back to article BT slams bandwidth brakes on all subscribers

BT is throttling all of its broadband customers' bandwidth at peak times, not just heavy users, according to independent monitoring data. Early findings from a new hardware-based monitoring project by ISP analysis outfit Samknows show that even customers who use their connection lightly have non-port 80 traffic slowed to about …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Well done BT!

    "Samknows used tests on other ports to simulate peer-to-peer traffic, so even a casual BT downloader who grabs a TV show from BitTorrent faces the throttle."

    So BT is throttling the illegal filesharers? Excellent news.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I thought BitTorrent clients used port 80 specifically for this purpose?

  3. Dan Meineck

    Everything other than Port 80 is Peer to Peer now?


    "Early findings from a new hardware-based monitoring project by ISP analysis outfit Samknows show that even customers who use their connection lightly have non-port 80 traffic slowed to about 15 per cent of the normal speed in the evening, when load on BT's network is high."

    BT's Response:

    "it is only for peer-to-peer applications and does not affect streaming services such as BBC iPlayer"

    My response:

    So every port other than port 80 is assumed to be Peer To Peer? Email? FTP? The list is pretty long. Sadly amusing that an ISP has such an amazingly poor grasp of the Internet.

  4. Liam


    yet they are still allowed to put unlimited etc

    what the hell does ofcom actually do?

    yes, its limited to 75% of the speed you are paying for!

    im still struggling to get over 4Mb from my 10Mb line from virgin... anyone know why if i unplug my gateway i can get an extra 1Mb? doesnt make sense to me!

  5. david bates

    As far as I can tell

    Eclipse do exactly the same.

    I only have to kick off a torrent (Linux distro, obv. ;) ) and my connection grinds to a halt, however little is coming down.

    Unless its my setup...comments by other Eclipse users welcome...

  6. andy gibson


    I'm glad of this. I'd rather surf at a decent speed than have it dragged down by some moron who can't be bothered to pay to see a film at the cinema or hire it on DVD. And before anyone goes on about using torrents for Linux ISOs, I've always found the HTTP sources good and fast enough for me.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I knew it!

    I'd been randomising the p2p port with bitorrent with little or no affect on transfer speeds. How annoying.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bears and woods?

    We really needed a separate ogranisation to tell us this?! Well I am seriously shocked and appalled, I really am! ( Yeah right! )

  9. Guy
    Black Helicopters

    Re: Well Done BT

    But it is restricting everyones traffic, not just the people who should be put in the naughty corner. Legal use is being restricted as well. Maybe they are just trying to get the people who don't use their connection, p****d off at those that actually try and use what they paid for.

  10. Al Iguana
    Thumb Down


    I call shinanigans. For example, if I go to watch a video on the BBC news site, my internet connection shuts off. EVERY TIME. Doesn't happen with YouTube or such, just BBC related content. I have to reboot my BT Homehub to get connection back. Methinks BT are targetting the Beeb specifically.

    Any ISPs that don't have a blanket throttle? I'm feeling the need to switch providers all of a sudden...

  11. green_giant

    Same for me on eclipse

    I have similar experiences with eclipse. As soon as i get any torrent started my internet net will crawl to a snails pace. as soon as i stop the torrent it will come back to normal speed withing a few minutes.

    Anoying as i was capping torrents myself so i could keep on browsing easily.

  12. Brian Miller

    BE unlimited

    If you are lucky enough to be near one of their exchanges I highly recommend BE internet.

    BT suck. They assigned the same IP to my mums business as someone else. It took them 2 weeks to find the fault, and her contract says that because she pays through the nose for a business line she should get connected within 3 days. They tried to convince her it was her config and equipment at fault. THEY can't even spot an IP conflict on their network.

    and then there is the phorm crap. DON'T USE BT.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Eclipse Users

    Yes, Eclipse throttle during peak periods which they define as between 9am and 11pm. Torrent anytime between and you will be throttled.

    Torrent anytime around that time and connection is unlimited. Given torrent clients, eg. Azureus, tend to have some kind of sheduling plugin, this is not difficult to do.

    Eclipse are up front about both the peak period and off-peak so I have never had a problem...

  14. Steven

    Good Ridence

    Well I switch to a new provider this Saturday and about bloody time. My 'upto' 8MB line has never had more than betwwen 2-3MB and downloading large files is painful. Gave their customer services an earful about Phorm and said goodbye for good :)

  15. Tim Russell

    Over subscription

    If your a residential customer you can expect anything from 1:10 to 1:25 over subscription. You get what you pay for! You want a real 20mb line (That's what we have over here btw) then you need to get a business connection and pay for.

