Virgin trials deep-packet inspection for file sharing

deep packet inspection

Virgin Media is trialling a deep-packet inspection technology aimed at monitoring the amount of illegal file-sharing occurring on its network.

The CView technology, which is being provided by Detica, will be installed in Virgin Media's core network to monitor traffic for peer-to-peer packets. It will then check these against legal and illegal sources as provided by the record companies.

While the mention of deep-packet inspection will undoubtedly stir memories of BT's secret Phorm trials, Virgin Media has stressed that it's not interested in monitoring the surfing habits of individual users.

A Virgin Media spokesperson claimed the broadband provider will anonymise and aggregate results to produce an overall picture of the content moving across its network.

"It doesn't monitor customer connections, it doesn't keep a log of what they're doing," the spokesperson said. "Many ISPs use DPI to work out what type of traffic volumes they're doing on the network. This is just about getting more detailed analysis about that traffic."

"It's a very anonymous technology, and a step above what already exists with regards to DPI. The goal is to understand what proportion of file-sharing traffic is lawful and unlawful," he concluded.

The spokesperson said the trial would start "shortly", but could not give a specific date. There's also no word on when the trial will end, with the spokesperson claiming "it will be worked out during the course of the trial."

Virgin Media is building a music download service with Universal, and said the traffic data will help it tailor the service based on its customer's habits.

"Understanding how consumer behaviour is changing will be an important requirement of Virgin Media's upcoming music offering and, should they become law, the Government's legislative proposals will also require measurement of the level of copyright infringement on ISPs' networks," said Jon James, Virgin Media's executive director of broadband.