHub in modem mode with a third party router being the ping target.

This may highlight some of the Intel Puma issues that sometimes compound performance issues for cable customers.

Virgin Media BQM with modem mode

Quality Monitor on Virgin Media with low latency and minimal jitter

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References

  1. ^ serious blips in latency (www.thinkbroadband.com)
  2. ^ running on our broadband test (www.thinkbroadband.com)
  3. ^ 500 Mbps (tbb.st)
  4. ^ 900 Mbps (tbb.st)
  5. ^ Virgin test (tbb.st)
  6. ^ single thread results (tbb.st)
  7. ^ Login (www.thinkbroadband.com)
  8. ^ Register (www.thinkbroadband.com)

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