By Lee Rickwood
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Canada’s Internet regulator, says Rogers has to stop slowing down online gamers.
CRTC has told the telecom provider that it has until Sept. 27 to present a plan to keep online gaming traffic unthrottled.
The notice comes after several complaints filed by online gamers and fans of World of Warcraft in particular.
Massively multiplayer online role-playing games like Warcraft are no trivial matter; in March of this year, WoW alone cited stats showing it had more than 11 million subscribers (worldwide), and that consumer spending on the title reached some $1.4 billion dollars.
Here in Canada, the Canadian Gamers Organization raised the alarm and called attention to the practice of slowing or throttling online gaming speeds, writing to the CRTC and asking it force Rogers to comply with Internet traffic management policies and stop throttling the game.
OpenMedia.ca, a public advocacy group that promotes an open and accessible Internet and its partners also protested the throttling and called attention to the practice.
The issue has been on the burner for some time, and while Rogers acknowledged “inadvertent” throttling, the company also noted that certain speed or download thresholds could continue to have an adverse affect on gaming.
Ken Thompson, the company’s director and counsel for copyright and broadband law, had written to the CRTC that other games and applications could be affected if:
- Other peer-to-peer applications are running at the same time;
- The game or application was misclassified by network traffic management systems, as in the case of World of Warcraft; and
- All the applications classified as peer-to-peer traffic have a combined bandwidth of 80 kilobits per second or more – the threshold that trips its network traffic management system.
A threshold of 80 kbps seems somewhat low, especially in context of various Internet packages offered by the company, none of which speak of speeds less than 256 kbps.
However, some aspects of multi-player games, including WoW, are said to have data fingerprints similar to that of peer-to-peer (P2P traffic, which – appropriate or not – may trigger various provider processes for the management of Internet network data delivery.
Internet throttling, traffic shaping and network management has become a controversial issue lately. Demand for bandwidth, whether triggered by users of multi-player games, online movie watchers or bandwidth intensive activities, is increasing at rates providers say must be managed or paid for in some way to avoid network congestion.
The CRTC agrees to certain extent, and it does allow a slowing or degradation of Internet traffic with prior consent and approval in certain situations, but only as a last resort; economic measures like data caps are often seen as a preferable tool to manage network congestion.
OpenMedia.ca points out however that the CRTC neither performs audits of Internet service providers, nor does it have real teeth to significantly punish ISPs that may violate traffic management rules.
And the gamers’ group, CGO, wants the CRTC to look at other telecom providers and other MMORPGs, like Call of Duty4, Starcraft 2, Diablo 2 and so on.
In other words, game players are very serious!
submitted by Lee Rickwood
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So, What’s Your Tech? Have you noticed WoW slowdowns on Rogers? What about other online games, or other ISPs?