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Virgin Media UK Begins Throttling P2P Traffic

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the jig-is-up dept.

Media 220

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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welp.... (4, Interesting)

CSFFlame (761318) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416108)

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.

Re:welp.... (2)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416166)

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 doesn't know it's theirs.

Re:welp.... (3, Interesting)

Fatal67 (244371) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416184)

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

Re:welp.... (2, Interesting)

devxo (1963088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416186)

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 than guaranteed 1mbit anyway. If you want the latter, get it with a business contract.

"overselling" it (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:"overselling" it (2)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416682)

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 getting. Surely taking an average of that they should know what you're likely to get.

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.

Re:"overselling" it (2)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416744)

The oversell percentage would help, but that's not something they would like to tell you.

Re:"overselling" it (1)

oobayly (1056050) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416784)

Indeed, the UP TO is only there because they were forced.

Now Ofcom is saying that they can't pull some "up to" figure out of their arse (which is the only place I can imagine ISPs find these numbers):
Ofcom shows average broadband speeds half advertised rate [reghardware.com]

It's also interesting to see Ofcom appear to want to get rid of "Unlimited"

The CAP is also investigating the use of the world 'unlimited' in broadband packages. Ofcom says, not unsurprisingly, it wants 'unlimited' to mean exactly that, and so "only be used when a service has no usage caps implemented through a fair usage policy".

Re:"overselling" it (1)

mxs (42717) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416898)

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 anymore. You could even allow the customer to choose whether they want low-ping or high bandwidth at a particular time of day. If you don't fuck it up, that might even be a selling point (provided high bandwidth actually means high bandwidth but possibly impacted RTT)

Re:welp.... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35416320)

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.

Re:welp.... (4, Insightful)

strack (1051390) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.... (3, Insightful)

mxs (42717) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:welp.... (3, Insightful)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416322)

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.

Re:welp.... (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416900)

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.... (1)

Casandro (751346) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416436)

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

Re:welp.... (3, Interesting)

FutureDomain (1073116) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:welp.... (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416288)

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.

Re:welp.... (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416330)

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.

Re:welp.... (3, Informative)

grahamm (8844) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416564)

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.

Re:welp.... (2)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416422)

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 (usually) independent of port.

and the destination doesn't know it's theirs.

It does (for the port) , if it is configured appropriately.

Re:welp.... (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416444)

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.

Re:welp.... (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416622)

That's what links are for...

Re:welp.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35416518)

You do not need to use that port for HTTPS, you can bind it to any other port (in apache at least).

Re:welp.... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35416174)

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-core-1b-pc200.network.virginmedia.net (195.182.178.150) 17.034 ms 16.912 ms 17.596 ms
XX wb7301a.network.virginmedia.net (62.30.0.204) 14.581 ms 16.816 ms 17.377 ms
XX brhm-bb-1a-ge-720-0.network.virginmedia.net (62.30.249.46) 18.815 ms 21.178 ms 19.656 ms
XX 168.ge-1-3-3.mpr1.lhr2.uk.above.net (213.161.65.149) 30.848 ms 31.543 ms 30.107 ms
XX above-ntt-2.lhr2.uk.above.net (64.125.12.134) 33.592 ms 29.077 ms 33.319 ms
XX ae-2.r22.londen03.uk.bb.gin.ntt.net (129.250.2.77) 24.697 ms 25.470 ms 25.507 ms
XX as-0.r22.nycmny01.us.bb.gin.ntt.net (129.250.3.254) 119.334 ms 123.381 ms 107.119 ms
XX ae-0.r23.nycmny01.us.bb.gin.ntt.net (129.250.3.73) 127.396 ms 104.020 ms 124.070 ms
XX ae-1.r20.asbnva02.us.bb.gin.ntt.net (129.250.2.9) 103.490 ms 128.170 ms 109.354 ms
XX as-1.r20.dllstx09.us.bb.gin.ntt.net (129.250.3.42) 147.037 ms 168.994 ms 137.006 ms
XX ae-2.r07.dllstx09.us.bb.gin.ntt.net (129.250.3.67) 147.517 ms ae-7.r08.dllstx09.us.bb.gin.ntt.net (129.250.2.154) 142.261 ms ae-2.r07.dllstx09.us.bb.gin.ntt.net
            (129.250.3.67) 136.803 ms
XX xe-0-4-0-4.r08.dllstx09.us.ce.gin.ntt.net (157.238.224.174) 150.740 ms xe-0-4-0-3.r07.dllstx09.us.ce.gin.ntt.net (157.238.224.142) 155.470 ms xe-0-4-0-
            4.r08.dllstx09.us.ce.gin.ntt.net (157.238.224.174) 151.680 ms
XX h3.hotfile.com (74.120.10.111) 153.151 ms 151.471 ms 150.152 ms

what's that skippy? a 'transparent' network monitoring box looking at all the web traffic going to hotfile.com you say?...

