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Virgin Media introduces P2P throttling

Major policy change on traffic management

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Virgin Media will for the first time target peer-to-peer traffic for throttling on its cable network, joining most DSL broadband providers.

In a phased introduction due to be completed by next summer it will cut the bandwidth available to peer-to-peer protocols and Usenet at peak times, for all customers.

Until now the firm had restricted only heavy users, based only on the volume of data they upload or download across all applications. That regime will also remain in place.

How tight the restrictions on peer-to-peer and Usenet are at a given time will depend on how heavy the overall load on the network, but the new system will reserve at least 75 per cent of bandwidth to prioritise more time-sensitive applications such as streaming video and browsing. Virgin Media bought the necessary equipment back in 2008, when The Register first reported this major policy change was coming.

Alongside the new restrictions, the firm is boosting upload speeds for all customers. The free upgrades are being gradually rolled out across the network, area by area.

Uploads for customers on the most expensive "XXL" tariff will be accelerated from up to 1.5Mbit/s to 5Mbit/s. For "XL" subscribers the upgrade will offer uploads at 2Mbit/s, compared to the current 768Kbit/s. Theoretical maximum upload speeds on "L" and "M" packages will double from 512Kbit/s to 1Mbit/s.

As part of the changes, "XXL" subscribers will for the first time have their connection restricted based on the amount of data they upload. There will still be no limits on the volume of data they can download.

On other packages existing data limits on uploads will be raised. The new regime is detailed here. ®

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