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FCC Reports Comcast P2P Blocking Was More Widespread

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the saw-that-coming dept.

Networking 120

bob charlton from 66 tips us to a ComputerWorld story about FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, who has testified that Comcast's P2P traffic management occurred even when network congestion wasn't an issue, contrary to the ISP's claims. After defending its actions and being investigated by the FCC over the past few months, Comcast has tried to repair its image by making nice with BitTorrent and working towards a P2P Bill of Rights. Quoting: "'It does not appear that this technique was used only to occasionally delay traffic at particular nodes suffering from network congestion at that time,' Martin told the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. 'Based on testimony we've received thus far, this equipment was typically deployed over a wider geographic area or system, and is not even capable of knowing when an individual ... segment of the network is congested.'

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120 comments

Comcast getting their just desserts (5, Funny)

Urthwhyte (967114) | more than 5 years ago | (#23176690)

Comcast: Hating our customers since 1963

Anonymous Coward. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23177664)

Comcast: Hating our customers since 1963
I've worked for Comcast since the mid-eighties. Over the last few years everything has really went to pot. Miserable managers who lie as easily as talk, faked technical and management reports are the norm. You can't survive without doing this. I really believe it started when we picked up a lot of former AOL and TCI/AT&T guys. After that the company culture, which wasn't stellar to start with, took a serious wrong turn.

Anyway, as far as the packet meddling: it's done by a Sandvine box. There's thousands of them nationwide. There's one wherever there's a CMTS (Cisco UBR or Arris Cadant router) That means there's one in your neighborhood.

You worked at comsuck (0, Troll)

queenb**ch (446380) | more than 5 years ago | (#23178764)

You picked up a lot of former AOL people and you wonder why your company sucks. AOL sucks. AOL has always sucked. It sucked when it was pretty much the only ISP a lot of people could get. It sucked when you tried to cancel and ended up cancelling your credit card instead because no matter what you did they wouldn't stop billing you. It sucked when you tried to make them refund you for the months where you should have been cancelled but they just kept on billing. It sucked when you finally gave up and disputed the charge with your credit card company.

Any company with those kind of ethics is about to produce a slew of unethical jackasses. And your company was dumb enough to hire them.

HAHHAHAH

Re:You worked at comsuck (2, Insightful)

dw604 (900995) | more than 5 years ago | (#23180840)

Dude, it's not his company... even if it were, you're still an ass. Are we still making fun of AOL these days?

Re:You worked at comsuck (1)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 5 years ago | (#23180868)

AOL has not "always" sucked. It was a really good company in the 80s, when it provided Quantum Link service to Commodore=64 computers. We even had full-colored graphics! Pre-WWW. Neat. It was still a decent company when it first renamed itself to America Online.

It only truly went downhill circa 2000 when it tried to hand-out more customer contracts than bandwidth available, thus giving everybody the infamous "always busy" signal when they tried to dial-in. If Comcast is now run by former AOL managers, it's no surprise they think it's okay to over-sell. It's the same strategy, and they apparently learned nothing from the debacle.

(aside - I still use AOL except they bill themselves as "Netscape ISP". Joined in 2003 and I've never had any reason to complain. Even when I discontinued my brother's service, they politely closed the account without any hassle. AOL has improved while Comcast went downhill.)

Re:Anonymous Coward. (3, Interesting)

ptrace (1078855) | more than 5 years ago | (#23178940)

It's interesting that a whitepaper provided by Sandvine posits that their equipment actually protects Net Neutrality with "fair allocation of network resources between potentially competing uses of the network." Stating, "the greedy nature of applications and the over-subscription model of the Internet challenges network operators and the regulatory environment as they strive to maintain Internet freedoms that subscribers expect from the Industry". http://www.sandvine.com/general/getfile.asp?FILEID=37 [sandvine.com]

Can you believe it? I'm sure Comcast execs bought right into this.

Sandvine (1)

lucifuge31337 (529072) | more than 5 years ago | (#23181804)

Sure...that's what it CAN do. But its trivial to make a configuration that turns it into an indiscriminate P2P throttling machine. As a matter of fact, its EASIER to configure it that way than to take the time to check when and where to throttle.

Re:Anonymous Coward. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23179542)

I really believe it started when we picked up a lot of former AOL and TCI/AT&T guys.
When I read your post it all made sense to me.

Read the book "Fools Rush In" which is about the Time-Warner and AOL merger written by author who has wrote for Fortune, the New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, and Forbes.

Basically besides being the worst conceived merger ever, the AOL sales managers, reps, and customer service personnel were cretins. Absolute scum of the earth who were brought in to boost sales and used high-pressure-no-holds-bar intimidation tactics. AOL's corporate culture suffered immensely with those guys in house.

Re:Anonymous Coward. (1)

Kristoph (242780) | more than 5 years ago | (#23179644)

I've had Comcast for several years (in the Seattle area). I had 3 incidents where Comacast accidentally disconnected my cable and I was down for 2-3 days (until I went down to the box with the Comcast guy and he let me label it 'never disconnect'). A few months later Comcast sent around a client relationship rep to ask if I was happy with their service. When I complained about the downtime she upgraded my connection for life for free (even if I move). I now enjoy 26 mb down and 3 mb up (as per speedtest) with 26 ms latency (as per WoW) for the cost of the basic service. I've never had any P2P issues although I admit I am not a big P2P'er.

