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ISPs Hate P2P Video On-Demand Services 231

Posted by Zonk
from the two-great-tastes-that-hate-each-other dept.
Scrumptious writes "CNET is running an article that highlights the problems associated with video on-demand services that rely on P2P technology to distribute content. The article points out that ISPs who throttle traffic on current generation broadband, and negate network neutrality by using packet shaping technology, are hindering any possible adoption of the services offered nervously by content companies. Many broadband consumers are unaware of how hindered a service they may receive because of the horrendous constraints enforced by telephone network operators. This was a topic widely covered in 2006 in the US, but is now practiced as a common method within the United Kingdom."
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ISPs Hate P2P Video On-Demand Services

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  • No way (Score:5, Funny)

    by Spazntwich (208070) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @11:12AM (#19221901)
    You're telling me a set of companies with aging infrastructures who engage in deceptive business practices and loathe nothing more than giving their customers what they pay for hate having their infrastructures taxed by customers trying to get what they're paying for?

    Inconceivable!
    • Re:No way (Score:5, Interesting)

      by smallfries (601545) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @11:16AM (#19221965) Homepage
      Or you could say that a bunch of companies who buy bandwidth in bulk, and sell it in small pieces can't cut their margins too tight without going out of business. Either way, it's a matter of perception.

      However, video p2p services don't have to suffer this way. The service provider is being shit by not preferring local peers over distant peers. If they recoded their applications to take explicit measures to route the majority of traffic within an ISP's address block then it would escape traffic shaping and throttling which happen at the interface to the network.

      So the ISPs wouldn't lose money, and the punters could watch their porn. So whose fault is it now?
      • It should be noted that TFA is talking about British ISPs. The summary did not make it clear, and I think it's a very important distinction, especially because the site FAQ states this is generally an American site and everything is usually assumed American unless otherwise specified.
        • by omeomi (675045)
          It should be noted that TFA is talking about British ISPs.

          Well, American ISPs aren't thrilled about P2P software either. I have reasonably fast 6MPS downstream, but my upstream is throttled to a small fraction of that by my ISP. I don't use P2P applications, but because of the nature of my job, I do often have to transfer large, uncompressed video files, and the paltry upstream bandwidth is a real hindrance.
          • Re:ATTENTION!!! (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @12:29PM (#19223135) Journal

            I have reasonably fast 6MPS downstream, but my upstream is throttled to a small fraction of that by my ISP.

            That's a technical decision by the broadband industry. They set aside more frequencies for downstream because presumably most people don't need to do big uploads. On cable networks the upstream also needs to be a lower frequency to make it back to the head-end (the upstream channel is typically below cable channel 2) and this also tends to limit the bandwidth available.

            What I don't understand is why nobody has bothered to release a "dynamic" DSL product. DSL works by taking whatever frequencies are usable (how high you can go depends on the length of the loop) and breaking them down into channels. Some of those are set aside for upstream, some (the bulk, in the case of ADSL) for downstream. Why not have a dynamic solution that re-allocates the channels for up or downstream depending on what you are doing at the moment (uploading or download)? I don't think this would work on a shared cable network but I see no reason why it couldn't be done for DSL.

            but because of the nature of my job, I do often have to transfer large, uncompressed video files

            Make your job provide you with a business-grade connection with higher upstream.

            • by ZorinLynx (31751) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @12:55PM (#19223485) Homepage
              It's actually more complicated than that.

              ISPs in peering relationships want to get rid of packets. so generally, if you have two ISPs, A and B, and A is sending a lot more traffic to B than B sends to A, A is going to be paying B for the privilege of "getting rid of" packets.

              If two ISPs are sending each other around the same amount of traffic, they have an even peering arrangement. Typically no dollars are exchanged in this scenario.

              This means that when you, as a broadband customer, upload, your ISP has to "get rid of" the packets you are uploading and send them to other ISPs. If a lot of your ISPs customers generate tons of upstream bandwidth, the other ISPs that yours pairs with will start demanding some money in the peering arrangement, since they receive more traffic from your ISP than they send to it.

              Heh, this is difficult to explain without it becoming confusing, but the gist is... Upstream bandwidth is expensive. Downstream bandwidth is cheap. In essence, those who generate traffic subsidize those who receive it.

              This model sucks, but it's why we likely won't see more than a megabit upstream cheaply in the states anytime soon.
              • by kestasjk (933987)
                I always thought it was the other way around.
                If network B requests data from network A, network A won't be the ones to have to pay for it. That's like charging the person receiving a telephone call.

                By the way if you want to pay me to get rid of your packets I meter /dev/null ; you can send your packets there and I'll send you a bill at the end of the month. (There will be severe fines if you attempt to use /dev/null without paying.)
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          It should be noted that TFA is talking about British ISPs.

          In finest Slashdot tradition, I didn't read TFA. However, there are honest ISPs in the UK who make clear what the limits are, and offer unlimited packages for more money. I'm on an unlimited package and paying about $60/month (versus ordinary ADSL packages at the same nominal speed, which go from free - $30/month these days), and given the amount of stuff I download and upload I would really know if there was a limit.

          What I'd really like is

      • Re:No way (Score:4, Interesting)

        Or you could say that a bunch of companies who buy bandwidth in bulk, and sell it in small pieces can't cut their margins too tight without going out of business. Either way, it's a matter of perception.

