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ntl now shaping network traffic (Update 1)

# 31 March 2006, 15:56 by Frank

There have been rumours circulating for the last few days on Cable Forum regarding Traffic Shaping being implemented on ntl’s broadband services, and numerous customers have been reporting slow connections without any prior explanation or reason.

As with the implementation of broadband download caps back in February 2003, ntl have quietly slipped the relevant Traffic Shaping clause into their User Policy (section 20). In February 2003, ntl:home MD at the time, Aizad Hussain, admitted that the cap was “poorly communicated,” and unfortunately it would appear that lessons were not learnt from this exercise. You can read the relevant section from the User Policy below, which Cable Forum member Toto spotted:

In addition, we reserve the right, at our sole discretion, to manage all traffic and traffic types on our data network to ensure a consistent and optimal service for all our Broadband customers. At peak times (normally 6pm to 11pm), we may therefore limit the bandwidth available to less time-sensitive traffic types, in particular peer to peer traffic, or in extreme circumstances, where network congestion leads to potential denial of service for some customers, to reduce bandwidth allocations at an individual or a network level, in order to maintain a consistent quality of service for all customers. These restrictions do not apply outside of peak hours.

Whether traffic shaping has already been implemented is still unclear, but early reports on the forum would indicate that it has been, at least in some areas between 6pm and 11pm.

Some customers have already indicated that they are looking for an alternative Internet Service Provider, but whether this policy will grow into the furor of the bandwidth cap era is yet to be seen. What is clear though, is that ntl have again failed to effectively communicate important changes to the broadband User Policy, which has in turn had a negative impact on customer experience and wasted the time of Cable Forum volunteers in diagnosing connection issues.

Update 1: It has come to our attention that the residential arm of British ISP Easynet, branded UK Online, also recently implementated Traffic Shaping. However, UK Online sent an email to every customer highlighting the change and giving them a month and a half notice of the pending changes to their Terms and Conditions, and 30 days in which to exit their contract should they not be happy with the changes.

So far no ntl customers have reported receiving such an email. ntl customers unhappy with these changes should check their Terms and Conditions. It is also unclear at the moment whether Telewest customers will be affected by the new Traffic Shaping policy.

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