Propel's Personal Bandwidth Manager
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Introducing the tool that shows the user when the problem's on the PC, not on your network.
ISPs know San Jose, Calif.-based Propel as a vendor of acceleration software. The acceleration market is one of the few software arenas where competing products offer genuinely different methods of solving the same problem (anti-spam is another). Thus, Propel has survived and even thrived in one of the tougher software markets.
Now, it's offering something new. First announced at DEMO Fall 2007 by David Murray, Propel president and CEO and co-founder (he's the guy in the video), the Propel Personal Bandwidth Manager (Propel PBM) is available to ISPs and to consumers.
"We are communicating directly with consumers as well as to the ISP," says Murray, "just as we did with Propel Accelerator. However, whereas the accelerator is sold on a monthly subscription model, PBM is priced much like virus protection software, as a one time charge that includes a year of software and traffic shaping policy updates, and with a small yearly fee to subscribe to updates in subsequent years."
ISPs, inform your users
Across North America and around the world, ISPs are implementing bandwidth caps, but users often don't understand which applications are using their connection, Murray says. For example, did you know that if you're streaming radio over Windows Media Player and you hit pause instead of stop, the application keeps streaming?
"With end users making use of services like streaming audio," Murray says, "they consume more bandwidth per day than they would have in the past. The service provider has an interest in making sure that users stay within norms. But how are service providers helping users stay within norms. Today, service providers do not give users tools to help them manage their usage. We're offering a very simple tool."
The Propel PBM gives users an easy to read display of all applications consuming bandwidth. It displays both the current usage and the total (cumulative) usage of each application, with the total displayed at the bottom of this elegant real-time chart. "We allow users to be better internet citizens," says Murray.
But that's just one feature.
It's a common problem. At the DEMO trade show last fall, and at ISPCON too, Murray demonstrated how a file upload could interfere with a Skype call. There's only so much bandwidth, and all applications have to share it, but users don't necessarily understand the issue.
All too often, Murray says, users blame the ISP for congestion that occurs on their own PCs. "Users don't understand these conflicts," he says. "The user sees this as an end to end problem and wonders why they're getting lousy performance out of the network. The ISPs try to do things with in the network to ensure their users get the best performance, but the problem could be right on the end user's machine. This tool allows the service provider to ease or eliminate congestion at the source, which can increase customer satisfaction."
Propel PBM runs on Windows XP and a Windows Vista version is in final beta, due for delivery soon. The file is a 10 MB download.
Murray says that in the future, a currently unannounced capability of Propel PBM could help wireless networks. He says that Propel PBM could be customized to do traffic shaping at an endpoint to prevent UDP traffic from flooding a network. "Apps like Skype or GoToMeeting [which we were using during the call] use UDP, not TCP, which means they're not flow controlled. A flow controlled application sends packets more slowly if one packet is dropped. UDP does not. When UDP traffic enters a wireless network, you cannot do anything in the middle except drop packets. Propel PBM could do traffic shaping on the endpoint to prevent UDP traffic from flooding the network."
This feature is not yet implemented, but if you're interested in it, contact Propel.
Pricing and availability
Propel PBM is available now from the Propel PBM website. The list price is $29.95, with a $19.95 introductory offer currently in effect.
ISPs can enter into an affiliate relationship with Propel and obtain a percentage of the purchase price of each referral.
With its accelerator, Propel encouraged ISPs, especially large ISPs, to purchase Propel Accelerator for all their customers and provided significant discounts for volume purchases, reaching major ISPs worldwide, from EarthLink to Russia On Line to Brasil Telecom. It hopes to achieve the same with Propel PBM.
Alex Goldman is Managing Editor of ISP-Planet. Story compliments of ISP-Planet.