        Not really a problem. I've been thinking this for a little while: ISPs need to raise their rates. This "illusion" they're fostering can be as damaging for them as it can be annoying for their customers, but marketing doesn't want to charge above some magic figure they've conceived because they think everybody will ditch them for the alternative (or just ditch broadband, a thought gives them cold sweats.) Seriously, capitalism means charging a reasonable rate for a reasonable service, not position a multi-million dollar company on the bleeding edge of survivability.

        I think the average joe will go for it, too. A variety of services, such as phone , entertainment on demand, and information all can be had through one pipe, yet we're really paying for a lot less.

        Before I get flamed to hell, yes I understand that most ISPs are money-grubbing idiots who want to protect a shitty business model. I still think most of us are paying a lot less than what we're really getting.
        • by Shakrai (717556)

          Not really a problem. I've been thinking this for a little while: ISPs need to raise their rates

          Really? Is there actually a bandwidth problem or is this a solution looking for a problem? For all the crying by the telcos about capacity I've never noticed any major issues -- even on my stupid residential connection at home.

          If Verizon and AT&T (both of them Tier One internet providers) have a capacity issue then I think we have a bigger problem then downloading porno videos. This is FUD on their par

    • This $hit pisses me off. I went YEARS with no break in services (ok, except during very heavy rains when ALL of cable went out). So one day I decide to try out Limewire. Things are good for a few months. THEN! I start dropping connection all the time. I call their tech support and they SWEAR they don't traffic shape. "Your cable modem is 5 years old, it's time to buy another one", is what I'm told. Bull$hit. I couldn't go 2 DAYS without a dropout when I had Limewire and/or XBOX360 (playing on-line)

      • by ericlondaits (32714) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @11:56AM (#19222619) Homepage
        If you wish to give them the benefit of the doubt, there's lots of things that could be going wrong without them shaping traffic.

        At my company we have have a single aDSL connection that we share through a NAT Linux router. When I started using eMule, everything was OK... until a coworker started using eMule as well, which made the internet connection practically dead for everyone in the office until we shut down the mules. We tried lots of tinkering with the connection settings (lowering the max number of connections, connections per minute, etc.) and eventually found out that many people shared more or less the same problem, but we could never solve it.

        The combination of bit torrent + eMule also showed the same symptoms through the same router... but when tried through the same provider with a different setup (direct connection to a Windows 2000 workstation) it ran perfectly. I never found the reason to this problem, but evidence points more towards the NAT router and P2P connection handling than to the ISP.

        I also had some problems when connecting to certain sites and certain POP3 servers (timeouts) which I eventually traced to the MTU size configuration, after the most painstaking diagnose you can imagine... modem connected to windows worked fine, windows through NAT Linux router didn't... this is a sort-of common problem with PPPoE connections and bad routers or heavy firewalling, which looks like your internet connection is acting up, but is probably your own fault or that of the server you're contacting.

        Morale: There's lots of things that can go wrong with TCP connections, and it's usually very hard to diagnose since you hardly get a look at the full picture. ISPs are not always as incompetent or evil as we assume.
        • Thanks for the reply. I really am looking for alternative explanations, but it's hard to believe anything else when the only common denominator is P2P (during bad service).

          You mentioned that you found it to be your router. Did rebooting the NAT-enabled router have any effect? If it were some sort of configuration or MTU problem with the router, I'm not sure, but I'd think rebooting the router might do something. In my case, it did nothing. All I had to do was reboot the cable modem. My Belkin wi-fi

      • by nschubach (922175)
        I know my ISP will refund you a percentage of your monthly if your connection is spotty. If you had a ping logger or something trained on Google for a few weeks, you might be able to send them the log and get some of that money back. If you keep that up and complain alot, usually things get fixed. At least my ISP has always done right.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by interiot (50685)

        Your cable modem is 5 years old?? My cable modem started being spotty when it was 1.5 years old... a tech came out, and he said that they routinely replace that model of cable modem for other customers when it gets to be 1 year old (I guess they don't make them like they used to...). It turned out the tx/rx power levels were just a little too low, and we found a splitter we could remove, which boosted the power levels up to acceptable levels. But he said that it's getting more routine for cable modems t

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by geekoid (135745)
          cable modem is just a electronic box. There is no real technical reason for them to degrade with time. If they are not properly made, then yeah but that goes with any electronic devoce. Properly made with rated parts it should run forever.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Maxo-Texas (864189)
      I don't know why that two lane toll road built to support pickup trucks won't handle 18 wheelers with double load trailers. You promised me that I could take my produce to market on it from my farm. Sure, I had 30 acres back then but now I have 3,000 but you didn't specify reasonable limits because you thought I was going to be reasonable.

      Fact is- they make a profit or they go out of business. Either bandwidth gets cheaper or you will be paying more for service in the future as these bandwidth intensive
      • "You promised me that I could take my produce to market on it from my farm. Sure, I had 30 acres back then but now I have 3,000 but you didn't specify reasonable limits because you thought I was going to be reasonable."

        Now, instead of your spurious attempt, let's try an analogy that actually bears some resemblance to what we're seeing here.

