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Canadian ISP's Hamfisted Attempts To Throttle File Sharing Throttles World Of Warcraft Instead

from the bittorrent-isn't-evil dept

It's really amazing the sort of propaganda that gets thrown around by the entertainment industry about how pretty much all uses of BitTorrent are evil and about infringing. It leads to ridiculous situations like Rogers Communications, up in Canada, throttling World of Warcraft players' connections, in an incredibly hamfisted attempt to throttle file sharing. Rogers apparently just targeted all BitTorrent usage, perhaps not realizing that there are legitimate uses of BitTorrent, including for World of Warcraft. Rogers claims that it's working to "fix" the problem, but perhaps the way to fix it is to just invest in bandwidth and stop worrying about what protocol your users are using.


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  1.  
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    Miff (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 4:58pm

    Blizzard

    Blizzard has a lot of money, right? I wonder how things will go down if they decide to sue.

     

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  2.  
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    Markus Hopkins (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 5:01pm

    As bad as I think throttling is, I think it's important to be as clear as possible about what happened here. Blizzard has an update downloader client that leverages BitTorrent P2P tech in order to speed up the process for its users. This setting can be turned off. Apparently, the only users that were experiencing a slowdown were users that had the P2P setting enabled and had the update downloader running. Now, I think this is worse than mistakenly throttling WoW in general, as it demonstrates that throttling P2P traffic can easily impact non infringing P2P uses. If they had merely throttled the wrong kind of traffic, then that's just a stupid technical blunder that shows at most that it is hard to filter P2P traffic out. In reality, this draws attention to the fantastic uses P2P can be put to. On top of this, if they manage to somehow exclude Blizzard traffic in the future, that still does not help efforts like the Pioneer One series. See where I'm going here? BitTorrent is not some sort of societal ill, and this is more evidence for that point.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 5:27pm

    Re:

    Well, I get the impression that latency and unreliability issues have made actually playing WoW on Rogers problematic at times as well (but of course, there are no real competitors to switch to in many areas).

    Also, it's important to note that while you can technically turn off the P2P and download directly, on patch days the direct download will typically be unusably slow: P2P technology is really the only reasonable way, from Blizzard's point of view, to distribute these patches without purchasing a huge amount of expensive servers/bandwidth that will be completely excessive the rest of the time.

     

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  4.  
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    JoeDetroit (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 5:48pm

    Comcast did this for years

    Comcast did this for years & I felt like I was the only one complaining. My wife & I played WoW for a couple years back at launch & we always had trouble getting our patches. Of course my brother on DSL was all patched & playing before I even got home from work. On at least one occasion I had to get the patch from other sources.

    When the scandal erupted over Comcrap throttling ports, I was of course not surprised. Then again I was no longer a Comcrap customer.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 5:48pm

    Re: Re:

    "Well, I get the impression that latency and unreliability issues have made actually playing WoW on Rogers problematic at times as well (but of course, there are no real competitors to switch to in many areas)."

    But how many of those problems were being caused by the P2P downloader still running in the background sharing the patch with other people?

    Considering that Blizzard has decided to use P2P to push a great deal of content to their customers, it seems idiotic that Rogers had no clue this was happening. I mean WOW its only what 3 months old, how could we expect them to work on a problem they created that quickly? /sarc

    I see stories about Canadian ISPs and I worry how quickly the US ISPs are going to try and adapt that model... oh look AT&T added a cap, but gives their own traffic a free pass so you will use their offerings rather than someone elses... huh...

     

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  6.  
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    FormerAC (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 5:58pm

    Re: Blizzard

    Blizzard is generally pretty forward about working with IPS to ensure their game runs. Unfortunately, it probably means Blizz will help then configure their network so they still filter bittorrent, but their game works.

     

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  7.  
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    abc gum, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 6:10pm

    Heh - one that is guaranteed, the CEO and cronies will get their bonuses regardless of whether their decisions make any sense.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 6:33pm

    bad info

    The game itself doesnt use BT. Blizzard only uses BT for patch distribution.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 6:40pm

    Re: bad info

    Which is easily disabled to download from a dedicated server.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 8:16pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    It's pretty simple: Blizzard should stop leeching bandwidth and man up, put up enough servers, and just let people download directly. They are charging for their service, why use P2P?

