The CRTC is now doing everything in its power to prove that its phony-balony complaints system will harm – not help – consumers. As I’ll explain below, its handling of the CGO complaints (plural) against Rogers for breaking legitimate online applications (esp World of Warcraft) has become theatre of the absurd. But first, some catching up.
More backstory, with corrections
Since posting the 3rd item in this series on the battle between Rogers and the Canadian Gamers Organization (CGO), I’ve had the pleasure of communicating with Jason Koblovsky’s colleage and CGO co-founder, Teresa Murphy. Turns out Teresa goes by the handle “Ressy” on the Rogers forums – quite the coincidence, since the WoW post I quoted the other day was from the selfsame Ressy. So my first correction is the poster is “she” not “he.” Teresa emailed me after reading that post with some important details about the continuing fight for regulatory justice. Here’s where I went off the rails:
“What gamers have experienced is captured painfully in a posting by a Rogers customer on the Rogers tech support forum. Ressy is apparently tech-savvy and a prolific poster. Ressy’s post dates back to January 2011,
just as Jason was filing the first CGO complaint about Rogers with the CRTC…”
Nothing apparent about it, Ressy is way tech-savvy – a geek. As I learned in our email exchange, she’s extremely well equipped to understand what Rogers is or is not doing about its network engineering problems. You’ll see for yourself when we look at the complaint filed at the CRTC in March, for which she was the point-person. Here’s the earlier narrative as it really happened:
From Teresa’s email to me…
I was the one who made the 2nd WoW complaint to the CRTC, and not Jason – this was all before CGO was formed.
The first WoW complaint was made by a gentleman named Sicco Naets – his complaint was the one that was closed by the CRTC, before being reopened because my complaint [i.e. the 2nd] came just a few days after Sicco’s was closed. His complaint was reopened, both our complaints were then joined, and sent off to Rogers. […]
I was sending my submissions and Rogers’ responses to Michael Geist, when I ran into Jason on twitter. We chatted a bit, and then when Rogers started really screwing around with saying things were fixed when they’d only applied their fix to their test sites, Jason messaged me. He wanted to create a gamers organization to get us heard, and get things fixed once & for all. […]
Warning: high BS factor follows, may induce cognitive dissonance
Let’s review the bidding, again, player by player: Rogers senior management, Rogers customer reps, Rogers customers, Blizzard Entertainment, the CRTC and the CGO.
1 – Rogers senior management: There is no WoW problem and we love our customers.
“No one is more interested than we are in making sure these gamers have a good service.”
— Rogers SVP Regulatory, Sept 28, 2011
“Rogers implements ITMPs to ensure the best experience for all of our customers.”
— Rogers Director Broadband Law, Sept 27, 2011
2 – Rogers Customer Support: Stupid customers don’t get it, we’re waiting on Blizzard to fix this.
“WoW traffic uses very little network resources, whereas P2P traffic can use up to 90% of the pipe. A decision to restrict use of upstream bandwidth was made for P2P-specific TCP headers so that available bandwidth will always be there for other applications as well.
“This issue only occurred after Blizzard updated the “behavior” of their specific game packets. When they realized many ISPs that had policies on throttling P2P traffic began to complain, they also began to work with their engineers on a fix for the issue. Unfortunately a patch for this issue has not yet been released through Blizzard, but we hope one will soon be out.”
— Rogers Customer Support Agent, March 18, 2011
3a – Blizzard Entertainment: The Rogers reps have no clue how their own IP networks function.
“Sadly, that [Rogers] representative [cited immediately above] seems to be slightly misinformed. This issue has nothing to do with the type or content of WoW traffic, at all. We don’t use p2p in game, period. We also use the same registered ports we have been since November of 2009. It is definitely disheartening to see that type of uninformed response, as it indicates that there is a serious disconnect occurring at multiple levels.”
— Blizzard Support Agent, March 18, 2011
3b – Blizzard Entertainment: We’ve spent months trying to contact Rogers and they just ignore us.
“We still hold hope that [Rogers] will be willing to respond to our contact requests. We have sent numerous emails over the past few months, and I regret to inform you that I haven’t seen a reply come back yet. Our network engineers are still politely requesting an open dialog so that we can assist your ISP with information specific to our network traffic that may help them properly configure their traffic management systems and end this issue.”
— Blizzard Support Agent, March 18, 2011
4 – Rogers customers: Rogers reps have no clue about P2P or they’re just lying to us.
