Telstra will trial deep packet inspection on the internet traffic of a "small number" of Victorian customers as it progresses a long-term plan to throttle peer-to-peer traffic on its network.
The telco's director of consumer wireline, John Chambers, confirmed in a blog post that the telco would use technology that "looks at characteristics of the data packet to identify the type of the traffic present".
"Any inspection that takes place is used only to identify the signature of the traffic; it does not identify the content (eg whether this is a movie, the title or any other details)," Chambers wrote.
According to networking vendor Cisco, one of the capabilities of deep packet inspection technology is that it can be used to "detect specific P2P application signatures usually found during the initial message exchange between two network hosts and can classify all traffic for that conversation".
Chambers did not identify the maker of the deep packet inspection technology that Telstra is to trial. Further comment is being sought from a Telstra spokesperson.
He denied the trial was aimed at combating online piracy that may be occurring over Telstra's network, promoting the trial instead as a way for Telstra to better manage network performance.
"The objective of this trial is to identify options and pricing plans for our customers that will improve overall customer experience, to ensure that we continue to offer the best quality service at the best possible price," Chambers said.
"Online piracy is an important policy issue and Telstra remains open to discussions with a range of stakeholders to identify workable solutions that protect the interests and privacy of our customers.
"However, this trial is solely about examining ways of improving our network management to ensure that all of our customers enjoy the best quality service for their specific needs at the best possible price."
iTnews first reported Telstra's P2P throttling plans in May 2011. At the time, Telstra executive director Michael Lawrey made it clear the plan was about targeting downloaders of "illegal content", whom he blamed for network congestion.
Chambers said today that all customers selected to participate in Telstra's technology trial would be informed and given a choice to opt out.
"No decisions have been made to extend any of the network management practices being tested in this trial to our broader customer base," he said.
The trial would inform "future network planning and product development activities", Chambers said.