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Canada Networking Games

ISP's War On BitTorrent Hits World of Warcraft 252

Posted by Soulskill
from the collateral-damage dept.
jfruhlinger writes "Canadian Internet users have the prospect of a metered Internet looming over their head, and now World of Warcraft players who use Rogers Communications as their ISP are encountering serious throttling. The culprit seems to be Rogers' determination to go after BitTorrent. WoW uses BitTorrent as a utility to update game files — something most users probably aren't even aware of."
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ISP's War On BitTorrent Hits World of Warcraft

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  • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Monday March 28, 2011 @10:17PM (#35648148)
    I'm sure a lot of us saw this coming. Back when I was living in some apartments, the only broadband was a cable company (Ygnition) that does apartment complexes, etc. Little choice for broadband providers. So I went with them. Their TOS forbid bit torrent by name. Thankfully, it was either an empty threat or they knew enough about what was going on to ignore WoW update traffic.
    • I'm sure a lot of us saw this coming.

      Yup.

      Every time there's a story on here about some ISP going after BT traffic, I mention WoW.

      Sure, yes, there's a lot of pirated stuff moving across BitTorrent. The big torrent trackers like ThePirateBay are all aimed at piracy... But there's a lot of legitimate traffic moving across BitTorrent as well.

      It is a terrific way to reduce the amount of bandwidth you need to distribute something to a large number of people - which is why Blizzard uses it for WoW (does SC2 use it too? Will Diablo 2?) updates. Bu

      • perfect example: on my current BT "session" I've uploaded over 60 Gig, every bit of which is completely legal.

        I'm seeding Ubuntu and Knoppix ISOs. I seriously hope that they don't "kill" bittorrent, as it is one of the most efficient ways of moving large files around.

  • "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."
  • Did some digging (Score:5, Informative)

    by masterwit (1800118) * on Monday March 28, 2011 @10:29PM (#35648258) Journal

    I don't play WOW myself but I hate selective service blocking...found this digging around for a couple of minutes:

    Thank you for your letters of February 23rd and 25th, 2011 regarding the impact of Rogers Internet traffic management practices (ITMP) on the interactive game called World of Warcraft.

    Our tests have determined that there is a problem with our traffic management equipment that can interfere with World of Warcraft. We have been in contact with the game manufacturer and we have been working with our equipment supplier to overcome this problem.

    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.

    We have determined that the problem occurs only when our customers are simultaneously using peer-to-peer file sharing applications and running the game. Therefore we recommend turning off the peer-to-peer setting in the World of Warcraft game and ensuring that no peer-to-peer applications are running on any connected computer. Rogers will engage our customers to ensure they are aware of these recommendations, while continuing to work on a longer term solution.

    We sincerely regret the inconvenience that some of our customers have experienced in playing World of Warcraft and will continue to work with the game supplier and our technology supplier to solve the remaining problems as soon as possible. source [battle.net]

    (I have doubts about that portion above in bold.)

    • by antdude (79039)

      Isn't Blizzard downloader a sharing application for WoW?

    • by Kenja (541830)
      Given that the Blizzard World of Warcraft updater is a separate bittorrent client/application that runs in the background while playing the game, there is truth to their statement.
    • by Bieeanda (961632)
      The Blizzard patcher service, which is Bittorrent based, can be set to run in the background while you're in game: you play, and a portion of your bandwidth gets pinched off to update other players who haven't got the latest patch. It spells that out immediately after the portion you've bolded, actually: don't let the patcher run while you're in game, if you don't want it (or Rogers, by extension) fucking around with your throughput.

      Hell, this can be a problem even without caps: if you saturate your upstrea

      • Hell, this can be a problem even without caps: if you saturate your upstream with a torrent seed or twenty, or don't think to throttle that big queue of Linux ISOs you're uploading to an FTP, your ping times will go through the roof and Warcraft performance will go straight into the Dalaran sewer.