        They promised and you paid for a bandwidth of 3,000,000 chickens per month along their toll road, and when you had thirty acres and were only shipping 30,000 chickens per
        • by Shaman (1148)
          But that's simply not true. In your analogy it would be better to say that the truck company sold you a truck that goes 120mph but the road is limited to 45mph, and you're unhappy that you can't use the full capability of the truck at all times, death and destruction bedamned.
          • by Dog-Cow (21281)
            No. In your analogy, you'd be complaining to 3COM because you have a 1000/100/10 NIC, but you can't get better than 300k upstream bandwidth. The GP's analogy was correct. Yours makes no sense at all.
    • Now I hate phone companies as much as the next person, but working for a small WISP -- and we currently are not doing this -- I can say phone companies are not the only ones that do this. A lot of WISPs use bandwidth management software, throttle P2P, and have high "burst rates" that get throttled back on big downloads (and that's fixed wireless, like Canopy, I'm talking about, not your local hotspot).

      Yeah, WISPs are still a small percentage of online users, and often the last resort for people too far out
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by VWJedi (972839)

      customers trying to get what they're paying for

      I think you mean "customers trying to get what they think they are paying for". I agree that this is mainly the ISP's fault for making misleading claims, but a wise customer will realize there is a difference between guaranteed service and "best effort" service. Guaranteed service costs more.

  • by RichMan (8097) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @11:13AM (#19221927)
    Face it ISPs have oversold their bandwidth. Basing their capacity on bursty web page loads by subscribers. Real use of bandwidth is not in the ISP's business model.

    You can't really blame the ISP's as providing full bandwidth to all would be overly costly and ridiculous given the original traffic patterns but they are going to have to adapt to the new data patterns of their subscribers or lose to those who will provide it.
    • by the_womble (580291) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @11:21AM (#19222039) Homepage Journal
      They could be honest about and tell customers that they throttle traffic.

      They could also charge for transfer used above an allowance (as most hosting companies do).

      No, they want to carry on pretending that they are providing a service that they are actually not providing so that all the suckers (also called customers) will be willing to pay for higher bandwidth. If they realised that supposedly higher bandwidth services would just improve page download times a little bit, most people would be quite happy with sticking to the cheapest 1mbps ADSL they can get.
    • by u-bend (1095729)
      Just wish they'd used a little foresight. ISPs, **AA, Record Companies--it just sucks that so much of what we depend on for legitimate digital content as consumers is run by people with no concept of where the business is now, let alone where it's going.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cerelib (903469)
      This might be the reason that providers are offering different high-speed internet plans. My local provider offers "Preferred" 7Mbs down/512 Kbps up and a "Premier" 12 Mbps down/1 Mbps up plans. I would much rather see these throttled plans than any sort of pay per bit or pay per minute schemes, but it has it's downsides. We are finally getting to a point of wide-spread broadband adoption, but introduction of "budget" plans, could separate the Internet again. Instead of dial-up and broadband, it will be
      • would you rather have uncapped bandwidth with a transfer cap, or capped bandwidth with no transfer cap?

        That's an easy one: better to cap transfer speed than to cap amount of data (explicitly). Pose the question this way: would you rather get everything you want now, with the risk of not being able to get anything until "next month," or have a constant stream flowing (albeit more slowly) that you can turn off and re-purpose later?

        If I "made the mistake" of downloading CentOS DVD's 10 times in the first we
        • by Shaman (1148)
          It's not better to cap transfer speed than data amounts for all applications and all people. It's simply not.

          Clearly, you are on the side of BIG DOWNLOADS rather than small packets. Citrix users, game players, etc. want less latency and better consistency than just GIMME ALL I CAN GET. Don't forget there is more than one philosophy for the worth of an Internet connection.
      • This might be the reason that providers are offering different high-speed internet plans.

        Sure. I switched over to one of those. The actual numbers I don't recall[1], but here's a sampling of SBC/ATT's services.

        JoeSixpack Service: 384 Kbps to 768 Mbps
        Regular Service: 768 Kbps to 1.5 Mbps
        SuperDeluxe Service: 1.5 Mbps to 3.0 Mbps

        Originally, I opted for the Regular Service. I typically got the maximum 1.5 Mbps, and life was good.

        After a year or so, the service started to degrade to around 768 Mbps, so I said
    • by gbjbaanb (229885)
      However, I think the 'lose to those who provide it' will not readily happen. The issue will be with cost - any new ISP who bases their usage pattern on full downloads of streaming or video bandwidth will have their customers using a lot of bandwidth, and so their prices will have to reflect this. As such it will be a minority of customers who are willing to pay the premium for it, and so the old ISPs will continue providing their solutions.

      I hope that it will slowly make the backbone providers put more and
    • by vertinox (846076)
      You can't really blame the ISP's as providing full bandwidth to all would be overly costly and ridiculous given the original traffic patterns but they are going to have to adapt to the new data patterns of their subscribers or lose to those who will provide it.

      Then maybe they should advertise it as such. I haven't seen a single add anywhere for an ISP that says web page and email use only. I personally wouldn't mind these policies if the the companies were up front and said "Bandwidth limited" rather than "
    • by pla (258480)
      You can't really blame the ISP's as providing full bandwidth to all would be overly costly and ridiculous

      You and I understand that. The ISPs understand that. Grandma does not. Joe Sixpack does not.

