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Comcast's FCC Filing Called Unfair, Not Good Enough 157

Posted by Soulskill
from the fight-fight-fight dept.
Shoemaker brings us a follow-up to Comcast's recent defense of its traffic management procedures. The companies involved in the original FCC investigation are not satisfied with Comcast's response. From Ars Technica: "Comcast made an aggressive defense of its policies, claiming that it only resets P2P uploads made during peak times and when no download is also in progress. Free Press, BitTorrent, and Vuze all say that's not good enough. In a conference call, Vuze's general counsel Jay Monahan drew the starkest analogy. What Comcast is really doing, he said, wasn't at all comparable to limiting the number of cars that enter a highway. Instead, it was more like a horse race where the cable company owns one of the horses and the racetrack itself. By slowing down the horse of a competitor like Vuze, even for a few seconds, Comcast makes it harder for that horse to compete. 'Which horse would you bet on in a race like that?' asked Monahan."
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Comcast's FCC Filing Called Unfair, Not Good Enough

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  • Now.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by yamiyasha (1119417)
    only if the FCC can deal on that Merger between Sirius and XM
  • by ShaunC (203807) on Friday February 15, 2008 @12:14AM (#22430510)

    'Which horse would you bet on in a race like that?'

    Well, probably not this horse [fastgate.net].
  • Bad analogy. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by calebt3 (1098475) on Friday February 15, 2008 @12:17AM (#22430528)
    It's more like having a professional sniper taking out the competitors.
    • Agreed, these analogies simply suck. Comcast's car analogy is just a plain lie, and the defense is just off the mark. If anything the competing horse is repeatedly sent back to the starting gate.

      If that is the best that the defense can do then they appear as clueless as the judge is likely to be. The real job of the defense here is to be smart enough to educate the judge on how the actions of Comcast cripple their customers ability to use the network service that they pay for.
      • by omeomi (675045)
        If anything the competing horse is repeatedly sent back to the starting gate.

        Ooh, we could name the horse Sisyphus!

        I wonder if anybody will get that...
    • by calebt3 (1098475)
      Even better analogy: The competition's racehorses have barriers every dozen yards or so that trip them. Since the horse is injured, a new one needs to be saddled up and brought out. After this happens a few times, the rider just gives up.
      • I think the better analogy is sports orientated and would be, "imagine a football game where someone in the stands blows a referees whistle and stops the play every time something happens on the field they don't like and nobody can even figure out what the clown with a whistle doesn't like."
    • Here's a relevant analogy:

      Cable is required to sell competitors advertising time.

      Would it be fair if cable were to purposefully degrade only these commercials, even in the name of network management?

      Would it be fair for cable operators to degrade channels because they don't agree with the content of the channel (as opposed to dropping the channel, which they obviously have the right to do). This would most likely result in lawsuits for damages incurred by said channel.
    • Re:Bad analogy. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dwpayne (1239848) on Friday February 15, 2008 @02:20AM (#22431134)
      I think a better analogy is if the post office had a policy of deliberately throwing away mail when they were too busy, like at Christmas time or whenever. That's not really interfering, right? Just delaying your mail, I mean, if you don't reply, the other people know to just resend you the same mail again, it just takes a few weeks.

      The post office is a good example of net neutrality too. When I write to a congresscritter, I just have to put a stamp on it, I don't have to pay every person who carries the letter. I don't pay my local carrier, then the guy who brings it to the regional center, the long haul trucker who brings it to DC, and so forth, just the one stamp.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by budgenator (254554)
        And I just send a copy of the letter out every other day until I get a letter back stating you got the original letter, that's how they manage traffic.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        I think a better analogy is if the post office had a policy of deliberately throwing away mail when they were too busy, like at Christmas time or whenever. That's not really interfering, right? Just delaying your mail, I mean, if you don't reply, the other people know to just resend you the same mail again, it just takes a few weeks.

        More like, the Post Office throws away your letter, then forges a letter to both parties. Each forged letter has a message equivalent to "I hate you and never want to hear fr

      • by The_Rook (136658)
        not quite. the post office is not really a great analogy because all the costs associated with sending a letter lie with the sender, not the recipient. on the internet, the costs of transporting content are shared equally by both the sender and recipient. that's why everyone screams about spam.

        if we wanted the internet to work more like the postal service, then everyone would have free internet access on the receiving side, and pay a fixed amount per packet in sending costs. packets would come in different
    • Re:Bad analogy. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ookabooka (731013) on Friday February 15, 2008 @03:14AM (#22431350)

      It's more like having a professional sniper taking out the competitors.

