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Azureus Releases Data From BitTorrent Throttling Plugin
As we knew, Comcast likely not alone in packet skullduggery
by Karl Bode 09:06AM Tuesday Apr 22 2008
While Wikis have been made to track which ISPs throttle BitTorrent traffic, the information has never been all that reliable. The practice of using Wireshark to test your connection is also a little too tricky for some users. So the developers of the BitTorrent client Azureus recently released a client plugin that would test whether an ISP was throttling or disrupting BitTorrent traffic automatically.

Since release of the plugin, Azureus has collected some 1,000,000 hours worth of data from over 8000 users and compiled the data in this report (via Torrent Freak). The data shows that while Comcast is the leader when it comes to forging TCP packets to throttle BitTorrent upstream traffic, they certainly aren't alone (we documented the same practice by Cox last November).

The plug in constantly monitored the rate of network interruptions occurring from RST (“reset”) packets by measuring the total number of attempted network connections and the total number of network connections that were interrupted by a reset message. Comparing the two values, provides the ratio of network connections interrupted by reset messages, some ISPs use less heavy handed network management practices and see are low on the list (Telecom Italia France sits at 2.53%), but here's the top offenders:

Click for full size
Comcast USA 23.72%
Cogeco Canada 19.13%
Emirates Internet UAE 17.86%
Cablevision USA 17.58%
Brasil Telecom Santa Catarina, Brazil 17.43%
TM Net Malaysia 16.80%
BellSouth USA 15.88%
Tedata Egypt 15.33%
Tiscali UK 14.89%
AOL USA 14.88%

"While we cannot conclude definitively that any particular network operator is engaging in artificial or false RST packet behavior, it is possible to compare the median experience of different users operating in different ASNs," says the report. While they admit they need more data, they claim "there is sufficient data to at least raise questions about whether particular network operators are taking steps to artificially interrupt network connections."

Of course with evidence proving Comcast forges TCP reset packets the data is in some way verified, but at the same time the data doesn't differentiate between packet forgery and genuine TCP resets. The inclusion of BellSouth in the list (a carrier that traditionally has dodged this type of heavy handed network management) raises more questions than it answers.

Update:Vuze/Azureus has apparently e-mailed AT&T with their findings, in a quest to find out more. From a letter sent from Vuze CEO Gilles BianRosa to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson:
quote:
…while we appreciate the methodological limitations of our data, and therefore have drawn no firm conclusions from it, we believe the results show a significant enough difference in the level of resets from one network operator to another, to warrant asking certain network operators to describe their network management practices. In reviewing our data we have identified that the rate of reset activity in the ASN pertaining to your company appears to be higher than many others.

view:
topics flat nest 

Matt3
All noise, no signal.
Premium
join:2003-07-20
Jamestown, NC
kudos:12

1 edit

Bellsouth?

Wow, that's surprising. It almost makes me question their data collection methods, especially since they were unable to create a control group.

There are a lot of variables that could come into play for the ISP's that only show up once on that list. If you look at the number of times Comcast shows up, that makes sense. But some of those ISPs that only show up one time, with 20 users surveyed and an 11% RST rate ... well, that bring their data collection and analysis methods into question.

DrModem
Trust Your Doctor
Premium
join:2006-10-19
USA
kudos:1

1 recommendation

Re: Bellsouth?

Bellsouth = ATT = BAD

moonfish

join:2007-09-13
Memphis, TN
I have to agree, one of the reasons I switched from Comcast to BellSouth was because I couldn't use BitTorrent on Comcast. I've never had an issue with torrents on BellSouth/AT&T.

David
I start new work on
Premium,VIP
join:2002-05-30
Granite City, IL
kudos:101
That makes me wonder as well, I even get the RST's on my bit torrents.

I am wondering on the data collection as well. My torrents when I do them always seem to go through regardless. They are not any more delayed than any others.
nasadude

join:2001-10-05
Rockville, MD
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

doesn't matter

it doesn't matter who does what - soon the internet will be just another part of our life that corporations totally own and control.

I'm sure in the near future there will be the option to pay for not having applications be interfered with.

and the beat goes on; them that can pay, gets to play.

dnoyeB
Ferrous Phallus

join:2000-10-09
Southfield, MI
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Comcast

Re: doesn't matter

Not really. Competition can keep companies from getting away with this too much. And when they start into anti-trust behaviors there are the attourneys general. And the ACLU.

