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BT to throttle P2P for faster broadband

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Hopes that BT's new faster broadband technology might improve peer-to-peer downloads have faded with the firm's confirmation that subscribers will be subject to the same restricitions as those on less expensive tariffs.

The firm announced "BT Infinity", based on its fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) rollout and theoretically capable of up to 40Mbit/s, yesterday.

The cheapest £19.99 package drew instant criticism from rival Virgin Media, because it has a 20GB per month download cap. 40Mbit/s is about 18GB per hour, although in reality few will come close to the top speed for long periods.

BT has now also conceded that its traffic management equipment will restrict the bandwidth available to peer-to-peer protocols on both Infinity packages, as on its existing ADSL services.

BT says the timing of its peer-to-peer throttling varies, but is typically applied between 4pm and midnight during the week and 9am and midnight at the weekend. It doesn't disclose how tight the restrictions are.

It will also restrict the bandwidth available across all protocols to the heaviest users, which it says are less than one per cent of its five million total subscribers.

Virgin Media meanwhile applies similar across-the-board throttling to the heaviest five per cent of users. On its 20Mbit/s package that means users who download more than 3,500MB between 4pm and 9pm.

On its most expensive 50Mbit/s package there is no throttling at all. None of its cable packages has a monthly data cap.

BT's FTTC investment is part of a £1.5bn last mile upgrade programme run by its Openreach division. BT Retail told The Register it had no immediate plans to invest in the upstream capacity of its network. ®

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