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Exetel and BitTorrent Traffic

Postby SlyckTom » Wed Oct 18, 2006 12:21 pm

Traffic shaping, or bandwidth throttling, remains a hot issue in the BitTorrent community. In an effort to reduce network traffic and costs, some ISPs have strictly limited the bandwidth available to P2P traffic. Customers of Canadian ISPs have long complained that bandwidth available to their favorite file-sharing networks – especially BitTorrent – have been throttled to the point of near futility.

The justification for limiting bandwidth to P2P protocols, from an ISPs perspective, is simple. File-sharing traffic has grown considerably over the last several years, generated by the insatiable activities of the BitTorrent and eDonkey2000 community. According to some estimates, up to 60% or more of an ISPs bandwidth may be consumed by such protocols.

ISPs are stuck between two difficult situations; please their customers or mitigating their costs. Throttling available bandwidth to a point of negligibility has proven very unpopular. Simply ignoring the problem doesn’t work either. For smaller ISPs, simply upgrading their network has its financial limitations. Caching P2P traffic has gained acceptance from consumers and some ISPs, yet small ISPs may have trouble justifying such a solution on a small network.

File-sharing developers have rushed to respond to the once prominent threat of bandwidth throttling by introducing clients equipped with end to end encryption. Most notably, BitComet, Azureus, and eMule – among the most popular of file-sharing applications – have been armed with this feature. Although bandwidth throttling is no longer the imminent threat it once was, as ISPs have begun adopting alternative solutions, the practice remains a legitimate concern for millions of file-sharers.

Therefore it was little surprise when an outburst of anxiety accompanied Australian ISP Exetel’s <a href=http://forum.exetel.com.au/viewtopic.php?p=142643#142643 target=_blank>notification</a> that the company would begin reducing available bandwidth to P2P users.

“From mid November, approximately, Exetel will restrict the amount of bandwidth it provides to P2P traffic to approximately 50% of what all aggregated users of P2P protocols could at any single point in time, theoretically, use during the period 12 noon to 12 midnight each day. It should be understood that "theoretically use" is almost never possible because of the inherent constraints of P2P operating scenarios,” the announcement from Extel read.

The above quote from Exetel’s forum post would immediately have any prolific BitTorrent or eDonkey2000 fan searching for a new ISP. Would my available bandwidth drop from 512K to 256K? Are my P2P activities going to be pushed off the network? Doesn’t Exetel realize that my BitTorrent client is like a family pet?

However the initial reaction against Exetel appears premature. Yet considering the relative acceptance and success of caching, many Exetel customers question why this solution wasn’t implemented.

“We have not considered caching solutions yet,” James Linton of Exetel told Slyck.com. “Our first reason is that we have an immediate issue with the introduction of ADSL2 (Australia until very recently has had a limit of 1500 kbps on ADSL1 services.) The early indications, for us at least, are that the ‘early adopters’, both in our own current ADSL1 customers transferring to ADSL2 and to new users joining our network, is that they will very heavily use P2P and the ‘leap’ from 1,500 kbps traffic downloads to in excess of 6,000 kbps traffic downloads for a growing percentage of our user base will ‘send us broke’ if we attempted to meet that raw demand in peak bandwidth use or totally disenchant our other 40,000 plus users if we allowed the network to become contended for significant portions of the day.”

As pointed out by Mr. Linton, running cache servers is no cheap affair. Cache servers may reduce ISP’s bandwidth cost by keeping the most sought files within an ISP’s network – however considering the size of most files transferred via BitTorrent, this solution is incompatible with the desire to mitigate Exetel’s cost.

Exetel has also taken into consideration the fact that protocol encryption has become a popular countermeasure to bandwidth throttling. Mindful of this, Exetel has implemented its own countermeasures.

“We will use the Allot NetEnforcer 2520. We have run extensive testing of the next model down, which we were loaned by the Australian distributor, over a 2 month period to test its ability to detect current levels of encryption. The tests have been very successful over that period and we are, at this time, satisfied that the Allot engineers will be able to continue to deal with new levels of packet obfuscation as they are, inevitably, developed. However that is an assumption on our part based on our relatively limited experiences to date.”

A concerned Exetel BitTorrent may read their ISP’s notice, their current position on caching and the implementation of protocol encryption countermeasures and say, “My BitTorrent days are over!”

Not quite.

Exetel’s James Linton has spent considerable time explaining that unlike other ISPs that may reduce P2P bandwidth to a mere fraction of the network’s potential, Exetel is working with P2P users to ensure that everyone’s Internet experience is enjoyable.

<i>But wait a second Slyck, Exetel just said the amount of bandwidth available to P2P traffic will be cut in half for 12 hours a day!</i>

That certainly appears to be the case. But it’s important to carefully read Exetel’s position and understand exactly what the statement says. For arguments sake, let’s assume that a BitTorrent user is downloading at 6:00 PM with 1,500 kbps of available download bandwidth – right in the middle of Exetel’s bandwidth adjustment.

