Rogers takes the hands off approach to bandwidth shaping technology

The issues raised by Rogers’ decision to impose new bandwidth caps on its users are complex. I described some of them yesterday. There is yet another issue that needs to be addressed.

While its competitor Sympatico has installed bandwidth-shaping technology, which identifies the kind of traffic you create and “shapes” it by deciding which kinds of traffic get priority, Rogers has approached the issue from the other side. Instead of slowing down bandwidth-hungry traffic such as BitTorrent, Rogers will take a “Net-neutral” approach and simply charge individuals extra for traffic over and above what Rogers identifies as “average.”

Each system is designed to slow the flood of traffic, specifically those involving file-sharing. But the comparisons stop there.

Rogers seems to be motivated by two principles. One is that raising the basic rate Rogers charges its Internet customers is inviolate, and changing it would be folly, because the backlash will be terrible. The other is the recent humiliation suffered by the U.S. cable company and Internet service provider Comcast, which went so far in its effort to use bandwidth-shaping technology that it incurred the wrath of U.S. regulators, forcing the company to retreat to a position that it does nothing with those whose use of the Internet is way beyond average. If Rogers is fearful of sharing Comcast’s fate, it is left with only one alternative: charge for what telcos (of which Rogers is one) call “overages” — a charge for use beyond a certain amount. (link)

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