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back to article Virgin Media to dump neutrality and target BitTorrent users

The UK's second largest ISP, Virgin Media, will next year introduce network monitoring technology to specifically target and restrict BitTorrent traffic, its boss has told The Register. The move will represent a major policy shift for the cable monopoly and is likely to anger advocates of "net neutrality", who say all internet …

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Coat

Good

As one of the many who do not use P2P but have my service affected by those that do I think this is fine.

Mine is the one with the earplugs in preparation for all the whining that will appear in these comments.

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Anonymous Coward

encryption and protocol opfuscation..

...should sort this one out pretty quickly.

I have a feeling people will downgrade their service or move if they can't use bittorrent, and then, after a couple of days, the clients that bypass these restrictions will become the most popular.

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BitTorrent is a huge boon to media companies

Such as Blizzard. Hell, they've been the standard choice for YEARS to hand out patches for games, OSs and other software sources.

I shall now enforce a QoS payment system. If I feel they are wasting money, I will reduce the direct debit payment to ensure that abuse of the fuckton of money they receive is not misused or used in an illegal or illicit manner.

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Stop

@Paul

First they came for the bit torrent users, but you were not one, so you didn't just stay silent, you approved.

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Ash
Joke

@Paul

"Mine is the one with the earplugs in preparation for all the whining that will appear in these comments."

You must work for the Government.

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BBC iPlayer

That's BBC iPlayer screwed then - it uses bit-torrent technology.

Doesn't Virgin sell their "50Mb" bandwidth based on "you can download movies faster" ?

Que ?

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Anonymous Coward

BBC included ??

As the BBC iplayer uses P2P for all it's downloaded shows (not the streamed ones) does this mean that anyone using this will also get limited ?

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Max

"I think it's an issue of fairness."

Hmmm.

There needs to be some legislation put in place immediately to prevent things like this. Who is to say that he will stop with BitTorrent? What if inf the future (when its available) I subscribe to a valid HD movie download service that uses just as much bandwidth? Why does he get to decide what is "fair"?

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What??

Ridiuclous. I'm not a torrent user, but it's not right that these companies deny me the choice.

Assuming it's legal I should be able to do what I want on my connection.

These companies are really starting to take the p1$$. First they bill for a service in which you have to share, then they reduce "unlimited" to "Whatever we think is fair", when is this going to end?

If you bought a ferrari for £250,000, and the dealer said "well actually yuou have to share it with 50 other people, and it can't actually do 200mph because we've put the wrong tires on it and don't want to spend the money on new ones"...how many people would be happy?

The sharing aspects of internet links make sense. But the minimum speed at which you can possibly connect should be what you pay for.

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Ian

How about i nvestment?

I live in Japan and have a 100mb connection, fairly standard here. But then again Japan actually invests in its infrastructure rather than just raping its customers with high prices and shit service.

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Great news..

come when Blizzard release new patches for World of Warcraft, since they're delivered through bittorrent and the patching process will now be even more fucking infuriating than it is already. Thanks a lot Virgin.

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Anonymous Coward

@BBC included

No, Virgin just want to toss the Freetards.

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Pirate

SSL FTW

I know what I'll be using along with my Virgin Broadband, to get the speeds I pay for.

Perhaps Paul would like to justify his comment with some evidence and head some of those flames off.

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Anonymous Coward

50mb

Bit strange telling us this at the same time as launching 50mb service. Why would anybody bother upgrading? Even 512k is ok for web browsing and shopping.

(I imagine the nudie stuff is perfectly adequate at this speed also)

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Not exactly a surprise

Not really a shock. Virtually all of bittorrent usage is for illegal filesharing and P2P accounts for a very large amount of an ISPs traffic. That costs the ISPs real cash. P2P isn't free - someone has to pick up the tab somewhere.

In addition to that, Virgin Media sell the very movies and music that are being pirated. It seems a bit daft to expect them to support the very thing that denies them sales.

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Anonymous Coward

@Paul

Evidently you have no clue of what this really means. It won't stop people from downloading using P2P, but if they remove their current throttling then it will just make matters worse. There are already BT clients capable of masking their own packet types, so the downloaders will just switch to these (or even another method of download) and find their current throttles removed. Except now they'll have 50Mb connections, so be able to screw your own bandwidth even more thoroughly.

I'm not a freetard nor am I a heavy downloader. The largest things I download are PS3 demos from the Playstation store (occasionally). It's just nice to know that Virgin have successfully fooled someone into believing that all the worlds problems are caused by Bittorrent.

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Unhappy

Change

I have kept with Virgin through the initial throttles (which only very rarely affect me), and the bad customer service, but this will be the icing on the cake.

