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Traffic shaping

JonnyF
Grafter
Posts: 206
Registered: 02-08-2007

Traffic shaping

Since the recent changes made by Plusnet in the last couple of weeks, my Usenet speeds have been very poor to say the least (10kps all day every day)

My question is this.

When pinging ANY usenet server address e.g. news.astraweb.com etc. the replies are in the 2000-4000ms range. At the same time, pinging any other address returns acceptable results (30 - 100ms)

Now, to me this is NOT traffic shaping, but purely Plusnet restricting access in some way to any news server IP.

The reason I say this is because traffic shaping should only restrict a particular type of traffic i.e. NNTP and not ICMP.

However Plusnet just seem to be throttling the IP ranges of news servers.

Can someone with a little more knowledge in this area confirm that this is the case.

Because if so I feel this is fowl play on Plusnets behalf, and should be reported.

Cheers,

Jon.
21 REPLIES
plusnetsux
Grafter
Posts: 122
Registered: 05-08-2007

Traffic shaping

It's probably easier for the ellacoyas (and PNET admin) to simply thottle the entire IP range of usenet providers. Hence even http traffic to e.g. www.easynews.com comes down at sub-dialup speeds. gotta love em.
Community Gaffer
Community Gaffer
Posts: 12,799
Thanks: 630
Fixes: 62
Registered: 04-04-2007

Traffic shaping

Hi there,

Some traffic is prioritised based on signature meaning it can run on any port and still be picked up. Other traffic is reliant on a ports, IP's or a combination of both.

Yes we do list a lot of binary news server IPs and some management is based on this.

Usenet (Silver) traffic will slow down when the network is busy. This will always be the case and the way the network is designed. You can track the volume of Silver drops from one night to the next using the graphing available on the help pages. If you're expecting near line speeds on this type of traffic a lot of the time then you've got the wrong expectation.

BTW We can prioritise ICMP via the managed queues in the same fashion we do with NNTP.

Kind Rgds,

Bob Pullen
Plusnet Products Team
If I've been helpful then please give thanks ⤵

Community Veteran
Posts: 2,821
Thanks: 153
Fixes: 2
Registered: 05-04-2007

Traffic shaping

Quote
Yes we do list a lot of binary news server IPs and some management is based on this.

I know I keep saying this, but I can still see no reason why http access for binary usenet is treated under a different priority to http sites elsewhere.

Let say user 1 is downloading y amount from binary usenet, and user 2 is downloading the same amount (y) from another http site.

What difference does it make to your bandwidth costs and the load on the network as a whole? Why not just let the account be based on traffic type and usage allowance - why does the IP address of the http source come into play as well?
Community Gaffer
Community Gaffer
Posts: 12,799
Thanks: 630
Fixes: 62
Registered: 04-04-2007

Traffic shaping

Quote

What difference does it make to your bandwidth costs and the load on the network as a whole? Why not just let the account be based on traffic type and usage allowance - why does the IP address of the http source come into play as well?

You could argue that point for any protocol or type of traffic though.

The answer lies in the source of the traffic and how much is downloaded vs the amount of people downloading. Binary Usenet is commonly used to download very large files. Let's be honest as well, a lot of the traffic will be 'questionable' in its legitimacy too. I've seen accounts where almost terrabytes of Usenet data has been transferred. I defy the average heavy downloader to match that using 'normal' HTTP sites.

Kind Rgds,

Bob Pullen
Plusnet Products Team
If I've been helpful then please give thanks ⤵

Plusnet Staff
Plusnet Staff
Posts: 12,169
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Registered: 04-04-2007

Traffic shaping

Quote
I know I keep saying this, but I can still see no reason why http access for binary usenet is treated under a different priority to http sites elsewhere.


It's for these reasons amongst others that the catch all profile for every customer breaks down. The idea is to identify binary usenet traffic regardless of how it is downloaded so any traffic from a binary usenet provider whether it's NNTP, HTTP or ping is treated as binary usenet.

What we need to do is look towards the next stage of traffic management. I've said elsewhere there are three stages to traffic management

1. control heavy users
2. prioritise interactive traffic
3. give control to the customers

When we get to stage 3 that's when things like this become irrelevant. If you want your usenet traffic to get top priority then you'll have a tool or mechanism to do that. If you want something else to have top priority then you can set that too.
N/A

Traffic shaping

Quote
I know I keep saying this, but I can still see no reason why http access for binary usenet is treated under a different priority to http sites elsewhere.


I know what you're saying -- but I think the answer is simply that PN don't want downloaders... full stop. They want people who do "bursty" stuff.

