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Comcast Defends Role As Internet Traffic Cop 425

RCTrucker7 writes "Comcast said yesterday that it purposely slows down some traffic on its network, including some music and movie downloads, an admission that sparked more controversy in the debate over how much control network operators should have over the Internet. In a filing with the Federal Communications Commission, Comcast said such measures — which can slow the transfer of music or video between subscribers sharing files, for example — are necessary to ensure better flow of traffic over its network. In defending its actions, Comcast stepped into one of the technology industry's most divisive battles. Comcast argues that it should be able to direct traffic so networks don't get clogged; consumer groups and some Internet companies argue that the networks should not be permitted to block or slow users' access to the Web."
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Comcast Defends Role As Internet Traffic Cop

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  • by Aranykai ( 1053846 ) <slgonser@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @12:09PM (#22406908)
    Not a bad idea. If they are doing deep packet inspection to filter and slow traffic identified as peer to peer, are they not party responsible for the alleged infringment? I know if I offered a guy a ride in my car, then watched him shoot the person next to me, and continued to take him home, it would make me an accessory to murder
  • Slowing down traffic (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CopaceticOpus ( 965603 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @12:29PM (#22407254)
    Comcast is taking over my current cable provider, which is a less than pleasing fact given all the news about them lately. Still, I don't have a problem with them slowing down certain traffic, so long as certain conditions are met:

    1. They clearly disclose their policies about slowing traffic.
    2. They don't discriminate by specific domains, IPs, or traffic content. They should only discriminate by broad categories, such as prioritizing all http traffic over all p2p traffic.
    3. They don't interfere with packets, drop them, or modify them. They don't force connections to end as they have been accused of lately. They apply a speed limit and that is it.
    4. They only limit speeds when necessary based on network traffic. If the network can handle the current traffic load, don't slow anything down.

    It makes sense that perhaps my p2p download (of linux isos of course) shouldn't slow my neighbors' web surfing to a crawl. But it shouldn't be restricted if there is plenty of bandwidth available. And the Comcast Sports website definitely should have no advantage over espn.com.
  • QoS is a lie. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by A beautiful mind ( 821714 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @12:32PM (#22407310)
    I think there were studies done to show that using QoS on an ISP level is not cost effective compared to just upgrading to more capacity. On an ISP level, you just got to have the equipment necessary to handle the traffic on your network, there is no working around of that. Comcast must know this, so they have an ulterior motive in pushing QoS and differentiationg content from content. They might use this as a prelude to introduce tiered pricing. This just goes to show why net neutrality is necessary.
  • by harrkev ( 623093 ) <[gro.ylimafnoslerrah] [ta] [dsmfk]> on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @12:34PM (#22407330) Homepage
    You are right about selling "unlimited" bandwidth. They do need to be more transparent with what they are offering.

    Their pricing is assuming that not all customers want to use their maximum available bandwidth at the same time, which is generally true. If they really DID beef up the system to handle ALL available bandwidth, then the price would likely double or more.

    Basicly, if you want cheaper prices, you have to make a sacrifice or two. If you really want dedicated bandwidth, pay for your own T3 to your house. Cable is marketed to typcial home user, where the use is rather bursty.

    This is kind of like an all-you-can-eat buffet having the local pro football team stopping by for supper after practice five times a week. After a while, the restaraunt starts to loose money. They then have three choices:
    1) Raise prices.
    2) Put limits on the service.
    3) Go out of business.
    None of the three are great options, #1 hurts everybody, not just the heavy users. #2 keeps the prices low for most, at the expense of the heavy users, and #3 hurts everybody in general.

    Note that I am NOT defending Comcast. I understand to need to do something about heavy usage. However, I am vehemently agains the WAY they have done things. Secret bandwidth caps and cancelling transfers are just plain decpetive and customer hostile. Now, if they had implemented a more reasonable policy, and actually advertised it, that would be good for everybody. I would be agreeable to temporary bandwith reductions (maybe 25% to 50%) for heavy useres during peak usage periods.

    To summarize: I understand the need for limits and bandwidth control. But, Comcast has done a crappy job of implementing it, and has done it in such a manner as to stir up customer wrath. They could have handled things MUCH better.
  • Interesting (Score:4, Interesting)

    by whisper_jeff ( 680366 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @12:35PM (#22407346)
    I would find it very interesting to see a major digital content provider sue Comcast for interfering with their ability to conduct business with the end consumer. If Comcast is degrading consumers' ability to enjoy digital content, much of which is surely provided legally and via commercial transaction, I would think that would be viewed as illegal. Of course, I am not a student of business nor law so I could well be wrong, but it would certainly be interesting to see some major content providers take exception to Comcast messing with their bottom line.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @01:47PM (#22408414)
    All of you, stop being stupid, right now! This has very little to do with bandwidth management. What comcast is most interested in is making sure that you get your content from them, through cable subscriptions, premium channels, and most importantly pay-per-view. By making the user experience for other media outlets annoyingly slow, they hope to discourage use. It is a nearly perfect plan and will work on most "average" users.
  • by GreggBz ( 777373 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @02:20PM (#22408820) Homepage

    I wouldn't be agreeable to those. The applications that are used by the minority of internet users today are going to become mainstream tomorrow. Everybody is slamming bittorrent but missing the point that internet video is probably going to be the next killer app.

    Since I admin a smallish ISP, I can tell you that it's already the next killer app. We've been monitoring network demographics with NTOP for quite some time.

    This past year, we've seen a 10% increase in subscribers and a 60% increse in traffic. That increase is almost entirely http.
    P2P protocol usage, on the other hand, plateaued last year. It is becoming more and more insignificant.

    You can watch 20 episodes of Lost commercial free in "HD" full screen at nbc.com. I watched the Sarah Conner Chronicles [fox.com] (brought to you by Cisco, the irony..) at home last night and monitored my bandwidth consumption, which saturated at around 3Mb. This isn't youtube, the picture is great. It's very impressive, and easy to do. It was a 10 second pluggin install on my Windows machine.

    People are rapidly finding this. An informal survey of our CSRs reveals that they are getting increasing volumes of calls where the subject comes up.

    Never bet against the Internet, as they say.
  • by tinkerghost ( 944862 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @04:17PM (#22410564) Homepage

    Several of the telcos add & drop port filtering depending on the current virus situation. A lot of companies shut down port 80 incomming when Code Red was infecting every Windows install w/ IIS running. Some of them are blocking outgoing port 25 other than to the corporate servers.

    RCN offered both residential & commercial cable modem service. The price difference was $30-50 vs $300. What did you get for that difference? - pushed to the head of the repair and call center queues.

IN MY OPINION anyone interested in improving himself should not rule out becoming pure energy. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.