I dare say I am quite happy with Comcast and would probably recommend them as a service. I appreciate there are many horror stories but it's worth noting these guys are by no means all bad.

]{

Re:Anonymous Coward. (2, Interesting)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 5 years ago | (#23180894)

Yes, sometimes Comcast provides good service. For example one morning I turned-on my television and discovered instead of my usual 15-channel service, I had 70-channel service. I was paying $7 a month (plus tax) for 70 channels!

Of course this was an ACCIDENT. It was not the result of a genuine desire by Comcast to make me happy.

Re:Comcast getting their just desserts (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23177754)

Comcast: We're not happy, until Your not happy!

Not yet they aren't (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23177764)

Comcast getting their just desserts

You'll notice that no where in the article are penalties for Comcast mentioned. They do say that Congress is "considering clarifying" the FCC's power to "act on blocking complaints," but at this point there is nothing besides speculation of what that means, and absolutely no mention of punitive action on the current complaints.

Comcast could get off with a gentle scolding and a "we'll be watching you from now on" talk. That's at the strict end of the scale. They could also get nothing.

Re:Comcast getting their just desserts (1)

tony1343 (910042) | more than 5 years ago | (#23179564)

It is "just deserts." This is a very commonly misspelled word. Check out http://www.alphadictionary.com/articles/misspelled_words.html or other websites by googling it.

In other news... (4, Funny)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 5 years ago | (#23176714)

The National Weather Service Reports that the Sky is Blue

Re:In other news... (1)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | more than 5 years ago | (#23176750)

Rain falls.
Italians cheat at football.

Re:In other news... (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 5 years ago | (#23180638)

Hey, italians don't cheat at football.
They just play more aggressively and use 'creativity' to win matches.
Much like Enron and Citi used 'creative' accounting to make profits.
Much like Microsoft used 'creative' sales of XP to avoid taxes.

As long as its not illegal, am not cheating.

Re:In other news... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23177192)

The National Weather Service Reports that the Sky is Blue
You obviously don't live in the greater LA area.

Re:In other news... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23177256)

The National Weather Service Reports that the Sky is Blue [citation needed]

In Other News... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23176736)

Jews steal Palestinian land and water.

In oldest news (-1, Flamebait)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#23176802)

jews were there 1400 years before any arab appeared on the history scene. dipshit. study some history. and im not jewish.

Re:In oldest news (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23176822)

Have you actually read the Bible? It pretty much describes how the Jews systematically kicked out the original people off the land and took it as their own.

There was a pretty neat History Channel special on the military tactics employed by the Hebrew people during the events of the Old Testament.

Suffice it to say, they weren't there first. Of course, the people they kicked out weren't Arab - but it's not like it's *always* been Israeli.

Not that this has anything to do with anything, it's not like the US has always belonged to people of European descent either...

Re:In oldest news (-1, Offtopic)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#23177926)

do you know that the early christian leaders were in conflict with jews, and satanized them ? do you know that the 4 major versions of bible were edited and chosen in council of nicea around 400 ad ? they are not reliable books. old testament, new testament, no kind of christian text can hold any weight, because they were written by the extreme bias early christians had against jews, due to the pains of a fledling religion had with the established one. you have to go check babylonian and egyptian records. they are reliable. jews were there long before egyptians brought them in as slaves. actually their nomadic existence goes way back than 1800 BC. long before moses brought them out of slavery in egypt to their lands in caanan back again. that happened around 1300 BC.

Re:In oldest news (-1, Offtopic)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#23178076)

they are not reliable books. old testament, new testament, no kind of christian text can hold any weight, because they were written by the extreme bias early christians had against jews, due to the pains of a fledling religion had with the established one.
If the Christian Bible is so biased against Judaism, then why would the first three-fourths of it be identical to the Tanach?

Re:In oldest news (0, Offtopic)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#23180930)

heritage. just as almost third of the koran is borrowed from christianity, but it explicitly orders muslims to attack christians and jews in maida surah 9/29.

Re:In oldest news (0, Offtopic)

lusiphur69 (455824) | more than 5 years ago | (#23178830)

Who cares? If I wanted to read pseudoinsane rants about desert cults, theres plenty of that garbage on the web.

GTFO, banhammer, imo. With spam ad in sig, to boot.

Re:In oldest news (0, Offtopic)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#23177070)

jews were there 1400 years before any arab appeared on the history scene

And your point is, what exactly? Native American's were here for a little bit longer than 1,400 years before we appeared. Will you support a Native American movement that seeks to carve an independent country out of the United States? How about a "right of return"? My great-grandparents had to flee Germany in the 30s -- can I now return to Germany to seize the house they used to live in?

