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Virgin Media UK Begins Throttling P2P Traffic 220

Posted by Soulskill
from the jig-is-up dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The ISP which advertises itself as 'The fastest in the UK' and offers speeds of up to 100mbps has said it needs to throttle file sharing traffic to prevent slowness in other areas such as online multiplayer gaming. Trialing of the new traffic management plans commenced on March 2 and will only apply to upstream traffic, therefore download speeds will be unaffected. The clampdown will apply on top of the existing traffic shaping Virgin Media has in place and will affect all packages, including the previously unmanaged 100mbps deal. This policy, which applies to all broadband packages, is restricted to P2P applications and Newsgroups (which are commonly used to distribute large amounts of data)."
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Virgin Media UK Begins Throttling P2P Traffic

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  • welp.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CSFFlame (761318) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @03:11AM (#35416108) Homepage
    And this is why all traffic should be obfuscated, if not encrypted. The ISPs have no business knowing what the content of the packets going across their wires are.
    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      Encrypt everything is good indeed. With modern processors even on the server side it should be no problem to encrypt everything; usually bandwidth is the limiting factor anyway when it comes to serving data such as web pages.

      Now the ISPs can not read the content, but won't they be able to still see the type of traffic? For example https uses port 443 - you can not encrypt that part, or the destination IP, as otherwise the intermediate servers have no idea what to do with the packets, and the destination do

      • Re:welp.... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Fatal67 (244371) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @03:29AM (#35416184)

        Encrypted p2p traffic looks just like encrypted p2p traffic. Most dpi vendors already have fingerprints for it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by devxo (1963088)
          And they can just throttle all traffic then. Look, these are consumer level service that they're selling. It's not guaranteed, and you're not buying dedicated bandwidth. If you really want that, get a business level contract with dedicated bandwidth. It will just cost you a lot, but that's how it works.

          Bandwidth isn't free, and the only way ISP's can sell good speeds to everyone is by "overselling" it. It's a technical limitation, there's not much they can do about that. I rather take a burstable 100mbit
          • "overselling" it (Score:4, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @03:41AM (#35416236)

            more like fraud/misrepresentation/mis-selling and its wholesale in the sector. Any other item has to be 'as described' and 'fit for purpose'. ofcom let them all of with a slap on the wrist about it because it was 'prevalent' in the industry. As a watchdog with the teeth to do something about it thats unacceptable.

            • by Canazza (1428553)

              In the UK they're forced to say "UP TO x Mbps" although the UP TO part is normally in 1/2 the point size of the x Mbps.
              Most UK ISPs have a 30-day opt-out period where if you're unhappy with the service you can cancel for no fees. I'm with Sky and when I signed up, before it went live, they gave me an accurate-ish estimate of what my speed would be. Max 20Mbps, estimated 11Mbps.

              Now, they KNOW how much, on average, I should be getting downstream, and presumably they know how much their other customers are get

              • The oversell percentage would help, but that's not something they would like to tell you.
              • by mxs (42717)

                but "AROUND 10 Mbps" to "UP TO 20 Mbps".No company would do that unless they were forced to by the watchdog. Indeed, the UP TO is only there because they were forced.

                Annoying yes, but thanks to the stink kicked up by the watchdog, a large part of the UK population know about the limitations and that you'll likely not get the advertised speed.

                Thing is, they are not even selling you this "up to" and "around" thing anymore. They are trying to introduce the concept of tiered data -- From their actions, they don't consider P2P or Usenet (two protocols as different as can be) to be part of this "average" and "up to" promise.

                It's ingenious that they are citing these two affecting other protocols on their network, "like gaming" (which many people like to do). Red Herring if I ever saw one. Invest in your infrastructure and that problem does not exist a

            • by AmiMoJo (196126)

              Worse still they have a monopoly in some places. I live in the middle of a large city on the south coast but ADSL doesn't work on my line. I am apparently 2.2km from the exchange and my line can't sustain 5Mb reliably on ADSL2. Unless I want dial-up speeds and reliability Virgin is my only option, i.e. no option at all.

              BT say fibre to the cabinet will be available in October. I really hope so because the moment it is I am telling VM to fuck off. Sky still offer truly unlimited service without throttling.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            IF they're selling it based on bandwidth. Sure. If they're selling it as unlimited they're false advertising.
            If they can't offer the bandwith they say they can to everyone in their advertising, then they should fix that. Or, don't offer what they can't provide.

