Saturday, May 10, 2008

ISPs in Singapore blocking BitTorrent traffic

There has been a considerable amount of controversy over the practice of some ISPs in the U.S. to limit or block traffic. The target is typically VOIP or BitTorrent, and the excuse is that it is overloading their networks.

This brings up the obvious question of why you would be in a business if you don't intend to supply the service you are supposedly selling.

A group calling itself the "max planck institute for software systems" has created a web site and Java applet that allows you to test your connection to see if traffic is being blocked. A fair number of people from Singapore have used the test, and the results are in:

We found widespread blocking of BitTorrent transfers only in the U.S. and Singapore. Interestingly, even within these countries, blocking was observed by hosts belonging to a handful of large ISPs.

I tried the test using my connection which is (barely) served by Starhub Maxonline. The results show that traffic was not blocked, but the throughput speeds are pathetic. The results are as follows:

Is BitTorrent traffic on a well-known BitTorrent port (6881) throttled?

* The BitTorrent upload (seeding) worked. Our tool was successful in uploading data using the BitTorrent protocol.

* The BitTorrent download worked. Our tool was successful in downloading data using the BitTorrent protocol.

* There's no indication that your ISP rate limits your BitTorrent downloads. In our tests a TCP download achieved minimal 39 Kbps while a BitTorrent download achieved maximal 26 Kbps.

The good news is that the BitTorrent protocol is not being actively blocked. The bad news is the terrible speed achieved. What is supposed to be an 8 Mbps service is delivering 39 Kbps.

Starhub continues to under-provision international bandwidth into Singapore. Local speeds can and do achieve the advertised numbers, but try and access anything outside Singapore and you might as well be on dial-up.





3 comments:

Gerald Tan said...

The local ISP _throttle_ the bittorrent traffic, not block it.

So you think it works, but in reality, the rates are so absurdly slow you might as well give up.

There are ways around it though.

Waleed Hanafi said...

Actually I was quoting the test site:

"We found widespread blocking of BitTorrent transfers only in the U.S. and Singapore. Interestingly, even within these countries, blocking was observed by hosts belonging to a handful of large ISPs."

What ways do you use to get around blocking and throttling? My client has encryption, but it doesn't seem to make much difference.

Anonymous said...

Quote from site - In Singapore, all blocked hosts are connected using the StarHub network.

Kinda explains why you are not seeing any improvements. Time to jump ship!