      My favorite analogy: It's more like AT&T interrupting a phone call to your buddy, faking his voice to you and saying "Oh sorry, gotta go" and hanging up. As if that weren't bad enough it fakes your voice to your buddy doing the same thing. This is fraud, they inject RST packets and make it look like it's legitimate traffic from the other computer. It's an awful way to do QoS if it can even be construed as such. Why don't they just add in nice shaping rules like everyone else?
      • by h4rm0ny (722443)

        Wow! That's one of the rare occasions I've actually seen a useful analogy on Slashdot. If that's yours, you should really see if you can get that analogy wider exposure. It illustrates Comcast's behaviour and the perceived immorality of that behaviour beautifully.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by kaizokuace (1082079)
      if you want a car analogy, its probably something like that freeway scene in one of them matrices movies. Packets, err...cars blowing up all over the place. And the bad guys catching up to the good guys. And lots of explosions and cgi.
  • by milsoRgen (1016505) on Friday February 15, 2008 @12:19AM (#22430540) Homepage
    My $0.02: deregulate, increase investment in infrastructure and leave it to the law enforcement agencies to deal with potential matters of criminal activity online. then we have an internet we can all enjoy!
  • Phew (Score:4, Funny)

    by Nero Nimbus (1104415) on Friday February 15, 2008 @12:21AM (#22430548)
    For a minute there, I thought we were going to get yet another car analogy.
    • Re:Phew (Score:5, Funny)

      by wjhoffman1983 (1145155) on Friday February 15, 2008 @12:24AM (#22430560)
      It's more like a series of racetracks...
      • by MrShaggy (683273)
        Exactly, cause when you put that horse on the track on Friday, you might not be able to get off till Monday, because every other horse is there. Unless you have a dump-truck.
      • Those are horrible analogies, it's like a series of tubes, where cars can float through them, and sometimes banana peels are thrown on the ground and the car slips and is delayed while it must right itself. And Comcast also constantly patrols the roads and cleared stopped cars.
    • by djupedal (584558)
      How's this?

      If the internet were a limousine, Comcast would be a temporary spare...left to rot in a warehouse...in the dark. Without heat. Behind an unlocked door. Without an id tag. On a weekend. In New Jersey.

      Feel better?
  • by GaryOlson (737642) <slashdot AT garyolson DOT org> on Friday February 15, 2008 @12:23AM (#22430556) Journal
    Education is fairer when you hold the smartest and best back just a little bit when the rest of the class can not understand their input.
    • by brian0918 (638904)
      And when the entire class does not give a sh*t about even going to school, the ones with potential get nowhere and become demotivated. Switch to private education and help those who want to be helped; stop teaching the attitude that progress requires no effort from those meant to progress.
  • Slashtecnica (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Protonk (599901)
    Just like the tag says. Mod me down/offtopic/whatever, but I'm tired of seeing every other story from ars on slashdot. I understand that the discussion system here is relatively unique and we might benefit from community wisdom on a subject where the discussion system on ars tends to be very obscured and not the focus. I get that not EVERY article there is copied here. I just wonder how much of the slashdot readership sees ars as well as /. and would rather not see a story on both. I can almost always
    • Semi-valid arguement, however its not really *where* the story originates, but how many people it reaches... some people (myself included) dont like Ars Technica, mainly because its a pain in the Ars, too much advertising, links, way too much focus on bullshit rather than the story (I mean the layout of the site, not the articles)... and its about a third as speedy as /.

      What /. need is a forum on itself (Maybe there is but only for "Subscribers" ?) or atleast a poll now and again about "How could /. improve
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by KingMotley (944240)
      I'd rather see it continue. I don't go to Ars. I don't want to. I also do go to reuters. Or cnews. Or many other news sites. I expect slashdot to bring the most important news here, and that's why I come here. It's not like slashdot has original articles I can't find elsewhere. Every article on slashdot comes from somewhere else.
      • by Protonk (599901)
        I guess I never felt that slashdot will bring the important news to me. OR.....I should be more clear. I feel that slashdot should be aggregating news that isn't showing up in other major venues. I should see a story about some weird linux nonsense or something about the ESA or some such. I don't want to see something from "ars" or "cnet" every other day. That appears to be a very narrowly held viewpoint.
  • by Sangui5 (12317) on Friday February 15, 2008 @12:35AM (#22430622)
    They admit to sending RST packets, but then claim that they don't forge packets. They're audacious enough to say that the people who say that the packets are forged are the liars. They also say RST packets are the only way, completely ignoring options like ICMP source quench, leaky bucket/token bucket filtering, or TCP's own congestion control reaction to dropped/delayed packets.