Its Virginmedia, we're used to this sort of shit from them...

Re:welp.... (1, Redundant)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416326)

*ahem* transparent http proxy ...

Re:welp.... (1)

makomk (752139) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416894)

Transparent http proxy targetted at monitoring and tampering with traffic to specific hosts, particularly file sharing websites. All UK ISPs have them.

Re:welp.... (1)

xenobyte (446878) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416180)

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!

Re:welp.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35416374)

No, they're selling you an all you can eat buffet. They don't guarantee they'll have food put out on the line as fast as you can eat it, but you can hang around all day if you want.

If you want guaranteed bandwidth, then go pay for it.

Re:welp.... (1)

monkyyy (1901940) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416182)

yep, how much longer till(of worse case after worse case) its illegal to do so?

Re:welp.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35416384)

> The ISPs have no business knowing what the content of the packets going across their wires are.

And many ISPs agree; Zen, IDNet, AAISP etc

USE THEM.

Imagine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35416120)

"The ISP which advertises itself as 'The fastest in the UK' and offers speeds of up to 100mbps has said it needs to invest in infrastructure to prevent slowness in areas such as online multiplayer gaming.

Hah, who am I kidding.

Virgin (1)

rainmouse (1784278) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416332)

I am with Virgin currently and experiencing a dial up level of pings in online games during peak times despite paying for the 'Large' sized internet package. I have phoned up and complained a few times now and they have admitted they have heavily oversubscribed the area; but the biggest slap in the face came yesterday morning, spam letters to everyone in the building (probably street) 'dear occupier' ( I even got one addressed like this despite being a customer), and offering a large internet deal at about a third of the yearly price I am currently paying in this. I wouldn't be surprised if they charge me international call rates to India every time I try to phone up tech support.

Can anyone recommend an alternative ISP with good pings?

Re:Virgin (1)

FyRE666 (263011) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416368)

I've heard horror stories about Virgin Media's gaming performance from friends - it convinced me not to switch from Eclipse (who I'm still with) to Virgin media, despite their claims of being the fastest provider. People have told me they're getting almost modem-speed performance from their 100MBs package during peak hours.

Avoid.

Re:Virgin (1)

sgbett (739519) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416912)

"Modem speed" is a funny term. I know you mean 56kbps, however the modem I am using is rated to well over 200Mbps.

In the 10+years I have been with Virgin (formerly blueyonder) on cable, I have always got well over 90% of the advertised speed. I *only* get about 4.5MBps at the moment, 100mbps is not available in our area.

Every single person I speak to that is on ADSL gets as low as 10% and at most 70% of their advertised maximum. I blame their setup though. I get about 80% on my BT businesss broadband connection in S1.

YMMV of course but thats the problem with anecdotal evidence.

Virgin are not perfect, same 'customer service' issues as any other company, but I take that as read in britain thesedays.

Check out cable forum, or the stats on speedtest to get a better sample size. Virgin (cable) are about the worst example of 'failing to live up to promised bandwidth' you can put out there.

Re:Virgin (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416452)

International rates to india are actually very cheap...

What you have to watch out for are 084/087 numbers which are very expensive (especially from mobiles) and less regulated than the typical 09 numbers, and the recipient of the call takes a cut too which gives them incentive to keep you on hold.

Re:Virgin (1)

RichiH (749257) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416568)

Sorry, I can't. But make sure to

a) tell them why you are leaving
b) complain to your local consumer protection and regulation authorities. Printed letters.

Translation (4, Insightful)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Translation (2)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416252)

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 (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35416292)

Or do something to provide real competition.

This.

Capitalism without competition is pretty much like communism without good intentions.

Re:Translation (3, Interesting)

timbo234 (833667) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416434)

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.

Re:Translation (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416540)

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 to that they restricted access to DSLAM's, when other ISP's installed their own they restricted access to the Exchanges, claiming they were all full.

