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Discuss : Questions and Answers Announcement

LiamM
Grafter
Posts: 5,636
Registered: 12-08-2007

Discuss : Questions and Answers Announcement

This is a discussion thread for the following announcement by Stew Norriss here.

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We have seen a number of questions, queries and issues raised in these forums and in general recently so I have decided to try and address these here. Hopefully this will answer and clarify a number of things for everyone. Of course if you have any further questions then please let me know.

Usenet
Usenet is not as widely used as many of the high download applications but we find that it is used extensively by a minority of customers to download large amounts of data from. Second to that is the fact that it is very network and bandwidth intensive so we took the sensible decision to manage this traffic into the bronze queue for all. This however did not really cater for the standard Usenet user, who wanted to download smaller amounts of text and data at high speeds when and how they wanted to. Therefore we changed the delivery mechanism based on a few criteria. The first was the customer experience, based on feedback we knew that this needed to be improved, so took a look at usage patterns and found that outside the top 1% of Usenet customers no one was really going above 15GB a month. We then prioritised the first 15GB well above current levels and the amount after that was at a lower priority. On the whole this was a success with many customers very happy about the change; however we did see feedback which said usage after 15GB was very slow. With this feedback in mind we improved this level greatly and this has seen a much improved service. This management needs to be kept in place as the protocol like any cannot be allowed to run unchecked across the network.

Tiscali
We recently announced plans to trial higher speed services with Tiscali. While we understand that some customers see the move to trial with Tiscali as problematical due to previous accounts and some previous experience from customers direct this is a totally different prospect. Tiscali are expert in reselling network to large networks and business customers are we are looking to deliver at a high level across the Tiscali network. We want to deliver our product across the network and that is the deal we have signed. Also please bear in mind that this will be an opt-in trial and we will not deliver anything to any customers until we are more then happy that we have a good service tested and trialled by agreed customers. This is also one of the reasons that we are looking into the Easynet trial to ensure that we can deliver the best service.

LLU pricing / SUP
The pricing for the higher speed accounts up to 4Mb and 8Mb are already available as is the SUP policy and the pricing and policies for the even higher speeds products will be available when we are happy that the trial has completed successfully. With regards to the SUP policy, as wholesale prices reduce we will increase SUP levels which will accommodate the new products and technologies that become available.

BT high speed trials
These trials will commence before Christmas and will be available to a select number of customers on certain exchanges as we move towards a full rollout from BT. Customers who are on trial exchanges with suitable products will be contacted by email. We expect the full rollout to be completed by April where speeds of up to 8Mb will be the norm. This will allow us to continue our commitment of high speeds for all. Currently we are looking to concentrate on our current customer base from now until April when the full rollout should have completed and we will be offering these speeds to all.

Capacity
The initial model for broadband was get customers connected and allow whatever usage people wanted, this was coupled with the fact that it was less available and applications such as p2p were not so popular and the prices were much higher. We have now seen this change with the introduction of capacity based charging by BT, p2p and applications similar have seen more then 100% growth which increase bandwidth usage massively. The market also changed towards higher speeds at lower prices available to everyone. Admittedly while this change was occurring we did not do as good a job as we could have around 6 months ago and allowed a very small percentage to eat huge amounts of capacity. Throwing extra capacity at this issue would not solve it and would not see any benefit other then higher prices for a service that continued to deteriorate. This is why we introduced traffic management and prioritisation. We believe this is the way that any responsible ISP will have to go to continue to deliver a product under a sustainable business model. Most of our new customers are low concurrency, light bandwidth users so again this precludes the solution of adding bandwidth as these customers do not need huge amounts of capacity. Also ultimately true unlimited bandwidth also costs far too much per customer with around 50 customers being able to fit onto a pipe which would cost £400,000 a year to us which does not include any of the other costs to the business. So what we will do as a company is continue to invest and add capacity at a sensible level when we need to and not to try and work round a model that we cannot sustain. We want 99% of people to get a better service at great value with us and we will continue to prove that as that’s how we’re going to attract customers by referral, that’s who we are as a company and who we will continue to be.

P2P
This is an application which has seen an explosion of use in the last six months; during the period that we saw a 4% customer increase on the Premier product but those customers increased their p2p traffic by 100%. Clearly this needs effectively managing; are we there yet? The honest answer is not yet too many light and medium users are seeing slower speeds than we would like. As we continue to work on this we will get there. However we will not get to the point where we allow this to monopolise the network and the way that we deliver time critical applications such as VoIP, Email, Messenger and gaming.

