broadband Engineer engineering piracy

Broadband traffic management – a thing of the past? #UKNOF28

Broadband traffic management, once an essential tool in an ISPs toolkit is beinsed less and less as the cost of bandwidth decreases.

pirate flagBroadband traffic management seems to have been ditched some time ago by the big ISPs. I may be behind the times here. Had a conversation with a couple of senior tech guys at major UK ISPs who told me they had dropped traffic management up to two years ago.

Traffic management at an ISP is basically where the network employs Deep Packet Inspection kit to examine the type of traffic. Bandwidth hogging protocols such as P2P would be throttled at peak times. They did this to save on costs and to improve the experience for other users. A peer to peer protocol will use all the available bandwidth on a broadband line. It only takes a few users to clog up the backhaul of an ISP.

When DPI was originally deployed P2P traffic represented up to 65% of network traffic. DPI equipment was expensive, didn’t scale well and at the higher end of ISP size never provided a return on investment.

Now with the DPI kit switched off the “problem” P2P traffic remains at the same level in real terms but now represents only 4% of total traffic, the majority being video services such as Netflix and YouTube (I assume). One ISP told me that when they switched off traffic management they saw a little blip in traffic volume but it was negligible in the great scheme of things.

This is quite interesting when considered in relation to the “piracy” debate. Although copyright infringing downloads may well be at the same level of a few years ago is it valid to say that people are increasingly resorting to the use of legal/paid for services instead? If so it makes the whole Digital Economy Act farce even more farcial.

Loads of DEAct related posts here if you want to take a look.

Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of, writer, poet,

5 replies on “Broadband traffic management – a thing of the past? #UKNOF28”

BT man told me that if I switched I would not be affected by netflix watcherers ie consistent guaranteed speed. Clearly being in an SfBB not spot in Aberdeen I am a little sceptical.

I’m surprised at that because I thought several of the major ISPs still did it.

Sky says it does:

As does PlusNet:

BT says it doesn’t, but does prioritise its own BT Vision product over other traffic:

And Virgin says it has stopped traffic shaping but does now throttle according to usage in peak periods:

A lot of piracy has also switched to website based cyberlockers (online storage), while P2P pirates tend to be using more anon VPN / Proxy style solutions and so understanding the exact movement of traffic for P2P is now much more difficult at the ISP level.

Ironically many pirates seem to pay for these VPN/Proxy solutions to get good speeds, which is money that Rights Holders are missing because many still can’t provide the content that people want and in the way they want it.

Spotify, Netflix and NOW TV etc. all help but they don’t show 100% of everything.. only bits and pieces, you need more than one sub to get it all and this is confusing. Plus cinema releases remain stuck in a linear/physical distribution model, while younger surfers can’t easily afford the high price tags for modern video games.

It’s a complex problem and the DEAct isn’t really going to solve that.

could be it’s been removed on selective services. suspect the higher end unlimited ones but did get the impression it was for all.

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