    Sorry for the users, but I can imagine a major slowdown on a network as everyone tries to P2P the update to each other in the internal network, which is not designed to go "sideways" like that.

     

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  11.  
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    FormerAC (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 8:42pm

    Re: Comcast did this for years

    Completely not surprised. I'm in the will never do business with comcast again camp. Anytime Bittorrent was running, my internet connection was shit. Could not run WoW, could not check email, could not surf the web. Clicking any link on a web page resulted in a 20-30 second wait just to load a simple webpage. Didn't matter if it was plain text or a complex site like ESPN, just wouldn't load any faster. Close Bittorrent client and withing 2 minutes, your internet connection returned to normal.

     

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  12.  
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    Jeremy2020 (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 9:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    User's have an amount of upload bandwidth that they are paying for? If they choose to send legal content to someone else, why should it be throttled?

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 10:53pm

    It's Blizzard's shit. Why should ISPs pay for the bandwidth? The only reason Blizzard uses P2P is to push all the costs it can onto ISPs. I'm sure it would let home users run servers too if they could find a way to get people to pay their $15 a month instead of just turning the game into UO and playing for free.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 12:47am

    Re:

    It is not just Blizzard's shit, it is Blizzard's and all their users shit, all those millions of customers that have a vested interest in seeing those patches reach them as soon as possible and they are working together to do it and they all paid for that bandwidth or the promise of that bandwidth.

    Why should they not be able to cooperate to make their lifes easier?

    Sharing is the what makes things robust even in engineering, you share the load amongst a lot of parts and they can support a bigger load, try to put a heavy load onto just one point and it will fail every time.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 12:52am

    Re:

    And if you want to go there one can argue that without WoW and their million players Roger's loses value, so it is in their best interest to keep those people happy that use Wow and will move on to other things, that is the cost of doing business.

    You remind me of the AT&T executive claiming in Canada that caps where about fairness, why shouldn't the smaller ISP be caped when AT&T was subjecting their own customers to those caps?

    He just forgot to mention that the objective of competition is to allow different things to happen to see what works and what doesn't, so if AT&T capped their customers and lose customers to those who don't cap anything they should fail naturally and not force other ISP's to cap them too, so they can stay on the market.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 12:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Are you dumb?

    Which seems more logic to you, distribute the load over a wide area in this case global or force a huge load through a small point?

    Never in any engineering conversation I had in my life I was told to put all the load in one point that is just plain stupid.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 1:01am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Also I believe they already pay for their bandwidth as do their clients and if it is in their best interest to participate in something that will benefit them why can't they do it?

    Why should they pay more? when they already paid for it already?

    So Foldit should pay too? people can't use their bandwidth which they pay for monthly to help find a cure for cancer?

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 1:17am

    Re:

    Hmm, the customers of those ISPs pay for the bandwidth already. Why can't they use it as they choose?

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 1:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Are you dumb?

    No.

    Which seems more logic to you, distribute the load over a wide area in this case global or force a huge load through a small point?

    Yes, because no company or service in the world has figured out how to create a distribution network to send out large amounts of data to many users without using P2P technology.

    Well, except Microsoft, Steam, Amazon, Netflix, Google, YouTube...

    Never in any engineering conversation I had in my life I was told to put all the load in one point that is just plain stupid.

    Yes, and amazingly Blizzard can buy more than one computer and put each computer in a different place. They can then use technology (or, as you would probably interpret it, magic) to have users automatically contact the servers closest to them.

     

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  20.  
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    The eejit (profile), Mar 30th, 2011 @ 1:23am

    Re:

    Are you an idiot?

    P2P is the most efficient patching system for WoW. Why not use the most efficient patching system to update your game? most of those costs are passed on to the consumer. I can say this as I used to work for an ISP.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 1:47am

    Re: Re:

    Are you an idiot?

