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Comcast Lying About Vonage 390

Posted by kdawson
from the can-you-hear-me-now dept.
jehnx writes, "Apparently, Comcast is trying some new tricks to get people to sign up for its version of VoIP, 'Comcast Digital Voice,' according to Wang (of WangScript fame). From the blog post: 'Today my wife received a phone call from a Comcast representative who had called to promote their new "Comcast Digital Voice" service... Ordinarily, we don't mind Comcast calling us from time to time with new offers... [but this time] they proceeded to tell LIE after LIE in an attempt to convince us that Vonage was not as good as Comcast Digital Voice. Imagine how many people would be scared into using Comcast Digital Voice because Comcast makes them believe that Vonage is insecure and only works when your PC is turned on.' Is Comcast going a bit far in their techniques to lure in new customers?"
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Comcast Lying About Vonage

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 01, 2006 @09:10PM (#16271601)
    no encryption at all. Man in the middle attacks are very possible.
    • by Ucklak (755284) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @10:07PM (#16272145)
      So VOIP is no more secure than POTS.
      • by laing (303349) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @10:41PM (#16272391)
        Actually it's slightly more secure only because SS7 is a simple protocol compared to SIP (tunneled of course). It's also more secure in that a non-authorized person (like a private investigator) could not tap a VoIP connection without gaining entry to the premises. A POTS connection can be tapped by anybody who can access your line (anywhere). Comcast's VoIP likely uses similar technology to Vonage and so is probably just as secure.
        • by Shakrai (717556) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @11:45PM (#16272931) Journal

          Actually it's slightly more secure only because SS7 is a simple protocol compared to SIP (tunneled of course). It's also more secure in that a non-authorized person (like a private investigator) could not tap a VoIP connection without gaining entry to the premises. A POTS connection can be tapped by anybody who can access your line (anywhere). Comcast's VoIP likely uses similar technology to Vonage and so is probably just as secure.

          Define "secure"? POTS/DSL/Vonage-on-DSL has an inherent level of security and reliability above cable/cable-VoIP/vonage-on-cable because telco technology is [b]circuit based[/b]. Your line isn't dependant on a shared RF medium that can potently be snooped/jammed/interfered with by anybody else on the same node. Doubt that? Then explain why it took Time Warner six months to figure out that the problem with my Roadrunner service was a friggen 45 year old TV down the block leaking RF onto the cable plant? Had I TW's digital phone/vonage I would have been royally screwed. I can't recall the last time that my POTS/DSL service was taken down by a 45 year old phone next door....

          Anybody that relies on VoIP service over a cable connection is insane. My DSL service is circuit based and survives just about anything including power outages. My cable service doesn't even survive thunderstorms and dies during power outages, presumably because the repeaters aren't line powered.

          • Cable is secure (Score:3, Insightful)

            by SparcPlug (911168)
            ...that can potently be snooped/jammed/interfered with... Most cable providers implement BPI+ [cablemodem.com].
            From the BPI+ spec:

            Baseline Privacy Plus (BPI+) provides cable modem users with data privacy across the cable network. It does this by encrypting traffic flows between CM and CMTS.

            So an HFC network with BPI+ implemented affords more security than a POTS/DSL line since it is encrypted from end to end.

            You've obviously never had static/poor call quality on your POTS line. You are lucky.

            Also, PacketCable can [arstechnica.com]

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Afrosheen (42464)
              Actually the cable company provides battery backup boxes for their phone service to satisfy telco laws. They must have 9 9's uptime on the phone service due to 911 requirements. Even the cable techs (who despise the phone boxes) are extremely careful when adding or removing services on homes with digital phone lines. They must never, ever disconnect the line at the pedestal/pole during service calls due to the phone boxes. All of the filters and other things they need to access are all in the digital phone
          • by Cramer (69040) on Monday October 02, 2006 @02:11AM (#16273927) Homepage
            DSL is no better than Cable. While you are somewhat more electrically isolated from your neighbors, it's still ultimately shared... On cable, yes, my packets and my neighbor's packets are on the same physical wire all the way to the head end (where thousands of other's meet on their way to the ISP.) On DSL, they travel down the same trunk to the DSLAM (where they meet and travel down a T1/T3/OC-3 (depending on how cheap your provider is) to the ISP.) While it looks easy to snoop your neighbor's traffic on cable -- it's right there on the cable just the same as yours, the volume (and number of channels) means you have a lot to hunt through to find one specific modem. And cablemodems support "baseline privacy" that scrambles the data making it harder to decode. (but it's still "simple" crypto, designed to limit cloning.)

