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Archive for November, 2010

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

International Cap was likely a Bug: Room for Improvement

TM has finally come clean and admitted that a new bandwidth management system was deployed some 3 weeks ago to regulate traffic during peak hours (3pm-1am). This is mostly in line with our findings with my post and it’s definitely a welcome change to hear a direct response to customer problems.

TM now tells you to send your speedtest results to [email protected] (effective 1 December 2010).

Best way is to enclose speedtest.net reports from SG and Cyberjaya and compare them with the other MY servers and TM’s own speedometer.

Here’s the official response from TM’s VP of Corporate Comms Izlyn Ramly:

Telekom Malaysia Bhd ™ wishes to clarify on our Fair Usage Policy (FUP) and address several comments in the blogosphere on allegations of a  ‘hard cap’ for international bandwidth being enforced by TM.

Firstly, we apologise for the inconvenience that our customers are currently facing on our internet services.

We would like to assure all our customers that it is not, in any way TM’s intention to enforce any ‘hard caps’ on our customers.

As a matter of principle, however, TM needs to abide by a FUP to ensure that the network caters to all customers in a fair manner, and this has been in place for a few years for Streamyx which is a contended, best effort service. This means the Streamyx network is catered to be shared by everybody at any point in time to ensure everybody gets a “fair share” of the bandwidth. Currently UniFi is not affected, as it is a new premium service.

The Streamyx “Fair Usage Policy” is available on our website (http://www.streamyx.com/customer_care/customer_care.php?id=customer_care_fair_usage_policy) and it basically describes the list of specific heavy usage activities (like P2P and gaming) that will be managed during peak periods.

As you all know, this kind of bandwidth management or FUP is a global and common telco and celco industry practice. It is already in place in Malaysia amongst the mobile broadband players and aimed at making sure our broadband service is fast and reliable whenever in use.  It is designed to benefit all users, especially normal or non-heavy users during peak periods, so that all can enjoy higher and fair browsing and surfing speed.

In general, TM’s FUP and implementation is aimed at providing an optimum internet experience to all Streamyx customers by rationalising the internet speed during peak periods (3pm – 1am).

Of late, our traffic profiles are changing quite rapidly, and we are noticing that network congestion can hit different parts of the country at different times of the day or week. When congestion hits, depending on the usage patterns, customers subscribing to the same package but generating different traffic patterns may experience different levels of service performance.

In an effort to ensure a fair distribution of resources amongst all customers at all times, whenever congestion occurs, TM’s network is able to calculate how many users are active at any given time and allocate dynamically the resources across all customers with active sessions.

In rare cases of heavy congestion, we ensure that no customers may get below a minimum threshold of international bandwidth, but there is no ‘ceiling’ to the bandwidth each customer can get.

The problems some customer are experiencing now may have stemmed post a successful pilot of a new traffic management model we ran a few months before, following which we went nationwide about 3 weeks ago. Clearly there is room for improvement and we are working hard to resolve this.

As dynamic allocation of bandwidth requires some specific settings that need to be fine tuned area by area, we elicit and welcome feedback on the experience in different parts of the country at different times of the day. We have set up a special email account where you can send your readings for our review: [email protected] effective 1 December 2010.

From our analysis, the current traffic patterns are, for most part, in line with our expectations on traffic management, and the speeds being delivered should suffice for a smooth internet experience.

Where the internet experience falls short, we will further investigate both individual cases and the service in its entirety to address specific concerns that they may be facing, and will respond to these customers directly.

Rest assured, TM takes note of all customer feedback to continuously ensure improved customer experience end-to-end.

From a market communications perspective, the FUP awareness campaign is already ongoing and we will further clarify as to the rules we are implementing – and why.

In fact, a bloggers briefing has already been scheduled for 17 December post our engagement with LYN and Kambingz earlier. About 40-50 selected bloggers will be invited to represent the wider blogger community to keep them abreast with our efforts to improve service delivery and customer experience overall, and to seek constructive feedback on these efforts. We hope to address, or at least start to address many concerns at this forum.

We thank you for your continuous feedback and ask for your kind understanding and patience as we work to deliver on our commitment to service quality and overall customer experience.

