My thoughts on packet shaping by ISP

It is not unknown that there are providers (including mine) that shape the packets, especially the micro packets that are used by p2p networks, such as Skype, Torrent Clients, Usenet, and others. Their excuse of course is that they have a specific amount of bandwidth available, and with everybody using the internet there are peak hours. And to ensure that everybody can use it, they have to do this traffic shaping so more important content gets delivered quicker, as a better experience for everybody. Sure, that does sound reasonable. But it is not.

The world is not made out of sending an email and loading a web site. We talk for hours on Skype with 10 people, we have meetings, we have fun discussions. We support the open source community by sharing what we download, such as linux distributions or podcasts. We buy content from iTunes and Amazon such as TV, Movies, and Music. We read eBooks and we chat with others on IRC and other IM clients, and discuss current affairs with attachments on Usenet / BBS / Social Networks. We have our own web sites, we have blogs, we have data such as images on Flickr and what not.. all in all, additional data that also is as important as a stupid email with another LOLCAT from mom or dad – which, we already read about on social networks, etc.

So .. why punish one group of people, who are the now generation of the internet and give priority to the old generation? Because in my eyes, it’s just that! Well, the answer is businesses. They do not use p2p, voip, usenet, etc and agree that it is probably used by only pirates (see above paragraph to see that isn’t the case). And they are the ones that pay the big bills to the providers. Business accounts, data centers, hosting providers, etc make good money from their corporate and enterprise clients, and they have their customers that do not think and just google and email that are the majority of their customers. So, waiting for a slow email is not an option. Slow down the rest, so it can come through and everybody has a guaranteed speed.


No. NO !@! NO@!# ffs! NO

Not right. They guarantee a speed, you have a contract with the provider that they promise to, at all times, do their best to provide you with the products and services you buy from them. This does not say or mean: Knowingly shaping the traffic so you take longer to get what you need, at a lower speed.

Think about it like this, and feel free to tell me why I am wrong:

If you buy a bread at a bakery for an x amount you get a full bag of slices of bread, which for example, are around 19 or 20 slices. You understand, they guarantee you a full bag, but depending on what’s available or how it was offered, you might get 18, 19, or 20, or 21 slices.

Now .. Imagine you go around breakfast time, where it is quite busy in the bakery and you pay for a full bag again for the same x amount. You look at the bag, it has around 19 or 20 slices. You smile and pay the bill, then you go home and open the bag. And look! Every third slice is only half the size.

You go back to the bakery and inquire why. They say that due to traffic hours they have to ensure everybody gets bread. So as a result they remove every 4th slice, or cut every 3rd slice in half. Everybody still gets a full bag, and everybody pays for it. And everybody walks home happy. Eating the same amount might mean you have to go back and get more, but it takes a bit longer.

So, are you happy paying the same amount, for getting less?

I rather have them be honest. And advertise their services (and stick to it) in such a manner:

– Pay X per month, get 12 Mbit guaranteed, speeds can go up to 24mbit.

Rather than:

– Pay X per month, get 24Mbit (up until reasonable due to techn. limits). But without letting you know at various unknown times during the day, and this might increase over time, we shape your traffic and you only get 50% or worse.

The same goes for the time: Let me know when you have your traffic hours. I will keep it in mind and work around it. So I can get full speed, and you get less stress during traffic hours.

The same goes for traffic limit: Do not tell me unlimited, but apply a fair use. And each month it is a risk. Tell me a cap of 250 GB or something reasonable, and we can keep it in mind, and schedule when we download someting.

Transparency is important. Vague sales terms are misleading.

Am I unhappy with my ISP? No. Not at all. I pay my bill, I have a certain internet behavior, but it is horrible to experience VOIP going bad, downloading slowing down, etc, while paying for a full account with no limits.