Canadian ISPs forced to filter P2P

March 27, 2008 | 07:34

Tags: #bandwidth #filtering #management #p2p #traffic

Companies: #bittorrent

It would appear that it's not just consumers that are getting ticked off with throttling of peer-to-peer traffic: the ISPs themselves can end up on the sticky end.

Resellers of Bell Canada's ADSL service have found that their customer's traffic is being 'shaped' – ISP-talk for 'made almost unusable for anything other than HTTP at peak times' – without their consent, and they're steaming mad. The ISPs in question are all relatively small companies who buy ADSL capacity wholesale from Bell Canada and re-sell it on to end users, taking care of billing and technical support.

But there's only so much technical support you can do when it's the equipment on the other end of the wholesale line – lines sold as being free from the constraints of a consumer-grade service – that's causing the problem. It would appear that Bell Canada have taken the decision to implement traffic shaping on all their connections – wholesale and otherwise – without informing their customers of the change.

Rocky Gaudrault, CEO of Bell Canada reseller Teksavvy, was one of the first to notice Bell's underhand tactics. Posting to the Broadband Reports forums Rocky made clear his displeasure, stating his concern that Bell appeared to be doing the filtering without informing them of the changes – and leaving Teksavvy unable to give any information to their customers when asked about sudden drops in network performance. Since Rocky's post, other ISPs have come forward to state that they too are being affected by the issue – and Bell Canada has confirmed that they will be filtering all peer-to-peer traffic as of the 7th of April.

Many are seeing this move by Bell Canada as a blatantly anti-competitive exploitation of the near-monopoly it has over the Canadian broadband market, but Bell is claiming the changes are perfectly valid according to the contract under which the wholesale connections are made available. Nevertheless, it's got ISPs and end users up in arms – and it never pays to anger the people who pay your bills.

Do you think Bell Canada is in the wrong to be blocking P2P traffic on its wholesale lines without offering customers the choice of an unfiltered connection, or was its only crime that of poor communication regarding the changes? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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