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Bell Canada Official Speaks Out On Throttling 207

Posted by Soulskill
from the bellcastic-doesn't-have-quite-the-same-ring-to-it dept.
westcoaster004 brings to our attention an interview with Mirko Bibic, head of regulatory affairs for Bell Canada, discussing the ISP's traffic-shaping practices. This follows news we discussed recently that a class action lawsuit was filed against Bell for their involvement in traffic shaping. Bibic reiterates that internet congestion is a real problem and claims that the throttling had nothing to do with Bell's new video service. CBC News quotes him saying: "If no measures were taken, then 700,000 customers would have been affected by congestions during peak periods. We want to obviously take steps to make sure that doesn't happen. So this network management is, as we've stated, one of the ways to address the issue of congestion during peak periods. At the end of the day, the wholesale ISPs are our customers and we generate revenue [from them], so we want to make sure we're serving them to the best of our ability as well."
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Bell Canada Official Speaks Out On Throttling

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  • Excuses.

    Anyone else get a bunch of JavaScript errors form the CBC.ca site?... (Opera 9.27, XP, JavaJRE 6U6)

    Damn Canadians! (Note: I am one)
    • This is what happens when ISPs sell customers more capacity than they can deliver. They should lose this because they promised a product they couldn't deliver and that's fraud.
      • by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @11:04AM (#23617135)
        Do you have any idea how much it costs to get uncontended internet? In the US, $300/mo gets you a T1 (1.5/1.5).

        For the vast majority of consumers, if they were forced to use an ISP that didn't "sell more capacity than they can deliver", e.g. an uncontended line, they would prefer not to buy internet at all.

        The (sad, perhaps) fact of internet service provision is that without pushing contention to 10~20, prices would be beyond the average consumer's desire to pay for internet.
        • by complete loony (663508) <Jeremy DOT Lakeman AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday June 01, 2008 @11:27AM (#23617383)

          The main problem with the current state of ISP's is that they *claim* to sell unlimited / no contention internet access and have no intention of ever delivering. Instead they throttle, block, apply qos, or otherwise impose a hidden limit on the bandwidth you are allowed to use.

          If you want to limit the used bandwidth, go ahead. Just spell out exactly what those limits are in a contract with your customers.

          • by Ihmhi (1206036)

            >

            If you want to limit the used bandwidth, go ahead. Just spell out exactly what those limits are in a contract with your customers.

            "Exactly" is a dirty word and non-existant concept in corporation-to-consumer contracts (especially terms of service).

            See: "reserve the right", "may", "will do x for the stability/integrity of the network/product, etc.

          • by Shaman (1148)
            Bell no longer claims to offer unlimited access, and never claimed to offer a dedicated amount of bandwidth. People assume too much.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Dun Malg (230075)

          Do you have any idea how much it costs to get uncontended internet?
          There's a wide gulf between full dedicated bandwidth for every endpoint and unilaterally throttling the crap out of certain customers on a shared pipe. In the absence of the specifics of their TOS, I can't say what they promised, but calling it a 1.5Mbps connection when it never gets 1.5Mbps because they're choking certain services, that's skating the edges of reason.
        • I personally think if nobody was willing to pay the current prices for the current level of service they're getting, the prices would go down regardless of the providers' claims the prices can't go any lower.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Erm, let's not take this too far. Contended lines are fine, but *oversold* lines are not. Bell Canada sold access to 700,000 more customers than its lines could handle without traffic shaping. Analogize it to water pipes: would you prefer having your shower at half pressure at peak showertimes so that the water provider could sell to more customers?
        • Bullshit -- I've had 7 DSL ISPs for about 9 years, and have downloaded at full capacity (currently 3M, double a T1) nearly 100% of the time (back in the 0.75M and 1.5M days), often exceeding 250G in a month (in the 3M days). At no time has this ever cost me more than about $70 a month. I live in Northern Virginia.

          One exception: Speakeasy, who lied to me during pre-sales chat [flickr.com], stating I could use 100% of my bandwidth 100% of the time, and that they don't regulate their connections at all [flickr.com] -- ultimatley called me up and told me if I didn't download less than 100G a month, that they would terminate me.

          They then had the gall to try to silence me with a threat of an early termination fee, and took many months to properly pay me back for the pre-paid month of service that I didn't get.

          They are assholes. They should burn. But Patriot.Net? Capu.Net? Silcon.com? All great ISPs that let you do what you want.

        • by Znork (31774) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @12:32PM (#23617951)
          they would prefer not to buy internet at all.

          Mmm, no. They'd prefer to buy internet with speed appropriate for their desired price range.