      When ISPs offer unlimited service, the majority of people presume that really means "unlimited". Thus, we most certainly can blame the ISPs, for deceptively (if not outright "falsely") representing their services.
  • by smilindog2000 (907665) <bill@billrocks.org> on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @11:13AM (#19221929) Homepage
    Of course, it depends on your definition, but the best definition for "network neutrality", for which we should all push, is simple:

            ISP's will not discriminate against packets based on their origin.

    ISPs need to do traffic shaping to remain competitive. Let's not try and take away any truly valuable tools from them in our fight to keep the Internet free.
    • by norminator (784674) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @11:21AM (#19222043)
      I was going to post the same thing. They're not giving preferential treatment to some P2P video apps or companies (or to their own P2P video services), they're degrading the service for that entire type of traffic. I think certain types of traffic should be given more or less preference, because I need my VoIP calls to stay connected, and have a reasonable level of sound quality, and I think that is important enough that it can take a few extra seconds for someone to download their videos.

      I have to say, I really don't care for the attempt in the summary to rally the Slashdot troops around the call of Net Neutrality, when NN really doesn't have anything to do with it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by garcia (6573)
        I think certain types of traffic should be given more or less preference, because I need my VoIP calls to stay connected, and have a reasonable level of sound quality, and I think that is important enough that it can take a few extra seconds for someone to download their videos.

        How cute for you but I think that VoIP traffic is completely unnecessary. I already pay for a land line phone as required by my DSL. However, I don't like to pay for videos and I think that your VoIP calls should be able to take a
        • by nasch (598556)
          I know you weren't talking to me, but personally no, I don't see how that works. His argument was not "I like VOIP better than porn so my VOIP should be prioritized." The argument was that VOIP is totally unworkable unless it has low latency. It's not that it's a pain or you have to be more patient - it just doesn't work. Downloading porn (or downloading anything) does not require low latency, only bandwidth. Therefore, things like VOIP (and streaming media) should be given priority.
          • Thanks for clarifying my point. I would also like to add that VoIP has some significant value as a replacement for POTS telephones (and no, you don't have to pay for an active phone line to have DSL service). The FCC sees telephones as being important enough that they established the Universal Service Fund [fcc.gov] in 1996 "to promote the availability of quality services at just, reasonable, and affordable rates; increase access to advanced telecommunications services throughout the Nation; advance the availabilit
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by sys_mast (452486)
        I guess I'm confused over what you are saying...are you making the distinction between degrading a type of service and giving priority to a type of service?
        I agree with you in that giving priority to some types of traffic, VOIP then lower say actual web browsing, then lower yet, p2p downloads. Meaning all 3 packets come in, route VOIP to the next hop first, then immediately route the other packets.(yes I know there are other types of traffic, I'm just using these 3 as examples)
        However I think they are talki
        • by toleraen (831634)
          Both examples are just basic Quality of Service (QoS). As the packets enter the router, certain types of traffic can be given priority when the resources become available to send. Other types of traffic are queued until there's a spot open. Basic QoS really only applies when the link is completely saturated.

          I haven't touched much Cisco equipment lately, but what you can do is limit the amount of traffic that a certain protocol uses. So if you have a 100Mb pipe, you can limit P2P to only say, 1Mb of that
        • by profplump (309017)
          He's making a distinction between giving priority based on type and giving priority based on source. The former lets you give interactive traffic priority over bulk traffic, the later lets you give priority to your partner's interactive traffic vs. your competitor's interactive traffic.

          General priority-based processing just says that all packets are buffered for at least X ms, and if during that time more traffic arrives than can be de-queued, certain packets are preferred when de-queuing. This is incredibl
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I agree in principle with the concept of network neutrality, but I agree that ISPs still should be able to prioritize by TYPE of packet in order to enhance quality of service. What I mean is that in terms of priority packets should be ordered something like:
      1. Packets involved in real-time emergency-service communication
      2. Packets involved in general real-time communication
      3. Packets involved in streaming media
      4. Packets involved in general file downloading/transfer (e.g. loading web pages)
      5. Packets involved in no
      • Absolutely. If you have to share an internet connection with a couple of heavy P2P downloaders that decided to maximize the number of connections and other parameters, you soon realize that not using some sort of shaping is ridiculous. Not only because of bandwith, but also because of latency. Opening a simple and small web page might require opening a lot of connections each of which will download just a few bites... whereas P2P uses lots of simultaneous connections with a steady traffic flow. Prioritizing
      • by shmlco (594907)
        Reordered:

        4) Packets involved in general real-time web use (e.g. loading web pages)
        5) Packets involved in non-real-time communication (e.g. email, voicemail, videomail, etc.)
        6) File downloads/FTP
        7) P2P services

        P2P services rate last because they tend to suck up a disproportionate share of network resources, and because people tend to leave them running for long periods of time. And because a disproportionate share of the traffic is illegal file-swapping anyway.

        I know someone is now going to popup and tell m
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by TheCRAIGGERS (909877)
      Normally I'm all for competition, but last I knew most people don't have a choice when it comes to who they get broadband from. For example, I can choose between Comcast or dial-up.