            • I've complained to the Advertising Standards Agency about the use of "unlimited" in adverts and their reply was that it's fine to advertise services as "unlimited" if they have "fair use" limits.
          • Re:welp.... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by strack (1051390) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @05:38AM (#35416756)
            i think you mean they can sell good speeds to everyone by "fucking lying like the lying bastards they are". and connecting you to "kinda sorta parts of the internet that we approve of" and you are right. bandwidth isnt free, which is why people *buy* the internet service that is *advertised*, and anything else is theft by deception. what we call 'fraud'
          • Re:welp.... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by mxs (42717) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @06:08AM (#35416880)

            And they can just throttle all traffic then. Look, these are consumer level service that they're selling. It's not guaranteed, and you're not buying dedicated bandwidth. If you really want that, get a business level contract with dedicated bandwidth. It will just cost you a lot, but that's how it works.

            That MAY be how it MAY work, but if I am being sold an unmetered, unfiltered connection in advertizing, I damn well better get an unmetered, unfiltered connection. If you are selling me an unmetered, unfiltered connection, you damn well better provide that. It's fine if you don't want to. Really. Just don't lie to me about it. I may then be able to compare your offering to others fairly.

            Bandwidth isn't free, and the only way ISP's can sell good speeds to everyone is by "overselling" it. It's a technical limitation, there's not much they can do about that. I rather take a burstable 100mbit than guaranteed 1mbit anyway. If you want the latter, get it with a business contract.

            You have gotten a lot of koolaid from your ISPs. Sure, bw is not free -- but also not as expensive as it is made out to be. There is such a thing as peering. There are such thing as caches. There is such a thing as proper network planning. It speaks volumes that they are shaping the upstream bandwidth primarily. (And even larger volumes that they are shaping usenet -- where they are decidedly not "just" shaping upstream -- hell, they could be either peering with major usenet providers or *gasp* provide their own servers and keep all that juicy traffic in-house).

            I'd go so far as to say that the cost is mostly incurred in the "last mile" -- i.e. the part where providers would have to invest money.

          • by haruchai (17472)

            Which might force you to buy from only a really big ISP. While my DSL reseller has business plans, the rate cannot be an ironclad guarantee because the courts granted the Telco, which also sells to end-users and businesses, the right to traffic shape EVERYONE.

          • Bandwidth isn't free, and the only way ISP's can sell good speeds to everyone is by "overselling" it.

            No, as others have mentioned it's plain fraud (not "overselling") based on incorrect and intentionally misleading advertising and product specs. These companies rely on the unfortunate fact that the vast majority of all customers doesn't have the money and time to sue them. The same is the case for EULAs, most of which would become completely void in many European countries due to frivolous and sometimes even illegal clauses---but the few customers who actually read them still don't have the time and money

          • Bandwidth capacity isn't free, but bandwidth usage nominally is. The problem with ISPs is that they are trying to solve the problem that they created by overselling capacity by putting arbitrary restrictions on usage. If they didn't oversell capacity, they wouldn't have this problem. (Yes, I know people charge for bandwidth usage all over the place. The fact remains, it costs you the same amount of money to provide the gigabit link between your two computers no-matter what you do with that link. If you don
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by OeLeWaPpErKe (412765)

          There is also the other argument ... http traffic (the first 10 kb of a connection, say), dns, gaming traffic, ... is highly interactive, and generally it will result in massive slowdowns when even a minute amount of this traffic gets dropped. Result : just about every customer complains.

          Long http downloads, p2p traffic, ... is not interactive -at all- and nobody will be very upset if you drop all of it for 5 minutes.