            DSL is a bit of a challenge, too. However, DSL can be monitored from other pairs in the same trunk just like a cable modem. (listen for weak cross-talk.) The DSL physical layer isn't scrambled at all, so if you can see the signal (no matter how weak), it can be decoded with ease.

            The PSTN ceased to be truly circuit switched decades ago. It's been digitized, packet switching for a long time. The only circuit is in the "last mile" from the CO to CPE. And more often than not these days, your copper wires don't even go all the way back to the CO; they go to a multiplexer. (or "remote DSLAM" if we're talking DSL.)

            As to which is "secure"... neither. POTS/DSL is easiest to sniff if you're willing to sneak around to plant a physical tap -- on the NID or any of the boxes on down the line, right down to breaking into the DSLAM itself. Cable just requires you be somewhere in the neighborhood (no sneaking required), and willing to sift through a lot of noise to find one specific modem's traffic.

            On the issue of power, both DSL and cable are endpoint powered. If your house loses power, your modem will stop working. It doesn't matter if it's a DSL modem or a Cable modem. Telco's may have more experience with keeping their equipment powered, but they aren't going to give a shit if the DSLAM loses power during a storm; they'll only care about keeping "lifeline" services (read: POTS) functional. That DSLAM in the cabinet at the top of the hill doesn't have a generator backing it up.
  • .. That Vonage can't retaliate by telling Comcast customers to turn off their cable modems huh? Tough shit - but I think there are grounds for a suit on false advertising no?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Rude Turnip (49495)
      IANAL, but it sounds more like a case for a libel suit, rather than false advertising, if the claims are true.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Careful with that talk, or they'll sick that Monkey with a sledge hammer on YOU!
    • Tough shit - but I think there are grounds for a suit on false advertising no?

      It's not "false advertising", it's slander.

  • AFAIK Vonage is not as good as some of the ISP's VOIP because they provide a separate network for their VOIP packets.
    • by Twanfox (185252)
      "Seperate Network" for VoIP packets? That sounds kinda stupid. Try QoS metering. After all, from your local segment, VoIP and other traffic has to bottleneck through your own line first before fanning out onto an ISP's larger network.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by topham (32406)

        Shaw Cable does this in Canada. They drop in another cable modem and wire your phonelines up to the cable modem (which has VoIP capabilities); the one significant advantage is they also install a rechargeable battery pack and off some service level guarantees.
      • by nxtw (866177)
        No, they actually use a separate channel from the internet channels.
        • by ZiakII (829432)
          No, they actually use a separate channel from the internet channels.

          I know that time warner does this as well not exactly sure if comcast does it, but I can't imagine they would be that much diffrent from one cable company to another.
          • by aesiamun (862627)
            I would imagine that comcast and TW use the same system. Adelphia used the exact same cable system as TW and TW bought have of Adelphia's customer base using the existing infrastructure.
        • by MustardMan (52102) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @09:50PM (#16272003)
          No, they send the information down a different tube
          • by Lehk228 (705449)
            it's definitely not put on a different truck though, because the internet isn't a big truck
      • Not sure about Comcast, but Brighthouse uses a different frequency range on the cable line for Digital Phone than it does for Internet. The cable line is divided into a bunch of different "zones" by frequency range. Analog Cable, Digital Cable, Video on Demand, VoIP, and Internet are in different zones. VoD, VoIP, and Internet are all IP based services (in essence "cablemodems"), but each service uses a different space within the cable.
  • by realinvalidname (529939) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @09:14PM (#16271629) Homepage
    ...to hear of Comcast lying about a competitor's product. Next thing you know, they'll claim that satellite TV goes out every time it rains.
    • by Da3vid (926771) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @09:29PM (#16271789)
      Your winnings, sir.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by simontek2 (523795)
      Actually, it can, if its not positioned correctly, When I first moved to Savannah 4 years ago, I lived on a private island, the cable service sucked. I think 90% of the people out there used Satelite. The crew who first installed it were lazy and incompetant, to the point if it was cloudy, we would have interference. Finally sick of it, We called to cancel, they sent out someone to fix it, They installed a new dish, put it in the yard, (it was attached to the house, with only 6 trees covering its view) Now
    • by alienw (585907)
      Well, they aren't really lying. Vonage often has poor call quality, since there is no QoS. Vonage is not secure, since no encryption is used and the packets travel on a public network. The only real bullshit claim is the PC thing, and even then it's partially true (if PPPoE is used and the Vonage box is not configured appropriately, it will not work).
      • by BVis (267028)
        Vonage definitely has QoS. You can adjust the sound quality on your account through their website.