          For the ISP it's much easier to compete by marketing bullshit speeds they have neither capability nor intention to actually deliver. Competing on price would be much more of a pain, not to mention that the big guys lose the advantage of wider throttling gains than the smaller ISPs can achieve.

          without pushing contention to 10~20, prices would be beyond the average consumer

          It's not a question of contention, it's a question of labels. It would be entirely possible to sell exactly the same service as today, with the exact same infrastructure as today but with an accurate label. If the connection is throttled, fine, sell the connection as whatever the throttling is at. Consumers don't want that? Then let them go to the more expensive competitor that actually upgrades its infrastructure.
        • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Sunday June 01, 2008 @01:43PM (#23618517) Homepage
          Then the problem is with the ISPs. I get a dedicated 100mbit line to my servers in the Netherlands for less than $200/mo. Dedicated... I can keep it tied at max capacity, both ways, 24/7 if I want. It's not just 100mb to the switch, where it gets squeezed into a micro-mini pipe to the world like they do here in America.

          No, I routinely hit peak throughput when serving heavy loads to clients all around the globe. I don't just hit it once either, there were times when all four of my boxes saturated their lines - 400mbit out, just for cheap little me. Meanwhile, I've visited local datacenters that have less aggregate bandwidth across their 50-60 cages, than I have in a half-rack.

          So then, if the Dutch can sell me such plentiful bandwidth so cheaply, why can't these two-faced half-bred North Americans do even better with their big bucks and big business ? We had 10mb cable a decade ago. Where my fiber ? Where's my fucking fiber to the downtown high-density tech-capital home ?

          Idiots, there is no other explanation. Lazy lying idiots.
      • And that's the fundamental problem just about everywhere. Customers are being scammed out of their cash by promises of high speed. What needs to be done is consumer law updated so that ISPs are forced under threats of massive crippling fines to report the most likely average speeds, with "up to x" either made unlawful or forced to be in much smaller print in advertising.
  • Oh yeah? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 01, 2008 @10:15AM (#23616859)
    s. We want to obviously take steps to make sure that doesn't happen.

    Oh yeah? Then add more bandwidth. Problem solved. Delivering as advertised is not a value added service!
  • Just an excuse (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rstewart (31100) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @10:16AM (#23616867)
    This is just the same excuse that other telcos are giving for overselling their bandwidth vs their customers needs. These telcos need to learn how to provide enough bandwidth for peak times if that is what they're selling. If someone were to pick up a telephone at peak times and get an all circuits are busy message regularly during peak hours than there would be hell to pay.

    We need to stop letting them get away with selling service to us that they cannot provide. As consumers we need to look towards other providers and build a market for service providers that don't pull these kinds of games. We also need to make it clear to these companies that their selling us services they cannot deliver is not acceptable to us. The only way they will ever get that message is through their subscriber numbers. As long as the big telcos and ISPs have the bulk of the customers they will never see the light until an exodus towards alternatives starts.

    The only way that an exodus towards alternatives will occur is if we the people move in that direction and help the smaller companies build themselves up by moving to them.

    This is all about overselling which has to be done to a certain extent but when the peak times cannot regularly be met then it is too oversold. Unfortunately consumers these days are sheep and will stay with these companies because they are cheaper/easier to get service from.
    • Re:Just an excuse (Score:5, Insightful)

      by thegameiam (671961) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <maiemageht>> on Sunday June 01, 2008 @10:25AM (#23616917) Homepage
      Oversubscription is a very, very normal thing in service provider networks. Frame-Relay oversubscription is generally 15:1, ATM oversubscription was about 5:1, IP oversubscription is about 3:1. If you want truly non-oversubscribed bandwidth, prepare to pay a LOT more for it.

      The problem isn't oversubscription, it's that the capacity management policies of some providers haven't caught up with the usage patterns of the customers. During peak periods, something's got to give.

      Given that there are no providers selling truly non-oversubscribed bandwidth today, would you rather that the providers change their advertisements to say that, or raise their prices to sell dedicated bandwidth?
      • Re:Just an excuse (Score:5, Insightful)

        by poetmatt (793785) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @10:41AM (#23616997) Journal
        Not being oversold = pay more? Please.

        They know damn well the average usages of their customers, this is more a refusal to upgrade the infrastructure and blaming it on those who are serious users. Doing so would actually be competitive even and earn more business! what an idea!

        If you are advertising XYZ service, it doesn't mean shoot anyone else in the foot in order to guarantee it.
        If you can guarantee something by shortchanging the rest of your customers, thats not exactly a bargain.

        How about use your government subsidies for what they were intended (which would actually generate more revenue) and not as profit margins?

        In the end its the cable companies looking at short term revenue instead of long term
        • Re:Just an excuse (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Shaman (1148) <shaman.kos@net> on Sunday June 01, 2008 @10:48AM (#23617027) Homepage
          So, you don't want to pay more for essentially dedicated Internet accesss... but you expect them to pay billions of dollars to upgrade their infrastructure. Got it.
          • Re:Just an excuse (Score:5, Insightful)

            by poetmatt (793785) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @10:53AM (#23617063) Journal
            They've already been paid billions of dollars by the government. You saying they should get more?
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Red Flayer (890720)

              They've already been paid billions of dollars by the government. You saying they should get more?
              Source, please.