          So giving the interactive traffic absolute priority over the non-interactive traffic (ie. "

          • Re:welp.... (Score:4, Informative)

            by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @06:13AM (#35416900) Journal
            It depends on what they are doing. If they're putting peer to peer traffic in a high-bandwidth queue, and other stuff in a low latency channel, then I don't think anyone will mind. For VoIP traffic, you need about 5MB/hour, but ideally you want guarantees of latency under 100ms and jitter under 20ms. For BitTorrent or a large HTTP download, you want as much throughput as you can get, but a 2 second latency with a 3 second jitter is fine (as long as the TCP window settings are sensible). It doesn't sound like that's what they're doing though - they're just putting peer to peer traffic at a lower priority than everything else.
          • Re:welp.... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by mxs (42717) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @06:19AM (#35416930)

            There is also the other argument ... http traffic (the first 10 kb of a connection, say), dns, gaming traffic, ... is highly interactive, and generally it will result in massive slowdowns when even a minute amount of this traffic gets dropped. Result : just about every customer complains.

            Long http downloads, p2p traffic, ... is not interactive -at all- and nobody will be very upset if you drop all of it for 5 minutes.

            So giving the interactive traffic absolute priority over the non-interactive traffic (ie. "throttling p2p (and all other large downloads)") is exactly what you'd want to do yourself on your own connection anyway to optimize the subjective speed of your internet connection. Treating p2p, with max downloading speed, the same as other traffic will make all other traffic (esp. http) horrendously slow.

            The difference being that you can decide for yourself what you value more and what protocols you want to prioritize. There is absolutely nothing wrong with shaping traffic on your own premises if you so choose. There is something inherently wrong with the provider choosing what is good and what is not for you. Most providers now sell Voice over IP telephony connections as well (get your landline and your internet through the same pipe kind of deals). Skype, as you recall, is an inherently P2P protocol. It would be a damn shame if the traffic shaping just happened to hit Skype, wouldn't it ? Or another messaging/VoIP/cam-service ? I mean surely no conglomerate would ever do such a thing to make their own offering appear to be better, right ? There are legal P2P TV stations too (Zattoo et al). It would be a damn shame if they stopped working right, wouldn't it ? Better get the triple play offer from your ISP, guaranteed bandwidth to the TV server ! Wouldn't it also be a shame if YouTube was constantly buffering and no fun to use at all ? (this happens a lot with the biggest provider in Germany -- they don't call it shaping, they simply don't peer or upgrade their external pipes to those AS).

            If you sell me the service you advertise, I can do all the shaping I want on my own and get the experience I am looking for. If you don't, you are defrauding me.

        • by Casandro (751346)

          You can make any traffic look just like encrypted p2p traffic.

          • by mxs (42717)

            You can make any traffic look just like encrypted p2p traffic.

            This is actually not that easy. Sure, the plaintext looks like random numbers -- but you can read a lot into traffic directionality, packet sizes, connection structures, and even session setup. For instance, even though TOR is SSL, it was possible until recently to tag it based on the SSL setup not being exactly the same as a popular browser, leading to it being blocked in Iran (btw, any traffic "shaping" software is the same exact software you sell to dictatorships to block traffic of any kind. Good going

      • Re:welp.... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by FutureDomain (1073116) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @03:42AM (#35416238)
        You can encrypt the port numbers, but not the IP packet. We need a good encrypted transport protocol that encrypts everything except the IP header and maybe a session id (so each session can use its own keys). ISPs will know what computer each packet is going to, but not the content, port number, sequence number, etc.
        • by wvmarle (1070040)

          It sounds that you're then encrypting a level deeper than what's done now; encrypting at packet level and not protocol level.

          Could this give problems on the way? Or would it be possible to start implementing slowly without affecting the existing connections? In a way that your computer could do packet-level encryption for those connections where remote supports it as well, but does not do it for other connections.

        • by Sarten-X (1102295)
          Even knowing the destination is enough for filtering. Most home users have dynamic addresses, and those are usually recorded in spam blacklists (to filter email from viruses). It's a very small leap to assume that a dynamic address is another home user, and if you're uploading a lot of data to them, it's probably file-sharing. Sure, there will be some false positives, but the ISP can just say "that's what you get for encrypting" and move on.
          • The summary specifically cites online gaming, where you will send MANY packets a second to another server, which may very well be hosted from another home user's computer.
            • by Gamma747 (1438537)
              Not to worry, your ISP is ready to provide Online Gaming Internets for only an additional $19.99 per month!
        • Re:welp.... (Score:4, Informative)

          by grahamm (8844) <gmurray@webwayone.co.uk> on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @05:00AM (#35416564) Homepage

          You can encrypt the port numbers, but not the IP packet. We need a good encrypted transport protocol that encrypts everything except the IP header and maybe a session id (so each session can use its own keys). ISPs will know what computer each packet is going to, but not the content, port number, sequence number, etc.

