updated 03:45 pm EST, Sun December 25, 2011
Bell backs off traffic limits after CRTC decision
Bell Canada has backed off of plans to throttle peer-to-peer traffic on its network following a CRTC decision that could make it illegal. As of March 1, neither Bell itself nor wholesalers on its network will see connections slow down when BitTorrent or similar traffic goes through. The Internet provider spun the decision as a reflection of a "diminishing" ratio of peer-to-peer traffic in favor streaming and other means of getting the same content.
The gesture wouldn't stop Bell from continuing to investigate its options. A decision to support capacity-based billing was partly instrumental in dropping the shaping techniques, the carrier said.
A loosening up of the network follows a long backlash and legal changes to Bell's attempt earlier this year to force caps on smaller providers. Although the CRTC was initially in favor, the government stepped in and said it would require changes to the rules if it insisted on the largely Bell-supported cap policy.
The new CRTC rules demand that Internet providers only throttle and otherwise restrict their connections where there is a "defined need" for it, such as an overburdened network or specific circumstances. It prefers that Internet providers either charge for heavy use of any kind or else upgrade the network itself. Many critics of throttling have often labeled it an attempt to postpone network upgrades that would be necessary regardless of what's active.
Bell's actions were having a significant impact on not just torrents but on many services that use peer-to-peer to distribute content, such as some video and voice services.
Rogers is the only major Canadian Internet provider left that still throttles specific kinds of traffic and is already in trouble with the CRTC for the effect its shaping has had on World of Warcraft and some other games. It too many have to back off with no clear need to slow down traffic on legal and relatively low-demand apps. [via Michael Geist, image via The Globe and Mail]