Print 82 comment(s) - last by OblivionMage.. on Nov 15 at 4:06 PM

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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RE: What's fair?
By Ringold on 11/11/2007 5:09:28 PM , Rating: 2
Which still sounds fair to me.

RE: What's fair?
By TomCorelis on 11/11/2007 5:14:01 PM , Rating: 5
What about all the kids patching their World of Warcraft installations? (Blizzard distributes patches primarily via a proprietary bittorrent client.)

What about all the legal movie downloading services that use similar protocols? What about BitTorrent's industry partnerships, if they ever blossom? (

What about all the Linux distributions that distribute via bittorrent and peer-2-peer installs?

What about Joost, if it relies or chooses to rely on peer distribution?

RE: What's fair?
By Ringold on 11/11/07, Rating: -1
RE: What's fair?
By tigen on 11/12/2007 2:01:37 AM , Rating: 5
"I don't do XYZ, so I don't care if that's screwed up"

I don't know what I would do, but that's irrelevant... what matters is what is legal and what people should put up with.

You don't call something "unlimited" and then dick with the service so as to covertly limit it.

Who are you to say what is productive, and that p2p can't be used for productive things?

RE: What's fair?
By gramboh on 11/12/2007 5:40:31 AM , Rating: 3
I'd have the foresight to build a network that isn't crippled by upstream traffic from my subscribers like DOCSIS cable is. I'd build a network like FiOS. The assumption that all users are just going to download a few bytes here and there isn't valid anymore.

RE: What's fair?
By Pjotr on 11/12/2007 6:54:19 AM , Rating: 3
How would you solve the problem of a few users draining resources from the rest of the user base for now?

I would be scared of being sued for not delivering the product I sell and immediatly increase my network bandwidth and possible increase consumer prices to afford it.

In Sweden an ISP was just fined for selling "up to 24 MBit/s DSL" when it in fact only delivered 4-8 MBit/s to one customer. That customer will now get the 8 MBit/s pricing also, even though he is on the 24 MBit/s DSL connection.

Strangling the bandwidth during peak hours is no better, no matter what the reason. If you sell cars with 200 bhp, but strange engine power electronically to 100 bhp during rush hour, you would get sued.

RE: What's fair?
By BikeDude on 11/12/2007 8:23:45 AM , Rating: 2
If I don't have to wait for my ten ton excel to download because some kid downloading a giant WoW patch has to wait slightly longer.. sounds good to me.

A bittorrent client has the potential of using (much) less of the ISP's expensive bandwidth outside the ISP's net. Your huge excel download using http or ftp most likely sucks more bandwidth. (in most cases it will probably be cached by a transparent http proxy, but those solutions have failed to scale in the past and I'd be surprised if they're trouble free now)

The ISP should not prioritize your needs above those of the kid downloading the WoW patch. You pay the same and should both expect the kind of service you pay for. His download is no less noble or just than yours.

However, limiting those who download 600GB a month is an understandable move, but should be made according to which part of the network was affected. If you download 10TB from someone using the same ISP it shouldn't have that much of an impact on other users. (but it sometimes does, since the DSL providers cram too many users on the same DSLAM -- which IMO should be considered consumer fraud)

As a sidenote, a friend of mine used to work for Norway's largest ISP. They noted that their competitor offered better outbound bandwidth for their users, so more of the traffic stayed within their own net... This was a couple of years ago, so things may have changed, but I suspect it still holds true. Give the users more outbound bandwidth, and they will prefer to leech off eachother rather than stroll outside their ISP's net.

RE: What's fair?
By OblivionMage on 11/15/2007 4:06:52 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly, my WoW patches are much, much slower then a simple http download. I use Bell Canada for my ISP and live in Ontario Canada.

Especially since Bell praises itself for its rather constant speeds, throttling all P2P traffic is completely unfair.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007
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