BitTorrent Speaks: Correcting the Record in CRTC Net Neutrality Hearing

BitTorrent has shaken up the CRTC network management hearing with a late submission [no online link yet] that seeks to set the record straight on BitTorrent and its impact on ISP networks.  The company begins by noting:

Our company, more specifically our BitTorrent application, has been referred to repeatedly in various submissions in this proceeding.  From these submissions, there appears to be some misconceptions as to the effect of BitTorrent, as well as in general peer-to-peer (“P2P”)  applications, on the Internet and in fact there has been an overstatement of the effect of such
applications on network congestion.  

After describing BitTorrent (the company and the application), the submission addresses several misconceptions:

  • Shaw argued that the high number of connections with P2P subverts the fairness of TCP.  BitTorrent says this is incorrect, since very few connections (4 – 5) are used at any one time.
  • Rogers argued that users do not care about upload performances.  BitTorrent says this is inaccurate given the correlation between download and upload for BitTorrent users.
  • Cogeco argues that P2P is not a real-time or interactive application.  BitTorrent says this too is false since some apps like Skype are clearly interactive and some BitTorrent clients supports streaming.
  • Rogers argued that P2P can create 24/7 always on usage.  BitTorrent says this is exxagerated with the average client only active around 4 days per month.

BitTorrent then focuses on the effect of Canadian traffic management practices on the application's performance.  The two main paragraphs are worth quoting in full since they have major implications beyond just the CRTC as BitTorrent states that movie executives report that Canadian P2P usage has declined dramatically over the past year.  The comment:

There were many assertions by parties to this proceeding that ITMP does not block BitTorrent, but only delays the eventual downloads.  Setting aside the interactive use of BitTorrent detailed above, it is clear that in a very competitive marketplace, these delays are critical and do in fact degrade the application and are having an effect on overall usage of the protocol.  In conversations with Motion Picture executives who track P2P usage, they indicated that there has been a dramatic decline in P2P usage in Canada in the last year with a corresponding increase in other applications that are server based (and presumably not currently targeted by ITMP).  We can assume this migration has occurred because these applications artificially outperform P2P.  This is an example of the networks using ITMP to pick winners and losers in the marketplace and BitTorrent submits that such a practice should not be permitted in a neutral management regime.  

BitTorrent offers commercial services using P2P technology to deliver professional content for publishers. These clients use the underlying BitTorrent protocol but are also designed to report a considerable amount of performance information about the underlying networks, as this information is critical to publishers who need to track how effectively their content is being delivered. These services are in use worldwide and the critical measurement for the system is a metric called “offload”, which is essentially, the percentage of traffic that was able to be delivered using the P2P elements of the system.  Overall offload for the entire ecosystem (all customers, all regions of the world) averages around 80% and when measured by individual ISP typically ranges between 70% and 90%.  However, for Canadian ISPs this metric drops to 30%, the lowest for any major network worldwide. One can only assume that ITMP or underlying network performance conditions are attributable to this low level of system performance in Canada.

BitTorrent's proposed approach:

The neutral nature of the Internet is something that should be preserved or it may result in unwanted or unintended consequences (ie. lack of innovation which may slow growth of network development and capacity).  However, this needs to be balanced against the recognized need for operators to manage their networks. BitTorrent submits that to be reasonable, network management solutions should be non-discriminatory in nature.  No solution that singles out a single application or protocol should be considered neutral.  When presented with this challenge in the United States, we were able to work with one of the largest ISPs, Comcast, towards a network management solution that manages heavy users, not applications and only does so during necessary moments of intense congestion.  In this way, every user is accorded his or her fair share, regardless of the applications in use or destinations involved. ITMP that singles out specific applications will hamper and harm innovation at the edge and contribute to the centralized control of media, restricting the Internet to those who can afford the costs of traditional distribution on the Internet.  The potential impairment of freedom of expression in this case should not be underestimated.

The BitTorrent filing comes very late in the process, but should cause the CRTC to rethink some of the ISP claims regarding the BitTorrent and the approach of some providers to traffic management.


  1. thought it would never happen
    “should” is the operative word.

    The CRTC is not in the same plain of existence as the rest of the real world.

  2. Guess what happens says:

    Guess what happens
    Gee, will the CRTC or Govt listen to a reasoned response with actual technical content?

    No they won’t, they never have and never will. Some CRTC crony is going to feel political pressure from on high thanks to Bell’s and Shaw’s and Roger’s big pockets and we’re going to see innovation die in Canada.

    Thanks Canada for funding monopolies that spend our infrastructure dollars on lobbying against us! Thanks!

  3. Patrick McNamara says:

    What the CRTC doesn’t realize is the way restricting torrents will actually hurt Canadian artists and creators. I can reach thousands with a podcast episode using torrents and it doesn’t cost me anything. More traditional methods would require paying for bandwidth and storage space, not to mention the advertizing needed to get the exposure that a Mininova posting gets.