Don't get me wrong -- I don't pretend to have a solution for the Middle East either -- but this idea that a racial/religious group has a "right" to some land based on the fact that they controlled it two millennia ago (the Jews) or even a few decades ago (the Palestinians) is a pretty thin argument.

The World doesn't owe you a damn thing just because your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents or ancient-ancestors-living-in-the-time-of-Julius-Ceaser got a raw deal.

Re:In oldest news (-1, Offtopic)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 5 years ago | (#23177104)

"Will you support a Native American movement that seeks to carve an independent country out of the United States?"

They have a semi-independent group of counties already. Sure, they're not allowed to do a lot of the standard government stuff, and it's far from the same thing, but they do get to ignore a lot of laws within their territory.

Other than that I tend to agree with your argument.

Re:In oldest news (-1, Offtopic)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#23177994)

Native american history and ancient middle east history can not be compared. native american history is a history of migrations, whereas ancient middle east history is a history of cultural changes. up until sea people's invasion, or even after that, until 1000 BC, the effect of migrations into this zone is not great. therefore you can easily trace many cultures that existed long before that and way further than the invasions, because what happened was actually altering of existing cultures and melting of invaders into the existing culture. therefore, whatever proto-jew nomadic community were there around caanan at the time of abraham, are just a bastardization of the existing community there, just an arm of it, nothing else. therefore their ancestors were there long before that. not only due to dynamics of the region, but also the hardship of migration and long range travel, at those ages. the voyage by sea from peloponnessos (southern greece) to georgia (E black sea) was SO big a feat even by 800 BC standards that, we have the whole legend of iason and the golden fleece. this should give an idea why proto jews were there as nomadic tribes already, LONG before 1800 BC.

Don't get me wrong -- I don't pretend to have a solution for the Middle East either -- but this idea that a racial/religious group has a "right" to some land based on the fact that they controlled it two millennia ago (the Jews) or even a few decades ago (the Palestinians) is a pretty thin argument.
quite apparently you dont know the history of the region. jews were there more than 2 millenia ago, they controlled it aroun 500 years, AND they have been living in those lands under other empires' sovereignty since then. they have never been a negligible population in caanan. just to give you an idea, during 1920-1960, just the number of jews killed by muslim extremists is around 6000 people, each have names and dates of their murder. so, they werent never 'out' of that lands.

The World doesn't owe you a damn thing just because your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents or ancient-ancestors-living-in-the-time-of-Julius-Ceaser got a raw deal.
with your argument you could totally justify israeli occupation of palestinian lands - nobody owes any palestinian anything because early muslim empire arabs were able to take those lands from byzantine empire, but then lost it.

Re:In oldest news (0, Offtopic)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#23178260)

Native american history and ancient middle east history can not be compared. native american history is a history of migrations, whereas ancient middle east history is a history of cultural changes

So conquest of wandering nomads is ok?

this should give an idea why proto jews were there as nomadic tribes already, LONG before 1800 BC.

And this is relevant to the present day situation because....?

jews were there more than 2 millenia ago, they controlled it aroun 500 years

More than two millennia ago, modern day England was controlled by the Roman empire for about 400 years. Should London be returned to it's rightful owners in Italy?

with your argument you could totally justify israeli occupation of palestinian lands - nobody owes any palestinian anything because early muslim empire arabs were able to take those lands from byzantine empire, but then lost it.

Why did you draw the conclusion that my argument was only directed at the Jews?

Re:In oldest news (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#23180942)

So conquest of wandering nomads is ok?
you got what i meant. if you didnt, let me explain plainly ; native american history is incomparable to ancient middle east history when concerning rights of ownership to a piece of land.

And this is relevant to the present day situation because....?
if you havent read and took time to asses what i wrote, i cant go over explaining everything again and again, apologies.

Why did you draw the conclusion that my argument was only directed at the Jews?
you are debating by questions i presume. regardless of who your argument was directed at, it justifies any and all occupation.

Re:In oldest news (1)

Ripit (1001534) | more than 5 years ago | (#23181854)

native american history is incomparable to ancient middle east history when concerning rights of ownership to a piece of land.

Why? I can't see this as anything other than a blatantly racist statement.

regardless of who your argument was directed at, it justifies any and all occupation

This is accurate, though.

So Comcast Lied? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23176758)

I remember them claiming otherwise, so I guess this means that Comcast lied? No surprise there.

Suits don't know (5, Interesting)

o1d5ch001 (648087) | more than 5 years ago | (#23176798)

Its always curious when the suits of big ISPs talk about something they really don't understand. I worked at a large International ISP, and everyone from the Ops Manager up didn't understand the technology. They were "results oriented" and they apparently didn't need to know.

So, I can just imagine what they folks at the top were being told by "middle management".

Sigh.

And imagine, no one wanted Block D of the wireless spectrum to deliver wireless services and provide real alternatives. The Internet has been bought and sold to the highest bidders, and now we all have to live with the moronic decisions being made by people who are only interested in squeezing as much revenue of the porn addled, facebook addicted, morons paying the bills.

