Bell Sympatico Throttles Internet Access

Bell Sympatico Throttles Internet Access

Bell Sympatico, Canada's largest Internet Service Provider (ISP) has admitted in November 2007 that it "purposely" slows down its high-speed DSL, especially for torrents. This is despite them not telling customers. This video is a customers story.

While it's true that Bell throttles and it sucks, The contents of that video are still a bit misleading. (Well let's be fair and assume the creator didn't fully understand the technology...)

First, 16Mbps isn't 16 Megabytes per second, it's 16 megabits per second, that's 8 times slower, or about 2 Megabytes per second.

Second, because of overhead and misconfigurations on the average PC, you could never get the full amount for payload. Yes, Bell isn't clear on that, but neither is any other ISP, and it's largely out of their control.

Third, the downloads that he shows at 14Kbps and 309KBps could be caused by slow/full links at the site, or any other ISP along the way, outside of Bell's network.

In other words, although Bell may be dishonest in its advertising, these anecdotal tests don't prove it...


  1. nothing misleading about it. This is what people have been complaining about for a long time now.
    Always slow:
    -Web page loading
    -web page downloading dependant on sites that are fast with other providers, but not Bell.
    -voip being affected
    -Xbox Being affected
    -online game pings in the thousands of milliseconds.

    If anyone thinks many people complaining for months of the above is misleading, then the one calling the other misleading is truely the one misleading people.

  2. Pissed Off
    I'm absolutely fed up with Bell and their Nazi practices I'm all for a Class Action lawsuit!!! BTW I just spoke with Bell tech support today and asked them about the throttling issue and the said that for an extra $30 a month they'd give me full range access. Forget it I'm looking for a new provider and would appreciate a solid recommendation for the Toronto area

  3. Sympatico Rip Off
    Sympatico just keeps screwing people. They upgraded my internet service under false and misleading information and screwed me out of $40 and a termination fee of $100 dollars. They are ripping people off left right and centre and lying to people. I think a class action lawsuit is in order and I am looking into one. Was going to contact CTV and report there lies and deception but remembered they are owned by Bell, go figure!

  4. For those looking for alternatives in SW Ontario, a top-notch service to try is TEKSAVVY ( They have decent speeds, unlimited downloads, and no throttling!

    Hope this helps!

  5. there is hope!
    in response to someone above asking if anyone got out of paying the early cancellation fee... I did :D

    I simply called 1-886-317-3382 first to be told that there was nothing they could do, and canceled my service with them (and got a confirmation number and her name) then called the general manager: 1-866-927-3656 and argued my case...

    in a nutshell, I had a 5MB unlimited package about 50(ish) bucks a month \"ultra hi speed\".

    1. I said that they were traffic shaping and throttling my connection.
    2. I pay extra for unlimited bandwidth, but I am not getting what I\'m paying for.
    3. if bittorrent makes up 30 to 50% of internet traffic then I argue that bittorrent is at least 30 to 50% of the internet expierence. Limiting or throttling it is limiting my use of the internet.(I\'ve seen many things about this on the web, and not being sure of the exact number I gave it the widest range).
    4. they (Bell) have two kinds of accounts, limited and unlimited. Nowhere in their contract or service aggreement does it say anything about unlimited having any sort of cap... look up \"unlimited in the dictionary... unlimited: limitless, without bounderies...
    5. if I am paying for high speed, but getting less then dial up speeds, I shouldn\'t be charged for high speeds.
    6. limiting p2p is a clear case of restricting my internet access, and p2p / bittorrent IS NOT illegal here in Canada.
    7. in part 10 of the service aggreement, quote:
    \"your service provider will notify you of any material amendment to this service aggreement or any change to the service in advance.\"
    8. then in part 4 of the same service agreement quote:
    \"if you cancel the service prior to the end of the initial service period as a resault of a material change in the service, the termination charge will be waived by your service provider.\"

    if throttling my speeds is not a material change of the service I don\'t know what is. other then that, I kept insisting that they had broken the contract, not me. much of it was phone hell, but finally after calling the general manager, (he sets up a person to look over your case) it went smoother... and this person HAS TO call you back within 24 hours.

    although in the end, they didn\'t admit that they were in any way wrong, but! they let me out of my contract, and even waived the 30 day notice.

    Sympatico was a top notch service for me for the last 9 years, but this last thing just set me off.

    I\'m now waiting for my new modem to hook up with teksavvy, and look forward to the speeds I had just a few months back!

