Israeli ISPs Caught Traffic Shaping Without Admitting It

from the this-will-backfire-again-and-again dept

For many years, in the US, there were claims that Comcast was doing traffic shaping on its network, slowing down or even blocking certain types of traffic. Despite increasingly sophisticated evidence, Comcast always denied it, until the Associated Press finally presented proof. Comcast still tried to dance around on definitions, but finally came clean. In response it got a wrist slap from the FCC (which it's fighting in court), but it has become a lot more transparent in its traffic shaping/filtering practices. There just isn't any logical reason why any ISP should be less than forthcoming about these issues.

Slashdot points us to the news that a new study of Israeli ISPs shows that, despite denying it, many are traffic shaping P2P traffic, often using deep packet inspection. Apparently, Israel's Communications Ministry is already looking into this and determining if it requires any action on its part. It makes you wonder why ISPs think it makes sense not to explain what they're doing to customers.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    cKarlGo, Dec 14th, 2009 @ 4:24am

    Dumped Comcrap

    When I caught Comcrap slowing down my connection, I dumped them. It happened right after I got Netflix. The problem mysteriously disappeared when I canceled my service and they started trying to convince me to stay.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Matt, Dec 14th, 2009 @ 4:53am

    I was in a closed invite only beta tes of a p2p streaming service that was to stream videos from NBC and Fox before HULU was around and found Comcast was blocking my P2P traffic after about 6 months of extensive testing by me and the company that was providing the service Comcast admitted they where blocking p2p traffic and offered me 3 months of free Internet and promised the service provider they would no longer block their traffic because the p2p service told NBC and FOX of Comcast's attempts to block perfectly legal p2p traffic . Unfortunately the Networks decided to go with HULU over p2p streaming because of the issues with deep packet inspection and blocking by ISPs .

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 14th, 2009 @ 5:12am

    Re:

    They made the choice not to be associated with file traders, thieves, etc. It would be a horrible idea to base your business around a system that, for the most part, is used by people trying to hide something.

    Hulu is a much better product as a direct access system, as is youtube. It would be very silly as a P2P system. Cheaper, but sort of stupid.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 14th, 2009 @ 5:41am

    Re: Re:

    Of course they made their choice, but that's not really at issue here. The problem is that they want to be able to do it, but they also don't want their paying customers to know they're doing it--probably because they're worried about cancellations from those who expect to be able to use the service however they want unless the provider explicitly states otherwise from the very beginning. It's a pretty lousy practice.

     

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  5.  
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    Wolfy, Dec 14th, 2009 @ 6:28am

    What the ISP is doing should be called EAVSDROPPING. I could give a fig what their stated intention is, the ISP has to peek into the packets in order to determine which packets to block. I call that censorship, not the rethuglican phrase "Traffic shaping". Then thugs always were good at twisting language... ("Clear Skies" legislation that allowed more pollution, "Homeland" security which could be better callwed Half-baked Security, "No child Left Behind" which cut funds for education)

     

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  6.  
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    BobinBaltimore (profile), Dec 14th, 2009 @ 7:21am

    Re:

    Rethuglican? Oh, so all this evil comes from the right, then. Good to know. Glad you've boiled it down.

    Any ISP that isn't doing some form of traffic shaping and analysis is negligent in managing its infrastructure. Traffic shaping isn't a euphemism, it's a methodology often involving devices built and dedicated for the purpose. Now the purposes for which they use that methodology and the disclosure surrounding it is a whole other matter.

    If a business uses them for political, legal or value-judgment purposes, as opposed to typical and customary network management and defense, the absolutely need to disclose that. Customers (businesses and consumers) have a right to know exactly what they can expect.

    Traffic shaping and deep packet inspection sound nefarious to people who don't understand what they are. They are not evil on their face. That they can be misused does not mean they aren't legitimate and necessary for infrastructure hygiene. This is where the myth and assumption of unlimited bandwidth runs headlong into operational realities. Bandwidth has to be managed and defended carefully and consistently.