      I don't see how being competitive has anything to do with it when, in most cases, there is no competition to compete against.
    • Why is your definition of network neutrality the One that we should all support? I think ISPs should not discriminate based on protocols or content. ISPs can control bandwidth and remain neutral by using rate capping, token buckets, or fair queueing.
      • by MBGMorden (803437)
        Even worse for those of us too far from a major city. None of the big ISP's even have local access lines for where I live. So essentially, it's DSL ($45/mo for 1Mbps down, $55/mo for 3Mbps) from the local phone company, OR, dial up ($20/mo) from the local phone company.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by smilindog2000 (907665)
        Rate capping, fair queueing, etc are all forms of traffic manipulation that I think we agree ISPs should be free to continue. The reason that this is the One definition I feel we should all support is simple: It is the minimal definition (that I've read) that keeps ISPs from doing the evil they claim they want to do. The two specific evils the ISPs have said they want to do are:

        - Force content providers to pay to access the ISP's customers
        - Charge
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Bullshit. What if a ISP prioritizes email (because they think It is VERY IMPORTANT) but I myself use... UDP packets for transferring my VERY VERY IMPORTANT DATA to my webserver? Do I get buried because I don't use a years old protocol?

      Both source discrimination and type discrimination are that: DISCRIMINATION. They have been discriminating by another factor for years (direction: upload/download) and it's NASTY that I can't upload my web site under reasonable time.
  • It's simple, really (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheWoozle (984500) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @11:14AM (#19221937)
    No P2P provider has ponied up the "protection" money to ensure that their traffic gets the full bandwidth. I wonder how long it will be before one does to get the edge over competitors?

    Or maybe this emerging set of content providers will band together fight the ISPs because they constitute a threat?

    Then again, maybe a big media conglomerate will merge with AT&T to screw us all...
    • by Shaman (1148)
      Have you ever considered the possibility that international IP transit is still expensive? No?
      • by TheWoozle (984500)
        So, who's problem is that? Ever wonder why car dealerships can't advertise a car at a price of $1 and then at signing charge you $30,000 in fees?

        Perhaps it's time for ISPs to actually deliver what they sold us! It's not the consumer's fault that the telcos aren't charging enough to cover the expenses of providing what they promised.

        Government-protected monopolies (or government-owned monopolies, depending on where you live) do not get my sympathy.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Shaman (1148)
          They didn't promise you what you thought they did, nor did they sell you it. They sell you a connection "up to 5Mbps" which is true, but they did not anywhere (unless they DID, as some ISPs have) say that you had the right to use it at maximum speed at all times - in fact in most any acceptable use policy/terms of service document you read you will find significant verbiage saying you can't.

          If they don't tell you ANY of that in any of their documentation, they are misleading you and your complaint is valid
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Control Group (105494) *
        Yes, it is.

        But it's not my problem, as a customer of my ISP. They've sold me 6mbps/1mbps service, with no caveats about where I'm getting data from or sending data to. In my case, I actually had to sign a contract to this effect.

        At that point, I frankly don't care what their costs are for providing me bandwidth. They should presumably have figured that out before selling it to me at the price I'm paying.

        Note that I'm not anti-corporation, nor do I feel they shouldn't be making money, nor do I feel ripped of
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tlhIngan (30335)

      No P2P provider has ponied up the "protection" money to ensure that their traffic gets the full bandwidth. I wonder how long it will be before one does to get the edge over competitors?

      Depends how they filter the traffic. If they specifically say "traffic from domain yyy.tld has higher priority" then it's against network neutrality. Instead, they may do "if traffic has the evil bit set, it has higher priority", which can then be considered as a type of traffic that's filtered less, it isn't considered netwo

    • maybe a big media conglomerate will merge with AT&T to screw us all

      It wont require a media company for companies like AT&T to screw us all. In fact I doubt that AT&T wants to be a media company but rather would like to take their existing infrastructure, dump the net neutrality, and become a competitor to cable companies via IPTV and continue to be a carrier rather than a provider.

      The way in which carriers like AT&T are going to screw us all is by discriminating network traffic so they can f

  • Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CastrTroy (595695) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @11:18AM (#19221987) Homepage
    I'm not at all surprised by this. The majority of ISPs would love to sell $50 a month internet service to everyone and tell them it's a 5 MBit connection with a 100 GB traffic cap and have them only use it for eMail and browsing sites that contain mostly text. However, I think that things are going to have to change in the future. With all the high bandwidth content being offered online, they are going to have to accept that some people are going to be using a lot of traffic. And they should start charging what they think is fair and stop complaining that people are using their allotted bandwidth.
    • by Shaman (1148)
      Sounds good to me. Only, would you honestly pay $50 a megabit per month? That's a very good price for quality IP transit.

      I'm curious as to your reaction.
  • by Jtheletter (686279) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @11:18AM (#19221991)
    The ISPs have largely brought this problem on themselves. If only they actually provided the service that they claim to provide then this wouldn't be an issue. Instead of upgrading networks to fiber (for which telcos have received *many* billions-with-a-B of US taxpayer funds to do, and largely haven't) and other infrastructure improvements they have dragged their feet, taken profit when they should have rolled money back into upgrades, and basically lied the whole time about what the service is really capable of. The fact that in the background the infrastructure can't actually handle every subscriber using the pipes to the amount advertised is not the fault of consumers expecting too much, it's wholesale bait and switch!

