BROADBAND VENDOR Virgin Media has "updated" its traffic management policy to throttle the broadband speeds of heavy data users, particularly those accessing filesharing services.
The internet service provider said that its move to "moderate" the speeds of heavy users is designed to give all of its customers the best broadband service and not "just a few". The firm justified its policy by saying that, when someone is downloading or uploading a particularly large amount of information over a long period of time, it will slow down the broadband speeds for other users in their area who might just be checking their email or browsing the web.
"That's why we occasionally moderate the speeds of customers who are downloading and/or uploading an unusually large amount. That way, everybody gets great speeds and all our customers stay happy," the communications company said in a statement.
It added that at peak times it will also slow down the speed of filesharing traffic, including services like Limewire, Gnutella, Bittorrent and Usenet Newsgroup traffic. Customers will, of course, still be able to use these services, but downloads and uploads "will take longer during these peak periods", it said.
Virgin Media explained that it will "moderate" the total volume of filesharing traffic on its network between 5pm and midnight on weekdays and midday and midnight on weekends. It said this policy, which applies to all broadband packages, will be restricted to Peer to Peer applications.
This policy does not, the company claimed, impact any applications other than Peer to Peer, so things like watching Iplayer, online gaming, making calls via Skype, downloading music tracks from Itunes or streaming music from Spotify and sending an email or normal web browsing will be unaffected.
"It's important to remember that these traffic management policies only apply at peak times when speeds are most likely to be affected by people using more than their fair share. Outside of peak times we do not manage traffic," Virgin Media added.
Defining a "heavy user", the company said that one of its heavy usage customers on a 60Mbit/s service can download 5,000MB between 4pm and 9pm on a weekday before they are traffic managed.
Virgin Media had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.
Virgin Media commented on its policy changes, saying that since these are "shared resources" it is important that they are shared.
"Broadband services are by their nature shared resources, so Virgin Media's traffic management policy is designed to ensure the vast majority of customers get the high quality of service they expect from Virgin Media's fibre optic broadband without being negatively affected by extremely heavy users using more than their fair share at the busiest times," said a spokesperson.
"The policy has been designed to reduce the impact of the top 5 per cent of heaviest users on a daily basis, reducing the detrimental effect of these customers' extreme usage on network performance and the service other customers receive." µ
Sign up for INQbot – a weekly roundup of the best from the INQ