Maybe they get there, maybe they don't. I have no intention on making that easy for them. I would leave comcast myself if I had a choice...
--
dnoyeB
"Then said I, Wisdom [is] better than strength: nevertheless the poor man's wisdom [is] despised, and his words are not heard. " Ecclesiastes 9:16

Matt3
All noise, no signal.
Premium
join:2003-07-20
Jamestown, NC
kudos:12

Re: doesn't matter

said by dnoyeB:

Not really. Competition can keep companies from getting away with this too much. And when they start into anti-trust behaviors there are the attourneys general. And the ACLU.

Maybe they get there, maybe they don't. I have no intention on making that easy for them. I would leave comcast myself if I had a choice...
Your last sentence is telling and all too common. We won't see competition any time soon. I have a choice of 4 providers; Road Runner, North State Communication (local ILEC), Clearwire, and some EVDO flavor. The only desirable option is who I chose, North State. The rest either have terrible latency or low speeds. And I'm likely one of the lucky folks with more than 1 or 2 choices available to them.

insomniac84

join:2002-01-03
Schererville, IN

Re: doesn't matter

I just hope your not serious about listing wireless as competition against wired broadband.

Matt3
All noise, no signal.
Premium
join:2003-07-20
Jamestown, NC
kudos:12

Re: doesn't matter

said by insomniac84:

I just hope your not serious about listing wireless as competition against wired broadband.
I am. For some people, it's perfectly acceptable. I actually have to tell a lot of the sales guys I support to turn it off when they hard-wire in, otherwise they have no idea they are still using their EVDO connections.

I have EVDO through work and while it can range from worse than dial-up to not too bad, I cringe when I have to use it.

insomniac84

join:2002-01-03
Schererville, IN

Re: doesn't matter

I am sorry, but wireless is not a replacement for everything. And until it is, it is not valid to be counted as such.
nasadude

join:2001-10-05
Rockville, MD
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
said by dnoyeB:

Not really. Competition can keep companies from getting away with this too much. ....
what competition? I got comcast or dialup with nothing else on the near horizon.

banditws6
Shrinking Time and Distance
Premium
join:2001-08-18
Frisco, TX
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable

Re: doesn't matter

Same here. There is no FIOS. There is no DSL (too far from CO, it's been the same problem for eight years now). Satellite is essentially useless for my needs, with the latency and the ludicrous throttling. How many others are in the same predicament?

Comcast doesn't appear to be interfering with torrents in this area yet, but if they start, what am I supposed to do -- pull my USR Courier 33.6 out of the closet and say "Screw you, Comcast" as I sign up for AOL dialup? I'm an IT contractor and I use my Internet connection daily for work. If it comes to it, I'll have to let torrents go rather than throw the baby out with the bathwater. Competition my ass.
--
"I'll follow the law until it's just stupid." -Ted Nugent
EPS4

join:2008-02-13
Hingham, MA

The problem...

remains that we don't know how many of these RST packets are forged, or are legitimate.

Cabal
Premium
join:2007-01-21
Reviews:
·Suddenlink

Re: The problem...

said by EPS4:

remains that we don't know how many of these RST packets are forged, or are legitimate.
Ding ding. RST packets are a normal part of the BitTorrent protocol.
--
Interested in open source engine management for your Subaru?

funchords
Hello
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-11
Yarmouth Port, MA
kudos:6

Re: The problem...

said by Cabal:

RST packets are a normal part of the BitTorrent protocol.
No, they absolutely are not. RST is part of the TCP protocol, and should only happen if the distant peer has gone offline or crashed. Yes, this happens. I documented that in my original report.

If someone is seeing results north of 10%, it should be checked out. If it isn't in the users' own LAN, then it probably will turn out to be spoofing by either the ISP or one of its transit providers.

Either way, a trace will be needed.
--
Robb Topolski -= funchords.com =- Hillsboro, Oregon
wierdo

join:2001-02-16
Tulsa, OK

Re: The problem...

said by funchords:

If someone is seeing results north of 10%, it should be checked out. If it isn't in the users' own LAN, then it probably will turn out to be spoofing by either the ISP or one of its transit providers.
Sadly, that's probably pretty common thanks to screwed up NAT appliances dropping things on the floor, especially under the high connection loads that most BitTorrent clients generate.

It goes like this:
1) NAT box runs out of space in table, drops old connections
2) Packet comes in from remote peer that NAT box no longer knows about
3) NAT box sends RST to remote peer
4) Local machine tries to use the connection it still considers open
5) Remote end sends back RST

To both ends this looks like a middlebox spoofing an RST. The same thing can happen in some operating systems even without a NAT box, as certain OSes don't handle enormous volumes of open connections very well.

It will continue to be a problem as long as vendors try to get away with selling SOHO routers that have almost no RAM. I used to have that happen to me (obviously not from BitTorrent) back when I was using a 386 with 4MB of RAM as my (dial up, later ISDN) router many years ago, and that had the advantage of swap space.

