Why was my internet throttled?

Over the last few days my internet has felt super slow. I couldn’t work out why? So after a number of tests on my local gigabit network, turning things on and off I decided something was happening further up the pipe. But what? Ping times to all the usual big services was fine. But pull up a webpage and it was hit or miss that it would load half the components.

It was time for a email by to my ISP (ukfsn.org) asking what was going on? The email I got back within a hour or so said this…

I’ve just checked the line and I can see that it is showing as being blocked due to repeated copyright infringement notices.

Please contact Enta support to resolve this.

Unfortunately I am not able to resolve this for you as they will require confirmation from you that you are not engaging in file sharing or similar activities around material that is subject to copyright restrictions.

Enta provide the actual pipe to my ISP (ukfsn) as they provide to many others. Generally ukfsn care little about (within extremes) what you do with the internet and don’t monitor its customers. But it seems somebody further up stream is doing it for them and worst still they are throttling bandwidth.

I called Enta, they explained what they thought was happening and suggested I should turn off all machines and devices on the connection till I know what’s happening. I explained I had already done so and seen nothing suspicious and they turned the throttling off, saying they will monitor the situation. At no point was I blamed which was good because I was planning on going crazy if they dared accuse me.

I originally thought it was a government thing but Hadley pointed me at this story.

The British Recorded Music Industry (BPI), which together with the Motion Picture Association (MPA) has agreed the voluntary regime with the ISPs, said that the warning letters issued by ISPs will be sent out on the basis of evidence gathered by the rights holders.

“In order to help protect their copyrights, rights holders monitor public peer-to-peer swarms, looking for their copyright content being made available illegally,” the BPI said in a statement. “When they discover copyright content being made available illegally, they capture the evidence, verify the copyright content and record the IP address, date and time stamp. A summary of this evidence is then be provided to the ISPs, who establish which of their customers was using the IP address on that date and at that time and send an ‘alert’ to that subscriber.”

I’m still a little unsure if what they did was really fair or even legal? I want to see the evidence, but what can I do with it? Maybe I’ll get a few days credit to my truly unlimited connection? A letter of apology? Is it worth it? Tell you what if it happens again I’ll be spitting blood!

DBill provisions for ISPs, a series of loopholes

I’ve said very little about the Dbill (Digital Ecomony Act), I’ve actually got a massive post saved up venting why the bill is a joke and how the UK just went back to the stone ages. But I also find it interesting how theres lots of loopholes to be found in the bill, even from a ISP point of view. Actually thats one of the most annoying parts of the bill, the fact that all UK ISPs have to follow these stupid rules even if there doing fine with what they already have.

Here’s some of the concerns

That we have to pass on copyright notices to subscribers and may have to suspend or restrict access to subscribers. This is actually relatively easy for us to do, but has implications for us and the subscribers. For a start, if we do not do things that help our customers then we will lose them. OFCOM have made it easy and cheap for people to change ISP. If they change ISP all of the history of notices disappears and the copyright owner has to start again.

That we could have an order to block locations on the internet. Now, we would hope that as such an order can apply to transit providers or BT wholesale, etc, that anyone making such an order would not go to the bother of making an order against every small ISP. So such an order would not affect us, hopefully. If it did there are allowances for paying our costs. If BT wholesale did DPI based blocking we can work on ways around that by simple obfuscation at the PPP level. If transit provides block a location we can set up tunnels to links outside the UK. We can find ways around blocks if we have to, and so can our customers.

And here’s some of the loopholes,

OK, several ideas come to mind…

  • In the event of a copyright notice, making our customer not a subscriber by allowing them quickly and easily to change who the subscriber is but continue service unchanged.
  • In the event of a copyright notice, making our customer not a subscriber by making them a communications provider. We’re prepared to peer with our customer buying access to our customers IP blocks via their ADSL line for 1p/month. This makes them a communications provide and so not a subscriber. But as their customer is us, a communications provider so not a subscriber, they do not become a service provider and so not themselves subject to most of the regulations.
  • In the event of a copyright notice, making our customer not a subscriber giving them a choice of IP addresses (change of IP). However, by offering a choice and allowing them to pick an IP they have not been allocated an IP address by us. That means their service is not an internet service and so they are not a subscriber.
  • Recording where our customer is a communications provider – which applies if they provide communications to anyone. I suspect many businesses and even homes could buy our service as a communications provider.
  • Operating more than one retail arm selling to customers and allowing customers to migrate freely with no change to service between those retail arms, thus bypassing copyright notice counting and any blocking orders.
  • Making us not a service provider by making all customers not subscribers using either the communications provider or not allocated IPs as above. Hence making us not subject to most of the Act.
  • Not co-operating with copyright holders – if they send a notice which we consider invalid, just delete it.

