Virgin to throttle peer-to-peer file sharing

Virgin Media has announced that it is to start throttling the bandwidth available to users of peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing over its network.

Unlike the majority of DSL-based broadband providers, the cable operator has so far placed no restrictions on the use of file-sharing, only penalising specific users who hog more than their share of bandwidth under its 'fair use' policy - something it will continue to do in addition to the new regime.

Under the new rules, Virgin will cut the amount of bandwidth allocated to peer-to-peer protocols and Usenet traffic. The restrictions will be phased in between now and next summer.

The limits placed on file-sharing and Usenet traffic will vary, depending on the overall load on Virgin's network - but the company will reserve at least 75 per cent of available bandwidth at all times for ordinary browsing, as well as time-sensitive data such as streaming video.

To soften the blow, Virgin is boosting upload speeds for all users. Customers on the M and L packages will see their upload speed double from 512Kbit/s to 1Mbit/s. For XL, the thereotical maximum will become 2Mbit. Customers on Virgin's most expensive tariff, XXL, will see their upload speed rise from 1.5Mbit/s to 5 Mbit/s.

The downside for customers with XXL accounts is that, for the first time, they'll see their connection speed clobbered if they upload too much data.

Full details of the changes can be found here.