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Sympatico Admits to BitTorrent, P2P Limiting
November 5, 2007
Thomas Mennecke
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Bandwidth limiting is one of the hottest debates throughout the file-sharing community. ISPs such as Comcast have been reluctant to admit to this practice, and much of the inner workings of this issue have only come to light from internal leaks. The most Comcast has admitted is "delaying" BitTorrent upload traffic. As reported by Ars Technica,Canadian ISP Sypatico has taken a somewhat more open approach, as they have addressed their own capping issues with broadband customers.

The complaint against Sypatico starts like most other BitTorrent complaints against an ISP. "Since a few days I have seen my connection capped at 30kb/sec for DL and Up." Sound familiar? This seems to be a bit different than Comcast's approach, which "delays" a transmission until congestion eases. Sympatico appears to lower the bandwidth ceiling on certain P2P elements, diverting remaining bandwidth to other protocols.

The complaining BitTorrent user was echoed by other concerned customers, however unlike Comcast, Sympatico actually took the time out to address their customers. While perhaps not the straightest response, Sympatico at least acknowledges that bandwidth modification is taking place on their network.

"Yes, we are now using a Internet Traffic Management to restrict accounts that are using a large portion of bandwidth during peak hours," a forum administrator announced. "Some of the applications that are included are the following: bitTorrent, Gnutella, Limewire, Kazaa, eDonkey, eMule, WinMX, etc."

Several posts later, a Sympatico manager addresses the issue, writing the effort is part of a new traffic management solution which aims to deliver fair amounts of bandwidth to all customers.

"Bell will be using the latest, state-of-the-art technology to improve the customer experience for a vast majority of our customers’ favorite applications (such as Internet Browsers, E-mail, Instant Messaging, Streaming Video, etc.) as required during peak times on the Internet, while ensuring all customers receive fair use of the network when there is heavy Internet traffic. In addition, Bell continues to make significant investments in network capacity and speed to meet the growing Internet demand."

Neither Sympatico representative knew, or at least explained, what technology was being employed by the ISP to shape BitTorrent and P2P traffic. When pressed by upset BitTorrent users, the representatives reiterated the move was to provide fast broadband service to all its customers.

Since the Comcast debacle came to light, net neutrality has once again become a spotlight topic. Many consumer advocates, file-sharers and P2P developers has argued this is against net neutrality principles. ISPs counter this argument and say that because only a small number of BitTorrent users use a majority of bandwidth - allowing unmitigated file-sharing is unfair for remaining costomers. The solution? Provide all customers with equally crappy service via bandwidth shaping.

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BitTorrent :: BitTorrent Community

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