The Canadian ISP, Rogers Communications, admitted yesterday that it throttles games like World of Warcraft in its bid to maintain QoS for all customers. The issue came to light when a Rogers subscriber filed a complaint against the company in February. The author details why she believes Rogers is filtering WoW
via deep packet inspection , noting, for example, that running a VPN (Virtual Private Network) prevents players from being kicked out of game randomly.
The complaint then discusses the available evidence that points back to improper throttling on Roger's part.
Rogers employees on their own forums have been stating that these games use P2P to run, which is why they're being throttled, and that the game manufacturer needs to change the game. Add to this, Rogers employees have been telling us gamers to disable any P2P, wait 10 minutes, and try the game again. (For the record, these games do NOT use P2P, never have and never will.) I see this as a CLEAR indication that they're knowingly throttling up/down stream of the entire connection while P2P is active, whether it really IS active, or they just think it is. I don't use P2P at ALL, and yet I'm still affected by this issue because Rogers sees my gaming traffic incorrectly as P2P.(All emphasis original)
When the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) investigated, Rogers owned right up to the issue. The company states: "Our tests have determined that there is a problem with our traffic management equipment that can interfere with World of Warcraft... We recently introduced a software modification to solve the problems our customers are experiencing with World of Warcraft. However, there have been recent changes to the game, which has created new problems. A second software modification to address these new issues will not be ready until June."
Deathwing thinks you're ruining his Internet access—if you don't improve it, he'll have to file a complaint. Very politely.
World of Warcraft doesn't communicate with any sort of P2P client to connect to game servers but does use a P2P client to patch and update game files. This function, however, can be disabled (there's no word on whether or not this affects gameplay when connected to Rogers Communications. We suspect it doesn't work—if Roger's DPI tools were as sophisticated as the company implies, they'd be able to tell the difference between patch distribution and actual gameplay.
It may not be too long before US customers find themselves in a similar snafu. Past discussions of net neutrality have raised the question of whether or not gaming should be treated as a premium service
tier. ISPs are anxious to establish themselves as content providers rather than dumb pipes. Rogers' problems are a good example of why automatic packet inspection isn't a good solution when it comes to saving bandwidth but recent caps and soft limits set by companies like AT&T imply we may be headed in a similar direction.