I suspect Comcast originally thought their illegitimate RSTs would be mostly attributed to the poorly implemented user equipment. I wouldn't be surprised if BellSouth is so high on the list because they were giving away some particularly poor router to new customers.
--
It's wierdo, not weirdo. Yes, I know that's not the 'proper' spelling of the similar english language word.

DrModem
Trust Your Doctor
Premium
join:2006-10-19
USA
kudos:1

AOL?

How did anyone even notice the throttling there :P

Pichin

join:2001-07-01
Oviedo, FL

1 edit

Re: AOL?

said by DrModem:

How did anyone even notice the throttling there :P
Better yet... Who still uses AOL?

AOL_RULZ

@aol.com

Re: AOL?

said by Pichin:

Better yet... Who still uses AOL?
There are still a few of us left.

ThoughT2010

@sonotechnique.ca

Re: AOL?

I currently work for RoadRunner (Time Warner Cable), all AOL high speed customers were transferred to RoadRunner, AOL is no longer high speed internet provider.

AOL's high speed was leased from TWC to begin with anyways.

POB
Res Firma Mitescere Nescit
Premium
join:2003-02-13
Stepford, CA

what's the deal here

That Cox throttles is not surprising...I see it all the time, however, with one exception. There is a site with hockey games where it is mandatory to seed and I'm seeing download speeds of 500 kb/s or better. I don't see that with any other torrent files. It may start out at over 100 kb/s, but Cox quickly throttles that down to 25. So what is the likely reason I'm seeing 500 this morning...timeframe?
--
The Toll

Let's Go Flyers!

Transmaster
Don't Blame Me I Voted For Bill and Opus

join:2001-06-20
Cheyenne, WY

Comcast

A friend of mine has Comcast as his only choice and when we are conferencing on Skype and there are more then 3 of us in the group Comcast's packet shaping just murders his connection he is consently dropping out.
--
Send a prayer to Allah, eat Beans.

pg2andRST

@verizon.net

fale positives

if you have an ip blocking filter such as peerguardian.. you may want to disable that and get the internal azureus ip filter if your reporting RST data blocking... every 10 minutes there will be huge block of RST's but no noticeable degradation of bandwidth. you will only see the real thing if you let azureus filter ips for you.

Combat Chuck
Too Many Cannibals
Premium
join:2001-11-29
Verona, PA

Re: fale positives

said by pg2andRST :

if you have an ip blocking filter such as peerguardian.. you may want to disable that and get the internal azureus ip filter if your reporting RST data blocking... every 10 minutes there will be huge block of RST's but no noticeable degradation of bandwidth. you will only see the real thing if you let azureus filter ips for you.
However, that doesn't mean the aggregate data is necessarily bad because, for the most part, there's going to be the same percentage of people using PG on each of the networks.
--
I never though that we would end up here;
When fascism comes as an angel of light;
Its license parading as tyranny drives forth its son.
nitzan
Premium,VIP
join:2008-02-27
kudos:8

I wonder...

If it would be possible to launch a class action suit against Comcast. (and other ISPs doing this)
--
Nitzan Kon, CEO
Future Nine Corporation

rob_in_chatt
Premium
join:2004-09-17
Chattanooga, TN

Re: I wonder...

said by nitzan:

If it would be possible to launch a class action suit against Comcast. (and other ISPs doing this)
id say that 90 percent of bit torrent traffic is used for illegal activities such as movie and tv show downloads. that is a violation of the comcast t.o.s. and you could end up screwing yourself if you tried to sue.
nitzan
Premium,VIP
join:2008-02-27
kudos:8

Re: I wonder...

90% is not 100%, and they have no way to prove it's illegal.

Just because they THINK it's illegal doesn't mean it is. It's kinda like if you went out drinking and a cop would arrest you because you own a car and MIGHT drive drunk later. Sounds ridiculous, right? what's the difference here? Comcast thinks you're violating the TOS, but unless they can PROVE it, they should take no action against you.
--
Nitzan Kon, CEO
Future Nine Corporation

DaneJasper
Sonic.Net
Premium,VIP
join:2001-08-20
Santa Rosa, CA
kudos:9

Results look bogus

For our AS (7065) this report shows over 14% resets, a value that would imply that there is some sort of throttling in place. However, we don't do anything to any traffic.

This really makes me question the numbers and the basic assumptions in this document.

-Dane

xenoamr

@tedata.net

TE data

Well TE data scored 15.33%. So can I be sure they are sending fake RSTs or it might be their medicore speedtouch routers ?