TELEKOM MALAYSIA BHD

What this probably means when you take out the corp communications code out is:

Taken verbatim from Tentris’ post

they deployed a traffic management program in the last couple of weeks.

the program basically failed and instead of helping distribute the available bandwidth equally across all users, especially during peak hours, it is throttling everyone on a consistent and widespread basis which is exactly not what was intended.

As such, fret not, most likely, speeds should return to normal as they fine-tune their bandwidth management system.

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Interesting Theory on why the International Capping has taken place: Save bandwidth, promote Unifi

Update: this theory is probably untrue as shown by this post.

Lowyat user vivre has this to say:

This fine evening, a TM technician called me, and the conversation took over 30 minutes. He was basically trying to help me with the slow connection (or should I say capped connection), and he was very kind too and have the technical background too.

In summary, these are the key understandings that I still remember (not in order ya, coz I just wrote whatever came across in my mind, just got back from watching movie too, so started to forget some of the details):
a. YES and YES, TM has enforced the capped under the Fair Usage Policy. And he said he could not anything as it was coming from higher level – and the reason that was believed to allow TM to do so is because we have signed the form and there was FUP policy
b. It seems that the international bandwidth has been used up to the CRITICAL level, and prompted them to make this swift move.
c. This move is believed to be a ‘strategic’ move so that existing Streamyx users will migrate to Unifi (where the quota is real and stated upfront) unlike Streamyx which does not impose any quota.
d. Apparently, there is automated system where it monitors the bandwidth used on daily basis and enforce the speed cap across the user base, whenever the bandwidth is saturated. Unfortunately, this system does not monitor INDIVIDUAL usage, but rather as a whole. So, it does not mean that if you don’t clog the bandwidth you are safe.
e. He believes that this cap is temporary while waiting for the Unifi subscriber’s base to increase.
f. The cap is enforced based on the package (meaning to say 4mbps should be getting higher capped international speed thatn 1.5 mbps)
g. It seems that TM won’t go public with this speed cap to take care of their reputation. (Remember when Unifi was launched with quota, the whole nation was condemning them, and later they retracted the quota ‘temporarily’)
h. The growing number of ‘big-buffet-eater’ (read: Unifi users) has something to do with ‘running-out-of’bandwidth’ effect that all of use are currently facing.
i. The word “Unlimited” in Streamyx ads refer to the access and not the bandwidth.

What I did:
a. I asked him to escalate to higher management to let the public knows about this cap.
b. I told him many were flaming and bashing TM, especially nowadays after the sudden speed cap.
c. The FUP should be more transparent rather than GENERIC FUP i.e. Unifi, Maxis BB, Digi BB clearly states their monthly quota.

That’s all. I will add more if I managed to recall some of it.

Hope this helps.

Now I cannot confirm the veracity of this but it is food for thought especially it seems that some other users do have Customer Service telling them that the FUP is being enforced hence they’re being capped.

The official stance of TM is that it’s all in your head:

Now remember that dinner?

TM has a new VP of Group Corporate Comms, and she’s a real firecracker with some sweet ideas to be more engaging with us in the future. I look forward to many of her initiatives, such as a Blogger Briefing, and also a TM sponsored Tech Council. I think the days when we could claim that TM kept us at arm’s length will soon be a distant memory. This lady is bringing TM right into our face, if she has her way. Watch out for her.

Response from Izlyn Ramli, VP Group Corporate Comms.

“Meanwhile we can confirm that there is no extension file throttling going on. Traffic mgmt on p2p is what has already been communicated.”

So much for that.

Friday, November 26th, 2010

ISP Liability Act to be tabled in Malaysian Parliament

From the Star

KUALA LUMPUR: The free-and-easy days of illegal downloading of music and movies may soon be over. A proposed new law will enable Internet Service Providers (ISP) to suspend or terminate the Internet accounts of P2P (peer-to-peer) users.

This new law called the ISP Liability act, will be tabled in Parliament next month, according to Recording Industry Association of Malaysia (RIM) chairman Norman Halim.

