Why does Irvine OnLine manage its network?

Irvine OnLine manages its network with one goal: to deliver the best possible broadband Internet experience to all of its customers. High-speed bandwidth and network resources are not unlimited. Managing the network is essential to promote the use and enjoyment of the Internet by all of our customers. We use reasonable network management practices that are consistent with industry standards. We also try to use tools and technologies that are minimally intrusive. Just as the Internet continues to change and evolve, so too, will our network management practices to address the challenges and threats on the Internet.

All Internet service providers need to manage their networks and Irvine OnLine is no different. In fact, many of them use the same or similar tools that Irvine OnLine does. If we didn't manage our network, our customers would be subject to the negative effects of spam, viruses, security attacks, network congestion, and other risks and degradations of the service. By engaging in reasonable and responsible network management, Irvine OnLine can deliver the best possible broadband Internet experience to all of its customers.

How does Irvine OnLine manage its network?

Irvine OnLine uses various tools and techniques to manage its network, deliver its service, and ensure compliance with the Acceptable Use Policy and the Customer Agreement for Residential Services available at http://www.irvineonline.net/subscriberagreement.html. These tools and techniques are dynamic, like the network and its usage, and can and do change frequently. For example, these network management activities may include identifying spam and preventing its delivery to customer email accounts, detecting malicious Internet traffic and preventing the distribution of viruses or other harmful code or content and using other tools and techniques that Irvine OnLine may be required to implement in order to meet its goal of delivering the best possible broadband Internet experience to all of its customers.

Does network management change over time?

Yes. The Internet is highly dynamic. As the Internet and related technologies continue to evolve and advance, Irvine OnLine's network management tools will evolve and keep pace so that we can deliver an excellent, reliable, and safe online experience to all of our customers. We will provide updates here and in other appropriate locations if we make important or significant changes to our network management techniques.

How does the current congestion management technique work?

The current congestion management technique works as follows:

If a certain area of the network nears a state of congestion, the technique will ensure that all customers have a fair share of access to the network. It will identify which customer accounts are using the greatest amounts of bandwidth and their Internet traffic will be temporarily managed until the period of congestion passes. Customers will still be able to do anything they want to online, and many activities will be unaffected, but they could experience things like: longer times to download or upload files, surfing the Web may seem somewhat slower, or playing games online may seem somewhat sluggish.

The technique does not manage congestion based on the online activities, protocols or applications a customer uses; it only focuses on the heaviest users in real time, so the periods of congestion typically tend to be very fleeting and sporadic.

It is important to note that the effect of this technique is temporary and it has nothing to do with a customer’s aggregate monthly data usage. Rather, it is dynamic and based on prevailing network conditions as well as a customer’s data usage over a very recent period of time.

Does the congestion management technique target peer-to-peer ("P2P") or other applications, or make decisions about the content of my traffic?

No. The technique is "protocol-agnostic," which means that the system does not manage congestion based on the applications being used by customers. It is also content neutral, so it does not depend on the type of content that is generating traffic congestion. Said another way, customer traffic is congestion-managed not based on the applications or content being used, but based on current network conditions and recent amounts of data transferred by users.

How does the congestion management technique impact me and my use of Irvine OnLine Internet service?

With this technique, most customers will notice no change in their Internet experience. The goal of congestion management is to enable all users to have access to a fair share of the network at peak times, when congestion occasionally occurs. Congestion management focuses on the consumption activity of individual customer accounts that are using a disproportionate amount of bandwidth. As a result, and based on our experience with this technique, we have determined that the large majority of customers will not be affected by it. In fact, based on our experience, we find that on average less than one percent of our Internet customers are affected by the approach. Our experience also shows that when our systems apply the congestion management technique to an individual user’s account, it is usually only in effect for a relatively brief period of time.

How often does Irvine OnLine expect to use this congestion management technique?

Based on our experience using this system, Irvine OnLine has determined that select portions of the network tend to be in a congested state only for relatively small portions of the day, if at all.