    It’s sad that the Internet in Canada is effectively owned by the same people who own every other communications system in Canada. And they won’t even let us have free DTV.

  4. dramatic decline in P2P usage with a corresponding increase in server-based applications
    Rapidshare ‘R Us! 🙂

  5. God forbid if we ever get Fios
    The Canadian internet “competition” is a joke. Literally these large players (Bell) have squeezed so much out of the consumer wallet – I mean even having the gall to charge 25 cents per incoming text message and $$ for internet consumption & having the audacity to offer “Overage insurance”.

    The Canadian internet competition is nothing more than a pair of doors leading to the same hallway. The CRTC is the blind mouse going towards that very same hallway.

  6. pat donovan says:

    frigthing, isn’t it? monopolistic companies killing off innovation, etc.
    most expensive, most controlled and SLOWEST service in the world.
    how profitable.

  7. still can’t grasp
    I still don’t understand why the competition bureau didn’t bother with this.

    Is there a conflict of interest since both the CRTC and the competition bureau are under the same branch of gov?

    It’s clearly anti-competitive.

    It’s clearly out to milk the Canadian payer.

    Its clearly discriminatory.

    It’s clearly mis-marketing.

    It’s clearly mis-advertising.

    No one can say that no one knew. Especially the CRTC, competition bureau, industry canada and the telco companies involved.

    Can the whole lot of them not be sued?

    Can the whole lot of them not be forced to step down from their positions?

    Can the likes of Bell, Cogeco and Rogers not be forced to pay back what it has stolen from the people?

    Why doesn’t Canada have a watchdog?

  8. Darknets are here!
    Unenforceable, untraceable, and unstoppable.

  9. boldar f zandor says:

    Let me state right now I have been know to download a thing or two.
    I own an ipod have for a few years, for 99% of that time I have not used itunes. Why? because I can get better quality and more choice from other downloading sites across the world. And I PAY for it. TV and its like is the same. I can watch the utter rubbish they show in Canada, all bought from America (including the news) or, I can get my TV from the internet and watch something that isn’t about what the weeks bimbo/bimba is wearing.
    These large organisations feed us “reality” and “retard” racing for a large fee with no interest in quality.
    This will come down to less choice and more rubbish at a higher cost.

  10. BitTorrent can actually reduce backbone loading
    Given the nature of BitTorrent (as I understand it), it can actually reduce the loading of the network backbone for the ISPs. Why, because if the computers the data is coming from is attached to the same hub or router, that data doesn’t need to hit the backbone.

    Of course, this assumes that the ISP isn’t routing everything through a central server regardless of the endpoints (for instance, to implement ITMP)… If they are then they are making what loading that BitTorrent has on the backbone worse intentionally.

  11. PetFoodz.Info says:

    You are completly correct.. Bit Torrent is now being used by ASUS whose servers are hammered daily.. They do this to reduce load and it seems to be working.. It is quite simple really.. BellRogersShaw.. They’ll argue til the cows come home that they are affected and that P2P is bad.. etc etc.. It is all a farce.. It’s unfortunate to think that a govt is actually going to have to mandate that internet is a utility to get RogersBellShaw etc to stop their shoddy business practices.. It’s sad its even come to this.. CRTC should of put their foot down years ago.. Because of their unwillingness every day Canada falls farther and farther behind other countries in quality and speed of service.. Yet our prices increase so RogersBell can purchase more throttle boxes and or offer a “Faster” service lol.. I really wouldn’t be suprised if BellRogers are conspiring together to gouge the customer for as much money as humanly possible.. If your a DSL user check out Acanac.. If your a Rogers Cable user (and can’t get DSL) your out of luck.. Even if you do get DSL it still goes through Bell’s equipment.. Still throttled.. C’MON CRTC Grow Some Bawls!.. Do what is right for the CDN Consumer!.

  12. Jason King says:

    I wonder…
    …since the telecommunication networks across Canada was partially/fully funded by taxpayer’s money…would we (the people) be able to regain control of the networks?

    A guy can dream, no?

  13. Oops
    Interesting how no one thought of inviting the company that would is essentially being discrimated against. How can the CRTC not of thought of giving voice to the company most effected? If you’re only going to listen to buisness big wigs, might as well get them all involved.

  14. Dwille Pruximus says:

    The carbon angle of throttling
    This is how I see this whole throttling business:

    Axiom 1. Users will download the content they need
    Axiom 2. Throttled downloads take longer
    Axiom 3. Longer downloads require more electricity
    Axiom 4. More electricity means more carbon emissions

    Therefore ISPs that throttle are responsible for greater CO emissions.

  15. Maynard G. Krebs says:

    Bell has caused this violation billions of times due to throttling
    Check out Section 326 of the Criminal Code

    “..or causes it to be wasted or diverted”