RIM has been lobbying the Government for an ISP Liability act for the past 5 years as illegal online downloads have been cannibalising the legitimate sales of music, worldwide.

“The act makes the ISPs responsible for curbing online piracy. The ISPs will be fined if they don’t take action against illegal downloaders. The ISPs have the technology to track P2P users,” said Norman.

However, he said that the fine amount had yet to be determined.

ISPs will send two warning letters to illegal downloaders. Should the downloaders still persist, the Internet access will be suspended or even terminated.

“Other countries that have such an act have seen their respective music industries recover. One good example would be South Korea,” he said.

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

A Little Humour on SKMM and TM’s relationship

Some of the replies to the post in LYN I made to bring to light the attention of Streamyx speed capping are quite humorous. This one in particular made me smile :P

Mugenz:

SKMM call TMnuts,

SKMM: oi ppl complaint u la.. do something la k ?

TMnuts: ok ok la.. we try la.. anything we give  a call la k?

SKMM: ok la.. btw.. when wanna go golf together?

TMnuts: bz shaping the traffic, next time la

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Streamyx Users to have Download Quotas?

In a recent dinner between Aizuddin Danian, rizvanrp, the guy who brought the Unifi vulnerability to light and TM’s CEO, several general themes have emerged as to the direction of the company.

The most important being the suggestion of imposition of caps for regular Streamyx users in the near future:

Question:

Q7 What steps are TM taking to resolve the disproportionate allocation/use of bandwidth to/by users? Some users can download gigabytes of illegal content whilst others have trouble browsing, accessing MSN/facebook, watching occasional legal video streams, playing online
games etc.?

Suggestion:
Remove traffic shapping/throttling and introduce a REASONABLE bandwidth capping with segregation between international and local bandwidth

International bandwidth is overloaded
No capping on hotfile/rapidshare
Do not practice IP priority.
Also tell him to openly admit that they are currently throttling all of us until midnight
everyday. Why is the 4Mbps Streamyx package a night owl package?
What steps are TM taking to resolve the disproportionate allocation/use of bandwidth to/by users?

Some users can download gigabytes of illegal content whilst others have trouble browsing, accessing MSN/facebook, watching occasional legal video streams, playing online games etc.

Answer:

– Thank you for the suggestions; these are all under our consideration .TM is currently in the midst of studying the best approach and offering before announcing the implementation.
– Please note that:
o The FUP practiced now is to maintain fair use for all TM customers. Fair Usage Policy (FUP) is a standard global practice implemented by telcos globally. This is to ensure a fair and even quality of service to all customers free from the irresponsible practices of a few.
o Capping is not in effect yet. We will announce at a later date and we promise a reasonable cap.
o We are looking to concurrently introduce volume-based pricing for power users who wish to transfer high volumes of data and do not mind paying for the privilege.
– TM wants to study the traffic patterns on our UniFi service thoroughly before taking anydecision on implementation.

On the bright side (if this can be construed as good news due to the long timeframe) a new cable is being built:

Last year, TM also joined a consortium to plan and develop a proposal to build an international undersea cable system, named Asia Pacific Gateway (APG) that links Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Philippines, Taiwan, China Mainland, Japan and Korea. The cable system will span 8,000km and it is expected to be ready for service by end of 2013.

What I find infuriating is the implication that more ‘local content’ should be created so that people don’t use international bandwidth as much…

All customers crave for speed but one must also understand that the download and upload speeds vary and is dependent on several factors such as location of website, capacity of visited web server, network congestion, running other applications simultaneously, etc. It is a fact that more than 80% of the websites that our users are accessing are sites located overseas. We do continue to upgrade our international capacity but there must be a longer term, more cost effective approach to this problem. At an industry perspective, creation of local contents must be encouraged. But this would perhaps be more of a longer term solution. Another approach that we are looking at is caching and mirroring of contents in-country. Popular contents are stored in-country so that users will have much better internet experience, with the reduction of congestion in the international links.

Once again, no statement has been made on this so-called capping and the official stance is that we’re all imagining the problems or its just congestion. Times like this you wish we had a more sue-happy country. Hart v Comcast anyone?

For those who want the full interview, go here:

Interview

Source: Lowyat


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