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CRTC Rules Bell Can Squeeze Downloads 245

Posted by samzenpus
from the throttle-away dept.
pparsons writes "Bell Canada Inc. will not have to suspend its practice of 'shaping' traffic on the Internet after a group of companies that resell access to Bell's network complained their customers were also being negatively affected. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission today released a decision that denied the Canadian Association of Internet Providers' request that Bell be ordered to cease its application of the practice to its wholesale customers."
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CRTC Rules Bell Can Squeeze Downloads

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  • Traffic shaping is a common word in the IT world.
    • by poetmatt (793785)

      It depends on how it's done.

      There are good ways, and there are bad ways. This would be a "bad way".

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Cornwallis (1188489)
      Because Dr. Evil "said" so...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      it indicates that the process they call "shaping" is not actually "shaping" the traffic.

      • by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @01:48PM (#25834653)

        Anon coward is right. Traffic shaping is perfectly legitimate way to make sure that your links are used fairly and efficiently without actually dropping packets. You hold a few packets back in long lasting streams to allow other low latency streams better service and then let them go later. What they are doing is best described as traffic limiting, even if they use traffic shaping to help with this and they are just avoiding calling it what it really is.

        • by PIBM (588930)

          They can't use the term traffic limiting else it would not be an unlimited internet connection anymore ;)

          • by theaveng (1243528)

            What was that?

            SOME of ye said over-the-air HDTV is no longer needed because we can just watch the internet...

            Let it die ye said.

            Hmmm. How am I supposed to do that if Bell-Canada is throttling me to 500 kbit/s or less? Last I checked that's not enough to carry a 1920x1080 HD video. I guess we DO need over-the-air television after all.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Belial6 (794905)
          That can be solved pretty easily actually. All we need is someone with a little experience in writing RFCs for the IETF. Write an RFC that describes 'Traffic Limiting' with 'Traffic Limiting' actually in it's name. Then the next time that a carrier gets sued, the term "Traffic Limiting" can be used in a court of law. This would be particularly effective for use against ISPs that advertise "Unlimited" access.
    • thats not traffic shaping, thats violating the contract.
    • by genner (694963)

      Traffic shaping is a common word in the IT world.

      Thats because "traffic shaping" is a "dirty" word in the IT world.

  • Abolish the CRTC (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Powercube (1179611) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @01:31PM (#25834393)
    This is what happens when you create a regulatory body by appointing former industry insiders and lobbyists. You get a body that exists to protect big telecom from the consumer. The CRTC only is able to prosper because the average Canadian has no idea just how much worse they make their life. I've had enough I say we move to get rid of them once and for all.
    • I've had enough I say we move to get rid of them once and for all.

      I'm with ya brother!

      ...

      So how do you propose we start the overthrow?

      - John

      • by Powercube (1179611) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @01:41PM (#25834549)
        Starting some sort of grassroots "look what the CRTC does to you" campaign on the internet listing everything from degrading HD picture quality and sound in the name of "protecting Canadian advertisers" to allowing the "system access fee" on cellphones to exist. Right now if you ask the average Canadian what the CRTC is and what it does, they don't know. When you tell them what they do- they get angry. Inform everyone and we can maybe make a change
    • Re:Abolish the CRTC (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mandelbr0t (1015855) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @01:36PM (#25834479) Journal

      Agreed. I don't think they've made a single decision in favor of consumers in the last decade. TELUS has also been granted many favors by the CRTC, all of which reinforce their monopoly position out west.

      Specifically, their requirement that all downstream DSL connections be associated with a local phone number (provided only by TELUS) is nothing more than a money grab that prevents me from having a single network connection into my house. I don't want to give TELUS money, but the CRTC's inaction in many such cases forces me to fund the big monopoly in addition to the local ISP that actually provides what I want at a reasonable price.

      • Re:Abolish the CRTC (Score:4, Informative)

        by Sosarian (39969) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @02:24PM (#25835163) Homepage

        In Alberta at least, this has ended, you can order "dry pairs" now.

