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O2 Broadband puts brakes on BitTorrent

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O2 has joined the ranks of fixed line broadband providers restricting peer-to-peer traffic as part of its network hits capacity during evening peak times.

The firm has installed specialist equipment to cut the amount of bandwidth available to BitTorrent, Gnutella and KaZaa users, as well as newsgroups*.

O2 launched its fixed line broadband service in late 2007 after buying start-up Be and its pioneering ADSL2+ network in 2005. An O2 spokeswoman said Be customers' connections (and O2 customers supplied via the Be network) will remain unrestricted.

The restriction will apply to O2 IPStream broadband (not LLU) customers between 8pm and 11pm. In a statement, O2 said: "From now on, we’ll give first priority to the things most of us want to do in the evening – things like emailing, looking at websites, watching video on sites such as BBC iPlayer or YouTube or using programs like Skype or Messenger."

Headline connection speeds won't be affected. The firm hasn't released details of how much slower peer-to-peer downloads will be at peak times.

The "traffic shaping" approach - targeting users of bandwidth-hungry applications - to squeeze the most out of its existing network capacity mirrors that of BT but contrasts with Virgin Media, which applies a simple speed restriction to its heaviest users at peak times.

Since its launch, O2 Broadband has attracted more than 400,000 subscribers and wide praise for its quality, unrestricted service. On the latter point, it will now partially fall into line with the other consumer ISPs. ®

*Full list of affected traffic here.

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