The Residential Broadband Users’ Association

August 13th, 2002

Rogers Meeting Agenda:

  • Opening
Presented by John Tory, President and CEO, Rogers Cable
  • opening remarks were not made because John Tory arrived after the meeting was already under way
  • notable comments made by John Tory during his attendance include the following:
    1. no servers are allowed on the service, whatsoever, due to Rogers's enforcement of the EUA's "no server" clause
    2. when we asked if all servers would be shut down immediately, or in the near future, no answer was supplied by John Tory or anyone else present
    3. Rogers has the best broadband service out there, period
    4. "far less" than 1% of the subscriber base has offered complaints about rate throttling
    5. the vast majority of Rogers customers are unsophisticated users who use the service for the purposes of e-mailing and web browsing only (i.e. what are commonly referred to as "AOL types")
    6. a service offering higher speeds will be introduced for heavy users at some point
    7. an even slower service may be introduced at some point
  • please see point 2 of Important Odds and Ends below
  • please also see our announcement of our position on server usage at https://www.rbua.org/announce/02-20-02.php, along with our policy on server usage at https://www.rbua.org/policy/02-02-20-servers.php to acquaint yourself with the RBUA's stance on this important issue

  • Update on rollout of rate throttling from 3.0 to 1.5 Megabits per second on the downstream, and 400 Kilobits per second to 192 Kilobits per second on the upstream
Presented by Tony Faccia, Vice President, Network and Capacity Planning, Rogers Cable
  • transfer rates were cut for the purposes of improving network congestion and customer service, along with optimizing financial resources
  • rate throttling was phased in over a period of 8 weeks
  • bandwidth abuse has always been a problem and rate throttling reduces the affects of such abuse
  • Rogers claims that very few customers actually noticed the drastic reduction in rates
  • out of all calls made to Rogers customer care, management says that less than 0.1% of those calls were complaints related to rate throttling
  • customer care call volume has been reduced since throttling was implemented
  • items from the rest of this presentation are included under Surreptitious (Bandwidth / Throughput / Performance) Rate Reductions and Mass Network and Server Performance Issues

  • Plans for monthly byte caps
Presented by Brad Munroe, Vice President and General Manager, Rogers High Speed Internet
  • equipment to facilitate monthly data transfer limits to be in place by the end of this year
  • implementation in January-February of 2003
  • download and upload transfer limits will be asymmetric, meaning that there will be two, distinct caps implemented - one for uploads and one for downloads
  • byte caps could be either lower or higher than Bell's existing caps
  • there are no plans to block any protocols with byte capping
  • items from the rest of this presentation are included under Monthly Bit / Byte Capping

RBUA Meeting Agenda:

1. Surreptitious (Bandwidth / Throughput / Performance) Rate Reductions

  • Rogers cited customer service, network congestion, bandwidth abuse and the optimization of financial resources as justification for rate throttling
  • Rogers chose not to notify their customers of the throttling at any time, due to their belief that it would be challenging for the majority of their customers (i.e. unsophisticated users) to comprehend the rate reductions; Rogers feels this constitutes not only a reasonable, but superb level of customer service
  • 6 notices detailing the rate throttling were sent to customer support reps, so management couldn't understand our claim that some reps denied any knowledge of this action
  • less than 0.1% of all calls made to customer care were complaints about rate throttling
  • 0 (zero) subscribers have cancelled their service due to rate throttling
  • Rogers plans to do nothing about the situation where subscribers receive subpar service under the new rate throttling regime; they see it as a non-issue; the service is "best effort only"
  • the RBUA was asked to provide specifics of high latency spikes being caused by rate throttling and we shall
  • yes, there was "hot spot congestion" in the network which prompted this action and now everyone is better off after the implementation of rate throttling
  • there are too many architectures (i.e. LANCity, Terayon, Motorola and DOCSIS) currently in place for the deployment of DOCSIS - which provides 200-400% more capacity than the other architectures - to be a factor in doing away with the rate throttling
  • the 12.5% billing rate increase for the existing service is very fair in comparison with the U.S. broadband services market
  • customers benefit from rate throttling with improved service; employees benefit due to less calls made to customer care because of the improved service; shareholders benefit due to the financial optimization incurred from the rate reductions; management does not benefit from this action; no answer supplied as to whether Rogers's creditors benefit or not