Does this mean this user’s download speed will drop from 1,500 kbps to 750 kbps? Not necessary. In order for that to happen, the bandwidth allotted to P2P traffic would have to be completely saturated. If file-sharing traffic remains stable, and plenty of reserve bandwidth is still available, chances are the user will still download at a high rate. If many downloaders absorb a tremendous amount of bandwidth, say an individual who continuously downloads 24 hours a day, then it is likely some noticeable decrease in download speed will occur.

Another portion of Exetel’s statement to examine with a microscope is the word “theoretical.” As many BitTorrent users can attest, it is an infrequent event when download speeds are maximized. In other words, under optimum network connections; say when the aggregate (collective) BitTorrent Exetel users have all connected to seeds with fiber optic T3 connections, will the downloader notice a reduction in download speed. When this BitTorrent collective is utilizing the maximum bandwidth available, Extel’s network controls will be implemented. However, these circumstances are infrequent and should not have an adverse affect on the end user’s BitTorent experience.

“Firstly, as we have not deployed the full P2P traffic controls yet no “user” can have any experience of what the result will be and therefore any “complaints” (and please bear in mind that the overwhelming majority of the forum posts on the Australian site “Whirlpool” have not been from Exetel customers) are based on NO actual experience; well, no experience the few actual Exetel customers have been aware of. In fact the trials of the smaller Allot box have been, as I previously stated, in operation for the past 2 months and, prior to that, we used a far less sophisticated solution of running rate limiting of the heaviest down loaders via ‘lists’ on Cisco core routers for well over a year.”

“The tests have been quite severely constraining (briefly) on occasions and, with very few exceptions, no Exetel user has ever noticed that their P2P downloads were affected in any way – as indeed in the full scheme of things they weren’t. Our own (Exetel personnel only) trials show that the likely maximum impact for any single P2P download will be around 15% which, at least in Australia, is lost in the customary erratic download speeds achieved by using P2P programs.”

Exetel’s approach to the ever bandwidth hungry P2P market shows there’s more than one solution to this situation. Some ISPs choose to completely throttle bandwidth, other implement caching. Exetel is mindful of the growing importance of file-sharing, and the importance its customers place on its continued availability. With a customer base of over 40,000, Exetel chose the path that will in all likelihood keep most of its customers happy.

We encourage readers of this article to <a href=http://www.slyck.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=358705#358705 target=_blank>read the interview in its entirety.</a>
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Postby SlyckTom » Wed Oct 18, 2006 12:29 pm

1) The most popular P2P applications, eMule, BitComet, Azureus, have incorporated protocol obstrifation to defeat ISPs attempts to throttle P2P traffic. Has this relatively new P2P innovation been taken into consideration by Exetel?


We will use the Allot NetEnforcer 2520. We have run extensive testing of the next model down, which we were loaned by the Australian distributor, over a 2 month period to test its ability to detect current levels of encryption. The tests have been very successful over that period and we are, at this time, satisfied that the Allot engineers will be able to continue to deal with new levels of packet obfuscation as they are, inevitably, developed. However that is an assumption on our part based on our relatively limited experiences to date.

2) BitTorrent, Inc., the development team behind the Mainline BitTorrent client, has encouraged traffic caching as an alternative to throttling. This has won over customer support from many ISPs. Has this been considered as a viable option? If not, why?


We have not considered caching solutions yet. Our first reason is that we have an immediate issue with the introduction of ADSL2 (Australia until very recently has had a limit of 1500 kbps on ADSL1 services. The early indications, for us at least, are that the ‘early adopters’, both in our own current ADSL1 customers transferring to ADSL2 and to new users joining our network, is that they will very heavily use P2P and the ‘leap’ from 1,500 kbps traffic downloads to in excess of 6,000 kbps traffic downloads for a growing percentage of our user base will ‘send us broke’ if we attempted to meet that raw demand in peak bandwidth use or totally disenchant our other 40,000 plus users if we allowed the network to become contended for significant portions of the day.

This projected current solution is, in almost all terms, a “stop gap” measure to deal with a scenario for which we saw no other immediate alternative. Clearly, and we went out of our way to generate the, for lack of the ability I would choose to use, “debate” that has caught your attention, the current solution isn’t optimum by any means and we are continuing to look into, among other things, cache solutions.

Ideally a caching solution, at an affordable price, would be our preferred option and we will put a great deal of effort in to finding such a solution over the coming six months with the objective of deploying such a solution in the second quarter of 2007.

3) Although Exetel has stated this change "shouldn't affect any Exetel user at all"; testimony [and complaints] from customers - and the effort to obstrifate P2P protocols - clearly demonstrates this is a major concern to the file-sharing community. How will Exetel be the exception?