          Such a protocol already exists. It is called IPSec using ESP in transport mode.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            Such a protocol already exists. It is called IPSec using ESP in transport mode.

            Is there a guide someplace to Opportunistic Encryption on Linux? A current one that actually accurately reflects the current state of Linux IPSEC packages?

        • by mxs (42717)

          You can encrypt the port numbers, but not the IP packet. We need a good encrypted transport protocol that encrypts everything except the IP header and maybe a session id (so each session can use its own keys). ISPs will know what computer each packet is going to, but not the content, port number, sequence number, etc.

          This still would not help. Statistical traffic analysis will reveal the type of traffic being transported (just like you can with surprisingly high accuracy tell whether somebody using TOR is looking at Facebook at the moment just by looking at traffic directionality changes, amount of data, packet size, timing, etc.).

          You might want to look into I2P though. It builds something like what you want on top of IP. You are not going to get IPv4/v6 replaced at the carrier level, so forget that.

        • by Bowdie (11884)

          >Hydraulic pizza oven!! Guided missile! Herring sandwich! Styrofoam! Jayne Mansfield! Aluminum siding! Borax!

          Hmm... *buzzes* "Things made by Dow chemical"

      • Now the ISPs can not read the content, but won't they be able to still see the type of traffic? For example https uses port 443 - you can not encrypt that part,

        You can run your Apache on a non-standard port (other than 80 and 443), so that part can indeed be taken care of.

        or the destination IP,

        This is indeed not feasible, unless you use a proxy, or tor. However, the IP address alone doesn't imply anything about the kind of service, so it is unlikely that any ISPs would base their shaping decision on the IP alone (they'd need to manually maintain a map showing which IPs run which kind of services ...)

        as otherwise the intermediate servers have no idea what to do with the packets,

        The intermediate servers only need to care about the IP, not the port. Routing is (usua

        • by wvmarle (1070040)

          Now the ISPs can not read the content, but won't they be able to still see the type of traffic? For example https uses port 443 - you can not encrypt that part,

          You can run your Apache on a non-standard port (other than 80 and 443), so that part can indeed be taken care of.

          As long as you don't care that no-one can connect to your server... may be OK for a home brew that you only use to check what's left in the fridge, not for any serious application. Standard port numbers are standard, and that's not just because.

        • by mxs (42717)

          or the destination IP,

          This is indeed not feasible, unless you use a proxy, or tor. However, the IP address alone doesn't imply anything about the kind of service, so it is unlikely that any ISPs would base their shaping decision on the IP alone (they'd need to manually maintain a map showing which IPs run which kind of services ...)

          "manually" is stretching it a bit, they can develop automatic tools for that -- and it's not as hard as one might imagine. They specifically say they are targeting Usenet downloads -- and the easiest way to do that is to just map the major usenet providers' address spaces and throttle them outright. Not hard to get, either. *.youtube.com is somewhat easily enumerated as well -- especially since you, as a provider, have lots of live traffic to observe and use (not that you would ever do that, no sir ! 'tis i

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      tcptraceroute hotfile.com (usual port 80)

      XX manc-bb-1b-ae0-0.network.virginmedia.net (62.253.187.178) 15.334 ms 13.543 ms 17.212 ms
      XX know-core-1b-pc200.network.virginmedia.net (195.182.178.150) 14.972 ms 14.482 ms 15.388 ms
      XX wb7301a.network.virginmedia.net (62.30.0.204) 16.185 ms 14.264 ms 16.043 ms
      XX h3.hotfile.com (74.120.10.111) [open] 16.225 ms 15.056 ms 15.300 ms

      traceroute hotfile.com

      XX manc-bb-1b-ae0-0.network.virginmedia.net (62.253.187.178) 14.269 ms 39.439 ms 14.050 ms
      XX know-c

      • by bamf (212)

        hotfile.com is on the IWF list, hence the transparent proxy for that domain.

    • by xenobyte (446878)

      Exactly. People are paying for the bandwidth and if the provider is willing to sell they better provide the merchandise the customer is paying for. Otherwise it's plain fraud. It's not the ISP's business what the bandwidth is used for.

