Telecom says newsgroups and Jabber are P2P - and ratelimits them

, posted: 30-Sep-2006 10:33

TelecomJonathan Ah Kit tipped me off about Telecom's new traffic management, which is part of its Fair Use Policy (FUP) that has been introduced with the Xtra retail Go Large and Wholesale Broadband Service (WBS) equivalent plans.

If you have a look at the long list of peer-to-peer applications that will be traffic managed on the Go Large plan, you'll see two strange entries: NNTP and Jabber.

NNTP or network news transport protocol is if you like a precursor to the web and often referred to as newsgroups. By really stretching the definition, it could be said that NNTP can be used for exchanging files. However, the binary newsgroups in which this would happen are becoming very rare; most NZ ISPs do not carry them because of the large amount of traffic they generate.

However, the blanket choking of NNTP means the text-only groups like nz.comp, nz.general, etc, will also be ratelimited. Granted, slowing down the traffic matters less with text-only groups because the messages are smaller, but still, why is Telecom doing this? Xtra killed its NNTP service earlier this year, and now Go Large customers using non-Telecom hosted newsgroups will find themselves surfing with the brakes on.

Likewise, Jabber is an Instant Messaging protocol first and foremost. Google Talk uses it for instance. I'm sure there are Jabber clients that can do file transfers, but who in their right mind would use it for P2P? If Telecom's going to slow down Jabber, why doesn't it do the same with MSN/Live Messenger, AOL AIM, Yahoo and Skype to mention a few?

Apropos the Go Large plan, the Computerworld editor and I got a nastygram from Telecom over a story about the new Go Large plans not really being unlimited.

Telecom's view is that because the plan has no data caps between midnight and four in the afternoon, it can be called "unlimited" and sold as such.

However, "unlimited" has an absolute meaning - without limits. If you look at the terms for the Go Large plan, there are several limits:
  • Between four in the afternoon and midnight, you cannot use more than 700MB a day.
  • If you use more than that, you will be put into a "sin bin" for a week, with other high volume users.
  • The upstream is limited to 128kbps, which means you're unlikely to ever achieve the unconstrained downstream speed.
  • Peer-to-peer plus Jabber and newsgroups are ratelimited.
While nobody would complain about technical and physical limitations of a service, the above are Telecom-introduced limits. From that point of view, it can't be said that the Go Large plan is "unlimited", surely?

Other related posts:
Video: Kim Dotcom and Mathias Ortman at the IITP Mega breakfast
Two-factor authentication broken
The problem with naming and shaming

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