Customers ofVirgin Media Business‘s “Voom Fibre” cable broadband products are suffering from a long running problem due to how the operator handles StaticIPaddresses on their Hitron router, which can result in VMB’s up to 350Mbps packages struggling to deliver a fast and stable service.
Some of the feedback that ISPreview.co.uk has received suggests that the problem has become so bad that VMB staff have even been known to discourage new customers from adopting a StaticIPaddress, while others have moved back to a Dynamic one. The ability to take a static IP tends to be something that’s quite important for “business class” connections (useful for setting up hosting, servers or other advanced networking).
Earlier this year the operator launched a new range ofVoom Fibrepackages (here), which featured a top download speed of up to 350Mbps (Megabits per second) and variable upload speed options including 7Mbps, 15Mbps and 20Mbps (the latter two allow you to add blocks of static IP addresses). Each package included a wirelessDOCSIS3.0 router (Hitron CGNv4).
The router itself has been available since long before the new packages were introduced and it’s possible to find plenty of complaints about the device’s ability, or inability, to handle static IP addresses correctly (exampleshereandhere), many of which date back to early 2016 and continue today.
As one of many customers explained in April 2016, “I’ve just had to let VM dump the Fixed IP and switch to Dynamic, just to get the line working. Before that it has been unusable, slow web page loads, timing out, router dropping the connection, literally no use at all.The switch to Dynamic IP cured all of the line issues, but has left me without the Fixed IP we need.”
Now let’s fast forward, past over a year’s worth of firmware updates, and some of the initial stability problems have subsided, although customers continue to report connectivity and performance issues. Likewise the Hitron’s modem-only mode (i.e. for use with a second router) still doesn’t work properly with Static IP addresses (Dynamic IP is fine).
As another customer said in June 2017, “I can’t see any reason to keep paying for the Business 200Meg line. I ordered that with what was supposed to be a Fixed IP, but like most people, I also had to have that changed to Dynamic IP just to get stability.”
Why is this happening?
The problem itself appears to stem, at least in part, from how Virgin Media mixes the different residential and business sides of their network together. In order to give business customers a Static IP, the ISP has to first create a Generic Routing Encapsulation (GRE) tunnel using the Hitron router to their datacentre, where they can then allocate the address.
The above approach can be tedious. We can only speculate about exactly why the problem is happening, although it’s probably linked to flaky firmware on the Hitron and / or issues with the software that VMB use on their equipment (Benu Network kit) for terminating the GRE tunnels that help to provide VMB’s Static IPs (the Benu kit may suffer from issues with fragmentation and reassembly of packets).
According to one of VMB’s support agents, a lot of work is being done to resolve these problems (we understand that a fix exists but it has not yet been fully deployed) and curiously not all those with a Static IP appear to experience the issues. The agent said there was currently no solid ETA for the fix being deployed, although we know that some related maintenance work may take place towards the end of this month.
We’ve also been informed that a small number of customers with dynamic IPs can suffer slow broadband speeds (seemingly unrelated to the usual network capacity issues), although it’s unclear why but it also seems to happen with the Hitron routers.
A Spokesperson for VMB told ISPreview.co.uk:
“A small number of our Static IP customers have been experiencing a problem and the cause has been identified. We will be rolling out a patch to customers in the coming months but are firstly conducting trials with a small number of customers to ensure the patch is successful.”
As ever the reference to “small number” above could still, givenVirgin Media’s size, reflect a lot of customers. In the meantime the best solution for VMB customers with a Static IP, assuming you’re suffering from these issues, is to drop the connection back to a Dynamic IP address that gets rid of their GRE tunnel.
One caveat with the downgrade from a Static to Dynamic IP is that the Hitron router may initially maintain the GRE tunnel information, which could result in customers losing their connection until it’s cleared via a full reset of the device (a soft reset isn’t always enough). However this doesn’t appear to impact everybody and others have been moved without any snags.
The fact that these problems have been going on for the best part of two years’ is perhaps not the perfect advert for VMB’s service, especially when it impacts something so critical. Similarly Virgin Media have been trying to fix an unrelated latency bug with their domestic Hub 3.0 routers for the best part of a year too, although a partial fix is now in testing for that too (no ETA for the rollout).
OK, the issue has been identified and rectified so I thought it worth an update. As part of the process to apply the static IP the firmware on the Hitron is updated to add another section to the menu under the DDNS option on the Admin menu (something about VMB I think but it's gone now) When the static IP is removed remotely the firmware is not reset to the dynamic firmware. Now for most things that didn't seem to matter - we had no issues with speed, reliability etc, however, the VM implementation of static IP obviously conflicts with the VPN usage of the GRE tunnel making it impossible for us to set up the VPN. A factory reset on the router did not resolve this issue so an engineer came out, replaced the Hitron with a new one, applied our config and boom VPN up and running.
probably no-one cares about your thread now, going by the responses you gave and your general attitude towards everyone else.
maybe if you had spoken to virgin business in the first place and continued to speak to them you would have got it solved much quicker, but you chose to come here and abuse anyone that suggested you should direct your comments to the appropriate team.