      Don't throttle customers, cheating them of what they've paid for. Upgrade your bandwidth or stop selling bandwidth you don't have!

  • Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mjwx (966435) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @03:20AM (#35416150)
    Virgin Media: Well we haven't upgraded our infrastructure and now we are having problems with sheep leaving our oversubscribed networks. They even have the gall to complain to regulatory authorities about us. So we think we can solve the problem by limiting a certain type of traffic which competes with one of our other business units.

    You can expect VOIP and Youtube to be next.

    This is why the Aussie NBN is a good thing, private providers will never upgrade the network if it has a choice.
    • by Kjella (173770)

      Or do something to provide real competition. Around here there's at least two big fiber networks (Altibox, Telenor), two big cable providers (Canal Digital, Get), a bunch of DSL providers and a host of lesser ISPs that hasn't been crushed. I just checked at a portal and there's 110 offerings from 21 providers in my county. But then there's an active policy to make sure there is competition in place, not just a free market where one or two providers can steamroll the rest and have a monopoly/duopoly.

      • Re:Translation (Score:4, Interesting)

        by timbo234 (833667) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @04:30AM (#35416434) Journal

        In the case of Australia plenty was done to provide real competition, and we now have tons of ISPs strongly competing against each other. The problem was that the underlying physical network was owned by the privatised formerly-government monopoly and there was no realistic way for someone else to run their own cables to every home and business in the country, thus we have the NBN. A public monopoly providing fibre is better than a private monopoly providing shitty copper cable, slow speeds and stingy bandwidth limits.

      • by mjwx (966435)

        Or do something to provide real competition. Around here there's at least two big fiber networks (Altibox, Telenor),

        I'm assuming you're talking about the UK.

        The problem you have is that the infrastructure (copper/glass) is not separated from the sales/service part of it. So you essentially have a vertical monopoly and no reason to provide the best links to other ISP's. It's a problem that Australia suffered with despite regulation, first Telstra restricted access to the copper, when the govt put an end

        • by gazbo (517111)
          That's exactly what BT Openreach was created for. Obviously they've nothing to do with Virgin, but they own most of the country's infrastructure.
      • by xaxa (988988)

        There are about 50 British ISPs on this list: http://www.thinkbroadband.com/isps.html [thinkbroadband.com] (there might be more, I don't know).

        The DSL network has real competition, the cable network (owned by Virgin) doesn't, but obviously competes with DSL. Other options (fibre etc) don't cover many places yet.

    • Re:Translation (Score:5, Informative)

      by wjh31 (1372867) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @03:46AM (#35416256) Homepage
      Virgin media have just finished rolling out 50Mbps download, just started rolling out 100Mbps. and are in the process of doubling their upload speeds, so I call bull on you.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by mjwx (966435)

        Virgin media have just finished rolling out 50Mbps download, just started rolling out 100Mbps

        VDSL or Fibre?

        If it's VDSL I call BS on you because once you get about 1 KM of copper between you and the exchange that speed drops to ADSL2 speeds (at the same distance).

        If it's Fibre, I ask what their coverage is, and then call BS on you using that coverage data.

        and are in the process of doubling their upload speeds, so I call bull on you.

        But what's the point?

        When they can say, we'll throttle x conne

        • by wjh31 (1372867)
          They use fibre, and Ofcom recently tested a variety of ISP's, to find the average recieved speed from virgins 50Mbps connection was 44-47Mbps. The 100Mbps is unthrottled, and the 50Mbps comes with 5Mbps upload which is only reduced to 1.75Mbps for just 5 hours if you upload more than 6GB in a day. TFA says this p2p limiting is only between 5PM and midnight, the rest of the day you are free to upload pretty much as much as you want, i got through 3GB of seeding last night on their lowest package
          • by Bert64 (520050)

            You will find that they actually prioritise the common speedtest sites, so you will appear to get faster speeds from them...
            Try downloading from a random fast site (eg a linux mirror) and see what rates you get.

            They also only use fibre from the head end up, from you to the street cabinet and from the street cabinet to the head end is all copper coax cable, also the 5mbps upload option has not been rolled out everywhere yet.

