Operators and third-party services - speed limits on the example of Yandex services

Hello.

The story is as old as the world, many services work fine on the “slow” home Internet, but miracles begin on the “fast” mobile when everything freezes and the service turns into a snail. We are used to the fact that mobile operators love to measure the speed of the Internet, and the reality is that mobile Internet in Russia is very fast almost everywhere and for everyone. Of course, there are initial conditions when your tariff plan has speed limits, and for the maximum available speed you need a different tariff or status within the operator. But few people realize that the quality of services also depends on other parameters, on how the creators themselves set them up, following their economic model.

A long time ago I started using Yandex.Disk, since this service is not blocked in China, where it is the easiest way to transfer files to your homeland without relying on the quality of the VPN. At some point, I came across the fact that the free quota had exhausted itself, it became inconvenient, and I bought a tariff for 1 TB (the cost per year is a little more than 3,000 rubles).

And here adventures began, which I did not expect, the speed of downloading files from mobile devices decreased. I remember ironically that, having become a subscriber to the service and paying for it a year in advance, I stopped being interesting enough to maintain its level as before. This irony is the bitter truth about how Yandex and other companies try to balance the load on their services so that they are optimal for everyone. The complexity of the situation is also that balancing occurs on the side of other operators, which makes the problem even more confusing. The policy of the service creator collides with the policy of the operators, and together this gives very unexpected results. Let's see how this looks in practice. My research does not claim to be the ultimate truth, since a lot depends on dozens of different factors, for example, on how Yandex sees you as a consumer, what priority it gives you and your services. Exactly the same can be said about telecom operators.

So, I have a home broadband access with honest 100 Mbps, I have two smartphones with MegaFon and MTS SIM cards (the first is mine, the second is someone else's, both have the highest priority on the network). The speed of mobile Internet from MTS is on average 75-80 Mbps, from MegaFon - about 120-140 Mbps. Created several archives that fit into the size of 100-105 MB. Since Yandex.Disk looks at downloads and, when re-downloading, takes the file from the cache on the server, for all experiments I created separate files, each slightly different in size (these are ZIP archives with different files inside, I tried to just pick up the final size).

So, for starters, I turn off the VPN, upload a 100 MB file via Chrome to my Yandex.Disk account. No downloads work in the background, the channel is not loaded. The file flew to the cloud in 47 seconds (sorry, I will not give numbers accurate to a comma, this is superfluous). I turn on the VPN and repeat the same operation with another archive of the same size - 52 seconds. The result is comparable. My home broadband operator is considered small, they do not filter traffic, do not restrict it in any way (even trackers are open), so the result is expected. Downloading these files through a browser on the same computer in Incognito mode is 20 and 44 seconds (without and with VPN). Good result, right?

Now I take the mobile Internet from MegaFon, turn on the VPN and see what happens with the download of the following archives. The file “flies” to the cloud in five minutes, which is very slow. From the cloud, loading is slightly faster - 4 minutes 26 seconds. And here we come to an important point, characteristic of the Yandex.Disk service, the speed of foreign traffic is obviously limited, since it is more expensive than Russian. For Yandex and any other company, it is unprofitable for the volume of foreign traffic on the site to be large, as this leads to additional costs. All of today's discussions of blocking Google servers with cache files revolve around this. The share of foreign traffic on the same YouTube will grow, it will become expensive for operators, and at the same time it will clog external channels. The most modest forecasts say that in such a situation, the cost of communications will increase by at least 10%, someone claims that the growth may reach 30-50%.

But we are interested in the fact that Yandex is trying to regulate the access speed itself, and when you knock on the company's servers from abroad, the speed is limited. Abroad, the solution may be to use Russian VPN servers to disguise yourself as a local user. Exactly the same is done not only by Yandex, but also by MegaFon, since the tasks facing the companies are the same and the solutions lie in the same plane - limiting the speed of traffic. Having done the same experiments on the MTS SIM card, I got similar results, the picture is identical.

