What does July normally bring? The Tour De France? Sun (that’d be nice after all the rain)? Well hopefully from the title you guessed what I was getting at - school holidays. What have school holidays got to do with traffic management I can hear you wondering? Well, during the school holidays we see a shift in usage across the day and because of this have to look differently at the management of the PlusNet network. On a normal weekday we see traffic start to increase in a morning from around 7am, it reaches the busiest point of the morning around 10am and remains around the same level for a couple of hours. Then there’s a slight decrease in P2P at midday as the rate limits start and the network remains busy through until 4pm when the Broadband Plus/Premier peak times start and people stop their scheduled downloads. This causes a bit of an ease until around 6:00 – 7:00pm when people get home from work or school then gets busier again until about 10:00pm when traffic starts to decrease again. During the school holidays we see a different pattern with higher amounts of traffic in particular between around 10am and 6pm as the kids, home from school, are online. Most of the increase in traffic will be interactive and higher priority traffic like gaming and web browsing and particularly sites like YouTube and social networking sites. Because of this increase in titanium and gold traffic there’s a potential know on effect to non-interactive traffic like P2P and Usenet. So what does this mean? Well at the moment we’re able to relax some of the published rate limits on P2P in particular at certain times of the afternoon and evening when the network gets quieter. During the school summer holidays though, if we see similar patterns to Easter we might not be able to relax the rate limits on P2P as much in order to ensure that there aren’t any problems with the higher amounts of gold and titanium traffic from the kids at home browsing, watching YouTube videos and gaming. It’s a tradeoff, when there’s spare capacity we can give it to non-interactive traffic but sometimes we don’t have that spare capacity so the rate limits are there to firstly protect the interactive traffic but secondly to ensure a fair share of the available non-interactive bandwidth between everyone that’s using it. All in all it means we have to remain on top of the game to changing patterns of usage across the hour, the day, the week and the month to ensure we are delivering the best service we can to our customers and make best use of our available network capacity. And by being prepared through things like the event calendar I talked about in a previous post helps us to be one step ahead as best we can and ensure we can plan for changes brought about by school holidays or one off events like Glastonbury or monthly “events” like Microsoft patch Tuesday.