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Comcast Accused of Blocking VoIP 325

kamikaze-Tech writes "Comcast, the largest USA Broadband provider is being accused of VoIP blocking, just days before they release their own VoIP offering. According to a long standing thread on the Vonage Forums, many Comcast ISP users are unable to use Vonage. Tempers are flaring: 'Although you will see all manner of opinions on this thread, there seems to be a sentiment that - politely put - Comcast could really be doing a better job of carrying Vonage bits.' Looks as though this could be the beginning of the broadband quality wars, with Comcast taking the first step."
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Comcast Accused of Blocking VoIP

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  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <(eldavojohn) (at) (> on Thursday March 02, 2006 @10:29AM (#14834335) Journal
    All these ideas are entirely possible but it could simply be that Comcast doesn't provide the kind of broadband consistently necessary to use VoIP.

    My experience with Comcast has been extensive and I am nothing but a little dissatisfied with how consistent my connection broadband width was. I'm not complaining that I lost connections (though I know people who have) but I will complain that my upload and download widths were anything but stable.

    I eagerly await the broadband over power lines [] initiative that's inevitably going to be made available to everyone. Imagine paying for broadband but not having to pay also the cost of using an extensive cable network. Brilliant idea! Use rudimentary piggy backing techniques to deliver two signals through one line. It's actually not that difficult, I'm not sure why this took so long to develop and why it's taking even longer to make available to the public. Yes, I've heard of security concerns but there's got to be some encryption you can use.

    If I ever live to see the day where cable is obsolete, I'm going to uncap my modem [] and host something huge to my friends. Anyone care to take a guess on how long I'd be able to keep that up before they shut me down?
  • by harshmanrob ( 955287 ) on Thursday March 02, 2006 @10:34AM (#14834371) Journal
    Comcast and its sibling company Road Runner routinely block access to alternative websites such as and because they take on the Feds and the "yes-man" major media. Time Warner (the owner of both Comcast and Road Runner) is a "yes-man" major media company, towing the neo-con line.

    It is does not surprise me they would block access to their competitors. Soon I expect them to begin survelliance of their customers and reporting their "un-American" activities to the alphabet agencies.

  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <> on Thursday March 02, 2006 @10:35AM (#14834382)
    Penn Jillette, in one of his books, wrote about how his ideal society would have all roads privately owned and managed. You'd pay as you went rather than paying for the road as part of your taxes. Those who used the road the most paid the most in tolls.

    However, such a situation generally assumes that road operators would be willing to build roads out to remote areas where only a handful of customers would ever drive. It also assumes that these so-called "liberated" road owners would be unprejudiced individuals who weren't concerned about the any color but green. Unfortunately, both of these are just about impossible in the real world. You'll always have that last mile unpaved, and you'll always have owners who don't like a certain type of customer.

    The solution is to mandate that the roads be publicly accessible, and if the owners are not willing to do so, that the government own the roads outright.

    Blocking specific packets is not the role of the road owner, and if it ends up that such is the case, then that owner should be put out of business.
  • Business move? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Dimentox ( 678813 ) on Thursday March 02, 2006 @10:42AM (#14834422)
    Comcast probably did this blocking to sell their own service.

    They could justify the block with this part of their TOS. []

    "You shall ensure that your use of the Service does not restrict, inhibit, interfere with, or degrade any other user's use of the Service, nor represent (in the sole judgment of Comcast) an overly large burden on the network. In addition, you shall ensure that your use of the Service does not restrict, inhibit, interfere with, disrupt, degrade, or impede Comcast's ability to deliver and provide the Service and monitor the Service, backbone, network nodes, and/or other network services."

    I have worked for ISP's where if someone is using to much bandwith we cut their connection. Most of the times ISP's oversell their network and hope that people dont use it up.

