Three restricting heaviest web users to unclog data pipes

Claims at times 5% of customers are taking up 60% of its bandwidth

Web access restricted for heaviest users – as Three claims at times 5% of customers are taking up 60% of its bandwidth

Network operator Three is restricting web connections to customers in an attempt to stop its network from being clogged up by a minority of very heavy data users, in an initiative it is calling Traffic Sense.

It claims at certain times 5% of users are taking up 60% of the bandwidth available, probably through high-data activities such as downloading HD videos.

This means the majority of people trying to access the web for everyday tasks may find they struggle to get a decent connection.

A Three spokesperson told us: “As with other internet networks, if we don’t ensure a fair balance, a small number of customers can end up using a very large proportion of what is ultimately a shared resource. TrafficSense ensures we can share the resource fairly and that the activity levels of a small group does not unduly impact the experience of other users.”

Three is being careful to avoid terms like ‘throttling’ and ‘data capping’ – and insists this is for the good of the good of the majority of customers.

“We are currently piloting TrafficSense at peak demand times. In the case of our highest data users TrafficSense identifies up to the top 5% of users on a sustained basis each month. It then allocates capacity to those users proportionally during peak periods for the following seven days. This ensures the remaining 95% of users also get fair access and the best possible internet experience. Our aim is to ensure that the vast majority of customers have a better experience during the busiest hours.

“As an example, if you regularly stream a lot of high definition video between 3pm and 12am relative to most users, TrafficSense may identify you as a high data user and manage your data traffic for a period of seven days. This means some services will appear to run more slowly during peak times within that period.”