Let's turn off the VPN and be an ordinary user in Russia, because it turns out that the quality of Yandex.Disk should be maximum, in any case, we think so. The same archive size, but the file is uploaded to the cloud in 7 minutes 49 seconds. After I double-checked the result six times, and on different devices, I waved my hand at it. Downloading the same file without VPN takes 2 minutes. You can also say that on a smartphone without my Yandex.Disk account, the download goes at maximum speed - 1.5 minutes. As soon as I switch to my smartphone, the download time grows by a minute, 2.5 minutes. I changed the SIM card, but it’s clearly not about it and not about the phone, Yandex somehow defines me, and therefore the priority is completely different.

Операторы и чужие сервисы – ограничения скорости на примере сервисов «Яндекса»

Why without a VPN and on the Russian mobile Internet, the quality of service sags so much, and downloading to the cloud is eight-something times slower than on home broadband access? The question is not idle, and the answer to it is unknown to many.

Russian operators are trying to prioritize traffic on their networks, this is a smart pipe that can distinguish between different types of traffic. For example, in MTS, when using a torrent client, there is a separate fee of 75 rubles per day, and the amount of data transferred is limited.

Let's read the answer of Rostelecom regarding what Yandex.Disk is and what restrictions are imposed on it.

All operators have a similar problem, they limit file-sharing networks, which include Yandex.Disk. Moreover, some operators in their tariffs promote this service, for example, they do not take into account traffic in it. And this is such a clever way to apologize for the speed limit, because they don’t take money for it. Operators are trying to reduce the load on the network, remove those who are using the same Yandex.Disk with might and main.

The irony is that in the first place, of course, these are not users who use the service for themselves and for personal purposes. Many companies have considered that the free version of Yandex.Disk and similar services allows you to build your own software and not incur server costs. For example, the 1C database archiver under the name Effector Saver initially used Yandex.Disk in exactly this way, which is recognized on the company's blog here.

Russian mobile operators prefer to cut traffic to Yandex.Disk and many similar services to a minimum, although here they look at the priorities of specific subscribers, which group they belong to. For basic tariffs, the reduction occurs to a speed of 64 Kbps, which is incredibly small and clearly not enough for the normal operation of such services.

Surprisingly, tens of thousands of people face this every day, but no one wants to understand the situation. Moreover, apparently, the current status quo suits everyone more or less.

Passing in Gorky Park where there is a 5G experimental zone from MTS, I decided to try to upload several files to Yandex.Disk, the result was expected - at the network level, the priority for this service was reduced, as well as the speed. I did not notice any difference between the experiments above and the network that outputs 250 Mbps to the cloud.

This problem did not arise yesterday, it exists a long time ago for different services, as an example, you could choose not Yandex, but the same Microsoft, Google or someone else, there will not be much difference. Large corporations often negotiate with providers so that their traffic gets priority, and pay money for it. The same "Yandex" practically does not do this, the exception is corporate projects for large companies, but not B2C services. Mobile operators are a little on the sidelines, because they really want to get money for speeding up traffic in certain services, but they don’t understand how it can be received, and they don’t want to give any guarantees. In the end, the situation will begin to improve only at the moment when users begin to constantly ask the same question: why does such and such a service work slowly for me on your network. Few people are interested in the speed of access as such, it is important that the services you use work and work quickly. On the other hand, the problem of operators and service owners is that they cannot separate ordinary users from those who use the systems for business purposes, which naturally exceeds the usual load. It seems that fair use rules can help here, when traffic consumption is regulated by average values ​​for it as a whole, but this is possible for the service holder. But the operators do not have any tools, since the integration of services and operators simply does not exist, single companies are working on connectivity in Russia, which understand the importance of this parameter for their services.

Interestingly, the slowdown of the same Twitter is, in fact, exactly the same approach, but there are political motives. But the slowdown in Yandex.Disk is a commercial story that has gone unnoticed by most.

What services that do not work as fast as you would like on your operator have you come across?

Related links

Mobile Internet speed in Russia - measurement pitfalls

5G pilot network test from MTS. Speed, coverage features

Twitter slowdown in Russia – causes, consequences and who is next

Eldar Murtazin (eldar@mobile-review.com)Twitter Instagram Blog MrMurtazin.com

Published - April 29, 2021

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