Canadian ISP Bandwidth Consumption Growth Falls 45%

Jesse Browns Search Engine on CBC covered a very interesting topic recently. The growth of bandwidth consumption went down 45% in Canada recently.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

As Michael Geist is pointing out, if you’d like to talk about network neutrality to the CRTC, now is the time to do it, but you have until the 23rd to do it in.

The hearings are, of course, on network neutrality. Should an ISP have the power to prioritize the internet in Canada? Canadian ISPs have certainly been saying so for a long time now. In fact, early last year, they were claiming that the networks were completely overloaded and on the verge of a total breakdown due to overcapacity.

They were then asked to prove their claims and they weren’t exactly forthcoming about the actual details, only to ask that their word alone should be believed. Nevertheless, papers were produced and it ultimately undermined their arguments. The papers then showed that at peak hours, the network was running at up to 33% capacity. Not exactly the most convincing statistic that supports Bells argument.

This, of course, was all going on when wholesalers found out that their services was being throttled by Bell (since they resell bandwidth to their customers) So later on, Bell Canada tried to prove again that they were overloaded and ended up passing along another statistic which said that they had two instances where they were 8% congested. Another not-so convincing statistic.

So now, almost a whole year later, Canadian ISPs are arguing that they need to throttle certain high-bandwidth applications to keep their network stable. So after waiting until almost the last moment, they finally forked over the information (anonymously). The statistics, according to the CBC podcast Search Engine, showed that the rise in bandwidth consumption went down 45%. In other words, after having a history of showing that they haven’t really been that overcapacity, ISPs bandwidth consumption has slowed down its growth.

Net neutrality advocates were unsurprisingly happy about the new finding. had another highligh on the news:

According to the CBC, the figures reveal “annual growth in total traffic volume declined for two consecutive years from 2005-06 to 2007-08 for five of the seven ISPs.” This data significantly undermines arguments made by the ISPs that they need to manage networks in order to prevent congestion. co-founder Steve Anderson had this to say today, “If traffic growth is slowing, then it is hard to imagine why the ISPs need to suddenly selectively throttle Internet traffic. The fact that ISPs are slowing access to Internet technologies that compete with their own services seems like more than just a coincidence”.
If you’re Canadian, and you support the views of, you can contact the CRTC and have your voice heard through their submission form. You can also find out more information through the CRTC Michael Geists blog posting on the subject.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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