by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
canada, regulations, traffic shaping

bell canada

Canadian Regulators Won't Stop Bell Canada's Traffic Shaping

from the shape-away dept

Back in March, Bell Canada started traffic shaping the internet traffic that passed over its network without telling its reseller partners. This was a pretty big deal, as many of the ISPs who resell Bell Canada DSL promise to their customers that they don't do any kind of traffic shaping. Those resellers complained to Bell Canada, who responded by saying too bad, recognizing that those resellers had nowhere else to go. Some of the reseller ISPs complained to Canadian regulators who have now sided with Bell Canada, allowing the company to keep on traffic shaping. The regulators basically said that the ISPs have been unable to show how they're being harmed by this move, which is required for them to step in. One would think that a boatload of customer complaints and threats to move to any other internet connectivity (not that there are many choices) would be enough to show harm to the ISPs. Once again, it's nice to have near total control over your market, isn't it? Update Some good details provided in the comments. The matter is still being investigated by regulators. This ruling was just about interim relief.

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  • identicon
    inc, 15 May 2008 @ 1:23am

    Doesn't the U.S. have this patented? I think we have a case against Canada for using our business models.

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

  • identicon
    LR, 15 May 2008 @ 5:26am

    F. you, Bell. You can go straight to hell.

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

  • identicon
    Liquid, 15 May 2008 @ 5:39am

    Um Yeah

    The last statement in your article Mike is kind of a different story.

    "One would think that a boatload of customer complaints and threats to move to any other internet connectivity (not that there are many choices) would be enough to show harm to the ISPs."

    That statement is not the same harm that the regulators are talking about. The harm that regulators are looking for are thing that will potentially cause harm or damage to a the network which is what ISP's like Comcast say copy right infringement is doing. By people constantly downloading songs, movies, etc... across their network is essentially degrading the performance so that others who are not file sharing are not able to fully enjoy their limited 3meg service... To be honest if ISP's would stop using outdated transmission mediums like copper and move over to a fully fiber network we wouldn't see any bandwidth problems. But then again that's just my view.

    That statement of harm to the ISP is only from a financial standpoint that they are just basically driving away customers that don't want big brother meddling in their internet useage, and telling them how long they can be on, how much they can download, where to surf, basically what to do for a service that they are paying a premium for. If we wanted that we would just the let government run the internet just like China. Being told what we can read, what we can say, what we can view of the outside world, etc... I can see why people would want to leave a shitty ISP for degrading the performance of their own network by forcing people to do what they want for a service they pay for. It's their right to change network service providers even if their is a limited number of them in an area.

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

  • identicon
    Present Bell User but not for Long, 15 May 2008 @ 6:04am


    This is just a method by Bell to gougue more money from the consumer. Evidently they won't use throttling on customers who use Bell's high end ISP package which just so happens to cost more.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2008 @ 6:22am

    Off topic, but related

    I read a blog entry about Comcast the other day in which the author stated that he had received a letter from comcast telling him that he had exceeded the unpublished "BW" limit. So he called to get further details ... sounded familiar except for the the part where he asked about the premium service he was paying for. He was told that the premium service does not have a larger limit, it just allows him to reach the limit faster.
    Ya gotta wonder about these guys.

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

  • identicon
    Joe, 15 May 2008 @ 6:26am

    slightly inaccurate post

    The regulator actually denied the request for interim relief from throttling, the issue is still being investigated. So hopefully this will get resolved as I'm directly affected being a subscriber to a Bell reseller. Michael Geist's post on the topic -

    The CRTC this morning denied CAIP's request for interim relief blocking Bell's throttling practices. The Commission ruled that CAIP did not meet the standard for interim relief. It acknowledged that there is a serious issue to be determined, but it was not convinced that there will be irreparable harm if the relief was not granted. While CAIP is undoubtedly disappointed, I don't think this decision is much of a surprise. The standard for interim relief is very high and given the ability to provide monetary compensation at a later date, the CRTC took a pass on stopping the throttling practices based on the limited record of evidence. The CRTC has left the door open to addressing throttling and net neutrality in a serious way, however. First, it ruled that there is a serious issue to be determined. Second, tomorrow it will release the details on how it plans to address the substantive issues of the throttling complaint. Combined with the draft new media document, there is a real possibility of hearings in the fall on throttling and net neutrality in Canada from both a broadcast and telecom perspective.