        • by despisethesun (880261) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @02:46PM (#25835497)
          BC, too. But at the ISP I used to work at, it was a huge hassle to get set up, and dealing with Telus technicians on trouble calls (which you have to do, because you're leasing the connections from them and they won't let you near their equipment) was always a nightmare. To be fair though, it was a hassle if the customer had phone service through another provider than Telus, too, since the phone situation was not at all unlike the ISP situation. It regularly took well over a week to resolve any issue that required Telus' assistance, since they only dealt with you through their online ticketing system and they only ever updated tickets once a day. If you didn't get the answer you needed, or they needed more info, there's another day that the customer was without internet. I don't miss that job at all.
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by phorm (591458)

            In Ontario is well, but you're still paying Bell $6.95/mo for having a dry-loop in place...

          • by Sosarian (39969)

            Yeah my internet was out for two weeks one time due to a problem similar to this, very frustrating.

      • by cstdenis (1118589)

        I work for an ISP that offers ADSL. This is not the case.

        You can have an adsl on a line with a phone number from any provider.

        You can also have it with no phone line at all (dark adsl/naked adsl), but there is an extra monthly fee for that to cover the cost of powering the line, maintenance, etc.

      • I'm not sure what you're talking about. TekSavvy has been providing dry DSL and home residential service in Ontario (and probably the rest of the country) for years.
    • The CRTC's mission (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jabbrwokk (1015725)

      "In response to the government's policy direction, we have launched a new market-oriented approach to telecom regulation. We are giving priority to market forces, and we will intervene only when market failure makes it necessary."
      - Konrad von Finckenstein, head of the CRTC, June 17, 2008 speech in Toronto

      Translation: companies - do whatever the hell you want. And customers - fuck you.

      Sign me up on the "Abolish CRTC" campaign.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Pig Hogger (10379)

      You ain't seen nothing yet. I'm in contact with the administrator of some small co-op telecom, and he told me wildly unsettling stuff.

      Within the next 18 months, the CRTC will hold audiences regarding the regulation of the Internet, it's rationale being that since the Internet is being used to bypass the airwaves regulation the CRTC was originally setup for, it will have to lay down rules to establish what content gets sent over the wire, and how producers are compensated for it.

      Of course, this reeks of the

  • Sounds to me (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cephalien (529516)

    Like a bunch of middlemen whining because they want Bell to stop doing what it's been doing just because it hurts their already shoddy business model. Unless, of course, these are last-mile providers who extend the Bell network into areas it doesn't already service.

    While I don't think that they should be traffic-shaping anyway, the fact is that they are, and asking them to stop doing it just for these companies is unreasonable. What they should be asking for is Bell to cease this practice altogether.

    • Soo...

      You truly believe that the _correct_ solution is to terminate competition in the market place, and give all the business to Bell?

      Bell, the company that was heavily subsided by government funds in order to run the last mile of copper *everywhere* in the 70s?

      Really? You think that's the right solution? Take a resource which was at least partially paid for out of tax dollars and hand it over to a single private company?

      Are you on CRACK?

      • by cephalien (529516)

        Of course not, but this isn't competition. Bell -owns- this infrastructure, and they shape all traffic going through their lines.

        I -do not- agree with this practice, but I also don't see how these small-time resellers should be exempt just because they feel like it.

        Somehow, I fail to see how any of that smacks of wanting to reduce competition. Really, I think all of the copper should be owned by government and treated as a community commodity, like power is (at least where I live).

        • by compro01 (777531)

          The fact that Bell has been bleeding customers to these small ISPs since they started shaping would definitely suggest they are trying to reduce competition by putting a ceiling on the services.

          • Right.

            Sympatico (Bell-owned ISP) is bleeding customers not only because their service sucks. In order to keep costs under control, Sympatico tries to reduce bandwidth transit expenses by throttling. Throttling causes Sympatico to bleed more customers. So Bell throttles Sympatico's competition.

            Let's phrase this in more slashdotty terms.

            Microsoft makes MS-DOS and Windows. Windows runs on a DOS. Now a little guy named Digital Research also makes a DOS. Microsoft loses money on DOS sales to Digital Resear

        • Re:Sounds to me (Score:5, Interesting)

          by multipartmixed (163409) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @01:59PM (#25834797) Homepage

          > Of course not, but this isn't competition. Bell -owns- this infrastructure, and they
          > shape all traffic going through their lines.

          But, they don't. That infrastructure was built with significant tax dollars. In exchange for the build-out money, the government retained certain rights. Which is why there was a CRTC hearing at all.