        Their routers also prioritize voice traffic if they are able to.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by karnal (22275)
          Adjusting sound quality != QOS, BTW: What you're probably doing is adjusting the codec used to encode the voice data (some common ones off the top of my head are G.711 and G.729 - I believe .711 is 64kbit, and 729 is 8kbit, and I can tell a difference...)

          In addition, even if you're attempting to use QOS on their equipment, the Comcast network probably ignores it anyways. They wouldn't have any reason to prioritize Vonage traffic - the only downfall is that they could possibly degrade your service if they
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by alienw (585907)
          Vonage has no QoS. The Internet in general has no QoS. The sound quality adjustment simply adjusts how much it compresses the data. The prioritization only works on your part of the network. Once it gets onto the internet, it's a free-for-all.
      • by radish (98371)
        My Vonage sound quality is far better than my cellphone (not really surprising) and not discernably different from a landline. It's also considerably more reliable than the PoS landline I had from Verizon for a year before switching.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sam Nitzberg (242911)
      I remember Comcast's adds encouraging people to "drop the dish" or something like that...
      What's funny is that I've driven by Comcast facilities... They use multiple satellite dishes. Looks like they get their signals from Satellite and then send the signals over their own ground-based network...... In that context, they should be pretty careful about criticizing dish-based reception.....
      • by merreborn (853723) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @11:35PM (#16272827) Journal
        What's funny is that I've driven by Comcast facilities... They use multiple satellite dishes. Looks like they get their signals from Satellite and then send the signals over their own ground-based network...... In that context, they should be pretty careful about criticizing dish-based reception.....

        I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that a 12", $100 dish doesn't perform the same in the rain as the 100', multi-million dollar dishes Comcast uses.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I'm still shocked Comcast tells that lie since their service quits every time it rains but my friends with satellite don't have problems except a very few times of the year. Comcast is too cheap to use water-tight connectors so their cables always short-out when wet. They also are too cheap to use NEMA rated enclosures so the amps also short when it's windy and raining. All it takes it a little shower to knock-out cable for many hours for every one I know that has Comcast.
      • If what you say is true, then they aren't too "cheap" to do these things, because it would be cheaper if they did them and didn't have to send out service techs every time it rains.
  • Customer Service? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Kid Zero (4866)
    Say, has Vonage reopened their Customer Service department yet? Last I checked, they didn't understand the concept.

  • Think about it... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msowka (320682) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @09:15PM (#16271643)
    do you really think this is Comcast, or some jerk rep that's trying to meet his quota or make an extra few $ on commission!

    (Why did this posting make it through?)
    • He's their agent. It's up to them to control him.
    • by nwbvt (768631) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @09:59PM (#16272089)

      He probably works for Vonage, and is trying to hurt Comcast's reputation.

      On a more serious note, I've talked to many customer service reps who didn't know what they are talking about. I don't know that you can call it lying, it is perfectly possible this guy thought these things were true. Or maybe this guy is just a jerk who will be in the unemployment lines in a few weeks (every company has these, probably even Vonage). Bottom line is, you can't trust someone who calls you up during dinner to try to sell you a product. Just as you can't trust a single blogger that claims Comcast is running a massive campaign of disinformation because of a single experience.

    • by skam240 (789197)
      yeah, i like how the post seems to suggest some sort of global conspiracy based off this ones person's single experience. why was this even posted on slashdot? next we'll see posts about how some random guy found a hair in his soup and then proceeds to link it to some broader hair based conspiracy.

      there will always been sales people who will lie to make the sale. does this mean it's company policy? no.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 01, 2006 @09:16PM (#16271665)
    In this case Comcast is partially correct.

    They are selling a full DQOS phone service. This means that that there is full QOS when on their network. You are guaranteed that you will have the bandwidth for the telephone call. This cannot be said when you are using Vonage. Vonage over a DOCSIS connection is strictly best effort, meaning that you voice packets have no more priority on the line than you neighbors downloads. This will (if it does not already) mean that you will have inferior quality on a Vonage phone vs. the Comcast solution. Also with DQOS from Comcast you get priority for any 911 call. You cannot get this from Vonage.

    Disclosure - I do work in the cable industry but for a equipment vendor not Comcast.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      What the hell is this? You're citing facts in a Slashdot discussion? You make me sick.

