Feeds

Virgin Media rubbishes P2P throttling rumours

Secret testing denied

Boost IT visibility and business value

Virgin Media has today strongly denied a charge it is running secret tests with a view to introducing new bandwidth throttling hardware to target peer to peer and Usenet downloaders.

The claim was made on Friday at Cableforum, a message board often frequented by staff and former staff of Virgin Media, or its forerunners NTL and Telewest. User "TraxData" wrote: "[Application throttling] is, as far as one is aware going to be used for both in and out of peak hours for whoever they see "fit" as a heavy user... [It] is to be deployed across the VM network fully sometime either third quarter 2008 or first quarter 2009."

He alleged deep packet inspection equipment (DPI) provided by the Israeli firm Allot is currently being used in part of the Virgin Media network to restrict Usenet downloads to 512Kbit/s.

Contacted by The Reg today, a Virgin Media spokesman described the claims as "absolute rubbish". He sent us this statement:

Our policy does not discriminate internet traffic by application and we have no plans to do so. Whilst we do use equipment from Allot within parts of our cable network, this is used to build usage metrics and does not affect customers' service in any way. It is certainly not used to do any form of packet shaping or change internet traffic priorities.

In a telephone conversation, the spokesman said the Allot equipment is installed in a part of the national cable network formerly owned by NTL.

Many ISPs use DPI hardware from companies such as Allot to prioritise or restrict HTTP, peer to peer, Usenet and other traffic. BT has deployed Ellacoya boxes in its retail broadband network. The gear's ability to peer inside data packets has also attracted attention from marketeers and fostered the embryonic ISP-level adware business being contoversially pushed by Phorm and NebuAd.

Deep packet inspection technology is particularly popular with operators who compete mostly on price, such as Tiscali. It allows them to keep a lid on their upstream bandwidth overheads, especially at peak times in the evening. Many broadband subscribers argue the opaque way ISPs use the technology to apply "fair usage policy" restrictions to internet usage is unfair.

Any move to install DPI could prove particularly problematic for Virgin Media, as it markets its broadband service as a fast, premium alternative to ADSL rivals. It instead uses the more simple tactic of throttling bandwith to its heaviest users across all protocols at set times when the cable network is likeliest to be overloaded.

Virgin Media describes this policy as "open and transparent" and publishes the details of when and how tightly bandwidth is throttled. It says this maintains decent speeds for the vast majority at busy times.

The firm's CEO Neil Berkett was widely quoted in April describing the net neutrality debate as "bollocks" and arguing that networks will have to be reconfigured to cope with increasing bandwidth demands. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Canadian ISP Shaw falls over with 'routing' sickness
How sure are you of cloud computing now?
Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum
Actually it's a nifty trick - at least you'll pay for what you get
Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'
Network throws hat into ring with Linux-powered handsets
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
Trans-Pacific: Google spaffs cash on FAST undersea packet-flinging
One of 6 backers for new 60 Tbps cable to hook US to Japan
Tech city types developing 'Google Glass for the blind' app
An app and service where other people 'see' for you
UK mobile coverage is BETTER than EVER, networks tell Ofcom
Regulator swallows this line and parrots it back out at us. What are they playing at?
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.