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Entanet introduces "traffic shaping" with a twist
Thursday 18 January 2007 19:56:28 by Sebastien Lahtinen

Entanet ( has been trialling a solution to an ever increasing bandwidth utilisation problem to buy time until additional central capacity is available. The system is explained in a post by Entanet on our forums:

"After noticing severe packet loss on Friday night we have introduced an anti-loss tool. The tool works by reducing the maximum rate limit when capacity hits a certain point and then allows it back up slowly if the capacity returns. [ .. ] The variation in limits are applied on a per central basis so that if only one has a problem then only it has its limits adjusted. Users will be able to switch centrals and the limit will be reset to that of the central they reconnect to.

The rate limit changes only happen once the 5 minute average usage for that central hits 96%, once this occurs then the maximum rate limit is reduced by 500kbps. [.. ] One minute later the next 5 minute average is calculated, if usage remains above 96% then a further 500kbps will taken from the maximum limit and this will continue to a minimum of 2Mbps. [..] Once usage fall below 91% then the rate limit is raised by 200kbps. If the capacity hovers between 91% and 96% then the limit will continue at its current setting."

Carol Davies, Entanet

This is rather different from the approach taken by most service providers in introducing limits on usage as the restrictions apply to the whole Central Pipe affecting larger groups of users rather than specifically those downloading a lot or using particular protocols. This rather coarse move is clearly an attempt to ensure that the network performance does not degrade to the point of becoming unusable for most users, although inevitably some will be annoyed by the throttling. It is worth remembering that if it wasn't throttled, the pipe would saturate and reduced speeds and packet loss would still result.

The minimum rate of 2 Mbps below which it will not throttle for an 8 Mbps connection is a generous 4:1 contention ratio. The systems implemented by other providers slow downloads down far more, although they can be more specific on examining the type of traffic and giving priority to particular applications. The success of the system will obviously be judged on how it performs but it is an interesting solution to a problem that affects every ISP at one point or another. If it does provide a practical long term solution, Entanet's implementation may well come at a fraction of the cost of systems users by other providers.

Entanet has faced some criticism from its resellers on the forums for its lack of communication about the testing of this system but the company points out that it needed the testing to be carried out under 'real world' conditions. Several resellers have since expressed support for the introduction of the system as an alternative to the problems caused by congestion or alternative systems.

Entanet have a fourth BT Central Pipe on order which is due to come into service in 3-4 months with the next segment of an existing 622 Mbps pipe scheduled to go live in two weeks' time.


Posted by MarcusJClifford over 10 years ago
Hopefully, according to this post -, the new segment (another 155 Mb/s) should be "done" by tomorrow, rather than the initial estimate.
Posted by g-bhxu over 10 years ago
The truth of the matther is the fact that ISPs are getting more subscribers but do not invest in the infrastructure needed to meet demand.

Traffic shaping by any method should not be allowed.

Perhaps Entanet (and any other ISP for that matter) should only be able to charge for the download speed you are getting.

i.e. For the time you are only able to download at 2Meg then you should only be paying a quarter of the 8Meg price, only able to download at 4Meg half the 8Meg price.
Posted by BlackAle over 10 years ago
g-bhxu... ISP's can't just keep throwing money at buying more central capacity, their income from customers has to cover that cost. I would of thought that would of been obvious.

As you want to pay a fraction of your monthly cost depending on speed, I guess you wouldn't mind if the ISP only allowed you to use the internet for a tenth of maybe a twentieth of the time, i.e the usual contention ratio.
Posted by g-bhxu over 10 years ago
So, BlackAle, would you pay be willing to pay for a pint of beer and only get a mouthfull?
Posted by BlackAle over 10 years ago
g-bhxu, bad analogy. You can't compare buying a product with buying a service. Try comparing like for like.