    Look, if you sell someone a car and tell them it gets 1000 mpg, but in reality this is only achievable when the car is pushed, don't be surprised when they call you out for fraud when it doesn't perform as advertised.

    In my opinion these state-sanction monopolies need to be checked hard, and held accountable for every single dollar given them for fiber upgrades that have never materialized despite huge budget and schedule overruns.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by VWJedi (972839)

      The fact that in the background the infrastructure can't actually handle every subscriber using the pipes to the amount advertised is not the fault of consumers expecting too much, it's wholesale bait and switch!

      When the advertisment says "Up To 5 Mbps" and you get 2 Mbps, they are providing what is advertised. In reality, they are guaranteeing you won't get more than 5 Mbps. They count on the fact that consumers either ignore the "Up To" or read it to mean "very close to". It is certainly misleading, bu

  • multicast (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 4play (720611) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @11:19AM (#19222013)
    why not just make a few deals with some isp's like the bbc did http://support.bbc.co.uk/multicast/ [bbc.co.uk] the video quality was pretty high and it didnt stop and start like other live streaming p2p services i have tried.
  • Solution (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TobyWong (168498) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @11:20AM (#19222023)
    Enter the "new" industry of VPN service for the everyman specifically designed and marketed to thwart ISP packetshaping and allow ungimped p2p access. I'm using it now and it works great although you have to wonder how long until ISPs start trying to block or throttle traffic destined for the more popular public VPN service sites.
    • Can't throttle VPN traffic. People use it to connect to their companies, and companies are pretty much the only entities ISPs can still charge through the nose for "priority service". At least here. Everyone else only pays for the cheapest package and laments endlessly with support (or about support, and staying in the loop for an hour 'til someone picks up...).

      Should they start throttling based on target IP, net neutrality is the next issue they face. And if that doesn't work, well, set up a TOR server and
  • New Math (Score:5, Funny)

    by Fnord666 (889225) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @11:21AM (#19222049) Journal
    From TFA:

    Packet shaping examines what you're downloading -- or more specifically, how you're downloading -- and restricts your download speed by up to 500 percent...
    Must be that new math stuff I keep hearing so much about.
  • by gsslay (807818) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @11:23AM (#19222091)
    The article states that "In an attempt to restrict how much illegal sharing can be done on their network, ISPs use a technique called 'packet shaping'. And thereafter goes on with a great deal of outraged huffing and puffing about treating people as criminals.

    But no evidence is offered to justify this statement. How do they know that ISPs are doing it to limit illegal sharing? Is it not far more likely that they're doing it to save on bandwidth. In which case, no-one's being treated as a criminal, they're being treated as bandwidth-hogs. An issue worth discussion, but an important distinction, I think.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @11:24AM (#19222101) Journal
    Let us say I run a restaraunt and have been selling "all you can drink" coffee but I had been providing only thimble size cups. Suddenly someone brings in real coffee mugs and really starts drinking all coffee they can. Yeah, sure I will hate it. But I will also realize that it is time to move beyond cheap gimmicks like "all you can drink" thingies.

    Network need for consumers vary widely. Some happily browse news sites and that serve just text. Some are bit torrent users. High time ISPs charge consumers by MBytes of data transmitted. They can offer cheapo services for people with low bandwidth needs, may be even as a loss. Those who download bit-torrents and movies will pay for the bandwidth they actually consume. Once the revenue of ISPs depend on actual data transmitted, they too will encourage and help people who transmit/recieve lots of data. It will be a good thing once the ISPs wake up and smell the coffee I mentioned earlier ;-)

    Even in India they are able to meter the data transmitted and charge by the Megabytes. So it should not be too difficult for the ISPs to do it. But some things India does are very hard to believe. The mobile phone rates are something like 2 cents per minute with free incoming calls. And the mobile phone companies have a 40% margin! My brother-in-law executes on line trades with a commission of some 15 Rupees, or 35 cents US. How can they do that and stil be profitable?

    • by kebes (861706)

      High time ISPs charge consumers by MBytes of data transmitted.

      Frankly I've never understood why in the US all the ISPs only give "unlimited download" accounts. In Canada, from what I can tell, they offer different packages for different needs. For instance, Videotron offers:
      20 Gb download and 10 Gb upload - $40/month (source [videotron.com])
      Unlimited upload and download - $65/month (source [videotron.com])

      It's a very simple system. Most users opt for the basic package (20 Gb down and 10 Gb up is plenty for most people!) and the "p

      • by zCyl (14362) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @12:29PM (#19223137)

        Frankly I've never understood why in the US all the ISPs only give "unlimited download" accounts.

        Because people don't like surprises on their bill, don't want to estimate how much they've used, don't want to be calculating the cost of everything they want to do, and don't like to screw around with a complicated connection when simpler ones are available.
      • by mikael_j (106439)
        As a scandinavian I can't understand how people can put up with their ISPs charging by the Megabyte, it's very early 1990's...

        I've currently got 8/0.8 ADSL (fullt g.dmt) and there are no caps at all, I even know of ISPs that don't block a single port (but they do send out abuse warnings to customers caught running spambots and also shut them down if they get more than one report of spam).

        Basically the whole "charge for use" thing seems to be something that greedy american ISPs do to maximize profits..