I use bittorrent to download World of Warcraft patches, nothing more. These can be large and take long enough as it is.

Time for me to start looking for a new provider. I can do without my virgin TV (or get Sky instead), and switching the 'phone is no hardship at all.

It's a shame, as the service is reliable.

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Al

Virgin worse than Sky

I am soooo disappointed with Virgin I cannot explain. I was on Sky (cus some folk in my house like to watch some new fangled box called the TV - it'll never catch on) and I thought that it really cant get worse but waddaya know it did!

I love the Future Proof blah blah Mother of all BB - yeah at times its more like The Grandmother of BB (with a zimmer frame on her way out of hospital)

Within 3 days of getting Virgin 10Mb (a month ago) I saw my speed drop to 2Mb (down and up) called them and guess what: I was overusing it!!! WHAAAA??!! and the guy said (after he checked with a "manager") its not Traffic Man't but use BT and we will slow you.

Cant wait for the contract to expire now and go back to Sky for some surfing (they crap but better than Virgin - oh the humanity!!!) ... phew Rant over.

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Paris Hilton

False advertising

I'd be interested in seeing the press ads for this service. Will it actually say that the alleged 50mb is dependent you using software that they approve of?

Paris, because VM seems to be run by brain dead feckwits

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VM != ISP

If you don't like it, get a real ISP that doesn't throttle, gives you want you pay for, and promises not to Pharm you.

Some of them even have clueful support teams who will take to non-Windows users...

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Stop

Switch from Virgin and BT

Simple option is to switch, but how many people know anything about net neutrality and will make a switch? My guess only a small percentage of turned on people.

The Government should step in and ensure net neutrality.... oh hang on a minute this Government is all for trampling free speech and civil liberties.

I would bet a fair bit of money this will spread form restricting bit torrent as it is a nuisance, to other thing, like rival companies, then when Virgin start offering downloads they will be lightning quick. Someone should punch Neil Berkett

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Paris Hilton

Unbelievably daft

The chap actually says that BitTorrent is a problem because its users are bandwidth hungry, so it is clearly bandwidth that he's worried about, not protocol, but then he says he's going to tie his filtering policy to protocol (which requires expensive packet inspection) not bandwidth (which requires just simple counting).

Next year's news: Virgin Media to start filtering customers using SSL or VPN, because they are all obviously BitTorrent users in disguise.

Paris: because she knows more about networking than this guy.

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@Ian

I cannot speak for the UK's infrastructure investment, but it also helps that Japan, Korea, and the like are a lot SMALLER. Trying to fit 100Mbit/sec broadband across a country as big as the United States, with its vast amounts of rural area, is a whole other challenge. There's also an aversion to adding backhaul for fear of no uptake (the "cold fiber" fiasco) and because companies are strapped for investment capital.

Now, as for the deep packet inspection debate, how will ISPs be able to manage traffic when it learns that its bandwidth hogs also employ encrypted connections that make it nigh-impossible to inspect the packets?

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@Mark

"I shall now enforce a QoS payment system. If I feel they are wasting money, I will reduce the direct debit payment to ensure that abuse of the fuckton of money they receive is not misused or used in an illegal or illicit manner."

Erm... Don't think so. Direct Debit means that THEY choose how much to take from you.

A Standing Order, on the other hand...

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jon
Flame

I have a solution...

VM (and all ISPs) should sell a product you can use - as per description with no small print.

not got the backbone for it? Then light up some of the dark fibre from the dot com bust or spend some capital.

ISPs are the biggest bunch of thieving liers, right next to politicians. They deserve a lot more agro from Ofcom and ASA than they get.

Looking forward to eu class action suits, just for this one exception :D

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Stop

Forget the torrent stuff for a minute....

Two other sentences jump out at me here. "Berkett was clear...part of a broader strategy to "monetise the intelligence" in the Virgin Media network". And worse: "....said the firm intends to lead the ISP industry in new network services that exploit customer data".

You fucking what?! You are a pipe. A conduit to the internet. You've no business exploiting anything of mine. Hands up who thought that DPI kit was for internal performance monitoring. Me neither. And while we're on the subject of interfering with my data. Back to the torrents; I don't use P2P but as someone above has said - I want the choice to do so with the service I'm paying for. Telewest were great and to be fair Virgin haven't been that bad but they sure know how to piss people off.

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Good on you Virgin!

Shame more don't do this, if I could get cable here I'ld move to it solely for this since I'm utterly fed up of the torrenting bandwidth guzzlers screwing over everyone elses connections for themselves. As the Reg itself pointed out recently, the torrenters are using half of all bandwidth available, and yet they only account for 5% of the userbase. This is nothing but greed from them, and as such its about time other users got what they paid for, and not have there paid for bandwidth guzzled by the greedy torrenters.