A pint of beer versa a 1:1 connection maybe ...hmm I wonder what a 1:1 connection at 10mbps costs, a helluva lot more than £35 that's for sure.
Posted by BlackAle over 10 years ago
...I meant 8mpbs (7mbps max) ...for a moment, thought I was replying about the NTL story ...goes gets another coffee. :)
Posted by BigE over 10 years ago
The problem is people still have the attiude they are paying for a 1:1 direct line to the internet, beacuse of this there will always be someone leaching the new meaning others will suffer, so ISP's have no choice but to either up the prices i.e newnet last month, or throttle and traffic shape, i.e. AOL, and telewest and now entanet.
Posted by BigE over 10 years ago
I ment NET not new man the 'T' key is 4 away from the 'W' how did I manage that!
Posted by BigE over 10 years ago
g-bhxu speed is irrelevent in the pricing for ISP's anymore they are charged on Bandwidth, either a fixed yearly price for the central or the amount of bandwidth shunted through it, when they cut the speed they're really just leting you use less bandwidth for the same period of time, so others services are not completely impared.
Posted by BigE over 10 years ago
BlackAle heres some prices for 1:1 contetion DSL

1mb £400 a month
2mb £700 a month
Posted by chrysalis over 10 years ago
BigE hit the nail on the head, its about time customers realise 1:1 isnt a right, light users are particurly guilty of this they think because they download less they should get 1:1 performance which has led to isps prioritising protocols to emulate 1:1 leaving unpriortised stuf running near dialup speeds, entas approach is fairer and because the hit is spread amongst everyone it has kept latency and packet loss down and kept contention affects down to 4:1.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 10 years ago
BigE, SDSL is a different (and more expensive) technology. Using it as a comparison with an asymetric service is COMPLETELY out of order.

If an ISP cannot offer a deacent service on a package, they should not ruin EVERYONES connection by measures which wreck pings - and thus gaming and web surfing.

I've - and I will continue to - ask ISP's for a package which is slower (1MBit does me fine), and I'm willing to accept reasonable bandwidth limits and pay the same as the 8MBit users, for NO SHAPING!

Your attitude that it's acceptable to ruin connections and offer unsustainable services, BLECK.
Posted by kritifile over 10 years ago
It is a fact of life that ISPs can't afford to provide unlimited bandwidth.
It is also a fact that they pay for the bandwidth, not the speed.
ADSL has always been a contended service.
Enta's solution is the best I've come across. It doesn't increase pings and latency.The intention is to smooth the usage, so that all the downloaders don't start downloading at 10 pm and stop at midnight.
Don't forget that first you have BT limiting your speed, first by IP profile and then by contention. After that, if your ISP does nothing, contention alone could take you to a very slow speed.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 10 years ago
"It doesn't increase pings and latency"

Prove it.
Posted by adriandaz over 10 years ago
Dawn_Falcon - you seem to have no idea about how it all works...

My latency is very low, and I am on a shaped service. My ISP is Karoo (similar to Eclipse) and I am in Hull.

Zen - 9ms
Thinkbroadband - 12ms
Jolt - 12ms
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 10 years ago
Adriandaz, if you mean I don't understand the tech, I do. And more than that, I've had terrible experiences now with 4 ISP's who were traffic shaping.

And my only experience with Karoo (Kingston Communication...) was back in 2001, when I got sub-56K speeds. Apparently they improved greatly arround 2003-2004.

That one ISP's soloution works..dosn't mean that other ISP's will use an identical soloution, will get the same results even with a very similar one, etc.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 10 years ago
Once you've been through 5 months and 3 ISP transfers without EVER seeing ping's under 600 in games (and then to Zen - this was during 2005)0, and pings of 25, well...
Posted by voice_of_reason over 10 years ago
What a lot of people are failing to grasp about this is that, Enta are not traffic shaping. Enta are only slowing connections down to prevent data loss as each pipe becomes saturated (each connection would slow anyway as packet loss occured). Enta are actually ensuring that ping times do not increase by implementing this measure.
No-one goes below 2Mbps so only the downloaders could notice anyway.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 10 years ago
Voice, it all depends on the technical means. Prove it.
Posted by voice_of_reason over 10 years ago
I don't need to prove it, I don't see any gamers or VOIP users upset at all. I don't understand the needs of forum members to try and stick the knife in to ISPs that they aren't even using! I mean what's the point? I'm not saying that these things shouldn't be discussed, just that if you don't have experience of using this company then why harp on about the possible effects? Fact of the matter is, the way that Enta have chosen to control traffic ensures low pings!
Posted by adriandaz over 10 years ago
One of the points I was trying to make voice_of_reason... Dawn_Falcon *sigh*
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 10 years ago
You cannot claim lack of evidence in proving a negative. Try again.