        I don't think the Blizzard patcher allows you to change such settings. I used to play WoW and I swear my ISP was throttling my bandwidth when it came to bittorrent. I almost never used it but to get Linux distros and and WoW patches; I'd see the first five minutes had good bandwidth then it would suddenly drop to lower than dialup speeds. It made getting patches on patch day a pain in the butt especially if a raid was planned. Half the raid would be offline waiting for the patch to download.

        • by X0563511 (793323)

          There's an all-or-nothing switch - you can't throttle it or set limits, and of course you can't use your own torrent client to download it.

          And the non-p2p download (via HTTP I believe) is slow as fuck, comparatively.

          • You can use your own client to download the patches via P2P. WoWWiki provides a list of mirrors, as well as the original torrent file used by the Blizzard Downloader client. You can even pull the file directly out of the game folder and add it to your client manually.

            http://www.wowwiki.com/Patch_mirrors [wowwiki.com]
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by eternaleye (1998244)
        Interestingly, that's not supposed to happen. The original design of the internet (specifically, the congestion control mechanism) doesn't account for the massive buffers routers carry nowadays, and relies on packet overflows resulting in packets being dropped immediately, rather than after some enormous buffer fills up. Those buffers completely screw over latency during large transfers, a symptom of which is the ping lag you mention - because the buffer slows the response to overflow, the congestion contro
    • Hasn't Rogers throttled torrent traffic during peak time for a while now? You max out at 30kb/s.

      Oh and WoW's shitty torrent client does not play well with slower dsl lines. We used to have a 3mb/768k line and the client would max out my upload and then strangle the download speed to almost nothing. Large updates could take days. I found a program that runs on Windows 7 called Netlimiter where you can throttle bandwidth for individual applications. Now the updater gets limited to 10k up, fuck 'em.

      • Hasn't Rogers throttled torrent traffic during peak time for a while now? You max out at 30kb/s.

        Holy crap dude... I knew you North Americans had it bad when it came to ISP interference, but that's just awful. As we speak my uTorrent is hitting about 2MByte/sec (which is exactly what my DSL line is rated for - 16MBit) on the latest Simpsons and Family Guy episodes...

        Are file upload sites (Rapidshare, Netload and so on) an alternative? Plain HTTP downloads, so no throttling, theoretically?

      • by X0563511 (793323)

        Yea. They can't be bothered to let you type a fucking limit yourself, or yet you use a real client to download the thing.

        I think that part is what pisses me off the most. I've posted the suggestion countless times in the bugs forum, been told countless times they would take it under consideration....

        • by Luckyo (1726890)

          .torrent file for every update is in its own folder. Just open it in utorrent or similar client, select correct update directory and off you go.

    • Re:Did some digging (Score:4, Informative)

      by Pantero Blanco (792776) on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @12:19AM (#35649034)

      We have determined that the problem occurs only when our customers are simultaneously using peer-to-peer file sharing applications and running the game. Therefore we recommend turning off the peer-to-peer setting in the World of Warcraft game and ensuring that no peer-to-peer applications are running on any connected computer. Rogers will engage our customers to ensure they are aware of these recommendations, while continuing to work on a longer term solution.

      Are they missing the point or just playing dumb?

      For one, their "advice" isn't going to accomplish anything. That's like fixing a broken limb by amputating it.

      Secondly, Rogers is the one that's breaking things, so it's their responsibility, not the responsibility of their users. Whether a workaround exists is irrelevant, because they shouldn't be breaking things in the first place.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      It looks like they failed to understand that since the game uses BT you will have a P2P app running when you update it. The idea of using a software fix is very short sighted; what happens when the next game using P2P comes out? Another patch for its P2P traffic? What about video sites that are using it?

  • Not news.. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Smoke2Joints (915787)

    ..for most of the rest of the world, where data caps have been in play for some time, if not since the beginning of broadband. Having unmetered data is the exception, not the norm. Calling for boycotts is very funny indeed.

