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Bell Canada chokes BitTorrent traffic on someone else's ISP

Rocky VII: The Throttling

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

On March 14, Bell Canada began throttling peer-to-peer traffic on pipes it rents to third-party ISPs. And it neglected to tell the third-party ISPs.

The mega-Canadian telco has been throttling P2P traffic on its own network since October, but this is different matter.

One of those third-party ISPs is TekSavvy, a small family-owned company that prides itself on providing customers with internet service that's never throttled. When Bell Canada started throttling TekSavvy traffic, an astute TekSavvy customer realized his BitTorrent client was acting funny and alerted the rest of the world with a post to DSLReports.

This TekSavvy customer had once received internet access straight from Bell Canada. He switched to TekSavvy because he didn't like Bell toying with his P2P traffic. But then he noticed Bell was still toying with his P2P traffic.

"Recently, my BT download is limited to 30k," he wrote. "No matter if I am opening 1 torrent or 10 torrents at a time, the total download had [sic] never go [sic] over 30k. Before I decided to change to Teksavvy from Bell, I was able to do 50k with Bell's throttle. I [heard] everybody saying how Teksavvy won't throttle your P2P bandwidth and stuff. It work [sic] great for me at the beginning, but I think that is all history now."

It is history. At least for the moment. After several other customers complained about the throttling, TekSavvy CEO Rocky Gaudrault confronted Bell, and Bell fessed up. Gradually. "Last Thursday [March 20], we first had discussions with Bell management, and unofficially, they said some load balancing might be going on," Rocky told El Reg. "Then on Tuesday afternoon, they officially told us they were throttling our client base.

"They're taking traffic and instead of passing it directly to us, they're moving it to some sort of aggregation point where it gets throttled."

Except that Bell Canada doesn't like the word throttling. It prefers "optimizing." "We recently extended our policies of optimizing our network by balancing the load to include our wholesale networks as well," Bell Canada spokesman Jason Laszlo told us.

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