    But i belive in this case this was just a shot to sell their own service, the main question is since its their network are they really ALLOWED to do this?
  • by xrecruit ( 956246 ) on Thursday March 02, 2006 @10:42AM (#14834423)
    I have been working with one of their local spot advertising reps, and was informed that "They may not be willing to work with me, because I have a competing product." Its too bad this kind of thing is even legal--From an economic standpoint, competition benefits consumers. Their rep has been shady, she said a 30-second spot (with my parameters) costs $3,000 to produce, but when I spoke to the producer, he laughed and said at most $500, and sometimes they do the first one for free. When I ask the rep questions over e-mail, she says "Call me on this one." Obviously she wants to go off the record... All in all, its really shitty dealing with them. My product is local, and they are the best tool to reach my audience--so I really need them, but I have been looking into other avenues, including local broadcast advertising...
  • Re:Business move? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Thursday March 02, 2006 @11:05AM (#14834571)

    But i belive in this case this was just a shot to sell their own service, the main question is since its their network are they really ALLOWED to do this?

    Sure, just as soon as they give up all their lines using publicly owned right of ways and are willing to no longer be protected from legal action for all the copyrighted material and kiddie porn they republish from router to router. That is to say, when they are no a government mandated local monopoly with special protections and privileges they can stop upholding the responsibilities of a common carrier that requires that treat everyone on their network, including services they offer themselves, equally.

  • Comcast history (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MrNougat ( 927651 ) <.ckratsch. .at.> on Thursday March 02, 2006 @11:39AM (#14834854)
    When I moved into a new house six years ago, we had AT&T cable. We got a flyer on the door about broadband internet. I called them up. "Sorry, it's not available in your area yet." I asked when it would be available. "Twelve to twenty-four months."

    Twelve months later, I called back. "Not available in your area." When? "Twelve to twenty-four months." But that's what you said last time. "Sorry, my hands are superglued to the laminated 'lame answer' card."

    Another twelve months, another call, same lame answer.

    Then Comcast took over, all over Chicagoland. They started upgrading infrastructure immediately to support internet. They improved cable TV service. They started offering video on demand, with many shows for free (I don't know how I could get through a day without free kids' shows whenever I want). They started offering digital phone service. Now I find out they're going to offer VoIP.

    I have been a satisfied Comcast subscriber since they took over from AT&T. I know cable companies get a bad rap, and I know many deserve it. But Comcast's past history, at least around Chicago, has been great.

    Just so you know.
  • by wrook ( 134116 ) on Thursday March 02, 2006 @01:05PM (#14835671) Homepage
    I was surprised to find out that Bell Sympatico rewrites all the headers in SIP messages as it goes through. I only discovered this because in certain circumstances it does it wrong and it caused the softphone I'm working on not to work.

    I'm sure this is the start of some traffic shaping experiments for VOIP on that network. Whether they have started degrading service yet I couldn't say, though.

    Very worrying...
  • Argh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by serenarae ( 154753 ) on Thursday March 02, 2006 @08:21PM (#14839307) Journal
    A. They don't block ports
    B. Your signal levels coming into your house are probably bad, or you have a bad split in the house somewhere. Keep in mind, every time you split that coax that your signal gets cut in half depending on what type of splitter you put on the line
    C. From what I understand, their VOIP service isn't like vonage, and it runs over their private network
    D. If you have an issue, don't complain about it here. Call them and tell them exactly what's happening. I let my lower channels stay fuzzy for three years without calling, blaming it on them. They came out an reran the line to my house and I haven't had any issues with cable or net since.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 02, 2006 @11:22PM (#14840262)
    In my area Comcast is dropping packets with QoS set to anything other than default. I was using a VoIP handset in a VPN tunnel but, the VPN device dutifully maintained the QoS bits even on the tunnel packets.

    Everything else worked just fine - even my softphone. It took me a bit but, by watching the traffic on both ends of the VPN tunnel I discovered it was only packets with QoS set that never arrived at the VPN head-end device.

    I emailed support about it and they denied it. When I persisted and told them exactly what was occurring I got a run-around. I was then told that I needed the Comcast Business offering but, it wasn't available in my area.

    Later I get a visit from a Comcast represintative trying to keep my business. Forget it, I switched to Verizon and got three times the bandwidth for the same price. And, since Verizon is a common carrier they aren't supposed to drop my traffic with out telling me about it.

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.