      MacOS RULEZ!!!
    • This means that that there is full QOS when on their network. You are guaranteed that you will have the bandwidth for the telephone call. This cannot be said when you are using Vonage.

      So, you work for an equipment vendor that's busy setting up "QOS" equipment that will bump off competing VOIP traffic for "downloads" but not Comcasts? Would you say that Comcast is setting up equipment that's currently against the law? That's exactly the sort of anti-competitive behavior everyone worried about net neutr

      • by The Vulture (248871) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @10:39PM (#16272375) Homepage
        PacketCable, which is what is used for these Cable/VoIP lines doesn't (intentionally) work like that.

        DOCSIS has excellent QoS support. It supports what are called "Service Flows" when the modem is provisioned in DOCSIS 1.1 mode. Essentially, a service flow creates a secondary pipe to the CMTS that is completely independant of the other ones. Thus, there would be a second service flow, provisioned for 64 or 128Kbps, used only for VoIP, which has a higher priority than the data flow.

        When using cable modem service, traffic from Vonage unfortunately falls into the "data" pipe, and therefore gets jumbled with the rest.

        I don't feel that Comcast is being anti-competitive at all, they're using a feature of the DOCSIS specification that cable operators devised and use. Perhaps you need to take your case to CableLabs (and get laughed out by them).

        -- Joe
    • by chill (34294) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @10:29PM (#16272323) Journal
      Really? Then how come my Comcast VoIP phone goes all to hell when I start uploading big files at the same time?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Aha! So Comcast does NOT put the internet and VoIP into two different frequency ranges. This does not happen on Brighthouse because they do put internet and VoIP into two different ranges. In essence two different cablemodems that are totally invisible to each other.
  • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @09:19PM (#16271689)
    Then why are you just kicking up a shitstorm on slashdot?

    If they really are telling lies and they are really using fear mongering instead of honest product comparisons, then contact your fair trading /comsumer protections/ whatever offices instead. Alternatively just contact Vonage and tell them this happened and ask for their help.

    Here on old /. a few people will try to pull a few funny points etc, but nothing concrete will happen.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 01, 2006 @09:19PM (#16271701)
    And when I compare our VOIP service with Vongage, I use the following facts.

    "Vonage requires an internet connection, we do not"
    "Vonage routes their calls over the public internet, which may result in poorer quality or dropped calls, we route calls over our private cable network"
    "Vonage has a national 911 call center, we route 911 locally in your county"
    "We are a local call center, where with Vonage, you may get routed to a call center in East India"

    While I'm not exactly a fan of Comcast, its all too easy to get a lone CSR (in any company) who really doesnt know what he/she is talking about and will say just about anything to win back customers.

    Heh, the confermation/security word I had to type to post this was "exploit".

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by radish (98371)
      And when I compare our VOIP service with Vongage, I use the following facts.
      You have a different definition of "fact" from me.

      "Vonage requires an internet connection, we do not"
      Fine, Vonage requires an internet hookup. If you don't have one, Vonage isn't for you. Next!

      "Vonage routes their calls over the public internet, which may result in poorer quality or dropped calls, we route calls over our private cable network"
      Never had a dropped call on Vonage. Never had bad line quality. I've been using it for 2 ye
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rabbit994 (686936)
        Instead of worrying about 911, here's a simple solution, next time you upgrade cells phones, just keep the old one lying around for 911. Remember, cell phones can always dial 911 if they are connected to a tower. I have a nextel phone with no SIM card that I keep plugged and turned on for that reason. If you have spotty cell phone coverage where you live, this solution might not work for you but for many people, it's a good alternate.

        I have Teliax which allows me to use Asterisk at home for my phone service
  • by writermike (57327) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @09:19PM (#16271703)
    The auto industry does this from time-to-time. Why, here's a pull quote:

    "Hi, I'm the electric car.
    I can't go very fast or drive very far.
    And if you drive me, people will think you're gay.

    Gay men: 'One of us! One of us!'"
  • by Jack Pallance (998237) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @09:23PM (#16271739) Homepage Journal
    The lies you were told were nothing! The sales rep from Comcast told me that Vonage causes cancer, stole my girlfriend, and wrote the screenplay for Firewall!
  • In the telecommunications world, dirty tricks aren't new. They even made laws against some of the tactics.

    And for those using Vonage with an ISP such as Comcast that offers a competing service, you haven't seen anything yet. The whole "net neutrality" argument hasn't even begun yet. Just wait until Vonage service starts getting worse while the competitors tout "better service" and such.

