Knowledge Base

Traffic Flow Policy

Started ‎13-05-2014 by
Modified ‎28-08-2018 by

In order to protect the experience of our members when they are using data on giffgaff, we have introduced some measures, which we call Traffic Flow. This article explains these measures, how they will improve the experience for the majority of members and how you can avoid negatively impacting the data experience for other giffgaff members.

More Information

During certain hours of the day, some parts of the network can become congested, which can result in a less consistent data experience for some members.

At giffgaff, we think that we have a responsibility to offer a good level of data service to all of our members, regardless of the time of day, and so we have been looking for solutions to protect and improve your data experience even during peak hours.

Traffic Flow is the name that we give to the initiative which helps us to ensure that members are getting access to a fair share of the network, even during the busiest hours of the day. Ultimately, Traffic Flow is in place to improve the data experience on giffgaff.

Without Traffic Flow, at times, we are seeing a huge inequality in the way that network resource is being used, for example, during the hours where the data experience is degraded, as few as 1% of members were using around 30% of the total network resource. This unfair distribution causes an inconsistent experience for the majority of members.

It is only during our busiest hours where this type of inequality can deteriorate experience, but we think that the impact that a small number of members has on the vast majority during peak hours is unfair - we want a network which delivers a good service for everyone.

Our aim is to reduce the impact that the usage patterns of this minority have on the data experience for the vast majority of giffgaff members.

We are now contacting members who are using a goodybag with an Always On data allowance and who have been identified as using the network in a way which impacts other members, consistently over a period of time. We are sending them an email and an SMS to explain this policy, and offer advice on how to reduce their impact on other members.

Where members are either not able or not willing to change a behaviour which impacts the data experience on giffgaff, we have a responsibility to make the situation fairer and protect the vast majority of members. This is particularly true at giffgaff, where we have been built on the principles of fairness and mutual giving.

For this reason, when reaching the end of their current goodybag, members who have been warned but not modified their behaviour will be prevented from repurchasing an Always On data goodybag in the future.

Importantly, members with an Always On goodybag will never see their allowance removed from them (unless they have already been barred from buying the £25 Always On goodybag on another account) and there is no limit to the amount of data that one of these members can use. A member is only contacted if their specific usage pattern is impacting the service of other members, not when they reach a given volume of data.

At this point, it is important to repeat that only a very, very small minority of members have usage patterns which impact the experience of other members.

The type of usage we are talking about is very extreme and there are examples of members using double the average monthly network resource within a single day, during peak hours, so unless your usage is extremely unusual, then there's no need to worry about receiving an email.

If you think that your usage is unusual and might be impacting other members, then we have listed below some advice which will help minimise your impact on other members during peak hours:

  • Download large files which do not require an immediate use over Wi-Fi. Where possible, carry out larger downloads overnight, or outside of busy hours.
  • If you stream movies for many hours a day to your phone, perhaps see whether you can have lower resolution settings - often it's not possible to tell the difference on small mobile phone screens.
  • Avoid creating Hotspots and use the Wi-Fi connection instead when possible.

This advice will help to reduce the volume of data used when it matters the most to the members, whilst having little or no impact on their own experience.

goodybags with inclusive roaming are intended for giffgaff members who typically reside in the UK, but may take trips to other EU and select country destinations from time to time.

We have some fair usage guidelines to protect this and other misuses of the service. See our guidelines here.

We're committed to being transparent about the data service that we provide, so we have signed up to the voluntary Traffic Management Transparency Code of Practice from the Broadband Stakeholder Group.

If you'd like to get any more information about how we manage the network to provide the best possible data service to our members, you can refer to the Key Facts Indicator.

How many members will be affected by this?

The impact of this policy is two-fold:

  • We are talking truly exceptional usage here, so this policy will only impact a very limited number of members - we expect it to be less than 1% of our active members.
  • For the vast majority of members who are not impacting the network, the overall data experience will improve since they will get access to their fair share of the network.

I received an email/SMS, what did I do wrong?

You haven't done anything wrong. However, there are certain usage patterns that affect the data experience of other members and this appears to match your natural usage pattern. Sometimes, these usage patterns are seen when very data-heavy services (such as high definition streaming or large file downloads) are carried out very regularly during peak hours.

Isn't this a fair usage policy?

No, you are still free to use your existing data allowance as you see fit and your Always On data allowance will not be removed. We are simply improving the online experience for the majority of our members during peak times.

All members can use the full allowance of any goodybag they have purchased. However, members who are found to be in breach of our terms and conditions could be prevented from purchasing an Always On goodybag in the future.

Please note:  If you are travelling to the EU and selected countries and are using the £25 Always On goodybag then a fair usage policy does apply.

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