AfterDawn: Tech news

Bell Canada was throttling P2P traffic

Written by Andre Yoskowitz (Google+) @ 27 Mar 2008 14:06 User comments (20)

Bell Canada was throttling P2P traffic After being accused of shaping and throttling P2P traffic, Bell Canada has admitted to doing so, claiming that it is within its rights to do so.
The company admitted that it implemented "load balancing to manage Bandwidth demand," and did so without telling customers or even the ISPs involved. The accusations thrown at Bell first occurred when Canadian ISP Teksavvy, an ISP popular among P2P users because traffic is guaranteed to not be throttled, noticed the "load balancing" and contacted Bell.

Last October Bell Canada's own ISP, Sympatico, admitted to throttling P2P traffic on BitTorrent, Gnutella, Limewire, Kazaa, eDonkey, eMule, and WinMX which they claimed "use a large portion of bandwidth during peak hours." The measures were supposedly only used during "peak hours" however.

What is more infuriating to customers is the fact that now traffic is affected for not only Sympatico users but customers of other ISPs that have connections through Bell. In response to what many customers have called "anti-competitive measures" being used by Bell a letter campaign is being formed with the Canadian Competition Bureau.

The group letter reads, "Bell Canada has overstepped its authority and are flexing their muscle (infrastructure control) to impose their will on independent competitors. I am a customer of an independent ISP who has purchased bandwidth and my provider is at the mercy of this underhanded tactic being employed by Bell Canada."

The company says it plans to have full bandwidth consumption control by April 7th.

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20 user comments

127.3.2008 15:02

How they do that? I'm using uTorrent and traffic is encrypted (incoming and outgoing), but in evenings I lose about 50% of my bandwidth?
I have been wondering the reason a few nights, but now I know...

Someone else have same troubles in Quebec? Do I have some way to solve that problem? My traffic is already encrypted.

227.3.2008 15:20

Ugh Bell is full of shit... They're the Comcast of Canada...

I tried to get Sympatico once... A week later after trying to figure out why their internet wouldn't work they finally figured that my computer was too old... A whole week for that! Now I'm glad I'm not with them. Same goes with their phone service. Utter gabbage.

327.3.2008 18:20

I knew it, damm liars.

I called them up and questioned them on this about a year ago, their answer was "No sir we don't throttle back your speeds, it's not our bussiness what you do with your internet"

I told them I don't believe them, this just confirms it.
Teksavvy here I come, But after reading what they are doing to other ISP's who buy bandwidth from them, not sure it'll do a whole lotta good.
But at least teksavvy tech service knows what they are talking about, try throwing a complicated question at Sympatico service techs, you can here them freeze up.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 27 Mar 2008 @ 18:21

427.3.2008 18:53

now see... if they were limiting ALL bandwidth for everyone equally irreguardless of what they were doing during these "peak hours" no one would've noticed...

hope they don't read this and get any ideas...

527.3.2008 19:43

This is precisely why I went with Tek after some Sympatico spooge told me "well sir, lots of people use the internet for email and'se donnt need that bit-torrents".

TekSavvy needs to get an injunction on this asap. The whole reason this started was because Bell was losing customers en masse to TekSavvy bc of the throttling Bell was doing.

Bell: you don't own the lines. The Public does..and we can put you out of commission once and for all.

I am really hoping that in 10 yrs we wont be using wires at ALL. Everything will be some sort of supra-advanced wireless community where we just share entire hard drives instead of "dialing in" to some monopolistic ISP like Bell/Comcast/Rogers.

628.3.2008 0:43

If those lines were build by the Canadian government; then ask Parliament to nationalize them just any other resources.

Across the border...

The poles belong to American power companies whose lines are on the top. The second rows of lines are leased by phone companies like Bell. I haven't heard too many stories about them or Yahoo and Verizon throttling torrents. A third line of wires are for Cable TV providers like the infamous Comcast...