    As a Vonage customer, I will say that I'm not totally satisfied. There are times when someone calls that I can hear them, b
    • by alienw (585907)
      Well, maybe you wouldn't have this problem if Vonage spent the money to build their own damn network instead of counting on cable companies spending the cash to build a voice-grade network that they can use for free. Your agreement with Time Warner doesn't guarantee your connection is voice-grade, so why should they have the obligation to providing such a connection? Low latency requires spending lots of money to increase network capacity, so why should you or Vonage get this extra benefit for free? Net
      • by div_2n (525075)
        Net neutrality advocates seem to forget that network capacity costs real money

        No they don't. They (and me) don't think ISPs have any right to double-dip. I pay for my network connection. If Time Warner attempts to solicit extra fees from Vonage for higher priority packet delivery on top of what I pay for the connection, that doesn't make sense no matter how you argue it. The other way of looking at it is that at that point, I'm no longer paying for internet service, but rather some subset that is defined by
    • by radish (98371)
      Look at your firewall/NAT. Those are the same symptoms I've had once or twice when my router has forgotten the Vonage port forward rules.
  • I call BS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by zappepcs (820751) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @09:28PM (#16271777) Journal
    Not that I'm completely sure of everything, but those old analogue phone lines that got replaced by Vonage service were insecure as can be, and Vonage didn't sell their service because its secure, they sold it because its CHEAPER! I'm also reasonably secure in thinking that Comcast has done more than just lie, I think they have done what they can to mess up how Vonage service routers work. Since Comcast changed to TimeWarner in my area, service has been much better, no dropped packets or dropped Vonage calls.

    Comcast has every reason to be underhanded in their dealings with Vonage customers, and not much reason to be worried. Lets guess who spends lots of money in Washington D.C.? Vonage? or maybe its Comcast that spends more?

    Verizon is also not trying to play nice either. They only want to offer good deals if you buy bundled services. This is business in the USA.

    The whole argument about security is false, misleading, and only made to confuse customers... trouble is the media gets confused too.
    It doesn't matter what voice service you use, it is susceptible to interception, end of story. The only thing that you can hope to do is make it more difficult to intercept it. Military grade encryption end-to-end is not available, and the US government won't allow it to be used anyway if they can at all prevent its use. (think of the children, or think of the terrorists) So the argument about which VoIP service is secure is a totally mute point.

  • This "article" is just a teaser to get people to hit the refered blog to score blogger's karma. C'mon editors.
  • Imagine! A salesman Lying to a prospective customer! This must be standard procedure now at Comcast. If one salesbot is lying then obviously they all are, and comcast should be cast into the nether-reaches of our disdain.
  • Verizon FIOS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stirfry714 (410701) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @09:31PM (#16271809)
    I have Verizon FIOS for Internet and phone right now, and the moment they offer TV, I can be done with Comcast for good... they got their TV franchise here a few months ago, should be a month or two, and then we'll be Comcast free, and everything will be running over the nice fiber pipe.

    So glad there's finally some real competition for Comcast. I guess it takes one monopoly to take down another monopoly.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)
      So glad there's finally some real competition for Comcast. I guess it takes one monopoly to take down another monopoly.

      It's called an oligopoly and in the long run, it is not much different from a monopoly market.
  • by Ron Bennett (14590) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @09:34PM (#16271831) Homepage
    Companies often stretch the truth in advertising, sometimes to the point of outright lying, since they know the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) will likely do nothing; when the FTC does act, penalties (if any) are usually very light; $100K or whatever fine is nothing to a company taking in billions.

    On the bright side, Vonage is a big company too, and thus they can afford to play the deceptive ad game too ... with that said, at the moment, Comcast holds the winning hand regardless, since it has its own networks and has the ability to prioritize VOIP unlike Vonage which is basically at the mercy of the telcos, cable companies, etc.

    Old fashioned POTS (plain old telephone service) providers have Vonage beat, since POTS works even when the cable, internet, power, etc go out ...

