Archive for Throttling

Bell To Stop Throttling Their Customers

Posted in Commentary with tags , on December 22, 2011 by itnerd

If you’ve got Bell as your Internet provider, here’s an early Christmas present for you. Throttling of your Internet connection is about to come to an end:

Bell Canada and Bell Aliant will stop using equipment to selectively slow down file sharing applications on their networks starting March 1, the companies said in a letter to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission on Monday.

That will affect both the companies’ own retail internet customers and the customers of independent internet service providers who rent wholesale access to Bell’s network in order to connect directly with customers’ homes.

So why the sudden change of heart? Bell claims that they’ve invested heavily in their network. But there might be another reason:

Michael Geist, a University of Ottawa law professor with a special interest in the regulation of the internet, believes “Bell had little choice” but to end its traffic shaping, given CRTC rules that make it clear the regulator favours network investment and economic means to manage internet traffic.

The regulator had issued new guidelines in September for resolving customer complaints about throttling, including timelines for action by internet service providers. It said ISPs could face a third-party audit or even a public hearing if they did not comply.

So with Bell making this move, one wonders how long Rogers and Telus can justify throttling their customers. They’re going to have to do something quickly or face losing customers.

CRTC Says Rogers Violates Internet Rules… Shock, Not…

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on October 27, 2011 by itnerd

If you get your Internet from Rogers, this will not come as any great shock to you. According to the CRTC, Rogers violates federal rules because of the way it slows traffic and has decided to look into the matter further:

The probe stems from a complaint by the Canadian Gamers Organization, an advocacy group for people who play video games, that Rogers has been hindering online games.

You might remember that Rogers had been caught throttling World Of Warcraft users a while back, though they said that they fixed the problem. Of course the fact that the CRTC wanted them to stop throttling likely had something to do with that. But then, nobody believed that they had fixed the problem anyway. In any case, here’s what the CRTC is going to do:

The CRTC informed the gamers group on Thursday that it has referred the matter to its enforcement division, meaning commission staff consider Rogers to be violating the Telecommunications Act or CRTC regulations. Those rules allow throttling of peer-to-peer file sharing programs like BitTorrent, but not of time-sensitive internet traffic like video chatting or gaming.

It means that penalties could be on the way, which won’t be good for Rogers. Here’s what they could be facing:

If the CRTC confirms Rogers is in violation, the regulator can go so far as to order the company to partially reimburse customers and to change its practices.

I’ve been extremely critical about Rogers over the years because their traffic management system has proven to be such a #fail. If there was ever a time for Rogers to come clean and deal with this issue in an honest and forthright manner (which up until now they haven’t come close to doing), now would be the time. I don’t expect them to, so I hope the CRTC for once slaps them silly and shows that they aren’t just the pawns of the telco industry.

DSL Resellers To Be Unthrottled In November

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on October 20, 2011 by itnerd

Several websites are reporting that Bell is about to stop DSL resellers starting November 2011. Needless to say, Canadian Internet users are rejoicing. Why is Bell doing this now? On one hand, who cares? But DSL Reports offers one reason:

With Bell never able to adequately prove the throttling was necessary due to congestion in the first place, and the ratio of P2P service use declining, Bell apparently couldn’t hold up the illusion any longer — or didn’t like the cost of the added gear. It could also suggest that Bell lobbyists are making headway in getting the Canadian government to sign off on metered wholesale billing efforts, making wholesale throttling unnecessary and too costly.

I do know one thing. Canadians should keep an eye on Bell as I have a suspicion that this isn’t over quite yet.

Rogers Ordered By CRTC To Stop Throttling Gamers

Posted in Commentary with tags , on September 17, 2011 by itnerd

Here’s something I never expected from the CRTC. The Canadian telco regulator has given Rogers “mere days” to stop throttling gamers which is something I’ve previously reported on:

In a letter to the telecom giant, the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission said the company’s own traffic management policy states that online games, such as World of Warcraft, should not be throttled or slowed down, and would only be affected if Rogers misclassifies the games and other peer-to-peer applications were running at the same time.

Rogers now has until Sept. 27 to present a plan to the regulator to deal with the issue.

“Commission staff considers that Rogers should address and resolve this misclassification problem,” the correspondence, dated Sept. 16, states.

Considering that the CRTC is made up of ex telco types, it’s a shock to see them take a firm stance like this. Rogers for its part had this to say:

In a statement issued Friday, Rogers downplayed any problems, saying the company already has corrected the issue with World of Warcraft and is “not aware of any problems with any other online games.”

That’s why the company “will table the process that we already have in place to deal with these issues,” Rogers said.

Actually Rogers, your users don’t think that you’ve dealt with the issue and they don’t have complementary things to say about your attempts to fix this. I’ll join the chorus. I’ve been highly critical over the years about the Rogers traffic management system. The only thing that they’ve done by handling this situation so poorly is make people think they are either trying to screw their customers, or their are incompetent when it comes to running their traffic management system. Rogers would do themselves a favor by either fixing this quickly and saying that they’re sorry, or turning off their traffic management system as it clearly has issues.

