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Bell Canada chokes BitTorrent traffic on someone else's ISP

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"Increased congestion is affecting networks of internet carriers across North America, including Bell," he continued. "And like a lot of other carriers [we think he means Comcast. -Ed] we're seeking to better balance internet traffic during the peak usage periods so that all of our customers can receive the optimal level of service they deserve and rightly demand."

In other words, the company claims that peer-to-peer traffic on wholesale networks is affecting performance on its own ISP. "It's all one network," he said.

According to Laszlo, users will notice a dip in both download and upload times on peer-to-peer applications such as BitTorrent. "Customers of all kinds can continue to use P2P services. What they'll notice is that they won't work as fast during peak periods, so late afternoon and evening." The company plans to extend the practice to all wholesale networks in Ontario and Quebec on April 7.

After a little encouragement, Laszlo did admit that the company started "optimizing" without telling its wholesale networks. But he also said this isn't a problem. "There are very clear provisions in our contracts with the wholesale networks that allows us to manage our networks appropriately."

TekSavvy's Rocky Gaudrault doesn't see it that way. "The policy they're referring to deals with copper. Not data," he told us. "It depends on how long this goes on. If they say 'We're over subscribing the network currently, and we expect to have everything fixed by this date', then fine. But if this becomes a permanent solution it is no longer a maintenance issue or a quality issue. It is a policing issue. They have given themselves the right to control data that's not theirs."

Is Bell Canada attempting to ensure that TekSavvy is just as unattractive as its own ISP? Gaudrault won't answer. Yet. "It could be viewed in a variety of ways at this point. Again, if it's only a temporary solution, that's one thing. But if it's forever, then they're telling us what kind of clients they want us to have. And that's not their right either."

Gaudrault is now exploring alternative means of providing bandwidth to his customers. "We've been working with Bell for seven of the last ten years," he said. "But this is a slap in the face." ®

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