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Virgin Media Broadband Traffic Management: Goal Posts Moved Again

# 16 April 2013, 13:39 by cfteam

Virgin Media have again made major changes to their Cable Broadband Traffic Management Policies. They continue to persist with traffic management despite the increasing availability of unrestricted FTTC services through the BT wholesale network.

For 30Mb or higher tiers the weekday daytime hours restriction is lifted, but traffic will be monitored on weekday evenings between 16:00 and 23:00 and weekends between 11:00 and 23:00. Use is now assessed on an hourly basis. Throttling is then applied hourly if the thresholds are exceeded with increasingly tough restrictions hourly if the user persists to hog bandwidth.

As an example, for XL60 users (60Mbps downstream, 3Mbps upstream), you can download 3600MB in an hour. Exceed that and your next hour’s download speed is throttled by 30%. Cease downloading and after that hour’s throttling your speed reverts to normal. But if you continue downloading only a further 900MB in the second hour, then a further 2 hours of 40% speed restriction would apply. If use isn’t moderated you can be throttled for the entire evening period. By comparison, the previous evening slot XL60 policy allowed 5000MB of data in total in the monitoring period before a 5 hour 40% restriction kicked in. If a user is clever, and spreads things about a bit, keeping under the hourly threshold, they might actually be able to download more in the evening than the old policy.

The upload restrictions are probably easier to trigger, and arguably more restrictive. XL60 users previously could upload a 4200MB allowance in the monitored period before a 75% speed restriction applied. Now you can only upload 900MB in an hour before a 60% reduction kicks in for the next hour limiting you to a further 300MB upload if you wish to avoid the 75% reduction for the following two hours. Comments posted on Cable Forum and elsewhere indicate that the saturation of upstream capacity causes problems to Virgin Media, which perhaps explains these harsh limits.

The good news, if there is one, is that upload and download is monitored separately. You can be throttled on you upstream, and yet remain unrestricted on downstream and vice versa.

20Mb or lower legacy users are also monitored. Their data allowance is measured as a single total over the entire evening period of 5pm to 10pm download and 3pm to 8pm upload. Breach the limit and a severe 75% speed reduction occurs for the next 5 hours.

P2P and Newsgroup traffic is continuously throttled between 4pm to midnight on weekdays and 11am to midnight at weekends. The speed reduction is not stated on Virgin Media’s website and it is not clear if this type of data also contributes to your general limits. These restrictions apply to all cable broadband services.

The frequency of changes to Virgin Media’s policies is a challenge for customers. In mid February Virgin Media changed the evening slot monitoring period. Then towards the end of March restrictions were reduced from 50% to 40% downstream, reputedly in response to the ASA ruling that Virgin Media’s Broadband is Not Unlimited.

Virgin Media’s Cable Broadband Traffic Management Thresholds

Cable Forum Discussion of this new policy

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