    No.

    P2P is the most efficient patching system for WoW.

    From Blizzard's perspective, certainly. From a customer's perspective? If most customers don't go reconfigure their routers and open a dozen ports, it's generally very inefficient for them. What other company requires their customers to reconfigure their home routers just to update a game?

    Even with ports open, it is of questionable efficiency for the customer. The first time I ever updated WoW, it took nearly a full day over good broadband. I'd get one host out there from whom I'd get a good transfer rate, then it'd drop a minute later. Half the time I had 10 hosts all trickling out a gigabyte of data to me at 2kbps.

    Why not use the most efficient patching system to update your game? most of those costs are passed on to the consumer.

    Of course that's why Blizzard does it. It is less convenient for the consumer, but much more convenient for Blizzard.

    I can say this as I used to work for an ISP.

    In what role?

     

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  22.  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Mar 30th, 2011 @ 2:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    man up/leeching, my ass.

    If people are informed about them being uploaders why not spread the load. I know I'm fine with it.

     

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

  23.  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Mar 30th, 2011 @ 2:36am

    Re:

    "Why should ISPs pay for the bandwidth?"

    Because they don't, dumbo! Blizzard and their users pay and why not?

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 3:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Besides Amazon no other company in the world have the server capacity to put forward a big patch without overloading their servers and slowing down everyone in the process, making people stay more time online which is what really consumes bandwidth.

    People could transfer 1 petabyte and it wouldn't do anything if it is done in a millisecond, but if you take 1 year to do it then you got a problem.

    Have you ever tried to download anything from Microsoft servers at patch day?
    Youtube to this day have slowdowns on their end, WTF are you talking about?

    Steam LoL
    Try to download anything from steam in the day that it is launched and you will see the problem, so no not even those companies you cited have discovered how to do it.

    So instead of companies and people being able to cut down costs you want them to pay more for it when they don't need to?

    You don't want people to use what they paid for is that it?
    People should start building their own networks ASAP and start picketing in front of Washington to end the barriers that stop people from doing it, because this is getting ridiculous already.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 3:22am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "If most customers don't go reconfigure their routers and open a dozen ports..."

    One port, actually. And most clients can be configured to use automatic port mapping. Bear in mind that the users probably won't even connect to the game itself if they don't open ports.

    "Half the time I had 10 hosts all trickling out a gigabyte of data to me at 2kbps."

    Either your ISP is throttling you or you have some sort of misconfiguration. Try downloading Debian (or something like that) through BitTorrent (from the official site, of course) and see how fast it goes. I can assure you, the BT download will be slow at start, but as soon as BT does it's magic, you just won't go any faster only if your connection doesn't allow it. While, if you download through HTTP, you are limited to whatever speed the server allows. AND, if your download hangs, you have to start all over again.

    If HTTP is faster for you, then YOU have a problem.

    "Of course that's why Blizzard does it. It is less convenient for the consumer, but much more convenient for Blizzard."

    Perhaps after the patch has been downloaded, it is no longer convenient. But it is a hell lot more convenient than downloading from a handful of sources that would, otherwise, soon get clogged up because of millions of users downloading gigs of data at the same time.

    Amazon (that you pointed out somewhere else), for example, can take the punch of a Christmas rush, but they don't have to push 1gig of data to everyone as fast as possible. If they did, their servers would hit the dirt rather quickly. Also, Amazon doesn't have to serve patches + synchronise millions of players + a ton of other shit. All they need to do is present a pretty page and work with a few bits in the background.





    PS: I'm not a Blizzard lover. On the contrary, Blizzard can eat dirt and die for what they did to Warcraft. But I can't stand some dope slamming BitTorrent out of pure ignorance.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 3:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Also there is one thing about Bittorrent that I really like, and that is, its reliability, it has better error corrections than pure HTTP transfers, you rarely if ever will end up with a corrupt file on Bittorrent, that is not true on HTTP transfers or even FTP ones.

    You want to pay more for things please do it on your own.