    Stop being such a group of freeloaders! This isn't anthing new.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    rock and hard place

    Although i would like to address the stupidity of some of the comments here about how they would like to surf better if DVD thieves are kicked of the net....i'm not going to, people are entitled to their propaganda based opinions,

    But to stop this in fighting, maybe ISP could just give us what they sold us and stop lying and overselling, instead of preaching about how evil non port 80 traffic is.

    (the internet lived without port 80 in the early days before TBL and his HTTP)

  17. Anonymous Coward


    You can't assume all p2p traffic is illegal file sharing, many games including wow make use of p2p technology for their updates etc.. one size does not fit all... and just for the record i do not download or share films/music via p2p.

  18. Miguel

    They also cap other ISPs IP Stream service

    sync speeds of a certain size are attached to a particular profile i.e. your sync speed is 6900, then you only get the lower profile. I cant remember the ranges off the top of my head but I do remember that if your sync speed is the absolute max of 8128 then you will only be able to get throughput of 7150.

    Poor service all round, even if you're not with BT

  19. Brian Morrison

    @David Bates

    Yep, Eclipse are known to apply throttling. My Evolution 4 package used to have a FUP limit of 50GB during peak hours (6-12pm) but now this has been extended to 14 hours a day from 9am to 11pm. All their new connections have caps of up to 50GB with charges for exceeding it, but they claim no throttling.

    The problem is, throttling is the specific action of reducing throughput on ports deemed to be of lower priority traffic, but on top of that is traffic "shaping" which is designed to deal with the 50:1 contention issue where the local loop:backhaul bandwidth ratio was dimensioned for a far different usage pattern than is prevalent know. Essentially the ISP has subscribers with faster sync speeds pulling more and more traffic over pipes that used to be charged flat rate and are now charged for each gig of extra data that flows. We've all seen El Reg's articles on the effect of iPlayer over the first couple of months of 2008, it's only going to get worse.

    I don't mind paying more money for greater usage provided that the increments are reasonable, I don't call over a quid a gigabyte reasonable though.

    BT have everyone by the balls because of passing the traffic across their ATM network, but even where LLU has allowed backhaul on a different basis it isn't much better.

    Something somewhere has to give, the current situation is going to become untenable if the current policies are maintained, after all in a few years time I'm sure that encouraging people to work from home to reduce congestion/pollution/oil usage is going to become a big political issue and if there is not enough bandwidth at a sensible price to achieve that then it will have to be fixed.

    Flames because I'm expecting some.....and we need more icons!

  20. Anonymous Coward

    People are just going to be queuing at the door ....

    ... to sign up to an ISP that is advocating snooping technology (Phorm) and throttling!

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Makes Sense

    Throttling p2p makes sense at peak times, given that most torrents take a good while to finish anyway. What it misses out on at peak times, it will get back in the early hours of the morning.

    Note that 'non port 80' traffic is a bit innacurate. BT actually throttle p2p traffic. They achieve this by packet sniffing, not by port throttling, so you can throw it down any port you like and it will recognse it.

    To be perfectly honest, gettting even 15% on a 50:1 contended service sounds like a pretty good deal if it only gets that low for a few hours a day!

  22. Adam Collett

    Zen Internet

    They give you a connection, a username and a password - the rest you do yourself.

    They do not throttle your bandwith or perform any packet shaping - you just get the line and that's it.

    The only drawback is there is a monthly cap, but to be honest I download quite a few "linux distros" over bittorrent and rarely cap out the 25Gig limit I have and they do do a 50Gig if you are happy to pay, which for completely un-throttled speed is pretty good.

  23. adnim Silver badge

    @AC:well done BT!

    Yup that's excellent news. BT throttle illegal p2p file sharing by indiscriminately throttling ALL p2p traffic.

    Now by the same logic let's throttle or stop completely all protocols that allow for the dissemination of illegal material... We should start with http and ftp then move on to NNTP, POP and IMAP protocols and completely disregard any legitimate use of these protocols.

    BT do not traffic shape to protect copyright holders from illegal file sharers. BT traffic shape to save themselves money, and maximise profit.

    I can only guess you do not use p2p at all for any reason. And because of that it is fine that it is throttled regardless of content. Hats off to your "I'm alright Jack" attitude, just what we need, solidarity of consumers in the face of piss taking corporations.

  24. Jolyon Ralph

    @Mr Coward "just for the record"

    Mr Coward,

    We have duly noted your statement and it is now a matter of public record that you, Mr Anonymous Coward, do not download or share films/music. Thank you for the clarification.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    We're getting throttled because we're stupid.