    Whoever wrote Comcast's response has quite a pair.
  • by neonmonk (467567) on Friday February 15, 2008 @12:37AM (#22430634)

    Oh, no room for P2P, huh?


    Fine. I'll go build my own telecom infrastructure with blackjack.. and hookers.


    In fact, forget the infrastructure and the blackjack... Eh, screw the whole thing.

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Friday February 15, 2008 @12:43AM (#22430662)
    On my way home from work this evening, a radio host was finally talking about this in a way that regular joes would care about (and the show was for regular joes trying to invest). He said that Comcast is using its monopoly to limit competing content (non-comcast video and audio). I'm sure more than a few ears perked up.
    • by Protonk (599901)
      ears might have perked up, but that isn't strictly the case. That is what is wrong w/ the analogy. This is the REASON we want net neutrality provisions but it is not what is actually happening. To call comcast's video on demand service a direct competitor to other p2p and video systems is laughable. It is a potential competitor to some small sectors of the market.
    • by alanshot (541117)
      exactly. as a packet8 customer on a commiecast network, I find it odd that none of my comcast voice freinds have call quality issues, yet I am constantly fighting the issues. And if I take my packet8 equipment to my office I NEVER have any quality issues. Kinda makes me wonder what ELSE they are throttling.
  • by Lordfly (590616) on Friday February 15, 2008 @12:54AM (#22430728) Homepage Journal
    You see, the internet is like a car, and Comcast is like the clutch. If you stick a bologna sandwich in the clutch, obviously you need more cup holders, like Bit Torrent and Vuze.

    That's why we need net neutrality!
    • by Sangui5 (12317)
      That analogy is terrible! Vuze is nothing at all like a cupholder; it's more like a heated seat.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday February 15, 2008 @12:59AM (#22430754) Homepage Journal
    Funny, when I mail an "unfair, not good enough" check for my Comcast bill, they just shut me down.
  • I think it would be fun if the US had some sort of regulating body that would create a set of 20 or so certifications for each type of market in business. Small companies would not necessarily need to get certified, but there could be tax related incentives for large companies to be certified.

    For example, a mining company could not also be a railroad company (the classic steel monopolies). Likewise, a company certified as an ISP could not also get certified as a media distribution company. Also, if one c
  • I don't think the analogy in the summary is worth a horse's turd. Disconnecting is more like shooting the horse, not slowing it down.

    Anyway there's no car in that analogy. I don't understand!!!
  • by Sparr0 (451780) <sparr0@gmail.com> on Friday February 15, 2008 @01:45AM (#22430972) Homepage Journal
    I don't think the EFFECT of Comcast's interference is the main issue here. Traffic shaping IS an issue, but not the important one in this case. HOW they are doing it is important. They are forging network packets (RST packets, in particular). This isn't just limiting the cars getting on the highway, it's like calling you on your cell phone before you get on the highway, pretending to be your boss, and telling you not to bother coming to work today. They are committing fraud, of multiple sorts, every time they do this.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by elronxenu (117773)
      Can we make a technological defense against this problem, e.g. by comparing Time-to-live (TTL) on the RST packets against TTL on the legitimate packets, and if it is substantially higher on the RST packet then assume interference and drop the RST?

      • by WK2 (1072560) on Friday February 15, 2008 @02:44AM (#22431228) Homepage
        You should be able to work around it by adding something to your iptables. I found this page: http://www.tweak3d.net/forums/tech/possible-fix-comcast-torrent-blocking-28264 [tweak3d.net] which has a simple fix. I haven't tested it myself. It looks like it should work. Their solution is to drop ALL RST packets to your bit torrent port. If the RST was legit, the connection will time out eventually anyway.

        Your solution is technically better, but much harder to do. I think it would require patching and compiling a kernel.
        • by mrogers (85392)

          Their solution is to drop ALL RST packets

          The same solution also fixes that pesky Great Firewall problem [lightbluetouchpaper.org].

