Do Israeli Internet Service Providers (ISP) throttle, delay or block peer-to-peer traffic? This question has been spreading in Israeli forums and file-sharing networks, and has introduced theories from attempts to sell enhanced Internet packages to copyright infringement monitoring.
Ynet has received many complaints from internet surfers along the years claiming their rights as surfers and consumers of the product provided by the Internet providers were being violated. Ynet has conducted a first of its kind research in Israel with the assistance of bloggers, surfers and technology reporters which suggests that two of the largest Internet providers in Israel are interfering with their clients' traffic.
Our findings were that there is direct and deliberate interference in P2P traffic by at least two out of the three major ISPs and that this interference exists by both P2P caching and P2P blocking.
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Peer-to-peer (P2P) file transfer protocols are commonly used by file sharers using such programs as eMule, Kazaa and BitTorrent. Initially used for sharing small music files and applications, P2P today is a legitimate and widely used system for the distribution of any electronic media, and multiple gigabyte files are commonly shared amongst users from around the world
Israeli ISPs acquire bandwidth in order to connect their clients to the world wide web. They operate under the assumption that the majority of clients would not make full use of the bandwidth at all times. A problem for the providers arises with clients who use file sharing programs and thus take up more traffic.
The ISPs address this problem by engaging in Traffic Shaping, which in practical terms reduces the flow of information allowing the providers to benefit and earn more from P2P use.
Since 2007 Ynet has received complaints according to which Israeli ISPs block P2P traffic. Those were brought to the media and were dismissed by the ISPs.
Netvision was found to perform partial interference with traffic and it likely operates both deep packet inspection.
Bezeq International’s results were inconclusive. It cannot be determined with certainty that Bezeq blocks or interferes in traffic.
Internet Zahav’s results were the hardest to obtain. Nevertheless, we found strong indication of traffic shaping.
The research has therefore indicated that at least two of the three major ISPs perform manipulation on traffic, and especially peer-to-peer traffic. Deep packet inspection and P2P-caching is performed by at least one ISP and that another one probably operates some kind of preference on specific ports.
The results indicate a possible trend which should be examined by the Communications Ministry. The findings also suggest that the ISPs are acting against the clinets' interests and possibly in violation of the license conditions.
Netvision stated in response, "We have recived the examinations' results and are reviewing them using the means at our disposal. Netvision 013 is making great efforts in providing its clients with the best surfing experience. "
Bezeq International's statement read, "We are pleased that Ynet's test results indicate the good surfing experience our clients are provided with. Bezeq International does not interfere with surfers' content. The company does not block ports, applications or any other traffic transported via the internet."
Internet Zahav / Smile 012 commented in response, "Smile 012 does not block ports, applications or protocols in any way. As suggested by recent polls, Smile 012 provides the best surfing experience for internet users in Israel."
Communications Ministry spokesman Dr. Yechiel Shabi said in response, "The research materials relayed to us paint a picture which arouses the need for thorough examination. After we become familiar with the study's findings, we shall consider the need for interference, supervision or regulation of the matter."
Ilana Brudo and Or Botton contributed to this report