I don't know about Canada; but it's actually a lot cheaper to get your DSL from Yahoo or Verizon instead of going directly to the phone company. The difference is about 20 bucks in my own case. They also privide a free modem if you don't have one already...

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 28 Mar 2008 @ 0:48

728.3.2008 8:51

Originally posted by vinny13:
Ugh Bell is full of shit... They're the Comcast of Canada...
Not so, Comcast - while they DO send reset UDP packets to unencrypted torrent uploads - Doesn't throttle the overall bandwidth. They can keep a constant 8mbps to me even during peak hours. Plus, if you encrypt everything, the problem goes away.

But yes, I agree Bell is trying to pull some very underhanded, sneaky crap doing this and should be gone after for extortion and other mafia-esque practices.

828.3.2008 17:04

@ Tarmo78 - Encrypting the traffic isn't going to help. "They" aren't interested in the content of the traffic, only that it is P2P torrent traffic. In my understanding, mostly they watch the ports you're using and they restrict or "shape" the traffic on those ports. Recent versions of P2P programs use something they call "port obfuscation" to try and dodge these lowdown dirty scoundrels that call themselves ISPs. I suggest updating your client, changing the port you're using in the advanced settings, or switching to azureus. In that order. Good Luck.

928.3.2008 19:34

Encryption wont help! I have read that Rogers and some other CABLE type ISP's are already killing encrypted traffic. FCC doesn't have enuff pantsroom to do anything about this in USA....only your WALLET will get their attentions! Beware! AT&T is working on DPI (Deep Packet Inspection)...and you KNOW most traffic goes through the AT&T backbone at some point. *sigh&

1030.3.2008 9:11

Maybe some of you don't know how this works, its called Quality of Service, for short prioritizing traffic in queue for example: putting games, telnet into first class that goes first, Voip in second, www in third and p2p in last one. I'm sure sometimes when p2p traffic saturate your link, websites load realy slow, thats because you aren't using any kind of QoS.

Now imagine lots of people saturate big link, you somehow have to control it, so the same people won't complain about website loading slow or having high pings in games.

Replacing infrastructure isn't cheap and most people want cheap internet and faster speeds - something that don't go well together.

I've this kind of problem, got small lan, offering access to internet, through our monopolistic ISP (ex-national), they don't offer faster links then that and upload speeds realy suck (640 kbit upload on 8mbit link). Without QoS people would saturate that (especially upload) in no time, and complain net works slow (www is internet for most people ;) ).

Still Bell is on the second end of the chain, they're big and have more power then i got, maybe they did this because they've sold more then they realy have and i understand why they didn't want to inform public (most of them would not understand this anyway i know this from my own experience).

1130.3.2008 12:01

I'm not in Canada, but I do feel for you guys who are affected. If you pay for a 8 meg line, you should have access to that 8 megs all day long for what ever purpose you want. If you lose some of that speed due to heavy traffic, that's understandable.

But if you're losing that speed due to the isp purposly throttling me, that's utter nonsence. You're paying your bill just like the everyone else. What makes them more important than you?

1230.3.2008 17:19

My personal favorite piece of Bell dirt on this has been that this weekend Bell's official spokesperson Jason Laszlo (who's been quoted representing Bell's position in all the media articles on this issue this week) was caught bragging on his then public Facebook page about how he's been manipulating the media.

"Jason Laszlo is realizing how little seperates most journalists from lemmings." [sic] -Jason Laszlo, Associate Director of Media Relations, Bell Canada


Pretty crazy huh?

1330.3.2008 23:43

Zygfryd, this is not the same as QoS. This is the ISP singling out a specific type of traffic and throttling it regardless of network load at the time.

1431.3.2008 6:42

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1531.3.2008 7:51


1631.3.2008 7:56

All you morons need to get real! Just because you pay for a service does not mean you have carte-blance to do what ever. If you buy a gun and bullets does not give you the right to shoot people.

Encryption does not make you invincable if you are downloading enough to get their attention. Maybe the smart thing to do is limit your bandwidth yourself and the amount you down load. That is what they are after. Torrent traffic is 50-80% of the band with depending on which country you live in.

