Canadian lawmakers are debating network neutrality as it reviews industry comments submitted in response to its crtchearings last month on the subject. Why is this such a big deal? It is estimated that 80% of Internet traffic is caused by 5% of the population. This 5% is causing all the traffic using P2P applications such as BitTorrent which is optimized in many cases to hog bandwidth.

The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission is expected in November to issue guidelines for Canadian ISPs on how to manage Internet traffic and congestion. Cable companies and network management software providers issued their comments at the end of July for the CRTC to review.

Among the comments was a late submission from BitTorrent. You’ll recall that back in 2008, the then FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said he would recommend barring U.S. ISP Comcast from using P2P network traffic management technologies to slow down or block traffic to and from P2P sites such as BitTorrent. Comcast and BitTorrent later agreed to work together to solve rich media content and network capacity management problems.

Now, BitTorrent, which is based in San Francisco, is targeting ISPs in Canada. Some ISPs in Canada have been using various network traffic management practices to slow down BitTorrent performance. In its submission to Robert Morin, secretary general of the CRTC , BitTorrent claims there are “misconceptions” over the effect of its P2P application on the Internet, saying that there “has been an overstatement of the effect of such applications on network congestion.” It claims that its software and services are “devoted to making the Internet more efficient for consumers, publishers and network operators.”

BitTorrent criticizes “discriminatory network management” as having the “potential to stifle existing technologies in their infancy as well as new technology development.” It adds “network management need not run afoul of the principles of network neutrality and ISPs can effectively manage their users that induce congestion rather than discriminate against the general use of a specific application.”

It goes on to describe P2P as a cost-effective method to reach an audience, adding that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in March 2008 distributed the final episode of its reality television program Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister for download via BitTorrent. However, BitTorrent says the download times for many Canadian users was longer due to the traffic management practices of several Canadian ISPs. It claims that it works with the ISP community to solve problems such as Internet congestion.

BitTorrent notes that moving large media files via the Internet can “overwhelm weak links in the network”, adding that the problem is driven by the popularity of consuming media on the Internet, and not a P2P problem. Rather, P2P “enables unreliable peers to be aggregated into a very reliable and efficient delivery system.”

BitTorrent explains that it is offering ISPs its technology called “uTP“, a transport service on top of UDP. It describes uTP as putting a “yield sign” in front of any traffic sent by the client and gives way to other applications that need the network. BitTorrent is trying to gain acceptance of uTP within the IETF and is co-chairing (alongside a Microsoft rep) a working group aimed at dealing with network congestion issues.

BitTorrent said it worked with Comcast to implement a network management policy that manages heavy users, rather than applications. And only in times of intense congestion.

As we’ve discussed before, when employees are at home, they can decide for themselves whether they want to use P2P services such as BitTorrent on their own networks. But when it’s on the company’s network, it becomes the company’s responsibility. Cisco NetFlow with Scrutinizer’s Flow Analytics can monitor Internet traffic and identify P2P activity.

We’ve also discussed how ISPs can fix congestion problems. Fixing the issue may not mean immediate intervention with traffic flows rather, sometimes a NetFlow billing solution for traffic above a threshold during peak hours is the best way to encourage customers to police themselves.

p2pAlarms

For in-depth reports about the CRTC hearings, go to CBCnews.ca, and in particular the story headlined “CRTC to decide on new rules for internet service providers“.

Jake Bergeron author pic

Jake

Jake Bergeron is currently one of Plixer's Sr. Solutions Engineers - He is currently responsible for providing customers with onsite training and configurations to make sure that Scrutinizer is setup to their need. Previously he was responsible for teaching Plixer's Advanced NetFlow Training / Malware Response Training. When he's not learning more about NetFlow and Malware detection he also enjoys Fishing and Hiking.

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