Gaming
Gaming has seen some issues in recent days and we are looking into these, some like the world of warcraft issue which has been caused by routing in Paris are beyond our control but we will fix what we can. To this end we have looked at the queues that these time critical applications are in and we have not seen packet drops in either the silver queue that gaming is in or the gold queue, and in the spirit of open honesty we will be publishing these figures on the portal shortly for all to see. We have however taken the feedback on board and have further raised the priority of gaming traffic to see if this improves the service as we desire.

Speeds
There are many elements of the broadband experience that are outside of our control, the main one being BT’s network. BT are now driving their platform harder then ever and the fact is that IPStream does not run as far over capacity as it used to. BT hasn’t upgraded the Virtual Paths in exchanges as fast as they have standardised 2Mb speed products. This means all ISPs and all customers are seeing more contention at peak times that they used to. Ultimately speeds will continue to go up and continue to be delivered at faster and faster rates across the network. We will continue to prioritise traffic at peak times to make sure that no matter how busy suppliers networks get, we will still be able to pass critical applications through as fast as possible. .

Disconnections / sessions
The disconnections issue that we had recently was not something that we were alone to suffer but was not an issue that pointed to anything more then a software and routing anomaly that we have now isolated and resolved. This is not linked to idle timeouts which was released 15th November with an opt out for those customers who feel they do not want idle timeouts on their account for whatever reason. It is a sensible thing to implement this on the Plus and Surf accounts as these are generally low concurrency light usage accounts and when idle do not need to be connected. Further information on this can be found here http://www.plus.net/support/adsl/idle_timeouts.shtml

Our communications
There have been some who have said that we do not want to talk to customers and don’t care about our customers any more. This is just not true. What is a fact is that we share more information with our customers than any other ISP to ensure that people can always see why we are doing what we are doing even if they do not agree. We have meetings with the Forum Moderators, The PlusNet User Group and a customer focus group meeting arranged as well before the end of the year to ensure that we still listen and get the feedback we need. As a company we do not advertise so we realise that the way we grow is via word of mouth and via all of our current customers. We know that a happy customer tells two people and an unhappy customer tells ten – we’re not deliberately out to annoy! Of course this does not mean that we can deliver everything that you everyone wants, but we will ensure that we listen and try to deliver all that we can and to keep one step ahead of the competition in most cases, so that you continue to spend your hard earned money with us.
24 REPLIES
rammie1976
Grafter
Posts: 571
Registered: 02-09-2007

Discuss : Questions and Answers Announcement

How does this communique relate to BB+ customers?

Someone on ADSL Guide is posting that Usenet binaries are not available to BB+, and we're recently told that BB+ is not suitable for gaming or p2p.

What will be taken away next?
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Discuss : Questions and Answers Announcement

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however we did see feedback which said usage after 15GB was very slow. With this feedback in mind we improved this level greatly and this has seen a much improved service.


Stewart,

Can you please state exactly what is the the speed to be expected after 15GB and whether this is 24/7 or differs according to the time of day.

Thanks
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Discuss : Questions and Answers Announcement

Well that is why we are the official source of information perhaps, the BB+ customers have not had Usnet binaries removed at all they still have access. Yes the amount of network bandwidth is lower due to the account type and the design but they still have access to this service it has not been removed.
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Discuss : Questions and Answers Announcement

Stew,
All the limits/throttling/capping/whatever that are in place at the moment - are these values soley for today. As they are to deliver the solid/stable service you want today do you see them being further restricted or lightened in the future (based on your 2006 vision)?
rammie1976
Grafter
Posts: 571
Registered: 02-09-2007

Discuss : Questions and Answers Announcement

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Well that is why we are the official source of information perhaps, the BB+ customers have not had Usnet binaries removed at all they still have access. Yes the amount of network bandwidth is lower due to the account type and the design but they still have access to this service it has not been removed.


and gaming and p2p?

when I signed up for BB+, the marketing of the service implied it was for non-heavy bandwidth users. It implied p2p in small amounts was okay and gaming was okay...

now I see that that isn't so - why can't we have a lower cap for p2p? Its not something I've tried but I quite fancy a go, same for usenet binaries.