Oh yeah, I should mention that Rogers ability to keep their Internet users happy and keep a positive public image is another issue that will not go away even after this issue dies down. That might be something they should really be concerned about.

CRTC Makes Decisions On Usage Based Billing And Throttling… And The Decisions Don’t Suck

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on October 21, 2009 by itnerd

Today the CRTC posted several decisions on Usage Based Billing for wholesale ISPs as well as the throttling of users connections.

On the Usage Based Billing front, here’s what the CRTC said:

“The Commission confirms the interim approval granted in Telecom Order 2009-484 to proposals by Bell Aliant and Bell Canada to introduce usage-based billing for their wholesale residential Gateway Access Services. However, the implementation date established in that order is varied.”

So in short Usage Based Billing will happen, but it won’t happen anytime soon. The CRTC (shockingly) seems to have recognized the issues surrounding Retail vs Wholesale ISPs and as a result they have delayed implementation of Usage Based Billing until further notice in order to give enough time to work through the various issues at hand. That’s a bit of a reprieve for independent ISPs who were facing the prospect of being priced out of the market because the make Bell look really uncompetitive.

In terms of throttling, the CRTC says that ISPs have to advertise the fact that they throttle and give details on how they do it and what they throttle. Plus the CRTC recommends that it be used as a last resort. If throttling is to be used, then the people doing the throttling have to give 60 days notice for wholesale ISPs and 30 days notice for end users. In this decision, there’s this little tidbit:

Accordingly, the Commission finds that use of an ITMP resulting in the noticeable degradation of time-sensitive Internet traffic will require prior Commission approval under section 36 of the Act.

That means that if Bell messes with Skype, VoIP, audio/video streaming (i.e. YouTube), etc, they will require prior CRTC approval. Notice they didn’t focus on the intent of the throttling. They only focused on the result. That’s huge and is sure to piss off Bell.

So in short, this is a victory of sorts for Canadian Internet users. But the battle is far from over. This is a window for Canadian Internet users to put more pressure on the Canadian Government and the CRTC to create a more competitive Internet space within Canada. So if you’re Canadian and you pay for your Internet access, make sure your local MP knows how you feel, and you should do it sooner rather than later.

Otherwise, your Internet will continue to suck as has been pointed out on this blog previously.

Comcast Files Suit Against The FCC… Just Like They Promised

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on August 17, 2009 by itnerd

Comcast said almost a year ago that they were going to go after the FCC because of the FCC’s rather lame attempt to stop Comcast from throttling their users. Well, they finally got around to filing the paperwork according to ARS Technica. Their main argument is this:

“For the FCC to conclude that an entity has acted in violation of federal law and to take enforcement action for such a violation, there must have been ‘law’ to violate,” Comcast’s Opening Brief [Warning: PDF] to the court contends. “Here, no such law existed.”

The article then goes on the explain the reasons why Comcast feels that they’re being unfairly picked on by the FCC as well as a brief history of this issue. It’s an interesting read and I hope you take the time to read it.

In any case, if I were the FCC I would solve the problem this way: Get congress to pass laws that outlaw throttling. That way there is a law that covers the sort of behavior that Comcast has engaged in. Problem solved.

Poll Says Canadians Support Bandwidth Management….. Or Does It? [UPDATED]

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on July 15, 2009 by itnerd

Someone once told me that there are lies , dammed lies, and statistics. Here’s an example of the latter. According to the Globe and Mail, 60% Canadians supports some from of reasonable bandwidth management as long as “users are treated fairly.” But the telling figure is this one:

Most — 54 per cent — said they did not know whether traffic management affects them personally. Just 15 per cent said they are affected by the practice.

So let’s recap: 60% agree with the question. But 54% didn’t fully understand the question.

Am I the only one who sees this survey as being flawed? What do you think? Please post a comment and share your views.

UPDATE: Here’s a PDF to the press release from Harris Decima. It contains a better breakdown as to what was asked and far more statistics for your reading pleasure. While this does provide some insight into how these numbers came into being, this survey still seems flawed to me.

Bell Shows Up At The CRTC Hearings…. Their Testimony Just Stinks…

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on July 14, 2009 by itnerd

Today was the last day of the CRTC hearings into Bandwidth Management, and Bell must really be smoking some grade “A” crack. Because they made this statement to the CRTC:

Bell must slow the downloads of certain other internet providers’ customers to stop them from congesting its shared network and hurting Bell’s retail customers, the company argued Tuesday.

The only way Bell could allow those smaller ISPs — which buy network access wholesale from Bell — to manage their own internet traffic is if they used exactly the same method as Bell, as other methods would conflict, said Jonathan Daniels, the Montreal-based company’s vice-president of regulatory law.

