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Virgin Media updates traffic management policy to reflect new products
Monday 02 April 2012 14:04:30 by Andrew Ferguson

Virgin Media who revamped its product range to make its 30 Mbps service the slowest product that is available to new customers last week has now published details of how its subscriber traffic management and file sharing traffic management will operate on the products.

With upgrades for existing customers still under way, the matrix of products is more complex than many people will easily be able to digest. The subscriber traffic management for downstream and upstream is independent of each, so exceeding the upstream trigger level should not affect downstream and vice versa.

Downstream STM Policy
Product Time Period Trigger Level Speed Reduction Duration
L30 and XL30 10am to 3pm 7000MB 50% 5h
XXL 50Mbps and XL60 10am to 3pm 10000MB 50% 5h
XXL 100Mbps and 100 10am to 3pm 20000MB 50% 5h
L30 and XL30 4pm to 9pm 3500MB 50% 5h
XXL 50Mbps and XL60 4pm to 9pm 5000MB 50% 5h
XXL 100Mbps and 100 4pm to 9pm 10000MB 50% 5h
Upstream STM Policy
Product Time Period Trigger Level Speed Reduction Duration
L30 2Mbps upload 3pm to 8pm 3000MB 75% 5h
XL60 3Mbps upload 3pm to 8pm 4200MB 75% 5h
XXL100 5Mbps upload 3pm to 8pm 6000MB 65% 5h
L30 3Mbps upload 3pm to 8pm 4200MB 75% 5h
XL30 3Mbps upload 3pm to 8pm 4200MB 75% 5h
XXL 5Mbps upload 3pm to 8pm 6000MB 65% 5h
XL60 6Mbps upload 3pm to 8pm 7000MB 75% 5h
XXL100 10Mbps upload 3pm to 8pm 12000MB 75% 5h
100 10Mbps upload 3pm to 8pm 12000MB 75% 5h

The file sharing traffic management is based upon Virgin Media allocating bandwidth across its network for peer to peer and newsgroup traffic, thus if the total usage in these areas is less than the limit people will run at the the maximum possible speeds. If the limit is hit then speeds across the whole network will be cut back, basically peer to peer and newsgroup users would be contending with each other for that type of traffic. The time period when the file sharing is managed is 5pm to midnight during the week, and midday to midnight at the weekends.

"We want all our customers to get the best possible broadband service. That means speedy downloads for all customers – not just a few. When someone is downloading and/or uploading a particularly large amount of information over a long period of time, it can slow down the broadband speed for other users in their area who might just be checking their email or browsing the web. That’s why we occasionally moderate the speeds of customers who are downloading and/or uploading an unusually large amount. That way, everybody gets great speeds and all our customers stay happy."

Description of Subscriber Traffic Management

Reading the subscription given to customers one gets the impression that it is possible for the actions of a single user to cause congestion, one hopes that Virgin Media is not running its network that close to the limits. Best practice is to have a network that only offers a maximum speed several times above the maximum speed that any single customer can use. In the distant past, when Tiscali offered 1 Mbps DataStream connections, it would have just 2Mbps of backhaul, and populate this with 100 customers (50:1 contention ratio), and thus the pipe would often be congested in the evenings, rendering latency sensitive activities like gaming impossible.

Virgin Media is careful to avoid the word unlimited on its product pages, using the phrase 'Download as much as you like with no hidden charges', the question is whether the STM system is only reducing speeds by what an average user would expect from an unlimited service. The quoted typical speed on the up to 30 Mbps of 30.62 Mbps, obviously means that the typical user is not someone who regularly triggers the STM system.


Posted by adslmax over 5 years ago
100 Meg should be traffic managed free because it top of the premium service! VM is a joke!
Posted by Apilar over 5 years ago
100Mb/s for £25.50 without any management? Dream on.
Posted by adslmax over 5 years ago
Apilar, it not £25.50, it actually £39.40 with a virgin phone or £34.75 without a virgin phone
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago

£26.65 for first six months with a phone line, then £39.40.

