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BTopenworld throttles P2P applications

The UK ISP admitted to its users over the weekend that it is imposing traffic controls on popular peer-to-peer applications
Written by Wendy McAuliffe, Contributor

BTopenworld has admitted that it is deliberately throttling popular peer-to-peer (P2P) applications on its broadband service in order to preserve bandwidth, despite denying such allegations in the past.

The product management team announced to its customers on Saturday night that it has been imposing traffic controls on "bandwidth-hungry" applications and ports such as file-swapping services and instant messenger applications, in order to prevent the network from getting clogged up. According to BTopenworld customers, the ISP has breached its terms and conditions by categorically claiming that no such throttling was going on, despite receiving a constant stream of complaints about slow download speeds.

"The network is dimensioned for normal day-to-day Internet use," said a statement posted by BTopenworld product management in their newsgroup on Saturday. It continued: "However, our traffic analysis has shown that a small percentage of customers using P2P applications use up a very large percentage of the available bandwidth, to the detriment of the majority of customers who use the network for normal browsing, email and gaming."

BTopenworld has been walking on thin ice with its customers in recent weeks, for forcing "heavy" users of its Anytime package onto a significantly inferior service. The traffic restrictions on its broadband service has left many customers fuming -- the ZDNet News mailroom has been inundated with reader complaints that the broadband service has been reduced to a speed of 0.02kb/s.

One disgruntled BT customer writes: "This surely is not the way forward for broadband. They [BT] have continuously lied to their customers, they have changed the service to the detriment of their customers. If they are unable to handle the bandwidth used by their current 30,000 broadband customers how will they ever hope to be able to cope with the forecasted 3,000,000 in the future?"

BTopenworld charges a £150 installation cost, and £39.99 a month for its broadband service. "I now have another 11 months of using/paying for the service that never admits to a problem consistently, never describes what the fault actually is, or how (or when) they fixed it, or what they are planning to do, or who they are," said another angry ZDNet News reader.

The BBC consumer affairs programme Watchdog is currently investigating the alleged underhand practices of BTopenworld.

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