The way they have chosen to done it has not been revealed. "Slow things down" is not a method, it's the result of a method.

The entire concept of "you must be affected before you can say anything" is also absolutely ludicrous on a DISCUSSION site.

Instead of acting against the offenders who are using "the majority of the bandwidth", limiting EVERYONE seems to be the method... and I think it's complete rubbish!
Posted by voice_of_reason over 10 years ago
But that is just it, when surfing the internet what difference can you see between 2M and 7M? The same goes for VOIP and Gaming, although obviously with the latter two the important thing is usually latency. So it is downloaders that are hit. I'm not saying don't discuss, just what's the point of accusing without evidence either?
Posted by herdwick over 10 years ago
FWIW the chosen method is to reduce the ATM profile setting for each account in 0.5M steps, which is the same as having all the users on 0.5M slower services than they would be (down to 2M). This doesn't cause packet loss or increased ping times any more than being on a 512k service compared to a 2M one.
Posted by fusioned over 10 years ago
Dawn_Falcon: traffic shaping done correctly does not adversely affect the latency. I use traffic shaping on my linux router, and it has helped keep smooth and low latencies in games like CS, whilst the rest of the household do their usual constant downloading. However, if you were already on a satuated line, no amount of shaping (or not shaping) will help your latency.

I would also ask you to prove that shaping adversely affects latency, and not based on your personal experience of 4 ISPs.
Posted by fusioned over 10 years ago
g-bhxu: a good number (most) of domestic consumer ISP services are sold as contended at 1:50 (or around at least, 1:30+). At the very least, if every user started to use it like it was a 1:1 service - constant use of the full bandwidth - would you not experience much packet loss without some method of handling the traffic, leading to time outs and poor user experience?
Posted by billyarrow over 10 years ago
I am with Tiscali on 8Mbps Broadband Max. When tests were carried out on my line, they and other providers said I would get about 6.5 Mbps, but on tests carried out at various times, I have NEVER exceeded 3 Mbps! Is this common?
Posted by stephen_f2s over 10 years ago
Dawn_falcon: Traffic shaping should only affect throughput, not the latency. Sometimes shaping is employed to cram more people onto centrals which could in turn raise the load on a router which causes it to respond more slowly as the CPU gets maxed out, but that's a result of overloading, not shaping.

I think we've been through this a couple of years ago as well in the great "Dawn_Falcon vs Everyone else" debate.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 10 years ago
Because mocking is the correct way to deal with criticism, sure. Of course, if you WANT to play that way...F2S... ah yes, the overbilling saga.

And "should", right. Except, not IME.

fusioned, I ask you to prove that what those 4 ISP's did is the same as what you did no your router.

herdwick, thanks, that's useful :)
Posted by stephen_f2s over 10 years ago
How is that mocking you, exactly? And what company has never made billing errors, and what's that go to do with making your latency increase? Not much, I bet. Plus f2s never shaped prior to Pipex, the kit on the network wasn't even designed to do it. And these aren't opinions, these are facts. If you were getting plus 600ms pings then there was a fault. I'm not even working for f2s anymore, so I've got no motive to tell porkies.
Posted by KevinCurrie over 10 years ago
All I can add to this is that I am a customer of Entanet, and when we were on a 2MB connection it NEVER faltered! now we are on an 8MB MAX it flutuates greatly!! and OFTEN below 2MB as quoted above!! that said it is an 8MB Max line and it clearly says speeds UP TO 8MB no where does it says speeds ALWAYS 8MB and I think all ISPs are the same. However it would be very nice to have some sense of stability in a connection. I know the service does fluctuate, but it didnt when on 2MB so surely a compramise should be reached if 8MB is not poss for all then all should go down to say 6MB?
Posted by plonkeroo over 10 years ago
I am with Orange (formerly Wanadoo formerly Freeserve) and with each change of owner the reliability sinks. Right now I am getting cut off about every 15 minutes (or less) when downloading BBC streaming audio.

Also I wonder when I am going to get the 8MB promised by previous owners of Orange, the best I get is 2MB. And all the many promises made by to me by Wanadoo, Orange seems to not want to know.
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