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As more sophisticated tools for traffic shaping are unveiled, the question soon becomes which service providers aren't throttling customer traffic

Adding itself to the small-but-growing list of ISPs that admit to traffic shaping, Canada-based Bell Sympatico has confessed to using “traffic management” on heavy users “during peak hours.”

“We are now using a Internet Traffic Management to restrict accounts,” wrote an unnamed forum administrator on Bell Sympatico’s support forums. According to the administrator, Bell Sympatico’s traffic shaping affects an unmentioned number of applications and protocols, including BitTorrent, Gnutella, Limewire, Kazaa, eDonkey, eMule and WinMX.

A Bell Sympatico Manager chimed in immediately afterwards, explaining that “there continues to be phenomenal growth of consumer Internet traffic throughout the world” and that “Bell is using Internet Traffic Management to ensure we deliver bandwidth fairly to our customers during peak Internet usage.”

According to the Manager, the bandwidth cap was introduced sometime last year and “doesn't affect the vast majority of [Bell’s] customers.” One concerned user asked if the traffic management will be removed as network capacity increases, to which the administrator replied that he “can’t answer this question,” and noted that it would be decided as the issue arises.

Internet service providers have found themselves under an increasing burden as bandwidth-intensive internet services like online video and file-sharing have proliferated. While the true volume is unknown, many think that 30%-50% of all internet traffic is P2P-related, with a recent survey from traffic-management company Ipoque pushing that number towards an astonishing 90%.

In response to this, many providers have employed a variety of techniques to limit customers who are deemed to be using more than their “fair share,” a tactic that has been the subject of much debate as part of the controversy surrounding “network neutrality.”

While traffic shaping is by far the most common, a few companies have employed more exotic methods: Comcast is thought to impose an invisible 600 GB bandwidth limit on its “unlimited” internet service, and a recent study conducted by the AP found that the ISP impersonates BitTorrent clients for the purposes of interfering with their connections.

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By CSMR on 11/10/2007 1:31:47 PM , Rating: 2
This whole business is a nonsense. Why don't the companies charge rates for usage at peak and non-peak times? Because consumers are stupid; it is all inevitable but annoying.

RE: nonsense
By jajig on 11/10/2007 1:48:48 PM , Rating: 2
My ISP does that

It's only a matter of time before other countries get plans like these.

RE: nonsense
By Pythias on 11/10/2007 2:04:31 PM , Rating: 2
Because most users wont pay that.

RE: nonsense
By XtremeM3 on 11/10/2007 4:17:59 PM , Rating: 2
That depends on what's available in your area. I currently pay over $160 a month for a 2Mb connection. (2Mb down 512kb up) Not only that, but I have a 25GB limit per month, after I reach that...I'm kicked down to a 64k line. The kicker is I don't get anywhere near 2Mb to anything because of latency, as well as my ISP is oversubscribed for their line out. So, sure, I could refuse to pay that rediculous price for poor service, but then I would have no service. And poor service is better than no service, sadly.


RE: nonsense
By Christopher1 on 11/10/2007 9:42:07 PM , Rating: 2
Where are you living that you are paying over 160 dollars a month for that level of connection? Hell, even in the boonies of West Virginia, I could get internet service from a DSL service for less than $30 dollars a month, with 2mb down and a uncertain (>= 78kb) upload.

I think you should really be thinking of looking for another provider if you are truly paying that much, because they are basically telling you "Bend over!" with a sharpened mental stake in their hand.

RE: nonsense
By SavagePotato on 11/10/2007 11:36:01 PM , Rating: 1
Welcome to the real boonies.

Sattelite providers in this area charge as much as $200 a month for a 2 mb connection. Usualy with a traffic cap in the hundreds of megabytes. Not to mention an oh so wonderful 4 or 500 ms average latency.

Usualy there Is no other provider to go with in these situations for people stuck on these kinds of service.

RE: nonsense
By Christopher1 on 11/11/2007 12:10:46 AM , Rating: 1
Yeah....... I think you should look. Even out in the middle of Nevada's Death Valley or whatever they call it...... there are competing satellite internet providers.

In fact, I looked and I found one company with less than 5 minutes of searching that offered satellite internet service anywhere in the United States (Lower 48) for only 30 dollars a month.

No blackout areas or anything. You are just getting reamed by someone who isn't referring you to these other places, or haven't looked very well, I am sorry to say.

RE: nonsense
By SavagePotato on 11/11/2007 12:42:01 PM , Rating: 1
I work for a wireless provider in this area, I know exactly what the competition is and what they offer.

For areas that aren't on wireless one of the two sattelite providers are the only option.

This isn't the United States either. It is a poor assumption to assume that everything in the rest of the world is just like America.

And no I am not getting reamed, I have 3 meg dsl, soon to be 6 meg. However not every person is so lucky and some are forced to pay that kind of fee for sattelite.

RE: nonsense
By XtremeM3 on 11/12/2007 2:16:00 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry, I guess I should have been clearer. When I said no service, I really meant no service. As in, my ISP is pretty much the sole provider in the country I am currently in. Yes there are a couple of Sat providers that charge the same or more, for inferior service. So another provider isn't an option. Trust me, I can't wait to get back to the states and a decent broadband connection.

Basically the point I was trying to make above was just that people will pay what they have to. Just like I pay that 160 a month for crappy service because I don't have an option. If all ISPs offer the same restraints, people don't have a choice but to pay. Just be happy you aren't dealing with a monopoly like I have to out here who can jack prices way up. (Having a monopoly is not illegal here...go figure)


"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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