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Is traffic management working?

by Paul Jay, CBCNews.ca

Since it has become a bit lost amid the CRTC's new media hearings, it's probably worth mentioning again that the deadline for submissions to the CRTC's net neutrality hearings is on Feb. 23.

The deadline was extended last week to allow for interested parties to comment on figures from the internet service providers on the volume and nature of traffic on their networks. The CRTC said the ISPs could do so in confidence. While the numbers are now publicly available, the companies are identified as Company A, Company B, etc

We'll take a look at many of the arguments once the submissions become publicly available - likely on Feb. 24 - and the many interpretations of what these numbers means, but for now it's worth taking note of figures for annual growth in total traffic volume. Here's the chart, as provided by the CRTC.

Annual % growth of total traffic volume
2005-062006-072007-08
Company A593328
Company B564527
Company C544647
Company D665721
Company E283245
Company F564928
Company G524335

Now these numbers can't really be used to come up with figures for average growth of traffic in Canada because we don't know how many customers each ISP has. And, as the CRTC points out, the companies did not necessarily use the same time periods, or the same methodology, for calculating the information in the table.

But what they suggest is that, for many ISPs, the growth in total traffic volume slowed down in the last two years measured.

This naturally leads to one of two assumptions: either increasing traffic congestion is not nearly the issue ISPs have historically made it out to be, or ISPs have been actively managing their networks in the past two years to bring these numbers down.

We'll leave it to the ISPs and their critics to come up with their own interpretations of these figures in their submissions on Monday and let you know what they say. But I suspect the arguments for and against practices like traffic shaping and throttling will start here with these figures.

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