            • I'm on their 50MBit package and can confirm the high speeds. Newsgroup downloads fly in at nearly 6MB/s. Also Ofcom didn't use speedtest.net to do their testing. They teamed up with samknows.com and installed modified routers between the customers own routers and their networks so they could do long term unbiased testing.

              http://www.samknows.com/broadband/ofcom_and_samknows [samknows.com]

            • by PReDiToR (687141)
              I download a lot of Arch Linux packages and Linux ISOs over both http and BitTorrent.
              On the "up to" 10Mb service I average 1.2MB a sec.

              I hate phorm, I hate traffic shaping p2p but I love the speed. My ADSL was prone to errors and couldn't manage anything like 10Mb/1.2MB even on a good day. In the last week I've downloaded 12GB of ... archive material and uploaded 4.2GB.
              I seed until 2.0 but it takes a whole lot longer to upload than to download.
          • by mxs (42717)

            They use fibre, and Ofcom recently tested a variety of ISP's, to find the average recieved speed from virgins 50Mbps connection was 44-47Mbps. The 100Mbps is unthrottled, and the 50Mbps comes with 5Mbps upload which is only reduced to 1.75Mbps for just 5 hours if you upload more than 6GB in a day. TFA says this p2p limiting is only between 5PM and midnight, the rest of the day you are free to upload pretty much as much as you want, i got through 3GB of seeding last night on their lowest package

            Well it is not unthrottled, as the article we are discussing states. And "just 5 hours" ... bah. Apparently they can't design a fucking core network. 6GB in a day is so very easy to get now, even without any P2P at all. Youtube lets you upload 1080p video, HD video calling around every corner, those 12 megapixel pictures you are sending to be developed, it adds up quickly. Don't even think about using new protocols or dabbling in TOR nodes, I2P, or Freenet.

            Plus they are throttling Usenet. Usenet is not upst

        • by Chocky2 (99588)

          If it's Fibre, I ask what their coverage is, and then call BS on you using that coverage data.

          I believe their cable coverage is around 65-70% of UK households for cable, virtually all of those can currently get up to 50Mbps, and virtually all of those are currently being upgraded to 100 Mbps.

          For the other 30-35% it's xDSL the same as BT & everyone else.

        • VDSL or Fibre?

          Neither, it's DOCSIS 3.

        • It's HFC, which is why they're limiting uploads but not downloads - this technology is very asymmetric.

        • by iserlohn (49556)

          Virgin Media is using a DOCSIS fibre/coax hybrid network. Fibre is run to the "street cabinet" which functions as the local fibre node which is in turn connected to the coax that runs to the home. Normally in the UK, the local node is only tens of metres away from the demarc at the premises.

          The 50->100mb upgrade that they are doing right now is basically bumping up the channels available on DOCSIS3. I suspect they have reclaimed some channels from legacy cable technologies that had been phased out so the

      • by mxs (42717)

        Virgin media have just finished rolling out 50Mbps download, just started rolling out 100Mbps. and are in the process of doubling their upload speeds, so I call bull on you.

        Well apparently they have not rolled out either if they have to play "games" like this shit. They did some last mile upgrades, but the core of their network appears to be rotten -- and instead of investing in new infrastructure to handle the expected load, they'd rather put down money on very expensive traffic shaping and traffic blocking hardware (this is the same stuff you use to cut off communication in dictatorial regimes. Surely the UK, of all countries, would never do such a thing. Surely. Right.)

    • Re:Translation (Score:5, Informative)

      by Chocky2 (99588) <c@llum.org> on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @03:47AM (#35416264)

      I think you may have been listening to BT's marketing department too much if you think the problems lie with Virgin not upgrading their network, being oversubscribed, or offering poor performance.

      Last week's Ofcom report on broadband speeds [ofcom.org.uk]

    • The problem is not that they haven't upgraded their infrastructure - they have. It's that they've been upgrading the last mile a lot faster than the backbone. They've got a lot of customers going from 10Mb/s to 100Mb/s, and most of these are customers who actually use a big chunk of the bandwidth that they pay for.
  • Actually, I had to throttle my own P2P traffic for online-gaming to work well. This may be less about the bandwidth used and more about reducing support requests because said gaming does not work well if you have unthrottled P2P running. Personally, I restrict my P2P to 20% of bought bandwidth, and that works very well with DOCSIS 3.0- access.

