Tag Archives: Internet service providers

Bell wins throttling case

Bell Canada has won a case that went to the CRTC about peer-to-peer throttling.

In April, the Canadian Association of Internet Providers complained to the CRTC because Bell was using traffic shaping techniques to slow P2P traffic on both its network and the networks of DSL Internet resellers (because of Bell’s telephone monopoly, it is required to sell wholesale net access to companies at government-set rates).

The CAIP argued that this was unfair and unnecessary. Bell argued the opposite.

The CRTC took Bell’s side on the case, in a decision which is pretty well uninteresting otherwise. The only caveat: Bell will have to inform its resellers at least 30 days in advance of similar changes in the future.

Despite the apparentloss to net neutrality advocates, Michael Geist says it’s not the last word on the subject, and there’s still hope.

UPDATE: Geist has some quick reactions from Bell and the CRTC.

Videotron discovers Mac

Waiting only 23 years after the media-glitzed introduction of the Apple Macintosh, cable Internet provider Videotron has decided to start supporting the operating system used by hundreds of thousands of Quebecers.

I can’t find the press release online, so whether this will apply to subcontracted technicians who have never heard of Macs isn’t clear.

At this rate, they should have basic Linux support by 2020.

UPDATE: Roberto forwarded me the press release:

The only provider with in-house experts for Mac support

Videotron now supports Apple/Mac platform

Montréal, December 17, 2007 — Videotron has announced that it now supports the Apple/Mac platform in its regular customer service operations. The move will benefit the growing proportion of Videotron subscribers who use Macs. Customer service, technical support and technical quality staff have already received training to enable them to guide customers towards connectivity solutions between Apple/Mac systems and Videotron’s service.

“As the only major Internet Services Provider in its service area to support Apple/Mac users with in-house experts capable of solving Internet-related problems of all kinds on Apple/Mac platforms, we are proud to be able to serve this growing customer group,” said Manon Brouillette, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Content and Product Development.

Supported applications
Forty Videotron customer service employees have received training and are able to advise Apple/Mac users on setting up Mac software such as Apple Mail, browsers and Mac OS 10.x and higher, including Jaguar v10.2, Panther v10.3, Tiger v10.4 and even Leopard v10.5, the release of which was announced in October. Like other Videotron services, this support is available 24/7.

“With the booming popularity of Apple and Mac products today, we are confident that our decision to support these platforms and meet all the needs and challenges involved will have a very positive impact on customer satisfaction,” said Manon Brouillette.

As of January 2008, Videotron will be offering Mac users an Internet kit that has been fully redesigned for Apple/Mac systems, including installation CD, modem box and documentation.

Security on the Mac

Videotron has decided not to offer any security services for Apple/Mac products for now, since Apple/Mac systems have little vulnerability to security threats. However, the growth of Apple’s market share may eventually lead to the introduction of Mac security systems similar to what is available for PCs.

Videotron Ltd. (www.videotron.com), a wholly owned subsidiary of Quebecor Media Inc., is an integrated communications company engaged in cable television, interactive multimedia development, Internet access services, cable telephony and wireless telephone service. Videotron is a leader in new technologies with its illico interactive television system and its broadband network, which supports high-speed cable Internet access, analog and digital cable television, and other services. As of September 30, 2007, Videotron was serving 1,616,000 cable television customers in Québec, including 720,000 illico subscribers. Videotron is the Québec leader in high-speed Internet access, with 899,000 subscribers to its cable modem service. As of September 30, 2007, Videotron had activated 39,000 phones on its wireless telephone service and was providing cable telephone service to nearly 574,000 Québec households and organizations.

Internet providers have better things to do than monitor my bandwidth

Le Devoir has an article today claiming that Bell and Videotron deliberately ignore unusual increases in clients’ Internet bandwidth usage which might tell them that someone is gaining access to their connection without their knowledge.

The logic is simple: They can see clearly when bandwidth usage goes up, but they don’t warn the customer because they profit heavily off bandwidth overage charges.

Thing is, I’m not terribly convinced that’s the answer.

First of all, there’s an assumption that Internet Service Providers like high-bandwidth users. But they don’t. They hate peer-to-peer networks and other bandwidth-intensive activities. The vast majority of Internet users are well below their monthly quota, and the difference between the two is free bandwidth the companies are not eager to give away. There’s also the problem that a high-bandwidth user will slow the connections of other users on the network.

Secondly, I have no reason not to believe the providers’ PR-clouded appeal to their own laziness. They say they don’t have the resources to check every account for unusual activity (and if they do for one customer, they’ll be expected to do it for all). They’d have to hire tons of new people just to do this (and they won’t, of course; they’ll just pull people off technical and customer service). They’d have to do it on a schedule more often than once a month (because that’s when people are billed for excessive bandwidth use), and that’s really not feasible.

Similarly, the comparison with credit card companies and banks is a bit silly. These organizations deal directly with money, which is very important. You might get charged $30 for maxing out on bandwidth for one month, but it’s hardly the end of the world.

Finally, this isn’t an exact science. An increase in bandwidth usage might mean someone’s stealing your Wi-Fi, or it might mean your grandson is over for the holidays and is playing Halo 3 all day. And how many Wi-Fi leechers really run up the bandwidth meter anyway?

Just my two cents. (That doesn’t put me over the limit, right?)

Networks need investment, so invest

An industry-funded study has “shown” that the Internet faces “brownouts” or bandwidth saturation as early as 2010, if Internet service providers don’t improve the “last mile” of their networks, spending billions of dollars installing fibre-optic cable to replace coaxial cable and twin-wire phone lines.

So, uhh, why don’t they just do that then?

I’m not going to be all Huffington Post about this and suggest it’s a big conspiracy to control what we see on the Internet, but you have to admit the timing of an industry-funded survey that pulls figures out of its ass is kind of suspicious.

We’ll see in the coming weeks if industry leaders propose “innovative solutions” to this problem.