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Bandwidth usage and throttling (or traffic shaping)
You may or may not know that your Broadband provider has to pay for each bit of data that is transferred across itís network when you surf the internet, check your email and use other online applications.
However, the increased availability of high-speed adsl broadband coupled with the popularity of bit torrent / P2P (peer to peer) applications has resulted in a problem for many Broadband Providers..† How to deal with users that are using up excessive bandwidth. For the end user, this can slow down the connection if youíre on the same network.
It is thought that traffic shaping (or throttling) is a widely used mechanism to combat this problem.† So how does it work?
A traffic shaping solution can control the volume of traffic being sent into a network and the rate at which the traffic is sent on.† Various tweaks can be done on the network to identify particular types of traffic and control itís flow.† For example, many allow web browsing, email downloading and online gaming to flow normally through a network, whilst bit torrent and P2P applications may have a restricted rate imposed so the traffic will flow slower to the user.
So what is the actual purpose of throttling?† ISPs would probably claim that it is to ensure that the majority of users do not suffer from slower download speeds due to certain users hogging the network.† This is certainly true, however itís more to do with the associated cost.† Something that many ISPs may not have banked on.
Unlimited Usage limits from Broadband Providers
Many providers state that they offer unlimited usage, however you may have noticed that they normally come with a fair usage policy, or a limit on downloads during peak hours.† The main reason is to combat excessive bandwidth consumers. When they go over a fair usage limit the broadband provider may activate traffic shaping. Some providers do explain how they combat excessive usage in their broadband offers.
If you use your broadband connection for browsing many websites or online gaming then you can get broadband at a relatively cheap price.† However, if you want to use your broadband connection for file sharing, P2P or anything that will involve large data transfers, and also want to do all this at a truly high speed, then you should probably expect to pay more for the privilege.† If not now, most certainly in the future as this type of usage grows.