I'm not a big bandwidth user - most was 5gb in a month, but I want to be able to use all the internet (some only very occassionally though).
Community Veteran
Posts: 38,209
Thanks: 902
Fixes: 54
Registered: 15-06-2007

Discuss : Questions and Answers Announcement

This dosn't really affect me but I think that the statement about gaming - specifically World of Warcraft - should be modified/expanded in view of this statement in the Games Forum
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We found what we believed to be the cause of lag during game play and disconnect’s earlier today and put in place a workaround while we investigated further. We have now identified the root cause of the problem and after talking with our supplier have just removed the root cause from the network. Users should find that they are no longer experiencing lag etc. during game play, thanks.
Ben_Brown
Grafter
Posts: 2,839
Registered: 13-06-2007

Discuss : Questions and Answers Announcement

Although we don't say so on the site, BB+ should be fine for gaming, the traffic is in the silver queue and as we've never dropped any silver traffic there shouldn't be any problems gaming.
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Discuss : Questions and Answers Announcement

To be honest as I stated above as BT prices come down we are likely to see the SUP limits rise in line with the new products that are on offer. It is always hard to see precisely where things are going but certainly applications will only grow in size and capacity needed and that is something we will ensure we can deliver.
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Discuss : Questions and Answers Announcement

First, thanks for the long and detailed post that covers most of the main issues that seems to be hitting the forums at the moment. I only have two questions:

1, I can understand the need to manage and prioritise certain traffice types, however why can't the throttle on usenet be lifted slightly overnight when the bandwidth isn't being utilised?

2, On the capacity front, although I don't expect you to increase capacity exponentially to allow for growth in certain protocols it does concern me that the capacity isn't being raised in line with customer growth. What is the strategy for lighting segments, is it revenue, maintaing contention or something else? It seems at the moment that capacity is growing far more slowly than customer numbers and I find that worrying.
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Discuss : Questions and Answers Announcement

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I can understand the need to manage and prioritise certain traffice types, however why can't the throttle on usenet be lifted slightly overnight when the bandwidth isn't being utilised?


Simple answer is not at the moment as capacity is never really not being utlised as we see use 24 x 7 however I do admit it is not as high over night. This is one of the reasons that as we look to develop further we will look to implement different time phases into the network management in a more complex manner. However we still have to ensure that even off peak we deliver a product which time critical applications run properly over.

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On the capacity front, although I don't expect you to increase capacity exponentially to allow for growth in certain protocols it does concern me that the capacity isn't being raised in line with customer growth. What is the strategy for lighting segments, is it revenue, maintaing contention or something else? It seems at the moment that capacity is growing far more slowly than customer numbers and I find that worrying.


Again the strategy is to grown when we need and when customers need us to to ensure that we are delivering a good product. Part of this is to ensure that we are utilising the capacity that we have properly and part to ensure that we remain viable as a business and keep prices as low as possible in line with this. We are not at the eat all you like place in the industry any more and to be honest as we move the next few months I would be surprised to see any one with a sustainable model was. It is just the way that the market has moved with the increase in speeds and high usage applications.
Community Veteran
Posts: 5,877
Thanks: 1
Registered: 05-04-2007

Discuss : Questions and Answers Announcement

Stew, a couple of questions.

1) You say prices for 4 and 8mb are already available and higher speeds will be announced in due course; however when the partnership with easynet was announced, in the announcement it was mentioned that those paying for 4 and 8mb would now get 16 and 24mb (iirc) respectively. What about those on 2mb can we have 8mb for the same price - obviously keeping within the SUP.

2) You say that from April with the BT rollout 8mb will become the norm, does this mean that the standard speed of plusnet connections will be upto 8mb?

3) You say that as wholesale prices reduce that the SUP limits will become higher, what about those who get 4 and 8mb through LLU, I belive the wholesale cost of LLU Products is less than BTw Products, as such will those on LLU benefit from increased SUP levels?

4) You say the tiscali trial will be opt in, would there be a way for customers to opt out without a cease and reprovide?
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Discuss : Questions and Answers Announcement

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Stew, a couple of questions.


You cheated an asked four!!! lol


Seriously tho, a brilliant post by Stew...

I would personally like to know if the local exchange for me "may" be included in the trials, and also what sort price we can pay for say an 8mb line, with the current premier "limits"
Community Veteran
Posts: 5,877
Thanks: 1
Registered: 05-04-2007

Discuss : Questions and Answers Announcement

I was only going to ask one, then 2, then 3 and then I thought of 4 :razz:
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Discuss : Questions and Answers Announcement

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BT high speed trials
These trials will commence before Christmas and will be available to a select number of customers on certain exchanges as we move towards a full rollout from BT. Customers who are on trial exchanges with suitable products will be contacted by email.


I'm on one of the trial exchanges. I use the premier (up to 2mb) product currently running at 1.1mb.
Will I see any difference during the trials or would I have to upgrade?

Thanks, Jim