Basically the best way to improve competition is to separate the medium (OSI L1 and L2) from the service (OSI L3 and 4). Basically you end up with a wholesaler that has a monopoly but no ability to sell to the general public. That's better then having lots of little monopolies on all four layers though. You get plenty of competition on the service side (Layer 3 and 4) which drives down costs to the end user. It's much easier to effectively control a monopoly in this fashion.

Re:Translation (1)

gazbo (517111) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416772)

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.

Re:Translation (4, Informative)

wjh31 (1372867) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416256)

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:Translation (1, Interesting)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416304)

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 connection down to 2 Mbit, what good is a sync speed of 100 Mbit?

Re:Translation (1)

wjh31 (1372867) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416336)

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

Re:Translation (2)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416472)

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.

Re:Translation (1)

richy freeway (623503) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416762)

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]

Re:Translation (1)

PReDiToR (687141) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416768)

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.

Re:Translation (1)

Chocky2 (99588) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416360)

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.

Re:Translation (1)

elFarto the 2nd (709099) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416390)

VDSL or Fibre?

Neither, it's DOCSIS 3.

Re:Translation (1)

Rising Ape (1620461) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416442)

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

Re:Translation (1)

iserlohn (49556) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416840)

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 they are using that for additional downstream and upstream bandwidth.

Re:Translation (4, Informative)

Chocky2 (99588) | more than 3 years ago | (#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]

Re:Translation (1)

fleeped (1945926) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416334)

Virgin is crap. I currently (need to) use them, and they're unbelievable bad - Every day I expect network disruptions between 7am - 11am, which completely screws my online gaming. Speed is horrible at times, especially in peak hours. Ok I may not live in the biggest city in the UK, but it's not small either. Poor performance? At times. Oversubscribed? I bet. Crap network? Oh yes.

Re:Translation (1)

fleeped (1945926) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416342)

Uhm, am should be pm, damn I need a coffee.

Re:Translation (1)

Chocky2 (99588) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416350)

You're presumably on xDSL rather than cable, yes?
So using BT infrastructure rather than VM's, and with all the obvious problems of xDSL.

Re:Translation (1)

fleeped (1945926) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416364)

No, I'm actually using cable - that's the 'funny' part.

Re:Translation (1)

Chocky2 (99588) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416582)

Weird, I work with SMEs accros the south-east, Midlands, and south Wales and the concensus is very much that if you can get VM cable broadband then it's both faster & more reliable than the xDSL alternatives. The main problem of course is one of coverage if you can get VM then it's (generally) better. In your case I can only assume it's oversubscription at a local level as I see very few problems with VM elsewhere. Have VM provided an explanation for the problems?

Re:Translation (1)

fleeped (1945926) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416796)

Haven't bothered to ask them as I usually avoid customer service - they're getting on my nerves. This has been going on for quite a few months so I'm sure it's not temporary, and from the lack of competition in the area I'm sure I'll get ignored anyway. It's probably oversubscription, just wanted to state that the table in TFA has a few numbers without context and with minimal detail - that's just useless.

Re:Translation (1)

Zenzay42 (1150143) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416474)

I second that. I used to have the exact same problem with massive disconnect issues in the evening. ( I'm on DLS. I recently moved about 200 meters across the railroad lines and can't get cable now. ) The problems 'magically' disappeared when I switched provider. The exact same infrastructure but now my connection is pretty damn stable. Oh and try to get support from Virgin as a DSL customer - a horrible experience. They clearly regard you as second class customer.

Re:Translation (1)

Chocky2 (99588) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416742)

Oh and try to get support from Virgin as a DSL customer - a horrible experience. They clearly regard you as second class customer.

Without wanting to sound too flippant, if you want xDSL don't go with VM -- the reason for going with VM is cable. If you're going xDSL then go with Zen, Sky or BT (depending on the details). From what you say though I guess you were already with VM before the move & wanted to stay with them.

Re:Translation (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416378)

You don't get it. Upgrading infrastructure doesn't work if you have customers that constantly use all available bandwidth ...

Obviously.

Re:Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35416496)

Well, duh, moron.

Of course they are not supposed to upgrade the line from the customer to them even further. They are supposed to upgrade the backbone!

Re:Translation (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416876)

Before you say "moron" calculate just what kind of speeds we're talking about here. Other than the obvious fact that those speeds you'd need for that simply don't exist (1 ADSL line = 4 mbit, so per 250 customers you'd require a gigabit of backbone capacity).

These people have, say, a million customers, so you'd like them to install 4 terabit uplinks (and to actually get 4 terabit of traffic you'd roughly need 8 terabit capacity). It doesn't exist.