Firstly, as we have not deployed the full P2P traffic controls yet no “user” can have any experience of what the result will be and therefore any “complaints” (and please bear in mind that the overwhelming majority of the forum posts on the Australian site “Whirlpool” have not been from Exetel customers) are based on NO actual experience; well, no experience the few actual Exetel customers have been aware of. In fact the trials of the smaller Allot box have been, as I previously stated, in operation for the past 2 months and, prior to that, we used a far less sophisticated solution of running rate limiting of the heaviest down loaders via ‘lists’ on Cisco core routers for well over a year.

The tests have been quite severely constraining (briefly) on occasions and, with very few exceptions, no Exetel user has ever noticed that their P2P downloads were affected in any way – as indeed in the full scheme of things they weren’t. Our own (Exetel personnel only) trials show that the likely maximum impact for any single P2P download will be around 15% which, at least in Australia, is lost in the customary erratic download speeds achieved by using P2P programs.

The current tests are being run at limits far harsher than the ones we intend to use when the production box is installed and therefore, for the few Exetel customers who actually did notice, on occasions, that there P2P files loaded more slowly than expected, they will actually get a slightly faster download experience than they have done for over 12 months.

For more than two and a half years, Exetel has been ‘educating’ our customers to spread their use of their ADSL1 connection over the widest range of each 24 hours as possible. We have done this by offering “free” downloads in nominated periods of each day – the standard ‘dead’ times after midnight and currently now from midnight to noon every day.

By not “charging for “ downloads in this period and allowing the more ‘dedicated’ down loaders to download more than 100 gB a month in this period we have continually increased our ability to switch ‘peak’ time downloads to ‘off peak’ times therefore gradually, but continually, getting more efficient use of our bandwidth which, in Australia, is very expensive.

Exetel is a market leader, by a very long way, in going out of its way to:

a) recognize that P2P traffic will continue to grow and to cater for that growth

b) provide very large ‘free’ downloads to cater for P2P content (currently 32 gb at full speed and up to a further 90+ gb at slightly constrained speeds.This 32 gb+ is provided to ALL Exetel users the vast majority of whom have ‘paid’ downloads of less than 12 gb each month).

c) provide 50% of every day as a period when P2P downloads are free and provides guidance how to use download managers to make best use of this period.

The deployment of the Allot box will simply help this process further by further flattening the peak usage and therefore making the bandwidth utilization even more efficient. If, as we expect, a future caching solution makes it possible for P2P users to down load from a ‘mirror’ within the Exetel network then that is clearly the best solution for both Exetel and for any P2P customer. However we are only in the very early stages of that investigation.

Another major issue (again peculiar to Australia perhaps) is the ‘fragility’ of the current Telstra, Optus and other national DSL backhaul networks. Whether Exetel’s DSL users, or the DSL users of all other Australian ISPs, realize it or not there is growing evidence of increasing congestion/packet loss from all of the major exchanges in Australia (irrespective of which carrier network is involved). At the end of the day P2P constraints are far more likely to be caused, either by design or by ‘accident’, by the carriers rather than by any ISP – including Exetel.

In Summary:

Exetel is a very small company (50,000 users of all types of services – 40,000 ADSL- and a monthly revenue of around $US1.8 million) and one that has only been offering DSL services for a little under three years. In that time we have had to contend with a number of very difficult situations and the introduction of ADSL2 with its very different price structures and network demands is among the more challenging.

Our tests have shown that very, very few of our customers will even notice what we will be doing and, if caching proves to be viable, then whatever slight inconvenience the few people who do notice actually experience will be of short duration. It would be extremely naïve to believe that what Exetel is doing, overtly and candidly advised to our customers, is not being done covertly and unadvised to their customers by many, many other ISPs in Australia.

4) Its obvious that people are misinterpreting the original news article, and from the forum posts, people are still confused. Let me give you the opportunity to explain, in whatever entirety you see fit, to explain Exetels policy. I would be more than willing, as I always am, to publish my article that fully explains your point of view.


If you find the answers we have given to be of any interest then you may use them as you wish – though our preference is not to truncate a statement to modify its meaning.

Like any other commercial enterprise – we have absolutely no wish to inconvenience our customers. However, the combination of P2P and ADSL2 poses a technology challenge that is very difficult to address using ‘old ways’.
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Postby blargh » Wed Oct 18, 2006 2:34 pm

They have no problems with throttling their customers if said customer uses their allotted bandwidth at a time which is "bad" for the company, but in their own words "we have absolutely no wish to inconvenience our customers", this should work both ways, would they be inconvenienced if their users sometimes didn't pay their full fee?

No matter how you dress this up, it still spells "we want your money, but we're not going to deliver the product we promised, simply because we can't"

Now, if this company was serious about their claim that this limiting is highly unlikely to happen, I say.. why not put your money where your mouth is and promise a certain bandwidth each month, and if you throttle said bandwidth you refund the customer for the inconvenience of recieving a flawed product that day/hour/month?

