Traffic Shaping and How it May Affect You

Posted on April 2, 2008. Filed under: Trends | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

I have long been a fan of a company called Sandvine located in Waterloo, Ontario. Take a moment to read Sandvine MSO Case Study which overviews the impact of peer-to-peer traffic on a typical Multiple System Operatornetwork. It has a suite of hardware and software tools that “help” ISPs define what type of Internet traffic is going over their Internet infrastructure. These tools, at first glance, appear to be of value not only to the Internet service providers as they can determine how their subscribers are using their services but an interesting, and I believe, disturbing trend is emerging.

ISPs can now “traffic shape“. They, not you, can determine the quality of Internet service you receive and they can do this arbitrarily and legally.

Recent developments, that are now coming to light in the mainstream press, with Bell’s Sympatico Internet service are a prelude to a trend that may, in the end, restrict competition and fair and open access to the Internet for the average home user.

In summary, the concern is that Bell, or any other ISP for that matter, can “bundle” their services so that Internet access and download performance is optimized for their services and partners. Say, for example, you want to see a video at a site not affiliated with Bell and you are a Bell Sympatico subscriber. Practically the video you watch on a Rogers/Yahoo site will be identified as such, and since they are a competitor the download speed may be restricted. If you serve the same content from a Sympatico/MSN site you will get faster download performance.

With the convergence of audio-visual entertainment and news in video format moving to the computer, which every day is becoming an appliance like the television, users will notice content degradation if they visit sites Bell deems as competitive to the slew of partnerships it has established.

I am not saying that Bell is the only one, Comcast in the States is currently having it out with its subscriber base over the very same issue.

It should be noted that peer-to-peer traffic is a major traffic type on the Internet. All the same, does Bell or Rogers restrict and analyze the content you create over the phone, be it land-line or cellular? No. Because, by law that is an issue of privacy and they are restricted from doing so. I would think that the same standards apply for the Internet.

Another impact is that soon, if not now, end-users (i.e. consumers = you) will be getting or will get notices soon telling you that your subscription model has changed. Each person has to assess the amount of web traffic they generate and buy a “package” of so many gigabytes per month. Sounds good right? Well guess what the charges are for going over?

Frankly I would rather they deal with email spam as, not only is it a major irritant, but it eats up bandwidth too. Any many of it is simply illegal.

So, take a look at your ISP bills when they come in. If you have people using BitTorrent, LimeWire and do heavy gaming you might be in for a surprise.

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One Response to “Traffic Shaping and How it May Affect You”

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[…] on May 17, 2008. A previous post outlined what traffic shaping is and some of my thoughts on it and I thought I would update you on […]


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