Net neutrality? yes, but I want what I pay for and don't want to be funding someone else's torrenting. We all pay our fee's, we all get an even share. Thats a much fairer system!

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Anonymous Coward

Data Protection

Urm, isn't there something in Data Protection that stops them from talking about customers? If the Queen is a customer, what right does he have to tell the world??? Information Comissioner needs a tip off and they will get slapped down for that.

Also, yes Blizzard use Bit-torrent for patch distro, it won't really affect you. In fact if anything, considering the downloader works in the background whilst playing, it will mean that your in game experience is better as the torrent side will not be raping your bandwidth.

On a side note, the Blizzard updater is possibly the worst implementation of Bittorrents I have ever seen. On my home connection I have a larger than standard upload. When I use the torrent side it hammers my uplink so much that my download speed is reduced to 10Kb per sec. If I turn the torrent downloader off, I download from Blizzard direct and get a constant 64Kb. Nice thinking guys!

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Flame

customer target

ISPs targeting home users don't want the users that _use_ their connection, they want those people that use it once or twice a week to look something up or to pay a bill, paying £30/m which costs them less than 10MB of transfer.

It's a fine balancing act of these "preferred" users and the "freetards" along with the infrastructure capacity. It's about time they invested in the network to support all the users, going anywhere near this becomes censorship and is 1 step closer to them policing the net for all those FLAs looking to earn a quick buck.

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Flame

@@BBC included

In fairness to Virgin I'd say that the Freetards are probably the most tiresome, irritating, self-important, entitlement-culture wankers on the internet. I'd want to kick them off my network if I was an ISP and I'm more than happy to hear of other people doing stuff to upset them.

I know the argument comes down to giving people the things they have paid for and a whole lot of more signficant issues for the longer term, but it's hard to concentrate on that when I have this delightful vision of the repulsive grin being wiped off a bunch of Freetards stupid self-satisfied faces.

It's like when the government introduces horrifyingly repressive anti-terror legislation and you end up thinking "well yes, there is that whole 'First they came for the Communists' thing going on, but this is going to really wind up the bunny fascists."

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Anonymous Coward

@Piggy and Tazzy

Are you implying I am having to cope with all demands to use DD and subsequent lack of service or higher prices when I refuse simply because the public never caught on what the difference was between DD and an SO? No, surely not even 'the great unwashed' are that ill informed? If so we may as well all give up now.

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Re:What

***"If you bought a ferrari for £250,000, and the dealer said "well actually yuou have to share it with 50 other people, and it can't actually do 200mph because we've put the wrong tires on it and don't want to spend the money on new ones"...how many people would be happy?"***

If you are paying the standard £20-£30 pcm for 'unlimited' broadband then the analogy is more like this.

You buy a Ferrari with a list price of £250,000 for £5000 and think you have a cracking deal. The fact you have to share it with 50 other people and and, most of the time, are restricted to 30mph zones that are rigorously enforced with speed cameras and other 'traffic calming' measures, are hidden *way* down in the small print.

You aren't happy, but realise you are a complete tit for being suckered by this scam and now realise you can't *actually* buy a brand new 200mph supercar for £5 grand.

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Stop

Tossing the Freetards?

as to the previous poster, they may want to toss the free tards but Imagine they will lose a lot of business. many people including myself subscribe to virgin as they offer the highest speeds. As bit torrenters will likely make up a large portion of their subscriber base they are being short sighted in "tossing the Freetards" Just as the comment is short sighted in its scope and accuracy.

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Absolutely no surprise!

VM launch a s**t-hot service and then just make sure it's not abused they clamp down on the one thing that will ive it a severe testing and drive it's adoption rate up. The only reason for getting a fat pipe, to draw down large amounts of data. The biggest way to draw bucket loads of data? A swarm like BT!

Glad I dumped VM last year, they are so full of it. Not saying the other won't follow this lead, but they are not as pathetic as VM, the ADSL mob tell you your going to get screwed before they bend you over, VM put on the pizzazz before taking round the back for a good drubbing!

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@Conor Turton

How do you know that?

Is it "Common Knowledge"? Did "Some Guy Down the Pub" tell you?

Take that meme and sniff it.

That's shit you're smelling.

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How it's said is often more telling than what is said...

"Part of this involves intelligent monitoring and understanding the way people use our broadband service." OUR broadband service?

Not THEIR broadband service, afterall the customer has paid for it and everything. Extensively too for what little is actually passed onto them.

Glad I got rid of these gets and now enjoy a lovely 24MB ADSL2+ connection that is unshaped, unthrottled and unphormed - all for less than VM were wanting. Thankyou Be*.

