traffic-management help Virgin Media

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Traffic management

We don't like traffic jams

Here at Virgin Media, we want all our customers to get the best service possible from their Broadband. That means speedy downloads for all users – 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 Internet speed for other users who might just be checking their email or browsing online. So to make sure our service is fair for everybody, we sometimes moderate the speeds during peak times (4pm till 9pm) for customers who are downloading and/or uploading an unusually large amount at these times.

This ensures that the service doesn't get blocked up with people using more than their fair share – which means a lot fewer traffic jams.

Will my download speed be affected?

Your speed won't be moderated unless you're in the top 3% of users (uploaders and downloaders). Our boffins ran a trial to see how much our service was being affected. They discovered that, in certain areas, just 3% of customers were uploading and/or downloading such a large amount of content that it was affecting the service for other users in these areas.

There is some overlap in the 3% of uploaders and the 3% of downloaders. Our data has identified that the top 3% of uploaders and downloaders makes up fewer than 5% of all users.

And we're not talking about just a few video clips. In some cases the top 3% of uploaders and downloaders were using as much as 3GB, just during peak times. That's around 750 music tracks in the space of a few hours.

So, unless you're using an unusually large amount of information at peak times, we won't restrict your service and you can use to your heart's content.

Aren't you simply trying to cut costs?

We've never believed in cutting costs for the sake of it. We want to deliver the best possible value to all our customers – and that's exactly what we're doing. That's why we've recently doubled the speed of our top broadband package up to a supersonic 20Mb, and will be launching 50Mb broadband services in the future.

When will this new policy be launched?

The current traffic management policy will be updated across the network to the new settings as soon as possible. This is currently expected to be implemented by early 2008 and will be done region-by-region to ensure no problems are experienced.

What traffic management policies are you applying to the heaviest users?

That depends on the broadband package you're signed up to. And it's important to remember that these traffic management policies only apply during peak times (4pm till 9pm) – as this is when the speeds are likely to be affected by people using more than their fair share.

The Technical stuff

Here are some details about the different thresholds for each broadband service:

Broadband Size: M
During peak times, the top 3% of downloaders on the Size: M package download at least 300MB of traffic each, with the top 3% of uploaders uploading at least 150MB of traffic each.

Any users hitting this amount during peak times (4pm till 9pm) will have their broadband speed temporarily traffic managed – their download speed will be set to 1Mb, with their upload speed set to 128Kb. This will last for 5 hours from when the traffic management policy is applied.

Even if a Broadband Size: M user has their speed temporarily traffic managed, they can still download over 2,500 music files per day.

Broadband Size: L
During peak times, the top 3% of downloaders on the Size: L package download at least 800MB of traffic each, with the top 3% of uploaders uploading at least 325MB of traffic each.

Any users hitting this amount during peak times (4pm till 9pm) will have their broadband speed temporarily traffic managed – their download speed will be set to 1Mb, with their upload speed set to 128Kb. This will last for 5 hours from when the traffic management policy is applied.

Even if a Broadband: Size L user has their speed temporarily traffic managed, they can still download over 5,500 music files per day.

Broadband Size: XL
During peak times, the top 3% of downloaders on the Size: XL package download at least 3GB of traffic each, with the top 3% of uploaders uploading at least 1250MB of traffic each.

Any users hitting this amount during peak times (4pm till 9pm) will have their broadband speed temporarily traffic managed – their download speed will be set to 5Mb, with their upload speed set to 192Kb. This will last for 5 hours from when the traffic management policy is applied.

Even if a Broadband Size: XL user has their speed temporarily traffic managed, they can still download over 25,000 music files per day.

How do we know this will work?

Well, as we said, we've carried out a trial in which we looked closely at when the heaviest users were affecting the service for everybody else.

We found that this small minority of customers were actually downloading or uploading enough information to significantly affect the service for other customers' broadband service. To put it another way, just 3% of uploaders and downloaders were affecting the service for the other 97% of uploaders and downloaders during peak times (that's between 4pm and 9pm).

What's more, we noticed that when we restricted the speed of the service for this 3% of users who were uploading and/or downloading, we had a positive response from customers (there were less calls into our technical support teams regarding problems with broadband performance). We also noticed that the broadband speed was faster for the vast majority of users.

Will the thresholds change?

The way that our customers use their broadband is changing all the time, so it's possible that in the future we may increase or decrease the thresholds – don't worry though, we'll always let you know on our website if we're going to make any changes, and we don't expect the thresholds to change very often.

How can I tell if I'm nearing the threshold?

There are several tools that you can use to check how much you're downloading or uploading. One particularly useful tool you can download is called DU Meter*.

If you'd like to use a different tool, you might like to try www.tucows.com*

The legal stuff

* Please note, these links are provided simply as a convenience to our users. They are third party sites, and we have no responsibility for the content of them.


Last updated: 10 December 2007