Bell Canada admits to throttling broadband P2P traffic

After an accusatory finger was pointed at Bell Canada for shaping traffic before it even reached ISPs, the company has admitted to the act, saying it has the right to do so.

Bell Canada says it implemented "load balancing to manage bandwidth demand," but did so without informing ISPs or customers. Canadian ISP Teksavvy, a service reportedly popular among P2P users because their traffic is not throttled, first noticed the "load balancing," and confronted Bell.

In October, Bell Canada's ISP Sympatico admitted that it had been using Internet traffic management measures on BitTorrent, Gnutella, Limewire, Kazaa, eDonkey, eMule, and WinMX which representatives said "use a large portion of bandwidth during peak hours." It was mentioned a number of times in Sympatico's support forum that it had been done only during peak hours to provide fair bandwidth allotment for all.

Bell Canada acknowledged that all BitTorrent and P2P traffic is now affected, not only for Sympatico customers, but to customers of other ISPs who have connections through Bell. Customers have speculated that it has been done to prevent other ISPs from offering faster connections -- an anti-competitive measure -- and have begun a letter writing campaign to the Canadian Competition Bureau.

The group letter reads, "Bell Canada has overstepped its authority and are flexing their muscle (infrastructure control) to impose their will on independent competitors. I am a customer of an independent ISP who has purchased bandwidth and my provider is at the mercy of this underhanded tactic being employed by Bell Canada."

The telecommunications company plans to have systems fully in place by April 7 to fully control bandwidth consumption. Bell claims to have the right under contract to do so, and leaves ISPs no choice but to accept it for the time being.

Net neutrality is a topic of great debate in Canada, as traffic throttling has become commonplace there. Rogers Yahoo was one of the most publicized instances of P2P traffic shaping, but now that Bell Canada is automatically doing it, many ISPs throttle traffic simply because they must.

No reply had been received from Bell Canada as of press time.

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