     

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

  27.  
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    The eejit (profile), Mar 30th, 2011 @ 3:48am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Server monitor. And the costs are passed to the consumer by the ISP already.

     

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  28.  
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    abc gum, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 5:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Blizzard should stop leeching bandwidth and man up, put up enough servers, and just let people download directly.
    I can imagine a major slowdown on a network as everyone tries to P2P the update to each other in the internal network, which is not designed to go "sideways" like that."


    Clearly you do not understand networking or p2p.

     

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  29.  
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    abc gum, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 5:09am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Are you an idiot?

    No."


    This is debatable

     

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  30.  
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    DS, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 5:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Are you dumb?

    No."

    That remains to be seen.

     

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

  31.  
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    V, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 7:52am

    P2P

    Many games are doing the same thing. I know that DDO is also one of the games.

    It makes a lot of sense, since it reduces the burden of serving up the updates while at the same time increasing the download speed for users.

    The problem is, the copyright nazi's propoganda has done such a good job as villianizing ALL P2P, that people - even tech people - don't realize the true benefits.

    It's like the gun nazi's who claim all guns are bad and should be banned... until the bad guy (who doesn't obey the law) has a gun and robs them.

    There's a reason that states with loose carry laws have less crime - in general.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 8:03am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "The first time I ever updated WoW, it took nearly a full day over good broadband. I'd get one host out there from whom I'd get a good transfer rate, then it'd drop a minute later. Half the time I had 10 hosts all trickling out a gigabyte of data to me at 2kbps."

    Sounds like someone is getting throttled. Kinda sucks doesn't it? Because that is exactly what throttling looks like, you get a good connection until your isp's nanny software sees what is going on and throttles your speed down to shit.

    Blizzards server(at least one) is also in the p2p network so while your sharing with other users you also get a lot of download straight from their servers. That was probably the one connection that was giving you the best rate. They are just sharing the load so when 15 millions people want the same thing at the same time the interwebs doesnt explode.

     

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  33.  
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    jenningsthecat (profile), Mar 30th, 2011 @ 8:19am

    It is to laugh...

    Here in Canada, good ol' Rogers is running TV ads touting their "Speed Boost" technology, in which currently-unused bandwidth is temporarily allocated to provide users with a burst of download speed in order to improve the user experience.

    I wonder where this 'extra bandwidth' is coming from, given Rogers' apparent need to activate throttling for some users? Robbing Peter to pay Paul, perhaps?

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 8:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Microsoft do it all the time.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 8:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The opposite as well.

     

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

  36.  
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    Chris Rhodes (profile), Mar 30th, 2011 @ 8:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It's pretty simple: Blizzard should stop leeching bandwidth and man up, put up enough servers, and just let people download directly. They are charging for their service, why use P2P?

    I actually prefer P2P. If I were to download from Blizzard directly, my rate would be capped at whatever Blizzard decides to send me. However, I have a 40/10 connection at my house, so Blizzard isn't likely going to saturate that connection by themselves. On the other hand, with P2P I'm only capped by what I can get everyone else to send me in aggregate.

    I patch very quickly through Bittorrent. =)

     

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  37.  
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    Huge Clue, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 9:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Not really you can see him being dumb above. You know the whole not understanding how technology works but claiming to know how it should work. Thats pretty dumb. If you're ignorant the least you can do is admit that instead of just claiming whatever you think up is factual.

    Only a fool thinks he knows everything

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 10:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Actually, I understand more than you would like to know.

    Here's the problem. ISP networks are designed to get your traffic from the "edge" to your computer. They are not designed to get data from your computer to another computer in the network. Remember: When data move in P2P fashion, it is a double load for internal ISP networks because they are providing both the outgoing and incoming inside their network.

    ISP networks are best described as a star configuration. There are not a lot of sideways connections, their networks are configured and built to go from you, to an access point, through connections to the core, from the core to the peering point, and off to the "internet" that they don't control. They don't make connections between your branch and other branches, except at the core. So your data packet "internal" travels all the way to the core and all the way back out, using twice the bandwidth that would be used if they sourced the information outside the network.

