Tiscali, online gaming & service problems
Getting traffic management systems right and not blocking applications unintentionally is a difficult task. A number of gaming websites are reporting Tiscali users experiencing severe problems playing online games.
Computer and Video Games is reporting that Tiscali users are having problems playing games such as Call of Duty 4. The developers Infinity Ward suggest the problems are down to slow downs and blocks on peer-to-peer (p2p) services within Tiscali's network. This technology is used to distribute content for a variety of legal and illegal purposes.
Tiscali have categorically denied deliberately blocking games, but with the number of reports it seems likely that gaming has become a casualty of changes to the traffic management systems. Past experience from other service providers shows that when traffic management is turned on, gamers are often one of the first to raise their voices whether it is updates that are being slow, demos are slow to download or games duffer from lag and jitter (which for serious gamers is the difference between winning and losing a game.)
Tiscali is the fourth largest broadband / telecommunications provider in the UK. In a presentation back in October 2007 it was the only large provider to show a decline in market share between 2006 and Q1 2007, a drop from 11.6% to 11.1%, with AOL/CPW and Sky showing the largest growth. At a time when the company is expanding its LLU presence with an aim to meet 1,000 exchanges (65% of UK households) in early 2008 and possible extensions to 1,200, the drop in market share is certainly not a good sign. What may not be apparent to many is Tiscali's increasing rollout of a 'fully unbundled' option allowing them to provide full telecommunications services on its own network in the same way TalkTalk does.
It is not known whether any of the current migration work Tiscali UK is undertaking is simply moving users onto a full LLU solution, but if this is the case, customers with a broadband and phone package may find themselves upset as they find that switching to another operator at a later date becomes difficult and expensive. For those on shared LLU connections, migration should be relatively easy as the MAC migration process works for these lines.