              I keep seeing people write this, but I am unable to find good information to back it up. Are you repeating rumor, or can you substantiate?

              Also, received tax breaks != "been paid".
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by Shaman (1148)
                He's right. 11 billion dollars of grants for setting up the DSL infrastructure (and naturally they don't want third-party ISPs using it, even thought they didn't pay for it themselves).

                However, now that it needs to be upgraded, no further grants are forthcoming. Why would they be? People don't want to pay anything... much less more.
                • Can you provide a link or a reference, I'd like to read more about it & haven't found a good summary or details anywhere.

                  The best I've seen is estimates of 1-2 billion in federal, state, and local funds to build out backbone which was later privatized.

                  Most of what I can actually substantiate is not a direct subsidy, but rather allowing telcos to add charges to phone (etc) bills in order to cross-subsidize internet. This is different from a government subsidy, since people can cancel their phone servi
                  • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                    by Shaman (1148)
                    We're talking Bell Canada here. No states. You can find this information easily, I have better things to do... since I am typing this from my hot tub watching Zeitgeist on my laptop right now. :)
              • Re:Just an excuse (Score:5, Insightful)

                by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@NoSPam.barbara-hudson.com> on Sunday June 01, 2008 @11:22AM (#23617337) Journal

                For decades, Bell Canada was a goivernment-regulated monopoly with a guaranteed profit margin. In other words, the people over-paid for decades for phone service, thanks to government regulation. It was necessary at the time, but it should have had a sunset clause whereby the network would eventually revert to and be controlled by the public.

                Remember, in Soviet Canuckistan, Bell throttles YOU!

              • Equality (Score:5, Insightful)

                by Kaseijin (766041) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @11:29AM (#23617419)

                Also, received tax breaks != "been paid".
                They have the same effect on the bottom line.
                • They have the same effect on the bottom line.

                  You're not a financial accountant, are you?

                  Subsidy payments received do NOT affect the bottom line the same way as tax concessions do. Tax concessions are a reduction in below-the-line expense -- they do not affect the taxes owed by the organization. Subsidy payments are either income or reduction in above-the-line expense resulting in an increase of tax. Another option is to use the subsidy as an offset to the purchase/buildout of capital, in which case the

          • by Cyberax (705495)
            They ARE being paid billions by their customers.
            • by Shaman (1148)
              You're aware that they have costs, right? The naivety towards business pressures in the regular populace still amazes me after years as a businessman.

              I *hate* that I find myself in the position of defending Bell, which has some of the worst business practices anywhere.
          • by Khaed (544779)
            If they cannot provide it then they should not sell it to me. I expect things to work as advertised for the advertised price.

            Otherwise I'm being lied to and cheated out of my money and time.

            It's as simple as that.
        • They know damn well the average usages of their customers
          The average usage is fine. It's the top 2% of users that create most of the congestion.
          • by Dun Malg (230075)

            They know damn well the average usages of their customers

            The average usage is fine. It's the top 2% of users that create most of the congestion.

            If providing what they've sold is a problem because of those 2%, they need to specifically tailor their services "menu" to separate the 98% from the 2%. The problem is, they want to have their cake and eat it too: they want to offer unlimited transfers at high bitrates, but they don't want to increase capacity to handle a growing customer demand for what they promised in their ads. There are plenty of content-neutral technical measures they could employ that would do the trick. The only trouble is that the

      • Re:Just an excuse (Score:5, Insightful)

        by klapaucjusz (1167407) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @10:57AM (#23617087) Homepage

        Oversubscription is a very, very normal thing in service provider networks.

        I think you're confusing oversubscription and unsufficient capacity. Oversubscription is a good thing, it's the very reason we have switched networks in the first place.

        The point is that a properly designed and sufficiently provisioned network should not suffer from congestion even if it is oversubscribed. If they've got congestion in their network core, then either they're doing their routing and scheduling all wrong, or they're underprovisioning their network.

        Which is fine, as long as they explicitly sell it as ``underprovisioned service''.

        • by Builder (103701)
          How did this get modded insightful? Oversubscription it the IP supply space is absolutely common. I do not know of a single ISP at any tier that does not sell more bandwidth than they have.

          Most ISPs sell a connection that will reach up to Mb/s. In my neighborhood, the common number is 8Mb/s. But does that mean that the ISP has enough upstream bandwidth so that every single one of their 8Mb/s customers could download stuff at 800k/s at the same time? Not a chance in hell! In most cases, the ISP will have a
      • Re:Just an excuse (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dun Malg (230075) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @11:51AM (#23617617) Homepage

        Given that there are no providers selling truly non-oversubscribed bandwidth today, would you rather that the providers change their advertisements to say that, or raise their prices to sell dedicated bandwidth?
        False dichotomy. You're offering only the extremes as choices. The real question is "how should they deal with people using more and more bandwidth as time goes on". This is not just a P2P issue. The longer the internet exists, the larger the stuff people push around on it gets. This is practically a corollary of Moore's Law, here. Hard drives get bigger, cameras gain resolution, RAM increases, screen resolutions grow--- all of this translates to bigger and bigger files and data streams going over the same pipes.

