Archive for Throttling

CRTC Hears Two Ways To Deal With Bandwidth Management Issues [UPDATED]

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on July 10, 2009 by itnerd

So let’s assume that you want to solve the problem of ISPs who employ Bandwidth Management. You’ve got two options according to those who testified in front of the CRTC hearings yesterday. If you’re the Canadian Association Of Internet Providers, competition is the answer:

“When you increase competition in the market, the whole [internet traffic management], net neutrality debate will go away,” said Christian Tacit, counsel for the Canadian Association of Internet Providers. “I really do think this will take care of itself, as will the congestion issues.”

But if you’re University of Ottawa’s Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Research Centre (CIPPIC) or the Campaign for Democratic Media, that may not be enough. Strict rules are the answer. Here’s what CIPPIC had to say:

Competition is necessary, said David Fewer, acting director of CIPPIC, “but it’s not sufficient to address the problem.”

The Campaign for Democratic Media went further:

Steve Anderson, co-founder of the Campaign for Democratic Media and the Save our Net Coalition, said more competition will certainly help, but is something that could take years to happen.

“We need rules now,” he added.

I must admit that I have to agree with Anderson and Fewer. The way things are right now, the smaller ISPs like Teksavvy and Execulink buy their services from Bell. So unless another large telco sets up shop in Canada and has the ability to run “last mile” connections to customers, or these ISPs find a way to bypass Bell, there will be no true competition and these ISPs will be screwed by Bell. So the CRTC needs to lay down the law and make this sort of behavior verboten. That’s the only way this problem will be solved in the long term.

Day 5 of the hearings should be underway now. You can listen in live via this audio feed.

UPDATE: Recordings from the previous days in MP3 format can be found here.

Filmakers And The Disabled Argue Against Bandwidth Management

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on July 9, 2009 by itnerd

The CRTC hearings into Bandwidth Management entered day 3, and opponents lined up to tell the CRTC that they need to make Bandwidth Management verboten in Canada.

Film makers were the first to say how craptastic Bandwidth Management is:

“If allowed to take root, such practices may choke off the only distribution method that currently allows independent producers to directly reach their audience” without having to through gatekeepers such as broadcasting companies, said John Barrack, national executive vice-president and counsel for the Canadian Film and Television Production Association (CFTPA).

You’ll also note that the ISPs who are best known for employing Bandwidth Management techniques (that would be Bell and Rogers) also have TV and Pay Per View services that would be bypassed by film makers who go direct viewer(which means no money for them). The more cynical among us would argue that that’s a factor in their decision to employ Bandwidth Management.

But I digress.

People with disabilities also showed up at the hearings to express their displeasure at ISPs who throttle:

P2P file transfers are also an important resource for people with disabilities, argued representatives of the Council for Canadians with Disabilities and the ARCH Disability Law Centre Wednesday.

For example, many deaf people rely on closed captions and scene descriptions for educational and other films.

The Adaptive Technology Resource Centre at the University of Toronto encourages the public to create those and then distribute them via P2P networks, where people who are disabled can access them, said director Jutta Trevarinus, one of the experts who spoke on behalf of the advocacy groups.

But Trevarinus said she has noticed problems when using P2P distribution through Rogers and Bell internet services even at times of the day when traffic is low and the companies say they don’t use traffic shaping.

Advocates for the disabled also testified they are worried about proposals that certain programs should be given priority as part of internet traffic management, as a lot of people with disabilities rely on non-standard programs and devices.

Some of those already don’t seem to work well with the Bell and Rogers networks. Trevarinus said she isn’t sure why the speeds on the networks seem slow when using those applications.

That’s something that I wasn’t aware of. I’ll have to remember that the next time somebody tries to tell me that Bandwidth Management is good for customers.

A quick reminder. If you want to hear what’s going on at these hearings, there’s a live audio feed available.

Day Two Of The CRTC Hearings Brings Google To The Table… Among Other Interesting Developments

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on July 8, 2009 by itnerd

Google’s Jacob Glick (Canada policy counsel for Google) made an appearance in front of the CRTC Bandwidth Management hearings yesterday. Glick who works for the company that preaches that its core value is to “do no evil” made it clear that it thinks that bandwidth management by ISPs is “evil”:

“Giving carriers the power to slow down applications at their own discretion will change user behaviours, distort innovation and undermine the competitive market in applications,” said Jacob Glick, Canada policy counsel for Google, at the second day of Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission hearings in Gatineau, Que.

Exactly! That’s why this sort of nonsense by ISPs has to be prohibited.

The other thing that came out of Tuesday’s session is this:

Toronto-based technology consultant Jason Roks said new applications that consume more bandwidth are constantly being developed, and that’s a long-term problem that throttling certain applications won’t solve.

He said the real issue is ISPs are overselling their networks. If they can’t afford to upgrade their networks to support that many customers at advertised speeds, they should let customers go, he argued.

