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BBP - attempt at a constructive thread.

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BBP - attempt at a constructive thread.

Firstly apologies for the off topic post, this should really sit in the ideas and suggestions forum, but does contain a small component of feedback so hopefully I'll be let off. Moderators - please feel free to move this thread if you deem it badly enough misposted, but I do think it has value being present in this forum.

Secondly, sorry for opening yet another BBP thread, but the majority of previous threads seem to have degenerated into light/heavy user conflicts and very little of any constructive value seems to have come out of them.

Thirdly, please try to avoid comments on the good/bad of the situation and who's at fault. I have my own views on this but am making a point of not expressing them in this thread.

Finally my company is 100% reliant on this internet connection. On current evidence, allocation to the BBP would put me straight out of business. I currently subscribe to the top end business package, am a heavy user and cannot upgrade with Plusnet short of moving to SDSL which is not currently available. This is a matter of real concern to me personally.

Onto the 'constructive' suggestions -

From the reported experiences of those on the BBP I strongly suspect that it's binary news readers that are swamping the bandwidth. Could Plusnet not make some constructive suggestions in this area along the lines of 'Please limit BNRs to a maximum of X concurrent connections and limit bandwidth use to XX% of your current rated connection'. It could also be suggested that BNR activity be restricted where possible to low useage hours overnight.

Obviously individuals would be free to follow or ignore this advise but I think the majority of users are responsible and would prefer straight advise of this nature rather than the current Plusnet line which appears to be 'If your in the top 0.3% of bandwidth users we may move you onto the managed platform unless you alter your activities by an undefined amount'.

I know I'd prefer to follow this advise rather than experience 5K transfer rates.

A more constructive approach would be for Plusnet to invest in upgrading their own Usenet service so that the use of external servers was rarely necessary. This could dramatically reduce the external traffic generated by BNRs and would probably be welcomed with open arms by all Plusnet/Usenet users (even if a small subscription charge was involved for this 'premium service').

Anyway that's my four penneth worth.

It may be that I'm placing too much emphasis on the BNR aspect of the situation, but does anyone else have constructive suggestions on how heavy use individuals could better manage their personal bandwidth useage?
11 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 14,469
Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: BBP - attempt at a constructive thread.

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From the reported experiences of those on the BBP I strongly suspect that it's binary news readers that are swamping the bandwidth. Could Plusnet not make some constructive suggestions in this area along the lines of 'Please limit BNRs to a maximum of X concurrent connections and limit bandwidth use to XX% of your current rated connection'. It could also be suggested that BNR activity be restricted where possible to low useage hours overnight.


Plusnet have already identfied this as fact. Some managed users are bypassing the restrictions imposed by making multiple connections to the news readers and thus using a lot of the available bandwidth on the managed 'pipe'. Plusnet are trying to put further restrictions in place for access to the news servers by managed users so the managed pipe is more evenly distribited amoungst the people on it. This is the current reason why some users are only getting 5KBs.

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A more constructive approach would be for Plusnet to invest in upgrading their own Usenet service so that the use of external servers was rarely necessary.


I'm not sure I understand this comment, especially the bit about the 'use of external servers'. You may not aware of the investment Plusnet made earlier this year to upgrade the usenet servers to produce one of the best (at the time) usenet service any ISP had - Plusnet can never compete with the big dedicated news service companies but they can compete with other ISPs and did.

Plusnet invested in a lot of hardware (4 readers, 2 spool servers, 2 feeder servers and several other servers and 14TB RAID of disk space). They also get a newsfeed from multiple locations and receive in excess of 1TB of data every day. This all added up to a retention of many months for text groups and approx 4 -> 5 days for binary newsgroups with completion of 90->95%. It ran very well for several months but then started to go downhill or the reasons I will explain below.

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This could dramatically reduce the external traffic generated by BNRs and would probably be welcomed with open arms by all Plusnet/Usenet users (even if a small subscription charge was involved for this 'premium service').


The issue here is not the feeds or external traffic but the BT centrals and getting the news data to you (anything you download from whatever location must go via the BT central pipes - plusnet currently have 16 x 155Mbs pipes). The news feeds from other news servers that fill up plusnets cost very little compaired to the costs of the BT centrals and this is where one of the major problems occured.

