Virgin Media broadband has gone down across parts of London, leaving thousands of customers working from home unable to get online for hours.
Users are also reporting outages in Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and other areas, according to the website Downdetector.co.uk.
The company’s service status page went down for an hour this morning, leaving disconnected people unable to check the status of the connection in their area.
It has, however, now begun posting messages saying an engineer is on the way to resolve the problem, although the internet is expected to remain unavailable for several hours.
Angry customers have taken to Twitter to vent their frustration, saying they have online lessons to teach, digital courts to attend, exams to do, and Zoom meetings scheduled.
A Virgin Media spokesman said: ‘We’re aware that some customers are experiencing an issue with their broadband. We are working as quickly as possible to restore service and apologise to those affected.’
Virgin Media said this morning some customers had experienced a ‘brief issue’ with their TV service.
Ofcom, which regulates the UK’s communications industry, said it is aware of the issue and has been in contact with Virgin to establish the cause of the problem and ‘ensure customers can access web services as soon as possible’.
Reports of outages at 10am showed London and the surrounding area was worst affected
Posted at 10.30am in a specific area: The message says that engineers are working to fix the problem, but that internet will not be restored until just before 2pm
Outage reports for Virgin Media spiked after 9.30am, as thousands were left unable to get online
At 1.30pm today, the company said it was still working to reserve the connectivity problem
Issues with the service began around 8am, with 905 reports of problems, before they spiked before 9.30am.
About 74 per cent of complaints relate to cable internet, 17 per cent to mobile internet, and eight per cent to television networks.
Taking to Twitter, one customer wrote: ‘@virginmedia what on Earth is happening to your services? Today – no broadband. Same yesterday. No one answering the phones. It’s dreadful.’
A second said: ‘What’s up @virginmedia? No broadband – wife needs it to teach her pupils remotely, I need it to attend court remotely. Tethering to mobile is a stopgap measure. When will broadband be back up in North London?’
And a third tweeted: ‘@virginmedia my internet connection is down. Can’t do anything. I can’t even call 150 from my landline. Please get me back online.’
Yet another angry customer said they had been left without internet for an hour and 15 minutes and that it was impossible to contact the call centre.
Virgin Media has said some customers have experienced a ‘brief issue’ with their TV service this morning, but that has now been resolved.
A tweet posted at 1.30pm reads: ‘We’re aware that some customers in parts of London are experiencing an issue with their broadband.
‘This means that, while affected customers may still be connected to their Virgin Media router, they will not have internet access so webpages and other services will not load.
‘Our teams are urgently working to identify the cause of the problem and fix it as quickly as possible.’
The company is responding to tweets complaining about the outage by saying: ‘Hi there, sorry to hear of the service issues. How’s things been since tweeting?’
An outage map from just after 9.30am this morning, showing problems in London and the surrounding area, northern England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
This post on the service page from 9.30am tells angered customers that the service for checking internet connections in their area is currently unavailable
Am I entitled to compensation?
Virgin Media is signed up to the Automatic Compensation Scheme which allows customers left without internet to apply for compensation.
However, in this case, it is unlikely users will receive any money back.
The scheme only kicks in when customers are left without internet for two or more full days.
Virgin said: ‘If you think you’ve experienced a loss of service, please register it as you may be eligible for bill credit if your service isn’t restored within two full working days following your registration.’
It also began posting messages to its service page after 10.30am, telling users in certain areas that they are working to identify and fix the problem.
On one, it warns that internet will not be available for the next three hours.
‘We know of two issues in your area that result in loss of service,’ it reads. ‘Our engineer is working to fix the problem.
‘You might find that you don’t have any Virgin Fibre, Virgin TV, TiVo or Interactive TV services at the moment.
‘We are sorry about this and are working hard to restore your services as soon as possible.’
A message on its service page that appeared around 9.30am read: ‘This part of the site isn’t working at the moment, but it’ll be up and running again soon.
‘Please come back and try again later. Other parts of the site might work as normal, so try using the links below to help you find what you want.’
Internet infrastructure expert and COO of software company Eggplant, Antony Edwards, told MailOnline he suspected Virgin Media’s internet had shut off as the company tried to switch on new fibre cables, installed during the lockdown to deal with surging internet traffic.
‘What I suspect happened is Virgin tried to switch on a whole lot of new lines, that didn’t work, and they tried to go back to the old system, and something didn’t work,’ he said.
‘Infrastructure is so complicated now and there are lots of different bits. They just cross their fingers when they make big changes like this and hope it’ll work.’
He said that as the internet hasn’t come back on within an hour, it suggests Virgin Media’s automated response system has failed.
‘If they understand their infrastructure and they have good manual procedures, I expect it to be back up by 1pm today,’ he said.
‘But, if they’re not up by 1pm, then they don’t understand the problem and it could be 24 to 48 hours. If it goes on for more than 24 hours that could mean there is a potential data loss.
‘If there’s anything coronavirus has taught us, it is that remote connections are critical infrastructure. OFCOM will need to show that they’re responding to the new world and taking this kind of stuff super seriously.’
The company has been posting messages like the one above in response to customers’ complaints. It is yet to release a formal statement
Research by tech company Uswitch.com found that three quarters of Londoners have experienced problems with their broadband and mobile reception during lockdown.
‘The lockdown has put increased pressure on providers to ensure customers stay connected and it is important there vital services are not down for long,’ Ernest Doku, tech expert at the company, said.
‘At a time when people are especially reliant on their home broadband for work and keeping in contact with friends and family, connectivity problems will be frustrating to thousands of Virgin Media customers.’
Advising customers what to do until internet access is restored, they said: ‘If your broadband is down, and you have the additional data on your mobile contract, you may be able to tether to your phone and use it as a hub to connect to the internet.
‘Just remember that using your mobile phone data in this way will eat up your allowance far quicker than if you only used it for your smartphone.’
Virgin Media has 3.2 million customers, and 6 million broadband subscribers in the UK.
The network also went down in April, with customers sending in more than 41,00 complaints.
Another problem in May saw users reporting issues with their cable internet connection.