Questions For Bell

CRTC Chair Konrad von Finckenstein closed today's session of the network management hearing by noting that the "Bell interrogation" will begin tomorrow morning. With Bell the final party to appear, the previous six days have raised many questions in need of answers.  I've posted some below.  Readers should feel free to add here or post to Twitter (#q4bell).

Traffic management

  • Your disclosure statement indicates that you shape from 4:30 pm to 2:00 am?  Why not more specifically during periods of congestion?
  • Your online disclosure does not specify the reduction in speeds due to shaping.  What are they?
  • Rogers claims that P2P causes congestion at all times.  Do you have a different experience?
  • Many major carriers from both DSL and cable do not traffic shape at all.  Why the difference?
  • Do you traffic shape upload and download or just upload?
  • What are the minimum speeds for upload (Shaw's are 80 kilobits/sec)?
  • What percentage of bandwidth is reserved for P2P traffic (Shaw is 30%)?
  • What percentage of your users are active P2P users?
  • Is the shaping the same for all customers regardless of the tiered service?
  • Do you shape wireless data services?
  • Have you tried economic approaches (ie. Videotron's caps) to address congestion?
  • What would be your costs to adopt the Comcast approach?
  • Have you considered the Juniper technology of customer controlled prioritization?
  • How do you address the privacy concerns associated with DPI?
  • Do you have any information on the throttling experience raised by the CFTPA presentation?

Wholesale and Managed Internet services

  • Does wholesale traffic affect your retail traffic?
  • If it does, why (MTS does not)?
  • Can you identify wholesale traffic?
  • Do you reserve space for wholesale traffic?
  • Can the wholesale traffic exceed its cap?
  • Does your managed Internet services such as online video affect your public Internet services? If so, why doesn't this raise competition concerns?

Peering and Network Growth

  • The hearing was told that Bell is the only major Canadian ISP that does not actively peer in Canada. Is this true?  If so, why not?
  • Does the decision not to peer affect your customer experience? Does it raise your network costs?
  • Many ISPs have indicated that growth is slowing and that they can handle growth through reasonable augmentation of their networks.  Is that your experience?

Guidelines and Tests

  • Do you agree with the OIC/CIPPIC Oakes-style test?
  • If not, what would you propose as an alternative?
  • Should there be mandated disclosure requirements? For retail? Wholesale?

Finally, in a shoutout to Rogers, "If an application which could cure cancer acted like P2P, would it also be subject to traffic management on your network?"


  1. “If an application which could cure cancer acted like P2P, would it also be subject to traffic management on your network?”

    This is the keystone question and statement that will reshape the neutrality landscape.

  2. Questions to ask
    – When you began filtering P2P traffic, how many Canadian businesses who rely on P2P traffic did you adversly affect (weather by filtering those businesses, or filtering the customers of those businesses). How do you justify such large scale filtering without knowledge of the effect it will have.

  3. Question
    Why is it when I download a Linux distro through bittorrent, I get throttled? How come you advertise a certain consistent speed, but fail to give me that speed because my application COULD be downloading copyrighted material?

  4. What assurances can you provide that Bell customers will have access to content providers, application platforms, and service platforms that dirctly compete with Bell’s offerings won’t be crippled or otherwise marred by throttling or network congestion techniques.

  5. Question
    To rephrase Mason’s question:
    “Why is it when I download a Linux distro through bittorrent, I get throttled? How come you advertise a certain consistent speed, but fail to give me that speed because my application COULD /participate in copyright infringement/?”

    The distinction is very important. A Linux distribution IS copyrighted too. But it is perfectly legal to download it. I’m not 100% sure of the re-phrasing either, but it is IMHO better than the original one.

  6. Former Rogers Customer says:

    Mr. Englehart is mistaken
    I’m one former Rogers customer who can say that Mr. Engelhart’s statement this morning that Rogers customers are happy is dead wrong. I’m also spitting mad that Rogers has confirmed to the CRTC that they’ve been blatantly lying to their customers about traffic shaping for years. How is this not fraud?

  7. Richard L. Hess says:

    Rogers and Bell – Question for Bell at end
    From August 2004 through June 3 2009 I had Aurora Cable Internet (ACI). Rogers was allowed by the CRTC to “overbuild” Aurora, at which point ACI gave up and sold to Rogers. ACI provided me with a symmetrical 3 Mb/s cable service and I almost always got the 3 Mb/s upload when I uploaded my work product to my shared hosting servers. I preferred Teksavvy’s superior Internet performance so I did not look much at the download service.

    On June 3rd, I was cut over to Rogers after spending hours on the phone with their often ill-informed customer service reps who didn’t understand the difference between upload and download. I now have a package that is allegedly 10 Mb/s down and 1 Mb/s up for the same price as what I had with ACI. However, the 10 Mb/s is often more like 4 Mb/s, while the 1 Mb/s up is generally solid. It now takes me THREE times as long to upload files.