        Now, given that usage in general is never going to go back to the "email and text web pages" trickle of the late 90's and anyone with half a brain should realize this, what is an appropriate reaction by those who provide connectivity:

        A) Build more capacity and adjust your rates accordingly to cover the cost
        B) Choose a particular class of connection you "disapprove of" because it exposes the weakness of your network and throttle it.
      • by rstewart (31100)
        Of course the problem is the *current* oversubscription levels. Yes you need to oversubscribe however when you are approaching your total bandwidth level at peak times you work on expanding not dropping connections. Instead the big ISPs have decided to continue to increase the oversubscription numbers instead of reducing them as demand has increased.
    • by DuSTman31 (578936)

      Telephone calls use 64KBps. Provisioning for peak times there is relatively straightforward - you just multiply the number of peak users by that figure.

      Peer to peer apps, on the other hand, open up multiple connections in order to use all the bandwidth available to them. Additionally, this means that TCP "back-off" mechanisms help less with them than with single-connection apps.

      End result of all this is that unless there's massive overprovisioning, p2p apps threaten to fill any pipe the ISP throws at it

  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Sunday June 01, 2008 @10:18AM (#23616885) Homepage Journal

    If they were serious about addressing congestion, they'd prioritize traffic flows and be done with it. I don't think anyone would have a problem with putting P2P at a lower priority to HTTP. Of course, that doesn't help their master plan of billing content providers for tiered service, so they don't do it.

    • by 1u3hr (530656) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @10:39AM (#23616987)
      . I don't think anyone would have a problem with putting P2P at a lower priority to HTTP.

      If other protocols were impeded, soon, all P2P would look like HTTP.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Just Some Guy (3352)

        If other protocols were impeded, soon, all P2P would look like HTTP.

        What do you mean by "impeded"? I'm not advocating blocking anything in the slightest. However, you can prioritize highly interactive traffic (IM, HTTP, SSH) over bulk data like FTP or P2P transfers. This lets all the packets through, but doesn't make browsing impossible just because a tenth of an ISP's customers are downloading screengrabs of the new Indiana Jones.

        • by 1u3hr (530656)
          What do you mean by "impeded"? I'm not advocating blocking anything in the slightest. However, you can prioritize ...

          Impeding isn't "blocking". You could try a dictionary:

          impede To retard or obstruct the progress of.
          (The American Heritage® Dictionary).

          However, you can prioritize highly interactive traffic (IM, HTTP, SSH) over bulk data like FTP or P2P transfers.

          And then, as I said, very quickly P2P apps will start to mimic or run over "highly interactive traffic" so as not to be slowed down

          • Impeding isn't "blocking". You could try a dictionary:

            impede To retard or obstruct the progress of.

            Take your own advice. A definition of "block":

            obstruct: block passage through; "obstruct the path"

            Sounds damn near synonymous. Anyway, QOS is not the same as blocking or impeding in any way. With QOS, all the packets get through, just not at the expense of other traffic.

            And then, as I said, very quickly P2P apps will start to mimic or run over "highly interactive traffic" so as not to be slowed down.

            What would the advantage be? Why would the Bittorrent (or whoever) devs want to do that? There's a huge difference between bandwidth and latency, and optimizing bulk transfers for the best latency would be completely pointless.

    • by yabos (719499)
      I do this at home, but on a port basis. Basically I have DD-WRT and an iptables script which allows NNTP traffic on a certain port to be throttled when there's http traffic. If I download a big file say some movie trailer from Apple.com, the usenet traffic goes to almost zero. I think I let it have 10kbps minimum. They have these fancy DPI boxes and they could easily tag torrent packets to low priority and configure their routers to obey QOS tags. If the link really gets congested the the whole thing w
  • Then tell all the big site owners to cut out all the tube clogging, virus riddled advertisements. Or charge them extra for it.
    • by klingens (147173) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @10:26AM (#23616925)
      If their network can't take the Net as it is, then they have a few choices:
      a) sell slower links to their customers
      b) sign up fewer customers (fat chance....)
      c) expand the network

      Double dipping from customers and content providers is not the way
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by iminplaya (723125)
        or
        d) continue to rip off the customer because they can.

        Looks like they picked d).
        and leave us no choice, except to demand that the government take over the infrastructure and lease it out, not to the higher bidder, but to ones who will provide the best access. We need an alternative to the corporate ball and chain.
    • Then tell all the big site owners to cut out all the tube clogging, virus riddled advertisements.

      Very good point. All those ads are currently served for free by the Bandwidth Fairy Guild, and it's unfair that Comcast has to pony up to carry that subsidized content.

