Today I came across a test to see whether an Internet Service Provider (ISP) was throttling Bit Torrent traffic. I thought it would be interesting to test my own ISP and then share this new resource to see if others in Puerto Rico could test their own ISP.
Note: If the preceding paragraph makes no sense to you, if it sounds like techno-babble or gobbly-gook, then I give you my permission to skip this blog post and move onto the next one.
Okay, I assume that if you're still here, then I assume you're already downloading using the Bit Torrent technology. Let's first give some background. Over the past year or so, Internet advocates started learning about efforts by the ISP community to limit or block traffic related to Bit Torrent downloads. The logic given to justify these efforts was that the traffic demands of Bit Torrent downloaders was overwhelming networks and starting to impact ordinary ISP users.
Of course, most Internet aficionados cried foul. The ISP's however, folded these efforts and their defense into the whole debate about network neutrality. What ISP's want and network neutrality is attempting to fight is that some traffic, like downloads and videos, are so network intensive, that the providers of that content should pay more to use the network, as opposed to a "normal" site. Network neutrality claims that all traffic is equal, regardless of the demands it places on the network.
So after finally getting through to the test server, I was able to successfully test my ISP, Liberty Cablevision. A quick note on the test site. The site is very, very busy. So be patient. Well, I'm sad to say, but according to my results, it appears that Liberty is constraining Bit Torrent traffic. While the test indicated that Liberty was not impacting the seeding process, it did appear that they were limiting the download rate on the standard Bit Torrent port. Here is a cut and past from the test results:
Is TCP traffic on a well-known BitTorrent port (6881) throttled?
Your ISP possibly rate limits all downloads at port 6881. In our test, a TCP download on a BitTorrent port achieved at least 1 Kbps while a TCP download on a non-BitTorrent port achieved at least 15 Kbps.
Note that it is hard to detect rate limiting and that there are many explanations why a transfer can observe lower throughput than another transfer. We run the BitTorrent and TCP transfer back-to-back and at least two times to add more confidence to our measurements.
What I'd like to ask is if there are any Dondequiera readers out there who are familiar with Bit Torrent and use another ISP besides Liberty, could you please test your ISP and post the results in the comments? If we can get results from all of the ISPs, then we'll have a better idea of where local ISPs stand in respect to network neutrality. Thanks in advance in helping defend Internet freedom.