Just updated the listings to reflect all the recent price tweaks.
Posted by jrawle over 5 years ago
I remember when one of the big selling points of cable was that you don't need a phoneline. However, now the price is so much higher if you don't take their phoneline that it isn't worth not having one, losing its advantage over products using the BT network.
Posted by adslmax over 5 years ago
Andrew: Virgin Media just told me the six months half price for new customers only ?
Posted by adslmax over 5 years ago
Without a phone phone work out cheaper @ £34.75 a month but only 12 months contract (with a virgin phone cost you £39.40 a month plus 18 months contract)
Posted by togs over 5 years ago
Will this improve the online gaming capabilities of virgin broadband somehow I think not. If you want a good broadband connection for gaming don't use virgin broadband.
Posted by Kushan over 5 years ago
Disappointed that 50/100meg is being STM'd but I can't say it's a huge surprise. Still, it's nice that the reduction is now only 50% instead of 100%. It means that under STM, people should get what they're paying for before the "free" speed doubling. Can't really complain at that, I suppose.
Posted by adslmax over 5 years ago
Sky FTTC 80/20 will win head down for 100% totally UNLIMITED and no STM. 80 Meg down and 20 Meg up for 7 days a week with no FUP or throttling. Sky also throw in cheaper 80/20 too.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
More signs of a creaking network. Every time they introduce a new tier there are cries from users "it will never have STM" and then months later Virgin slap on STM
Posted by mhisani over 5 years ago
As speeds go up across ISPs this will become more and more common place. Along with many people assuming they are "paying for" say 100mbit when in reality they are simply paying for a slot-share on a bigger modem. And I dispute adslmax's comment. I laugh at the concept of sky 80/20 maxed out 24/7
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Oh there's nothing wrong with doing it don't get me wrong, its just that all of Virgin's advertising in the past (not checked recently) makes out there's no limits.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
@adslmax and how do you come across Sky 80/20 pricing, when they've not even launched 40/2?
Posted by Apilar over 5 years ago
adslmax is dreaming about Sky 80/20.
Posted by leexgx over 5 years ago
not sure what the hidden FUP on sky but not sure if any one has tested it yet (as no one can get Sky FTTC yet??)

BT infinity Hidden unlimited cap is 250GB (unless it has changed) and your connection will get dropped to slow speeds for 30 days at peak times from when you hit 250GB (it will not reset at the end of the billing cycle)
Posted by leexgx over 5 years ago
VM with 30 60 and 120 services they are going to need to upgrade where i am (i guess 3-5x the capacity they are currently doing as i am getting packet loss around 4-11pm)

main issue i have is with usenet limiting it right down to less then 3mb (thats 300KB/s ish not 3MB) very annoying when i want my tv programs (partly bypassed by VPN), p2p limiting does not seem to work as works at mostly full speed but i tend not to use p2p at all
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
Maybe that's the ploy. Move everyone onto a faster package for free then traffic manage them back down. Clever in an evil, sneaky kind of way :-/
Posted by leexgx over 5 years ago
the limits in place for VM i way prefer over what most ADSL/FTTC providers do with stated and Hidden FUP monthly caps, below is what more is an issue with VM

wish VM would install QOS services into there network (currently tries to do best speed over packet loss and i am seeing that getting worse localy)
BT has it on there exchanges (limits speeds so not to compromise packets, i have seen it working on an overloaded none 21CN exchange, ADSL lock 6mb, but max download speed 2mb but no packet loss just higher ping of 100)
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
The idea of hidden caps is interesting, and should be easily proved with decent monitoring.
Posted by pcoventry76 over 5 years ago
Well without even downloading something I am getting less than 4mbps. Other who have hit the limit are getting higher.

I am speechless
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago

The Infinity unlimited cap went ages ago
Posted by bosie over 5 years ago
So Virgin will be traffic managed for most of the day then what's the point of having faster speeds if only to cut them down? I guess we still don't have an affordable technology to provide sufficient bandwidth.
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
@bosie:Marketing. Perhaps VM have worked out how to sell snake oil without Ofcom noticing.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
traffic managed if you use p2p and newsgroups and lots of other people do too.

STM is hardly new, and anyone who thought it would never appear on the 100Meg had a short term view of what never was
Posted by otester over 5 years ago
Another reason to add to the list of why not to go with VM.

-High latency.
-Packet loss.
-Traffic shaping.
-STM now affects all packages.

Just wonder how long VM can keep up the speed increases without investing in infrastructure. BT seem to have a real solid base (10Mbps dedicated locally per customer for FTTC?).
Posted by otester over 5 years ago
Posted by pcoventry76 over 5 years ago
It's now 11:44PM and I am still getting the pityful 2.2mbps that I was getting earlier. I've managed to do about 1.7GB today.. on 100mbps this IS wank!
Posted by mhisani over 5 years ago
@GMan99 Yes. And they started traffic management instead.
Posted by gobbybobby over 5 years ago
I am with CableCom networking which is included free in my rent here in Bristol City center its a shared fibre conenction with the building, I get a speed of 150 down and 80meg upload

If I leave my torrent client going it will easily do about 500 gigs A DAY upload. I can download my entire steam games list (around 800 gigs of game) in a day on it, Amazing no limits.