    Meh - BT have the clout and infrastructure to say/do what ever they like, especially since Ofcom has better things to do, like chasing Blue Peter phone-in crooks.

    BT users signed a contract, including me. We're getting throttled because we're stupid.

    The only solution is massive protest (The Million Man Throttling?) by blocking all entrances to BT buildings in the evenings.

  26. b

    Why are BT directors not in jail?

    That's several million RIPA breaches, and now fraud and false advertising...

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm sorry, what?

    There are still people with BT??? Surely everyone's had enough time since the Phorm thing kicked off to offer the required cancellation period...

  28. Sooty

    port 80

    "Port 80 is used for HTTP web traffic"

    Port 80 should only be used for HTTP web traffic, but there's nothing stopping any program using port 80. In fact pretty much every p2p program specifically lets you choose the port to use because of ISPs throttling classic p2p ports.

    I have a funny feeling the web traffic on port 80 is going to dramatically increase as people figure this out. As most p2p software also uses protocol obfuscation it's not exactly easy to distinguish from normal web traffic either

  29. Carl Carter

    @ Tim Russell

    Freeloaders? We PAY for our lines, we're not being freetards getting a free connection. We should get what we PAY for thats what people are arguing about.


    /caught on a bad day..... hold on, thats every day. :)

  30. bobbles31

    It's their ball

    I guess the problem isn't so much the throttling as it is the lieing .

    People don't mind fair use et al but Bt blatantly advertise something that they don't deliver.

    Add that to a 12 month contract and you have got about as close to fraud as I think it is possible to get without a Cabinet Minister on the board!

  31. Tom Chiverton

    2nd Zen

    Not only do they have a no-throttle and no-phorm policy, but their tech support (the one time in many years I had to ring) know their stuff, support Linux and generic ADSL routers (not just the ones you can choose to buy when you start your service with them).

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Aha, that explains it

    I've tried many times to video chat with my dad who uses BT. I always wondered why we seemed to be unable to get enough throughput for a webcam.

    Next time I'll proxy it over port 80 and see what happens.

  33. Roger Lancefield

    So BT is an HSP not an ISP

    So BT is essentially an HTTP Service Provider and not a true Internet Service Provider.

    Bandwidth caps I can sympathize with (provided their existence and nature is made perfectly clear), but discriminating against traffic that uses ports other than 80? Pretending that only Web browsers and email clients matter? That's just Chav Internet. Pros and enthusiasts are going to look for alternatives.

  34. Anonymous Coward

    BT confuse me!

    I download "linux distros" and the like via an ssl usenet account. I get around 7.5Mbs out of my 8Mbs at any time of the day with BT. Then if I want to use iPlayer or YouTube my connection then grinds to a halt!

    Make sense of that!

  35. david bates


    Yes, Im on an unlimited/throttled package, so Im happy to accept some throttling - I didnt realise they'd changed the hours and made it so savage tho.

    Thanks for the feedback.

  36. Duncan Robertson
    Paris Hilton

    @Tim Russell: Over Subscription

    Yes Tim, however, business contracts have SLA's and lesser contention. Hence the price! You're obviously sitting on a leased line or bundled SDSL or something. Most residential customers can't afford £1000's pcm.

    Personally, I live in a small village, a couple of hundered metres from the exchange. I have enjoyed 7Mbit/s in the past and work from home a fair bit. Up until now that is. It would seem that BT have now decided that me connecting into the office via a VPN is in the same class as P2P downloaders. Em, no!

    What about the likes of Skype or SSH or online gaming? Am I now confined to the lands of broken speech during calls and crappy laggy framerates?

    I think it's time to give Bloody Terrible a call and move everything (phone inc.) somewhere else. I had moved back to them to consolidate and WAS quite happy. However, THIS is NOT what I signed up for BT. Goodbye!

    Paris because she clearly knows more about filesharing and port numbers than BT!

  37. Oliver

    @ david bates, Eclipse user

    David, I assume when you say your 'connection' grinds to a halt you mean other activities too, e.g. surfing?

    If so check your setup. You need to find out what speed you are being throttled to (do a speed test) and then ensure that, during hours of throttling, you limit your torrent client's upload setting to around 80% of that amount. This should improve the download speeds of your torrents and allow enough headroom to surf (almost) normally.

    Hope it helps!

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Think about it you cretins!! If people were only downloading legal content then the amount of traffic would be far lower and the ISPs would not throttle the traffic.

