Jun 8 2012
Over the last week the mobile network operator Three have found themselves in the headlines and on the receiving end of Social Media campaigns over the introduction of TrafficSense technology onto their Network.
What is TrafficSense and why is it causing such a fuss, when in actual fact it’s the right thing to do.
Mobile Networking has limitations; data bandwidth is shared between it’s users and the amount of space available to all data network providers isn’t an unlimited resource. Available bandwidth needs to be managed in an appropriate way so that all users can have equal access to data.
All providers want to protect the majority of their mobile users, but will acknowledge that doing this may impact on a small minority of heavy data users.
Different Networks have different ways of managing their traffic usage to protect their networks. Most have fair usage policies which can see users activities limited. Other networks limit the amount of data that can be downloaded per month, before an extra charge is applied to the account.
Three have The One Plan which allows unlimited data downloads every month as part of the contract, but this does open up the possibility of huge data usage on their network, so to help maintain equal access to their data facilities Three have introduced TrafficSense.
TrafficSense is a traffic shaping application which identities very heavy mobile data users and throttles back their usage to make sure that the Three Network has enough capacity for all users.
Who is affected by TrafficSense?
The vast majority of Mobile Data Users will never notice that TrafficSense is present on the network, and this is the way that it has to remain, but who will be impacted by TrafficSense?
Three are quite clear on this, and it’s well documented on their website.
Many Internet users partake in file sharing, and whilst this activity is frequently abused for illegal activities we need to remember that it can be used for legitimate purposes. Three don’t block file sharing but it does get covered by Traffic Sense. Between 3pm and 12 midnight the amount of network space given to file sharing is reduced, limiting its impact on all other traffic.
Not all Three contracts support tethering but some users do try and connect their devices to the Internet through their mobile phone even if this isn’t supported on their contract, and in these instances TrafficSense will block the connection. Those Tethering within their contracts will not be affected.
The final group of users affected by TrafficSense is the most heavy data users. Three have identified that 5% of their users account for 60% of usage of their Network. To try and spread out the Networks capacity TrafficSense will regularly identify the top 5% of data uses and then apply a throttle on their data connection for 5 days, and it’s this option that has caused the most concern. Its important to note that Three won’t limit how much data these users can download but only at the speed at which they can download it.
These seem to reasonable and logical steps to protect a limited resource but the 5% of users who are getting affected are taking the sanctions very seriously, and there a number of social media campaigns ongoing which have the purpose of raising negative publicity for Three, and at the moment they are grabbing headlines.
It’s unfortunate, and I do have sympathy for those who are affected because they happen to use a large amount of data for legitimate purposes e.g. viewing films on Netflix whilst travelling, but Three have a responsibility to ‘all’ their customers, and their priority has rightly got to be the vast majority of their customers.
All the networks have taken steps to protect their bandwidth, after all we don’t want our 3G networks to become as crippled as some American markets. But, because Three offer unlimited downloads, they have raised expectation levels of their customer base, and this now seems to be creating a backlash.
Three have had to make difficult decisions but there is no doubt that they have made the right one.
About the Author
This has been a post by Phil Lane, a self confessed Gadget Addict. To read all his Blog Posts Click Here.
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