Sniffout has decided to take action to protect the Quality of Service for the majority of users. In an e-mail sent to their DreamTime customers, SniffOut said:
"We now see a minority of customers spending very long periods of time downloading and/or uploading significant amounts of data - in many cases on a continuous 24x7 basis. In some instances,
the amount of video, music or similar files being transferred makes it possible that there is a commercial purpose for the activity.
It is not currently our intention to restrict file transfer activity. However, to prevent it continuing to adversely impact on other customers, we now intend to combine all heavy users of file sharing and similar activities onto one single pipe. Customers whose file sharing, or similar download/upload activities, exceed 6 hours per day, on average over a week, will be transferred to this pipe."
A full copy of the email sent out can be seen in our forums here.
This move is a brave one, but understandable. The six hours a day limit should allow most people to stay well inside the usage limit. It is worth noting that we have checked with Sniffout and users will move between the two sections of the service depending on their traffic levels. Therefore exceeding the limit for one week will not land you permanently on the heavy user gateway.
The contented nature of ADSL provision is what makes it a lot cheaper than a leased line, and whilst the cost of bandwidth into an ISP is fixed, if this bandwidth is constantly full, users of latency critical applications can see poor performance and general downloads will slow down. This can lead ISPs into an almost never ending spiral of buying more bandwidth, potentially until users are contended at almost 1:1. Some ISPs balance the amount of bandwidth that different applications can consume to try and ensure a reasonable level of service.
The number of ISPs likely to look at this sort of system is very likely to grow during 2003, particularly if small numbers of users continue to dominate an ISPs bandwidth. With the very large ISPs like Pipex and BT Openworld it is easier for an ISP to absorb a number of users using a lot of bandwidth, but at the smaller end of the market, the economics can be very different. We may see during the course of 2003, a new range of ISPs catering to the low bandwidth type user, or those who want a network that is not heavily congested, e.g. gamers.
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