When people talk about slowing down Bittorrent downloads, they are usually thinking about folks downloading dozens of movies from The Pirate Bay. Of course, Bittorrent isn't exclusively used for piracy anymore, and it's not limited to torrent distribution either. Many personal file sharing sevices actually use Bittorrent to P2P-power their clients, and Bittorrent is increasingly used for streaming video and audio data.

But there's another untold story about Bittorrent throttling: Sometimes it even affects services that aren't using the Bittorrent protocol. Case in point: The screen sharing service company Glance Networks noticed an increase of customer complaints from Canada a few years back.

The company investigated these complaints - and figured out that they were all coming from users of ISPs that were throttling Bittorrent traffic. Glane Networks CEO Rich Baker recently worte about this experience on the XConomy Blog:

"While we were working the problem, customers were understandably stuck wondering who was telling them the truth. Their ISP was saying “all is well” and that “nothing has changed”, both of which turned out to be wrong. But how were they to know? Their other Web traffic flowed normally. From their perspective, only our service had slowed."

Glance Networks was able to restore access to he service by tweaking a few parameters, but the company nevertheless wants to make sure this doesn't happen again. It recently submitted comments to the FCC that call for net neutrality regulation. Here's a brief excerpt:

"It's as if all the good, wide paved roads went only to Wal-Mart and to McDonald's. As if new and small businesses were only served by narrow dirt roads. It's allowing a competitive disadvantage in a near-monopoly infrastructure that should support the entire economy of today and the future."


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