TOKYO: Japan's Internet Providers Association, along with three other industry organizations, have issued guidelines intended to limit communication speeds for "heavy users", file-sharing programs for example.

The move is intended to prevent massive data transmissions from bogging down web traffic.

The guidelines, prompted by exponentially increasing internet use, could impact on major file-sharing operations such as Winny, YouTube and Napster.

According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the volume of data exchanged over Japan's internet in November 2007 was 812.9 gigabits per second – roughly two-and-a-half times more than in 2004. The latest figure equates to the capacity of around 2.2 million DVD-R disks daily.

The new guidelines suggest ISPs should handle surges in communication volume by enhancing their facilities. Restricting communication speed should be considered only in exceptional cases.

For example, providers can restrict the communication speed for heavy users of certain software if their actions occupy the network and hinder the communications of other users.

In such cases, however, ISPs are required to disclose to the users appropriate information on the restrictive measures. The guidelines also permit ISPs to forcibly cancel a contract with persistent violators

Since the beginning of this month, Internet Initiative Japan has been warning users who send more than 15 gigabytes of data daily for a consecutive number of days.

Data sourced from The Asahi Shimbun (Japan); additional content by WARC staff