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How Selfish Users Can Mess With Off-Peak ISP Deals

speedlimitIf your ISP offers separate peak and off-peak download limits, it makes sense to schedule large downloads to happen overnight and not risk being shaped or paying excess fees each month. But not all consumers seem willing to go along with that strategy.

John Linton, managing director of ISP Exetel, wrote an interesting blog post this week about why Exetel changed its off-peak period from 12 hours to 10 hours. The reason? A small group of users couldn’t be persuaded to set downloads for later during the peak period, despite being asked:

Rather than using the virtually unused 3 am to 7 am period to set a schedule of downloads our user base insisted on starting them at one second past midnight EVERY night and, for over 90% of those users their downloads were completed by 12.30 am EVERY morning. Could they be persuaded to start their downloads after 2 am?……nothing we could do for five plus years could make that happen.

Of course, if a company offers a set off-peak period, you’re entitled to use it how you like — but equally you shouldn’t be surprised if the policy changes after more effective ways to use it have been pointed out and ignored. All the managers featured in our Hive Five of the best BitTorrent applications include scheduling features, so it’s not hard to do.

How do you manage your own downloads to minimise impact? Share your strategies in the comments.

Picture from Wikimedia Commons

If At The First, Second, Third…. Nth Time You Don’t Succeed….. [John Linton's Personal Musings]