Starhub first started by blocking port 80 (or more popularly known as the HTTP port) which effectively prevent any of their subscribers from hosting web pages on their home computers. Lately, they started blocking BitTorrent ports (one wonders how many ports that are) because they felt that "many broadband network operators in the world are also doing so", and that it "helps to ensure that all their customers receive an optimal surfing experience". However, it was also speculated that Starhub would have enjoyed higher cost savings because BitTorrent users are known to be huge bandwidth hogs and are much less profitable for them, compared to surfers who just logon to check their mails or play online games.

While I am not a BitTorrent user, I am quite disgusted with Starhub’s self-righteousness over this matter, not to mention their disillusioned perspective of "many broadband network operators in the world". So far, it was reported that only 2 other Internet Service Providers in the world does it, and both are located in the United States.

So we may probably see a huge exodus of users jumping to Singnet’s Mio. I guess someone will be laughing his way to the banks soon. Then again, it’s not the first time that Starhub has done something this controversial and it’s been proven that their subscribers had been sticking with them through thick and thin and till death do they part. =)

WEB surfers are up in arms over a new report that says StarHub is blocking a popular software program that allows netizens to share movies and other large digital files.

According to the report, released last Friday by a German research firm, only two other Internet service providers (ISPs), both American, block BitTorrent.

The program allows users to download the latest movies, music and software in a matter of hours. While it has become popular among the growing legion of online pirates, BitTorrent has also been used for legitimate purposes, such as distributing free software and new rock albums.

The Max Planck Institute for Software Systems, which compiled the report, said StarHub blocks users from sending data to other users, but not from downloading files. However, this can hamper download speeds as BitTorrent works on a reciprocity model: Those who upload more will be able to download faster.

StarHub’s head of Internet Protocol services Lim Seow Thong did not dispute the report, but defended the company’s actions as something ‘many broadband network operators in the world’ are also doing. He said it helps ‘to ensure that all our customers receive an optimal surfing experience’.

Another possible reason it did this may be cost savings. BitTorrent users are known to be huge bandwidth hogs, and are much less profitable for ISPs, compared to surfers who use their connection to surf or play online games.

But it is a decision that has not gone down well with some subscribers.

On popular technology website Hardwarezone, users lined up to protest against the move, with many threatening to switch Internet providers.

One StarHub user, undergraduate L. Tan, 22, said he would try to convince his parents to switch from StarHub to another ISP once their contract was up. ‘The only reason we’re paying $60 a month for broadband is so that I can download stuff. Otherwise, I might as well just get the entry-level plan,’ he said.

But StarHub customer and shareholder Ken Tan cheered the news. ‘Right now, BitTorrent is primarily used to distribute pirated materials, so people who don’t use BitTorrent, like me, are basically subsidising those who do.’

The Max Planck Institute, which does research on computer and networking-related issues, collected data from over 8,000 BitTorrent users from 1,244 ISPs across 90 countries for the report.

Article obtained from on 22nd May 2008

Reader's Comments

  1. Daily SG: 22 May 2008 « The Singapore Daily | May 22nd, 2008 at 11:12 am

    [...] Daily Discourse – Simply Jean: Starhub block! Block! Block! [...]

  2. _sahirs | May 22nd, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Blocking or bandwidth limiting of P2P traffic is a very common phenomenon worldwide. Its probably new to Singapore which is why locals are up in arms. But better get used to it – its how things are going to be.

  3. Reene | May 22nd, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    Well……. They both belong to the Temasek Holding umbrella anyway… XD

  4. Jwong | May 23rd, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    He said it helps ‘to ensure that all our customers receive an optimal surfing experience’.

    This is like overselling tickets to a theater performance and then trying to get people to share chairs. And you can’t stretch your legs, we need that space too – so everyone gets optimal seating experience.

    Fancy that – having to resort to limiting and downgrading our services so we can get optimal surfing experience. Which is what we paid for in the first place. If they can’t deliver, citing insufficient bandwidth, then they shouldn’t have signed so many people up in the first place.

    Do I wonder what CASE has to say about this?

  5. Shawn | May 27th, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    Bandwidth management is not a new thing but blocking ports is the single stupidest thing any ISP can do and it infringes on user rights.

    To _sahirs, blocking is not common at all. You need to get that right.

    Many users (though admittedly not the majority), including myself use bittorrent to download legal material such as new media and more commonly for me, linux distributions and updates.

    Blocking these ports effectively symbolises the termination of our usage of these services. I say symbolises because ports for these programs are easily cahnged. But still, this is asinine.

  6. Sean | August 6th, 2008 at 11:08 am

    Agreed, in fact, Linux is heavily distributed via torrents as are other legal software.

    Downloading is downloading, uploading is actually used to assist the opensource community a fair bit in distribution.

    Taking shortcuts should not be for service providers.

  7. The Bad Blogger | March 10th, 2009 at 11:21 am

    I try to cancel the subscription as by law, in the contract they never say they are gonna block off, certain website such as PlugIm or some other social website I believe also been block.

    Since I’m a regular PlugIm members, I now can’t submit my article and stories to the social site. I went down to Starhub asking for cancellation as they never state on the contract for blocking the social site and here’s what they said, “Sorry we can’t this is not under our power to unblock the social website, if you ever want to cancel you will need to pay $400.”

    I was so angry, I just feel Starhub is “Bullshit” save money and earn our money without given what is said in the damn contract. So this is what Singapore Goverment service is doing.. I was wondering if I’m old, will I get my CPF…. ?

  8. lwpro2 | October 24th, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    ooops, tried so many ports already, wondering which port did sh still keep alive?
    poke blood….

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