Some might argue that this is a too advanced operation, but to those thinking that, I point the finger at the brand spanking new "countermeasures" they have implemented, which do sound like they're monitoring their traffic and users VERY closely, so this wouldn't be too hard to implement, and it would set their records straight and make the deal a fair two-way street.. but this onesided deal they're pushing.. that's still the same jive to me.
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I don't know

Postby krawkie » Wed Oct 18, 2006 2:49 pm

I don't know, guys. If an ISP promises me - for example - 2048 kbps of downstream bandwidth, then I expect exactly that.

If ISPs can't make good on their promises, they shouldn't make them in the first place; there's nothing wrong with limiting/throttling bandwidth, even if you just do it for certain applications, but you shouldn't lie to your customers when you sell your product. Tell me "you get 2048 kbps downstream, but we'll limit you if you transfer more than 1 GB per day", for example, and I won't have a problem with that, but if you do it without telling me, then I will. It's the deception that's the problem - the lies.

We've been sold "flatrates" and certain bandwidths, and now more and more ISPs are starting to chicken out because they don't like the deal anymore. I think it's absolutely justified to criticise that.
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Postby evilc » Wed Oct 18, 2006 2:52 pm

Thanks Tom. Good to keep a record of all the packet shaping developments so we can compare it to the ongoing big picture.

I hate to state the obvious, but Exetel - or any ISP for that matter - can put out as much rhetoric as they like - they may as well be the ramblings of a mad captain on a sinking ship telling everyone it's all going to be ok while everyone has water in their shoes...

Surely, the bottom line is if their service is falling below the expectations of their clients and the seed of badness has been planted - instead of the seeding of filesharing goodness (uff, sorry!) - then they will vote with their feet and man the lifeboats.

Plus, I am looking for a new ISP at the moment and my first point of investigation is how good the ISP in question compares to rival firms on P2P. Things like the need for encryption, packet shaping etc. are *essential* in my final decision.

I can only guess I am not the only person in the world basing my buying decision on the "filesharing experience"... so it seems crazy that a potential future ISP of mine would want to totally destroy any chances of my subscription as completely as Exetel have just done (theoretically, I am not in Australia) :)
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Postby IneptVagrant » Wed Oct 18, 2006 3:40 pm

Exetel is doing the right thing, because its resonable. Users aren't reasonable -- they are selfish, they will use whatever they can get, irregardless of the impact on other users. The result is 5% of users using 90+% of the bandwidth. The problem exist, this is undeniable, so treat in a reasonably way -- Thx Exetel.

Australia inparticular has notorious bandwidth issues being that the vast majority of data is coming and being sent off-shores.

--
File-sharing developers have rushed to respond to the once prominent threat of bandwidth throttling by introducing clients equipped with end to end encryption. Most notably, BitComet, Azureus, and eMule – among the most popular of file-sharing applications – have been armed with this feature.
eMule doesn't employ encryption in the way that is meaningful to this statment, and never will. A mod may, but eMule won't. Encryption prevents many future growth potentials of p2p tech. If you don't understand this, then you don't understand the potential p2p has. The artical even points one such growth potential out, one of the well known.

Exetel has also taken into consideration the fact that protocol encryption has become a popular countermeasure to bandwidth throttling. Mindful of this, Exetel has implemented its own countermeasures.
Encryption is a short term fix -- and a long term handicap to growth. Why? Becuase the goal of filtering, of limiting, isn't to understand the content being transfered, but simply to SEE that content is being transfered. Mean while, company's won't work with devolopers for meaningful (and as often the case, resource nessacary) solutions, and more importantly expansion of potential -- because the encryption pervents these solutions, and blocks the potential.
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Postby Maestro120 » Wed Oct 18, 2006 3:49 pm

evilc wrote:Thanks Tom. Good to keep a record of all the packet shaping developments so we can compare it to the ongoing big picture.

I hate to state the obvious, but Exetel - or any ISP for that matter - can put out as much rhetoric as they like - they may as well be the ramblings of a mad captain on a sinking ship telling everyone it's all going to be ok while everyone has water in their shoes...

Surely, the bottom line is if their service is falling below the expectations of their clients and the seed of badness has been planted - instead of the seeding of filesharing goodness (uff, sorry!) - then they will vote with their feet and man the lifeboats.

Plus, I am looking for a new ISP at the moment and my first point of investigation is how good the ISP in question compares to rival firms on P2P. Things like the need for encryption, packet shaping etc. are *essential* in my final decision.

I can only guess I am not the only person in the world basing my buying decision on the "filesharing experience"... so it seems crazy that a potential future ISP of mine would want to totally destroy any chances of my subscription as completely as Exetel have just done (theoretically, I am not in Australia) :)


Ah, but the problem here is that your argument works both ways. Just as you base your buying decision on the practises of ISPs, those same ISPs will be basing their selling decisions on the practises of potential customers.

