Virgin Media confirms internet outages with users across UK disconnected – business live

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Virgin Orbit files for bankruptcy protection as search for buyer continues

A photo of Virgin Orbit's jumbo jet-aided satellite launch vehicles.
Virgin Orbit filed for bankruptcy protection after failing to find a buyer for its jumbo jet-aided satellite launch business. Photograph: Ministry of Defence/PA

It has not been a great day for companies bearing the Virgin brand. Virgin Orbit, the satellite launch company started by Sir Richard Branson, has filed for US bankruptcy protection.

Last-ditch efforts to find funding for the struggling space firm fell through, the Guardian’s Kalyeena Makortoff reports.

It comes less than a week after the company announced it was cutting 85% of its workforce, leaving roughly 100 employees to run what was left of the business. The US-based firm will seek a buyer for its assets.

Dan Hart, the company’s chief executive, said:

While we have taken great efforts to address our financial position and secure additional financing, we ultimately must do what is best for the business.

We believe the cutting-edge launch technology this team has created will have wide appeal to buyers as we continue in the process to sell the company. At this stage, we believe the Chapter 11 process represents the best path forward to identify and finalise an efficient and value-maximising sale.

The bankruptcy proceedings come three months after Virgin Orbit – which was founded by Branson and is 75% owned by Virgin Investments – failed in its mission to launch the first satellite from UK soil in January.

The company said the botched launch, which was billed as a historic moment for Britain, was the result of an anomaly that meant the rocket could not reach the required altitude and was later lost.

Virgin Orbit subsequently paused operations and put staff on furlough in early March as it tried to secure a funding lifeline.

You can read the full report here:

Shop signs for Virgin Media and O2 in central London.
Shop signs for Virgin Media and O2 in central London. Photograph: Nicholas.T Ansell/PA

The latest outage is not the only reason Virgin Media has faced criticism in recent weeks: mobile customers will this month also have to contend with inflation-busting price increases of up to 17.3% this year.

Virgin Mobile and O2, which have both been under the same company since 2021, raised the price of their airtime contracts, or what customers pay for calls, texts and data, by the annual rate of retail prices index (RPI) inflation announced this week, plus 3.9 percentage points.

The much criticised RPI measure of inflation is generally higher than other measures. The scale of the automatic price increase prompted criticism of the companies in February from Labour.

Ofcom, the UK telecoms regulator, in February launched an investigation into the industry-wide practice of over-inflation price increases.

Will Virgin Media customers be eligible for any compensation related to this outage?

The answer is: probably not, according to their existing terms.

We have asked Virgin Media whether it will pay any compensation related to this outage, but in the meantime, the online Q&A says it will pay:

£9.33 per day for a total loss of service after 2 full working days from registering the loss of service to us

Given the scale of the outage reported by third-party monitors, a voluntary decision by Virgin Media to pay compensation would probably be very costly.

The surge in the number of reports of an outage at Virgin Media appears to be falling back, according to DownDetector.

From a peak just before 8am BST this morning, it has fallen back almost to the baseline level.

Several customers have reported on social media that their connections are back.

It seems the engineers have, at last, arrived.

Virgin Media’s main website appears to be serving a mobile version, and we were unable to access its local service checker tool.

The company’s back-up status site says: “There are no major network outages we’re currently aware of.”

Alex Hern

Alex Hern

As of 8:30am BST, the Virgin Media website is back up, although in greatly reduced form, while some users are reporting being able to reconnect to the internet following a reboot of their router or modem.

Others still have reported that the internet outage could be circumvented by connecting through a virtual private network (VPN), giving a hint of where the wider problems lie, and suggesting that Virgin Media’s outage, like that at Facebook in 2021, may have been the result of a flaw in the deep-level routing systems that allow internet services to connect to each other.

You can read more on what can cause these problems here:

Virgin Media confirms broadband problems

Virgin Media has confirmed that there is an “issue that is affecting broadband services”.

Contact centres are also affected, it said in a statement on Twitter. It has not so far given any indication of the scale of the problem.

It said:

Our teams are currently working to identify and fix the problem as quickly as possible and we apologise to those customers affected.

We’re aware of an issue that is affecting broadband services for Virgin Media customers as well as our contact centres. Our teams are currently working to identify and fix the problem as quickly as possible and we apologise to those customers affected.

— Virgin Media (@virginmedia) April 4, 2023

Here is the map of reports of Virgin Media outages by users (again via DownDetector).

As you can see, reports are fairly widespread in the largest cities, where most of the customers for its fibre optic broadband are concentrated.

A map showing that reports of Virgin Media outages have come in from across the UK.
Reports of Virgin Media outages have come in from across the UK. Photograph: DownDetector

Virgin Media users started reporting problems in their thousands after 1am on Tuesday morning, according to DownDetector, a web statistics provider.

DownDetector’s data show when reports of outages rise above a normal baseline. By 1:53am the number of outage reports had risen to more than 15,000. After a lull in the middle of the night, there appear to be thousands more people reporting outages in the morning rush to log on.

A graph showing that reports of Virgin Media outages surged at about 1am on Tuesday, according to DownDetector.
Reports of Virgin Media outages surged at about 1am on Tuesday, according to DownDetector. Photograph: DownDetector

Virgin Media users report outages

Good morning, and welcome to our live coverage of business, economics and financial markets.

Virgin Media users across the UK are reporting problems with internet access.

The DownDetector website showed thousands of reports of outages starting just after 1am on Tuesday morning, with a surge of reports from about 6:30am as users tried to log on in the morning.

Users of Twitter posted that they were unable to access the internet via their Virgin connections.

Virgin Media’s website did not appear to be accessible on Tuesday morning.

The company has been contacted for comment.

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