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YouTube hits the buffers on Virgin Media

# 16 November 2012, 08:17 by cfteam

There are an escalating number of complaints from Virgin Media’s broadband users that You Tube streaming, especially for High Definition quality content, is an unpleasant experience due to buffering. These complaints appear to affect all platforms of Virgin Media Broadband services from the yet to be speed doubled 30Meg user to the top tier 100Meg subscriber.

Buffering is the juddering, stop start, playback of media. In today’s environment buffering is usually a result of the playback device having to wait for the data to be received.

Cable Forum has seen a rapid increase over the last few weeks in complaints of YouTube buffering for 1080p, 720p and in some cases even 480p is claimed to get stuck at peak periods. Similar discussion threads have been appearing over on Virgin Media’s own community forums.

It is not clear where the problem lies but the finger of blame is being pointed by most pundits at something within Virgin Media’s network. Customers indicate that if they switch to other ISPs (for those rich enough to have dual broadband connections) such as BT Infinity, they don’t get buffered. Some are successfully using VPN connections to also bypass the Virgin Networks. This it is speculated suggests Virgin Media are perhaps, erroneously throttling YouTube traffic, or passing it through a cache.

For a communications company, the responses being made to customer complaints are wide ranging and suggest that the real problem hasn’t been identified. Or perhaps it has, but they aren’t able to fix it. The latest excuse, ferreted out of Virgin Media by The Register suggests Virgin Media has a problem with a nameless third party peering network which they are trying to work around. You’ve been traffic managed the CEO’s office is telling complaining users which the customer denies. Over on The Virgin Media Community Forums, their moderators simply ask customers to post traceroute results.

Of course this does little for Virgin Media’s credibility and their January 2012 Bye Bye Buffering advertising campaign featuring Usain Bolt impersonating Richard Branson, now banned by the Advertising Standards Agency, claiming

“Hi I’m Richard Branson and I want everyone to say bye-bye to buffering and hello to a superfast broadband.”
. Oh dear.

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