     

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  7.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Dec 14th, 2009 @ 7:28am

    Re: Dumped Comcrap

    You're lucky that you had that option. I use Comcast, but because it's the only option for broadband in my area. I wish I could dump them, but that would mean going to dialup.

    I envy you.

     

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  8.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Dec 14th, 2009 @ 7:30am

    Re: Re:

    "They made the choice not to be associated with file traders, thieves, etc."

    They also made the choice to not be associated with legitimate customers doing legitimate things in ways that could expand their business. 'Course, they don't need to worry about that, since they've a defacto monopoly in many areas.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 14th, 2009 @ 7:35am

    Re: Re:

    "They made the choice not to be associated with file traders, thieves, etc. It would be a horrible idea to base your business around a system that, for the most part, is used by people trying to hide something."

    'They' I'm assuming you mean Comcast, and by blocking p2p traffic all the while advertising their networks are the fastest available is the definition of a thief. They're stealing from their customers by forcing them to pay a premium for a service that has hidden restrictions of use. Advertising an unrestricted service and then placing restrictions on it that the company will never divulge unless forced to by a federal lawsuit, but still charge the same premiums is theft - pure and simple. THAT is a horrible system to base a business around.

    "Hulu is a much better product as a direct access system, as is youtube. It would be very silly as a P2P system. Cheaper, but sort of stupid."

    Wonderful, we're not talking about direct access systems we're talking about peer networks, which you apparently know nothing about. The whole point of P2P systems is to allow peers to host content for other peers, thus eliminating the need for the content provider to incur the cost of having to provide the server space and bandwidth to host and distribute said content. If companies like YouTube and Hulu were able to host trackers and let their users distribute content via p2p their costs would be reduced incredibly.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 14th, 2009 @ 7:38am

    Re: Re: Dumped Comcrap

    Comcast has a policy to reduce their fees for any customer who threatens to cancel their service. I can almost guarantee that if you call, make up some off the wall complaints about service, and that you're considering dropping they'll offer you a cheeper deal for at least 3 months.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    ., Dec 14th, 2009 @ 7:43am

    Deep packet inspection and throtteling.

    I use TOR and I have no problems with it is good enough to surf the internet and this is the end of "deep packet inspection".

    As for throttling that is a good thing for ISPs that because of over-subscription they can put more people in a node and don't have that node overwhelmed. But for consumers is a bad deal they don't get what they paid for not even a little.

    P2P(Distributed Computing) is used and becoming even more used in other places. It is not just filesharing.

    Fedora and Ubuntu both are using by default the GNU Telephony SipSwitch that is P2P based AT&T would love to throttle that I'm sure.

    Medical research and development too are seeing P2P use.
    http://nrlweb.cs.ucla.edu/publication/show/17

    And there is experiments to develop a new internet on top of these one that will render any type of censorship ineffective.

    http://osiris.kodeware.net/

    Deep inspection is just a nudge to people start encrypting everything.

    Law enforcement will be annoyed, but the real loosers may be companies that sell target ads.

    You can't trust others with your information, we need governments but never should trust those in power to do the right thing those who do will pay a great price for that.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    ., Dec 14th, 2009 @ 8:11am

    P2P

    In Japan the Sony ISP plala throttles YouTube is that a coincidence?

     

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  13.  
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    RJM, Dec 14th, 2009 @ 8:19am

    p2p effects

    Any company that relies on p2p to support its content distribution as a method of keeping its costs down is guilty of stealing the "saved" bandwidth and hosting from the ISPs whose customers are hosting the material as p2p nodes. Using p2p as your distribution model is just a way of pushing those costs onto someone else - stealing. It's part of the reason traffic shaping of p2p occurs -- reducing the "theft" losses from carrying hosting traffic never intended for consumer accounts. (Read the AUP and/or TOS agreement with your ISP -- almost all of them have some type of "no hosting" clause.)

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    ., Dec 14th, 2009 @ 8:27am

    Re: p2p effects

    I don't care about the TOS of those silly ISPs.