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@Tom Chiverton... You get what you pay for:

Someone like Fast.co.uk you mean?

No throttling, no shaping... Just the bandwidth you pay for with good old fashioned telephone customer service and technical support.

I've never been hapier with an ISP as I am with these guys.

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Erm Newgroups

Glad i use newgroupss a lot

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Anonymous Coward

(untitled)

Been said many times before but the ISP should supply what they advertise, not hide behind max figures, and so called "fair use", and suchlike weasel wording. If that means more investment in bandwidth then that is what they are being paid for.

And as we pay them for passing data I don't see they have a right to be nosing and trying to work out what sort of data it is. Not their job, not what they are paid for. Regardless what advantages they see for themselves, or try to claim for some of their customers, it isn't their right to prioritise either. Any provider who does should have their licence revoked.

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Could somebody tell me......

If you aren't going to use your broadband to download movies/games/BBCiplayer.

Just what would you use your superfast broadband connection for...

Surely nobody could handle 'porn pics' ' ahem' 'Just on El Reg Dear 'at that rate.

10mb NTL Broadband which the wife chokes the life out of everytime she runs BBCiplayer.

justlikedennis

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Flame

Its allways the same.

So Paul let me ask you this.?

Why do you feel your more important that a p2p user?.

The p2p user pays his bills for his Internet as does anybody else.

For some reason you feel your better somehow? and that p2p users should have there connections throttled. Sorry mate but perhaps you should come live in the real world. Id love to see your modem statistics and connection info. That's most probably the real reason your Internet goes to hell because your connection is rubbish and you lack the brain cells to understand this therefor attack the p2p users and jump on the bandwagon like every other ill informed user out there.

Cyber

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Gates Halo

Over reaction

Some people do over react. Its not like they are going to stop all p2p traffic just prioritise the packets. Anyone would think they were inspecting the packets so they can come round and beat the p2perp with baseball bats!

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@Paul

"As one of the many who do not use P2P but have my service affected by those that do I think this is fine."

Ah -indeed. Your quality of service is controlled by Virgin Media's customers - not VM's own policies, infrastructure, business model and/or failings in either or all of these?!

As has been said before and will be said again - if you are finding shortcomings in your ISP service it is because they sold you (and several hundred thousand others) something they don't actually have.

What a mug.

Anyhoo - this announcement is a PR faux-pas for VM. It'll be spun as 'the first ISP to admit to snooping on people's data'....

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Anonymous Coward

I work for Virgin so am not unbiased.

But if P2P traffic is consuming so much bandwidth that it is having a detrimental effect on other users then something needs to be done. Other users are also paying for that service and bandwidth is not infinite.

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Paris Hilton

If...

this doesn't encourage them street pirates to get back in business i don't know WHAT will!

Paris, because she can tell a real fat pipe from a fake one :D

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@Piggy and Tazzy

And the direct debit mandate allows you to deny a payment or cancel at any time.

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Gav
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Why not address the real issue?

All this throttling of one or other type of traffic only ensures the traffic changes its appearance to avoid the throttling. The problem doesn't go away.

Why they don't just stop the pretence of unlimited bandwidth and start charging people per usage, whatever it's for? That's real net neutrality. Bandwidth costs; you use more = you pay more.

Once they have to start paying for it, the P2Pers will realise that plugging their lines indiscriminately with GBs of other people's work actually costs them. Suddenly the attraction isn't so great. Traffic falls, everyone benefits.

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Anonymous Coward

What this means personally...

When the kids are upstairs downloading <cough>"World of Warcraft" patches (because as we all know that's all Torrents are used for) I'll still be able to browse the web without my bandwidth dropping through the floor.

I think it best if I don't tell them, they'd only get upset.

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@Charles

"I cannot speak for the UK's infrastructure investment, but it also helps that Japan, Korea, and the like are a lot SMALLER."

What about the density in London? Birmingham? Glasgow? That's the same lame-ass excuse the US give.

We are a WORLD SUPERPOWER!!!! Or at least that's what all the labour MP's want it to be, which is why they keep pissing about "on the world stage", scared shitless that someone may one day actually say "who the fuck are they?".

If we're a world leader, why the fuck are we behind ANYONE?

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Joke

Whats Next?

The trouble with their approach is that once they have forced all the people who use Bit Torrent off, whats next? They will complain all those people who use their broadband for work (download a lot of large files) or connect to movie sites etc etc. are ruining it for the rest! Its the modern day inquisition, They already charge different amounts for high volume users so why should they throttle their use?

Easy solution is to use encrypted links which will make DPI much more difficult. The prols have got to start getting a voice, OFCOM only seem to be interested in the ISPs welfare.

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