    Q FOR BELL: *************
    When I asked Teksavvy about faster upload speeds, they told me that their contract with Bell prohibited them from offering me any faster upload speeds. Why is that? Teksavvy sounded as if they’d like to offer me higher upload speeds.

    While this is a long story, it shows that competition is NOT really available in Aurora any more and the CRTC apparently aided Rogers in stamping out the competition. I was proud of our little company here and while I will admit they were not perfect, I miss them now that I have Rogers and Bell as my only choices.

  8. My Qs for Bell

    Why doesn’t your GAS service match your own retail offerings? The max anyone can get with an independent ISP is 5mbit but you offer upto 16mbit and Why does the new gas service you proposed have usage based billing now when it wasn’t needed before?

  9. Unfortunately it’s just the beginning
    My question to Bell and Rogers and Videotron is …

    Do you throttle the customers that subscribe to your proprietary Movie Download Services in the same way as you throttle the rest of Canadians who aren’t your customers?

    Bell and our government have been in bed with each other for the last few years and every time there’s been a public outcry they just delay their draconian copyright laws and wait for the next opportunity where Canadians are distracted. Isn’t it supposed to be the Prime Minister who protects Canadians from this sort of abuse instead of defending monopolistic corporations as he has been doing since he got into office.

  10. Are you lying now or were lying then ?
    How can you claim major congestion problems and launch a bandwidth hog video store at the same time?

    Why do ISPs that are not content providers seem to not require DPI throttling?

    Why did you choose to DPI throttle over increasing capacity when you failed to foresee an increase in upload demand by consumers?

    Who gave you the right to look in my packets? Your job is to get my packets to and from my house to the internet as fast as possible without looking beyond the headers.

    Imagine you’re a caterer and you need to send two boxes to Vancouver, overnight.

    One box contains cheese and the other, walnuts.

    You go to the shipping company, plunk down your “overnight” money and hand over the boxes.

    After you’ve gone, the shipping company looks in the first box and decides that because it’s perishable, it goes on the plane to Vancouver.

    They look in the second box and decide that the walnuts are not perishable so, they get put on the train to Vancouver.!!

    Cheese arrives on time. Walnuts, a week late.

    You expect the shipping company to look at the address label on the box, not to open it up and arbitrarily decide how fast your goods will travel.

    How do you justify the arbitrary decisions to perform specific protocol based throttling and the speeds to which they are throttled.

    Traffic management … yes !!!

    Service management … no !!!

    Oh ya, don’t give me that ” … there’s plenty of competition so you can switch … ” crap either!

    Here’s hoping the CRTC slams the door on all ISPs looking past the headers.

  11. Teksavvy Customer says:

    If I really had any choice, I’d say no to DPI/throttling. As it is, we’re all left in the dark, while big Telco’s continue picking our pockets.
    If I really had a reasonable choice, I would go with a company that does not use DPI. As far as I know, Teksavvy is the best I could do in my part of Ontario…it currently has a reasonable price with reasonable bandwidth limitations. Unfortunately, Bell has suffered amnesia and is no longer capable of distinguishing a reseller’s network traffic from others…and I get throttling DPI anyway. But if Bell has it’s way, they eventually won’t even be able to distinguish based on price (see here:

    A major problem I have with DPI/throttling I don’t even really know which applications I’m running are affected and which aren’t…so how am I supposed to know the difference between throttling and other problems (hardware/software or otherwise) that could affect the performance of my network applications?

    If there was really competition, I would have a choice. As it is, I don’t. I don’t know how the CRTC or anyone else with sufficient understanding of these issues can say otherwise.

  12. Mississauga Resident says:

    Question to Bell
    To what degree do you consider congestion to your network. For example 90% of your entire network, 85%? 75%? is used? And is the money you spend on infrastructure and such, sufficient to sustain the threshold if it does get congested. If it is, why is throttling necessary?

  13. Can bell please explain why in 2001 I had unlimited internet with no cap or throttle and almost 9 years later they are offering roughly the same speeds with a 2 gig cap and a throttle?

    Have they not been upgrading their networks to keep up with demand?

    And could they please explain their “insurance” offerings for going over the cap?

    This insurance offering mixed with cap overage charge seems like a scam. They have already started to lower the caps on previous caps…

  14. Question to Bell
    How does your application of DPI/throttling compare with that used by the major ISPs in other countries/jurisdictions? (US, EU, Australia, …)

  15. Jesse Skwierawski says:

    Ignoring a CRTC order
    Why does Bell think that it can IGNORE the CRTC order to submit new tariffs for wholesalers for the 7, 10 and 16mbit speed profiles? The CRTC requested tariffs and instead of submitting them, Bell granted itself an illegal stay and redirected the issue to adding UBB. The CRTC should order Bell to immediately open the higher speed tiers and fine them for the delay. Then they should tell Bell to stick UBB up you know where. Wholesalers already pay the GAS tariff and for their own transit.