“And if [they’re] going to do that, why don’t we just do it for them?” Daniels asked at a hearing before the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission in Ottawa.

Gee… That sounds like your retail business is hurting, so you decide to screw your wholesale customers to level the playing field. After all, why would you assume that your wholesale customers would want to throttle their customers? Did it ever occur to you that they may not want to do that? Of course not.

Oh yeah, Bell claims that they can’t tell the difference between their traffic and their wholesale customers traffic. But according to the article:

Bell’s testimony contrasted with that of MTS Allstream, which sells wholesale internet service similar to Bell’s in Manitoba. The company told the CRTC last week that it was able to distinguish between its wholesale and retail customers in Manitoba.

Hmmm… Sounds like Bell is at best playing fast and loose with the truth. However, Bell does have an option for ISPs who buy bandwidth from them if they don’t want to be screwed like a prison bitch throttled by Bell:

They could buy Bell’s high-speed access (HSA) wholesale service, which uses the same shared network and costs roughly twice as much, but is not subject to Bell’s traffic shaping. For example, Primus has purchased that service in some parts of Ontario.

Oh sure. Buy a service that prices most of these ISPs right out of the market. That’s a great plan… If you’re Bell.

So this closes these CRTC hearings. Hopefully the CRTC sees through the BS that was spread around by Bell, Rogers, Telus and other ISPs who throttle and restrict if not eliminate this practice.

Rogers To CRTC: Slowing Speed Of P2P For The Good Of Customers

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on July 13, 2009 by itnerd

From the “I can’t believe that they said that with a straight face” department, comes the result of Rogers appearance in front of the CRTC hearings into Bandwidth Management. Here’s what they had to say on the subject:

“Most carriers are trying to win customers from the other guys and try and keep the customers they have happy, so you should assume … that network management practices are for the benefit of customers,” Ken Englehart, senior vice-president of regulatory issues for Rogers, told a hearing before the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission in response to questions from the commission.

You’re kidding me. A lot of my customers have dropped Rogers because they do that sort of thing. So I don’t what crack he’s smoking. Whatever it is, he needs to share as it clearly alters his perception of reality.

Rogers wasn’t the only people to appear in front of the CRTC today. Quebecor who owns Videotron made an appearance today:

Following Rogers, Quebecor Media addressed the hearing on behalf of Videotron, which said it does not throttle but relies on usage-based billing to control congestion, and said that has worked so far, and has even curbed peer-to-peer uploads to some extent.

However, the company also argued against guidelines on internet traffic management, saying they could stifle innovation.

While I’m not a fan of usage based billing, the fact that they don’t throttle and they try to control bandwidth by billing their customers for excessive usage is far preferable to what Rogers is doing. If Rogers did what they did, I’d have one less thing to criticize Rogers about.

Bell was supposed to make an appearance in front of the CRTC today. But that has been pushed to tomorrow. It will be interesting to hear what they have to say.

Surprise! Cogeco, Barrett Xplore And Telus Say Bandwidth Management Rules Not Needed

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on July 11, 2009 by itnerd

Cogeco, Barrett Xplore, and Telus made an appearance in front of the CRTC Bandwidth Management hearings yesterday and to the shock of nobody, they both argued that rules that govern how Bandwidth Management is employed are not needed:

Yves Mayrand, Cogeco’s vice-president of business affairs, told the commission the company had “no choice” but to use that type of network management, as their cable infrastructure has limited bandwidth for traffic uploaded by its users and some applications are designed to “hoard capacity.” The throttling applies to both Cogeco’s own retail customers and customers of other ISPs that buy network access wholesale from Cogeco.

It really sounds to me that Cogeco has capacity issues that they can’t or won’t deal with and they cover that up by throttling their wholesale and retail customers. After all, it’s likely cheaper to limit what your customers can do rather than spend money to expand your network. Telus for one has expanded their network and worked for them. But according to Telus, that’s not really the case:

David Neale, a senior vice-president who deals with the company’s technology strategy, said asking ISPs to deal with capacity issues solely by building more infrastructure as some people have advocated is not realistic, even though it has largely worked for Telus so far.

It’s interesting that Telus says one thing, but does something completely different. Then applies spin doctoring when people point out the hypocrisy.

When it comes to telling customers about what Bandwidth Management techniques are used, here’s what this trio had to say:

Telus and Barrett Xplore executives agreed that there should be some disclosure of ISPs’ traffic management practices, but details aren’t necessary, as customers are not really interested. Nevertheless, Cogeco said it plans to provide some more details to its retail customers in the future.

That’s a load of bull. The fact that these hearings exist are indicative of the fact that customers ARE interested.

Monday is the final day of the hearings. Bell, Rogers, Shaw, and Quebecor are all slated to lie testify to the CRTC.  It should be interesting to see what they have to say. As always, you can get the live audio feed here and an archive of the previous hearing days can be found here.