Re:Suits don't know (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23177674)

...squeezing as much revenue of the porn addled, facebook addicted, morons paying the bills.
The key words in that sentence are "paying the bills." Like it or not, all of this infrastructure exists because those "morons" are paying the bills, and because the "suits" are so good at "squeezing revenue" out of them. If the internet were built without regard to profit, it would never have grown past a modest network connecting a few academic and government computers. At the very least, we would be paying a heck of a lot more for less bandwidth because we wouldn't be enjoying the economies of scale we experience right now.

All that being said, one could definitely make an argument that Comcast should be doing a more responsible job of turning those profits back around into more infrastructure. If there were true competition in this industry, they would be getting hammered for their short-term focus on "squeezing" at the expense of growth. Unfortunately, there just aren't enough real alternatives out there for dissatisfied customers to switch to.

Re:Suits don't know (4, Insightful)

MarcQuadra (129430) | more than 5 years ago | (#23177788)

The -responsible- thing to do would be to use QoS to make all the P2P streams a lower priority than HTTP.

Instead, they're actively (and randomly) interrupting P2P and causing -all- P2P traffic to fail, even at 4AM.

The sad thing is, I know exactly why this is happening. There's someone (or a group of people) who honestly believe that 'P2P is eating all our bandwidth' and that if they use this blocking method, it'll all be OK.

I worked at a place where the Network Manager would see what sites were 'eating all the bandwidth' and just knock them down to 56Kbits/sec for the whole place. What he didn't understand is that -using your bandwidth is a good thing-, it means you're not paying for more than you use. 'blocking' P2P or 'top-talkers' just makes the experience on a network suck, there are much more effective and subtle ways to manage traffic that quietly make the traffic you want more important than the traffic you don't want interfering.

Re:Suits don't know (1)

ion.simon.c (1183967) | more than 5 years ago | (#23178338)

The BitTorrent is *still* not random.
Comcast is *still* shutting down BitTorrent seeders.
There's nothing random about it.

Re:Suits don't know (2, Interesting)

gozu (541069) | more than 5 years ago | (#23181460)

You're absolutely right about QoS.

What he didn't understand is that -using your bandwidth is a good thing-, it means you're not paying for more than you use.

This is not accurate, however. The standard procedure when you are Comcast and are peering with Tier1 people like ATT and Cogent is to pay them money for each gig of data you send on to their network and vice versa. So you always want people to be sending packets to your network and you hate those pesky uploaders who are sending them out packets out of it.

In effect, packet flow is money flow and it flows to and from Comcast at the whim of the users. That's why upload bandwidth is insultingly low compared to download bandwidth and business connections cost so much. When comcast prohibits running servers and interferes with p2p, there is an immediate, concrete and CONTROLLABLE effect on the money they make.

Greed is now seeking a balance with customer acceptance.

Re:Suits don't know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23179664)

You can't possibly believe that? Actually, you could, you could also have comcast service. Only one of those things makes you a moron. The other just means you are stuck with a monopoly.

Lets establish a few key facts from the start.

Comcast had exactly nothing to do with building the network we all enjoy.

That network was bigger than your little brain could imagine LONG before it was privatized.

If it weren't for your (and mine) corporate overlords WiMesh technology would cover most of the USA by now. It doesn't because that would "steal" profits from a very large industry, an industry that exists solely to service the public and business. An industry that was GIVEN everything it has by the taxpaying public.

Maybe you'll recognize a better phrased argument...

~We make use of a service already existing without paying for what could be dirt-cheap if it wasn't run by profiteering gluttons, and you call us criminals. ~

It's people like you that allow corrupt organizations like Comcast to thrive.

I run a free wifi mesh for my neighborhood, and at my office. I will teach anyone how to do the same.

WTF are you doing? Yeah, I thought so, just barking for your masters.

Surprised? (5, Insightful)

M0bius (26596) | more than 5 years ago | (#23176886)

Who is surprised by this revelation? From initial denial to any traffic shaping, to stacking the hearing with payed shills, Comcast has proven they are willing to do whatever it takes to oversell their service and then bottleneck it to keep from having to make infrastructure upgrades. I wouldn't be shocked if they rubbed the blood of sacrificed newborn children onto their fiber if it would save them a buck or two. Go Comcast!

Re:Surprised? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23176968)

Blood of sacrificed newborns? THAT would never work...

you need to use Cheetah blood.

fixed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23176898)

I _still_ only get 20kb/s on my Comcast line...

Re:fixed? (3, Insightful)

Raineer (1002750) | more than 5 years ago | (#23176990)

I _still_ only get 20kb/s on my Comcast line...

They said they are working with BT, and working on this "bill of rights", and also admitting to slowing down the throttling.

I have never seen them say they are stopping such activities.

To qoute Eminem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23176988)

The FCC won't let me be or let me be me so let me see... They try and shut me down on MTV but it feels so empty without me.

Re:To qoute Eminem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23177424)

Yawn...