  • by flar2 (938689) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @10:26AM (#23616931)
    Bell started throttling my connection, so I switched to Teksavvy. Unfortunately Bell controls the wires so my connection is still being throttled. It's regrettable that Bell still gets some of my money, as Teksavvy has to buy its bandwidth from Bell, but they're getting less of it. As a bonus, the exact same internet service is cheaper from Teksavvy than from Bell. If enough people would switch, Bell might change its policy.
    • by guidryp (702488) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @11:09AM (#23617189)
      "Bell started throttling my connection, so I switched to Teksavvy. Unfortunately Bell controls the wires so my connection is still being throttled."

      Looks like win-win for Bell. The get most of the revenues, and don't have to provide internet backbone bandwidth or tech support, they can now mess with your connection and don't even have to listen to you complain.

      Bell gets about $20 out of $30 for just providing the throttled last mile. $30 out of $40 if you are on Dry DSL. So Bell gets to keep most of the money and they reduce over-head. I don't think they are going to be defeated by this.

      I am with Vianet and being Bell throttled. I am canceling all Bell services (third party DSL, landline and long distance) and moving to Cable + VOIP.

      I am actually denying Bell every penny of revenue they get from me. I will also tell them exactly why they are losing a long term customer and all associated revenues.

      • by p0tat03 (985078)

        I am with Vianet and being Bell throttled. I am canceling all Bell services (third party DSL, landline and long distance) and moving to Cable + VOIP.

        Thanks for supporting the *other* evil empire :) IMHO Rogers is infinitely more evil than Bell. Rogers has been blocking P2P forever, long before Bell even started thinking of doing the same thing. You will also find Rogers prices to be ludicrously high, the networks even more congested, and the throttling even more draconian.

        No, this isn't the time to cancel Bell, this is the time to hit up the CRTC, hit up your MP, and let me know exactly how unhappy you are with their lack of action. Organize write-i

        • "You will also find Rogers prices to be ludicrously high, the networks even more congested, and the throttling even more draconian."

          I had a buddy test the theory. He got 250 kB/S using BT. I was getting 30 kB/s using DSL with throttling. That is faster than my unthrottled DSL speed. I can live with that. :-)

          Losing all revenue is going to have a much more significant impact on Bell decisions, than losing a bit of revenue and a pile of overhead. The CRTC won't do anything. Bell can easily fudge the network nu
          • by p0tat03 (985078)

            One of the tricks with Rogers is that BT download is (more or less) unthrottled, but upload is completely crippled. Have your buddy try it out.

            That's one of the more insidious things that Rogers appears to be doing - they know even the average Joe will bitch and moan if their BT gets cut off, but nobody will notice if they can't upload. Kill trackers and BT in general by denying it seeders? Pretty ingenious.

    • Depending on where you are there are alternatives, such a cable internet. There are issues there too, such as the maximum amount of data you are allowed to download. Videotron [videotron.com], for example limits to 20GB download and 10GB upload on most packages - you have to look at the small print to find this out.

      One thing is worth noting is that nowhere in the conditions applied by Bell is there anything indicating throttling. If it is there I can't find it.
    • by vorpal22 (114901)
      I'm essentially in the same boat. I used to use Rogers cable internet as my provider here in Toronto. I found their customer service absolutely appalling, and they started to enforce caps on uploading and downloading, so I decided to jump ship and sign up with 3web [get3web.com] instead. They essentially resell Rogers, but at a cheaper rate with higher speed and much more flexibility, e.g. no caps in place. The customer service is leagues better, and I'm very happy with them. I recommend them to everyone I know consideri
  • by unity100 (970058) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @10:29AM (#23616951) Homepage Journal
    Also in today's news, Bell's Canada spokesman Bibic said that internet congestion is a real problem and claims that the throttling had nothing to do with [b]Bell's new video service[/b].
  • by Chryana (708485) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @10:44AM (#23617007)
    I am a customer of Sympatico Bell, and I can assure you that, unlike what the interviewee would make you believe, traffic is throttled all day, every day. I don't use bittorrent too often, but whenever I start a download, it goes from ~500 KiB/s to ~30 KiB/s within the span of two minutes. The speed stays the same overnight. Not exactly a peak period... Sad thing is, I'm using Cogeco for the summer, and they're even worst, uploads are pretty much completely blocked. :(
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Vectronic (1221470)
      Yeah, thats how my ISP (claims) to handle it to...

      DL 5MB/UL 512KB

      But it throttles that 5MB seemingly randomly, ocasionally I can get up to 600k/s download (using BT, HTTP, FTP, etc doesnt matter) other times 15k/s... noon, midnight, weekday, weekend doesnt matter... and 2 or 3 times a week, it just shuts down entirely for about 3 hours somewhere between 9PM and 9AM...

      So i assume one of two things.

      1. they don't know what they are doing.
      2. they most likely dont know what they are doing.

      They behave like an inf
  • typical bs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by UU7 (103653) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @10:53AM (#23617059)
    Ok, so they need to manage "congestion", so why is it a hard cap of 30 KB/s on downstream instead of say 100 KB/s?
    And this DOES have something to do with their video site, you're launching a bandwidth intensive application which will be used during prime "congestion" hours. Disgraceful.