    Ron
    • by zappepcs (820751)
      Well, it doesn't take anything to put the Vonage router next to your cable modem, and put them both on your UPS. Of course, that will only last as long as your UPS works, its still better than nothing. The parent's argument is also falacious. When was the last time that you needed the phone when power was out? There are times, I agree, but its been decades since I needed both power and the phone and both were missing. In real emergencies, there is also a cell phone network, and more often than not, a neighb
  • by LoverOfJoy (820058) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @09:35PM (#16271847) Homepage
    Do many people really have fully reliable connection? Every place that I've lived had spotty high speed internet connection. It was up MOST of the time but there were definitely periods here and there where it would go out and be a bit before it came back on. Most people are used to much greater reliability with their phone lines. I can't remember a time when the line gave out on me in the middle of a call (unless I accidentally hung it up with my chin while trying to do more than one thing at once). If I need to call 911 I don't want to have to deal with the net being down. Periodically going down for short periods of a time is annoying when it comes to the net but it'd be infuriating if it happened with my phone. It's hard for me to understand how others would want VoIP services like Vonage or a Comcast equivalent unless they had much more reliable internet service.
    • by RandomJoe (814420)
      Don't know if it's the norm, but Cox has been fantastic in my area (OKC). Certainly as reliable as a regular landline ever was.

      In my apartment, the only time it was down was if the power for the whole complex was out. That happened twice in three years, thanks to some severe storms.

      Now, in my house (maybe 7 miles from the apartments) over the past three years it's been out ONCE for an extended period. I think that was about 45 minutes - and was because the buried main feeder cable (their BIG one, not the
    • by derF024 (36585) *
      Do many people really have fully reliable connection?

      Yes.

      Every place that I've lived had spotty high speed internet connection. It was up MOST of the time but there were definitely periods here and there where it would go out and be a bit before it came back on. Most people are used to much greater reliability with their phone lines.

      Get off the cable network. I've had DSL (speakeasy) and fttp (verizon) service that never goes down.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by LoverOfJoy (820058)
        Would be nice if those options were available in all areas. No place I lived in was able to get dsl or fttp.
    • by radish (98371)
      My cable connection in my last 2 apartments (NYC and NJ) has been more reliable than the POTS landline. Which is why I don't have one of those anymore. Really - phone networks just aren't that reliable in my experience, you'll always want a backup for real resiliance, and my cell works just fine for that.
  • Nothing New (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BrookHarty (9119) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @09:38PM (#16271883) Homepage Journal
    I had Verizon not want to install DSL because I was went with Speakeasy. I finally said, IT really doesnt matter to me, and they tech installed DSL *THAT DAY*. I switched after to Speakeasy, but at least I got my DSL installed.

    People break rules, even if the company has policy in place.
  • Comcast makes them believe that Vonage is insecure and only works when your PC is turned on.'
    Is Comcas saying in certain terms this or just implying? There is a difference. Slander would be saying that this is indeed true, not if you imply a certain other company may not be so secure...
  • by Telvin_3d (855514) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @09:54PM (#16272047)
    When I hear things like this, I always wonder how much of it is the company and how much or it is the phone operator. I mean, I ahve heard sales people say some amazingly stupid things in the past. Often not because of any intentional malice but simply because they have no clue. Now, think about the person on the other end of the telephone. They are likely fairly young and are being paid ~$8-$9 an hour to sit in a chair and read a script to people on the phone. They have gotten all of an hours training on any given service if they are lucky. Maybe all they got was an e-mail or memo saying what the new spiel was. That, plus some comments overheard in the break room, are all they have to go on and they are being judged on how many people sign up. So, sure some of the time it is intentional corporate lies, but my guess is that it is an issue with the operator more times than not.
  • Comcast should be using QoS to woo customers. Comcast should be able to provide better quality because they can better control traffic on their network. Vonage relies on lots of other providers, whereas Comcast probably keeps most of the VoIP traffic on their own network.

    Nick
  • it's probably one customer service rep desparte to make a sale. Most of 'em have to sell a certain number to stay employeed you know. When comcast training materials specify the lies, or at least a manager/trainer is sighted for encouraging this stuff, then I'll sit up and take notice.
  • Heck, Comcast lying? Never...
    I mean, the whole advertising in the South Bay for Triple Play when their VOIP isn't available in Sunnyvale *or* Mountain View... that's not false advertising either.
  • Going a bit far? Yes. But it's not anything new. Comcast moved into my hometown recently where we have cable and internet through our town's electricity dept. Comcast has been going to great lengths to shut down the municipal cable/internet. First doing things like offering a special rate for town residents (that is, for our town only, none of the surrounding area) and only for 6 months. Recently, they've been doing things like going door to door saying that the municipal company is going to stop offering
  • Lanham Act (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bmo (77928) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @11:03PM (#16272567)
    In the US, it is _illegal_ to lie about a competitor's product.