"Blocking" (5, Interesting)

AsnFkr (545033) | more than 5 years ago | (#23177002)

I'm convinced instead of "blocking" some customers they simapily drove them to bad service so they would leave. I am an example of this:

I run lots of torrents, and have for years. I have always had a very very stable line with Prestige Digital Cable, whom was bought by Adelphia whom was eventually bought by Comcast. My service with Comcast started out bad, as the upload speeds were cut in half and the bill was almost doubled (over a course of 6 months) but the actual line was very very stable. I didn't pay for a static IP, but I had the same IP address for a very long time, as most people tend to have. Eventually one day my IP shifted to a new subnet which gave like 90% packet loss (tested 24/hrs a day and averaged out with some Linus scripting). I ran my PC straight into the modem (removing the Linksys router) and it gave me an IP on the old and trusted subnet, with no packet loss at all. When I hooked the router up it associated it's MAC and put me on the bad one again. So I cloned the PC's MAC to the router, and bada-bing I'm on the good subnet and back to my torrents. A few weeks go by and all of a sudden that MAC addy is being pushed onto the bad subnet. I clone another MAC addy and up onto the good subnet I go, and around and around we go. Eventually I got sick of it and canceled the service all together. When I called to cancel the woman was very friendly until she had a chance to pull up my account info, they she just told me "Your service is off. Goodbye, click", leading me to wonder if there is actually a note in my account that has me marked as a high-traffic user.

I realize most of this is based on paranoid speculation, so take it for what it's worth, but to be fair another friend of mine in the same town had the SAME EXACT situation take place. Just seems a little fishy.

Re:"Blocking" (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 5 years ago | (#23177088)

Were their no other ISPs? How were you so patient with your paid for service?

Re:"Blocking" (2, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#23177384)

Most places that have high-speed Internet have only one, or perhaps two, actual ISPs. There may be a few low-speed ISPs around (eg: 802.11b wireless) and there might also be one or two resellers of the high-speed bandwidth, but the odds are fairly high that if you've upset one ISP, that confidential information will somehow appear on the desk of all the other ISPs. The odds are much much greater for resellers. Choice in the ISP world is very limited and what appears to be choice will often be an illusion, at least in the general consumer market.

When you get into the big money game, then the rules are different. You have choices when you start talking T1s or above. Not, as a rule, always a good set of choices, and again most of the smaller companies have long-since been bought out. You might have three or four real, genuine, independent ISPs to choose from. They charge the Earth, may ignore their own quality of service guarantees (one company I worked for got bit by the small-print), and cusomer service is almost as bad as the domestic service, but appear to show a marginally higher interest in keeping you as a customer.

Re:"Blocking" (1)

AsnFkr (545033) | more than 5 years ago | (#23178196)

Yea, it's Comcast, Verizon DSL (Yearly contracts for god-knows-how-bad-service) or dial up. Or leech off the neighbors wifi, which I did till they moved! Argh!

Re:"Blocking" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23180266)

Or leech off the neighbors wifi, which I did till they moved!
A self-confessed high-traffic user leeching someone else's bandwidth? Can you imagine what their paid link quality was like with your torrents running?

Leeching to check your e-mail is one thing, but what you were doing is fucking disgusting.

Re:"Blocking" (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 5 years ago | (#23178218)

In most cases, yes, you'll have a choice between at most two broadband ISPs: your local cable company (providing cable Internet) and your local telephone company (providing DSL). Note that that's a maximum. In a noticeable number of areas you'll have only one. Sometimes it's because one or the other simply doesn't serve that chunk of real estate. Sometimes in the case of apartments, condominium complexes and newer developments it's because the owner/developer has given one company exclusive rights to provide high-speed Internet service there.

Re:"Blocking" (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#23177106)

leading me to wonder if there is actually a note in my account that has me marked as a high-traffic user.

I wouldn't be surprised by that at all.

In the same vain, what amuses me is how I could call Roadrunner, whine about the price being too high and get whatever "promotional" deal they were currently running (even if said deal was only for new customers). Amazingly enough, if I tried to make the same request on behalf of a friend who lived too far out to get DSL they would refuse. Never refused when the request was made for someone who had an alternative though.

Re:"Blocking" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23177232)

You're not paranoid. You, my friend, are a "devil patron." Profiling and discriminating against customers is commonplace. See: http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20041108-4382.html

Re:"Blocking" (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23177296)

Comcast also has been blocking VPN traffic - and denying it. It took a call from VP of IT with a threat to pull all corporate business before they relented and stopped this in my area.

Re:"Blocking" (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23177422)

Yeah, when I upgraded my machine and put a new MAC on Comcast's network, the speeds were incredible for a few hours; I had been previously experiencing disconnects left and right when downloading torrents. The same thing happened: they shifted me to a different subnet, and my connection turned to mush again.

Re:"Blocking" (1)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 5 years ago | (#23177840)

You are the ISP customer equivalent of the 200kg guy who wears an overcoat with 10 deep pockets and starves himself all day before wandering into an "All you can eat!" buffet. I think it was only a matter of time before either truth in advertising started happening or the 'devil customers' as one commentor called them started getting the short end of the stick.