        /Mik

    • By having employees that work for those 2 cents/minute, maybe?
  • ISPs vs Consumers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @11:30AM (#19222187) Homepage Journal
    ISPs hate video on demand because it fills the pipes we bought, so they finally have to deliver the bandwidth guarantees they sold us.

    They've been collecting extra money for years by selling us bandwidth we haven't used. They should use that as investment in more capacity to cover their obligations.

    This is just another whining ploy by ISPs to force Network Doublecharge, claiming "Qos" is necessary because increased capacity won't work.

    Just like in the 1990s the telcos tried to charge everyone extra for "data lines" and "data modems" because they were finally forced to deliver the local loop signal they sold, and were legally required to deliver for decades, but had cheaped out to make extra profit. And just like they whined that they couldn't deliver lots of DSL, or any other whining to protect their cartels from investing their perpetually record profits into delivering the product they're selling.

    They're lying again, even the little ones who just want to be in the club with Verizon and AT&T. They should get kicked in the ass again, just like before. Every time that boot flies at them we finally get some innovation and improvement, even though they don't get their guaranteed exorbidant profits.
    • by Shaman (1148)
      ISPs did not deliver bandwidth guarantees, unless you actually have a SIGNED guarantee with a SPECIFIC section saying that the service is DEDICATED to you, you do not have a bandwidth guarantee. You have interpreted things to your benefit, not to the reality. QoS is necessary for many reasons, one of which is that clueless people like you think they have bought a DEDICATED, GUARANTEED service for $45 a month when you can't do a service call for less than $200 apiece, forget about bandwidth.

      Newsflash for y
      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        First, stop fantasizing about my penis.

        Second, I used to be an ISP, from 1995-1998, then I just collected the profits through 2001. So I know what I'm talking about.

        Meanwhile, even the telcos' own research demonstrates that increasing capacity is a better ROI than is QoS, and it's a better solution to congestion. As we just heard presented to the public in a Network Neutrality hearing by the NY City Council which actually legislates these policies, including the home turf of Verizon.

        People like me, and even
      • by compro01 (777531)
        Newsflash for you: companies need to make profits. All companies.

        newsflash for you: companies are supposed to provide the service they advertise, barring fine print, and sometimes even then. it is not (or shouldn't be) legal to advertise a connection as 20mbit and only provide 3mbit.

        if I'm paying for a 10mbit line, i expect to get approximately 10mbit of bandwidth, regardless of what I'm downloading with it.

        if they cannot provide that, they should upgrade their systems or not advertise something they canno
        • by Shakrai (717556)

          barring fine print

          The first thing I'd do is outlaw fine print. Don't call it "unlimited" and use 4pt font that flashes across the bottom of the ad for two frames to make it something else.

  • Truth in Advertising (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @11:35AM (#19222285)
    Someday, somewhere, there's going to be a lawsuit demanding that they deliver on what they've promised. At that point in time, we may finally find out what we're actually paying for. All things considered, I hope they sue Comcast first over this.
  • by unity100 (970058)
    sue, on grounds of constitution, freedom of speech and equality. this issue spans that areas.
  • by Control Group (105494) * on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @11:40AM (#19222365) Homepage
    This is just reality biting ISPs on the ass.

    For years, they've been touting high speed connections, trying to upsell Joe Average to 3, 4, 5, 6 mbit service. They know full well that the vast majority of Joe Average's internet usage is viewing web sites, sending emails, and streaming porn ten minutes at a time. In other words, they're selling him 6 mbit service for images and text down, text and clicks up. They know Joe Average is only actually using his pipe for a few hours a day, when he's not at work and not asleep.

    Of course, they've succeeded in getting a lot of people to pay more money for more bandwidth that they don't actually use almost ever. Which, in a surprise to no one except the ISPs, means that new services are cropping up that actually use the bandwidth people have been sold.

    So now they don't like it. Whoops.

    It is to be hoped that enough people - enough Joes Average - want to use the new services like VOIP and "legitimate" P2P that the ISPs will actually face market consequences for overselling bandwidth, throttling upstream speeds, and shaping traffic to favor the stuff that's ISP-approved.

    A few geeks bitching about asynchronous connections and random throughput caps just doesn't make a dent in Charter's bottom line. A bunch of people being told that despite CBS' promises, they can't download Survivor 2718: Mariana Trench because their ISP won't let them may actually bring some pressure.

    Overselling is a great profit method right up until people start trying to use what they've bought. Ponzi schemes are always terrific moneymakers until your suckers^W customers try to cash out.
    • by aussie_a (778472)
      Y'know, your post might have really valid points, except all I could think when I was reading it was "Was this written by the same guy as the zonk troll?" [slashdot.org] and those switcheur GTFO posts. So while you might have valid points, the tone just sounded like a troll to me.
  • (This is a repost of something I posted a while back that I think is relevant for this discussion)

    I once got into an argument with a former ISP admin.

    It went along the lines of this:

    Him: You can't just download massive amounts of data from bittorrent etc.
    Me: Why not? All the ISP's talk about "unlimited" broadband, by that very definition they aren't limiting it.
    Him: But they have to pay for that bandwidth.
    Me: Yeah? And I pay for them to provide me a service that is unlimited as advertised, if
  • Real World Example (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CheeseburgerBrown (553703) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @12:00PM (#19222657) Homepage Journal
    I'm a subscriber to Rogers top-tier residential Internet service, and I recently tried to download "Elephant's Dream" (the open-source 3D blender project) via BitTorrent, only to discover that the arms race between the ISP and Azureus has been won by Rogers.