          > Somehow, I fail to see how any of that smacks of wanting to reduce competition.

          Well, you've stated that you believe that the company owning the last mile (and not the company leasing access to it) should be the one deciding how it's used.

          So, what's your proposed solution? That each ISP run their own last mile? Then, should the taxpayers also help each ISP run the last mile to their house? Or should Bell have to give back the money they got from us? If they have to give it back, at what interest rate should we have loaned it to them? And how do we handle 50 competing companies all running wire-willy nilly? What if some of those companies go bankrupt? Who handles the line maintenance? It's redundant, so Bell won't do it. Will the taxpayers pay for removal?

    • Re:Sounds to me (Score:5, Insightful)

      by compro01 (777531) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @01:42PM (#25834555)

      1. These guys are independent ISPs. They lease last-mile lines from Bell (Bell owns all the phone infrastructure.) to provide DSL and other services.

      2. Bell started shaping their own customers months ago, and they started hemorrhaging customers to the smaller ISPs (A free market working properly) who didn't shape traffic.

      3. Bell decided to start shaping the traffic from those smaller ISPs.

      • Re:Sounds to me (Score:4, Insightful)

        by greed (112493) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @02:17PM (#25835085)

        OK.

        I don't want to deal with Bell. Roger's terms-of-service are unacceptable. I'm a TekSavvy customer.

        Find me the regulations that will even _let_ TekSavvy run a copper pair to my house for any amount of money. They can't, Bell owns the right-of-way for phone lines, and Roger's for cable lines.

        They should do what they did to electricity and gas. If Bell wants to own the _wires_, they have to split off the company that provides _services_ over them. Or vice-versa; just have a company whose job is to maintain the wires to connect customers and providers.

    • by Rary (566291)

      What they should be asking for is Bell to cease this practice altogether.

      And there is a separate hearing scheduled for next July to discuss precisely that.

  • by multipartmixed (163409) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @01:34PM (#25834441) Homepage

    I'm in a strangely unique environment; Bell Canada doesn't have a DSLAM at my local CO, yet a CLEC (actually an ILEC from a few miles away that bought an ISP a few years ago) decided that it was worthwhile installing one. Bell won't put one in because they think that WiMax is the "right" solution for Rural broadband. Feh.

    I have far, far better internet than I ever did in the city, which I was buying resold Bell DSL from the same ISP. And this is with the exact same hardware at my end.

  • Misleading article (Score:5, Informative)

    by debrain (29228) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @01:35PM (#25834461) Journal

    after a group of companies that resell access to Bell's network complained their customers were also being negatively affected

    That's a misleading statement. Bell resells access to its DSLAM- the "last mile" of copper to users. Generally Bell does not provide a backbone internet connection to independent ISPs. Bell is, in essence, altering the traffic of users and ISPs because Bell is the middle-man, and they want to reduce the differentiation between their internet service (Sympatico) and competitors. As I understand it, Bell has not produced any evidence as to what it costs to have traffic crossing their DSLAM.

    An example of how this works (at least how I understand it) is via the company Teksavvy. Teksavvy buys bandwidth from ISP backbones, and resells it to consumers. In order to get a DSL line to the consumer, Teksavvy has to go through Bell because Bell has a de facto monopoly on the installation and maintenance of copper lines. Bell connects the copper line at the user's residence to a Bell DSLAM, which in turn is a network switch that connects to Teksavvy's network (and then on to the backbone). Bell manipulates the traffic crossing their DSLAM from consumers to Teksavvy.

    • That's more or less how I understand it, as well.

      A couple more detail points
      - Which ISP traffic is routed to depends on domain after @ in pppoe auth name
      - Traffic is routed through some magic private WAN. Probably ATM but I don't know for sure.
      - This private WAN is Bell's
      - I'll bet that's where the congestion they're trying to shape away is
      - OTOH, they're Bell, they could light up some dark fiber if they wanted to
      - But they don't want to, because of your excel

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by greed (112493)

        The real problem is, the shaping isn't reducing traffic where Bell claims to have a congestion problem.

        If they drop X% of my BitTorrent traffic between the DSLAM and my ISP, then I'm still SENDING that much traffic. In fact, I'm probably sending _even more_ to make up for the lost packets.

