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3UK shapeshifts on traffic shaping

Reprieve for video steaming, but P2P still in sights

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UK mobile operator 3 has insisted hardly anyone will be affected by the traffic shaping regime it will bring in on Monday.

3's plan is to introduce traffic shaping from Monday, but while the plan was to limit customers attached to congested cells to a single video stream as well as choking P2P applications, the operator has now decided that video streams will be left intact, and only P2P applications will be restricted.

The operator had sent us the following explanatory quote:

"In order to improve the service for the majority of our customers, we are actively managing the amount of bandwidth made available for peer-to-peer file sharing and limiting the number of streaming video sessions to one at a time per user at peak times."

Except that it has changed its mind about the video streams since then, so only P2P users on congested cells should feel the pain, as 3 limits their bandwidth to make space for everyone else.

3's reticence and back-pedalling is understandable. The company is very wary of being the only mobile operator shaping traffic in this way, but the reality is that the rest of the operators - fixed and mobile - are going to have to follow suit. If they aren't already.

Customers will have to get used to the idea of paying for the bandwidth they use: the majority of low-volume users cannot be expected to subsidise the few who have to have the latest American TV shows early.

But getting to the position of charging users for differing levels of service will require a lot of very small steps - some of them backwards. ®

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