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ISP Virgin Media UK Launches New Broadband Traffic Management Policy

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013 (8:14 am) - Score 2,310

Cable operator Virgin Media (Liberty Global) has today introduced a “more flexible and responsiveTraffic Management policy for customers on its 30Mbps and faster “unlimited” superfast broadband packages, which will cut the ISPs download speed throttling to just 30% for some and rising to at most 40% but for a shorter period.

Under the new, and somewhat more confusing, policy Virgin Media will manage traffic between the hours of 4pm to 11pm each weekday and 11am to 11pm at weekends, which the provider claims will only impact around 5% of their customers each day. During these times the ISP will slow your upload and download speeds if you go above a certain level of usage (threshold) within a given timeframe.

The new system works on a 1 hour threshold (30% download / 60% upload speed reduction) and 2 hour threshold (40% download / 75% upload reduction), which means that some customers will be able to exit traffic management after at least 60 minutes if they get into it (the reduction use to last for 5 long hours).

But to exit after 60 minutes you’d need to stop any big downloads, otherwise the stricter 2 hour threshold might trigger. The usage thresholds, which trigger a speed reduction once you go over them, are perhaps best explained with the use of an example – Traffic Management on Virgin’s 60Mbps (XL60) package.

virgin_media_traffic_management_april_2013_60mbps

Some of the thresholds have also been lowered, especially on the side of upload speeds. For example, under the old system 60Mbps customers downloading over 10,000MB (10GB) during the daytime period would have triggered the 40% throttle for 5 hours. But now a 30% throttle will trigger, albeit after only 3.6GB of usage, and rising to 40% after 4.5GB if you fail to exit the first 60 minute window in time. This system may benefit some but others are likely to view it as being more restrictive.

As usual it can be complicated to explain the details of any policy and as a result Virgin Media has updated its Traffic Management Threshold’s page to give a better explanation for each package, which is useful because the usage thresholds (but not the reduction %) are different for each package and trying to explain all that here would quickly cause confusion.

It’s important to stress that Virgin’s new TM policy isn’t just about slowing all service speeds. The system is designed to prioritise certain types of traffic (e.g. web browsing, gaming etc.) in busy times or busy areas to “ensure that it is of an adequate quality“, while P2P and Newsgroups will be slowed.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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