I know my ISP USFSN will certainly be looking at this list, most of the subscribers to there service pay well over the odds for non-logged non-bothersome unlimited Internet access.

Unlimited broadband does not exist?

Glyn sent me this while I was away.

ISPA to members: play fair on fair use

Internet providers' trade association ISPA has told its members to stop advertising “unlimited” broadband unless they are explicit and transparent about their fair use policies. Over recent months public calls have grown louder for action against ISPs who hawk “unlimited” services, without monthly download limits or bandwidth throttling, only to threaten cut-off when unpublished limits are breached.

At long last something starting to happen. My experience with Demon drove me away from them and I'm now a customer of UK Free Software Network. However I'm disappointed OFCOM have not stepped in here…

Action against ISPs has not been taken by Ofcom or the Advertising Standards Authority, which says “unlimited” advertising is OK as long as the small print says there is a fair use policy. The details of the fair use policy do not have to be published, however, as Pipex customers recently dicovered when they were told they would be cut off if they didn't rein in their broadband use.

What good is a fair use policy if you can't see whats in it!!! Once again sign the epetition if you think OFCOM and the ASA should publish there fair use policy amounts for all to see.

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Moving cubicgarden.com again

For quite sometime I've been having issues with running Blojsom on a shared Java host. See its possible but not ideal. It would seem Blojsom is best placed in a dedcated servlet container where it can have room to move. So for quite some time I've been holding on to my very cheap shared hosting by Interadvantage. The System Admistrator has been helping me out for quite some time but it just seems Cubicgarden.com is just generally growing in popularity and outgrowing its small plot of internet land. For the last 2 months I've been trying to cut down on system hit by using OSCache and Log4j to solve the errors I might be getting. But it came to a head just recently… here's a slightly edited email I recieved.

I've noticed that whenever your site gets hit hard, our server's load goes way up and other sites become unresponsive. This is particularly a problem in the mornings, from about 8 – 12 AM our time. I assume all the geeks over here who are addicted to your blog get their RSS feed (because you get a lot of RSS traffic then), and then go hit your blog if they see something of interest.

I also took a look at your stats, and about 25% of your page loads come from crawler.bloglines.com.

At any rate, your site is successful, and active, and it depends on Blojsom. When it's getting hit, your site dominates a loaded Dual Xeon server, so I think it's unlikely we can reduce the load to an adequate level just by tweaking Blojsom. Sadly, I again need to encourage you to look for another host. I don't think it's fair for you to try and host your blog in a shared environment; I really think you should put it on a VPS or dedicated server so that Blojsom can't hog CPU and memory that is being shared by other sites.

This came to a head this morning because our company president was trying to do something on your server at 10:00 AM, and he was very upset by the performance. He wants resolution to this situation, and suggested we give you 30 days to find a different host.

It has been fun working with you, and I'm sorry to write this note. I do wish you the best in your future endeavors.

Gratefully,

interAdvantage Administrator

So once again I'm on the look out for a good java hoster which provide virtual private servers for people on tight budgets. So far the cheapest I've found is 4Java.ca's private tomcat at 14.95 candian dollars a month for Tomcat 5 with 600meg of space and 10gig of data transfer. But Daily Razor's RazorBLAZE package attracts me because they also supporting Cocoon cost 19.95 american dollars a month for 5gig of space and 80gig of data transfer which is fantastic in comparision. VPS land seems ok too at 3gig of space and 40gig of bandwidth. One of the things I loved about Interadvantage which seems hard to to come by is, the friendly and knowledgable system administrator. The System admin has been working with me for quite some time and I know for a fact that this email was something he didn't want to write. We tried to get Cocoon working in a shared environment but came to the conclusion that it was not possible with serious security overrides. So please don't blame the ISP for this letter, its my fault for trying to slot a popular blog and amazing blog software in a shared environment. I'm sorry to the other people on the same server and I'll be moving soon.

So if you have any other hosts which do Java servlets, allow for at last 5gig of transfer data a month and cost as little as 10 pounds a month do please recommend them to me in the comments.

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