    I got the 29.95$ deal


  6. ...
    With respect to P2P Bell has admit that they are using DPI to limit rates to 30 kB/s which is ridiculous. I'm paying for a 7000/1000 connection and I certainly expect at least 200-300 kB/s and should be getting higher than that. Even without Bell's admission there is plenty of proof of this.

    Peak Hours are never defined. They are whenever the network gets busy which based on my tests has included 2am on a Monday. As I post this at 1am Sunday the network in Ottawa is experiencing enough use to be classified as a "peak hour". This leads to a question of when is it not a peak hour?

    Since what constitutes a peak hour is automatically triggered by network use as the network gets busier a larger percentage of the day will be considered peak. Bell should not be selling 7M and 12M connections if their infrastructure can't handle it. Remember Sympatico is DSL.

    Bell markets the connection as 7M. Obviously they know users who choose faster packages are looking to use the connection for 2P2. There is no advantage to having a 7M connection over a 2M for normal web browsing. They know that anyone getting any of the faster packages are doing so because they intend to use the service for 2P2. Their marketing specifically stresses that their service delivers "consistent speed". At no point do they mention that 2P2 is throttled nor can I find any mention of it on their website (outside the forums). Further they actually sell a unlimited package add-on for $25 extra which uses language in the marketing that actually implies the opposite.

    Everyone should cancel their Sympatico service and move over to Teksavvy. No throttling and the service is actually considerably less expensive than Bell.

  7. ...
    3:00AM Sunday. Bell obviously stops throttling p2p connection. I have been downloading at between 14-31 kB/s since 7pm. At 3am on the dot the rate started to increase rapidly. The same torrents started downloading were at 206 kB/s by 3:05. By 3:10 I'm up to 336 kB/s.

    As far as I'm concerned this is the service I paid for (I actually expect closer to 450-500 kB/s but I'd be happy to settle for this) and Bell is choosing to not provide it at all time. As far as I'm concerned they are in breach of their contract.

    I tested my connection at 7pm and 10pm as well as at 3:12am getting results that were basically the same all 3 times. The only explanation for the sudden change is due to 2P2 throttling. It also doesn't help Bell's cause that the change was exactly at 3:00am. It is pretty indicative of a trigger to have something change so drastically exactly on the hour.

    A further point I forgot to make before. Bell claims that the reason they need to throttle 2P2 is because 2P2 is responsible for 50-75% of internet usage. How can someone claim that a particular activity represents the large a percentage of internet use yet at the same time maintain that they are providing internet service while preventing what is by their own admission the most substantial use?

  8. Cuba North
    Canada has been abusing some really shady laws in recent years. Taking the rights of it's citizens away for the sake of money and power.

    Another really big deal about the internet in Canada is the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the abuse of the system by 'men' like Richard Warman.

    I would even say that Warman and his pals at the CHRC are more of a concern for Canadians. Why aren't people blogging about that?

  9. not proud to be canadian
    this is what happens when conservative gov't has the helm. how stupid was everyone in this country to let harper become prime minister after he stated "the bush administration is a real inspiration" during his campaign in 2005, what the hell is wrong with people!

  10. Interesting
    Bell Sympatico user: old school corporate high speed account: unlimited band | 6Mbps/1Mbps (nothing too fancy)

    Background: I run two routers off of the same modem (2 wire modem/router - 2701HG-G running 3rd party fireware and a DLINK DIR-625 router). The reason for this was that I have them connect in succession (allowing each to get it's own IP) because I run a web server from one router/IP and use the other for Internet use (security reasons).

    I often switch my office laptop from router to router while watching megavideo (have to love my job - lol), and came up with an interesting idea recently. I had to download a series of torrents for my gf's father, and was averaging around 700 kB/s download speeds for a little while. I've known of the torrent throttling for awhile and sure enough my speeds dropped to around 6-20 kB/s, while continuing to support 100-125 kB/s upload rates. Another trend I noticed was that each morning (been around a week I've been working on his long list) the torrents left running were completed (and once noticed that during the night they all jumped back up to normal speeds - possibly supporting and observation someone made a while back in regards to this).

    About an hour ago, I thought about trying something out. I switched from one router (the one I had been using to download torrents, and was currently using to do so) to the other router - same torrents - but no longer throttled. It only lasted so long, but I was surprised by this.

    The worse part (aside from not even having available speeds compared to places like Korea and Japan) - looking down a peer list - seeing download rates averaging 1.5 - 2 MB/s and glancing up to my 10.. 15.. 20 kB/s torrent rates - JUST A SHAME!


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