My Thoughts On Bell Canada’s Response To The CRTC

I’ve had a chance to read over Bell’s response to the CRTC a couple of times. My initial thoughts are plenty.

The executive version of Bell’s response is essentially that their traffic-shaping practices are in the best interest of their customers and the general public. They cite the statistic that five percent of users were using over 30% of their bandwidth and say that this means that 95% of their users were suffering from the practice of filesharing.

That quite simply is a load of hogwash. In detail, here’s why.

First, read this paragraph from their response:

26. Notwithstanding the alleged reports referred to above and the unsubstantiated “observations” contained in the CAIP Application, the Company can confirm that:

– it is only applying its Internet traffic management solution to P2P file sharing applications during peak Internet usage periods;
– it is not applying its Internet traffic management solution to streaming applications such as YouTube or Internet radio;
– it has not been presented with any evidence that its Internet traffic management solution is having any impact on VPN or VoIP traffic;
– it is applying its Internet traffic management solution to its Sympatico retail and business customer base and to its wholesale DSL customer base who share a common network in the exact same manner and to the same extent;
– it is not applying its Internet traffic management solution to wholesale HSA traffic;
– it has not introduced its Internet traffic management solution to stem the tide of Sympatico customers to its wholesale competitors in the face of ongoing changes to Sympatico Internet access rate plans;
– it remains willing to work with any customer who is experiencing Internet service problems and in particular those believed to be caused by its Internet traffic management solution; and
it has contacted its ISP customers and encouraged them to come forward with any suspected problems and remains committed to working with them.

There’s some inaccuracies in this section:

Their traffic shaping has affected VPN and VoIP traffic. Users on DSLreports.com have noted that VoIP performance has clearly degraded since the introduction of their throttling measures. The same goes for VPN traffic.

The statement is inaccurate as well:

it is applying its Internet traffic management solution to its Sympatico retail and business customer base and to its wholesale DSL customer base who share a common network in the exact same manner and to the same extent”

The truth is that wholesale DSL customers (that would be people who have Teksavvy and Acanac for example) were not throttled until recently (unlike Sympatico customers who have been throttled for a while now).

The final thing that jumps out at me is this: Bell pretends that the Gateway Access Service that they wholesale to ISPs is TCP/IP based from end to end. It’s not. They’re hoping that nobody notices that detail because what actually happens is that the connections from/to their users are aggregated into a single PPP/L2TP link for the entire period that it’s on Bell’s network. From a logic standpoint, there is no difference between a user with one 500KB/s connection versus a user with a THOUSAND 0.5KB/s connections. To Bell, it all appears to be simply a single 500KB/s (plus overhead) PPP stream. Which they then take and wrap L2TP around. That’s a lot of technobabble, but let me make it simpler for you. Bell is contracted by ISP’s to deliver PPP/L2TP and not TCP/IP. Bell never sees TCP/IP (which is what every Internet enabled application runs on) at all, so they shouldn’t care. What’s happening is that Bell can’t deal with the volume of data (likely because they underbuilt their network) that they’re contracted to deliver, so they’re throttling to avoid having to make a capital investment.

In short, Bell is trying to “spin” how their technology works and what they’ve done to their users and resellers to their benefit. Sneaky!

I’m sure there’s more…. Perhaps some readers will post what I’ve missed.

Here’s what happens from here:

  • The Canadian Association Of Internet Providers makes a response to Bell’s BS.
  • The CRTC makes a decision.

Expect the endgame to come within a week or two. Not counting appeals of course.

5 Responses to “My Thoughts On Bell Canada’s Response To The CRTC”

  1. Check out the post on my blog about safari 3.1.1. I don’t know how much safer it really is but i guess apple has patched some of the problems.

  2. Devil's Advocate Says:

    I think the deception goes further than just the techno-spin.

    It’s no coincidence that some providers started this throttling right after being approached by the MPAA about the ISPs’ “moral and legal responsibility to do their part to stop piracy”.

    If it was possible to open and inspect the data packets (to determine the type of data and tag the P2P), WITHOUT slowing down the stream, these providers would have been able to avoid the attention. God knows what could be done with the findings if they had that ability.

    Bell was one of the ISPs visited by the MAFIAA, as was Rogers.
    Shortly after, we saw changes in the TOS to state that Bell “reserved the right to cooperate with law enforcement…”. They continued on, basically saying they would turn over all that information they are morally, ethically and legally supposed to protect – all our user info, IPs used, and all our online activity – to local and/or federal police, as well as “other agents of authority”. (I wonder who they were referring to there, huh?!)

    Meanwhile, as Bell throttles P2P/BitTorrent, no restrictions are being placed on rich media services (video/music) or large files acquired directly from Bell. Some of these services, by their own admission, will include “legal media downloading sites”, sanctioned by the RIAA and MPAA!!

    I’d be interested to know how “subscribers” to these sites would be considered different than the “bandwidth hogs” of the BitTorrent world.

    In addition to blatantly thumbing their noses at the idea of “net neutrality”, Bell has also made it quite clear they want to rewrite the Canadian Constitution and the laws of Fair Practice to suit themselves. This should come as no surprise to Sympatico customers – who have watched Bell constantly make arbitrary, sweeping changes to the service contracts, while insisting they have the right to do so without any formal renegotiation (as required under law).

    It is NOT legal for a provider to be opening and inspecting data packets in the first place. It’s beyond me why the CRTC doesn’t flip over that detail alone.

    And, the network doesn’t really belong to Bell, either.
    It was built with public money and government subsidies.
    If it belongs to any group, that group should be the Canadian Public.

    Technically, we should be able to demand they immediately stop interfering with OUR data, and run OUR network they way they were contracted (as outlined in the existing, already-established CRTC guidelines).

  3. Please ensure that your response, IT Nerd, and the Devil’s Advocate’s response are forwarded to CAIP, as they make powerful arguments against Bell’s response.
    Keep up the good work!

  4. Devil's Advocate Says:

    The CAIP already has my take on this, as well as those from countless others. So does the CCTS and the CRTC.
    All that’s been said by all of us has been included in the text of the motion filed by the CAIP.

  5. The CRTC has my thoughts as well. Everyone should get out and do their part.

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