Dec 17 2008

Virgin Broadband

Category: Networks,TelecomsTeknovis @ 10:34 pm

I read an interesting article earlier in the week describing how Virgin Media has launched its new broadband service. This service will be available throughout the UK in the next six months, and it providers users with a maximum download speed of 50Mbps. This will make Virgin Media the fastest ISP in the UK.

More details about this can be read in Virgin unveils next-gen broadband.

The same article describes how BT is beginning a fibre to the cabinet trial that will provide users with speeds up to 40Mbps.

This is very interesting, because in the middle of 2007 I attended an event hosted by T-Com in Berlin. One of the topics at this event was broadband, and T-Com told us that it would have fibre to the cabinet deployed in the 50 largest cities in Germany in 2008. This would be capable of supplying 17 million homes. At that time T-Com had already installed fibre to the cabinet in the 26 largest cities in Germany, and we were shown some of the new cabinets on the streets in Berlin. It was then easy to spot these new cabinets ourselves, because they are slightly larger than the standard cabinets, and if you listen carefully you can hear the cooling equipment running inside them! T-Com were offering a triple play service of phone, television, and Internet to customers using this infrastructure. There were some BT representatives at the meeting also, and I recall them being impressed :o

Independently, it appears that Virgin Media will start traffic shaping P2P traffic next year according to Virgin Media to dump neutrality and target BitTorrent users. I wonder if the Net Neutrality war is being lost in Europe :|

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Dec 05 2008

ISP Traffic Shaping

Category: Networks,TelecomsTeknovis @ 8:19 pm

Traffic shaping is the practice of examining IP packets (but not the payload), and treating them differently, based on their characteristics. This usually consists of assigning packets priorities which determine how efficiently they are processed by networking equipment.

Traditionally, all packets within the network have been treated as equals. This worked fine when most traffic required only a small amount of bandwidth for a short durations, as is typical in web browsing and email exchange. So most ISPs were relatively happy to peer together, and carry each others traffic for free.

However, as the Internet has developed people are requiring and consuming greater amounts of bandwidth. Often this bandwidth is required across multiple ISPs’ networks, and ISPs and the intervening carriers, are increasingly charging based on the amount of traffic being exchanged. One of the main causes of significant bandwidth being required is P2P applications.

I read an article recently describing how a Canadian court granted the country’s largest ISP permission to apply traffic shaping on its core network. In particular, the court granted the ISP permission to traffic shape P2P traffic. This will effect both the retail customers and the smaller ISPs who buy wholesale services. The full article is Regulators back Bell Canada choking indie ISP traffic.

As far as I am aware, no Irish ISPs currently do any traffic shaping. However, I might be wrong about this!

My opinion is that traffic shaping will become increasingly necessary in the future to ensure that a minority of customers do not consume the majority of resources to the detriment of the majority of the users. However, I am very concerned about the prospect of traffic shaping being used by ISPs to prevent competitive services such as VoIP being used.

Would you be happy if you knew that your ISP was traffic shaping?

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