    IANAL, but _these guys are_

    http://www.poznaklaw.com/articles/falsead.htm [poznaklaw.com] (horrid seersucker background, but they're spot on)

    If this is true, then Comcast is _hosed_ and I would cheer on Vonage's lawsuit.

    --
    BMO
  • by pavera (320634) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @11:04PM (#16272579) Homepage Journal
    Ok, not entirely, but Vonage is a completely unencrypted service. It is the same as sending a standard email. If you are ordering things over a Vonage phone line and saying or dialing your credit card number, it is just like emailing it. Grabbing these packets off the internet and replaying them is exceedingly simple. As your voice travels across the internet, any router along that path could be used to dump those packets and a malicious tech or hacker who has gained access to that router can very easily steal your information.

    Comcast probably suffers from the exact same problem, although the traffic is probably not traversing multiple provider's networks the way Vonage is and therefore the danger should in theory be less.

  • Seriously, does this shock anybody? VoIP is the next big disruptive tech, and it scares the bejesus out of the larger less mobile companies, given it's ability to bring the traditionally high cost of entry product to a much much lower level. Lest ye forget, that's exactly why we have to worry about the telcos fucking up the QoS on our packets ( ala net neutrality ).

    Of course, on the other side of the aisle is Vonage, and frankly I'd rather roll my own and get the increased feature set that something like
  • by Rich Klein (699591) on Monday October 02, 2006 @05:27AM (#16274763) Homepage Journal
    WangScript? Some mIRC script that I've never heard of? How about telling us if he had any ties to Wang Labs, the 80s powerhouse, or to the Wang VS mainframes?
  • by LocoBurger (18797) on Monday October 02, 2006 @08:28AM (#16275807) Homepage
    I'm a customer of both Comcast and Vonage. I won't say that Vonage is perfect, but for $25/month, it's pretty fantastic. We've had voicemail outages (voicemail doesn't pick, we can't check voicemail), and that sucks, but it's been very rare (3 times in a little over a year for a couple hours each time). We've had more trouble, in fact, with our Comcast cable modem and Comcast cable TV going down. Generally, the weak link seems to be Comcast, not Vonage.

    My wife and I were at a local festival, and Comcast had a booth. I had to figure out why they could have the balls to advertise $40/month for what sounded like the same thing as Vonage. I told the rep that I was a Vonage customer, and I was willing to listen to his schpiel. "See, you're driving a Yugo, and what we've got here is a Lexus!" Uh huh.. So, what makes it a Lexus? He rattles off some features. Vonage includes every one of them. Oh, and Vonage includes calls to Canada and Western Europe. Hmm?

    "See, you're driving a Yugo, and what we've got here is a Lexus!"

    I thought I gave him a fair shot, and he had no actual arguments or points to make. I'll stay with Vonage, thanks much.
  • by saltydogdesign (811417) on Monday October 02, 2006 @08:55AM (#16276117)
    This isn't news to me. On no fewer than three separate occasions in about four years with Comcast, I have had service outages long enough to cause me to brave their call center. Here's the record on this:

    1) Called and was told they were doing work in my area; that service would be restored in "a couple hours." The next day it was still out. While heading out to the car I noticed that the line to the house had become disconnected. I got a ladder, plugged it back in, and it worked fine.

    2) Called and was told, again, they were doing work in my area; that service would be restored in "a couple hours." Called again when service was still out the next day. Was told they would send a person out -- this entailed a ten day wait. When the service guy arrived, he told me that the line splitter on the street was not only corroded but had been installed backward. Not sure how that's possible, but there it is.

    3) Called and was told, yet again, they were doing work in my area; that service would be restored in "a couple hours." Ten minutes later I reset all my equipment and everything worked fine.

    Fact is, "work in my area" is apparently a lie common to call center vermin. And Comcast doesn't care that they do this. Lovely.
  • Be serious! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BCW2 (168187) on Monday October 02, 2006 @08:56AM (#16276123) Journal
    Since when does the marketing Dept of any company tell the truth? Especially when coparing their product with a competitors! This is everyday business and shouldn't even be news.
  • Not just Vonage. (Score:5, Informative)

    by rantingkitten (938138) <kitten@@@mirrorshades...org> on Monday October 02, 2006 @09:41AM (#16276679) Homepage
    I am the technical director for a VoIP provider I won't name (it's not Vonage), and I can tell you that Comcast has been a thorn in my side for a long time because of this nonsense.

    Whenever a customer calls complaining about voice quality, it's almost always latency or some other issue with their connection; VoIP is, as you can guess, very sensitive to connection quality.