  16. Why are my point-to-point communications throttled?
    I get my DSL from TekSavvy, and I use SSH to transfer files and backups from my home to my server in a datacenter in Toronto. This is not a peer-to-peer file sharing arangement, it is a point-to-point encrypted connection.

    Why is my connection throttled down to 40k/sec (in EITHER DIRECTION) when it is clearly not the type of traffic (peer-to-peer file sharing) that you claim to be targeting?

  17. Concerned Anonymous says:

    GAS Service Overview
    So the key question for Bell regarding wholesale and GAS is the architecture of the CO – access network – POP network. Are wholesalers really sold a guaranteed throughput on that network? Or is the situation more akin the cable one, where the access network is shared? Of course the last mile of cable is fully shared – but what exactly are the shared parts? The distinction between the last mile, and the access network has not yet been made clear in any discussions so far. The cable companies seemed to imply this is where their congestion lies, but the last mile of dsl doesn’t congest!

    For Bell, their access network may also be completely shared. If that’s the case, are wholesalers given access to the COs to install their own DSLAMs? If that’s the case, why would anyone expect Bell to run more lines just for wholesalers, when the wholesalers could be doing it themselves?

    Someone needs to have everybody at the table draw a picture of their network using cute little icons, and then mark with an X “congestion happens here”. Without that, how do you even know you’re talking about the same things?

  18. Isaac Gordezky says:

    Question about congestion slowdown
    After the recent release of small-size flow routers that have linear slowdown with respect to congestion as opposed to exponential slowdown with traditional routers, how (statistically) is Bell’s throttling technology affecting transfer speeds through a node with respect to the level of congestion on that node ?

  19. Isaac Gordezky says:

    Question about Creative distibution : peering, torrent and upload throttling
    How does Bell expect Canadians to create and share ideas and culture when a) sharing something with my neighbors goes through Toronto if I live anywhere in Ontario ? b) uplink speeds are highly controlled and used as a metric for torrent throttling effectively prohibiting the use of the free worldwide torrent distributed distribution architecture ?

  20. Isaac Gordezky says:

    Local link network
    Does Bell have data on the utilization of the local link (customer-adjacent network) ? How much (bandwidth percent) does IPTV occupy ? What priority is given to IPTV streams , or http streams, or ssh/vpn streams ?

  21. Questions to ask : privacy concerns
    Questions to ask:

    I’d love Bell to specify “How do you address the privacy concerns associated with DPI?”

    -How is the data filtered.
    -How is treated the information filtered by the identification process.
    -Is the information filtered in such manner collected in any way, if so: how it stored? For how long? Who has access to this information? Does the customer give informed consent regarding this process? Who has access to that information?

  22. When will Bell open up our Canadian “pipes” and STOP lying about not having the Technology ?
    With Fiber (optics,….) in place in almost every major metro-area in Canada, Why hasn’t Bell simply offered this to all Canadians. With this technology in place why is Bell going “backwards” and not “forward”. Why is Ma Bell not opening these Internet-capable pipes to all Canadian Households, …

    From May, 2008 to May 2009 I have consistently got ~5.5Mbps (with easy burts of over 6.5Mbps) with Acanac. (Acanac is a 3rd-party supplier of Bell DSL,…)
    Since May,2009 I can no longer achieve higher than 4Mbps.
    Bell’s reason is my degraded line cannot take the BW !!!?
    Upon phoning Bell to subscribe to Max 16 Fiber (upto 16 Mbps) capability to my house, they tested my existing line and emphatically “confirmed” that I have a 17Mbps capability.

    Question #1: How can my “BW” be less than it was last year.
    Question #2: If my “line” is apparently degraded from last year, and my maximum BW is apparently only 4Mbps then how come BELL wants to sell me the “Max 16” package saying their line test proves me at “17Mbps” ???
    Question #3: How can I have 17Mbps capabilty on my existing line and yet NOT have 4Mbps on my same existing line ?!
    Question #4: How does Bell actually “FILTER” my line ?

    There is absolutely no excuse why every Canadian (atleast in Metro-Canada areas) cannot all have +16Mbps and higher without “throttling” -being that most Metro areas in Canada are “Fiberized” already.

  23. Why are we talking about bandwidth hogs?
    When a service is sold to a client, at an advertised speed, why is a customer considered a “hog” by using that speed?

    If a customer wants or needs to use the full bandwidth they are paying for all day every day, why is the customer not allowed to, and why is there not a service offering to accomodate that customer?

