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[Tuesday 16th December 2008 at 7:52 pm]

Have I missed out some small but significant bit of information about Virgin Media's traffic management? I really don't see it as being the great destroyer of Internets that reading news:virginmedia.discussion.broadband would have you believe (and given that's a newsgroup one would assume that the posters are reasonably clued-up).

Traffic shaping based on protocol - I can see why this is bad, but that's only because most ISPs that implement it do so to avoid upgrading their infrastructure, and do so in very unfriendly ways.

There's no end of people saying "this is crap", but hardly anyone who looks at it and goes "this might actually be a good thing". Surely it can't all be bad?
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From: pewterfish
Tuesday 16th December 2008 at 11:28 pm (UTC)
Why can't it be all bad, pray tell? Some days, it's all shit.

Oh, and security alert re IE, btw. Small number of sites affected, but possible unclosed XSS hole, etc. - check the Register / Slashdot for details.
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[User Picture]From: boggyb
Wednesday 17th December 2008 at 7:36 pm (UTC)
The traffic management: When VM first turned this on this did seem to noticeably improve connection performance for some people. Of course, anyone who dared to post to news:virgin.discussion.broadband saying so got flamed to a crisp. Best troll award goes to one poster who was so distraught by his 4Mb/s connection being throttled to 2Mb/s that he even worked out his actual network usage, and then proceded to ignore the fact that he was only using 1Mb/s. Runner-up awards to the people who are so concerned about the impending shadow of throttling that they hold off downloading stuff *until* the throttling period has started, to try to avoid triggering it multiple times. And an honourable mention for all those who go "but what if I absolutely had to download umpteen patches etc and they absolutely had to come down this second damnit and this is costing me money and I will be invoicing you for any financial loss this causes me". All hail usenet, the den of trolls.

It's worth noting that VM have two different implementations of this. On cable, your download is reduced for a few hours if you manage the equivalent of saturating it for half an hour or so. On ADSL, each week the top 5% of downloaders get throttled for the next week. Given that those 5% are usually responsible for 90-odd% of all traffic (the numbers vary, but are consistently around 5/90 and were like that even back in dialup days), it works quite well and certainly I can saturate my pokey little 1MB connection whenever I want.

The traffic shaping: Ok, almost all ISP implementations of this have been overly aggressive and downright unfriendly network-wise, and if they need to do this aggressively then it's a sign that their backbone isn't up to it. Unfortuantly, it's impossible for any ISP to implement this in a actually useful manner (well-provisioned backbone, priotise VoIP, streaming and gaming) because the tweakers and torrenters will abuse it.

As an aside, whatever happened to the 50:1 cotention ratio? As far as I know residential DSL lines still have a 50:1 cotention ratio, yet no-one seems to realise that this might affect their speed.

IE flaw: thanks for the heads up. The reports I've seen also indicate remote code execution as a possibility. There does seem to be an usually large amount of fuss over at, as it's hardly nastier than previous XSS/drive-by download flaws in IE.

My AV is up to date and is working, so I'm not too worried, though I have seen a lot of IE windows hang/disappear on me recently. I'm guessing those are people attempting to exploit IE7, and managing to instead confuse IE6.
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