They don't want to have to invest in expensive bandwidth.

As I see it, if the average Premier customer downloads 10GB a month, and I average more like 40GB then I am taking up the space of up to 4 average customers. In other words, they could be getting 4 x £21.99 rather than my 1 x £21.99 with the same capacity. Hence, even on "Premier" downloading can be slow - esp on Usenet, P2P, and IRC/DCC --- except for 4am-5am or whatever.

It's a shame they couldn't have been a bit more up front. Of course, if they had been, people who use 10GB rather than the 20GB+ a month would start to ask why their bills haven't come down ;-)

EDIT: Furthermore, my theory that they want to squeeze as many people onto one pipe as possible would appear to be backed up by all the talk of the new central capacity not being about bandwidth but being about increasing the number of sessions...
Zathras
Grafter
Posts: 295
Registered: 01-08-2007

Traffic shaping

ncreasing the number of sessions was to do with routers.
JonnyF
Grafter
Posts: 206
Registered: 02-08-2007

Traffic shaping

Bob,

In response to your first reply.

I do not expect near line speeds 24/7, as I stated I have been receiving 10 (TEN) kbps for much of the time recently, whereas I have had no issues with other traffic.

I fully accept that some traffic should receive a slightly lower priority, but not to the point where it is virtually stopped.... see my ticket.

What I actually do not agree with, is that usenet servers are being targetted by Plusnet. Yes, monitor NNTP by port or SPI and move it into a Silver queue, but do not single out IP ranges on your network for especially harsh restriction. This I believe is grossly unfair, and probably in breech of somthing or other!

Jon.
N/A

Traffic shaping

Quote
ncreasing the number of sessions was to do with routers.


true - but i still stand by my theory.
Moderator
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Registered: 06-04-2007

Traffic shaping

Quote

When we get to stage 3 that's when things like this become irrelevant. If you want your usenet traffic to get top priority then you'll have a tool or mechanism to do that. If you want something else to have top priority then you can set that too.


How do you envisage this control being implimented?

Will we have to decide which traffic we want priority on and stick with it for the term of our contract, change in at regular given intervals (say, the start of a billing cycle) pay to change it or change it whenever we want to?

Regards

Not sure why but this post appeared three times!

Forum Moderator and Customer
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Plusnet Staff
Plusnet Staff
Posts: 12,169
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Registered: 04-04-2007

Traffic shaping

Quote
I know what you're saying -- but I think the answer is simply that PN don't want downloaders... full stop. They want people who do "bursty" stuff.


We've no problem with downloaders so long as they are paying an appropriate amount for the capacity they are using. The best account to be a downloader on is PAYG. All traffic is gold or better and will run at full speed on our network all the time.

If you'd rather just schedule downloads overnight the Premier is the best account for you as there's plenty of capacity available as there's very little interactive traffic on the network.

Quote
They don't want to have to invest in expensive bandwidth.


I think you'll find that we don't want to invest in expensive bandwidth outside the business model and revenue streams.

If you get into the situation where you are adding bandwidth without covering the cost you'll soon be headed towards bankruptcy.
Plusnet Staff
Plusnet Staff
Posts: 12,169
Thanks: 18
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Registered: 04-04-2007

Traffic shaping

Quote
I fully accept that some traffic should receive a slightly lower priority, but not to the point where it is virtually stopped.... see my ticket.


There's no quick fix here, the reason that usenet speeds are slow is because usenet traffic gets a lower priority (silver) on the network and during the day and peak times in particular silver traffic speeds are reduced because of the amount of gold and titanium traffic on the network.

We are aware that some of the speeds that customers are seeing are lower than we would expect on usenet and we are working to resolve this, but it isn't something that is going to be resolved overnight unfortunately.

Usenet speeds should be fine overnight and with multiple threads should be acceptable in a morning and early afternoon but will get slower as peak time approaches.

My best advice is therefore to either schedule the downloads overnight or to change over to PAYG as the traffic on PAYG is prioritised as gold or better.

Quote
What I actually do not agree with, is that usenet servers are being targetted by Plusnet. Yes, monitor NNTP by port or SPI and move it into a Silver queue, but do not single out IP ranges on your network for especially harsh restriction. This I believe is grossly unfair, and probably in breech of somthing or other!


There's no targetting, usenet traffic simply has a lower priority on the network. How we determine what traffic is usenet traffic doesn't really matter, it's all treated the same whether it's on port 119 or port 80 or anything else, it's all treated as binary usenet traffic.
Plusnet Staff
Plusnet Staff
Posts: 12,169
Thanks: 18
Fixes: 1
Registered: 04-04-2007

Traffic shaping

Quote
How do you envisage this control being implimented?

