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Plusnet's Broadband Usage Figures - Totally Inaccurate?

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Plusnet's Broadband Usage Figures - Totally Inaccurate?

I received an email "Peak-time usage - you have used 3.2GB this billing month" which surprised me a little as I don’t recall using the internet much more than usual. Anyway, checking the usage chart it say that Sun 03, Peak 326.1MB which was claiming that I had used that between 16:00 hrs and 20:30 hrs. I know that I had hardly used the internet that night, other than a little light browsing.

So, I checked it again this morning, the usage figure for peak times up until midnight on Sun 3rd had further increased to a staggering 806.81 MB - I hardly used the connection after I receiving the email and I sure would have noticed if I had downloaded another 500Mb! What is going on?

So I did some further checks: Nov30 01:02:53 Router rebooted, since then the DSL Network Stats for my router are as follows: Transmit: Tx Total Bytes 66663350 and
Receive: Rx Total Bytes 753382477. This shows that my router has only received a total 718.48Mb of data through the DSL interface since the 30th November. Adding up the total usage that Plusnet claim I have used for the same period, it comes to near 3GB. Something is not correct here.

I have raised a ticket but it is going through the obligatory quiet period where support hopes you will just go away. Is anyone else experiencing this sort of inaccuracies in the usage charts please? Thanks.
16 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 13,884
Thanks: 506
Fixes: 6
Registered: 01-08-2007

Plusnet's Broadband Usage Figures - Totally Inaccurate?

I have noticed some inconsistencies but not on that scale.

Remember though, PN have max'd their capacity. It's in their interests to make us all cut down on our usage somehow so that they can take on more customers without upgrading.

Obviously they need that extra bandwidth from somewhere so increasing our usage to make us use less would seem rather logical.. This is of course, theoretical and I do not in any way shape or form suggest that PN are actually doing this.
I need a new signature... i'm bored of the old one!
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Trading standards / ofcom

Has anyone talked to trading standards or ofcom about this? It's helpful that you have your own evidence from your router. Perhaps they can help.
gofaster
Rising Star
Posts: 361
Thanks: 10
Registered: 01-08-2007

Plusnet's Broadband Usage Figures - Totally Inaccurate?

Could it be due to the traffic being counted before the Ellacoya drops the thousands of packets per second? i.e 3Gb arrived at the Ellacoya but PN could only deliver 700Mb
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Plusnet's Broadband Usage Figures - Totally Inaccurate?

gofaster: Interesting theory, and if the rest of the service that Plusnet provide is anything to go by I could understand that level of inefficiency. However, joking aside, I am only interested in the data that is transmitted/received via the ASDL connection through my router - that is all that should be measured, and as far as I am concern that is all I should be paying for. Small margins of error I can perhaps make allowances for from a technical viewpoint - maybe be the odd Mb here and there - but something on this scale is beyond amusement.

I must be approaching what Plusnet might class as a model user. I don’t do gaming, I don’t do Usenet, very rarely FTP and only the occasional p2p (during off peak time). I am the only user on the connection; I use predominantly email and web browsing with an occasional download or system update. I am also very conscious of the speed problems and act with responsibility when I do need to make a download via http or p2p, and perform them when ever possible during non-peak time (normally over night). As a rule I am well below my usage limits (the last three months are around or below 2Gb). If they can’t keep me happy with their service, what chance do they have with the rest of you?

I have actually had a reply back from support saying that their figures couldn't possibly be wrong - but no explanation of how my usage jumped so drastically when all I had been doing was light web browsing. I am now keeping a close eye on how much traffic is reported at my router against what Plusnet claim I have used. I will report back and let you know my finding, but just a quick glance over the last 24 hours suggests that there is more than a modest and continual drift of their figures away from reality, as long as you are connected - whether you are actually using your connection or not - although (and hopefully) so far nothing like the fiasco of Sunday’s 1Gb+. I’ll keep you posted.
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Plusnet's Broadband Usage Figures - Totally Inaccurate?

There is something very off about their usage measurement - so much so that I would think using it as a basis for deciosns might expose them to some legal jeopardy.

Their figures tell us we are doing gaming traffic when we don't game.

Their figures for our P2P traffic seem to be about 2-3 times higher than the traffic the client reports (including overhead).

Oddly their figure for FTP traffic is lower than we use.

My guess is that some of it is accounted for by traffic being badly classified, some by traffic that never gets to the end users (i.e. us).

There are some decent free software traffic counters out there that you could use to support your case.
purplebus
Grafter
Posts: 28
Registered: 30-07-2007

Plusnet's Broadband Usage Figures - Totally Inaccurate?

A couple of weeks ago I raised a ticket about my usage stats. I got a prompt reply which seemed convincing but, having read various more recent posts, I'm now not so sure.

The previous post mentions "free software traffic counters" - I've had a look for one but haven't been successful.

Can anyone recommend a 'counter' please ?
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Plusnet's Broadband Usage Figures - Totally Inaccurate?

Same problem here, for a couple of days when I was at work the usage has shot up irreconcilably. Very odd. Cry
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Plusnet's Broadband Usage Figures - Totally Inaccurate?

Well I have heard it all now. I have received a reply from support and I quote:

"Traffic will travell down your rotuer and be rejected by any firewalls that you router has enabled on it. This traffic can account for upto 800mb per day depending on how many infected computers / hackers are trying to gain access to your machine. This wouldn't be see as data that passed through your router, but it would have come down to your connection from us and therefor is counted in your VMBU."