Moron.

You want a 1-1 connection ? No problem. Every ISP sells them. Of course, not for 20$/month. But you can get 10 Mbit for about $500 in most places. Why don't you pay for what you "demand" ?

May not be that bad (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416158)

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.

Re:May not be that bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35416268)

They're limiting speed because of infrastructure design defects. And none of the carriers have any interest in fixing design defects as long as they can unilaterally rewrite contracts with subscribers.

Upload only (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416172)

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.

Re:Upload only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35416226)

Exactly. They didn't think this one through. They will end up having to pay more bandwidth costs to outside ISP's instead of keeping the trading within their own networks.

whiners (2, Insightful)

hjf (703092) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416178)

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.

Re:whiners (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35416428)

You're paying for 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.

If we were getting it for free a lot fewer people would be whining.

O, sure... (2)

RichiH (749257) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416538)

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

Corporate Loyalty (1, Troll)

tobiah (308208) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416188)

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.

Re:Corporate Loyalty (0)

devxo (1963088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416222)

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

It IS technical reason that they are not, that's how DSL and cable works.

Re:Corporate Loyalty (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35416274)

It's how cable works, but not DSL. The amount of bandwidth allocated to up/download can be changed by the modem and the DSLAM during the handshake. How else would symmetric DSL data plans work...

Re:Corporate Loyalty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35416308)

Uhm, no. There is SDSL which has the same speed both ways.

Normal consumer ADSL is designed this way /on purpose/ because they think consumers need more downstream bandwidth (and if you look at the average Joe six-pack streaming porn use case, this seems correct).

3G wireless works in a similar way, they could set it up for faster upstream if they wanted, but they'd rather dedicate that bandwidth to higher downstream.
(Cable, I have no idea, but I suspect it's similar)

Re:Corporate Loyalty (1)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416402)

Sadly a lot of FTTH providers pull the same stunt by offering 10/2, 50/5, 100/10 or 100/20 connections. Luckily where I live there is plenty of competition which means there are several providers offering 100/100 connections.

For xDSL there's still the issue of them throttling the upstream even further than the technical limitations. When I first got ADSL back in the '90s I was paying for 512/512 kbps access but my ISP at the time only throttled the downstream so in practice I had 512/800 kbps. Most ISPs here in Sweden have been pretty good about not throttling the upstream but when I talk to american friends I frequently hear about them having 5000/256 kbps or 2500/128 kbps connections which doesn't quite make sense to me, you've barely got enough upstream bandwidth to use the downstream...

Re:Corporate Loyalty (1)

gregington (180881) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416282)

Modems did not always have symmetric upload download speeds. I remember using by 1200/75 modem back in the day - 1200 bits per second upstream and 75 bps upstream.

Re:Corporate Loyalty (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416286)

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.

Re:Corporate Loyalty (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416494)

56K modems only supported 33.6k on the upstream path...

let's review... (3, Insightful)

WillyWanker (1502057) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416208)

Remind me again why net neutrality is a bad thing?

Re:let's review... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35416408)

Remind me again why net neutrality is a bad thing?

The phrase "Net Neutrality" really means- Jack Shit.

It has about a million different definitions depending on who you talk to. But when you hear the term being used in politics, Net Neutrality is about delivering content over the "Last Mile", it has nothing to do with backhauling it through the ISP's network. And the throttling is due to network or peering bandwidth issues, not a Last Mile problem.

Welcome to the new improved internet (5, Funny)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Welcome to the new improved internet (-1, Troll)

Legal.Troll (2002574) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416318)

If you think ~$90 USD per month entitles you to 100 megabits guaranteed 24/7, it doesn't matter what the advertising signs say and you deserve whatever the fuck you get, faggot. HTFH

Re:Welcome to the new improved internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35416418)

Time to get your ass out of soviet americastan and move to Scandinavia where we have lower population density, cleaner air and faster connections. Oh, sorry. I meant U-S-A U-S-A! WE'RE NUMBER ONE!

actually beneficial (1, Interesting)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416242)

What people don't realize is that they typically only throttle the download. So let's say there's a 10 megabit connection, it's probably 1 or 0.5 megabits upload. So if people have a slowed download, they spend more time uploading the unfinished parts which means more sources which means a faster download on peer to peer networks. So they can do that all they want, they're just basically going to make leechers host files longer.

