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Free usage figures wrong

Community Veteran
Posts: 1,627
Thanks: 65
Fixes: 2
Registered: 17-06-2007

Free usage figures wrong

This morning between 7 and 8 am I downloaded Apple updates for two PCS (Itunes is 77MB per machine), some Vista hot fixes, some XP hot fixes and some patches for two unbuntu boxes.
Yet my "free usage" for this morning is a mere 25MB
So I'm assuming that either most of my download usage got lost, or more likely you've put it against my Paid for usage and as I sail pretty close to the wind when it comes to my 15GB allowance I don't want to end up paying for usage that actually should have been free,
Can someone look into this?
24 REPLIES
Superuser
Superuser
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Registered: 06-04-2007

Re: Free usage figures wrong

All usage around the change overs between peak and off peak is discarded as they can't tell which period it was in.  As far as I know it should only be around 15 mins.
Phil
Community Veteran
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Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: Free usage figures wrong

Actually I've been having an issue with free usage recently too. I particularly recall one day last week when I did some downloading (iPlayer, I think) well after 12am – more like 1am if I recall correctly – yet still nothing more than a few MB showed. I know that occasionally data consumption reports go AWOL so perhaps data up to about 00:30 might not be recorded, but 1am? That's a lot of missing reports, so I suspect something could be going wrong somewhere.
I should add though that I have no reason to believe that the usage is being recorded as paid usage by mistake.
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,139
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Registered: 20-07-2007

Re: Free usage figures wrong

My free usage figures have been wrong for some time now. Every morning my free usage says about 1.25MB when I know for a fact that on some days I've used a lot more than this.
I thought it was just me but it looks like there might be a wider problem.
Bob
Community Veteran
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Registered: 17-06-2007

Re: Free usage figures wrong

Well it looks like its just loosing it as I did downloaded over 400MB between 7 and 9 yesterday morning and its obviously not on my "paid for" figures and its not on my "free".
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,139
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Registered: 20-07-2007

Re: Free usage figures wrong

Mine's still wrong (see screen-shot). I've been on-line every day before 08:00 but usage always shows around 1.25MB.
Bob
Community Veteran
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Registered: 20-07-2007

Re: Free usage figures wrong

Mine's still wrong so I've raised a ticket.
Bob
jojopillo
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Re: Free usage figures wrong

Quote from: SteveA
This morning between 7 and 8 am I downloaded Apple updates for two PCS (Itunes is 77MB per machine), some Vista hot fixes, some XP hot fixes and some patches for two unbuntu boxes.
Yet my "free usage" for this morning is a mere 25MB
So I'm assuming that either most of my download usage got lost, or more likely you've put it against my Paid for usage and as I sail pretty close to the wind when it comes to my 15GB allowance I don't want to end up paying for usage that actually should have been free,
Can someone look into this?

As pjmarsh correctly states, the missing usage will not have been place elsewhere but discarded. We do this as we can't be sure which side of the cut off time the usage was for. You definitely won't have lost out, more likely you have gained.
In response to those showing none or less usage then this can be down to your session not authenticating with our traffic management platform... once again, you win!
Jojo Smiley
Community Veteran
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Registered: 20-07-2007

Re: Free usage figures wrong

My usage is still recording incorrectly and I've updated my question.
Quote from: Joanne
this can be down to your session not authenticating with our traffic management platform... once again, you win!

I don't understand this - do you authenticate separately for free (which in my case is wrong) and paid for (which looks right) usage?
Bob
Community Gaffer
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Re: Free usage figures wrong

Quote from: bobboulby
Mine's still wrong (see screen-shot). I've been on-line every day before 08:00 but usage always shows around 1.25MB.

OK, let me try to explain as these queries seem to be popping up more and more frequently of late.
We have two methods of collecting usage data:
The first uses our RADIUS platform, which for the purpose of this explanation we'll refer to as the 'CBC system'.
The second relies on data collected by our traffic management platform which we're going to refer to as the 'Ellacoya system'.
As a general rule of thumb, unmetered accounts like the old Unlimited, Premier and Broadband Plus accounts primarily use the Ellacoya system.
Metered accounts like Pay As You Go, Value and Extra primarily use the CBC system.
The CBC system relies on UDP packets sent from/to our RADIUS platform. These 'interim packets' are sent at predetermined intervals and are used to establish whether or not a customer's Internet session is in a 'stopped' 'started' or 'ongoing' state. They are also used to determine the times you're uploading/downloading data. By nature UDP packets can get lost, and unlike TCP/IP packets they are not retransmitted. This means that the system sometimes struggles to ascertain when you downloaded some of your data. Take the following hypothetical example into consideration.
7.55am:     14MB Download started - interim RADIUS packet received
8.00am:    14MB Download finishes - interim RADIUS packet lost in transmission
8.05am:    No data transferred - interim RADIUS packet lost in transmission
8.10am:    1MB of web browsing - interim RADIUS packet received

The only packets we received are the ones at 7.55am and and 8.10am. Now the system knows that 15MB was transferred during this time but due to the missing UDP packets it doesn't know when. What would happen in the above scenario is that the 15MB would be attributed to each 5 minute interval as follows:
7.55am-8.00am:     5MB
8.00am-8.05am:    5MB
8.05am-8.10am:    5MB

