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Posts with tag bandwidth

Rogers Communications violates Canadian net neutrality rules over WoW bandwidth throttling

The Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission recently ruled that Rogers Communications, one of the largest internet service providers in Canada, has violated federal net neutrality rules. Last year, I wrote a few Lawbringers about the subject, which discussed what Rogers had to actually do to escape violation of certain internet traffic throttling complaints. Basically, Rogers was making WoW players' internet access slower because WoW looked like peer-to-peer traffic on their network.

Rogers is finally going to have to answer for the throttling issues, even after all of the requests and demands to change their packet inspection protocols. The communications company has until Feb. 3 at noon to respond to the complaints about internet throttling or face a hearing with the CRTC board.

Hopefully, the same type of rules can make their way to America, where internet service is abysmally slow and throttled like crazy. Prior to the Cataclysm launch, Blizzard released the new WoW client, which used a peer-to-peer system to upload and download information, patches, data, and all that jazz. This data accidentally triggered internet service providers' bandwidth alerts for torrent traffic and was subsequently throttled to lower speeds. After realizing that many users were experiencing lag issues with the new launcher and their ISPs, Blizzard began its outreach to ISPs in order to work together to fix the problem. A year later, people are still having problems, and Rogers in Canada has admitted to throttling WoW bandwidth.

Filed under: News items

The Lawbringer: Letters to Rogers, letters to Congress

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

We've got two stories to talk about on The Lawbringer today, both interestingly involving letters. That's right -- letters. To you from me, that sort of thing. These letters, however, are instruments of change in a world where we as consumers seem not to have much control or ability to change the big picture concepts that dot our path to consistent entertainment. The amount of energy that we have to put into just getting in a decent WoW session is staggering at times.

The first story revolves around Rogers, one of the largest Canadian internet service providers, famous for its lame bandwidth caps and my old Canadian guildmates shouting "Rogers sucks!" as much as they could on Mumble. Yes, it is another chapter in the Mathew McCurley Guide to Awful Bandwidth Throttling -- but hopefully, this new information and story chapter will get us on the path to better WoW experiences in the face of the immense throttling of WoW data as peer-to-peer traffic.

The second story is all about letters that you will want to send. Last week, I wrote The Lawbringer about Senate Bill S.978, colloquially being referred to as the anti-streaming bill. While not directly prohibiting video game streaming or even mentioning video games anywhere in the proposed legislation, video games are nonetheless obliterated in the crossfire of the entertainment industry and would-be illegal streamers making millions off of pirated entertainment, movies, music, and more. The Entertainment Consumers Association has begun a letter-writing campaign to inform and implore Congress to not pass a bill with such broad and language lacking description.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

Blizzard renews TeliaSonera agreement

Blizzard has renewed their agreement with a company called TeliaSonera to provide bandwidth for them in Europe. They just made a very similar deal with AT&T for the US -- it's the bandwidth that connects their servers to the millions of connections that lead back to your computer as you play World of Warcraft. Paul Sams, Blizzard COO, says they've been pleased with the service, and that the contract renewal was for two years.

It's interesting that we've seen Blizzard keep both of these agreements intact, but we already know that they'll cancel relationships they don't see as working (with the notable example of Netease's takeover in China). Of course, there are tons of factors that go into players' connections (including this server connection as well as your own ISP, your router and computer, and a number of other facilities and stops in between), but it would seem that Blizzard is happy with the way things are going in both the EU and the US with these providers. Of course everyone's personal experiences are different, and we've certainly seen our share of connection issues, but in general, the infrastructure on the networks is in a pretty good place.

[via WorldofWar]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items

Behind the scenes of WoW's bandwidth

We heard a little while back that it was AT&T who provide data center hosting to Blizzard and this gigantic game (and actually, we've had outage problems before due to maintenance on AT&T's end), but our friend Tamara Chuang of the Orange County Register went straight to the source, and spoke with the big bandwidth provider on just what it takes to keep the servers up. There's some good information in there, especially if you're interested in all of the motherboards and wires that run the World of Warcraft. MMOs are apparently AT&T's biggest gaming customers, and they run the wires for companies like Blizzard as well as Konami and Turbine. They originally helped run Battle.net, and when Blizzard wanted to expand with World of Warcraft, AT&T's gaming division expanded with them.

Unfortunately, there's a lot of secrets here -- given that they're selling a service, AT&T doesn't speak too frankly about how much downtime they're really responsible for, and of course as a trade secret they can't give any numbers on how much bandwidth is passing through and where it's all going. But they will say that they've got latency levels down to milliseconds (in their testing, I'm sure -- lots of players would probably suggest it's a little worse, depending on which ISP you use), and that they offer services like Synaptic Hosting. During times of hard usage, Blizzard can ask (for a price, of course) to open the floodgates up and make sure there's enough bandwidth to go around.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Blizzard, Economy, Hardware

AT&T will continue Blizzard hosting

We haven't gotten much of a look at Blizzard's server architecture, but here's a tiny one: AT&T has announced in a press release that they're re-signing to a two year agreement to provide Blizzard with hosting for World of Warcraft and Battle.net. We'll get the joke out of the way first: that explains why Blizzard's sites go down so often! Ba-dump ching!

But seriously, the press release says AT&T has been working with Blizzard on providing bandwidth and network monitoring for nine years already, and that they have multiple "Internet Data Centers" that provide global support of the network infrastructure that lets your character wander around Azeroth. AT&T isn't the only company Blizzard works with -- while their network provides the connections and bandwidth, the actual coding and the databases behind all of the action in WoW are another story, and Blizzard likely works with multiple big companies to make sure that all runs smoothly. AT&T provides the cables, but someone's got to help provide the servers and the code they're hooked up to.