  • More lies (Score:5, Informative)

    by yabos (719499) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @10:55AM (#23617075)
    Look at the Bell provided graphs:
    http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r20567537- [dslreports.com]

    Their ATM capacity is around 170 Gbit/s and their backbone traffic is around 125Gbit/s. They have 45Gbit of spare capacity and this is Bell's own numbers so who knows if they're inflated or not. Also, their DSLAM capacity is enormous so where exactly is the congestion? Maybe there are some DSLAMs that are congested but that's why you upgrade, not throttle your entire network and all 3rd party traffic over the ATM network.
    • by Shaman (1148)
      When TCP/IP links get to 80% or more, they are essentially saturated. It takes a lot of abuse to get that last 20% of capacity to show up on a graph.
      • That's only true with CSMA/CD and not with token passing message structure.
        • by Shaman (1148)
          Uhm... I was talking plain old TCP. Congestion problems with TCP/IP are well known and much work has been done, mostly by the BSD/Linux folks, on dealing with congestion. Around 85% utilization of a link, TCP with most older stacks will fall straight off the cliff into retransmission hell. Newer stacks deal with it much better but often you need to have that newer congestion handling throughout the packet path.
          • by Shaman (1148)
            I should make the point that most router manufacturers have improved congestion handling, but usually only in a heterogenous network. You won't find that on the Interwebs.
            • by Zerth (26112)
              most router manufacturers have improved congestion handling, but usually only in a heterogenous network.

              I dunno, the interwebs is pretty heterogenous.

              /Cue comments about lesbo porn sites.
      • by rcw-home (122017)

        When TCP/IP links get to 80% or more, they are essentially saturated. It takes a lot of abuse to get that last 20% of capacity to show up on a graph.

        Exactly. What a lot of people forget is that those graphs are averages over time. The reality is that a network link is either idle or transmitting at full speed at any given instant, and its output queue is either empty or has packets waiting to go out. Another way of looking at an 80% full link on a 5-minute-average graph is that that line was pegged for f

  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @10:59AM (#23617107) Homepage
    I believe them.

    The problem is, how will we ever know whether or not a particular provider is throttling traffic in a fair and neutral way for the overall benefit of its customers... or whether it is cutting deals to favor business partners... or certain industry segments (the RIAA and MPAA come to mind)... or even political parties?

    If common carriers are allowed to do this, how will we know when they stop serving the public and start serving themselves... and how will we able to stop them?

    They've chosen to solve their problem in a cheapjack, lazy, sloppy way that virtually guarantees future abuse.
  • by Some1too (1242900) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @11:02AM (#23617121)
    I think bell canada has really shot itself in the foot with this one. If they are complaining that their lines are saturated they should install more infrastructure. Someone else pointed out that Europe has many countries with a larger population that have moved towards net neutrality without any infrastructure or network congestion issues. Seeing as bell has started throttling the service to customers who have already paid for a certain amount of data, they are in fact not delivering on their promise of providing said data. I was happily surprised by the insightful remarks on the cbc interview with Mr Mirko Bibic from bell. The full article can be found here http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2008/05/30/tech-qandabibic.html [www.cbc.ca]. Most consumers seem to have seen through his marketing speak. With the lawsuit from the consumer rights group and the government motion to move towards net neutrality it`s starting to look like Bell`s excuse for throttling is going to be what galvanizes Canadians towards net neutrality.
    • by Shaman (1148)
      Don't know why. The cable providers are doing the same thing and by some accounts, they are more stringent in their caps or shaping. They started well before Bell.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gmack (197796)
        It's because Bell started forcing third party ISPs to do it even though they have to pay for dedicated links between Bell's equipment and the ISP.
      • by ratboy666 (104074) <fred_weigel&hotmail,com> on Sunday June 01, 2008 @11:59AM (#23617697) Homepage Journal
        Except that Bell ads claimed: "No slowdowns! It's not shared!" Indeed, there even was a TV ad where a beaver (the mascot) uses a megaphone to ask his neighbors to please stop internet use -- he is going to download a video. His buddy then tells him that it isn't needed -- they use Bell! (last seen 3 months ago).

        At least the cable internet provider was never that stupid with marketing. It was always on a "best available" basis.

        Off topic, but illustrative of what I think of Bell:

        Now, the ONLY reason I use cable vs. Bell service is that Bell blocks port 25 -- both outbound and INBOUND. I tried it, and was lied to when I asked that exact question. They also will NOT unblock the inbound port for me, making the service useless. The only way to run a private mail service on the Bell network, using Bell services is... there isn't a way.

        As a result of the direct lie, I was convinced to try the Bell service. I installed it, and... no email. After a few days I started investigating and discovered the port 25 inbound block. What a waste of time.