    P2P will likely connect to people inside your network for speed, as they will normally be the lowest latency connections.

    If you have a friend on the same ISP but living a few miles away, try this test: tracert to them, and then tracert to, I dunno, google. If your ISP has one of the direct google connections, it is likely less jumps or less time required to google than it is to your friend on the same ISP.

    It is the nature of how those networks are build, configured, and wired.

     

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  39.  
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    Clue, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 11:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    AC,
    Please stop! You're going to hurt yourself trying to think. Packets are routed based on time of latency. The packet can go through 30 hops if it's quicker than if it were to take the shortest hops with a higher load.

     

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  40.  
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    Richard (profile), Mar 30th, 2011 @ 3:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Here's the problem. ISP networks are designed to get your traffic from the "edge" to your computer.

    and that is not what I want them to do.
    That is trying to treat people as pure passive consumers.

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    ClueBy4, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 3:54pm

    Two issues

    Two issue here:
    - legal p2p usage being throttled inappropriately.(evil,wrong,net neutrality\right of way violation)
    - Blizzard dubious usage of p2p
    If money is involved p2p has no place. Why? How about seeder dependance, try patching wow of schedule quickly see the issue. Additionally, while performance is better when enough seeders are present that still doesn't address the issue that users are helping to distribute the patch with no compensation. It would have been nice if blizzard reduced the subscription cost when the p2p solution was implemented. Sure it might be horridly more expensive if they provide direct downloads but that still doesn't address that the savings not being passed on to the customers.

     

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

  42.  
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    abc gum, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 8:41pm

    Re: Two issues

    Your attempt to argue that p2p has no place in a legit business falls short of the mark.

     

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

  43.  
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    Jay (profile), Mar 30th, 2011 @ 9:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    How?

     

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

  44.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Mar 31st, 2011 @ 10:30am

    Re: Re: Re:

    From Blizzard's perspective, certainly. From a customer's perspective? If most customers don't go reconfigure their routers and open a dozen ports, it's generally very inefficient for them.

    Of course that's why Blizzard does it. It is less convenient for the consumer, but much more convenient for Blizzard.

    You could not be more wrong.

    For extremely popular files (such as the latest WOW patch on patch day) torrents are more efficient and cheaper than a single server hosted file or even a distributed CDN solution. It is better for all of the following:

    1) The content provider
    2) The end user
    3) The ISP of the end user

    1) Obviously not needing additional server farms and bandwidth on patch day just to host the patch is a big plus for Blizzard.

    2) Connecting to multiple download sources gets you your file faster. Providing a small amount of your upload bandwidth is definitely worth it. (And you know nothing about the average home router if you think you need to worry about opening ports or mapping them to a particular system in order for this to work.)

    3) It is better for the ISP. Yes, really. An individual customer is more likely to connect to another of the same ISP's customers and get a good connection than to another customer outside the ISP's network. That means less peering/paid traffic! Traffic that starts and stops within your own network is essentially free. Traffic going outside your own network costs more, whether that traffic is going to Blizzard's servers or to another ISP.

    I'm quite sure that they didn't mean to specifically throttle WOW traffic. So why do ISPs block/filter/throttle torrent traffic at all? Hmm, well, we have cable companies who are afraid of their customers cutting the expensive high margin cable-TV subscription when they figure out they can watch all their shows on the net. And the telcos, who are working their way into the pay-TV market. What possible reason would either of these industries have to be anti-competitive with torrent traffic?

     

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  45.  
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    you a tard, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 6:14pm

    Re:

    blizzard should not have to we pay to use the serves and can up and down load what we please is why we pay each mth set caps fine Comcast set a 250g cap on it and still kills WoW you can opt out like others said its on you if you want to p2p to get the patch's so if you want to use your band-with you pay for to use to upload a patch you should be able to or get yours slower and not p2p and get it slower but ether way you payed to use your net and to play you should be able to shear it anyway you feel fit

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    Mike, Feb 24th, 2012 @ 7:45am

    Agree with what Richard says about treating us as passive consumers

     

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


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