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Sunday, 21 October 2007


With the growing disquiet surrounding Comcasts blocking of P2P traffic and the issues surrounding net neutrality in the U.S.A., and elsewhere, it is about time our ISP, karoo (KCom) was outed for doing the same thing. Our ISP like Comcast calls it "Network Management" but in reality it is quite simply Traffic Shaping. They will not say who created the package they use nor which package they use siting "Company confidentiality" which is amusing at best and, as every other ISP in the U.K. uses similar, silly.

Our ISP openly admits to prioritizing Internet traffic. Low on their priority list is P2P and Usenet traffic with Web, email and VoIP being highest. VoIP and email are further described as "Time sensitive". Go figure for email...

While there is no proof or evidence to suggest our ISP diddles with the traffic as Comcast appears to do (forging packets etc) the similarities between our ISP and Comcast are striking.

As well as the now normal Network Management our ISP further slows all traffic down during a 1800hrs to 2400hrs "peak period". This drop in speed is prioritised on which Option one is signed up to. Users on Option 4, their so called premier package which gives the user a psuedo static IP and little else, get a higher priority than those signed up to Option 1. In reality it is broken as there is proof that the Option one is signed up to has little to no affect on prioritised speeds during this "peak period".

All our ISPs packages are slated as being "up to 8mb" but as the copper wiring they own is, in most areas they cover, 40-50 years old with some parts being older and a few areas (newer housing estates, private and council) being younger, some users are lucky to hit 1mb let alone any where close to 8mb. Add in the use of network management plus (obvious) misconfiguration by their own technicians the service offering speedwise here by karoo is poor generally.

Most people in their service area lack the knowledge to argue their point. So, when they ring the poor customer service line and they get told "as the service is up to 8mb, 1 or 2mb is acceptable" they cannot state their point that 1 or 2mb is not acceptable so they plod along accepting these slow speeds. A few of us however do have the technical knowhow and will argue our point over and over again until something is done for the benefit of all.

Karoo will not accept their service offerings are badly broken. Their technicians are utterly clueless on the software they use. The software they use for the Network Management is so badly configured it is a joke amongst us more knowledable users.

So, while the world and more notably Comcast users in the U.S.A. can moan on a world stage about what their ISP is doing and how Net Neutrality is big news in the U.S.A. passing as it is through congress, spare a thought for us backwater ISP users in the U.K., who are suffering exactly the same and have no choice but to use it as there are no other ISPs here to defect to.


Steve said...

I concur.

I am also a Karoo broadband user on Option 4. I currently live less than 1 mile from the central exchange - Telephone House. On a good day we can get near 8Mbps. Tonight however on BitTorrent it is ambling along at 2-3Mbps. As I on option 4 I think this is disgusting. You are right about the traffic shaping being broken. Sometimes we are shaped other times we are not - AND this is during the so called peak period. The sting in the tale of course that here in Hull, we are zero choice when it comes to broadband. Karoo have a monopoly.

Jeepster said...

I don't disagree with the fact they use traffic shaping itself. It is how that traffic shaping works that is of concern.

Ignoring the 4 options available how can it be right that on an "up to" 8mb service it can drop to as low as 50kbps (as reported by 3 different users). That quite simply says that they have no idea how to use the traffic shaping software. Or, they are simply taking the piss.

Whichever it is it is wrong. Very very wrong.