Saturday, April 26, 2008

Is Net Neutrality only an issue to Keep ISPs honest?

Unless you haven't been on many of the news sites, such as Digg, you probably don't know much about the topic called Net Neutrality.  The basic premise of Net Neutrality is that ISPs (Internet Service Providers) should not be allowed to discriminate on the different types of traffic that passes through their networks and instead to treat each type of traffic equally regardless of what it is.  By not discriminating, we mean they shouldn't slow down certain types of traffic in favour of others. 

Having said that it came out the Bell Sympatico (the service that I'm subscribed to) has an ongoing practice of slowing down (Packet Shaping) P2P and online video traffic between the hours of 4 pm and 2 am, where they see a peak in traffic.  Now Bell's argument for this is, that they have to do this in order to allow everyone to use there network, as they say that a minority (5% to 10% of users) are consuming about 33% of their bandwidth

But the bad part of this is that they have begun to do this to their Third Party ISP subscribers.  Teksavvy Solutions has come out to say that they have notice, as well as their customers, that there Internet traffic has been coming in a lot slower lately.  After some investigation Teksavvy was able to determine that it was in fact Bell that was slowing down there traffic, which is kind of bad for Teksavvy since they advertise that they do not discriminate against the types of traffic that passes through there networks. 

Looking at all of this I have to say that this behaviour from Bell and other ISPs (as Bell isn't the only one doing this) sucks.  In truth, if this is what Bell and the other ISPs have to do in order to keep me receiving my Internet service, I am more than for it, as I understand that when the Internet was started it really wasn't envisioned that people would be using it for video and other types of traffic.  Having said that, these ISPs should not be selling to there clients that they are giving them "Unlimited Internet perfect for streaming video on the Internet" (as one of Bells TV ads stated), and not giving us unlimited. 

If ISPs simply advertised that you get so many Gigs of download and that between the hours of 4pm and 2 am you may experience slower download speeds due to increased volumes of traffic, I don't think anyone would have a problem with that.  But they don't and instead they go to the government (at lest in the US) asking the regulator to introduce a law that allows them to continue to discriminate against various types of traffic, all the while maintaining that they are offering unlimited Internet. 

In truth I just don't understand why ISPs just can't be honest with their customers.  If they were I think they would find more support for what they are doing and we would have to waste the time of regulators. 

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