Virgin.net blocks new broadband punters

Existing punters asked to 'go easy'

Virgin.net has stopped accepting new broadband customers because its service is being strangled by ongoing problems.

The decision to halt sign-ups until the middle of the month is just one of a number of "precautionary" decisions the ISP has taken to resolve what it admits is a "deterioration in service".

As well as halting the sign-up of new punters, Virgin.net is also clamping down on heavy users of its ADSL service and restricting them to 5GB of traffic a week. Some 700 Vigin.net customers have been identified as "heavy users" and the ISP has written to them asking for their co-operation.

Said the ISP in a service statement: "A small minority of customers are constantly uploading/downloading large files and thus clogging up the network. We have contacted these customers requesting everyone to reduce their levels of uploading/downloading activity to 1GB per day up to a maximum of 5GB per week so that everyone can enjoy the service in full."

And in a bid to clear a backlog of calls from hacked off punters Virgin.net has drafted in an extra support staff to handle customer calls and emails.

The list of measures being taken by Virgin.net shows just how bad things have become at the ISP.

Last month, it replaced a batch of dud routers in a bid to sort out what it described as a "performance-related issue" affecting its broadband customers.

At the time, it was thought this would solve the problems that given some punters such a miserable service. However, it now seems that replacing the "under-performing equipment" was only a short-term fix.

Virgin.net is now embarking on replacing caching technology which it says should help make its service "more efficient".

Virgin.net's MD, Alex Dale, admitted that the ISP had been experiencing problems but claimed that the service had "already started to improve".

He told The Register: "I'm pretty confident we've solved them [the problems that have plagued the service] now." ®

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