        So my _ISP_ sees _less_ traffic from my account, but Bell sees _more_ traffic from my _DSLAM_. They don't have a DPI box connected to each DSLAM.

        (Except I've got a workaround so mine isn't throttled any more.)

    • by Shakrai (717556)

      That's a misleading statement. Bell resells access to its DSLAM- the "last mile" of copper to users. Generally Bell does not provide a backbone internet connection to independent ISPs. Bell is, in essence, altering the traffic of users and ISPs because Bell is the middle-man, and they want to reduce the differentiation between their internet service (Sympatico) and competitors. As I understand it, Bell has not produced any evidence as to what it costs to have traffic crossing their DSLAM.

      How would it cost them anything to have traffic crossing their DSLAM if they aren't responsible for the backhaul after that? Wouldn't that be akin to me charging money for people using my switched ethernet to reach an outside internet provider that they've paid money for?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by RabidMonkey (30447)

        It doesn't, strictly, cost them. However, they do need to buy more and more hardware to manage the bandwidth, and aren't able to oversell their network as much. This costs them money, both potentially earned money, and money to upgrade their hardware.

        That doesn't make right their shaping, but I do see, having worked at an ISP, that it does cost money to provide service, in one way or another. When you're talking multi-gig speeds, you're not talking cheap hardware anymore. Go price out a 6500 with 10 gig

        • by Shakrai (717556)

          It doesn't, strictly, cost them. However, they do need to buy more and more hardware to manage the bandwidth, and aren't able to oversell their network as much.

          I'm confused. The comment that I replied to seemed to suggest that most of the other providers have their own back haul and are only using Bell's lines for the last mile. If I'm leasing a port on your DSLAM and my traffic heads from your DSLAM to my own connection/infrastructure then how does that cost you any extra money?

          That doesn't make right their shaping, but I do see, having worked at an ISP, that it does cost money to provide service, in one way or another. When you're talking multi-gig speeds, you're not talking cheap hardware anymore. Go price out a 6500 with 10 gig conections (backbone/carrier class) and see what it costs to provide a big fat pipe in the backbone to move all that traffic coming in.

          I worked at an ISP too and I know that hardware isn't cheap. But the extra costs of traffic going from the DSLAM to someone else's backhaul would seem to be minor. In any case, if cost

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            In most cases, the session is transitting Bell's network to an interconnect point, wherein it's handed off to the third party and terminates an on LNS.

            Generally, the third party doesn't have fiber going to each CO and interconnecting directly to the DSLAM.

    • Bell doesn't have a de facto monopoly. They have a legislated monopoly, courtesy of your government.

  • Two Options (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RulerOf (975607) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @01:36PM (#25834477)
    ISP's have two options as their networks become more and more utilized:

    1) Expand the network capacity by laying new line, enabling higher throughput of the entire system. This method will incur great cost, but will not create new customers, nor lose customers, nor will it increase profits over current offerings.

    2) Throttle network usage to fit current utilization into current infrastructure in a more manageable fashion. This method will incur significantly lower costs than option 1 (lawsuits included), but will not create new customers, nor lose customers (as we are the only provider available to them), nor will it increase profits over current offerings.

    What say ye, shareholders?
    • by zappepcs (820751)

      And if "johnny-come-lately ISP" wants to join the fracus, if they have to lease from Bell, then Bell can harm their business, dampen/choke any market competition, and continue to screw their customers. The CRTC has missed the boat on this. As long as they can force competition's customers to suffer the same as they force their own customers to suffer, then Bell has no competition other than what lip service can be provided by those resellers. With the CRTC and government types firmly entrenched in their sta

    • by PIBM (588930)

      They already deployed everything to offer 25Mbps to every house in all major cities, ready to offer multiple streams of high definition video on demand. The installation was done for my apartment 2 years ago, and it still isn't activated. The fastest I had been able to get unlocked was 8Mbps while they were offering only 5, from a third party ISP for that time, and now they've recently decided to unlock 16mbps.