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

    • identicon
      Joe, 15 May 2008 @ 7:23am

      Re: slightly inaccurate post

      Followup from Michael Geist this morning (that guy is so great). We'll have a final decision by the end of the summer.
      The CRTC this morning issued its promised plan for addressing the substantive issues raised by the CAIP complaint over Bell's throttling practices. The plan has an aggressive timeline with all submissions in by June 26th and a decision promised within 90 days. Bell and CAIP have been asked to respond to a series of questions, with the CRTC giving Bell two weeks to provide much more detail on its network congestion claims and its network management practices. Interested parties - ie. the public and other businesses - will have the chance to file comments by June 12, 2008. Combined with the new media discussion document slated to be released later today, CRTC Chair Konrad von Finckenstein wasn't kidding when he told an industry conference in a speech earlier this month that the throttling issue "will have wide-ranging consequences and will lead to a much wider debate. This will undoubtedly occupy much of our time this year."

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

  • identicon
    bdh, 15 May 2008 @ 6:30am

    Not Really

    The CRTC did not say that they would not "step in." In fact they are undertaking a full investigation and said that the ISPs raised substantial questions of whether Bell Canada has violated Canadian law.

    All the CRTC did was say that the ISPs had not met the one of the legal tests required for the "interim relief" they had requested - an immediate cease and desist from the practice. It's functionally the equivalent of a court denying a request for an immediate stay or an injunction but then reviewing the full case on its merits.

    The bar for getting immediate relief is very high, and the fact that the CRTC did not grant it does not mean that they endorse the practice, nor does it mean that the ISPs will not win once the CRTC does a full review.

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

  • identicon
    Leon Trotsky, 15 May 2008 @ 6:32am

    Update Needed

    As Joe points out, you haven't got the story right. The CRTC denied a request to block throttling while the investigation proceeds. The outcome of the investigation is not at all clear at this point, Bell could still lose.

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

  • identicon
    ScytheNoire, 15 May 2008 @ 8:45am

    This just pisses me off. I left Bell when they started throttling, then a few months later they strike again by screwing with every one. It's so wrong and anti-competitive.

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

  • identicon
    Cable internet user, 15 May 2008 @ 10:37am

    The solution to this issue is simple, use a cable not dsl connection. I use videotron and have a guaranteed 10meg connection at all times. Bell can't even touch that speed. I have a 100gig but I can't remember ever going over it. the connection only cost me 65$ per month. Which is not that far off from what bell charges for their advertised 7 meg connection. Which btw will almost never reach 6 nevermind 7. I worked for sympatico for 5 years and can say first hand Bell just doesn't have the speed on their network to compete with the cable providers.. SO F bell and switch to cable end of story.

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

  • identicon
    Willpower, 15 May 2008 @ 11:03am

    In Canada we have 2 good choices for the Internet, Cable or DSL. Bell versus Rogers in the east and Telus versus Shaw in the West. All 4 companies have professional, knowledgeable support staff, very little down time and competitive prices. In other words, free market working properly.

    I use Shaw. Many people got up in arms when they heard they were doing some short of traffic shaping. I have no idea in what way they are shaping the traffic, but it hasn’t affected me negatively in any way. I can select many gigabytes of information and have received it all by the next morning.

    Their traffic shaping could be benign. I wouldn’t mind if they needed to throttled back bittorrent traffic during peak times to avoid excessive lag when my kids and I are paying World of Warcraft. So long as they open it all up during off times. Traffic shaping could be used in a negative way, but they don’t seem to be doing that. As long as we have a competitive marketplace, they will continue to try and improve customer satisfaction, not degrade it.

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

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