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Virgin Media Superhub customers still hitting big speed bump

Firmware updates yet to fix glitches

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It's been nearly two months since our exclusive report about Virgin Media's Superhub router/modem combo boxes playing havoc with newly-upgraded customers' connections - but sadly for the telco there's still trouble at the mill.

That's despite Virgin Media promising to fix the dips in speed and stability problems by issuing a firmware update and pushing the patch out automatically to all its Superhub users.

It turns out the company has so far applied two firmware updates (R24 and R25) to the flaky kit in an effort to resolve the glitches.

But reports are now coming in to Vulture Central about "interrupted downloads, poor iPlayer, Last.fm [and] YouTube streaming and other problems that all seem to relate to a larger than expected amount of TCP RST packets being thrown around by the router during operation".

Two such testers, who largely resolved the issue by reverting their router back to the old firmware (R20), separately claimed to The Register that their feedback had been ignored by Virgin Media.

The company rolled out the R25 firmware update to all of its Superhubs on 14 April, despite testers claiming there were problems with the latest patch.

Virgin Media told testers that the performance problem they reported only related to Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 browser, but some found the same issue present in Firefox, Chrome, IE 9 and Android, as well as on different operating systems including Linux and Windows.

Speed and stability were hampered whether the testers were using wired or wireless connections.

"A large amount of their SuperHub customers (if not all of them) are now entering their second week without being able to use their 30Mbit/s or 50Mbit/s VM connections for reliable streaming and downloads," said Reg reader Richard.

Earlier this year, Virgin Media urged existing customers on its 20Mbit/s broadband service to splurge a one-off payment of £30 to upgrade to its 30Mbit/s offering.

The firm stopped offering would-be punters the 20Mbit/s package in February, but added that existing customers didn't have to upgrade to the new service as Virgin Media was keeping both bases running.

At the time the company claimed that its 'XL' 20Mbit/s broadband offering had been "boosted by 50 per cent" in additional bandwidth without requiring extra fees.

But some customers who decided to pay £30 for an upgrade to the new kit complained about a distinct lack of performance improvement. If anything they instead suffered a dip in speed – especially at peak times.

Another reader, Edward, told us that some Virgin Media customers had "figured out how to SSH [the Secure Shell network protocol] into the Superhub and enable features that Virgin had disabled through the interface."

Apparently, the R25 firmware update disabled the SSH server but left behind a few bugs.

"Superhub beta testers are reporting on the forums that they told Virgin about these issues but Virgin rushed the firmware update through, presumably because of the published SSH information," noted Edward.

El Reg asked Virgin Media to comment on this story, but at time of writing it hadn't got back to us. ®

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