Keeping our customers connected

20 May 2020

We know how important it is for our customers to stay connected and in touch with the people they love, to be able to work from home, and switch off with a box set – seamlessly and without disruption.

Unlike many other internet service providers which share Openreach’s network to connect customers, we have our own network that has been built following many years of private investment. That’s why Virgin Media has consistently offered the UK’s fastest widely available broadband speeds.

We invest around £1 billion into our network every year which means it has ample capacity and resilience -- even with the increase in demand we’re seeing with more people at home and online --so our customers can count us on to keep them connected and do everything they want with their broadband, whether that’s video calling, gaming or streaming.  

Despite this, you may have come across a website called Downdetector which often claims we’ve been experiencing issues with our network leading to some reports that ‘Virgin Media is down’.   

Unfortunately, while Downdetector can on some occasions highlight a genuine problem in a local area, it doesn’t provide much needed context or analysis regarding the cause or scale of an issue. While the exact methodology that sits behind Downdetector is unclear, the website does not accurately reflect the status of our network and, in most cases, it claims our services are down across the country when they are not.  In addition, it’s unclear how or whether Downdetector distinguishes between small scale or individual faults (i.e. those related to an in-home WiFi issue) which can  occur from time-to-time, to the rare occasions where there may be a more widespread issue.

Keeping our network running

We use technology to monitor our network which alerts us in real-time if there is a problem sending or receiving broadband signals from our customers’ homes or if there’s an issue in one of our cabinets or central network sites. If there is an issue sending or receiving data from a group of customers, we’ll be alerted to this and get it fixed. We can test individual customers’ connections remotely, check things are working in a specific area like a city or postcode region, and use this technology to be sure that services are working for customers across the country.

We also analyse customer enquiries so if we suddenly receive more calls and messages than usual from customers reporting issues, we know very quickly that there is a problem and can start getting it fixed.

Being straight-up, as with any network, there are occasions when our customers may unfortunately experience an issue with their service. It could be that one of our on-street cabinets has been hit by a vehicle, one of our many fibre optic cables has been damaged or broken, or a technical fault has occurred on a piece of network equipment. Fortunately, few customers experience network issues like this, but when they do occur, we’ll provide an update on the service status page of our website and our dedicated team of engineers will work as quickly as possible to fix it.

Unfortunately, despite the investments and maintenance we carry out, some small level of disruption is inevitable from time to time when you’re providing a service to six million cable customers. When we do have problems, we always hold our hands up, say sorry, and work flat out to fix the issue.

In the majority of cases, if our customers are experiencing connectivity issues, they are due to in-home factors which can affect WiFi performance and can be easily resolved. These are things such as where a Hub is placed (it shouldn’t be placed on the floor or tucked away in a cupboard), thick walls blocking WiFi signal (you’ll want to order a WiFi booster) or whether devices are connected to the best WiFi channel.

Our top WiFi tips

Here are some handy tips and tricks to help you make the most of your WiFi connection:

Step 1 - Find the best place for your hub

  • Keep your Hub out in the open. Out of cabinets, next to the telly (not behind it), and away from baby monitors and fish tanks. These objects can block and slow down your WiFi signal.
  • Keep your Hub upright, with its lights facing into the room. This makes sure your Hub's strongest WiFi signal goes out into the room, and not into the floor.

Step 2 - Reboot your Hub

  • Sometimes your Hub might need a reboot. Turn it off and on again by flicking off the switch at the back of your Hub, waiting a few seconds, and then turning it back on.
  • Or, use the Virgin Media Connect App to reboot your Hub from the comfort of your sofa.

Step 3 - Get rid of blackspots

  • If your home is big, has thick walls or certain types of insulation, some rooms might get a weaker signal – a WiFi “blackspot”
  • Download the Virgin Media Connect app to scan your home for WiFi blackspots. If needed, use the app to order a Virgin Media Booster  to help to increase your WiFi coverage.

Step 4 - Use the best connection for the job

  • Connect devices using an Ethernet cable. That way, they’ll get the fastest speeds, whilst freeing up your WiFi for other devices. For people working from home and sharing large files, connecting their laptop with a wired connection will help them get the best speeds. It’s also worth connecting devices which use more data – like games consoles and Smart TVs – with an Ethernet cable.
  • If those needy devices are in a different room to your Hub, use the Virgin Media Connect App to check your WiFi signal strength to see how they may be impacting your speeds.

You can find more information on the Help pages of our website or visit our Community pages - a helpful, friendly forum packed with tips and advice.