    • by mxs (42717)

      Actually, I had to throttle my own P2P traffic for online-gaming to work well. This may be less about the bandwidth used and more about reducing support requests because said gaming does not work well if you have unthrottled P2P running. Personally, I restrict my P2P to 20% of bought bandwidth, and that works very well with DOCSIS 3.0- access.

      Well yeah, obviously you can shape to your heart's content on your own side. But I'd rather not have my ISP babysit me and decide what is best for me. If I am stupid enough to shoot myself in the foot, I am stupid enough to shoot myself in the foot.

  • The limit is on upload bandwidth, so a peer-to-peer connection from someone within your same area - which should be faster - will now be slower. This means more connections to outside of the immediate area will be preferred because of their speed, increasing the amount of traffic going through the backbone routers. I don't think this measure will help much, but it will piss off some customers and make others pay more.

  • whiners (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hjf (703092) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @03:27AM (#35416178) Homepage

    You're getting 100mbps, which is unheard of in most parts of the world. You can still surf the web, download shit, do whatever the fuck you want.

    But this is slashdot. Let the whining begin.

    • Oh, I get it. You are jealous and thus Virgin has the right to fuck over people who have more than you.

    • by mxs (42717)

      You're getting 100mbps, which is unheard of in most parts of the world. You can still surf the web, download shit, do whatever the fuck you want.

      But this is slashdot. Let the whining begin.

      You're not getting 100mbps is the point. You cannot still download "shit", you cannot do whatever the fuck you want. You cannot still surf the web if your destination of choice is throttled for being too popular as decided by Virgin (Usenet is not upstream-heavy; it is popular though. So they shape it.)

  • One affect of this is to undermine the ability of individuals to disseminate data, and force them into the role of data consumers. There is no good technical reason to limit individuals from hosting or distributing data from a personal internet account, other than to place them under the control of larger corporations. I've always felt upload and download speeds should be the same, like they were in the days of modem access.

    • by Gordonjcp (186804)

      I've always felt upload and download speeds should be the same, like they were in the days of modem access.

      Have you used a modem faster than about, oooh, 9600bps? Anything faster was asymmetric.

  • let's review... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WillyWanker (1502057) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @03:35AM (#35416208)
    Remind me again why net neutrality is a bad thing?
  • by mysidia (191772) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @03:38AM (#35416218)

    High speed, super fast 100 megbit speeds (some restrictions apply *[1])

    [1]: If you actually try to transfer a lot of data over your high-throughput connection, your effective transfer speed will be reduced back to dialup speeds.

  • by wjh31 (1372867) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @03:44AM (#35416246) Homepage
    Atleast they are admitting to it. Virgin have for a long time openly displayed their traffic management policy (http://www.virginmedia.com/myvirginmedia/faster_upload_traffic_management_table.php) which is very reasonable for all but the most hardcore bandwidth users, and they are regularly upgrading their upload and download speeds, so no crying about using this to avoiding network upgrades. This is all much better than 'fair use' policies or hard bandwidth limits.
    • Yep, I'm on Virgin cable and have no complaints. How hard is it to schedule torrents between 11pm and 7am? That's what I do and it means I get to wake up in the morning and see what new Linux ISOs have arrived!

    • by gazbo (517111)
      ...which is very reasonable for all but the most hardcore bandwidth users...

      No. Superficially it might seem so, but in practice it sucks. Because the caps are applied on a daily basis, it's very easy to hit the cap due to one session of heavy downloading. As an example, I'm on the 10Mbit service - at the risk of losing my geek card, I just don't need a faster download than that and so object to paying for it. This means that in the evening I get a DL cap of 1.5GB, which is roughly the size of a 720p TV

  • Not True (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Spad (470073) <slashdot AT spad DOT co DOT uk> on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @03:53AM (#35416298) Homepage

    Firstly, they've been doing this since before Christmas and it doesn't just affect uploads but does appear to be largely port-based throttling. It's pretty poor at "identifying" P2P traffic and a lot of people have had problems with gaming performance since they started trialling it.