Trust me, any ISP worth their salt will by far prefer a customer who uses the web to surf and occasionally download stuff than someone who downloads an average of 100 Gigs a day. So theoretically, this press release by Exetel could be a sort of balancing act... attempt to appease those current customers who use P2P by promising not to cut their speeds by too much while actively discouraging the more extreme (read: people who download 24/7, seven days a week) P2P junkies from joining up. I doubt that Exetel's new policy is going to discourage the casual downloader. Only pricing will do that.
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Postby Drake » Wed Oct 18, 2006 4:04 pm

IneptVagrant wrote: Encryption is a short term fix -- and a long term handicap to growth. Why? Becuase the goal of filtering, of limiting, isn't to understand the content being transfered, but simply to SEE that content is being transfered. Mean while, company's won't work with devolopers for meaningful (and as often the case, resource nessacary) solutions, and more importantly expansion of potential -- because the encryption pervents these solutions, and blocks the potential.


Encryption allows people to share files with each other. Certain ISP's have been throttling file sharing apps to the point where they're unusable. Encryption is necessary and a great leap forward.

Thankfully, the eMule Team recognizes this and recently released a client which features protocol obfuscation. According to dozens of eMule users who were previously unable to share files because their ISP was aggressively throttling eMule traffic, it works great.

If companies are able to develop technology that is able to throttle encrypted traffic, developers will work on ways to develop better techniques do evade detection. One thing they might to is mask their protocol traffic as regular http traffic.
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Postby SlyckTom » Wed Oct 18, 2006 4:50 pm

I'm beginning to realize the end to end encryption is not the oh-so-important feature it was last year. It appears to me that ISPs are moving away from throttling bandwidth and instead are either caching or allotting bandwidth like Exetel.

Exetel's solution seems to have been well thought out. I give them credit for that as opposed to just shutting the pipe off.
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Postby Drake » Wed Oct 18, 2006 6:23 pm

The largest Brazilian ISP still throttles aggressively so the importance varies depending on location.
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Postby IneptVagrant » Wed Oct 18, 2006 7:13 pm

Drake wrote:Thankfully, the eMule Team recognizes this and recently released a client which features protocol obfuscation. According to dozens of eMule users who were previously unable to share files because their ISP was aggressively throttling eMule traffic, it works great.
Encryption and protocal obfuscation are not the same thing. Both are a work around for a bad fix (sever throtling) on a real problem (max capacity vs cost). It isn't the answer anymore than Encryption is. But Protocal Obfuscation at the same time doesn't have the long term damage that continued use of encryption would have. This is why the eMule team was willing to use protocal obfuscation, they know its not the real answer -- but at the same time, it won't hurt.

Drake wrote:If companies are able to develop technology that is able to throttle encrypted traffic, developers will work on ways to develop better techniques do evade detection. One thing they might to is mask their protocol traffic as regular http traffic.
Encyption is trivially ez to detect once you know what to look for. As I said, one doesn't care what the content is, just that the content is moving -- once you SEE that content simply exist you can limit it. A year from now p2p traffic, no matter of any encryption or obfuscation, will be IDed on the fly. Will be throtled. The solution isn't encryption or protocal obfuscation or anything else that tries to hide yourself or your content. The throtling will happen, because the reality is that the internet has finite capacity, and is expensive to maintain -- but responsible limits combined with continued advances are the KEY. It doesn't cost anything to allow full usage, but there is a very real cost in allowing abusive usage - degraded usage for many caused by a small minority of selfish users.

Encryption is not a long term answer. It was an answer for awhile. Be reasonable. And companies will be reasonable as well.
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Postby greenknight » Wed Oct 18, 2006 7:29 pm

Trust me, any ISP worth their salt will by far prefer a customer who uses the web to surf and occasionally download stuff than someone who downloads an average of 100 Gigs a day.


It depends on the charging model the ISP uses. If it's a flat fee, then yes, light users will be strongly preferred over heavy users. But if the ISP charges by the MB or GB, then the heavy users will normally generate the greatest profit, and the ISP would prefer to have them.

Exetel's solution seems to have been well thought out. I give them credit for that as opposed to just shutting the pipe off.


Unfortunately, the article misses one very important point, maybe because you were unaware of it. Exetel's charging model allows each customer to download only a certain amount of data each month for a set fee (and further divides that amount into peak and off-peak periods), after which they charge by the GB. This means they already have an effective mechanism to limit network traffic in place, as well as a way to increase their revenues (allowing them to pay for additional bandwidth) if a particular customer exceeds those limits. The only reason Exetel are implimenting this measure is because as a marketing strategy, they are offering more bandwidth on their plans than they can economically provide.
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Postby multivariable » Wed Oct 18, 2006 7:44 pm

Exetel? Who the f*ck is Exetel?
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Postby Alex H » Wed Oct 18, 2006 8:27 pm

SlyckTom wrote:Exetel's solution seems to have been well thought out. I give them credit for that as opposed to just shutting the pipe off.


