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Problems in the evening with latency sensitive applications

Teoh

Member
I've been using ICUK for a few months now, and having this issue more or less since i started, but wanted to see if the problem might be temporary, or if i could tie it down to something other than the ISP before going any further with it. Now i'm looking to see if anyone else is experiencing the same problems, or if anyone might be able to suss this one out.

I've been having an on and off problem with anything latency sensitive, specifically in the evenings usually from 8pm to 11pm+ UK time. Most obviously with voice comms but also online gaming in multiple games. It's hard to pin down the problem as my up/down transfer rate during this time is fine, and if i ping the servers i'm using with these applications via a command prompt i don't see any apparent problem. However i've tried this from 2 different PCs, and i've tried switching over to a 3G dongle connection during the time this is happening, and it certainly appears to be ISP related in some way.

As a specific example, i use a program called Mumble which is a standard voice chat app ala Ventrilo, and connect to a server based in germany. 90% of the time this is flawless and everything is crystal clear, however on odd days, sometimes several days in a row between 8-11/12pm this application will become basically unusable. During this period anything anybody else says on mumble will be broken up, with indicators for incoming sound flicking on and off rapidly. During this time anyone i speak to can hear me perfectly, as if the issue is purely downstream.

In a variety of games the same problem seems to occur with the same timing, and for a period of a few hours if i connect to a game and start doing anything that might require a significant amount of data transfer, i stop responding and then get disconnected from the server after a few seconds. During the evenings when this is happening, i can happily download through http / stream youtube videos etc just fine, and pinging the Mumble server i'm using reports a normal ping, but these applications (which will be connecting through odd ports) are unusuable. During this time if i switch to connecting through a 3G modem instead of ICUK, it works fine, go back to ICUK and i get the problem again.

I've tried fiddling with settings specifc to the network adapter to spot anything at my end that the 3G modem doesn't rule out, have toggled options for QoS / Flow control etc. and nothing appears to have any impact. I'm hooked up to a Netgear DGN2000, have checked everything i can related to the router, and this problem only started shortly after moving to ICUK. I'm now fairly confident that although strange, it has to be ISP related, but i don't have any real knowledge of the ISP side of things to pin down the cause. I'm left to speculate that it may be something along the lines of traffic shaping, priority or throttling on certain ports, something QoS'y.

I had ignored it for a while as for the last couple of weeks it hadn't impacted me at all, but tonight starting around 8pm again i'm back to the same issue. I've tested this with multiple games and with different servers for the voice comms i'm using, which run on different ports; i don't have the ports or server addresses of all of them to hand, but for a really mainstream example: - tonight it booted me out of World of Warcraft. I've just flicked back and forth from the 3G modem again to confirm it's only happening on ICUK, and nobody else i was playing with was affected. I'm using the BT package as LLU isnt available where i am, any input on the cause would be welcome.
 

timeless

ULTIMATE Member
Staff member
Volunteer Mod
l wonder if its congestion due to peak time traffic? usually peak time starts from around 4pm til midnight or there abouts but ld expect allot more usage around the times you mentioned the problems are affecting you.
 

Mark.J

Administrator
Staff member
ISPreview Team
Other than congestion, if you're connecting via Wi-Fi then that could also be causing problems for all manner of reasons and will also add to your overall latency (wired links for gaming are almost essential these days, although the latest N spec kit is a lot better).

The MTU setting of your router could also be misaligned with your ISP, it might be worth hunting around to find what MTU you have (e.g. 1500, 1450 etc.) and then asking your ISP what MTU they use. Then adjust your router to match.

Also certain applications, specially P2P or P2P based services, can have a hugely negative effect on latency so make sure you aren't running any in the background.

It could also be a problem on the line, an unstable line can cause latency spikes that games or voice apps would have difficulty with. However in that case you'd probably also be experiencing drops in your internet connectivity.

Failing those, consider running a tracerout (plenty of free apps available for this) between your computer and the server/IP for a game that's causing the problem. It might identify a trend or problem in the ISPs routing.
 

icuk

ISP Rep
Hi Teoh,

For the best and quickest responses, please email our support teams. If you make us aware of poor performances sometimes we can attribute this either to your settings (as per Mark's suggestions), or local issues. Yesterday, for example, I know that there were issues on our 21CN platform which were corrected around 10pm which caused an increase in latency and some packet loss. The problem was tracked down to an update BT Wholesale applied, but didn't notify us of.

The vast majority of our customers are businesses, and our traffic graphs show plenty of excess capacity outside of office hours. It was for this reason we added the 100GB off-peak allowance from 8pm. We know full well that some people set various downloads (probably P2P) to start from 8pm so the traffic does surge up, but at no point should customers experience a deterioration in speeds achieved.

Looking to the future we're investing an additional £150,000 in our network. Lots of these upgrades will be realised from next month with some very clever applications designed to help customers who have latency sensitive applications.

I look forward to your email or call and perhaps we can aid your poor speeds (assuming the issues of last night haven't already corrected this for you).

Paul Barnett
ICUK
 
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