    All encrypted traffic is now throttled just because it's encrypted. All non-encrypted traffic is throttled if it smells like P2P of any kind.

    If this hasn't happened in your neighbourhood yet -- just wait: it's coming, zone by zone.

    Thank goodness for Usenet.

    • I was with rogers since 2000, and two weeks ago I canceled my cable modem and phone service with them for that very reason. I paid for the bandwidth and since they can't or won't honor their contract then I have switched to an ISP who doesn't pull that crap. Coincidentally, I think the traffic shaping kicked in when they asked us to swap out our old modems - I doubt the reason for the switch was to provide new services as they claimed.

      It was rather funny when I turned in my modem at the rogers store and to
    • I recently tried to download "Elephant's Dream" (the open-source 3D blender project) via BitTorrent

      This is more like "I finally found something legal on BitTorrent, so now I can complain." Right.

      It's easy enough to download Elephant's Dream [blender.org]. There are nine mirror sites. And if you download one of the streaming formats, you don't even have to wait for the download to finish.

      It's a beautifully rendered, but otherwise unimpressive short film. It's more of a demo reel for Blender.

      • Your cynicism aside, I thought getting the film via BitTorrent (as the project's site suggested) was worth a shot, and might be faster than a traditional download. Having been away from BitTorrent for a while, I wasn't aware of how far Rogers had progressed in their traffic-shaping technology. I thought downloading a film with the producers' blessing was a reasonable litmus for how well BT was faring these days.

        Your idea that I'd have to stretch to find a legal download is ignorant. I live in Canada.
  • This stuff should be using plain old http or ftp, with a cache (e.g. Squid) at the ISP. Every one of these multi-gigabyte files should be transferred over their expensive upstream pipe once, and stored on a RAID of the cheapest $YOUR_LEAST_FAVORITE_BRAND hard disks they can get.

    "Content companies", stick to the basics. And if you are sending the wrong headers, then you part of the problem. If you do it right, the ISPs will see what's in their best interest and start using the correct tools to handle it,

  • It will not be long now before these types of services begin to engage in intentional obfuscation or encryption combined with use of common ports such as 80 and 443 to sidestep measures such as packet shaping and bandwidth throttling. In fact many p2p clients include support for this today. Would it be so difficult for those broadband companies to just be honest about what you are actually buying when you pay for service and then deliver what people have paid for? Instead they engage in marketing bunk about
  • by MarsBar (6605)

    Most users don't need the kind of service which slashdot users expect. If users are prepared to pay more, there are options for them - AAISP [aaisp.net.uk] is one example. However the vast majority don't want to pay more than around £15-£25 ($30-$50) per month which (given the margins involved - BT take £8 per line and then wholesale bandwidth at what works out at around £.90 per GB IIRC) simply doesn't allow the ISPs to provide a decent amount of bandwidth.

    When it comes down to it, they'd rather

  • Broadband in the UK is in a really, really bad position. ADSL is mostly provided by ISPs using BT's network, which is very expensive and performs poorly. Problem is, BT have no incentive to upgrade their systems because they are forced to allow other ISPs to use them, meaning they will be helping their competitors as much as themsevles.

    Meanwhile, other ISPs have little incentive to compete, and are simply staying slightly ahead of BT with slightly lower prices. NTL used to be about the best, with 10Mb speed
  • Let me get this straight the carriers are objecting to people, their paying customers using the service they pay for because it gets in the way of how the carriers want to screw people in the future? Wow sucks to be them.
  • by notarus (216298) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @02:53PM (#19225349)
    As a person who runs a network, somewhere... i won't tell you where. :) ... we don't like p2p apps. It's not because they use 40-70% of the bandwidth, that's not the problem. The problem is that apps like skype, or gnutella, or (endless list) have supernodes, nodes that notice we have a fat network and elevate themselves to become servers for the rest of the p2p network.

    Someone earlier used an analogy: 'Let us say I run a restaraunt and have been selling "all you can drink" coffee but I had been providing only thimble size cups.' Good start. Our problem isn't that you bring your own cup. Our problem is that you're sitting near an open window, and ordering a dozen coffees at once. Large ones. And handing them out to everyone walking along.

    We don't mind providing the bandwidth to our legitimate users, that's why we're here. We have a problem paying for bandwidth to provide services for people who aren't our constituents or customers. We're especially troubled by that because we suddenly become the focus of all those 4 letter groups that we love to hate here, who come knocking on our doors because they seem to think we're "enabling" copyright theft or "serving" it. And our lawyers, like every other lawyer in the world, don't like these discussions because they don't KNOW that what we're doing will be a slam dunk in court and then they get cranky with us.

    So we don't mind the concept of p2p. I assume you're doing things legally because you're all moral people, right? :) But stop giving away all my bandwidth to some dork in somalia, because I'm the one who has to explain why the business applications are running slow. And the people with the money don't seem to think "just buy more" is a good idea when our budget is tight.

We warn the reader in advance that the proof presented here depends on a clever but highly unmotivated trick. -- Howard Anton, "Elementary Linear Algebra"

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