    They can say what they want the truth is I paid for that bandwidth as a customer and I will use it like I want.

    ISPs should not be aware of the contents. The only people trying to still something is the ISP creating something that don't exist.

    P2P is not forced upon others is used in agreement with the guy who paid for that bandwidth.

    So now ISPs will say that people cannot use the bandwidth they bought is that it?

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 14th, 2009 @ 8:40am

    Re: Re: p2p effects

    No, what happens is that every isp (even hosting companies) sell more bandwidth than they buy, which is why they can sell it for less than you can buy it for. Ratios run from 2:1 to 100:1 depending on the ISP and the breadth of their service. They will also do things within their network to try to limit bandwidth usage, such as caching, internal dns servers, local services, etc.

    Traffic shaping starts on P2P because P2P represents the biggest part of peak traffic for most ISPs. Someone downloading (or sharing) at their peak bandwidth continuously for a long period of time isn't the traffic pattern of most internet users, and as such, they work to make sure that an average user still gets decent response time and access to the internet.

    The connection for most ISPs is guaranteed only from the CO (central office) to your modem. It isn't assured beyond that point. You are subject to all sorts of network restrictions, routing issues, and yes, shaping (it happens all over the place in different ways) to assure the average user the level of service they are use to.

    Remember: They aren't limiting your PERSONAL bandwidth, they are limiting on a network basis. Your personal agreement doesn't enter into the game.

     

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  16.  
    icon
    tracker1 (profile), Dec 14th, 2009 @ 9:08am

    Bandwidth Shaping

    I have Cable One service in Prescott Valley. Their TOS says the'll cut the bandwidth in half after downloading X amount of content in a given day. What this basically means is if I watch two movies on Netflix, I can't watch Hulu or Netflix reliably the rest of the day. Despite the fact that 1/2 my bandwidth is still more than 2x what the stream takes. That's BS. The only reason I haven't switched to DSL is I'm planning on moving in the next couple months, and the DSL provider is nearly as bad.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    ., Dec 14th, 2009 @ 10:08am

    Re: Re: Re: p2p effects

    Hmmm...really.

    Tier 1 ISPs do that? nope, they don't pay for bandwidth, Tier 2 ISPs almost don't pay for bandwidth and below that is where it gets uggly.

    IPX and peering agreements don't exist?

    Is YouTube being traffic shaped too because of costs?
    Traffic shaping is being yielded as a weapon to take money from people right now because it doesn't have any supervision.

    More, traffic shaping is used to increase oversubscribing not to manage peak limits and those valid arguments about traffic are being used as excuses to do it.

    And ISPs know that P2P will be the new usage pattern and the fact is that they don't like it because there is no way to monetize that traffic. They all will have to enter into peering agreements and that part of the business(traffic selling) will end.

    That is why they want traffic shaping and are using it so much, because they want to discriminate traffic not manage it.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    ., Dec 14th, 2009 @ 10:42am

    IXP

    IXP:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Exchange_Point

    "The technical and business logistics of traffic exchange between ISPs is governed by mutual peering agreements. Under such agreements traffic is often exchanged without compensation. When an IXP incurs operating costs, they are typically shared among all of its participants. At the more expensive exchanges, participants pay a monthly or annual fee, usually determined by the speed of the port or ports which they're using, or much less commonly by the volume of traffic which they're passing across the exchange. Fees based on volume of traffic are unpopular because they provide a counterincentive to growth of the exchange. Some exchanges charge a setup fee to offset the costs of the switch port and any media adaptors (gigabit interface converters, small form-factor pluggable transceivers, XFP transceivers, XENPAKs, etc.) that the new participant requires.
    "

    Unless ISPs are getting dumber nobody is paying heavily for traffic these days.

    More the last I checked the cost of bandwidth was declining rapidly.

    http://www.telegeography.com/cu/article.php?article_id=30312&email=html

    And P2P according to last year survey was only 20% of the traffic has anything changed?
    http://gigaom.com/2008/04/22/shocking-new-facts-about-p2p-and-broadband-usage/

    And if DSLreports is to be believed P2P declined even further this year.
    http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Arbor-Tier-One-Network-Traffic-Way-Down-104953

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    ., Dec 14th, 2009 @ 10:55am

    ISP globaly

    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/12/the-coolest-isp-in-the-world.ars

    The French are preparing themselves for the future.

