Rogers dropping MSN messages?

written by bryan on February 1st, 2007 @ 09:35 PM

For the last month or so, communications between my fiancée and myself over MSN have been unreliable. It appeared that I received all of the messages that my fiancée sent, but she did not get a few of the messages I sent. This was very aggravating, because there was no notification that a problem occurred. She just thought that I wasn’t responding to her!

In the past I’ve had problems with dropped connections to various instant messaging servers. Those were annoying, but at least you knew about it. If the connection dropped, your client would tell you that the message could not be delivered.

I’ve tried a couple of different AIM clients to try and fix the problem. However, it turns out that both of them use libgaim as their back-end, so that is possibly the source of the problem.

However, there is also another potential source of the problem: my ISP, Rogers. Rogers is probably the largest Internet over Cable provider in Canada, and employs packet-shaping devices to silently drop encrypted bittorrent connections. To identify normal bittorrent packets, Rogers can use packet filters that identify the traffic as bittorrent with near 100% certainty. However, encrypted bittorrent traffic is much more difficult to identify; to a third party observer, the traffic is very similar to random noise. Other encrypted and/or compressed communications channels will seem very similar.

Certainly there are signatures that might identify it as encrypted bittorrent traffic, however it is much more like that “false positives” might occur, and the packet filters might start interfering with other services, such as my MSN. According to my dslreports thread, there may be others with the same problem.

I may be able to live without bittorrent; there are other ways of downloading ubuntu ISO’s. However, if I cannot be sure that other services I rely on are unaffected, I am forced to switch internet providers. I have begun this process; I highly recommend that all other customers of Rogers also do the same.

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