        Rogers, on the other hand, doesn't block port 25 inbound (they now block outbound). However the Terms of Service explicitly state that I may not run servers. But... I have tried (and continue to try) to purchase business service from them. And they refuse to sell it to me (something about the service not being available in a residential area). I have informed them that I will continue to run these services, and will purchase the business service when they decide to make it available to me. At least Rogers doesn't bother me about it...

        Caps? Yes Rogers has a cap. They even allow me to exceed the cap, and tell me how much it will cost. Bell? They have already directly lied to me.

        After outright lies and misleading marketing we have lawsuits.
  • Economics 101 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 01, 2008 @11:17AM (#23617263)
    People understand how to conserve resources when it directly affects their economic well-being. (Witness unsold SUVs stacking up at car dealerships.) If ISPs are running out of bandwidth, then they need to charge people in a way that more directly relates to their use.

    Bill per GB, and set peak and non-peak rates. Be transparent about it though. People should be able to see how much they have used at any time, receive alerts when they cross some preprogrammed levels, and even choose to throttle themselves down when they cross a certain number of GB per month, or just during peak hours.

    Make people responsible for their usage, and give them the tools to monitor/control it, and you'll find this problem will fix itself.

  • by wonkavader (605434) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @11:28AM (#23617407)
    We've seen this. Every single day, the ILECs pour a lot of money into improvements. The spend the money on

          1. Lobbyists
          2. Campaign contributions
          3. ... Ok, well isn't that ENOUGH!?!?
          4. Oh, ok, a few bucks now and then on basic improvements in areas where they can DEFINITELY get a profit on them in the short term.

    Now, that all works very, VERY well to improve the company. The profit margins of the company, that is.

    But the Incumbent local exchange carrier companies (the ILECs -- other wise known as TPC) in North America have spent so much money on discouraging competition through regulation that they have made their own business very expensive to run. They also have policies going back to the late 1800s of treating jobs as cogs in a machine with replaceable parts, so their labor relations are geared towards replaceability and strike-resilience. It's very inefficient.

    And in a business where things can be automated up to wazoo, the ILECs are hamstrung by unions and their own evil need to have huge headcounts so that their lobbyists can pressure their unions to pressure the politicians to do as their lobbyists demand. Need for headcount reduces desire for automation.

    You want more bandwidth? Push for campaign finance reform. Whenever you hear ANYTHING that a local ILEC wants from a politician, call your local reps and tell them you wont vote for them again if they vote for what the ILEC wants. Then, after any election, whether your anti-candidate wins or loses, call them and tell them that they didn't get YOUR vote because they voted with the ILEC.

    Only by removing the best business model the ILECs have (preserving the status quo and gaming our democracy) will you get ILECs which listen to customers.
  • diffferent battles (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I think that while Bell may likely win the battle at the CRTC, they have fallen far behind in the PR battle, and are scrambling to catch up.

    Since the traffic shaping controversy began, I've been surprised by the number of negative (towards Bell) comments I've heard about it. Not just from my /. reading, torrent downloading geek friends, but from all manner of non-tech-savvy friends, family and clients. Any and all net problems are now attributed to Bell:

    A website is slow -- is this that Bell 'throttling' I'
  • by dskoll (99328) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @11:34AM (#23617463)
    ... BUT, truth in advertising laws should kick in. They should only be allowed to advertise their DSL service at the lowest throttling speed. So if you buy service X that throttles protocol Y down to 20kb/s, then Bell should only be allowed to advertise that service as a 20kb/s service.

    They should also not be allowed to throttle wholesale bandwith that other DSL providers buy unless those providers agree to the throttling (and advertising restrictions.)

    • truth in advertising laws should kick in. They should only be allowed to advertise their DSL service at the lowest throttling speed. So if you buy service X that throttles protocol Y down to 20kb/s, then Bell should only be allowed to advertise that service as a 20kb/s service.

      Most anyone without a service level agreement is paying for "Up to XMb of bandwidth"
      All the ISP has to do is say "up to" and they've weaseled their way out of accountability.

      Bell Canada on the other hand, used words that promised more than "up to" and I think they're screwed.

    • They should be able to do what they want on Sympatico, but that is supposed to be separate from Bell Canada. Bell Canada has to give access to 3rd party companies. That means the 3rd party company pays Bell for dedicated links over their ATM network. The 3rd party provides their own connection to the internet backbone. Bell is only providing ATM transit. That is the problem. Bell Nexxia is supposed to be separated from Sympatico. One is an internet service(Sympatico), the other is the core network.
  • by Panaqqa (927615) * on Sunday June 01, 2008 @11:40AM (#23617509) Homepage

    "So this network management is, as we've stated, one of the ways to address the issue of congestion during peak periods."

    This is actually an issue for several of my clients who use P2P for backup purposes, etc. So I watch what is going on in terms of throttling. I can demonstrate that Bell Canada is throttling P2P at just about any time you care to mention, including 4 A.M. Sunday morning. Does Sunday morning sound like a peak period to you? Or does this smell like more B.S. (Bovine Scatology)?