It was I believe because of the quality of the news service Plusnet offered that attracted many heavy users - they found they could get what they needed from plusnet rather than paying x $ to a dedicated news service so this attracted a lot of people who's usage was much higher than average. As a result, the amount of data being sucked out of plusnets news servers increased dramatically. This had two effects: 1) The volume of data increase so more bandwidth was needed on the BT centrals so plusnet turned on more pipes (@ £316K/year per 155Mbs pipe) which got used up within a few days. 2) Due to the increase of data being sucked off, the news servers could not cope so bodies for headers could not be written quick enough so completion degraded to the level it is now.

So it was not just the cheap costs for broadband that plusnet offered, it was the excellent news service that was available that started the degrading of the service due to the shear volume of data being extracted.

So the idea of making the news service better and faster would have just attracted more people to the extent that no amount of additional hardware could cope with the load as more and more people took more and more data from it. (Saying that, plusnet are investing in a 3rd spool server and 5th reader server to try and improve the completion which should be live in a few days). Thus plusnet needed to control or manage these volumes which were uneconomic and unsustainable and likely to impact all users due to overloaded BT centrals.

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It may be that I'm placing too much emphasis on the BNR aspect of the situation, but does anyone else have constructive suggestions on how heavy use individuals could better manage their personal bandwidth useage?


I think it has played a big part in this. It became too popular.
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BBP - attempt at a constructive thread.

Many thanks for the comprehensive and informative response.

I'd no intention of criticising Plusnets Usenet service but, as stated, it can be good for an ISP, but no match for a dedicated Usenet provider.

Shame I was wrong about the use of external news servers (Giganews and a multitude of others) generating more external (expensive) traffic than the use of Plusnet's own - I never have been that great with networks. That mistake on my part knocks the wjole upgrade thing on the head anyway.

Still open to construtive, clear suggestions that don't rely purely on self control or involve MACs.
the_norris
Grafter
Posts: 463
Registered: 02-08-2007

BBP - attempt at a constructive thread.

Hi

Taking the thinking that news Groups is the biggest or big use of the traffic. One idea would be be the throttle the NTTP ports.

Now taking the idea one step further - ONLY throttle them during peak hours. The early hours of the moring eg 12 midnigt to about 6am. - Which is the quietest. There would be not throttle.

Heavry use in this period would not effect the majority of users and biz's etc.

Another idea would one that is used on the dial platform and I think that other ISPs use this too:

Early hours of the morning to not count on the usage - like the Connect Range of Products with the 'Nighttime' Free extra time.

When I was on the Connect range before BB. I scheduled large downloads to run is this time window.

Phil
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BBP - attempt at a constructive thread.

For what it's worth, the only reason I pay for a 2mbit connection is so that I can make the most out of usenet.

I don't use Plusnets servers, I pay for two premium services (usenetserver and easynews). I know however that Plusnets servers were classed as very good for a ISP. Still nowhere near a dedicated usenet server but very good for a ISP.

To be honest i'm quite annoyed that usenet users are now getting blamed for poor performance on the BBP. First Plusnet moved people onto the BBP for effecting 99.7% of users. We were then told this wasn't about a cap and that we are still able to download as much as we like.

It seems that now usenet users are being blamed for poor performance on the BBP. Why dont Plusnet now kick us off that and move us to another pipe (Usenet Bad Boys), or possibly even go so far as making a third group (P2P Bad Boys)

Another thing i'd like to mention is this so called 'bypassing the restrictions' imposed by making multiple connections. There is NOTHING underhand or sneaky about this.

Any remotely modern news reader package will allow you to open multiple connections to a server. Most usenet connections are capped at a certain rate 40KB, 60KB etc. If you want to actually use your ALL your bandwidth for usenet then you have to open multiple connections.

It's only reasonable for someone to want to be able to download something at the maximum that their connection allows. After all if you were surfing the web and download via HTTP what would you prefer, to download a file at half your max speed or full speed.
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BBP - attempt at a constructive thread.

Last night I gave up after two hours of trying to download headers for the text based news group uk.telecom.broadband. NNTP connections to Plus Net servers are timing out. I also subscribe to two premium news servers for the completion ratio and retention. For over a year now it was promised that the hardware would be upgraded and the completion ratio would improve. NADA ZIP thus my premium news servers. However I have not even tried to get the headers because of the time outs.

From the comments of NNTP hijacking bandwidth and port redirectors circumventing restrictions, it looks to me that PN never had thought this through and make good on their claim of providing 3X better connection speed than the contention.
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BBP - attempt at a constructive thread.