Re:"Blocking" (1)

AsnFkr (545033) | more than 5 years ago | (#23178224)

I don't really mind that they were upset with my "abuse of the line", I just wish they had sent a dang letter or called me or something to tell me to knock it off instead of just screwing with me until I went away. If they had been upfront about it, I would have throttled back on the bandwidth usage. In my new residence I keep the line capped at 45.k up (as opposed to the max of 100~ish) to stop the same thing from happening again. So far, so good.

Re:"Blocking" (1)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 5 years ago | (#23178330)

I agree. They have chosen to lie and say that they have more bandwidth than they have. So their only real option is to do something illegal but plausibly deniable. Unless stopped, their superior money extraction practices will ensure that they cannibalize the other operators until there are none left who do not shape.

Re:"Blocking" (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 5 years ago | (#23178020)

What's strange is how the customer service peons take the company's side on this kind of stuff--every single time.

People who work for bad companies tend to fit in there.

Re:"Blocking" (1)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 5 years ago | (#23178976)

What's strange is how the customer service peons take the company's side on this kind of stuff--every single time.

People who work for bad companies tend to fit in there.

It's not so strange... it's called either (a) keeping your job (and they dont have a high retention rate), and/or (b) not knowing much (technically) beyond what the support docs on their screen tell them and thus not even realizing they are facilitating in this.

A perfect example was when I was a tech at CompUSA and we called HP to order a part. No, we didnt call the normal HP support line, we had a "Vendor Only" number.

US: "Hi, I'm calling because we need a new power supply for an HP Pavilion Piece of Crap (I think that was the model). The power supply is dead and not putting out power."

IDIOTS (I mean HP):"OK, what's the error code in PC Doctor."

US: "There is no error code... the power supply is dead and not outputting power, so the machine will not turn on, thus I cannot run PC Doctor and give you an error code. Besides, PC Doctor cannot diagnose a bad power supply."

HP: "Well, I still need an error code. You need to tell me what error PC Doctor has on the screen."

etc, etc, etc...

If you check the job listings in areas where Comcast operates, you will see that there is always demand for entry tech support (ie: the people on their end most of us would speak to)... meaning (my guess is) a high turnover rate. I have a feeling that some of their more tech saavy employees, as well as ones who figured out enough to understand what is going on (or just got fed up with their corporate culture), or those who refuse to act and become like Comcast corporate wants, either quit or get fired.

So, I am not necessarily sure that the "strangeness" applies to the customer service "peons"... I would say it should apply to their networking people though... and I would also use a stronger word than "strange" to describe their willingness to partake in such actions...

:-)

Turnover (1)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 5 years ago | (#23181940)

The last time I heard, call center employees have an average of about 6 months of shelf life - w/ fewer than 10% surviving 2 years. When I did it, I was being paid dick to be yelled at for 8 hours a day & solve an average of 48 tech support calls a day. (3 minutes of mandatory script reading/user verification & 7 minutes to do a full phone diagnosis on why Bambi Bubbles & her 2 braincells can't get on line)

As tech support I got a total of 3 death threats & at least 1 threat of violence weekly. Anyone who has any hope in the tech world won't stay there longer than needed to find another job, which is why call centers are full of phone drones who can't do anything but read a script.

Re:"Blocking" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23178134)

I call BS.

While it sounds plausible to begin with, the cable modem has it's own MAC address that needs to be registered with comcast in order for you to receive any service. Any device connecting through it, comcast would see as coming from the same account.

I mean, their infrastructure can't be so fucked up that it thought you were someone new because a "new device" (different MAC address) was interfacing with a cable modem that they already knew about, right? ...right???

Re:"Blocking" (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 5 years ago | (#23178170)

their infrastructure can't be so fscked up
To quote my brother: Say that again, and this time, listen to yourself.

Re:"Blocking" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23178382)

Sorry, that was supposed to be the intent of the second extended "...right???" :P

Re:"Blocking" (1)

AsnFkr (545033) | more than 5 years ago | (#23178256)

Yea, I made up that whole story. Wait, no I didn't. Anyways, I assume they didn't "think I was someone new" consciously, they used a IP reservation that said "if you see X MAC, send it here", if you see a new MAC send it there". Once they gathered enough info on the MAC to show it was high usage, it got added to the list of reservations and the cycle began. It does seem easier to just restrict the MAC of the modem, but this is Comcast we are talking about..who knows why they went about it this way.

Re:"Blocking" (2, Interesting)

nehumanuscrede (624750) | more than 5 years ago | (#23178202)

This kind of behavior actually makes more sense from a Comcast perspective.

Not that I agree with it mind you, it's simply the cheaper alternative when
faced with bandwidth limiting or expanding your infrastructure.

If you can identify what may cause serious headaches for your network
and / or your available bandwidth you are simply one step closer to
making the call to minimize it's effect by whatever means you have available.

In this case, the degradation of the P2P applications in the hope that
the masses ' give up ' on technology that obviously doesn't work
well. When, in fact, it works wonderfully when Comcast isn't meddling
with it. Once the majority of users give up on it, that part of your
network headache has been dealt with and you can move on to the next one.

Problem is, what is the next one ?