See the problem? In reality you transferred 14MB in your free period and 1MB in the paid period. The system however interprets this as being 5MB in the free period and 10MB in the paid period. This is clearly not fair and could lead to you being charged incorrectly so what we do in this situation is completely discard all 15MB of data. This means that you won't see any of it when checking your usage via our website.
Not completely ideal I know but it's one of the only logical ways to deal with the situation without unfairly charging certain customers.
Now onto the unmetered accounts and the Ellacoya system...
When you connect to the Internet (irrespective of account type), you not only authenticate with our RADIUS platform but also with our traffic management platform. There are rare occasions however where the authentication with the traffic management platform fails. This happens more frequently when we have pipe drops or problems with the network. When it does occur, there are two noticeable side effects:
1. Anybody with an unmetered account will notice that usage stops being recorded against their account. This is easily sorted by disconnecting and reconnecting, however the usage will never be displayed on the VMBU pages. Metered accounts are not normally affected by this problem as their usage comes from the CBC system and not the traffic management platform*
2. Regardless of your account type, you will be assigned a 'default traffic management profile'. This heavily restricts/blocks things like Peer-2-Peer and Usenet and isn't that dissimilar to the old Broadband Plus account we used to offer. Again, this is easily fixed by disconnecting and reconnecting and has been mentioned before in some of our Planned Maintenance announcements.
* There is one exception to this. If a metered customer is not authenticated when they are billed and have their usage reset, then they will find that usage stops being recorded against their account. This can be fixed my disconnecting and reconnecting and in these instances the usage tables will back-populate themselves so you don't have any missing data (unlike with the unmetered accounts).
That's probably quite a bit to get your head round but now I've bookmarked this post, I'll hopefully not have to explain it again! Wink
In a nutshell Bob, I don't think you've anything to be concerned about.

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

Community Veteran
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Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: Free usage figures wrong

Not sure that explains this though Bob:
Quote from: Be3G
I particularly recall one day last week when I did some downloading (iPlayer, I think) well after 12am – more like 1am if I recall correctly – yet still nothing more than a few MB showed.

That's on Extra, and I was clearly still authenticated with the Ellacoyas as my profile was fine and some usage was being recorded – just nowhere near as much as I'd expect. The only way your explanation could have applied in this scenario was if your CBC system hadn't received a UDP packet for the over an hour between 12am and when the iPlayer download finished. That, I would have thought, is fairly unlikely? Furthermore, I'm pretty certain I've seen similar symptoms during other free usage periods too… it was just that one that particularly stuck in my head.
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,139
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Registered: 20-07-2007

Re: Free usage figures wrong

I don't think it explains my problem either.
I'm on "Extra" so presumably my usage is being collected by the CBC system. My free usage has been between 1.23MB and 1.49MB every day since the start of my new billing period (and also prior to that) but I know that I have been on the Internet most mornings before 08:00, sometimes as early as 06:30.
For example on Tuesday 22nd, I downloaded the iPhone OS4 update (around 200MB I think), some time between 06:30 and 07:30 yet my free usage is showing as 1.49MB.
I've also noticed that my "Monthly Usage" view is showing hardly any free usage (see screenshot 1) but my "Internet Activities" view is showing 19% free usage (see screenshot 2).
Quote from: Bob
In a nutshell Bob, I don't think you've anything to be concerned about.

I'm not particularly concerned as it doesn't affect my billing but I think that there is definitely a problem somewhere.
Bob
Community Veteran
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Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: Free usage figures wrong

Good thinking re. checking Internet Activities: mine shows a whole 30% as free usage, whereas VMBU's figures say that my free usage is a mere 212MB out of 14.89GB (that's less than 2%!). If I recall correctly, Dave Tomlinson told me a while back that Internet Activities solely uses Ellacoya data, so that would explain why that's more accurate even though CBC-based usage is broken off-peak.
Community Gaffer
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Re: Free usage figures wrong

Yes, the Internet Activities percentages are based on the data from the Ellacoya system rather than the CBC system. If what you're saying above is true Thomas then I'd be inclined to agree that something is amiss.
I'll see if I can find the time to look into it further when I'm next in the office...
[Moderator's note by Thomas (Be3G): full quote of preceding post removed, as per the forum rules.]
Edit: An internal problem has been raised to have this looked into (ref: 6247Cool. From the little investigating I've done it seems as if an hours worth of off-peak CBC data is missing for a lot of customers. Having said that, this could be how the system works (discarding a full hours worth of data) which would explain what you're reporting here Thomas.

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

Community Veteran
Posts: 6,111
Thanks: 1
Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: Free usage figures wrong

Any luck figuring out what's going on here Bob? I can now offer you another example; I watched Doctor Who in HD on iPlayer last night until shortly after 1am yet VMBU is showing only ~20MB usage for this morning's free period. So it does indeed look like you're correct in that it's a full hour being lost. VMBU never used to be like this; prior to upgrading from Value to Extra a few months ago I did loads of iPlayer downloads during the free period, and they'd always be reflected (more or less) in VMBU's figures… so whatever's changed has only done so since I moved to Extra.