No kidding. Here’s an example of the above. I was once a Rogers High Speed Internet customer. But over the years my connection speed got slower and slower. I called their tech support line and they tried to blame my computers for the issue. Sorry, no dice dudes. So when I called them on it, they finally admitted that there were too many people on my network loop and that they would have to segment the loop to get my speed back to where it should be. That was going to take six to nine months. When I told them that was completely unacceptable as I wasn’t getting the speed that they advertised, they gave me a 50% credit for “degraded service.” I took that credit and switched to a DSL provider within a week. They gave me exactly the speed that they promised which is why I went with that DSL provider.

The fact is, there are tons of consumers out there that aren’t getting the Internet service that they’ve paying for as I get calls from them for assistance all the time. They call me because they suspect that something is wrong and their ISP lies to them tells them that speed related issues are the fault of their computer or router. Thus they need to get someone to prove that their ISP is lying to them incorrect.

If you want more on this subject, CBC Marketplace did a story on this about a year ago that is worth looking at. Plus I’ve written about how you can see if you’re getting what you’re paying for in the past as well.

Remember if you want to hear what’s going on at these hearings, there’s a live audio feed available.

Sandvine Says Yes To Bandith Management Along With More Fun From Day One Of The CRTC Hearings

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on July 7, 2009 by itnerd

In day one of the CRTC hearings into Bandwidth Management, Sandvine who is best known for providing the gear that Comcast used to throttle it’s users Internet connections made an appearance. What they had to say will get your attention:

“In times of congestion, an unmanaged network is not a neutral network,” he [Don Bowman, CTO of Sandvine] said. “Inequalities in application design and user behaviour mean that an unmanaged network inherently favours certain applications and their users.”

So what he’s saying is that network neutrality doesn’t exist and networks need to be managed for the good of users. Of course the fact that that requires his gear (or similar gear made be companies that compete against him) has nothing to do with that of course. He wasn’t the only one who sung from that songsheet:

Scott Stevens, vice-president of technology for Juniper Networks, a company that also offers internet traffic management technology, said part of the problem is technologies such as streaming video are very different from applications the internet was originally designed for.

“They don’t talk and be quiet. They hum constantly,” he said, in contrast to older applications such as email that exchange data only intermittently.

That means new network tools are needed to manage traffic, and companies need the flexibility to be able to develop those tools, he said.

“We feel it’s very important that innovation is able to occur at the network level.”

While there is a certain amount of truth behind that statement, there is some self interest there as well. Fortunately, there were some people on the other side of the argument:

John Lawford, counsel for the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, which is representing three Canadian consumers groups, told the CRTC Monday that DPI could invade privacy by revealing things such as the type of application, how long it was used and the types of search strings entered by the user. It could also be misused for marketing or unfair pricing.

“There will be abuse,” he said.

You think? It doesn’t take a genius to see that if you give a a major telco like Bell or Rogers the ability to throttle, they’ll use that ability to not only do everything mentioned above, they’ll also take out stuff like VOIP so that they don’t have to compete against it.

Let’s see what day 2 brings us.

Bandwidth Management Comes Under The CRTC Microscope Starting Today

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on July 6, 2009 by itnerd

A new round of CRTC hearings starts today that will cover the always heated topic of Bandwidth Management (a.k.a. throttling). The CBC has a story on their website that covers the main issues and provides a really good overview as to what’s on the table. As far as I am concerned, it’s required reading for Canadians who have any sort of Internet connection. If you feel like tuning in to hear what’s going on, there’s an audio feed available as well.

Here’s hoping that the CRTC finally grows a pair and makes the whole concept of Bandwidth Management a thing of the past in Canada.

Bell Canada Screws Its DSL Resellers Even More By Introducing Usage Based Billing

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on April 16, 2009 by itnerd

The Circus never ends. Customers of Canadian ISP Teksavvy received an e-mail from the ISP with the following info:

Bell provides TekSavvy with last mile, wholesale DSL access services, which TekSavvy uses to provide you with your Internet access. If Bell were to be allowed to introduce UBB on this service, a cap of 60GB would be imposed on all of its users, with very heavy penalties per Gigabyte afterwards (multiple times more than our current per Gigabyte rate of $0.25/GB on overages). This would inherently all but remove Unlimited internet services in Ontario/Quebec and potentially cause large increases in internet costs from month to month.

How craptastic. It seems that Bell Canada is intent on driving its DSL resellers out of business by any means. As if throttling them isn’t enough. I guess that competing fairly in the marketplace isn’t something that Bell Canada is interested in. But of course Bell Canada has a much different spin on this:

“The implementation of usage-based billing for this wholesale service represents but a further appropriate step in the evolution of pricing to reflect the realities of the Companies’ need to manage capacity on their networks,” said Denis Henry, Bell Aliant’s vice-president of regulatory and government affairs, and David Palmer, Bell Canada’s director of regulatory affairs, in a joint submission.

