U.K. Provider PlusNet Addresses Network Management With Tiered Services and Transparency
Arbor Networks, a leading provider of secure service control solutions for global business networks, said today that U.K.-based service provider PlusNet has deployed the Arbor eSeries broadband optimization solutions to deliver tiered services to their customers. PlusNet offers an array of residential broadband services, called “Broadband Your Way,” ranging from an entry level service for light users to high-end broadband subscribers that enjoy the heavy use of gaming, VoIP and peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing. PlusNet also has a specific plan for gaming that offers quality broadband with low ping and latency, called “Broadband Your Way PRO.”
“PlusNet strongly believes that delivering service plans that fit the needs of individual subscribers is the best way to ensure a rewarding customer experience,” said Alistair Wyse, chief technology officer at PlusNet. “The way the Internet is being used has changed dramatically in recent years. A large number of customers are still using it predominantly for web and email, while a fast growing segment of others are using bandwidth intensive applications such as P2P and video. We do not think that a one cost for access model can work in this changing environment, so we set out to develop tiered services that meet the needs for the different types of Internet users. By fully disclosing what we are doing and why, the result has been increased customer satisfaction and reduced churn. It’s a win-win for us as a provider, and our customers.”
Transparency Leads to Improved Customer Satisfaction
By being transparent about service offerings and bandwidth management practices, PlusNet has seen improved customer satisfaction and recognition from the industry for their practices. In March, USwitch.com voted PlusNet number one in nine out of eleven customer satisfaction categories, making PlusNet the number one U.K. broadband provider for the second year in a row. Additionally, the 2008 ISPA Awards named PlusNet “Best Consumer ISP.” A PlusNet statement on the award noted that, “The judges agreed that PlusNet put their customers first with transparent usage allowances rather than vague Fair Usage Policies and their self-developed traffic management system. The judges also felt that PlusNet’s one month contracts were very beneficial to consumers.”
PlusNet clearly explains each of the service options and why the network needs to be managed during peak busy hours to ensure fairness and to deliver real-time and interactive applications with a good quality of experience. Each plan is designed to appeal to a different demographic, from a light user that does not use file sharing to a heavy user that wants file sharing and streaming regularly. Rather than have a one-plan-fits-all service, PlusNet offers consumers plans that fit their specific service and economic requirements.
Without traffic management, PlusNet could only guarantee service by over provisioning bandwidth. Instead, PlusNet fully discloses maximum downstream and upstream bandwidth rates for specific application types, such as peer-to-peer file sharing, as well as what applications are prioritized, for each service option. Because the need for some form of traffic management is driven by the ISP cost model, PlusNet also discloses how U.K. ISPs pay for bandwidth in order for their customers to understand the business drivers for employing traffic management techniques during peak hours as well as future plans for capacity planning and traffic management. The consumer continues to be informed about the services they are purchasing.
PlusNet employs three methods of ensuring fairness on their network during peak busy hours:
1) Traffic Management: For certain plans, maximum bandwidth rates for peer-to-peer file sharing and other file downloading services are managed during peak busy hours. Each service plan comes with a higher or lower degree of traffic management.
2) Prioritization: For all plans, interactive applications like Web and real-time applications such as VoIP are given priority over non real-time or “background” applications.
3) Changing Human Behavior: For all usage-based plans where there is a monthly Usage Allowance, subscribers are given an economic incentive to use the network during non-busy off-peak hours. Any usage during off-peak hours is considered “free” and does not count against the monthly allowance.
PlusNet publishes network traffic graphs depicting how the network is used during peak and off-peak hours, clearly demonstrating the benefits of their traffic management policies. By prioritizing interactive applications like Web and Streaming, PlusNet ensures a great customer experience during peak busy hours between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.. Conversely, by managing peer-to-peer file sharing during peak hours, in conjunction with encouraging consumers to do file sharing at night (off hours) when it is “free” and not counted against any monthly usage allowance, PlusNet is able to get better utilization of their network bandwidth by time-shifting the bandwidth used for file sharing into the off-peak hours when there is unused capacity on the network. The effects of this are dramatic, allowing PlusNet to keep its costs down by deferring expensive upgrades to bandwidth capacity.
The Arbor eSeries gives wireline and wireless broadband operators unprecedented visibility into and control over their networks and services. The Arbor eSeries measures traffic by application, activity, and subscriber, and then gives providers the tools to analyze the resulting data through the system’s powerful web-based reporting environment. Providers can then take action to maximize network efficiency with the Arbor eSeries by setting policies that prioritize applications during peak and non-peak times, secure the network, and control bandwidth costs. The system also provides a platform for introducing targeted service plans and packages for new offerings such as VoIP, online gaming, and movie downloads, so that providers can take advantage of new revenue opportunities.
About Arbor Networks
Arbor Networks is a leading provider of security and network management solutions for global business networks, including more than 70 percent of the world’s Internet service providers and many of the largest enterprise networks in use today. Arbor delivers secure service control solutions that both protect global networks from the edge to the core from a host of threats, as well as helps customers gain network-wide visibility they can translate into actionable business intelligence in order to generate new forms of revenue and maintain a competitive advantage. Arbor’s solutions give customers a single, unified view into their networks’ performance, helping them to quickly detect anomalous behavior, mitigate threats and enforce policy. Arbor also maintains the world’s first globally scoped threat analysis network–ATLAS–which uses technology embedded in the world’s largest ISP networks to sense and report on comprehensive worldwide threat intelligence.
To learn more about Arbor Networks, please visit: http://www.arbornetworks.com. To learn more about ATLAS, please visit: http://atlas.arbor.net. To learn more about the Arbor Security Engineering & Response Team (ASERT)–the company’s security research arm–please visit the ASERT blog: http://asert.arbornetworks.com.