  24. Whitelists and throttling
    Bell uses whitelists to target specific types of traffic (i.e. traffic that can be identified as a permitted protocol is not throttled, unidentified traffic ).

    With a whitelisting approach Bell cannot guarantee that they do not target “innocent” protocols (collateral damage). By design, they will throttle new or relatively unknown protocols until, if ever, they are entered into the whitelist. Moreover, if there are no identifiable characteristics in the protocol then it cannot be whitelisted and will be throttled regardless.

    In addition P2P protocols will eventually be designed to look like whitelisted traffic (e.g. HTTP) so that they are indistinguishable or at least drastically increase the number of false positives (falsely identifying whitelisted traffic as throttable).

    The question for Bell is how hard is it willing to prevent false positives?

  25. Whitelists
    Bell uses whitelists to throttle traffic (i.e. all unidentifiable protocols are throttled). Bell does this to overcome encrypted P2P.

    Someone should ask a question about false positives. Particularly, new or relatively unknown protocols. Also false negatives in the case where P2P traffic tries to look like whitelisted traffic resulting in, for example, HTTP traffic being throttled because the system has a hard time distinguishing between the two.

  26. – Why is the network congested when no one uses as much bandwidth as you advertised they will received when they sign up?
    – If the network is congested why don’t you either:
    Be more honest about speeds customers and bandwidth will receive for their money or only sign up the number of users you can handle at the advertised speeds until you increase capacity?
    – What is the minimum speed a customer is to expect and how is that conveyed to the customer before purchase? (Shaw claimed minimum 80 kilobits [10K] /sec which is hilariously slow but I am a shaw customer and I as far as I can tell, this information isn’t available to me anywhere)

  27. Labeling this congestion issue as an illegal content issue has got to be the biggest lie purported by these two company’s.

    Legal games directed to customers via digital content are 7+ gigabytes roughly 1/10th of your monthly allowance,streaming HD content which is rapidly becoming the media of choice can use anywhere from 1 to 4 gbs per movie.Rewarding these company’s for their failure to increase their server capacity’s to sufficiently allow the smooth use of their services under an ever growing LEGAL media content delivery based internet system is not right to say the least.

    The CRTC seems more concerned over the rights of the two company’s “Bell and Rogers” then the rights of the Canadian public who you purport to work on behalf of,there has to be a more open system and clear rules in place governing what is and isn’t acceptable practices.DPI IS illegal under Canadian law and saying anything contrary to this fact is a mere obfuscation of the truth.

    Allowing Bell to hijack and manipulate another carriers “Teksavvy” customers information is disturbing beyond belief,is this the future of Canadian Internet two company’s that can manipulate and stifle their competition through nefarious means,in my opinion Bell’s only recourse to the ever growing threat to it’s market share by Teksavvy was to indeed illegally monitor and throttle another company’s service.This is noway to encourage growth on the other hand this is a perfect way to destroy any form of competition.

  28. Throttling of encrypted traffic?
    At one point Michael Geist wrote a blog about Rogers throttling all encrypted traffic in order to counteract P2P clients using encryption. The thinking at the time was that this would affect ALL encrypted traffic, including VPN, SSL, etc. Does or does not Bell’s traffic shaping throttle non-P2P encrypted traffic?

  29. Why not spend a little on expanding the network.
    Most major CO’s in the GTA are 60% vacant, dark fiber is in the ground everywhere and ducts could be freed up by removing the dead cable placed to prevent competition from accessing these ducts. Why not do the easy thing and expand the network?

    I know why.. Core business is threatened by a free net. These same companies that provide the network also provide content. Throttling is the only way to prevent customers from accessing content elsewhere at cheaper rates or even for free. For example being forced to use the Bell Video Store and throttling other services that provide the same service over p2p at much lower prices.

    Regulating or throttling the net is unacceptable in a free country, it’s THAT simple! Lets follow every other just society and enact neutrality laws!

  30. Network capacity
    Bell, What is your total network capacity, used and unused, and why are there unused portions (which I’m told are significant)if we have this so-called “congestion”

  31. Deep Packet Mining
    If deep packet mining is used to determine information regarding the packet being mined and doing so takes them off the “network” or internet to complete the task and put them back on their way, does this removal create a moment in time when it is no longer on the internet?
    If so, does this mean that the service being provided (access to the internet) is no longer actually an ISP but rather an online service provider similar to that of what AOL was popular for? A service that you must pay to access, not simply access to the internet?

  32. monopolistic behavior and anticombines legislation
    why should Bell continue to be allowed to offer ISP and cable services when they already have an effective monopoly in land line voice services, and have strangled all competition in this area. Why should the CRTC not order your breakup, as the FCC did with ATT in the US?