Of course the fact that every time Bell Canada and others have been asked to prove that they need exists to manage their networks, they fail to prove that the need exists. So this is just BS.

The question is, will the CRTC do anything about it. Perhaps Canadians should call or e-mail their MP and let them know that this nonsense with Bell Canada must end and consumers must be protected.

Google To Use Its Powers To Expose ISP’s Who Throttle

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on January 30, 2009 by itnerd

Fresh from finding missing children and discovering pot farms, Google via their company blog has decided to tell the world which ISP’s throttle your connection:

“At Google, we care deeply about sustaining the Internet as an open platform for consumer choice and innovation,”

Uh yeah. Right. It’s more like your business model depends on the Internet being an open platform for choice and innovation.

But I digress.

Google has launched Measurement Lab (M-Lab) and the tools that this site provides “allow users to, among other things, measure the speed of their connection, run diagnostics, and attempt to discern if their ISP is blocking or throttling particular applications.” Any info collected will be made public.

It will be intersting how the Bell Sympatico and Comcasts of the universe react to this as infomed consumers may make their ISP choice based on what this site finds.

CRTC Says That Bell Is Free To Throttle Wholesale ISPs…. Internet Users In Canada Are Outraged [UPDATED]

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on November 20, 2008 by itnerd

The decision is in and it’s not good. The CRTC has decided to rule against wholesale ISPs in their throttling dispute with Bell:

“Based on the evidence before us, we found that the measures employed by Bell Canada to manage its network were not discriminatory,” said CRTC chair Konrad von Finckenstein in a release. “Bell Canada applied the same traffic-shaping practices to wholesale customers as it did to its own retail customers,”

But this doesn’t end the issue. As expected, the CRTC is going to launch a larger investigation into throttling:

“The broader issue of internet traffic management raises a number of questions that affect both end-users and service providers,” von Finckenstein said. “We have decided to hold a separate proceeding to consider both wholesale and retail issues. Its main purpose will be to address the extent to which internet service providers can manage the traffic on their networks in accordance with the Telecommunications Act.”

This of course has Internet users in Canada mad as hell. Just take a look at this thread from to see the level of anger this decision has produced. The same article points this fact out:

“Finckenstein appears to not understand either the definition of discriminatory, or how throttling wholesale ISPs (not just resellers) kills off Bell competition on multiple fronts. Bell’s decision effectively eliminated the right of independent wholesale ISPs to offer an un-crippled connection if they’re willing to pay for the bandwidth. It also gives Bell Canada’s un-throttled video store an unfair advantage over Canada’s more limited field of competing P2P Internet video services.”

The CRTC seriously needs to be slapped here. They really don’t get it at all. In the meantime, Internet users in Canada are given the shaft because of their stupidity.

UPDATE: The CRTC decision in full can be found here. The CAIP response can be found here. Another thread on with angry Canadian Internet users can be found here. Many of them are cancelling their Bell services in protest.

CRTC To Rule On Bell’s Throttling On Thursday

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on November 19, 2008 by itnerd

The day that Internet users in Canada have been waiting for is finally here. The CBC is reporting that the CRTC is finally going to rule on Bells throttling of independant ISP’s on Thursday at 9AM eastern time. But regardless of which way the ruling goes tomorrow, this issue isn’t over:

“A decision against CAIP may not necessarily close the door on the throttling issue, however. CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein this summer said a decision on the Bell-CAIP case will be limited to whether the company has violated its wholesale agreements with the smaller providers. A more detailed CRTC probe into whether throttling should be allowed in a general sense will likely follow, he said.”

So Internet users in Canada should buckle up and stay close to their browser. The fireworks are about to begin.

Telus Flip Flops On “Bell Should Pay” Stance… Shock… Not…

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on September 23, 2008 by itnerd

A mere 24 hours after saying that “Bell should pay” for the throttling circus that it started Telus decided to reverse it’s stance on that issue:

“The direct parties in this proceeding are both CAIP and Bell Canada,” he [vice-president of policy and regulatory affairs, Ted Woodhead] wrote in a letter made public Monday. “As a result, Telus submits that any cost awards in relation to this proceeding should be allocated between those two parties, in such manner that the commission deems to be justified in the circumstances.”

Tom Copeland of the Canadian Association Of Internet Providers has a plausible explanation as to why they might have flopped:

“I imagine that a Bell VP was on the phone to a Telus VP 30 seconds after they received the letter of the 16th,” he said.

Bell and Telus have some agreements in place to share some of their infrastructure (most notably their cell service since they are both on the uber lame CDMA standard rather than the more mainstream GSM standard that Rogers/Fido uses and neither company can cover Canada on their own). So it’s a safe bet that when Bell read their letter, the fit hit the shan and large amounts of backpeadling ensued.

Telus has never been my favorite company, but this flip flop has added one more strike against them. I won’t be dealing with them if I can avoid it.