2. Monthly Bit / Byte Capping

  • monthly data transfer limits are to be introduced to curb bandwidth abuse and improve performance; the top 1% of the customer base (i.e. heavy users and service abusers) uses 30% of network capacity
  • this will not be silently implemented like the rate throttling because it affects everyone; a notice will be sent out about the changes when they occur
  • Rogers is undecided on billing rates for data transferred in excess of the caps
  • Rogers believes its service usage statistics are proprietary like market research data and therefore can't ever be revealed; management told us: "you either believe us or you don't" (with respect to claims made like "1% of our subscribers use 30% of capacity", etc.)
  • Rogers has no plans to make use of the PPP over Ethernet (PPPoE) protocol in any way
  • Rogers is totally undecided on which types of data will count towards the caps and which types will not; we will provide detailed input on this topic to Rogers in short order
  • Rogers is undecided on whether time of day will be a factor in capping due to the complexity of such a scheme and their ability to properly implement it
  • a gigabyte will consist of 1024 megabytes
  • an answer was refused to our question of whether or not "unused bandwidth" will be rolled over or credited
  • Rogers appeared undecided as to whether internal transfers will be counted the same as those external to the network; they said the issue was very complex and we await further comment on this issue
  • regarding disputes, a process currently exists to resolve such disputes between Rogers and its customers; no details were provided on this process
  • no plans exist for the periodic review of the suitability of the byte caps as the subscriber base matures
  • the $50 charge to downgrade to the "Lite" service has been waived
  • Rogers doesn't have an exact definition of "abuse"; we were told that consistently high server usage was abusive and that heavy downloading could be considered abusive, but generally fell into the category of "heavy usage" and not "abuse"; no concrete numbers were provided on this issue

3. Mass Network and Server Performance Issues

  • when the issues of excessive hops in routes and asymmetric routing were brought up, Brad Munroe asked why we even care about these details; it was then explained that such factors are heavily determinant in the stability and performance of all network activities that are real-time, or near real-time, such as gaming, streaming audio and video, audio and video conferencing, text chatting and messaging, Telnet / SSH, and even vanilla uploading and downloading; written answer expected as to whether excessive hops and / or asymmetric routing will continue with Cable and Wireless's network
  • HP-Compaq capacity is at fault; internal testing has been performed on a new server and it has already been deployed; written answer expected as to why the process of adding new newsgroups takes so long
  • Rogers queries to Microsoft regarding the "incorrect POP3 cleanup" problem have not yet been addressed; we are awaiting a followup on this point

4. Customer Support Issues

  • network outages, depending on severity, are very difficult to update on the VRU telephone system; outages affecting tens of thousands of subscribers are generally updated on the VRU; the system has been improved over the past 1-2 years
  • a written response is expected on why there haven't been any outage or maintenance posts in the newsgroups for months

5. Shaw -> Rogers Cable Asset Swap and Integration

  • Rogers has no plans to replace the Motorola architecture
  • there are no plans to swap any significant portion of subscribers on Motorola cablemodems, with vastly superior DOCSIS cablemodems; a rebuild of the cable infrastructure in the Motorola areas is planned instead
  • the RBUA awaits a written answer as to why Rogers never notified any affected subscribers of problems related to the Shaw-to-Rogers swap, despite our repeated requests for them to do this - and their subsequent assurances that this would be done

6. Personal Server / EUA Issues

  • a written response is expected as to why subscribers running SSH and Telnet servers are being specifically targeted by the abuse department
  • a written response is expected as to why subscribers who have DNS aliases are also being targeted
  • regarding service disconnections due to apparent non-abusive server usage, Rogers will followup with us on this issue as soon as we provide some examples, which shall be done in short order

7. Compensation / Credit for Faulty or Nonexistent Service

  • Rogers will not disclose their credit policy at any point, citing the proprietary nature of that policy
  • 98-99% of all disputes involving compensation are resolved

Important Odds and Ends
  • estimated duration of meeting was 2 hours, 20 minutes; the meeting started at 5:05 PM and ended at 7:25 PM EST
  • John Tory was present for roughly 40 minutes, arriving at approximately 5:15 PM and exiting at 5:55 PM for reasons unknown
  • Alek Krstajic, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Rogers Cable, was momentarily present right at the beginning of the meeting for perhaps 2 minutes; he wasn't able to attend the meeting for reasons unknown
  • every question on our agenda was heard and tended to by Rogers management
  • except where answers were refused, questions that could not be answered by Rogers (due to lack of knowledge, understanding, details, etc.) at the meeting are expected to be answered in writing in the near future
  • any unfamiliar definitions contained within this report can be thoroughly uncovered and researched at http://www.pcwebopaedia.com/ and http://whatis.com/

Prepared by Christopher Weisdorf

President and Technical Director,
Residential Broadband Users’ Association

Major contributions by Fergal Warde

Senior Member, Toronto

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