    • Re:Not news.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Vectronic (1221470) on Monday March 28, 2011 @11:50PM (#35648842)

      No... no it's not.

      Just because a large portion of the world has shitty internet, doesn't mean everyone should have shitty internet. It's only funny in the sad/pathetic/hopeless sort of way... just because they let it happen doesn't mean we do. If everyone else drank urine, and we drank water... we'd protest when people started pissing in our faces too...

      I'm fine with universally limited bandwidth, ie: Xk/s down, Yk/s up... but throttling specific uses of it is retarded... from 00:00 to 18:00 I can download "normal" things (HTTP, etc) at 1.7MB/s (which also used to apply to torrents), torrents are limited to about 350k/s... between 18:00 and 00:00 it's limited to 120k/s... which isn't terrible, however whichever way my ISP chose to implement it, fucks up everything else at the same time (even if I haven't downloaded any torrents), it turns my cable connection into noisy WiFi... websites that take a few attempts to connect, occasional messenger disconnects, etc. It was "unlimited" for years, till about 2 weeks ago.

      I wouldn't have much of a problem with that either, except they still charge the same price for basically half the connection. No real alternatives either except to rent a higher package from the same ISP (to get speeds that the current plan says it provides), or switch the ISP which also means switching the connection to WiFi, or Satellite... both of which are useless, regardless of whatever arbitrary speed in some other country may be.

      • See, the thing is, throttling only makes sense on unlimited connections. If you charge customers for bandwidth, the motivation for throttling goes away - you want them to use more bandwidth so you can bill them more. The rest of the world has perfectly fine internet - its the US/Canada that has shitty internet, because the payment models you demand fly in the face of reality, and your government-endorsed telco monopolists screw with your connection as a result.

        I'd much rather my 500GB-capped, free-for-all c

        • by X0563511 (793323)

          I'd much rather pay for a rate percentile commit. It works fine at the DC, but for some reason the "classic" ISPs can't figure it out.

        • by metacell (523607)

          Here in Sweden, unlimited, unthrottled Internet is the norm. I pay less than 400 Swedish crowns (about US$60) per month for 100 Mbit/s up/down. And that's including the 25% sales tax.

          Our telecom market is very unregulated ever since the government abolished the monopoly.

        • I think we can all agree that the ideal plan is one where you pay per usage, but have the ability to set and change daily/monthly/continuous limits, with no commitment, and in an environment where you can switch to a different provider at the drop of a hat.

      • by c0lo (1497653)

        Just because a large portion of the world has shitty internet, doesn't mean everyone should have shitty internet. It's only funny in the sad/pathetic/hopeless sort of way... just because they let it happen doesn't mean we do. If everyone else drank urine, and we drank water... we'd protest when people started pissing in our faces too...

        You see, seems to me that one may finish in needing to make a choice between "eating" unlimited amount of crappy bandwidth or "drinking the piss" of paying for how much you download without bandwidth compromises.
        'Cause I can't see how "unlimited download with unlimited bandwidth" is economically sustainable - not in the near future.

        • by mikael_j (106439)

          'Cause I can't see how "unlimited download with unlimited bandwidth" is economically sustainable - not in the near future.

          My ISP sure seems to be making a profit despite my unmetered 100/100 Mbps FTTH connection.

          But then I'm not in the US or some other country where the ISPs have managed to fool people into thinking that this couldn't be profitable...

  • by ip_freely_2000 (577249) on Monday March 28, 2011 @10:45PM (#35648390)
    ...are a bunch of dicks in everything they do. They've never thought of a fee that is too insulting for their customers. They wrote the book on poor service. They only exist because the government provides protection to a corporation that provides too many political contributions.
    • At least they wrote a book, it's kinda impossible to get anything written or otherwise binding out of my ISP...

    • I beg to differ. Bell is very competitive in providing poor service.
    • Telus is also in competition with regards to lousy service, but then so is Shaw.