Easy there. Let's try and stick to the 'constructive' theme before we decend into another pointless round of criticism.

I've no beef with usenet users. I'm also a heavy usenet user. I also subscribe to two premium usenet services. I also avoid using Plusnet servers because the completion rate makes it hardly worth the trouble. I also appreciate how much bandwidth this can consume and throttle back my BNR to allow other PCs on my network to browse, mail and download at reasonable speeds.

I'm just seeking some constructive way forward rather than the 5Kb managed platform currently imposed on the unfortunate few.

I know victims of the BBP are utterly exasperated and beyond the end of their tethers - who wouldn't be given the current situation?

Unfortunately the fact remains that bandwidth is a finite resource and all ISPs will be operating under the same economic constraints as Plusnet (dictated by BT pricing policies and the regulator). I would hate to jump out of the frying pan only to find myself in the fire with another provider in 6 months time.

Don't get me wrong this is a bad situation, appallingly managed but please try and restrict this thread to constructive suggestions on possible ways forward.
Ianwild
Grafter
Posts: 3,835
Registered: 05-04-2007

BBP - attempt at a constructive thread.

Quote
It seems that now usenet users are being blamed for poor performance on the BBP. Why dont Plusnet now kick us off that and move us to another pipe (Usenet Bad Boys), or possibly even go so far as making a third group (P2P Bad Boys)

Another thing i'd like to mention is this so called 'bypassing the restrictions' imposed by making multiple connections. There is NOTHING underhand or sneaky about this.


Again, certainlky when we communciated this we were not attempting to blame anybody - Just explain the situation to those who were suffering as a result.

The work we are doing now to enforce a more specific way of managing the platform for those affected users, so that everyone gets a fair slice regardless, is going well and should be complete in the next few hours.

I am trying to obtain a further update on this now.

Regards,

Ian
the_norris
Grafter
Posts: 463
Registered: 02-08-2007

BBP - attempt at a constructive thread.

Look forward to this info Ian.

Well I feel that the idea true 'Unlimited' will end next year. Remember the dialup world "Get Unlimited dialup for £14.99" type ads etc. Turns out if you use it too much you get moved to a rubbish dialup number. (Days when I was with BTIneternet) That way I move the PN. Get Dialup for X but this allows you X Time. Plus Bonus Free time in the early hours of morning.

The same things are starting to happen with Broadband. Now if all users of PN change their idea that BB IS a contended service which does not garantee full speed all the time. And start to use the bandwidth with consideration to other users there would be not need for a BBP and 'caps' etc.

No I'm not blaming the heavy users for anything. I think PN need to take responsabliy for some of this too.

My Idea is that the BB Lite option remain the same but the Preimer account need to change with a high cap - Eg 100Gb (512) , 200(1meg) and 400Gb (2meg) BUT with usage in the normally quite times of the day - Eg Early hours of the morning. (Like on the Connect Range of products). Usage does not count against your usage.

I think some one will need to do the maths here to work out if this is possible. etc. May be the 'caps' are too high.

But the idea is to move the heavy users usage to a quietier time so not to effect the lite users etc.

I think this way both type of users will be happy. ?

Now this can be adapted, Eg the 'cap' could be a soft 'cap' with usage of this changed or a hard 'cap' = not connect etc. Or usage above he 'cap' throttled.

What do people think?
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BBP - attempt at a constructive thread.

I kinda like this idea, though I have severe doubts if any ISP will set a cap as high as 400GB.

The off peak usage idea is also interesting , but does when you download actually matter?

At the end of the day if your downloading 300GB a month, and only paying £40 the ISP aint earning off you. You may not be affecting other users by keeping your downloads to the off peak but the ISPs pay by bandwidth used dont they?
Ianwild
Grafter
Posts: 3,835
Registered: 05-04-2007

BBP - attempt at a constructive thread.

Under CBC, ISPs pay for capacity, which is somewhat different.

I did my best to explain the economics of the situation here.

That posts also expresses our intention to look at some of the suggestions made in this thread...

Ian
the_norris
Grafter
Posts: 463
Registered: 02-08-2007

BBP - attempt at a constructive thread.

Quote

The work we are doing now to enforce a more specific way of managing the platform for those affected users, so that everyone gets a fair slice regardless, is going well and should be complete in the next few hours.

I am trying to obtain a further update on this now.


Any news on this yet Ian?

Thanks