3 to throttle P2P traffic in peak periods

From Monday, file-sharers using 3's mobile network will take second place to other users in some areas

The mobile operator 3 will, from Monday, throttle peer-to-peer traffic over its mobile broadband network during peak times in busy areas.

On Friday, the operator sent ZDNet UK a statement in which a spokesperson said traffic management was "an important part" of creating a good experience for its customers, and it would therefore prioritise web surfing, email and streaming over P2P traffic.

"In busy areas, at busy times customers using mobile broadband can experience a slower service," the spokesperson said. "We're taking steps that improve the web-browsing, email and streaming experience on our network by making sure that the real-time experience gets the priority it deserves."

"In order to improve the service for the majority of our customers we are actively managing the amount of bandwidth made available for peer-to-peer file sharing at peak times in busy areas."

3's spokesperson said 'peak times' would generally mean the period between 6pm and midnight, and stressed that the operator would not block P2P traffic, but would merely slow it down.

The spokesperson would not say what proportion of the operator's bandwidth was taken up by P2P activity such as file-sharing, nor how many customers were using file-sharing applications.

ZDNet UK has contacted all the other major UK operators — O2, Vodafone, Orange and T-Mobile — to discuss whether they shape their mobile broadband traffic or whether they intend to do so, but only one had supplied this information at the time of writing.

A spokesperson for O2 said the operator does not shape its mobile broadband traffic. ZDNet UK also understands that Vodafone does not prioritise any type of traffic over others.