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UK ISP O2 Restricts P2P File Sharing and Newsgroup Broadband Speeds

Posted: 06th Oct, 2009 By: MarkJ
o2 logoUK ISP O2 ( Be Broadband ) has unexpectedly imposed a speed restriction upon popular P2P file sharing and newsgroup services, which takes effect each evening between the hours of 8pm and 11pm. The new Traffic Management policy only affects customers on O2's Home Access (BT based) broadband package, while its cheaper unbundled options (Standard, Premium and Pro) remain unimpeded.

Why are we doing this now?

People download a lot more films, TV shows and music now than before. That means there’s a lot more traffic on our network. And that can cause traffic jams at rush hours, just like on real roads – especially between 8pm and 11pm.

A lot of that traffic comes from peer to peer programs and newsgroups, which some people run on their computers all day and night. That makes it much slower for people trying to do things like email, look at websites or watch things on BBC iPlayer or YouTube in the evening.

We want everyone to get the most from their broadband, whatever they use it for. That’s why we’ve introduced this policy. To help your broadband flow better.

Will this slow you down?

Actually, it should speed things up for most people. That’s the idea. Your actual connection speed won’t change. It’ll just take longer for peer to peer programs and newsgroup services to download (but only at busy times).

http://broadband.o2.co.uk/home/traffic.jsp

We hope O2 has at least applied some common sense to this move and made allowances for certain popular services, such as Valve's STEAM Digital Distribution platform and World of Warcraft, both of which rely upon P2P for smooth gaming and update delivery. Doing a blanket restriction of P2P for those could make the games unplayable and inhibit crucial updates.

Microsoft's XBox Live multiplayer system for 360 console owners is also entirely P2P based and could suffer, as it has done when other ISPs imposed restrictions. Frustratingly O2 does not elaborate upon how aggressive the speed restriction itself is.

However the targeting of P2P, which is often perhaps unfairly seen as the "bad boy" of the Internet, is nothing new and many UK ISPs do it already. Indeed if the softer Digital Britain polices get their way then P2P restrictions could soon become common among all ISPs, albeit more selectively by individual customers.
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