Will we have to decide which traffic we want priority on and stick with it for the term of our contract, change in at regular given intervals (say, the start of a billing cycle) pay to change it or change it whenever we want to?


It's the sort of thing that could be very bespoke and be different for different applications.

Let me give a couple of examples.

Let's say you have a set top box for video on demand, which let's you download films/shows on a Pay Per View basis. Maybe you want to watch a film, you select it from the EPG and choose "watch now", the film then streams at the highest priority on the network (it can do that because the £X you paid for the film includes an element to cover the bandwidth).

Maybe instead of watch now, there's a watch tomorrow button and the film downloads overnight at a lower priority, but maybe doesn't cost you as much.

You can do all kinds of things like that with subscription packages and PPV and tie the priorities in all you like. To the end user the interface is fairly simple (now or later) but the backend systems update the priority on the fly.

Another thing you could perhaps do is purchase a block of PAYG bandwidth. At the moment on a PAYG account you purchase a block of bandwidth and it counts for everything you are doing, but you may decide that you want your VPN traffic to always be prioritised and take that out of the PAYG block, you never want your P2P prioritised, you're happy for that to download at whatever speed it can get, but you occasionally want a speed boost on usenet.

So you can have webpage on the portal where you set these as you want, so you set P2P as low, VPN as high and click a boost button on usenet whenever you need it.

You can perhaps also have a "what am I doing?" screen so that if traffic isn't being classified or you want to be more specific about what you prioritise you can customise it.

I am of course only speculating at the moment, but I think you can get the idea. You can have a simple design where you click a button and it takes care of the priority itself, you can have a page where you can make changes on the fly and you can have an advanced page where you have control over virtually every packet if that's what you want to do.

I'd have though though that most people would use something between the click a button and the first web page configuration.

When you get to this though you can do a lot of complicate stuff, but do simple and advanced interfaces to it. You want to stop your kids playing games when they are doing their homework, you have a block gaming button, don't want your girlfriend spending all your money on poker, then have a block gambling tool.

There really is no end to what you could do at this point, and as I say, there's a lot of ways of giving the power to the customer without them having to know all the ins and outs of ports and different types of traffic.
Community Veteran
Posts: 2,821
Thanks: 153
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Registered: 05-04-2007

Traffic shaping

Quote
What difference does it make to your bandwidth costs and the load on the network as a whole? Why not just let the account be based on traffic type and usage allowance - why does the IP address of the http source come into play as well?

Quote
You could argue that point for any protocol or type of traffic though.

The answer lies in the source of the traffic and how much is downloaded vs the amount of people downloading. Binary Usenet is commonly used to download very large files. Let's be honest as well, a lot of the traffic will be 'questionable' in its legitimacy too. I've seen accounts where almost terrabytes of Usenet data has been transferred. I defy the average heavy downloader to match that using 'normal' HTTP sites.

So this policy exists on the basis of what people 'might' download (I assume what they actually do is a different matter), and you're assuming binary usenet users are just there to download Gbs of illegal meterial?

Isn't the whole idea of usage allowances to be based on what the user actually uses .. not what you may believe they might use given a certain protocol and site. So why is it treated differently within the product allowance?

So how does that make a differnce to your network? HTTP can be used to download large files AFAIK, as can binary usenet. Come to think of it, so can any other protocol on the internet.

Take MSDN, and the World Of Warcraft site. Neither are HTTP blacklisted and can easily invole a couple of Gb download. Yep - it's not as popular as the main usenet sites - but since you discontinued your binary usenet a year or so ago, then that's where we have to go.

So why are the Ellacoya profiles based on site IP and not usage allowance (i.e. how much a user actually downloads, not how much you percive a user to download based on the particular site of the same protocol).

We are lead to believe this Ellacoya hardware is that advanced to detect packet signatures. Yep I know I am on BB+, and I don't expect much from the account as you can see from my usage. My original issue from binary usenet was that I wanted to check my account and couldn't even browse to their home page which has minimal graphics.

The only reason I can see for your decision, is that you tar certain http sites with heavy downloaders and then prioritise the traffic based on that. Should the account not actually be based on how much we use and not how much you perceive us to use based on the website IP we might visit?

So someone from senior management (response for products) have decided they should be blocked on cheapo accounts because they 'might' be used for bad purposes, regardless of useage allowance (and there's me thinking that is what is exists for).

I hope common sense is actually injected into the products in two months time (and the person responsible doesn't have a say this time).