      What is a shame is that the various cable/internet providers have been allowed to carve up the market in such a manner as to avoid competition for the most part. Here in Victoria, your choices are Shaw or Telus. By agreement Rogers does not compete in the internet market here, just as Shaw agreed to not compete in other cities. They divvied up the market between them and for the longest time there was no competition at all. Telu

      • by Jardine (398197)

        Thankfully Bell has apparently dropped its push to go for metered billing...

        Nope, they've just changed the name of it to Aggregated Volume Pricing (AVP). From Michael Geist's blog: "Bell obviously saw the writing on the wall and has come back with a plan that allows independent ISPs to purchase 1 TB of data for $200 with an overage charge of 29.5 cents per GB."

        That's data that the ISP already pays for. Bell wants to double-dip.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 28, 2011 @10:59PM (#35648486)

    If I'm not mistaken, the torrent aspect of WOW also extends to its normal gameplay connection since Cataclysm. In that they altered their network traffic protocols which resulted in high ping times for users of various ISPs. I think RIFT has the same issues with its traffic being delayed by ISP traffic management software because it sees it as P2P traffic.

    I think this is an example of how the witchhunt against pirates and the reluctance to upgrade systems to meet consumer demand will hurt innovation and use of the internet overall.

    My understanding is developers are making these protocol changes because they are more efficient - except they are being blocked by ISPs.

    Sadly, we do need government regulation to keep the playing fields level, and to ensure that we see continued growth and development of various industries over the Internet. If every ISP employs the same measures, and smaller providers must follow the traffic restrictions of their own larger providers, there is no Choice and Free Market to influence the behaviour of these corporations. It is also clear that these corporations are working hand in hand with IP Holders such as the MPAA and the RIAA. So there is no decoupling of the various business considerations.

    I'm not sure why Anti-Monopoly and Anti-Trust laws haven't kicked in yet to prevent what is obviously destructive to competition and a free market. Perhaps Rogers wants Blizzard to knock on its doors and offer money to allow WOW traffic to flow unimpeded?

    We may all need to pay a separate VPN provider to play our MMORPGs and other games in the future. Then they'll probably spend MILLIONS developing software that can inspect VPN packets and determine if it's likely to be gaming, video, or torrents. Instead, of course, in spending those millions in upgrading infrastructure.

    Make no mistake, none of these companies are strapped for cash. None of them would be pushed to the brink by the use of World of Warcraft, Torrents, or Netflix across their networks. They post >40% profits.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @02:07AM (#35649582)

      (I'm a UI AddOn developer for World of Warcraft. I also work on anonymous P2P software, and actively research and develop censorship evasion techniques. I do not work for Blizzard.)

      You are mistaken. So, in fact, are Rogers (and so also were Virgin Media UK). This is a fault in their traffic classifiers.

      These traffic classifiers actually see the normal connection to the WoW servers as "P2P traffic" simply because it's encrypted and it can't recognise it - that's right, they're throttling everything they don't explicitly recognise, and they haven't whitelisted traffic to the Blizzard servers (which is silly, because the IP addresses are well-known). This is the same issue that hit Virgin Media when they tried a similar "throttle everything we don't recognise" policy, and the simple solution is to stop being such an asshat by doing that.

      At worst, only the web-seed (a single outbound HTTP connection to Akamai) remains connected in current versions of the Blizzard Launcher while you actually play; in particular it closes the upload connections. It does that to save your ping, and the connection remains open if you are still streaming content while you play - but that's all Akamai HTTP traffic, not torrent. If your bar is green, when you close the launcher, even that closes.

      Recognised VPN traffic is also detected and they've tried to throttle it on Rogers, according to my data.

