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YouTube streaming slowdown hits Virgin Media customers

Virgin Media flooded with complaints about buffering on YouTube, Apple TV and other video services

Virgin Media boasts that its superfast cable network means customers don’t suffer from buffering when watching videos on services such as YouTube. However, a flood of complaints over the weekend suggests otherwise. Dozens of Virgin Media customers have taken to the company’s support forums and Twitter to voice their anger at constant stuttering when watching streaming media, as spotted by ISP Review.

YouTube is unusable. Just constant buffering,” reported one Virgin Media customer from Hertfordshire on the company’s forums. Other customers reported problems with watching content on Apple TV and other video streaming services, with the issue first rearing its head early on Saturday morning.

The Virgin Media Twitter account acknowledged there was a problem over the weekend, claiming that “there was an issue affecting a small number of customers when streaming on YouTube over the weekend” in response to customer complaints, although judging by the Virgin Media forums, the glitch appears to have affected customers right across the country. 

It’s certainly not the first time that Virgin Media customers have complained of problems with video playback, which appears to be down to a fault with the company’s proxy or caching servers. Tech-savvy customers discovered a workaround for the issue by accessing streaming media sites via VPNs or proxy servers, indicating there’s no problem with the raw bandwidth available to Virgin Media customers. Virgin sells connections with download speeds of up to 152Mbits/sec, which should be able to handle dozens of simultaneous HD video streams.

Virgin’s network has suffered from a number of technical glitches in recent months. In the summer, the company had recurring problems with its DNS servers which meant customers were unable to access websites without first setting their devices to use alternative DNS providers such as Google or OpenDNS.  

Vodafone has long been rumoured to be lining up a bid for Virgin Media’s parent company, Liberty Global. BT’s expected takeover of either O2 or EE may prompt Vodafone to clinch the move for its own fixed-line network, allowing it to fully compete with BT.   

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