Your guide to traffic management

We've got great news for all customers on our broadband tiers of 30Mb and above. After listening to your feedback, we've decided to stop applying our traffic management policy to download speeds. So now you can download as much as you like without worrying about traffic management slowing you down.

Our new policy is simple:

  • We only restrict upload speed
  • Your speed is only reduced while the upload threshold is exceeded. So the speed reduction could only last as little as an hour as long as you reduce your uploads

Minimum period of traffic management

60 minutes*

When traffic management happens

Monday to Friday: 4:00PM-11:00PM 

Saturday and Sunday: 
11:00AM-11:00PM

In addition to this, we also apply a temporary speed limit to all peer-to-peer and Newsgroup traffic during peak times to ensure that they do not slow the network down for everyone. For more information please see the tables below.

* If you reduce your usage below the threshold as soon as you enter traffic management, you can exit traffic management in 60 minutes. If you don’t, you may be in traffic management for 120 minutes or more and have further reductions in your speed. For more information, see the customer examples below.

How do I get out of Traffic Management?

First of all, don’t worry. It’s just temporary and you can carry on using your broadband during traffic management anyway. It doesn’t stop anything you’re doing, you may just notice that your upload speeds have slowed. To get back to full speed all you need to do is reduce your upload usage during peak hours.

This is important if you use peer-to-peer (P2P) networks a lot. P2P is software such as BitTorrent which allows you to download files that are stored on the hard drives of other users. Because you can also share content on your own hard drive, these applications usually require lots of uploads. This can happen in the background without you knowing but can mean you hit the usage thresholds during peak times.

Here are three examples of how a customer might be traffic managed:

Customer One uploads more than the threshold for their tier of service and is traffic managed for the following 60 minutes. They notice that their upload speed has dropped due to traffic management and reduce what they’re doing straight away. At the end of the 60 minutes, they exit traffic management and their upload speed returns to normal.

Customer Two uploads more than the threshold for their tier of service and is traffic managed for the next 60 minutes. They carry on using their upstream connection so heavily that their total usage triggers the 120 minute policy and a further cut in their upload speed. They then reduce what they are doing and 120 minutes after the second policy threshold was triggered they exit traffic management and their upload speed returns to normal.

Customer Three uploads more than the threshold for their tier of service and is traffic managed for the next 60 minutes. They carry on using their upstream connection so heavily that they trigger the 120 minute policy and a further cut in their upload speed. Unless they reduce what they’re doing this customer will trigger repetitions of the 120 minute policy until the end of peak hours, and will be traffic managed for up to a maximum of 120 minutes in the off peak period. Only then will they exit traffic management and their broadband speed return to normal.

While our upstream traffic management policy is designed to manage customers who upload an excessive volume of data, any customer uploading a large volume of data (whether the traffic management policy applies at that time or not) may impact their download speed. This is because the packet acknowledgements for the download may be delayed by upstream congestion, in turn meaning that the download server will have to wait for the acknowledgements to arrive before sending the next part of the file download. This will mean that the download is not able to make full use of your broadband service. To avoid this we suggest that you time your large uploads to happen when you are not trying to download large files or stream multiple pieces of HD content.

To see detailed information about traffic management thresholds for broadband tiers of 30Mb and above, see the Thresholds tab and the table below.

Name of broadband product: Broadband size: L (30Mb), M/L (50Mb), XL (60Mb and 100Mb) & XXL (120Mb and 152Mb)
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* This KFI gives an overview of typical traffic management practices undertaken on this product; it does not cover circumstances where exceptional external events may impact on network congestion levels.
** This excludes any service, content, application or protocol that an ISP is required to block by UK law and child abuse images as informed by the list provided by the Internet Watch Foundation.
*** If no entry is shown against a particular traffic type, no traffic management is typically applied to it.

Glossary

Traffic management:

Traffic management is the term used to describe a range of technical practices undertaken to manage traffic across networks. The different outcomes achieved by the use of technical practices can include:

•  the prioritisation of certain types of traffic in busy times or busy areas to ensure that it is of an adequate quality
 
•  the slowing down of certain traffic types that are not time-critical at busy times or busy places
 
•  ensuring compliance with a consumer’s contract, for example slowing down of traffic for the heaviest users
 
•  supporting the delivery of managed services, for example to ensure a guaranteed quality of service for a specific piece of content

Managed services: The majority of internet traffic is delivered on a “best efforts” basis. A managed service, on the other hand is one whereby an ISP offers “quality of service” that can guarantee a certain level of performance, so that the content, service or application can be delivered without risk of degradation from network congestion. Such a quality of service arrangement can be made between an ISP and a content or service provider or directly between an ISP and the consumer.

Best Efforts: This phrase relates to the delivery of internet traffic where traffic management is applied without distinctions based on the source of that traffic.

Slowed down: This outcome is achieved by the deployment of technologies that can decrease the priority of traffic types deemed to be non-time critical on the network e.g. slowing down traffic during busy times and busy periods.

Prioritised: This outcome is achieved by the deployment of technologies that increase the priority given to certain traffic types, e.g. time-critical traffic such as video. This outcome can also be achieved as a consequence of slowing down other selected traffic which reduces the overall data flow on the network.

Heavy users: Heavy users can cause peak traffic volumes to exceed the engineered maximum load. In practice this refers to a very small proportion of users of a network whose use is excessive to the extent that it impacts on other users.

For information from Ofcom on Traffic Management, visit:
http://consumers.ofcom.org.uk/2013/09/internet-traffic-management/