Re:actually beneficial (1)

Golden_Rider (137548) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416382)

What people don't realize is that they typically only throttle the download. So let's say there's a 10 megabit connection, it's probably 1 or 0.5 megabits upload. So if people have a slowed download, they spend more time uploading the unfinished parts which means more sources which means a faster download on peer to peer networks. So they can do that all they want, they're just basically going to make leechers host files longer.

From TFS:

Trialing of the new traffic management plans commenced on March 2 and will only apply to upstream traffic, therefore download speeds will be unaffected.

Did you read the summary? (1)

RichiH (749257) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416550)

1) they are throttling upstream, not downstream
2) your theory does not make sense unless people stop uploading the second the download is done
3) even if 2) were not the case, slower uploads what more clients are waiting for don't increase speed; really, they don;t

Open-ness is good (2)

wjh31 (1372867) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416246)

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.

Re:Open-ness is good (1)

cyclomedia (882859) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416574)

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!

Not True (3, Interesting)

Spad (470073) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416298)

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.

Re:Not True (1)

xclr8r (658786) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416634)

I haven't played in a while but is it not the case that WoW updates are P2P by default (you could switch the preference)? If you update via p2p get throttled.. will it not affect your game play experience?

This has already been going on for years ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35416314)

I'm pretty sure Virgin have been throttling my connection for years. Many times when I have downloaded several large Linux ISOs (*ahem*), I find my speed cut to a quarter of the advertised value (We pay for 10megabit = 1 megabyte/s, we get throttled to max of 256kbps). This throttle applies to all Internet access; browser, torrents, everything. This policy seems to be something different, but Virgin have been throttling people in some way for years, this announcement seems to imply that they're only just starting to.

mcdevices (0)

mcdevices (2010196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416324)

i can't believe it. 100M. it is impossible in my country . www.devices.com

Typical VM BS (1)

Stu101 (1031686) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416340)

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 giganews ;) I mean, really, what else is there.

Re:Typical VM BS (1)

IgnitusBoyone (840214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416482)

Its been a while since we did test, but my home town has fiber loop and we get 50 symmetric to the home if subscribed. When we had it installed the first day we did remote back ups at 10MB/s on 3 devices simultaneously to verify it works. I find most of the bandwidth usage is stuff you just wouldn't due with out it there. The connection is 100Mbit symetric inside the loop so my co-works and I set up a distributed encrypted backup system across a few homes which when fetching large files can use that data fairly well.

The other time it gets used is during the holidays. Each kid has his own laptop and the teenagers are very bad about running vid calls with there friends while watching hulu/youtube. You start doing that on 5 or 6 laptops as the same time and it adds up. Its nice to not nee to run quality control during these times and still be able to use the internet.

Re:Typical VM BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35416890)

Who is going to buy this crud? ... I mean, really, what else is there.

Tired argument - clearly if you live in a house on your own, then 10Mbit is fine - try living in a house with 3 or 4 others (non-students) who want to use it to stream, browse or play in the evenings - you'll be out of available bandwidth in no time.

Payments (1)

qbast (1265706) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416354)

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.

Makes no sense (1)

RichiH (749257) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416592)

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.

Newsgroups (1)

SomethingOrOther (521702) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416602)

"... 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 ;-)

Whinge, moan, cry... (2)

Tigger's Pet (130655) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416872)

I'm on VM's fibre broadband service (only the basic 10Meg) and I cannot find anything to complain about at all. Sure, if I had more bandwidth then I could probably use it for downloading more things that I'll never get round to listening to, watching or playing as I have a finite amount of time to actually spend doing things.

I remember only a few years ago when I had an ISDN line installed at home as a requirement for work so I could connect to remote client sites directly from Cisco or Nortel routers. I also used this service for my own Internet connection, which meant I was able to bond the 2 channels and get 128Meg clean throughput with almost instantaneous connection from an ISDN modem. Back then the normal modem speed was 28k, and 33.6k was just about happening, but not standardised. My mates thought it was incredible the speed I could get compared to their dial-up lines.

We have progressed so far since then, yet people still moan. Unfortunately bandwidth is not free - no matter how fast it goes to your house, the ISP and then the backbone has limited resources. If we genuinely want the 'net to achieve its true potential as a thing of 'good for humanity', then we will have to accept some form of traffic shaping. Why not throttle the P2P / NNTP traffic during the day, but allow it to ramp up overnight (say 1am -6am while most people in this country are asleep)? There could still be shaping on the pipes out of the UK, so other nations can then determine their own timings for the throttling.

All in all - why must we always moan? We have so much now, yet we are never satisfied.

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