Rogers to Kill Its Broadband Throttle

Canadian MSO Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI) has reluctantly agreed to stop throttling all Internet traffic starting later this year amid charges from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission that the MSO's bandwidth management policy violated the regulator's network neutrality guidelines.

In a letter to the CRTC, Rogers SVP of Regulatory Affairs Kenneth Engelhart said the MSO would begin to phase out the network management system starting next month. Rogers expects to get half the job done by June and to have the throttling component removed entirely by December 2012.

Multiplayer gamers, including World of Warcraft customers, had been complaining about the MSO's bandwidth management policy.

Last month, the CRTC presented Rogers with evidence that the MSO was violating its rules by throttling some peer-to-peer traffic. The CRTC ran its tests on a Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) traffic management system and found that some unidentified traffic, which used P2P file sharing ports, was subjected to traffic shaping. The CRTC gave Rogers a deadline of Feb. 3 to disprove those findings, provide a compliance plan, or risk facing a show-cause hearing. At the time, Rogers said its engineers were looking into the CRTC's test results, but believed that it was complying with CRTC regulations. (See Rogers Faces P2P Throttling Charge.)

Rogers told the CRTC on Friday that the MSO's own tests showed that "only .005% of real world traffic" fell into the category of unidentified packets on P2P sharing ports.

And Rogers called out the CRTC's testing method, claiming it "was artificial in that it was designed to send a file which would be subject to traffic shaping. Your traffic was not representative of the way our online gaming customers or other customers use the Internet."

Nonetheless, Rogers agreed to reconfigure the Cisco gear so unclassified traffic would not longer face traffic management, "out of an abundance of caution and to allay any concerns which the Commission's investigation may have created."

Why this matters
Rogers's decision puts it on regulatory par with BCE Inc. (Bell Canada) (NYSE/Toronto: BCE), which had already agreed to switch off a similar traffic shaping scheme, and means the MSO likely won't enlist a "protocol agnostic" approach that's now in use by several U.S. MSOs.

Instead, expect Canadian ISPs to continue to rely on bandwidth caps and metered broadband policies that do have the blessing of the CRTC.

For more
Read more about network neutrality and broadband meters and consumption caps.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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