    Fortunately, this issue won't be affecting my clients for much longer at all. I have nearly completed a P2P application that does all its work over port 80, and as far as the ISP is concerned, the traffic will be indistinguishable from loading a series of web pages with large graphics.

    I dare them to throttle HTTP.
  • by doppiodave (911019) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @12:33PM (#23617959)
    And that's why Bell's "response" is fronted by their head of regulatory affairs - whose role in life is to keep this entire discussion in so-called public hearings before a regulatory tribunal, the last place you'll ever find an actual member of the general public. Bell has survived for over a century in Canada by ensuring a) that nobody but economists, lawyers and policy wonks ever gets a word in edge-wise; and b) that even when ordered to play nice with new entrants (unbundling network for resale, etc), they will keep coming up with ingenious ways to drag their feet on progress. And they've succeeded brilliantly, partly because non-facilities-based competition doesn't work. But what the telcos, and cablecos, really don't want, in Canada or the US, is for the great unwashed public to discover... FTTH! And that all the copper plant they're squeezing the last dollar out of (for DSL and DOCSIS) is part of a holding pattern to keep typical residential bandwidth down in the 5 Mbps vicinity. In other words, a scarce resource. What's this horsemanure about "uncontended interntet" and freakin T1 lines? That's where the ILECs want the debate to stay. Meanwhile, anybody get a glimpse of the OECD Broadband Report released 2 weeks ago? The one that shows the US dropping - again - among the 30 member countries in BB rankings. And Canada coming up with one of the lowest FTTH scores on the planet. This debate's gotta move to a 3-to-5-year horizon - to a day when throttling is a non-issue, and the real issues resolve to whether residential pipes are still under the control of providers who lie through their teeth, never spend a dime on technical innovation and will fight to the death to own both the pipe and the content.
  • by hey (83763)
    If you a Bell customers downloading something with Bittorrent its very possible that some of your peers are also Bell customers. Do the throttle this traffic also? They should encourage this kind of traffic since it doesn't traverse their Internet gateways.
  • Back in the day... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by deAtog (987710)

    when I had a single 56k dial-up connection that was shared among four computers congestion was the norm. In such an environment, even viewing a single web page often filled the available bandwidth. This made browsing from multiple computers at the same time nearly impossible. To counteract the issue, I implemented a single SFQ QOS on my router and within minutes after turning it on, the congestion was well under control.

    Congestion primarily occurs due to more data being sent than can be received during a

  • *cough, cough, bullshit, cough, cough*
  • by guidryp (702488) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @03:43PM (#23619497)
    Bell sells a capped service. They say you can get 60G/month. So it should be easy to figure out the average load on the network with everyone under this Cap. If Bell can't actually provide the service they sell, then they should set the cap at a level they can support.

    Think for a second how oversubscribed Bells network is. Here you can use Bells own claims. "5 percent of users generate 60 percent of its total traffic":
    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080519-regulators-want-answers-from-bell-canada-on-p2p-throttling.html [arstechnica.com]

    So how much are those nasty 5% capable of gobbling down?

    If you max your cap that is 2G/day. Say all of it is in the peak 12 hour window (but actually heavy downloaders run 24/7).

    So 1G/6hours. 167MB/hour = 45 kB/s. This is the most on average, that the theoretical bandwidth hogs can use. Bell advertises a service that is 10 times that speed. So if everyone was a peak user and only used it during the peak window, bells network is over-subscribed by 10 to 1 vs the evil bandwidth hogs.

    BUT these are the evil 5% choking down 60% of the bandwidth according to Bell. How much does the other 40% (good users) average? So (60%) = 5% x 45 kB/s = 224kB/s, so (40%) = 150kB/s /95% = 1.58 kB/s

    So a "good" user averages 1.58kB/s, less than modem speed. If sold a 5mb/s connection (Bell advertises up to 7mb/s), they are oversubscribed about 300 to 1 on what they expect from users.

    So is a 300 to 1 over-subscription fair? Perhaps bell should be forced to tell it's customers their target average usage for their network. In Bells case that seems to be 1.5kB/s average if used a lot by everyone. Is this adequate for a service sold as up to 7mb/s fast and never shared??
    http://www.bell.ca/shopping/PrsShpInt_Perf.page [www.bell.ca]
    "Consistently fast service that's never shared"

    High speed always on, never shared internet connections are not the telephone service, with 5 minute hold times and 2 hours a week usage. This is multi-hour/day usage. Attempting to solve bandwidth problems by traffic shaping traffic you don't like is a never ending cat and mouse game that doesn't address the real issue: Over subscription of the network or a completely incorrect usage model. This has to be addressed regardless of any traffic shaping. What is next shaping youtube? Voip? VOD? How can this be justified when you start offering VOIP and VOD services.

"And do you think (fop that I am) that I could be the Scarlet Pumpernickel?" -- Looney Tunes, The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950, Chuck Jones)

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