    Secondly, this is what happens when you have a race to see who can claim to have the "Fastest home broadband", as has happened in the UK. When Virgin's top package was 10MBit, they didn't have any traffic management in place, but as soon as they jumped it to 20MBit to "beat" the ADSL providers offering 12MBit, they introduced their "STM" system for management and it's only got worse as they've jumped to 50MBit and now 100MBit. Yes, they've been upgrading their network infrastructure, but not fast enough to cope with the "upgrades" in speed that they're offering their users.

    Finally, and probably sadly, they still offer one of the better broadband connection packages in the UK because, while they are increasingly crippling your connection for large parts of the day, at least they're open about it and when it's *not* being crippled it's better that 99% of the ADSL alternatives.

  • I'm sorry, but to us more tech savy folks, a web page or youtube is going to be delivered or watchable at pretty much the same speed no matter if you have 10Mbit or 100Mbit, because more than likely I know I could burn 100Mbit (I am on the 10Mbit package atm) quite easily, but what the heck are we going to be able to use to see a benefit in the 100Mbit speed you can buy

    Who is going to buy this crud? Sheeples I expect who just see headline speed figures. If I could get 100Mbit I would use it for p2p and gig

  • Ok, no problem. On the other hand starting next month I will be throttling my payments to them to make paying other bills easier. I am sure Virgin will understand.
  • The last mile is dedicated; the backbone is symmetric.

    None of their claims make any sense.

    In related news, regulation for even access to vital infrastructure is not strong enough.
    Also, Virgin Media is hurt by clinging to an ancient business model.

    And that's really all there is to it.

  • "... is restricted to P2P applications and Newsgroups (which are commonly used to distribute large amounts of data)."

    The first rule of USENET is you do not talk about USENET ;-)
  • Virgin Media et al are somewhat guilty of mismanaging customer expectations (you could blame the market for this - aggressive undercutting, focusing on big numbers in advertising and using "up to", etc), but customers are to blame too.

    Having worked for an ISP for nearly a decade which provisioned B2B leased lines and consumer ADSL if said consumers realised how much businesses pay for uncontested guaranteed throughput their eyes would water, suffice to say its considerably more than ~£35 a month.

    Consu

  • Despite THREE engineer visit their 50Mbps product only works intermittently anyway. I plan to ask them to cancel my contract early, just as soon as I get a BT phoneline back in and I can get regular DSL. I won't miss the speed if I can have some actual goddamn reliability.

    It doesn't help that they only offer non-geographic numbers for tech support, which mobile networks charge up to 50p/min to call, on a product which doesn't need the customer to own a landline. Maybe if I called them more from home they'd

  • by aaaaaaargh! (1150173) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @08:20AM (#35417496)

    Guys, throttling p2p traffic is not the real problem here, let's not get sidetracked. That's what these companies want, they want politicians to think that only people complain that use p2p applications to pirate content.

    But the reality is that "p2p" doesn't really have a well-defined meaning, the way they use it is a synonym to "file-sharing" which is utterly misleading. A LOT of other traffic will invariably also be throttled, traffic that might be needed for innovation and shaping the future of the Net. What about if I run Gnunet? Will it be throttled? What about Freenet? Is it throttled? What if I use these networks only for anonymous messaging and forums? Still throttled? Why? What if I write a new application, say a distributed end-to-end client version of Facebook, where the traffic between nodes must of course be encrypted for security reasons. Will this application run un-throttled on the ISPs network? Or, will I have to be a large company and pay lots of $$$ to make a special deal with ISPs?

    I'm using Nomachine NX over ssl as a remote desktop tool for connecting from work to my home machine, so I don't have to sync files all the time. If I'm not mistaken, they are a small Italian company (there is also a free version). Will my remote desktop connection still work with acceptable speed? Will it be throttled? Why?

    Innovative web innovators and small developers are the ones who will lose most from throttling in the long run. As if the constant danger of falling prey to a frivolous patent troll wasn't already enough to stifle innovation.

    My recommendation: Educate your local politician. Ask your ISP A LOT of technical questions like the ones mentioned above. Write them a letter for each and every program you're using that is in some way connected to the Net. Ask them: "Do you throttle traffic from this application?" Ask again the week afterwards, and again a week later. Do not accept automated replies. (And always ask them how to contact their legal department in case "the matter needs further clarification.")

IF I HAD A MINE SHAFT, I don't think I would just abandon it. There's got to be a better way. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.

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