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Nildram applies the brakes

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Updated Pipex-owned ISP Nildram has joined the ranks of providers who are interfering with traffic to reduce the bandwidth burden from peer-to-peer networks and other "non-interactive" traffic.

The firm applied bandwidth throttling on Monday, restricting P2P and newsgroup traffic to as slow as a snail's pace 64Kbit/s. Customers, including business users, who contacted the Reg said they got no prior warning about the changes.

Ian Willmore, the firm's business and partner support manager, started a thread on the broadband forum thinkbroadband.com. He has not responded publicly to any of the criticism, or questions over service issues such as latency, posted in response.

Nildram tech support told one irate user yesterday that they had themselves just got news about the policy, and that it would apply during business hours only. Our correspondent wrote: "We operate around a dozen Nildram business accounts (including SDSL) and use FTP [file transfer protocol] and NNTP [network news transfer protocol] to synch up between offices. [They] really screwed us badly as we had no warning at all to make alternate provision and move provider."

Nildram did update its FAQ to reflect the bandwidth throttling last week. It says:

This weighting allows us to preference interactive traffic such us HTTP (Web), VoIP and VPN over non-interactive traffic, such as P2P (peer to peer) and NNTP (Newsgroups). This provides an important quality of service improvement for these applications where delays have a very noticeable effect and we expect that Nildram customers will see improved performance from these applications.

Nildram last acted to discourage downloading two years ago when it used the more crude method of a monthly GB limit, and applied it only to consumer customers.

Parent company Pipex introduced traffic shaping on its services in 2005, and was among the first non-BT ISPs to do so. Recently, the takeover target began cutting off punters who it thinks are abusing their connection, although it won't publish specific limits.

Without significant investment in network infrastructure, it seems customers will have to get used to traffic management. Nildram's speed limits seem particularly draconian, however, and the poor communication with users is inexcusable. ®

Update

Nildram sent us this statement:

Our website was updated on Thursday 17th May announcing the introduction of a new traffic management process which was enabled during the evening of Monday 21st May. We also posted an announcement on Think Broadband. This new process took on board feedback from our customers from an earlier change of traffic management in October 2006 which we backed out a few days later.

The comment concerning the limiting of a connection to 64K is unrelated and applies only to customers who exceed their quota limits; this has been in place since 2005.

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