Irvine OnLine monitors how user traffic is affected by this system and will make the adjustments reasonably necessary to ensure that  Internet customers have a high-quality online experience. Irvine OnLine also routinely evaluates its overall network performance and periodically enhances its network by adding capacity to address congestion and other performance issues. Since the technique is dynamic and works in real time, any traffic regulation depends on a number of factors including overall usage, time of day and the number of applications a customer might be running at the same time. First, the local network must be approaching a congested state for our technique to even look for traffic to manage.

A significant amount of normal Internet usage by our customers does not last over 15 minutes. For example, most downloads would have completed within that time, and the majority of streaming and downloading will not exceed the threshold to be eligible for congestion management. And the majority of longer-running applications, such as VoIP, video conferencing, and streaming video content (including HD streaming on most sites) will not exceed these thresholds either.

The point of the technique is to deliver the best overall online experience possible. The technique should help ensure that all customers get their fair share of bandwidth resources to enjoy all that the Internet has to offer and that includes surfing the web, reading email, downloading movies, watching streaming video, gaming or listening to music.

Does this congestion management technique apply to both Commercial and Residential services and Irvine OnLine’s Wi-Fi service?

Yes.

Is Irvine OnLine VoIP Telephone Service affected by this congestion management technique? What about other VoIP providers?

Irvine OnLine VoIP Telephone service is a separate facilities-based IP phone service that is not affected by this technique. This phone service also does not affect the last mile capacity for, or the performance of, the Irvine OnLine Internet service.

Irvine OnLine customers who use VoIP providers that rely on delivering calls over the public Internet who are also using a disproportionate amount of bandwidth during a period when this congestion management technique goes into effect may experience a degradation of their call quality at times of network congestion. It is important to note, however, that VoIP calling in and of itself does not use a significant amount of bandwidth. Furthermore, our experience with this technique does not indicate any significant change in the quality of VoIP calls, even for managed customer traffic during periods of congestion.

What about streaming video or video downloads? What will happen to them?

During periods of congestion, any customers who are using a disproportionate amount of bandwidth,  no matter what type or content of the online activity, may be affected by this technique.

Our technique also has no ability to determine the applications or protocols being used or the content, source or destination.

Does Irvine OnLine block P2P traffic or applications like BitTorrent, Gnutella, or others?

No. Irvine OnLine does not block P2P traffic or applications like BitTorrent, Gnutella, or others as part of its current network congestion management technique.

Does Irvine OnLine discriminate against particular types of online content?

No. Irvine OnLine provides its customers with full access to all the lawful content, services, and applications that the Internet has to offer. However, we are committed to protecting customers from spam, phishing, and other unwanted or harmful online content and activities. Irvine OnLine uses industry standard tools and generally accepted best practices and policies to help it meet this customer commitment. In cases where these tools and policies identify certain online content as harmful and unwanted, such as spam or phishing Web sites, this content is usually prevented from reaching customers. In other cases, these tools and policies may permit customers to identify certain content that is not clearly harmful or unwanted, such as bulk email or Web sites with questionable security ratings, and enable those customers to inspect the content further if they want to do so.

 Does Irvine OnLine employ network security practices in addition to the congestion management technique?

Yes. As described above, Irvine OnLine employs a number of practices to help prevent unwanted communications such as spam as well as protect the security of our customers and network. Irvine OnLine limits the number of login, SMTP, DNS, and DHCP transactions per second (at levels far above ‘normal’ rates) that customers can send to Irvine OnLine’s servers in order to protect them against Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. We do not disclose the exact rate limits in order to maintain the effectiveness of these measures, which ensure that these critical services are available for all of our customers.  In order to further protect our customers, Irvine OnLine blocks a limited number of ports that are commonly used to send spam, launch malicious attacks, or steal a customer’s information, for example.

Does Irvine OnLine have rules regarding the attachment of devices to its network by customers?

Irvine OnLine provides all cable modems used in conjunction with the Irvine OnLine internet service in order to ensure proper integration with Irvine OnLine’s network and systems.

How can I contact Irvine OnLine if I have any questions about network management?

Irvine OnLine can be contacted via email to irvtv@irvineonline.net or by telephone at 606-723-4240 or 606-723-3668.