Competing VOIP applications ? High-Def video content ? Anything that
isn't considered ' Comcastic ' ? Ever wonder why your VOIP application
doesn't work as well as it should ? Is is shoddy programming or shady
ISP's degrading the service so you'll use their own product instead ? Tin
hat ? Probably. I will not put it past any company anymore. The ever
increasing profit margin trumps all. Ethics, honor, respect. All of it.
It's pathetic really.

It's lovely that Comcast decided to throw in the towel and wants to make
it all go away. The real problem is it took them getting CAUGHT before it
happened. These aren't the actions of a company who wants to make the
internet a better and equal place for everyone. These are the actions of
a company who are now worried their actions mightget the government involved
and REALLY start causing problems when it comes to network management.

Not that any fine ( even a record setting one ) would even make them flinch.
Think about how much money Comcast pulls in monthly. The fine would have to
be several Billion dollars before they would even notice it.

The idea there is broad-band level competition is laughable. I have two
choices. Comcast or Verizon DSL across a copper plant that is so old
and degraded ( they bought it from GTE ) that I would set a world record
if my download speeds exceeded 1MB down. When it worked at all that is.

Problem with the DSL line ? Call the DSL folks. Oh no ! It's not our
DSL service, it's the copper phone lines! Call the phone company ! Oh
noes ! DSL problems ? It can't be the phone lines, call the DSL folks !
Wash / rinse and repeat until your sanity catches fire.

Been there, done that.

As much as I hate to say it, the major ISP's NEED some regulation or
oversight in how they provide service. It's pretty obvious they can't
be trusted to police themselves. Comcast is the poster child of that
idea much to their dismayI'm sure.

Think the other ISP's aren't doing something similar ? Please.
They just haven't been caught yet.

Re:"Blocking" (1)

SlowMovingTarget (550823) | more than 5 years ago | (#23179850)

As much as I hate to say it, the major ISP's NEED some regulation or oversight in how they provide service.

No. The major ISPs need to have their government-granted monopolies disallowed. In most cases, Comcast or some other company manages to influence local legislation in such a way that they are the only ones in the area permitted to lay wire (or fiber). _That_ is what needs to stop. The pressures of real competition would make these providers work to keep customers, as opposed to deliberately abusing them.

Bittorrent unblocked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23177100)

I am in the US for a few months this summer and will get broadband internet for that time. So which provider in the US doesn't block or limit bittorrent traffic?

Sigh (3, Interesting)

Fatal67 (244371) | more than 5 years ago | (#23177126)

You would hope the chairman of the FCC wouldn't be so clueless. Well, whoever told him the things he is repeating at least.

Anyone that has actually configured a sandvine box knows very well that you can set rules to run at any time they want. Anyone even minimally monitoring their network knows when their network is congested and can apply rules during those times.

To say that the sandvine isn't network aware is false. You would think that the chairman would have contacted the manufacturer or at least had an aide go to the website.

Re:Sigh (1)

pfleming (683342) | more than 5 years ago | (#23177404)

So are you saying that Comcast wasn't arbitrarily blocking traffic and that their routers were aware of where the congestion really occurred and that the RST packets only flowed where "appropriate"? Or maybe it doesn't matter if you can configure a sandvine box to do this or not - they were just picking on a single protocol to drop RST packets into the line for.

Re:Sigh (1)

Fatal67 (244371) | more than 5 years ago | (#23177584)

I'm implying that when the chairman gets in front of the senate and tells them what the capabilities of a piece of equipment are, he shouldn't lie or be that wrong.

I was stating nothing about how they were used in the case. I don't know if they configured it to perform as you state, but they could have. Which is opposite to what he stated.

What he says the box cannot do is one of the reasons the box was sold. If I were sandvine, I'd make sure he corrected that issue.

Re:Sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23178198)

I think the FCC meant that the sandvine box can't tell if an upstream segment of the cable plant was being overloaded. Comcast says the blocking was only being done occasionally when the system was overloaded. But since only the CMTS knows when an upstream is overloaded (and a CMTS has a ton of upstreams on it), how could the Sandvine box know?

Besides, the witnesses at the hearing said it wasn't being done occasionally, but all the time...

Comcast just keeps denying what other people are saying they do, without telling anyone what they are doing. By not explaining what's really going on, they have all these people trying to figure it out from how experiments.

Boy, the Comcast management must be dense or something.

Re:Sigh (1)

lusiphur69 (455824) | more than 5 years ago | (#23178794)

"I don't know if they configured it to perform as you state, but they could have."

If the box wasn't configured in such a way, why would the chairman need to tiptoe through the tulips? As deployed at Comcast, apparently, Sandvine isn't aware of congestion, instead filtering certain protocols. Not having enough information to know what methods Sandvine uses to determine congestion, relying on snmp alerts or whatnot, one comes to the conclusion that Comcast either wanted widespread filtering or was too lazy to configure Sandvine to trigger based on congested nodes.

From TFA:
""It does not appear that this technique was used only to occasionally delay traffic at particular nodes suffering from network congestion at that time," Martin told the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. "Based on testimony we've received thus far, this equipment was typically deployed over a wider geographic area or system, and is not even capable of knowing when an individual ... segment of the network is congested."