Well props to Exetel for having the balls to tell the customers what they're actually buying. I can't understand why everone isn't jumping for joy...

A lot of ISPs in Australia shape p2p traffic, but as soon as one actually announces it to the public, everyone goes nuts. Could this be because nobody was aware that their connection was being silently throttled and now that they know what's happening, they're pissed?

BTW Tom, you missed the part where Exetel said it would cost $100k to implement the shaping but save $60K per month in costs. You don't just suddenly save $60,000 without cutting back on something, so Exetel's claim that "no-one will notice" is shaky at best, and an outright lie at worst.
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Postby Red_Blue » Wed Oct 18, 2006 9:02 pm

IneptVagrant wrote:But Protocal Obfuscation at the same time doesn't have the long term damage that continued use of encryption would have.
What "long term damage"? Encrypted communications of any kind have "long term damage" to censorship, illegal and/or overbroad monitoring and violations of human rights in general. They also damage many attempts to exploit security vulnerabilities.

The more encryption is used, the better. Currently the Internet is using way too little encryption in general, which allows among other things, fraud and cencorship of their own customers by ISPs.

IneptVagrant wrote:Encyption is trivially ez to detect once you know what to look for. As I said, one doesn't care what the content is, just that the content is moving -- once you SEE that content simply exist you can limit it.
Once you start to throttle encryption, you are no longer throttling P2P traffic, you are stealing bandwidth from any and all customers who use any kind of encrypted communication. You can't obviously tell one encrypted content apart from another. Traffic analysis attempting to heuristically fingerprint P2P among encrypted traffic will be both unrealiable and waste a lot of very expensive computing resources.

Since an ISP using "NetEnforcer" or a similar "solution" will be attacking all encrypted traffic, be that SSL/SSH/SFTP/FTPS/SCP/VPN tunnels etc., Skype, encrypted IM etc., it will be affecting a lot of customers who do not fit the description of why alledgedly the ISP is implementing that bandwidth stealing.

It would be a lot cheaper and more reasonable to treat all traffic equally and simply throttle on usage. This is also much more honest in marketing, where the limitations of the account are put in easy to understand numbers and not hidden behind "proprietary techniques" and one line mentions in contracts, backed by "50% of what all aggregated users of P2P protocols could at any single point in time, theoretically, use" and other weasel word explanations lacking any spesific detail to gauge the effect of the limitations before hand.

IneptVagrant wrote:A year from now p2p traffic, no matter of any encryption or obfuscation, will be IDed on the fly.
Not true at all. A year from now there will be P2P traffic which will be more difficult to identify than today and the gap between efforts to (reliably) identifying it and efforts to hide it will be larger. There is just a huge amount of theory and implementation on steganographics which hasn't been applied to P2P yet, but active research on this is ongoing around the world and will be entering large scale tests within a year or two.

IneptVagrant wrote:It doesn't cost anything to allow full usage, but there is a very real cost in allowing abusive usage - degraded usage for many caused by a small minority of selfish users.
There is no such thing as "abusive usage" by merely using the BW you have bought. Only if the TOS of the ISP state that P2P is not acceptable, then it's "abusive usage". However, if they sell you an Internet account where P2P is "abusive usage" and fail to tell you this before taking any action against you, then they are guilty of fraud and/or violations of business ethics laws (marketing crimes, bad faith transactions, improper business action) plain and simple.

Content or properties (encrypted or not) based bandwidth limitations should never be accepted by customers, because the same technology that can be used to limit, can be used to shut off, censor, store and spy. The QoS selections for the traffic must come from the customer and not from the ISP. If the ISP is not providing equal priority and bandwidth to all traffic, then at the minimum, it's their duty in order to remain legal with their marketing to be able to explain to each user in every deal made with them, what the exact criteria is for the inequality and inequal treatment between users who pay the same amount. I'm yet to see a company using any of these bandwidth stealing machines like NetEnforcer who is able to explain their operation satisfactorily enough to meet that minimum honesty, and Exetel is no exception.
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Postby apndx » Wed Oct 18, 2006 11:02 pm

<edit - please read the forum rules before you post again. you are welcome to express your opinion, but not like that.>
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Postby webe3 » Thu Oct 19, 2006 6:04 am

IneptVagrant wrote:Exetel is doing the right thing, because its resonable. Users aren't reasonable -- they are selfish, they will use whatever they can get, irregardless of the impact on other users. The result is 5% of users using 90+% of the bandwidth. The problem exist, this is undeniable, so treat in a reasonably way -- Thx Exetel.


You really have balls to call people that you don't even KNOW selfish! How do you KNOW they are? Because you say so? Sorry, not in my book!