What a joke! It is totally UNACCEPTABLE - So how am I suppose to manage my usage if my entire allowance could be used in 4 days by traffic that a) I haven’t requested or b) by traffic that is not part of actual my usage? I have no control over this traffic so how can I manage it. I also have no way of measuring it.

How can they put in place a system that restricts my usage based on traffic flow that I don't actually receive and haven't requested and have no way of managing?

I have asked for an official statement to say this is correct because I find it impossible to understand how it is supposed to work.

If this is true and we effectively have no control over our usage, I won't be staying with this provision. I joined an ISP that sold its service as an unlimited service and which has eroded the quality of that service in leaps and bounds over the time I have been with Plusnet. But if I don't actually have any control over the amount of usage I use (according to their figures) and decisions are made on further degradation of the service based on those figures, I simply can't see how this is fair let alone legal. I don’t want to be part of this and didn’t sign up for a service with these principles.

What does everyone else think?
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Plusnet's Broadband Usage Figures - Totally Inaccurate?

So basically PLus net are saying that they will shape, manage and otherwise kill any traffic you actually want BUT they are totally unwilling and unable to deal with traffic generated by viruses and other malicious traffic.

What a bunch of buffoons - I told this one to our network techs here and they are still laughing. They explain that they seem to be able to manage it for a large multinational and they don't even have ellacoya's! Wink

This sounds like another way for plus to avoid their obligations by spouting baloney and hoping none of us have the technical know how or contacts to find out the truth.

Perhaps if they figured out a way to reduce malicious traffic then they wouldn't have the huge capcity problems they are getting and an extremely angry customer base.

800MB per day per customer is a lot of wasted traffic - just writing that off while I can't even use citirix over a business connection beggars belief.
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Plusnet's Broadband Usage Figures - Totally Inaccurate?

Quote
800MB per day per customer is a lot of wasted traffic - just writing that off while I can't even use citirix over a business connection beggars belief.


Can that 800mb figure be correct? That would mean a BB+ user could go over their allowance in 5 days without even turning their computer on.
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Plusnet's Broadband Usage Figures - Totally Inaccurate?

The figure was from a plus.net employee so it's as accurate as anything else they say...

When the OP on that thread complained they suggested he 'turn his router off'.

Bit of a naff response give that broadband is supposed to be 24/7.
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Plusnet's Broadband Usage Figures - Totally Inaccurate?

I am basically feeling totally fobbed off by Plusnet who say, and I quote; “We have no way of controlling the traffic coming into your IP address”

They are basically saying that although they monitor each user’s usage and will penalise you if you exceed their quotas, the fact that they include all unsolicited traffic in your counted quota (i.e. any virus attacks, packet storms, hacking attempts, etc), that it is not there problem if you breach your usage because of it. They go on to recommend that you only make connection to their network if you specifically wish to use the internet and disconnect as soon as you have finished. Further still it is suggested that you use ‘ethereal’ (essentially a freeware protocol analyser) to monitor the traffic to your router - to what ends I am not sure because the Plusnet employee hasn’t answered that question yet. So, it maybe that you also need to be a network specialist to use this service.

It seems to me that they can split your traffic into detailed categories (by traffic type) for billing and usage purposes, but claim that they are unable to tell what the renegade traffic is that goes to the same connection or have any ability to filter it (sounds like maybe some further ellacoya system configuration training is required) - yet they are suggesting that the user does the same analysis with a freeware tool. It seems more like a decision of preference than a technical one. Anyway, it appears that each of you will have to make up your own mind on this one - whether you think this is fair or simply another degradation of the service.

I don’t remember being made aware of any of this when I signed up (in fact when I signed up it was actually sold as unlimited!), do you?
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Plusnet's Broadband Usage Figures - Totally Inaccurate?

Did you cut and paste this from the support reply you were sent?

Quote

"Traffic will travell down your rotuer and be rejected by any firewalls that you router has enabled on it. This traffic can account for upto 800mb per day depending on how many infected computers / hackers are trying to gain access to your machine. This wouldn't be see as data that passed through your router, but it would have come down to your connection from us and therefor is counted in your VMBU."


If you did it not only is it a load of rubbish (if anyone wants me to get technical then I will ) its also poor english.

Perhaps the plus net clown who sent you this would like to step up to the plate ?
Plusnet Staff
Plusnet Staff
Posts: 12,169
Thanks: 18
Fixes: 1
Registered: 04-04-2007

Plusnet's Broadband Usage Figures - Totally Inaccurate?

Quote
Well I have heard it all now. I have received a reply from support and I quote:


I'll be having a word with the analyst that later when he's next in because that's not an acceptable answer. Yes, there will be background traffic, but I'm not sure how 800MB would ever be seen in a month let alone a day.

Some traffic will always bounce off your firewall, random pings, probes and virus scans, we do block some of this traffic now, but it's not always easy to tell the difference between traffic you've requested and background noise. A couple of MB per day at most is normal, maybe a bit more if you use P2P or host a gaming/web/ftp server and people still try and connect to you after you've stopped using it.

The only real way that 800MB would rack up would be a DDoS attack against your connection. It might not even be against you specifically, on Broadband Plus you have a dynamic IP address so it could be directed at someone that had the IP earlier. 800MB is still a lot of traffic and where we can we'll pick up and block DDoS attacks. Some routers also block DDoS attacks, but the traffic would still get counted in VMBU because it will be going down your line. Not saying that this necessarily happened here, but it's one suggestion.

Looking at the figures from the router, remember that we also include uploads and that 1GB = 1000MB, 1MB = 1000KB etc., 66663350 + 753382477 = 820MB. Obviously it's still very different to what's in VMBU and that being said I've added your details on to internal problem 36255 which we have open about this to have it looked into for you.