Notice he does not mention Sandbox by name, rather referring to 'equipment'. Sandvine has nothing to correct, the chairman only generally referred to equipment at the Comcast implementation.

Comcast is actually doing just what has been...... (1)

ciscoguy01 (635963) | more than 5 years ago | (#23178266)

Comcast is actually are doing just what has been alleged.

Traffic Management

Manage Growing Bandwidth Demands. Ensure Subscriber Satisfaction.

File-sharing traffic continues to dominate service provider networks despite earlier suggestions that Peer-to-Peer (P2P) applications would diminish with emerging online trends and industry pressure. This popular technology has become a mass-market application and remains a key driver for broadband adoption in today's competitive market.

The implication for service providers is clear: file-sharing will continue to consume bandwidth and stress both the access network and Internet transit links. Proactive steps are needed to manage these immense costs and with broader subscriber usage, an intelligent approach to managing P2P traffic that preserves the online experience must be considered

Sandvine's Intelligent Traffic Management solution offers the widest range of policy management options to significantly reduce transit bandwidth costs and CAPEX spending on access networks. Service providers can adopt new intelligent techniques or more traditional approaches depending on their business environment.

With Sandrine's subscriber-friendly solutions, service providers can achieve cost savings while increasing customer loyalty.
From http://www.sandvine.com/solutions/p2p_policy_mngmt.asp [sandvine.com]

Re:Sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23179708)

Just cuz Comcast can apply different rules at different times of the day doesn't mean that they were smart enough to do so. they've proven that they weren't

Of Course It's Deliberate (4, Funny)

BitHive (578094) | more than 5 years ago | (#23177434)

Last month I got a phone call from a Comcast robot telling me my account was past due. At the time I did not realize that an autopayment had gone through 7 days earlier, so I immediately went and paid my balance online.

A few days later my bank calls and tells me one of my accounts is overdrawn. Not Comcast's fault, but I ask the bank rep--did the autopayment actually go through? Yes it did.

So I got on a live chat with a Comcast support agent who tells me that I was not double-billed, I was just charged twice for the same amount successfully. He was not authorized to issue a credit from his "location" so I called the billing department, where a rep told me the billing department does not have the ability to change autopayment settings.

When I mentioned the robot call that I should never have received and asked if he could tell a manager to look into it, his tone of voice conveyed such disbelief and confusion that at first I thought I'd misspoke and asked him what kind of underwear he had on or something. Then he tried to sell me phone service.

Coincidence?

Re:Of Course It's Deliberate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23179476)

Jesus, I just had an identical situation happen to me... Tonight!

  I called up to use their auto pay system to pay my current bill of $140. I give them my credit card and then machine asked me "would you like to pay the full amount or make a partial payment?" I made a full payment.

        Then before calling today, I checked my history online. I payed $280 according to them. They apparently add in the next months bill 4 days before the current one needs to post. And then the girl on the phone tells me that they do not give refunds, except in the case of unsubscribing customers and only in the form of a check. They are graciously going to credit my account, while an extra $140 sits on my credit card.

    I had originally called to cancel my triple play pack to get ride of the phone services and drop it down to the minimalist of cable services, (or at least to a lower triple play pack). The next girl told me that there were no packs below mine (which when I picked out was one of four with two below it). Then I asked to just tell me what the other cable service options that they provided were. She beat around the bush and did not name a single package and then told me "look tell me what channels you want and I can tell you what plans she provides them." She then told me that if I went anything lower then they would have break up my pack and charge me for the individual items, when I asked about specific packages by name that I knew they offered (none of their low-end packages are listed online except in a obscure way). I then told her I was going to break up my package, get ride of digital voice, and get the limited cable plan, which she told me that the department that close digital voice accounts was closed (5 minutes earlier) and I would have to do it tomorrow.

Part way through the conversation I said "well it sounds to me that you are convinced that I am already getting the best deal for the lowest price... ." she then cut me off and told me that she was convincing me but informing me.

  Yeah...

Re:Of Course It's Deliberate (1)

MLease (652529) | more than 5 years ago | (#23181618)

I'm just waiting for Verizon FiOS to make it to my neighborhood. I don't even care whether or not it's better or cheaper, I just want the satisfaction of telling Comcrap to go to Hell.

-Mike

P2p blocking is old hat at Comcast (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23177506)

It's funny that the chairman of the FCC gets involved when a protocol that is primarily used for copyright violation gets throttled, but nobody cares about the way Comcast manipulates SMTP traffic, as they have for many years.

The semi-random port-blocking on 25 that they do often seems designed to optimize the ability of worms and viruses to spread while simultaneously forcing all legitimate traffic through their (failure prone) mailservers.

I had a lot of conversations with them about it and eventually gave up trying to edjumacate their underpaid moronic techs. Since verizon figured out how to get FIOS to my house (no small technical feat) I switched to them... at least they are competent evil. Well, by comparison anyway.

Wow, my posts aren't usually this cynical.
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