Archive for BitTorrent

How To Test Your Connection To See If It Is Being Throttled

Posted in Tips with tags , on May 5, 2008 by itnerd

Some of my friends ask me how they can know for sure if their connection is being throttled by their ISP so that their Bittorrent transfers are slower than they should be. Or perhaps they’re not using Bittorrent at all. Instead, they are using a VoIP or VPN product and aren’t getting the performance they should. The good news is that there’s a web based tool called Glasnost which can help you determine what your ISP is or isn’t doing. You need a web browser with Java installed to use it, but it is very easy to use. Simply start the test (I recommend the full 7 minute test) and wait for the results. It will figure out if simple throttling is being used, or is your ISP using the TCP RST method favored by Comcast and anyone else who has Sandvine gear. From there, you can use that info to smack your ISP around until they wise up.

Tip: You should try this test at different times of the day as you might be throttled only at certain times of the day.

Bell Canada Gets Hit By Another CRTC Complaint

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on April 8, 2008 by itnerd

I am overjoyed that Bell is getting slapped with a second complaint about it’s traffic shaping practices. I found this link (Warning: PDF) on the CRTC website today where someone named Jean-Francois Mezei who has a website called Vaxination Informatique says:

“Bell Canada is has introduced Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technologies that inspect private data to discriminate on the performance of point to point circuits and thus limits full transparent access to the ADSL loops as mandated by the CRTC”

This comes one week after the CAIP filed a similar (Warning: PDF) complaint against Bell. This latest complaint is interesting as it seems to come from an individual rather than an ISP, which may get the CRTC’s attention. A few more of these and Bell will have a problem justifying its behavior to anybody.

Bell Finally Responds To Throttled DSL Resellers

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on March 31, 2008 by itnerd

It took a while, but Bell who has caused no end of grief for itself, its DSL resellers, and customers of those DSL Resellers has now come up with an official response to the outcry caused by the throttling of things like BitTorrent. Check out this paragraph:

“Bell’s congestion and bandwidth management solutions apply to our entire DSL PPPoE (Point to Point Protocol over Ethernet) network, including both retail and wholesale services. To ensure optimal use of Internet network resources for all of our customers Bell has implemented Data Packet Inspection (DPI) on P2P file sharing and bit torrent applications. DPI identifies the packet mapping, but does not monitor, track, or access the data of your customers who are using P2P applications. Your customers can continue to use P2P services but they will not work as fast during peak periods. All other application functionality is not affected.”

This is dumb move given that the CBC for example is using BitTorrent to distribute shows like The Next Great Prime Minister. Not to mention that BitTorrent has lots of other legitimate uses (such as downloading LINUX software for example). To me it seems like Bell is trying to level the playing field between it’s Sympatico High Speed Internet offering that has throttled BitTorrent for some time and DSL resellers who don’t. After all, BitTorrent users are fleeing Bell (not to mention Rogers who does the same thing) to ISP’s like Teksavvy and Acanac because they don’t throttle anything (not to mention that their customer service is reportedly better than Bell which is not hard to believe from my experiences with Bell), which has to hurt Bell’s bottom line (even though Bell resells DSL service through these companies, they would make less money). Another possibility is that Bell is trying to cut out “rich media” (aka video, audio, etc) from sources other than CTVGlobeMedia (which Bell owns 20% of). It’s kind of an odd coincidence that they throttle BitTorrent within days of The Next Great Prime Minister being made available on BitTorrent. Perhaps I’ve watched one too many episodes of X-Files, but it’s an odd coincidence.

In either case, this is not good for Canadians who access the Internet. This needs to stop sooner rather than later, otherwise Canada in the long term will regret it.

BREAKING NEWS: Comcast To Stop Targeting BitTorrent Traffic

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on March 27, 2008 by itnerd

I just came across this article that says that the targeting of BitTorrent traffic by Comcast will end. Not only that, but Comcast will increase it’s broadband capacity so that it can handle this sort of traffic. In return BitTorrent will make it’s software more efficient and ensure that developers of BitTorrent clients learn how to do the same thing. Of course, the fact that the FCC was breathing down Comcast’s neck had absolutely nothing to do with this. But still, this is great news. Now if other ISP’s who screw with BitTorrent traffic will do the same, the world will be a better place. (Rogers, Bell, are you listening?)

ISP’s To Bell: Stop Throttling Or We’ll Sue!

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on March 26, 2008 by itnerd

I’m glad to see that ISP’s aren’t taking Bell’s attempt to throttle their resellers lying down. Canadian ISP Acanac is now telling customers that they’re considering legal action against Bell. I applaud their move, but I think more needs to be done. Canadian Internet users need to start urging their government to enact net neutrality as quickly as possible to stop nonsense like this from happening. If you check out this link, I think that this poster on has the right idea. E-mail your MP, contact the competition bureau and the Industry Minister. Given that Canada’s Parliament is in a minority situation, this may be the ideal time to make this happen. But it will only work if lots of people do this. So get cracking!

