Is there a problem with Bell Fibre and OneDrive for Business?

An interesting forum thread suggests a problem between the ISP, Bell Fibre, and Microsoft’s OneDrive for Business.

Several users report a severe slowdown in connections between their computers and OneDrive for Business.  Speeds are capped around 600 kbps instead of the 500-800 MB/s.

NOT standard OneDrive for Office 365 Home/Personal, just the business OneDrive part of Office 365 hosted plans.

Those affected have confirmed the problem by running a VPN (Virtual Private Network) for comparison. With a VPN, the connection speeds return to expected levels.  That suggests the blockage is at Bell Fibre.

Unfortunately the current forum ‘Answer’ is nothing of the kind.  It’s another user confirming they have the same experience. That’s useful information but not an answer.

The fix is hard because it takes getting two large and famously stubborn companies (Bell and Microsoft) to talk to each other.  Both sides blame the other and hope the whole problem will magically go away.

Somehow, responsible people in both companies need to cooperate and identify the problem.  They need to forget about blame and focus on helping their mutual customers.

Here’s some suggestions if you strike a similar targeted slowdown to a particular web service. They happen occasionally and are hard to identify and fix.

Identifying the problem

There are some tricks to narrowing down the source of a targeted Internet slow-down.

If possible, do some tests replacing just one element of the link.  Try another computer from the same location and ISP connection.  Does the problem still happen from another computer using the same Internet connection?

If you know someone using the same ISP and service, try a test with your computer from their location.  Does the problem still happen on their connection?


The command line tool TraceRt is a place to start.

In a Command Line (Admin) window type:

TraceRt <website>

That will show you all the ‘hops’ between your computer and the web site with the delays (in milliseconds) between each hop.

Compare TraceRT results between the site with problems and other sites.  In this case, OneDrive and OneDrive for Business.

However, TraceRt doesn’t tell the whole story.  Downloads and big file transfers might the throttled in ways that simple ‘pings’ are not. It’s still a useful start and worth recording the results.


The workaround is using a Virtual Private Network. VPN’s have several uses; one is to bypass problems or blockages created by an ISP or even whole country!

A VPN will encrypt all your web use so the ISP can’t ‘see’ what you’re doing or who you’re connecting to.

The people with the current Bell/Microsoft problem add a VPN into the mix and suddenly their speeds to OneDrive for Business return to normal.  That’s NOT what should happen, if anything a VPN might slightly slow a connection, not speed it up.  It strongly suggests the problem is between the ISP and Microsoft’s servers.

How to complain

It’s possible the slow-down is deliberate, caused by some dispute between two corporations but that’s unlikely.  Usually such arguments are publicly known and quickly resolved.

More likely, it’s some unusual and not-deliberate anomaly in the deep plumbing of the Internet. All the ‘tubes’ and connections we normally don’t even think about.

First, collection information in writing. In fact, keep everything in writing. It harder for support people to put you off if you have hard facts.

Compare speeds between the affected service and other services including times (with time zones).

Copy all your TraceRt results and speed results using VPNs.  Keep careful records of all tests, the equipment, times etc.

Contact BOTH sides of the problem.  Start with the ISP, who will almost certainly blame the other side, but you have to start somewhere.  Get a support ticket reference for your complaint.

Then contact the other side (Microsoft in this case) and make sure you give them the same details AND the ISP support reference.  Get a support reference from the other company too.

From there it’s a matter of pushing each side – politely but firmly.  Include new data and keep a record of everything said, done and not done.

Keep testing the problem.  These strange connection problems can magically disappear either because someone discovers the problem and quietly fixes it.  Or there’s some unrelated change which repairs the bug.


Wherever possible, keep off the phone. Support people can and do say anything.

Emails or online chats have a written record of what was said and promised that you can refer to later and provide as evidence.

With complex problems it’s important to have a record to stop companies making excuses or going back on their word.

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