Still, despite the jokes about the downtime, it's quite a feat. We're still interested in hearing more about the mechanics behind the World of Warcraft. Unfortunately, lots of this information is probably a trade secret at this point -- even if no other MMOs are coming close to WoW's numbers, Blizzard has probably come up with a lot of techniques they don't exactly want known to the public. But a look inside one of these "IDCs" or an idea of just what machines they're using to run a realm of WoW would be intriguing.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, News items

BBC: WoW's patches may push some over the bandwidth limit

We've posted a few times already on the bandwidth limits recently introduced by some ISPs, and in general we've decided that WoW doesn't use nearly enough bandwidth to get you in trouble with your Internet Service Provider. That's likely still true, but as this columnist at the BBC found out, if you're close to the limit, this month's 2gb patch might have been enough to put you over the top. Generally, while the WoW connection does require a strong bandwidth hookup, it won't use too much bandwidth sending data back and forth. But patches and other downloads definitely add to the total, and on a patch like 3.0.2, you're looking at a lot of data flying back and forth.

I'll still maintain it won't get you near the limit -- if this columnist really did have a 25gb limit, the 2gb download was still just a fraction (he's been downloading a lot of other stuff, seems to me). So it's not time to start worrying yet -- if your ISP does send you a letter, then you can look at your internet usage, and see, if like this columnist, it's time to switch ISPs.

But he's got another point, and that is that gaming is clearly having a large effect on computers and technology in general. Would we be fulfilling Moore's Law every two years if we didn't have 3D graphics that needed upgrading? Would high bandwidth connections be as prevalent today around the world if it wasn't for games like WoW that required a high bandwith hookup? Gaming is affecting the basic technologies and economies of the Internet these days, for better or worse.

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Making money

Behind the scenes on the Comcast bandwidth limit

Our friends at BigDownload have a long but interesting feature up about that Comcast bandwidth limit and how it might affect PC gamers like us. Even though they chat with a lot of people higher up in both the ISP and gaming industry, the bottom line hasn't really changed: most people won't be affected by the limit, and if you are, there are things you can do about it. As we determined last time, at max, even if you run WoW 24/7 the entire month, you're still using only about 5gb, nowhere near enough to trip Comcast's limit. And even if there's a big patch download that comes through, it'll still be a very, very small percentage of people that come anywhere near it. While Comcast may change things in the future, there are a few voices already speaking out against bandwidth caps, including the Entertainment Consumers Association.

And if you do get suspended out of the blue? Best option is to just use another ISP -- even if Comcast isn't willing to support people who use tons of bandwidth, there will likely be another company that does. And if high-level broadband does become really widespread, it would be a bad business decision for Comcast as well to suspend large numbers of their userbase -- while there's always the chance that they could start charging a premium for more bandwidth, smaller companies will likely step up to fill any spaces that Comcast tries to screw over.

In short, right now, this isn't a problem. While in the future, Comcast may try to bring the bandwidth cap lower and lower, at this point, it doesn't effect enough people out there to worry, and even if you are affected, there are likely steps you can take to get around it, including going with another ISP if that's an option.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Economy

On WoW's bandwidth consumption

Some of you may have heard about the ISP Comcast's new 250 GB per month bandwidth caps. We've even gotten a few emails asking how this is going to affect WoW players. You can set your minds at ease: this will not affect us in any significant way.

The highest bandwidth I've ever heard of WoW using at a time is 30 KBps; this is in situations like raid fights or zoning into a city when there's a lot of data flying around. So if WoW was always running at peak bandwidth, 24x7, you'd be looking at around 70 GB per month, a sizable chunk of your cap. However, I rarely if ever see it go as high as 30 KBps; typical usage is more like 5 or below, often even in the sub-1 KBps range. And nobody plays WoW 24x7 all month, I hope.

Let's say your average WoW bandwidth is 2 KBps, which I believe to be a reasonable estimate. That comes out to about 7 MB per hour. So to estimate your monthly usage from WoW, multiply that 7 MB by how many hours you play a day (on average), then by 30. The average WoW player is on for something like 20 hours a week, which comes out to 600 MB per month - about 0.2% of 250 GB. Even if you were on 24x7 all month, you'd still only be looking at 4.8 GB, less than 2% of the cap. [Edited to fix numerical mistakes]

In short, you won't have to cut back on WoW to stay under a 750 GB per month cap.

Filed under: Tips, Odds and ends

Ping faster with Faster Ping

Recently members of my guild have been using a tool called Faster Ping to achieve better ping rates in game. My guild is a West Coast based guild, and attracts a lot of people from Hawaii and Australia, so they naturally have higher ping rates than those of us in the States. Faster Ping seems to be working wonders for them. It is not so much of an addon as it is a tool for Windows (though lots of people mistakingly call it an addon).

My first reaction to this was what thinking this sounded like something out of the mouth of Cliff Clavin. I mean, how can a piece of software impact something that is mainly due to physical limits? Well, after thinking about it for a bit, and reading up on what the tool does, it can.

WARNING! This paragraph will be the only one that contains technical content! Faster Ping works by removing the acknowledgement delay from TCP packets. This delay happens inside the kernel's TCP stack, and is a necessity for a lot of functions that go on inside a TCP stack. The other modification Faster Ping does is to remove delay in sending small packets (think anything less than a dozen or so bytes). These changes, at least theoretically, should not impact system stability if the Windows kernel has proper TCP/IP stack implementation. Okay, end technical content.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Tricks, Odds and ends, Add-Ons

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