If you ever need to download very large file from internet (100s MB or even GB), you will know that bit torrent provide reliable and fast way to do that. Actually according to Wikipedia, it accounts for more than 40% of total internet traffic. So, if you are using bit torrent and currently in the market to find an Internet Service Provider (ISP) that not slow it down (throttling), then check out this finding….

A Bit of BT

Bit Torrent(BT) enable you to connect directly and quite securely to other computer (which is not necessarily the server). It could be your friend PC or some strangers’s PC or company server. This is how it work:

  1. The person who own the file will upload a file (bit torrent file) to a server that serve as “tracker”. This file contains all the information needed about the file.
    The file could be a movie, a song, a software, data, etc – it could be any digital file.
  2. As you want to have that file, you then download that torrent file to your computer.
  3. Then you use what so called “Bit Torrent client” you open the torrent file with it.
  4. That’s it now you can connect to the other person getting the file as long as that computer is on.


Because of this, the illegal use of bit torrent become popular. Bit Torrent is in particular quite notorious since the illegal music sharing by Napster revealed. It was where people sharing a digital music illegally (without paying the royalty, i.e: “buy” it).

[Digital File]

Transfering Big File over Internet

One might ask, if it is just about downloading a file, why just immediately download using web browser “as usual” (i.e: just right click and “Save link As”)?

Well, some of the reason will be:

  • Not everybody have a web server  or ftp server to put the file on.
  • Bit torrent allow the distribution to be distributed: if 1 person has successfully downloaded (“leech”) that file, the second person who download the file will have 2 persons as the source: the original seeder and the first downloader that become seeder as well (make it faster). So if hundreds of people has ever downloaded that particular file, then it may be 100s sources “seeding” the file. It’s better than clogging just 1 particular server, isn’t it?
  • For one with slower or more problematic internet connection, bit torrent provide excellent way to stop start and resume seamlessly.

ISP and Bit Torrent

Knowing that bit torrent will use a lot of bandwidth capacity, it will be preferable for an ISP (Internet Service Provider) to not supporting bit torrent or to slow down its traffic in order to limit the usage. (For example: with 120GB download limit on your internet plan, I would say, without bit torrent download, it will not go near 120GB – but using bit torrent however, that amount can be reached easily).

However, the ISP cannot really saying that they will throttle or even not allowing bit torrent traffic as it will jeopardize their sales number. So, what they do , sometimes secretly , is to just throttle it (to make it slower) a little bit that customer probably wont notice but it will reduce the bandwidth use. (For example: with a little bit slower maybe you then cannot download full 120GB, say only 100GB, then the ISP can use that extra 20GB to be used for other customer).

So, MLab who is supported by Google itself, do lots and lots of test of internet provides the data and a project funded by U.S. National Science Foundation at of Syracuse University did “deep packet inspection” analysis to reveal whether or not the ISP throttle the bit torrent and by how much. This is their story.

Australian ISPQ2-2008-Q1-2010
Primus Telecom8.87%

(The worst the higher, compiled as weighted average of the minimum number of test between Q2-2008 and Q1-2010 based on the original report: spreadsheet)
The original report (including other country’s ISP data’s) published here: http://dpi.ischool.syr.edu/MLab-Data.html

Therefore, if your activity involves a lot of bit torrent (I hope the legal one..) and you want to maximize the speed you got from ISP for your BT, then consider the table above. But generally speaking, or at least for me, even 20% throttling is not really a fuss, it will make a bit longer, that’s all.

My tips: if you really want super fast bit torrent, hire a “seed box” that hookup to superfast backbone and then just FTP it to your computer later. It will cost you barely $5 a month (even cheaper, depends on storage space and bandwidth quota), but you will got 24/7 hours seeding and leeching without turning on that computer at home 24/7. Additionally, if you do some illegal download, you won’t get a nasty letter from your ISP :-)

Happy torrenting…..