ISPs Throttle TV Network

Dennis Faas's picture

Canada seems to be gearing up for a fight between Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Peer-to-Peer file sharing users just as companies in the United States are negotiating common ground.

Last year we reported on Bell Canada's practice of torrent 'throttling'  -- a bandwidth management strategy where users find their file sharing programs suffer significant slow downs or are cut off altogether during peak usage. Despite some minor disapproval, the company has been continuing the practice without serious uproar.

However, that was before the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's recent decision to provide the final episode of its popular television show 'Canada's Next Great Prime Minister' as a DRM- and ad-free download using the Bittorrent protocol. (Source:

As thousands of fans flocked to the web to partake in the CBC's new media experiment, customers of Bell Canada (as well as smaller ISPs that purchase bandwidth from the telecom) found their torrents downloading at unusually slow rates.

Many were quick to accuse Bell of throttling a legitimate use of Bittorrent technology, while the company continues to declare there is nothing wrong or unexpected about its practices.

In fact, there are reports that Bell will actively throttle all P2P traffic across its network as of April 7th. (Source: This comes in the face of last week's announcement in the US by Comcast, America's largest ISP, to work with Bittorrent to find alternatives to torrent throttling.

Rogers, another large Canadian ISP, is also looking at alternatives; the Globe and Mail reported last week that the company has resurrected a failed bandwidth-cap strategy it tried in 2002. Under the new plan, hi-speed customers will be allowed 60 gigabytes of activity per month, and then charge anywhere from $1.25 to $5 for every gigabyte over the base allotment. (

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