P2P Prioritisation – Does anyone notice it?

Exetel came out publicly, screaming: We WILL shape P2P, this was around 1 year and a bit ago.

When they did this, a lot of customers threatened churns, and screamed all tooth and nail at Exetel about this action that they had taken.

Exetel at that point also claimed (and now, correctly): “Many Australian ISPs were using P2P limiting hardware, without telling customers”.

Exetel’s key point (and back then, problem) was that they publicly admitted it, and told customers honestly that they were doing it.

They were attacked, and ripped down to the bone about that. My blog here wasn’t running at that point in time, but I do still remember considering the point: “Is this the way our networks are going? ISPs will all start shaping P2P, simply to save some dollars, and release some value for users.”.

I also remember Netspace REALLY pissing me off majorly after that, and I considered the possibility of joining Exetel, but also realised the P2P shaping might have a problem with my getting Linux ISO updates.

I continued to follow a thread full of churn threats, whinging, whining, abuse, attacks, and deletions, and saw that a lot claimed they hadn’t even noticed it.

Now, when I look at some Linux ISOs with my Netspace connection, I suspect Netspace of rate limiting torrents (as do many other P2P users on Whirlpool, in Month (3) now, with slow torrents on ADSL2+ and Vic ADSL connections).

Netspace at that point claimed they were working on the network, but, some many months later, many users are still observiing slow torrent speeds, and the ISP has not made any official comment either way about the issue of P2P traffic being slower for its ADSL2+ and Vic users, and possibly other ADSL users (I haven’t followed the thread, I just know I get poor P2P performance right now on a Linux ISO with plenty of traffic on it).

Looking back at Exetel and now WestNet’s publicised results, we can see a few things emerging.

– Internode have had to put prices up, obviously to avoid a P2P shaping solution, as they find that they are using more, more and more usage and not able to fit the contention ratio that they like to maintain for all users.

– Exetel are now planning to emerge even further, and not stop at rate limiting, but also, start caching it (sometime soon), which means: Fast P2P for P2P that all users are accessing. This is great for those that are downloading popular Linux ISOs.

– WestNet report that they have had shaping ready for the last year, and all results they have had so far have been very positiive.

Many of WestNet’s users can be read stating they had no idea and didn’t even notice it.

What this is, is a peak ceil protection.

I have similar inhouse shaping of traffic to ensure VoIP works great, this is done by using a Linux application known as TC (Traffic Control), it effectively rate limits traffic that you flag, and allows packets to leave the connection sooner than others, and even rejects packets to force slow downs. This is due to having a slow-ass, stupidly limited 256kbps upload on my Nutspace, oops, Netspace connection, unfortunately, we have no choice but to make the most of it, or pay through the roof for a measily 128kbps increase in upload (pretty stupid, considering the price increase).

I’m going to start simply accepting that some ISPs will shape P2P, of course, some have better plans than others, like Exetel shaping during a specific time to save themselves $60,000 a MONTH! WOW.

And it seems Westnet use the same method I have tried to implement (and unfortunately have to put a cap on it anyway), whereby traffic is allowed to freely saturate the connection, however, once the ceil is reached, they immediately reject Layer 7 filtered packets to slow P2P traffic down to an acceptable level so that they can always maintain a buffer (or leave the link at no more than 100% utilisation).

The point here is to stop the link being OVER utilised by slowing P2P down so that other users can utilise.

Such peaks are generally only ever hit during PEAK times, and those are only generally a few hours of a regular P2P 24 hour period (for the smart P2Pers).

We shouldn’t expect P2P shaping for excessively long, news has it that more international links are going in, and capacity increasing, and more competition, so prices will come down for ISPs, and data will rise or prices come down for End Users who will benefit (mildly at first) from the new links provisioned.

I think for now we will all likely just come to expect it, and as the international and local issues sort themselves out to the benefit of competition and consumers, more prices and more plans tailored to users will be increasingly available.


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