      Also, to answer a previous post, it's a very bad affirmation to say that everything which gets sha


  • Is class-action lawsuit. Its been done before, and it will be done again. Lets put these teleco's in their place.
  • by Rary (566291) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @01:41PM (#25834537)

    The ruling here was simply that Bell Canada isn't doing anything different for their resellers' customers than what they're doing for their own customers. Basically, the question before the CRTC was, is Bell hindering their resellers' customers in an unfair way? And the answer was, no, they treat their own customers the same way.

    As to whether "traffic shaping" should be occurring at all, whether with respect to their own customers or their reseller's customers, that is still to be discussed in a separate hearing that starts next July.

    To summarize: this really has nothing to do with "traffic shaping". That hearing is yet to come.

    • by phorm (591458) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @01:54PM (#25834727) Journal

      So basically what happens is:

      Bell's solution: Our customers are leaving to 3rd-parties because they're tired of getting screwed by our messed-up policies and cruddy service. But wait, we control a small part of the lines that 90% of the competition uses. So, in order to not lose customers, as opposed to fixing the issues, we'll just give everyone the same problem and to make their customers' connections suck too.

      Sorry, but the "we're screwing everyone equally" answer doesn't add up.

      It's plainly anti-competitive, all you have to ask is:

      If Bell didn't have the ability to interfere with 3rd-party connections, would this issue exist, and would the other ISP's gain customers. If the issue wouldn't exist, or the other ISP's would gain customers, then Bell is abusing their control of the lines and monopoly therein.

      • MOD UP Parent!

      • by Rary (566291)

        If Bell didn't have the ability to interfere with 3rd-party connections, would this issue exist, and would the other ISP's gain customers. If the issue wouldn't exist, or the other ISP's would gain customers, then Bell is abusing their control of the lines and monopoly therein.

        Bell doesn't have "the ability to interfere with 3rd-party connections". Bell offers a service to resellers, and that service is whatever they decide it is. The issue is, given that Bell has monopoly power, and effectively competes with its own customers, are they abusing that power by offering their reseller customers different service than their direct customers.

        Therefore, there are actually two separate questions being asked: First, is Bell abusing their monopoly by offering inferior service to resellers

    • by bendodge (998616)

      So, as I understand it, ISPs like Teksavvy are hooking their backbone up to Bell's DSLAM and renting last-mile access. Now, Bell doesn't like Teksavvy's offers and is restricting the connection at the DSLAM? The only way I could find that acceptable in the least is if Teksavvy's traffic is maxing out the DSLAM and affecting Bell's own customers. In that case, Bell ought to prioritize their own traffic over Teksavvy's, but allow Teksavvy to take up all that's left over. They should also give Teksavvy the opt

  • Misleading topic (Score:5, Informative)

    by coppro (1143801) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @01:50PM (#25834681)
    The topic is misleading; the decision made was that Bell was not unfairly discriminating aganist wholesale providers (like Teksavvy) versus their own customers. The CRTC has not yet reached a decision about the whole issue of traffic shaping in general (though they did find that Bell had enough justification to implement it against their wholesalers so as not to discriminate against direct customers). Michael Geist [michaelgeist.ca] explains it better.
  • The CRTC has other problems too, they try and shape programming, and control how much "foreign" content is shown. Really, in a world where we need to be a lot closer to each other and have a wider perspective, they are trying to enforce quite the opposite. Perhaps cornering a means of obtaining "foreign" content such as Bittorrent is an issue very close to their heart for that reason.
  • by JBG667 (690404) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @02:03PM (#25834875)
    Tomato/MLPPP http://fixppp.org/index.php?p=documentation [fixppp.org] Tomato/MLPPP is a fork of the popular Tomato firmware (http://www.polarcloud.com/tomato) for consumer broadband routers. The primary goal is to enable users to bond multiple DSL connections using MultiLink PPP (MLPPP), and/or to circumvent Bell Canada's DPI-based throttling by using MLPPP on a single DSL line.
  • In the history of its existence, the CRTC has never once missed an opportunity to prove it's composed of a bunch of fat-assed, conscienceless douchebags who unfailingly screw the Canadian citizens they're supposed to protect. I'd say I wished the whole crooked, honourless pack of pricks would die of cancer, but there's some things not even a disease should have to do.

  • The Full Decision (Score:2, Informative)

    by andy19 (1250844)
    The full decision [crtc.gc.ca]
    In case anyone wanted to read through it. I didn't see a link from TFA.

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