Broadband Platform Traffic Management (Previously P2P Issues) - UPDATE

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Posted on: Thursday 16 November 2006, 20:34

This is an update to the previously reported problem affecting download speeds when using lower priority protocols such as Peer-to-Peer, Torrents, External FTP and Binary Usenet. A copy of the last announcement can be found here for your reference:-
http://usertools.plus.net/status/archive/1163088617.htm

Over recent weeks we have seen an increase in the level of discussion and number of queries raised to our support centre on the topic of traffic management and the speeds customers are experiencing at certain times of the day using certain types of traffic.

Accurate and fair management of each customer's account is something that we take very seriously and we always strive to ensure customers receive the broadband experience their product is designed to deliver.

It has become apparent from customer feedback in the forums and queries fielded by our support analysts that some customers are experiencing slower speeds than they have come to expect. Most concerning are the variable speeds being reported when using applications identified and managed in our 'silver' traffic queues.
This traffic includes but is not limited to: FTP on residential accounts, binary Usenet across all accounts and peer to peer and torrent downloads on our PAYG & Premier accounts.

During the last week a cross-departmental team comprising of networking engineers, product analysts and other employees from around the company have been holding a series of ongoing workshops to analyze traffic flows, identify any problems and put steps in place to ensure our products are operating to meet customer expectations.

These workshops have highlighted a number of areas of concern and uncovered a list of potential problems. Whilst the following list is in no way exhaustive some of these points are listed below:-


- There has been a general increase in usage per customer across our broadband platform. This has effectively seen the period of time when the network is quieter lessen quite significantly. What this means for the customer is that the actual peak time has shifted, starting earlier in the afternoon and ending later during the early hours of the morning...
- There is a noticeable variance in performance across the different gateways on our network. Whilst this will always vary to some extent the differences have become quite significant, with very good speeds experienced on some gateways compared to others.
- We recently upgraded our traffic management platform. Along with this upgrade came new packet signatures capable of identifying more business VPN, streaming and gaming signatures as well as encrypted peer-to-peer traffic. Whilst it has been accepted that there have been some issues with the implementation of the code, the majority of these issues have now been resolved.
- We identified approximately 700 Broadband Plus & Broadband Premier customers who had incorrectly been assigned a PAYG profile. The fact that these customers were being incorrectly managed will have impacted other users on the platform. This particular profiling issue has since been fixed.
- VPN traffic (Virtual Private Networking) based on SSL was not being prioritized properly which resulted in performance issues and in certain instances caused connections to fail. This issue has since been resolved.
- Certain gaming applications were not being prioritized as they should have been. We have added 15 new gaming signatures in the last two weeks and will continue to do so moving forwards. The most recently added examples are from slightly obscurer games which suggests that we are now correctly prioritising the majority of popular online games.
- There is an issue where customers connected via the same gateway are experiencing speed problems transferring data between accounts. We have a fix for this particular issue which we are currently testing on a subset of users before rolling to the wider customer base.
Business FTP traffic was being prioritised in the 'silver' traffic queue which was causing reductions in the quality of service for our business customers. This traffic has since been re-classified which has seen a marked improvement in speed.
Text Usenet that is a very efficient, low bandwidth service was suffering during peak times. We have since moved text Usenet into our gold traffic queues which has seen improved responsiveness.

We recognise the fact that this announcement does not address every customer's concerns and also omits a lot of information related to the last few days' developments. We are working on another announcement that we hope to have out by the end of the week which will a detailed and up to date insight into the progress we are making.

Further information on this topic can be found here:-
http://usergroup.plus.net/forum/index.php/topic,3768.0.html

Kind Regards,

Bob Pullen
Customer Support

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