Airtel Broadband Bittorrent Throttling

Fact 1: I am experiencing slow speeds (of the order of 5kBps to 32kBps) on my Airtel 1Mbps connection. No, before you state it…my connection does not have any Fair Usage Policies. The customer care agents are unaware of such practices. They will find some reason or the other to “get the monkey off their backs” aka stop conversing with you.

Fact 2: This in turn means that Airtel is doing some sort of bittorrent throttling activities. The conventional tests will reveal that no form of blocking is done by the ISP.

Fact 3: Only a small share of the users seem to be affected by this throttling activity of the ISP. The rest blame it on the low number of seeds / peers and continue with their day-to-day life.

Fact 4: I am done with this connection, which makes me wait for a week for downloading 2.36GB. I will be reverting back to the good old H500 plan from BSNL Broadband. I will get 2Mbps and unlimited downloads everyday from 2am to 8am.

Why am I doing this? This is the best way to teach them a lesson when they exhibit corporate greed. I will spend my hard-earned savings on an ISP that does not throttle bittorrent speeds. Eminent experts (primarily Mathew Carley, the brainchild behind Hayai Broadband) have already commented on the availability of excessive and additional bandwidth with airtel. Yet the primary intention of this ISP is to milk money from the unsuspecting customers. One good example of this fact is the drastic reduction in the available speeds to 256kbps when you reach the Fair Usage Policy limits sets by the company. What good can 256kbps do during such trialing times?

Edit: I just noticed that they have managed to capture the attention of Vuze. Check out their wiki post.

Update (21/01/2011): Ever since my speeds were downgraded to 1Mbps, they have stopped throttling the bittorent downloads. I guess they now throttle only those who are in broadband plans that have speeds 2Mbps and above.

Update (23/01/2011): My earlier hypothesis was wrong. They are indeed throttling the torrent speeds to a maximum of 60 kBps. The throttling is effective from 10:30am to 12:00am everyday. If you wish to download anything via torrents on your airtel broadband, it will be wiser to do so from 12am to 10:30am (because they uncap the throttling mechanisms during this time frame).


About Praveen Pious Francis
A part-time blogger who has a wide range of interests including investing in the stock markets across the globe and broadband technologies in India.

13 Responses to Airtel Broadband Bittorrent Throttling

  1. Anand Isaac says:

    I see that you’ve really had a wonderful experience with various private players. I’ve had similar experiences and on thing I can say about them: strike gold when its available, but be prepared for nasty shocks!

    I was using Aircel GPRS for sometime before. Nice plans they had. Rs.98 and you get unlimited for a month. It was great too. I was assured of a high speed of 27-30KBps(for 2G that is) after midnight and during peak hours(7pm-12am) I had a fair speeds of 10-20KBps and I could even connect to my office VPN and do the necessary work! But then came the shock. They quietly introduced an FUP of 3GB for the plan and when I recharged it without knowing it, I was for trouble. I quickly used up the balance within 5 days and the plan was finished with its 3G and later my SIM balance was exhausted at the rate of 10p/10KB. I checked my phone balance and all the balance was out(fortunately it was dedicated to Internet and had only Rs.25). Expecting the worst, I called up the cutomer care and got the bad news.

    I’m back to my BSNL 3G connection which by the time had greatly improved in performance.


    • Ironically, Airtel seems to have changed their stance. They are not blocking torrent downloads now (at least for me). The change was drastic. Maybe they realized messing up with the customers is a bad idea after all.

      Glad to see you over here.. πŸ™‚


  2. Lamer says:

    Hi there,
    Airtel has started using a software to throttle bitcomment traffic. This started towards the end on Dec 2010. I used to get 210KB on my 2mb connection. Now even with private trackers I get low speeds of 50KB. My ports are open and forwarded.
    Im still trying to figure out how to fix this. My http downloads goes all the way to 220KB.


    • Are you still experiencing bittorrent throttling from Airtel?

      I was having a tough time with their throttling during the November – December months. A few days after making the original post, I have not experienced it on my connection. The trend continues even to this day.

      If they are using software based technologies, we cannot do anything. Yes, you can opt for VPN services to tunnel through the system – but you will have to shell out additional amounts for such services.

      I have heard (and read) in some of the forums that calling up the customer care and telling them to “remove” the throttling will help at times.

      Alternatively, as cited in my post, pay them your last respects by switching to someone other ISP. The airtel officials need to understand that they cannot take the customers for granted. I was lucky enough to hang on to my old BSNL broadband connection.


  3. sanjay says:

    Lets never refer airtel to any of our friends


    • Praveen Pious says:

      The intelligent ones are already aware of the malpractices of this ISP. And they have started opting for the services of rival ISPs, who do not enforce any form of throttling.


  4. rullezo says:

    Praveen –

    I am in the same boat as you and feel cheated by the BIG FAT BULLY Airtel. Airtel customer service on the phone has denied that they are blocking torrents, however when i raised a complaint on the consumer court site the airtel representative has refused to answer my question : “Are you(Airtel) Blocking Torrent Traffic?”

    I would request every one who is facing this issue to reply to my post so that we can generate some momentum to prevent unethical and unlawful practices by BIG FAT BULLY Airtel.


    • Creating awareness is the first step. A fair share of the airtel broadband subscribers are simply unaware of such throttling activities.

      Thanks for posting your comments in the blog.. πŸ™‚


  5. Deepak says:

    Thanks Praveen for sharing your experience. I have an 8 Mbps(50GB/month) connection. Till a few days back I used to get close to 9 Mbps torrent download speed (peak speed). But I am now getting less than 80 KBps even though I have used less than 30 GB. I find that they are throttling only torrent traffic. I called up the Airtel call center and the representative did not even try to to proffer any dump justification for the reduced speed. I got the feeling that I am not the first one to complain about this. He just provided me with a complaint number. I happen to have a BSNL landline as well. If they don’t stop their crooked practice, they can say good bye to at least one loyal customer.


    • Have you tried to download torrents after 1am? I find that they restrict the torrent speeds only up to 1 am everyday. I mean after 1 am (and until 10 am the following morning), I get the designated speeds.

      Please check the speeds during this period (between 1 am and 10 am) and report back with your findings .. πŸ™‚


  6. TJrocker says:

    People I am also experiencing the same problem. Earlier I used to go and rate airtel as very unhappy, then I don’t know how my FUP got removed and even after downloading 8gbs my 4mbps speed never decreased. But suddenly since a few days when the big fat ass airtel walas have started updating their systems my speed has gone down to a ridiculous 256 kbps and when i ran the airtel walas they said that i had crossed my 6gb data limit WTF is this.Is there any way we can teach these shitheads a lesson??


    • I had taken my Airtel BB connection by August 2010. The original FUP that came with the plan was 5 GB. However, they have never ever imposed any such restrictions on my account.

      Last month, for the very first time, I am getting a SMS from Airtel saying that I have already crossed 80% of my data quota meant for the month. Bear in mind that I am getting this message after downloading approximately 25+ GB last month. Definitely 80% of 5 GB is not 25 GB. In other words, they seem to have increased my original FUP limit from 5 GB to 25+ GB.

      I do not know the original criteria with the help of which Airtel imposes FUP on their customers. I say this because I am seeing and hearing contrasting information all over the web. For instance, some are plain lucky like me. The others (such as yourself) are getting restricted even before the download quota for the month is reached.

      We can only hope that Airtel rectifies such errors and streamlines their operations in a customer-friendly manner.


    • Anand Isaac says:

      You sound like you want 4Mbps UL @ Rs.899 πŸ˜› . Don’t you think its a bit too much?
      btw, airtel never officially removed the FUP.


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