    But what good is bandwidth if you're stuck with a download (or upload cap) so you can’t actually use it? The OECD once published a table (PDF) with burnrates, which showed that in countries like Australia, customers could actually burn through their purchased amount of bytes in under a minute. Interestingly enough, the countries that have high bandwidth networks available don’t have heavy caps. For instance, NTT in Japan has a 900GB upload limit but no download limit.

    It may be good business to forget about caps altogether, as there seems no real reason for them to be there in the first place except perhaps as a deterrent to some of the heaviest users.

    Kenjiro Cho has written several excellent papers on the average broadband use of Japanese broadband users (PDF), where FTTH has become commonplace. With an average of 2GB per customer per day of network usage, the cost of buying transit would be lower than $0.80 per month. Of course one could argue that savings can be made in the internal ISP network if traffic was lower, but even then we’re not talking high numbers.


    80 cents a month the is really costly for ISPs.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    . ugly ., Dec 14th, 2009 @ 11:12am

    Re: ISP globaly

    80 cents per month times 27 million subscribers times 12 months.

    That would at least buy me dinner.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    ., Dec 14th, 2009 @ 11:15am

    Traffic Shaping.

    Is not about cost, is about control.
    Is about creating artificial barriers to others so some can exploit that to make money.

    Nothing wrong with that if it was based on competition not strong arm others into it.

    There is no reason economically(cost) or technical to shape any protocol or service. But there is a commercial interest in doing so.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    ., Dec 14th, 2009 @ 11:19am

    The French showing the way.

    The pioneer of this business model was Free.fr. Led by its maverick CEO Xavier Niel, it introduced the plus simple model in 2002 into what was then considered a lagging broadband market. Now Free is the second largest ISP in the country, it is profitable (with 4 million subscribers), and it boasts extremely low churn rates below 0.01 percent a month. One could almost say that Free’s subscribers only give up their subscription upon death or moving outside of the service area.


    How did they do that?

    Not with traffic shaping or caps that is for sure.

    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/12/the-coolest-isp-in-the-world.ars

     

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  23.  
    icon
    BobinBaltimore (profile), Dec 14th, 2009 @ 1:00pm

    Re: Traffic Shaping.

    Patently incorrect. There are numerous technical and legitimate business reasons to shape bandwidth utilization, especially when that bandwidth is limited. Now what a business chooses to shape and whether it notifies those impacted is another story. But traffic shaping itself is a normal, typical, useful and appropriate component of proper bandwidth and network management.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 14th, 2009 @ 2:06pm

    Re: Re:

    Any ISP that isn't doing some form of traffic shaping and analysis is negligent in managing its infrastructure.

    Just like any telco that isn't eavesdropping on its customers' conversations is negligent in making sure it's system isn't being "misused", eh?

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 14th, 2009 @ 2:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: p2p effects

    No, what happens is that every isp (even hosting companies) sell more bandwidth than they buy, which is why they can sell it for less than you can buy it for.
    I've heard of people doing that with other things, like real estate, too. Seems like they often go to jail though.

     

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  26.  
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    BobinBaltimore (profile), Dec 14th, 2009 @ 2:59pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    No, not at all. BTW, the black helicopters are waiting for you.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 14th, 2009 @ 9:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No, not at all.

    That seems to be inconsistent with your previous position then and a sign of a failed argument stemming from a weak thought process.

    BTW, the black helicopters are waiting for you.

    Personal attacks and insults won't make your argument any less invalid either.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Dec 16th, 2009 @ 10:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Dumped Comcrap

    That doesn't address the problem. My problem with Comcast isn't their fee structure, but their business practices.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 2:35pm

    For Enzyte many years, in the US, there were claims that Comcast was doing traffic shaping on its network.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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