I know someone that got a cease and desist from Cox after they suspended his service. The nasty gram had a complete list of what and when he downloaded for the past month. He had to promise not to continue to use P2P if he was goiing to use their network. Obviously he was not using encryption. If you think Cox is the only ISP that has this software then go ahead and do your own thing. My guess is everyone doing a certain amount of P2P has an entry in a database. Some have all the files you have shared and others only have bites shared. To spell it out for all you DOPES out there, if they deside to litigate, who you you think will be at the top of the list?

1731.3.2008 15:03

Mez - First of all, bad example. A gun being used for violent crime? I think you need to get real. There is an obvious distinction there, both in our minds and written into the law.
I still understand the point you were trying to make though. You're trying to say that any "tool" must be used within the limits of the law. I agree, and in an ideal world, it should and would be. The problem comes in enforcement. How does anyone enforce these laws without committing an illegal invasion of privacy? Just because someone is using a ton of bandwidth on their connection doesn't directly mean they're doing something illegal. Even if it's all P2P traffic! So does that give anyone the right to check and make sure? This is considered wiretapping and a warrant is required or else any evidence gathered would be insubmissible in court. It may, however, be enough to scare a customer into compliance. I feel bad for your acquaintance and the many others who have had their privacy invaded.
The second issue you mention, which is not a crime, is the excessive usage of bandwidth. Limits would be fine, if that's how the ISP was marketing their service, but it's not! In all their marketing, they give the impression there are no usage caps for total GB transferred. It's marketed as one speed, all the time, unlimited. If there are usage caps, the ISP needs to be up front about that, and most people would have no problem with that, myself included. The ISPs shouldn't be surprised, though, if smart consumers use this information to shop around for higher limits.

1831.3.2008 21:49

cart0181, your points are well taken. I actually think the ISPs are acting like despicable creatans. They are selling us one thing and giving us something else. Still the way of the world is kick the pirate's ass.

You are way off with your guess about encryption. There was an after dawn article on Comcast posted a few weeks ago, they look for two things before they play tricks on you volume and P2P usage. Apparently your volume can be more before you are detected if your flows are encrypted. The robot app starts to watch your flows at a certain level and looks for P2P specifics. The encryption fools it at that level. At a certain higher level it doesn't care what you are doing it just throttles you. If you do too much video streaming you can get throttled.

1931.3.2008 22:06

Sorry Mez, but calling people morons is begging for abuse from the FOSS community. We release our OS distributions via p2p technology, also we stream home tv channels and run commercial channel repeaters with the full authorisation of the content providers. Not ALL p2p use is illegal.
If an ISP that I pay for a certain bandwidth decides to throttle or cap my usage because I have been using what I have paid for for TOTALLY LEGAL purposes then they better be ready for legal action under whatever weights and measures and contractual law I can find that suits my purposes.

Why don't you join the mpaa/riaa/cartel and spout your crap to appreciative ears instead of opening the doors for abuse in this den of film thieves and music pirates ;)

201.4.2008 13:08

varnull, go ahead beat me up, I don't mind! I can be a trouble maker. What goes around comes around. I was just trying to make a point. The point is if you are being curtailed, not even stopped, doing something illegal don’t whine sooo much. I just get annoyed with all the constant whining that ‘they can’t do that’. They are and no amount of whining from us is going to make them stop. I realize a certain amount of complaining is therapeutic and needs to be done. I am hoping there is someone that actually has an idea how we could bite their ankles. You will not hear be complain then.

As far as being curtained from doing something legal and that you have paid for I would want to kick their ass. In fact, isn’t the FCC doing that to Comcast right now? They made it clear, indiscriminant cutting of band width was wrong. They did not like discriminating against Bit Torrents. If you read between the lines, you can beat up on the pirates but not anyone else. The beauty of that is if the pirates are using encryption, who is to say what they are doing? That will be Comcast’s problem. I guess that is an ankle bite.

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