“I was talking to the [Rogers ] account cancelling person and said I wanted to cancel my internet with them. They transferred me to tech support. The tech support person said WORLD OF WARCRAFT IS P2P, and no matter what I said, he insisted it was P2P and thus they can throttle it. I kept insisting WoW wasn’t P2P, only the updater is, and I had P2P turned off on my updater almost since it became available. I was very very upset at how he could claim this when everything I read said the opposite.
“He then said that the other internet companies I might go to, they use Rogers lines, so they will also be throttled. If I go to Techsavvy will I be throttled as well? What’s the point of moving if that happens?”
— Exavibus, August 28, 2011
[I note in passing that not only has the CRTC’s stupid, dysfunctional arrangement for open access made all us reseller customers miserable – but in addition, Rogers reps are warning potentially departing customers that their experience of throttling will follow them wherever they go. Part of the script they’ve been given by management – or are they just ad-libbing? Way to promote competition, Deciders of Gatineau!]
5a – The CRTC and CGO: It’s the CGO’s responsibility to provide us all the details or their file gets shredded.
“In order to proceed with the analysis of your claim that the Rogers’ ITMPs extend to other games, gaming systems, and non-related gaming applications, we require more specific information about the nature of the problems you and/or others you represent have experienced than you provided in your complaint dated 22 August 2011.”
— From CRTC letter of Sept 30 to Jason K, signed by Suzanne Bédard, Senior Manager, Tariffs
“Got an interesting call from Joanne Baldassi today from the CRTC, who is the senior analyst on our file. Ms. Baldassi has reminded the CGO that the forthcoming submission from us needs to conform with 2010-959 policies or else it will be “out of procedure”. The tone of the conversation seemed to suggest that the CRTC is trying to find a way out, now that we’ve agreed to an unreasonable request.”
— From Jason K’s October 6 update to CGO Facebook page
5b – The CRTC and CGO: If they keep jerking us around, they better be ready for hardball.
“I stated that if the CRTC feels the forthcoming submission is out of procedure, to put that in writing. Should the CRTC also fail to act on our information, I told Ms. Baldassi that the next step will be forwarding off this entire situation to federal cabinet. […]”
— From Jason K’s October 6 update to CGO Facebook page
Why the hell is the Commission putting the squeeze on the complainants instead of Rogers?
“Out of procedure”? Are they fucking kidding?
And now a question or two for Ms Baldassi and her supervisor. Have you been in contact with Rogers – and Cisco – asking them to explain the complete disconnect between the fatuous response you got from Ken Thompson on Sept 27 and the overwhelming evidence that Rogers has been treating this issue with utter contempt for all the other parties, not just its own customers, but even its industry partner Blizzard Entertainment, whose repeated overtures Rogers has completely ignored? As this case has dragged on for 10 months, have you made contingency plans to conduct your own audit, as provided for in the updated guidelines, and if not, why not?
The CRTC wants the CGO to cough up more details.
Maybe Ms Baldassi has mislaid the complaint filed March 29 by Teresa Murphy, which runs 9 pages and well over 3,000 words (the pdf is here just in case). In instalment #5, I’m going to pull out as many details as possible and see what a reasonable person might have to say about them. As a warmup, the complaint opens with a series of detailed technical questions intended to get to the bottom of the Rogers bullshit about the role of P2P in this issue:
“Rogers states this [WoW] issue only occurs when P2P traffic is active. I’d like them to please explain why users also seem to be experiencing World of Warcraft (“WoW”) throttling without P2P being active on the user’s connection, making gaming absolutely impossible.”
Teresa then offers five very sophisticated hypotheses, in the form of questions for Rogers – and ultimately Cisco and the CRTC (and these are the tip of a much larger iceberg):
a. Is this being caused by additional throttling for some areas and not others?
b. Is this being caused by SpeedBoost artificially causing congestion?
c. Is this being caused by lack of infrastructure updates?
d. Is this being caused by mass modem failure?
e. Is this being caused by some other unknown issue?
There’s good reason to believe there are several problems lurking here – including a failure on Rogers’ part to update infrastructure to meet customer demand for bandwidth. Have Ms Baldassi and her colleagues any plans to audit Rogers for compliance with the very first line of defence in their ITMP laundry list – investing in upgrades? And if not, why not?
Without any evidence to the contrary forthcoming from the Commission, we can only assume that Rogers is being allowed to sit on its hands, while the regulator squeezes the CGO for the answers to these questions. QED: the CRTC really is implementing its complaint guidelines with the entire onus on the public to make their own case, before any of the Ottawa fat cats has to make a move.
If Ms Baldassi has evidence to the contrary, by all means message it over to me and I’ll give it pride of place on this page.