Traffic Shaping

Avonline have supplied their “Absolute” package, which was the introductory Tooway package. It provides – in principle – unlimited usage, subject to their Fair Access Policy (FAP). What that effectively means is that, if  you go over 60GB (that’s what I was told – the FAP now says 50GB) usage in a rolling 30 day period, you are subject to throttling of your download and upload speeds until the peaks of high usage ‘fall off’ the rolling calendar. That throttling applies between 0700 and 2300 every day, but even data usage outwith those times count towards the calculation.

Two major problems arise as a result:

  • the level of throttling is unpredictable: we’re currently technically in a throttled period and we’ve had throughput during the restricted period ranging from full performance to no better than 2Mb/s. There seems to be little rhyme or reason to this.
  • there is NO way for the end user to monitor their data usage. For a service with an enforced FAP, this is utterly unforgivable. We went over the FAP threshold when we had visitors who appear to have used about 40GB in two days – we had no way of knowing this until our bandwidth suddenly dropped dramatically. I only found out what had caused the problem by phoning Avonline and persuading them to send me a traffic log for our service. This is utterly unsatisfactory and I have trouble believing that a service that’s been around for two years doesn’t provide user tools for monitoring usage. The lack of availability of this information also means that it can be hard to distinguish between throttling of the link and service degradation due to weather or technical failure.

The upside is that the throttling appears to be applied inconsistently – possibly as a result of demand-based profiling – so, whilst there have been times when throughput has gone down dramatically, much of the time we seem to have ‘normal’ bandwidth. I expect that, as usage of the local spot beam grows, restrictions will become tighter.

So here we’ve got the speed test I did that showed very heavy throttling of our service:

2013-10-23 Usage Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 13.04.42

With external validation from – the Ookla system that Tooway uses appears to be close to their own network so can provide occasionally misleadingly high results.

Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 13.57.03

And finally, the usage graph I was able to get Avonline to provide, showing clearly where the problem arose:

2013-10-23 Usage


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