  • It's like cars on a highway ... when the highway is crowded and traffic is slowing down, some cars being driven to a competitor's shop are picked up by a crane and moved back to their starting point, at the onramp to the highway.

  • You know, I have to admit, as much as I like this seeing the light of day, it scares me to have Congress so...involved...in these technological affairs that they cannot, really, possibly all understand.

    I know plenty of hot young IT geeks who don't really "get" the bigger picture, let alone a bunch of technophobic Congrescritters...
  • I have said this before, why does Comcast not just throttle BT packets when the lines are being saturated? On multiple levels. You could also throttle the bandwidth of the largest users in general if other users who barely ever use the internet want bandwidth. AKA if all I do is log on once a day and watch 10 youtube videos I would get priority over the guy who maxes out his line doing BT all day.

    Of course, you would always want to prioritize VOIP, games, DNS and other types of vital traffic. Could even pri
    • by arotenbe (1203922)

      Of course, you would always want to prioritize VOIP, games, DNS and other types of vital traffic. Could even prioritize based on what servers are being accessed. Blackberry.net, Chase Online Banking, ETrade, and other similar sites are a bit more important than YouTube.com for most customers.
      Yes, but can you imagine the lawsuits when <insert website/service/network protocol> demands that it be given higher priority?
  • I just had to deal with spending 3+ hours to download a 150MB file, due to my entire connection going down every time I have Bit Torrent up for more than ~5 minutes. From what I've read, Cox is supposedly using the same forging method as Comcast. When does the FCC start hanging other companies out to dry? ...or, do they feel that putting pressure on only one company will solve the problem?
  • They know what all the end users modems up speeds are set at.
    The end users cannot unlock their modems.
    They know what the up load at a set maximum speed will do to the network.
    There are no real unknown unknowns with closed network math.

    Light up some dark fiber, make it glow.
    Put few new big boxes in.

  • If your business model requires you to use another companies LIMITED resources for free or you go out of business, your business model is busted.

    From the testing I have done, I have only seen throttling applied to external networks trying to download from me. All comcast customers appear to be able to download from me with no issue. So if these companies are in fact being throttled it is because they are using Comcast's bandwidth and transit to serve video to non comcast customers.

    Your mileage may vary as
    • by jamar0303 (896820)
      And Japan manages to have 100M symmetric fiber connections for approx. $60/month with no such throttling... how? If the cable companies decide to charge on a metered basis it will only be because of their own greed.
    • If your business model requires you to use another companies LIMITED resources for free or you go out of business, your business model is busted.

      I have some sympathy for this position, however I do not find the pricing information you include in your article persuasive:

      If the FCC says that Comcast cannot manage their network, expect internet access to switch to a per bit pricing model. Everyone using p2p to seed those ever popular linux iso's might have a change of heart when they end up paying what it cost
  • Yep, ComCast own the little bit of the internet between you and the rest of the world that isn't on ComCast, and probably operate a hell of a lot of hardware between you and the border router. What little of that they DON'T own is copper owned by some telcom carrier company between your house and your local phone exchange and ComCast are paying to license the use of that anyway :)

    So yeah, ComCast can run the horse race however it likes. It can also run foxy boxing in the middle of the track too, while it do
    • by jamar0303 (896820)
      Ever been anywhere where Comcast is the only ISP available? How do you propose THEY get another ISP? This isn't Japan, where there are 15 different ISPs competing nationwide for subscribers, this is America, where there are at most 5 different choices available to people. And that's in urban areas- go far enough and you'll find places with monopolies.
      • by NekoXP (67564)
        I have an apartment where the only ISP available is Grande Communications (a little Texas cable ISP). This is being regulated out by the FCC who say that apartment-deals like this are really bad for business and competition. I am glad of that.

        So, if ComCast are the only ISP serving your area.. bad luck. But you're a very low percentage of the population. Unfortunately American runs on the benefit of the majority - where people have 5 ISPs to choose from. Personally, when I chose an ISP, I ignored the apartm
        • by jamar0303 (896820)
          I suppose so. I moved- left America some time ago and only return for short-term visits now.
  • Over at Capitol Valley they've got a pretty good clue [capitolvalley.net] about how strong Vuze's reply is.

    Basically, they hit the Republican Commissioners over the head with their own free market theories and say that if Comcast creates the market by entering the video distribution world (as opposed to just managing a network and controlling the flow to keep it fair for all users), they have to let the market decide if they are the bes provider of video instead of messing with their competitors under the guise of "network man

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