    Your anger should be directed at those users who abuse the system by illegally downloading to such an extent that BT and others are forced to take action.


  39. Richard
    Thumb Down

    Evil BT

    What with the Phorm trials, interference that they are causing to licensed HF spectrum users with their Homeplug systems and now throttling everyone, I'm so pleased not to be using their broadband - Phone is likely to go though.

  40. frymaster

    possible (improbable) explanation

    ...maybe BT just prioritise port 80 traffic and just share out the spare bandwidth equally?

    I don't think that's especially likely, and it would still mean BT is ludicrously over-subscribed

    it also discriminates against low latency applications like VOIP, gaming, non-port-80 streams, email, ftp...

    they haven't thought this through, have they?

  41. Stuart


    You pay more. You get more. And a real belief in net neutrality.

    Your choice ... why winge at BT if you are not prepared to pay for a decent service?

  42. Mike Richards Silver badge

    No wonder it's been so shite of late

    Well shiteier...

    The last few weeks have been appallingly slow on BT - bad enough when just doing a bit of browsing, but I've also had a number of updates for the Mac, the PS3 and Windows that have had to be installed* and they've been taking hours to come over. Now I kind of know why.

    The moment my BT contract ends I'm out of there for someone like Zen.

    * One for Sony why can't I do ANYTHING on the PS3 until you've downloaded the latest firmware update? This can take the best part of an hour. Why not download in the background and cache to disk so I can get on and play a game / watch a movie. Surely it's not a - gasp - hardware limitation???

  43. Paul


    I thought WoW had slowed down. I have the bottem package, so use less that 20Gig per month, and play WoW in the evening. How can they justify slowing it down? Im canceling my conection tonight.

  44. Yorkshirepudding

    no problems here

    dont file share, dont download, dont stream, just use it for the usual, browsing and online play through the PS3 and i can confirm no problems with that, maybe now i said it though they will scupper that

    in the end live with it or vote with your feet and stop whinging

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    re: Oversubscription -Tim Russell

    Completely agree.. you get what you pay for, Cheap ADSL is like fastfood change - its cheap and its crap.

    my ADSL2+ connection costs £50pm, but I get to hammer it day and night.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "yes, its limited to 75% of the speed you are paying for!"

    Except that what you pay for is generally "Up to whatever Mb/s" there is no stipulation in the user's contract with BT that they are paying for a certain speed, they just pay for a connection. So 75% of "some bandwidth" is what exactly? And then of course there is the acceptable use policy. How many people bother reading the T&Cs and Acceptable use Policy imposed on them by their ISP?

    Anybody read BT's T&Cs to see what they say about shaping, restrictions, etc.

    I'm willing to bet that not too far down the line we will see a two tier system of ISP charging where there will be standard accounts where only common ports are available and unrestricted accounts which cost a fortune and could still be throttled.

    Oh and anybody who believes you can simply tunnel "naughty" traffic down common ports hasn't looked at the sort of shaping, filtering and IPS solutions on the market these days.

  47. dervheid

    I'd have thought that by now...

    just about EVERYONE had gotten it through their heads that all the speeds advertised were, in reality, theoretical maximums.

    And, until (don't hold your breath folks) we get a MASSIVE investment in the comms infrastructure in the UK, it ain't gonna change.

    Neither is 'throttling' or 'traffic shaping' or whateverthefuck you care to call it. It's just a tool (that's not perfect) the ISP's are using to try and give everyone a reasonably fair share of the bandwidth available.

    I don't like it any more than anyone else, but as there will always be a few greedy fuckers out there who feel that they have some sort of right to hog all the bandwidth, so be it.

  48. Mike Richards Silver badge

    @ bobbles31

    'Add that to a 12 month contract and you have got about as close to fraud as I think it is possible to get without a Cabinet Minister on the board!'

    They've got Patricia Hewitt - does that score closely enough?

  49. green_giant

    Eclipse scheduling

    I know it operates from 9am to 11pm but this means the only time the net runs at the speed i would like is when im asleep. dont think i should have to schedule everything and wait till the next evening to look at a file i wanted yesterday. I know theyre upfront about their schemes but the timing is bit of an incovienance to me.

  50. John Rose

    BT & TalkTalk

    At home we have a BT business connection and a TalkTalk home connection. Both are often equally slow, usually after 4pm, for email & web browsing. We do not use bit torrent and never download films/dvds/music. Can anyone tell me why we this is? BT's status phone service never shows problems in our area. Additionally, there are occasional problems with sending/receiving mail due to BT's pop3 & smtp servers.


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