I am moving and going with virgin media in june, the only fibre provider. What a Joke thats gonna be. U could top your bandwidth cap in less than an hour!
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
@gobbybobby:The question being why would any responsible netizen want to download their entire Steam games list every day? Do you have the legal right to distribute those 500 gigs a day? If so why aren't you doing the sensible thing and distributing it from a server near the edge of your ISP's network?

Running a busy file server from your home is poor use of network resources whether or not you have the legal right to the material being distributed.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
@mhisani I think that already existed before for torrents? Wouldn't bother me I don't use torrents.

Torrents don't need priority traffic, wouldn't you rather the network be available for real time apps like gaming and video/TV?

Its common sense to throttle p2p, just like in corporate business networks email traffic has a low priority over the WAN and video conferencing and business applications have a higher priority.
Posted by New_Londoner over 5 years ago
Agree, don't see issue with traffic management of P2P either.

Traffic management has been in place for some while, certainly well before the FUP limits were lifted on Infinity.

You've inadvertently made a powerful case for traffic management!
Posted by Firefalcon over 5 years ago
@AndrueC I doubt anyone reds their entire library day after day but it is possible someone might download some particularly big games. Steam has sales every day, on big titles too, so if someone seems RAGE at 20+gb a go on sale for £2 they might just go for that and want to play it. Next day it might be deus ex human revolution at 14gb, etc. And yes, it is responsible, you paid for a service and that service should be able to cope not over sold to the brink at the expense of lining board member pockets. You also bought a product and want to enjoy said product, otherwise why bother at all?
Posted by John_Gray over 5 years ago
Andrew: "Virgin Media [...] revamped its product range to make its 30 Mbps service the slowest product that is available to new customers"

Are we supposed to read anything into this for *existing* 10 Mbps customers, who so far have been told only that their download speed is going to 20 Mbps?
Posted by pcoventry76 over 5 years ago

26 mins on 100bmps with 20GB - 13 on 10GB limit.
Posted by gobbybobby over 5 years ago
yep^ they may as well give you a 5 meg connection.

You can have 100 megs but Don't you DARE even THINK about using it.

I torrent using very little protection. But then this is a 16 story building, that uses an Unsecured wireless network to give everyone the net (I am sure the neighboring buildings and general public connect to it too)

All I really have is peer block

My gaming hardrive died last month, So I bought a new 2Tb one and downloaded all my steam games. Took longer for steam to work it all out than it did to download ;)
Posted by pcoventry76 over 5 years ago
To be fair I am testing the STM right now. I jumped on USENET and got 9GB before I was hit - and I mean hit I went from full speed to 4kbps!

But after 5 mins it started to pick up and I am now on 63.2mbps.. So as stated
Posted by pcoventry76 over 5 years ago
Even when I am hit with STM I am still on 60mbps sometimes more. It's fast now in the day and I am within my 20GB limit. I think it's actually not that bad.. But we will see how it goes.
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
As for 'If I'm paying for it I should use it' - you're paying for a contended resource. It is implicitly shared by all users and IMO that means we should use it responsibly. If you want to run it flat out 24/7 then get a leased line.

If you didn't know it was contended then you do now. If that fact doesn't cause you to behave responsibly and respect the other people you are sharing it with then you deserve to be TMd down to a crawl.
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
(cont'd) yes, some ISPs don't make a huge deal of contention and the fact it's a shared resource. But just because some twonk in a marketing department tries to hide the fact or avoid drawing attention to it doesn't mean you should let them mislead you.

A knowledgeable netizen would understand the nature of the service and a good netizen would act in a responsible manner.

Running a residential connection flat out 24/7 is not clever. It's irresponsible and/or demonstrates ignorance of the technology.
Posted by Firefalcon over 5 years ago
Whats the point in having a contended share of a high speed connection when you can't use it? you even think of firing it up on anything of a medium size and oh no you've violated our policy, cap for you. You are straw manning the hell out of it bringing up 24/7 usage and leased lines and trying to act smart over contention, you don't NEED to be running anything 24/7 to trip up over their stupid policy, you just have to use your connection at a time that will be convenient to you i.e when you get in from work/college/uni/etc.
Posted by Firefalcon over 5 years ago

If you live in a house with 4 people those type of caps will be hit in no time. So sorry to bring your narrow minded view of the world to an end but if congestion is so much of an issue, as i said, VM should look into fixing it instead of just gimmicking everyone onto higher speeds when they can't consider using them.
Posted by michaels_perry over 5 years ago
Once again 'National' customers on ADSL are overlooked. When are we going to get any benefits? We already pay over £23 for a paltry 'up to' 8 Mbps service that is generally too slow for streaming anything so we need improvments, especially in rural areas.
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