These people were ADVERTISED TO that they would get an UNLIMITED amount in bandwith. Some took advantage of it, but I am guessing that a lot did not. But because of those few bandwith hogs, their ISP goes and punishes everyone else!

And for your information, just using what is advertised to you by your ISP is NOT doing anything wrong.

If they really wanted to be fair, why not see who is using the most bandwith on a regular, consistant basis and punish THAT group of people instead? ( I am sure ISPs can tell who uses the most bandwith constantly) After all, I bet it is only about 5% of the entire base of subscribers, so I agree with you there.

It simnply seems with these actions, that they are taking a sledgehammer to a mosquito.

However, I DO commend them on being open and honest about it...that is something more ISPs need to do. At least this way, the problem can be brought out in the open and discussed.
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Postby evilc » Thu Oct 19, 2006 12:10 pm

Thanks webe3 :)

I can see what IneptVagrant maybe meant, about *users in general* being selfish... ja it's not my style to patronise too... but teh balls remain :twisted:

If I could just finish what I started to say... as a way of some explanation maybe... well personally, I was never selfish at my ISP. I stuck to the Fair Usage Policy to the letter. I liked it that way, I was happy. Actually it was one of the main reasons that made me want to join in the first place - being the fair man. I only ever fileshared during off peak hours - I liked and respected the contract just fine. :)

Still, even after I did everything right, I received an extremely unwarranted, unexpected and distressingly rude accusation in the form of a "FUP final warning letter" last week from my ISP accusing me of breaking that contract. :shock: :(

On further investigation, what my ISP didn't tell me of course, was there was an unwritten ~30gb per month policy on all "unlimited" connections... in other words, they blatantly lied and I was at no fault whatsoever, or ever wanted to be! Yet, they still stand by their decision to limit my bandwidth accordingly! Whether this has anything to do w/ the "foreign language barrier" over a long distance phone call... who knows. Either way, it's heads they win, tails I loose. It really is like banging your head against an Indian wall.

Some marketing or sales types may like to argue that "of course there is no longer a 30gb limit that there used to be... that was the old way!"... Perhaps. But it was never written in any contract I signed for or any attempt of making me aware of it before this, that's for sure. So imagine my horror after phoning them about it, I had someone called "Rakesh" telling me that my internet usage was "excessive" and is now being limited during peak hours... which was strange to hear as I have *only* ever used it significantly during their *off-peak* hours... ever.

Well, it appears they are recently targeting any unsuspecting "heavy" (for them, I guess?) users randomly for using their connection "excessively" regardless of the actual time of day or night. It hurts me because *I* took extra care at MY end to enter strict schedules in uTorrent which *completely stops* all up/downloading outside these hours! I did *everything* they asked of me and have been honest about it. The complete opposite is true of them.

Well, considering who the ISP in question is - I am not going to bother wasting any MORE time arguing w/ them or bother w/ any legal action over their circus clown service, thankyou please.

Mind you, I'm perfectly happy to have an easier method of leaving them now where I didn't have before their "warning".

Oh sorry I forgot to mention who my totally "reasonable" and customer friendly ISP is. Heh.. do I really need to say its the dreaded Tiscali UK crime syndicate?

"old" news - but still valid today??
The Great Tiscali Swindle:
http://www.3dvelocity.com/articles/tisc ... dband3.htm


But of course, this is all a complete lie and *I* am the evil, selfish unreasonable crime boss.

er.. not?

Borat?

Back to Exetel... :) Yes I agree that they are at least being honest, I agree and you're right - I was being too hasty before. Please try to understand that its hard for me to trust any ISP's ever again after my current experience?

Sorry, I didn't mean to bore anyone with this rubbish. I'll stop now. It's just really frustrating in a sort of multivariable head disintegration on keyboard footage way that I "should've known better" to have never joined that criminal organisation "front" of a legit ISP in the first place. Oh well, "never again", hopefully...
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Postby greenknight » Thu Oct 19, 2006 6:01 pm

webe3 wrote:These people were ADVERTISED TO that they would get an UNLIMITED amount in bandwith.


Not quite true. Previously, Exetel offered unlimited downloads during off-peak periods, but their plans changed and now it's between 30GB and 32GB (depending on plan type). You can view their plans here and here. During peak periods, all of Exetels plans have always used a data allowance + excess fee model, and it's worth noting that the P2P shaping Exetel intend to apply will only occur (according to their reps) during peak hours, so apparently the off-peak bandwidth isn't a problem.

If they really wanted to be fair, why not see who is using the most bandwith on a regular, consistant basis and punish THAT group of people instead?


This is not an "Unlimited" bandwidth plan they have signed up for, it's one which has specific download limits and excess fees! There are only two possible scenarios here:

1) The customer uses less than the amount of bandwidth he or she is allocated on the plan. In this case, why should the customer be punished?
2) The customer uses more than the amount of bandwidth he or she is allocated on the plan. In this case, why isn't the excess fee "punishment" enough?

