Headlines of 'O2 introduce traffic management' sound serious, but the reality is that the introduction of management for peer to peer and newgroup applications will only affect those O2 broadband customers who are not on the firms own unbundled network.
The product affected is the O2 Home Broadband Access, which is priced from £17.13 and was perhaps one of the last unlimited/unmanaged consumer products on the BT Wholesale ASDL platform. This unlimited nature at an attractive price point has lead to various problems with the system, whereby congestion has been causing large rises in latency and a slowing down of things like web access.
Traffic management has been part of the UK broadband landscape since 2001, so O2 is just the latest in a long line to enter the area, and it appears some of the past lessons have been learnt. The information on traffic management is mentioned on the Access product page, with a more detailed page that outlines what the traffic management will do, the main part being that it will only operate between 8pm and 11pm. The first version of the page listed the common applications that are affected, but this has been removed, leaving the consumer to know what a peer to peer program is.
As one would expect The Register has covered this item, but compares the O2 Access restrictions to the Virgin Media cable products, when in reality the fair comparison is with Virgin Media National (Off-net) ADSL products. Consumers with the Virgin ADSL product are complaining of traffic management or congestion in the evenings. Whether their partnership with C&W for LLU services will improve things is hard to know at this time.
To suggest as Chris Williams of The Register does that this management is "to squeeze the most out of its existing network capacity mirrors that of BT" is not fully accurate, since the BT Total traffic management is much more widespread, with Option 1 customers seeing BBC iPlayer streams limited, whereas O2 claim to be making these changes to improve performance of applications like iPlayer and web browsing.
What proportion of the 400,000 O2 customers are on the Access product is unknown, but from the volume of posts on our forums and other places it seems fair to say that those on the unbundled network is much larger than those using the Access product.