    Comcast has been one of the worst for us, though other cable providers aren't much better (Time Warner, I'm looking in your direction). I cannot prove it, but I'm certain Comcast is doing some sort of traffic shaping for VoIP packets not their own, and it wreaks havoc with my company and many others, because we can't do anything for the customer except tell them "take it up with your ISP".

    I think we all know what the ISP's invariable reaction is. Some tier-one flunky goes "Yup, signal looks good! No problems here!" and the customer comes back to us and there's nothing we can do about it. It doesn't matter how many pingtests, traceroutes, or other measures you offer them -- the cable companies have been notoriously unhelpful in getting their act together. Worse still they'll offer outlandish suggestions to the user, like "getting a static IP might help" or "upgrade your connection to six megs", neither of which will do a damn thing (well, the latter might, but it's not likely that bandwidth is the problem).

    Now I admit that part of this is that VoIP over public residential/business connections is purely "best effort", especially the RTP stream is delivered via UDP which most ISPs and backbone providers consider less important than TCP. Contrawise, Comcast and other integrated providers can QoS their own VoIP packets any way they like. But for an ISP to leverage this fact to spread misinformation or misrepresent what is actually going on is totally ridiculous.

    Part of the problem is that most people really don't know anything about computers or the internet. They'll tell you "but I have a fast connection! It's three megs!" because they don't understand the difference between latency and bandwidth, or they'll point out that their email and websites load really quickly. From this end-user's point of view there's nothing wrong with their connection that should cause their VoIP phone to suck, because "everything else works", and I partially agree with them -- they shouldn't have to constantly harrass their ISP to stop screwing around. (My disagreement is my cynicism of caveat emptor, and it wouldn't kill people to know a little something about how the service works, at the very least so they know to whom to complain when something goes wrong. In essence they're bringing a car to the mechanic complaining that the ride is bumpy, when the problem is the road outside their house is full of potholes.)

    But even my cynicism has limits -- as a matter of fact I had to go through this same crap with my home cable provider, Charter, and it took nearly two weeks for me to get them to deal with the problem. Keep in mind that's someone like me, who knows what he's talking about, who is in IT, who can provide useful information about where the problem lies, and knows to whom to speak and how to phrase the problem to get results. What is your average user supposed to do, when they don't know anything about this stuff?

    When it gets to that point, and the ISP is telling them things like "reboot the computer!", the user sees only a few choices -- get a new ISP, or get a new VoIP provider. And here comes Mr Comcast Droid with his promises of high quality, one bill, blah blah blah, and the user thinks that sounds pretty good, so they make the switch.

    Also, for those of you griping about security of VoIP, I get that question a lot too. It's not particularly secure, but I find it amusing that nobody asks that question when they're getting a copper line from the local Bell, which isn't secure either. At least to eavesdrop on VoIP you'd have to have access to one of the routers along the path, whereas any ten-year-old can plug a handset into the phone interface on the outside of your house (my friends and I did it all the time to bug my sister).
  • Comcast vs. Vonage (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Peyna (14792) on Monday October 02, 2006 @10:08AM (#16277103) Homepage
    I had an interesting experience with Comcast not too long ago. I have had Vonage for quite some time now, and have my Internet service with Comcast. A few months ago, my Internet and Television service randomly stopped working one evening. I called up Comcast and had a recording saying service was out in some places in my area, so I didn't bother waiting on hold. The next time, the service was still out, and so after quite awhile I got through. (All the while, on my cell phone, which has limited minutes, since I got tired of paying so much for it when I have more than enough minutes with Vonage).

    Comcast tells me they can get someone out to fix it, but it will be about 4-5 days. Okay fine, I'll get a credit for the time and I guess that's good enough. It turns out they had accidently disconnected my service while connecting a neighbor.

    The amusing part of it all, is that while the guy is telling me it is going to this long to get fixed, the guy tried to sell me their VoIP service. (I never told them I had Vonage). I should have responded, "So, you want me to sign up for your phone service, so the next time this happens I won't be able to call and complain?"

    Maybe if you have Comcast's VoIP service they put you at the front of the service queue?
  • by SQLz (564901) on Monday October 02, 2006 @10:12AM (#16277155) Homepage Journal
    they proceeded to tell LIE after LIE in an attempt to convince us that Vonage was not as good as Comcast Digital Voice.

    This is called, the Verizon Technique. Quite Common.

MSDOS is not dead, it just smells that way. -- Henry Spencer

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