However, I DO commend them on being open and honest about it


It's worth pointing out that Exetel only chose to be "open and honest about it" after roughly a year of applying bandwidth throttling techniques, and since their announcement they have deleted many apparently reasonable posts on their forums, as well as banning many forum accounts. They've also been changing history by deleting and modifying posts by their own reps on that forum.
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Postby greenknight » Fri Oct 20, 2006 4:02 am

News Flash: Exetel now blocking websites!

Apparently not content with slowing P2P traffic, Exetel's management are now intending to actively block websites that allow people to steal copyrighted files. They then intend to report customers they believe to be involved in such activity to the appropriate law enforcement agency for further investigation. You can read the announcement for yourself here, but I've pasted it below just in case. To me, it sounds like Exetel are desperate to get rid of their high bandwidth using customers.

Exetel has been approached by a legally constituted organisation to become pro-active in the attempts to make it more difficult for users of Exetel's internet services to commit criminal acts.

Specifically, Exetel is being requested to do everything it might be able to do to restrict user's of its ADSL1 and ADSL2 and wireless broadband services from accessing sites that allow people to steal copyrighted files, specifically movies,TV shows and music CDs.

Exetel's current AUP specifically prohibits Exetel users from using its services to commit illegal acts:

"Illegal Use

The Exetel network may not be used for, or as transport for, any illegal activity. This includes but is not limited to; Copyright Infringement, Fraud, Denial of Service attacks and abuse of other networks.

Exetel reserves the right to suspend without prior notice any user’s service that, in its reasonable opinion, is being used for any illegal activity. The matter will then be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency for further investigation"

We are assuming that no Exetel ADSL1 or ADSL2 or wireless broadband user would ever think of breaching any law and therefore would have no problem with Exetel actively assisting any legally constituted authority with any effort they may be empowered to make to prosecute any person who commits any criminal act.
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Postby Red_Blue » Fri Oct 20, 2006 10:46 am

ForumAdmin @ forum.exetel.com.au wrote:We are assuming that no Exetel ADSL1 or ADSL2 or wireless broadband user would ever think of breaching any law and therefore would have no problem with Exetel actively assisting any legally constituted authority with any effort they may be empowered to make to prosecute any person who commits any criminal act.
Sure, everybody who has a problem with censorship and extralegal "enforcement" of third party rights, must be a dirty rotten criminal...

The oldest excuse in the book for violating people's rights and quite a novel use in a business relationship between a utility company responsible for the most important resource in the information age, Internet connectivity. I hope they're small enough not to have a monopoly in any region of the country.

These clauses in the TOS about "illegal content and violation of netiquette" are to shield the ISP from third parties, not to attack their paying customers acting as agents for a third party not part of the contract. Any ISP which goes "proactive" in enforcing anything which is not mandated under law, acting as judge, jury and executioners based on mere lies and claims of the copyright mafia, are inherently evil and deserve as wide boycott as possible. I also hope they will get sued from one of their customers in short order.
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Postby blargh » Fri Oct 20, 2006 11:11 am

now Exetel just got off the "sucky ISP" list and joined the "We're nazis, and we'll report you to the nearest concentration camp the second you step out of line!" list ..

Again, I advise everyone that has exetel to get the fuck out while you still can, an isp that monitors and reports it's users is breaching an age old tradition, the tradition of customer confidences!
Seriously, this ISP must be run by the most shortsighted and moronic people ever!
This text makes my post look better.
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Postby MrFredPFL » Fri Oct 20, 2006 12:38 pm

webe3 wrote:You really have balls to call people that you don't even KNOW selfish! How do you KNOW they are? Because you say so? Sorry, not in my book!


and yet in the next breath, you say...

webe3 wrote:These people were ADVERTISED TO that they would get an UNLIMITED amount in bandwith.


so i'm curious - when and where did you see exetel advertising?
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Postby webe3 » Fri Oct 20, 2006 2:26 pm

MrFredPFL wrote:
webe3 wrote:You really have balls to call people that you don't even KNOW selfish! How do you KNOW they are? Because you say so? Sorry, not in my book!


and yet in the next breath, you say...

webe3 wrote:These people were ADVERTISED TO that they would get an UNLIMITED amount in bandwith.


so i'm curious - when and where did you see exetel advertising?



For your information I was posting in response to THIS:


"Users aren't reasonable -- they are selfish, they will use whatever they can get, irregardless of the impact on other users. The result is 5% of users using 90+% of the bandwidth. The problem exist, this is undeniable, so treat in a reasonably way -- Thx Exetel."

So how did THAT poster KNOW that ALL of these users were just being selfish? And extel DID have an unlimited plan before and I am sure they advertised it.
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Postby MrFredPFL » Fri Oct 20, 2006 2:44 pm

did you see any such ad? i see greenknight, an australian, saying that's not what they advertised.
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