ISP throttles World of Warcraft “by mistake”

A Canadian internet provider appears to have caused World of Warcraft players to fall victim to its attempts to target peer-to-peer filesharing. Rogers Communications says the effect was unintentional and has offered a workaround.

The case is a classic example of mixing up the medium and the message: while there’s little dispute that most p2p use is for copyrighted materials, it’s not inherently illegal, hence the traditional cry of “what about my Linux distro?” whenever an ISP targets the technology.

It recently emerged that Rogers customers were finding gameplay noticeably affected while using World of Warcraft, prompting speculation that the cable provider was intentionally targeting the game. Rogers then clarified by saying peer-to-peer filesharing was the issue. That initially caused confusion until it was revealed that World of Warcraft creator Blizzard now uses p2p technology to deliver updates to the game during play.

It’s important to note that while Rogers has referred to “traffic management equipment”, it hasn’t specifically said it is throttling peer-to-peer traffic. Instead it says there is a specific problem that occurs when both World of Warcraft and a peer-to-peer service (whether in the game or an external application) are running.

Rogers therefore recommends “you turn off the peer to peer setting within the WoW game and ensure no other P2P file sharing applications are running while playing WoW. WoW does use P2P for software updates, but with this setting changed you should continue to automatically receive software updates through other methods.”

It appears that if users switch off the p2p update setting (which is found at View > Preferences > ¬†Enable Peer-to-Peer Transfer.), they’ll revert to having to wait for an update to download in full before being able to start a gaming session.

Rogers also notes the problem is only temporary: it’s looking for a resolution as soon as possible, but also notes an update in June should address the problems.