Saturday, March 14, 2009

ISP traffic shaping

As I've written before, I'm using file-sharing every now and than, to download a new version of my Linux distro (and other distros for testing), or to download a TV show which doesn't show in Israel, or I cannot watch by other means. Also, as you may all know, the best way to do so, is using a torrent client, such as Transmission, uTorrent, Vuze, etc.

It seems ISPs in Israel (and probably world wide) are playing a double-game. Their first interest is to sell us as much bandwidth as possible. Only recently a new commercial went on-air telling us how much more music and movies can be downloaded if one would double their bandwidth. On the other hand - it seems some ISPs are doing traffic shaping.

Me and a friend of mine are both subscribers of a large ISP, which has the word "gold" in its name, and we are quite sick and tired of this. After doing some thorough tests, we came to a conclusion that torrent traffic is being limited during most of the day. In those hours, the torrent would download at full throttle only from clients subscribed to the same (our) ISP. As for the rest - download rate was roughly 1KBPS. At about 2AM, the limitation is removed, and all of a sudden those same clients started sending data at blazingly fast rates, which lasted until morning.

What bothers me more is the fact there's no transparency regarding traffic shaping. If I'm being limited - I want to know about it. Some uses are legitimate, and consumers must be aware for those limitations. Moreover, what if other services are "shaped" as well, such as the bandwidth-consuming youtube? I like watching youtube videos at HD, and don't want those to be choppy (and I noticed they sometimes do).

So what do you think? Is your ISP shaping your traffic? Also - what can be done about it?


  1. mmmm... that's interesting...

    I'm subscribed to an ISP with a "vision", and though I did not notice anything, I must admit I never looked. I just leave it over night.

    How exactly did you test it?

    By the way, you can send your ISP a letter requesting that information according to the "freedom of information law". It takes a couple of months, and it can't hurt to go to the media (or at least use it as a threat...).

  2. From what I heard, the "vision"-ary ISP really does limit traffic for certain protocols (BitTorrent).

    Never knew that the "gold"-en ISP does it too.

    This sub-issue is part of the really big issue of net-neutrality that is talked about the last years.

    You should read about it throughout the www.

  3. Dudi,
    Testing this is quite easy, as most popular torrent clients contains statistics which can be viewed.
    As for a letter - first I need to read the fine print of the contract with them (which I never saw).