Bell Canada Throttles DSL Wholesalers Without Notice… WTF?

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on March 25, 2008 by itnerd

From the “this is bloody stupid” file, comes the news that Bell Canada (the de-facto top telco in Canada) is throttling people who get DSL based Internet service from wholesalers (in other words, not from Bell). On top of that, they didn’t tell the wholesalers up front that they were doing this. The most noise is coming from users of Teksavvy who are with that ISP specifically because they don’t throttle anything such as BitTorrent (on top of the fact that they have superior customer service as rated by You can check out the original post on that started the fun. Now the story is being picked up by Canadian tech lawyer Michael Geist and it’s being mentioned in Slashdot. The owners of Teksavvy have a meeting of some sort with Bell today to get some answers.

My take on this is simple. Bell has the right to do whatever it wants on it’s own service (which is Sympatico BTW). But if a wholesaler is buying DSL service they in my opinion have shouldn’t be messing with it (and not without some sort of prior notice). The problem is that Bell is the only game in many parts of Canada for DSL, so they may just say to wholesalers to FOAD, and everyone loses in the end. Here’s hoping that there’s a different outcome.

UPDATE: So much for hoping for the best. According to this, Bell Canada has confirmed that throttling is going on, they’re in their rights to do so, and if you don’t like it you can FOAD. Much as I thought they would. 🙁

Comcast vs. The FCC – Why You Should Care

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on February 25, 2008 by itnerd

Today in Washington, Comcast goes in front of the FCC to explain why it’s deliberately slowing down BitTorrent traffic on it’s network. In case you haven’t heard about this, Comcast has installed gear from a company called Sandvine to slow BitTorrent traffic down on it’s network so that it can have the majority of it’s bandwidth available to users who simply surf the net and grab their e-mail. This practice is known as packet shaping. The reason why Comcast has been singled out is that it has long denied that it did anything like this until the Associated Press proved that they were actually doing it, at which time they confessed. Their reluctance to admit to packet shaping likely has something to do with the fact that the FCC said in 2005 that ISP’s shouldn’t block or interfere with lawful Internet use unless it’s for reasonable traffic management. Comcast argues that all it’s trying to do is manage it’s network by dealing with “excessive” BitTorrent usage.

So here’s why you should care:

  1. The FCC is trying to ensure that ISP’s adhere to a concept call Net Neutrality. In a nutshell all traffic on an ISP’s network is created equal, and ISP’s can’t bump traffic that it doesn’t like down the priority list. For example, if an ISP has an alliance with Microsoft MSN or Yahoo for content they can’t delay Google traffic because they aren’t getting paid by Google. So today we might be talking about BitTorrent, but what if an ISP doesn’t want content (text, video, etc.) that it doesn’t like on it’s network? Could we talking about a potential censorship issue in the future? I for one want to be able to use my Internet connection for anything I want as long as it’s not illegal, so the concept that I may not be able to concerns me.
  2. Contrary to popular belief, there are legitimate uses for BitTorrent. For example, LINUX distributions are often distributed via BitTorrent because it is much faster to download the distribution that way versus other methods like FTP. More people would use these methods for more things (like media distribution) if ISP’s didn’t do Packet Shaping.
  3. Sometimes Packet Shaping has unintended side effects. Michael Geist for example has noted that Canadian ISP Rogers has apparently been pulling the same stunt as Comcast by not only Packet Shaping BitTorrent traffic, but Packet Shaping encrypted traffic. As a side effect it affected the University Of Ottawa E-mail system as it uses encrypted traffic for security reasons. This side effect could also cause grief for people who rely on certain types of virtual private networks as well (that would include people who need access to their work network from home). To date, Rogers has not confirmed that they are doing this, but they haven’t exactly denied it either.

So…. The question becomes what can you do about it? The best thing to do is to vote with your dollars. I was a Rogers customer until I found out about their packet shaping activities. That’s when I switched to another ISP who didn’t packet shape in any way. I figure that if enough people do that, ISP’s will stop packet shaping. So how do you know if your ISP does packet shaping? You can take a look at this list to see if they do (look to see if they limit BitTorrent Traffic and/or encrypted traffic), and then decide if you want to stay with them or not. ISP’s understand the almighty dollar above all else, so let’s use it to our advantage. I truly believe that it will come back to haunt Internet users if we do nothing but tolerate anything less than Net Neutrality. So ensure that your voice (via your dollars) is heard.