      The trouble is that they probably don't realise that this kind of thing, and the kind of (closely-related) incredibly sophisticated censorship system in place in, say, Iran, is simply a driver for the development of network protocols that lack the usual traffic analysis markers you'd use to classify and censor, throttle or prioritise them, and in turn, the wrapping of those protocols in steganographic network transports. Want to make your connection look like SSH, or TLS? No problem. HTTP? Sure. I can make it harder to recognise with less computational power than you'd need to try to recognise it. Go ahead, spend millions - won't help against a mimic function. It increases the overhead a little, but not as much as throttling or blocking affects it, so in the long run, all you'll do is choke your pipes more, because you're being an asshat.

      Please, if you're going to manage traffic, shape it sensibly. Prioritise, don't block or throttle. Have enough overhead to allow people to use the internet how they wish, and use easy, sensible traffic shaping techniques to increase the performance of the network for everyone, by reducing buffer bloat and latency for quick protocols, supporting ECN properly, letting uTP be nice to you, but do have enough network backbone to allow the traffic to flow. Spend the money on more bandwidth. Or things are really going to suck for you in the coming years - because if you can't play with your toys nicely, we'll take them away.

  • Nonsense (Score:3, Funny)

    by tycoex (1832784) on Monday March 28, 2011 @11:07PM (#35648538)

    Everyone knows that Torrents are only used for illegal file sharing.

  • by TheNinjaroach (878876) on Monday March 28, 2011 @11:08PM (#35648540)
    My friend's wireless provider does the same thing. When I say wireless, I don't mean cellular and I don't mean wifi, it's some local provider for some corner of our county delivering wireless internet on a licensed spectrum.

    Anyways, his terms of service explicitly forbid Bit Torrent and after three days of their service he was disconnected. He called up their tech support line and their first question was, "Well do you play WoW?" After he answered yes, they re-enabled his service and apologized for the inconvenience.

    Bit Torrent = Evil except when it keeps people paying their ISP bill...
    • by Kargan (250092)

      When I say wireless, I don't mean cellular and I don't mean wifi, it's some local provider for some corner of our county delivering wireless internet on a licensed spectrum.

      The actual term for this is "fixed wireless".

      The More You Know

  • People still P2P too. The traffic is just encrypted instead. If the WOW client doesn't support it, blocking P2P are only going to hinder the nice innocent people. The whole telecommunication ecosystem in Canada is scary. It is painful to read in the newspaper that people argue that Parliament should not intervene with the CRTC. Which is a complete joke. Any government organization that does not have the fear of having responsibility to the people is just asking to be abused.
  • Telling you want protocol you can and can not use is like telling you what sites you can and can't visit. Are they going to block YouTube next because that causes a lof of downstream traffic? I also think it is worth mentioning that there are a whole lot of other legal BitTorrent uses besides WOW. You make a movie, you want to distribute your movie for free, you put it on BitTorrent and now your movie is censored in Canada.
  • This is pretty much old news, this has been seen ever since Cataclysm was released.

    http://wow.joystiq.com/2011/01/14/the-lawbringer-net-neutrality-and-mmos/ [joystiq.com]

    I believe the issue is mostly that the deep packet inspection kit that the ISPs use to classify and throttle/shape traffic are unable to distingush between Warcraft traffic and Bittorrent traffic since the changes made for Cataclysm, until signatures/filters/etc are updated to classify the traffic correctly, but in many cases they seem to be taking their

  • That's what they're thinking. But, like it or not, metered Internet - properly, fairly metered Internet - is the solution to this problem.

    ISPs should be selling you A Chunk of Data. They can figure out how much they should sell you based on their recorded average usage patterns, figure out prices, and then tell you that you get X GB per month for $Y.

    And then their job is to fuck RIGHT off, and let you use it any way you see fit. You want to use it to download 1 megabyte of email a month, fine. You want to b

  • I f configured properly, WoW can be played with no slow down what so ever, as the file is downloaded in the background, and will be installed once fully loaded, so if it takes 5 minutes instead of 1, who cares...i guess they are trying to get more to see there is a potential problem, but we all knew that already. Do not let them throttle your connection for any reason, as you pay for a service for xxx bandwidth and xxx speed....for the price you pay....unless they want to give you credit every time they thr

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