PlaystationVUE, Amazon FireTV, pfSense, and Traffic Limiting
All of the conclusions below were based off of my individual findings dealing with Vue and my cable provider. But, I used some parts of pfSense that a lot of people talk about and I thought it would be good to put it on paper for others to find.
For all of the pfSense examples below I am using pfSense 2.4.0-BETA on an Netgate SG-1000.
When the decision to cut the cord it was with much excitement about the upcoming experimenting with different content providers. Firs we tested hardware and ended up settling on the Amazon FireTV. Then we started a free trial of both Sling and Playstation Vue. While going back and forth between the two I started to notice an issue. Sling was streaming without issue while we kept getting queued up with Vue.
I began to investigate. At the time I was running the system wireless through a Ubquiti UniFi setup, through our pfSense firewall, and out of our cable connection (70 down, 4 up). I noticed that while streaming Slack the data flow looked steady. But, when Vue was streaming, there were constant spikes in upload and download utilization. This really got me thinking…why would we be seeing spikes in both directions with a streaming service?
I started investigating. After digging and digging I finally found a post (which I can no longer find the link to…) that shed some light onto the subject. It was a description of the mechanism used by the Vue app to proactively monitor the bandwidth available to stream. It basically said that the due app was running a small bandwidth test periodically to test the available bandwidth for streaming.
This got me thinking about my cable internet provider. I had often run into issues with my link quality becoming garbage anytime I hit the limit on 70 down & 4 up on our account. The policing the company used was vicious and would drop packets like mad.