ISPs accused of violating net neutrality rules

Apparent throttling, seen as recently as May 2015, contravenes net neutrality protections that ban ISPs from impairing websites, an activist net neutrality group say.

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The slow, buffering video stream that you're seeing during some peak hours may not be caused by the technical limitations of the internet at all, according to a pro-net neutrality activist group.

BattlefortheNet says it has new evidence to prove that ISPs are deliberately slowing the internet down at the interconnections between ISPs and other networks, such as Transit Providers and Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), in order to leverage fees from those other networks.

"AT&T is not provisioning enough ports" to accept the traffic it is requesting, S. Derek Turner of Free Press told me.

The ISPs are objecting to the amount of traffic they have to deliver.

"Large ISPs have degraded the performance of their customers' traffic as a tactic to convince content and application providers to pay added 'tolls' to deliver content that internet users have already requested and paid for," the group's website says.

Ports

Turner thinks that just because consumers' traffic is terminating at AT&T, it shouldn't be slowed.

"The carrier delivering the traffic that AT&T's customers have requested to AT&T's front door is 'termination.' These carriers have to go through AT&T to deliver the traffic to the customer, thus AT&T has a 'terminating access monopoly,'" he told me. 

"We believe it is unreasonable for an ISP to request delivery of data to its network, then fail to provision enough capacity to accept that traffic without a payment from the delivery company," Turner says.

"It would be as if your building manager charged UPS a fee to come inside the lobby and leave a package at your door," he added. "It's a package you already paid UPS to get to your door, which is inside a lobby you pay rent for."

AT&T

Free Press and net neutrality activist group BattlefortheNet reckon that this slowing at the interconnection is tantamount to throttling, and that it contravenes net neutrality protections "won" in February that ban ISPs from blocking or throttling websites.

The traffic is requested by the consumer; that traffic has to go through the ISP to get to the consumer, therefore the ISP is throttling the websites by not opening enough ports, these groups say.

ISP spats with backbone and transit networks are unfairly degrading performance for consumers.

GTT throttling

AT&T consumers in the Los Angeles area had problems accessing content from transit network GTT in May 2015, according to tests run by M-Lab, an Internet performance measuring organization that contributes data to BattlefortheNet.

Speeds in Los Angeles "hovered around 2 Mbps" during the peak hours of 8 pm and 10 pm, according to tests published in a summary report I have seen. I wrote about this report yesterday in a post titled "Report: ISPs slowing internet service on purpose."

Atlanta's GTT traffic saw similar numbers throughout May 2015 from AT&T. Between 11 am and midnight GTT traffic experienced speeds below 2 Mbps, BattlefortheNet says.

In New York, Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon all saw "significant degredation during peak hours across transit provider GTT."

Comcast and Verizon speeds dropped to below 1 Mbps during peak times, according to the report.

Transit provider Tata saw degredation in Seattle during the same period.

Slowdown at the interconnection

BattlefortheNet says that this degraded performance during peak times is caused by a slowdown at the interconnections. That's the point where two networks hand off.

The activist group says it knows that the failure point is there because of the way it has been collecting thousands of speed tests.

"Our research reveals AT&T is failing to provision enough interconnection capacity to backbone carriers GTT and Tata Communications, causing severe degredation to AT&T's customers who attempt to visit the web sites and applications that use these transit companies to deliver traffic," BattlefortheNet says in the summary report that I saw.

They say that's not fair to consumers.

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