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Comcast's Throttling Plan Has 'Disconnect User' Option

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the laters dept.

The Internet 299

newtley writes "Comcast's new people, not protocols scheme may mean high speed for some, but by no means all. It's also created a draconian 'disconnect' option for use against anyone who fails to toe the Comcast line. But, says Robb Topolski, the Net protocol expert who originally uncovered Comcast's blatant efforts to control its customers, the plan does offer key take-aways, telling P2P users on Comcast how to do what they do without the risk of corporate interference."

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299 comments

Slow News Day (4, Informative)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 5 years ago | (#25097977)

Excuse me? Where's the news here? We already knew that Comcast's bandwidth cap will be (starting next month) 250 GB... break it once and you're warned, break it twice your service address is cut off for a year.

Re:Slow News Day (1)

amdpox (1308283) | more than 5 years ago | (#25097995)

Yes, I could swear I read this exact same thing last week. In a Slashdot summary.

Re:Slow News Day (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25098033)

I mated wtih a retard last night. 12 inches to a yard, left her soundin' like a retard.

Re:Slow News Day (5, Insightful)

traycerb (728174) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098695)

there's more to it than the cumulative cap. they also have an elaborate throttling scheme based on how much you're currently downloading:

The issue will be their strange throttling scheme, which puts users in a "penalty box" for using more than 70% of available bandwidth in any 15 minute window and releases them from the box when their activity drops below 50%.

It has the net effect of decreasing the effective sustained bandwidth. I don't have Comcast, and I think the cumulative limits are fair, but this strikes me as unfair. What if I don't come close to the monthly limits, but I'm streaming/DLing something that will take longer than 15min? If congestion isn't an issue, why not let someone DL at the capabilities of their connection?

Not much news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25098011)

But there is an issue [slashdot.org] .

But it is news. (1, Troll)

right handed (1310633) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098043)

The ability to turn off trouble makers is right in line with the end of net neutrality. Look for it to be abused and directed against people who complain.

The REAL question (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25098723)

Can you smell the rat's penis while it goes up your nose? If you could, that would make it even worse.

Attn: twitter sockpuppet (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25098781)

http://slashdot.org/~willyhill/journal/205317 [slashdot.org]

twitter has already posted with three [slashdot.org] different [slashdot.org] accounts on this article. Apparently getting along with a single account like the rest of us is not acceptable to him.

Re:Not much news. (2, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098053)

Yeah, but the summary's links are the wrong people to make that point. They're saying "But that means we won't be able to steal movies anymore!" when the real problem is "That means we won't be able to download the legal content anymore!"

One and the same voice. (2, Insightful)

right handed (1310633) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098699)

Your ability to share with your neighbor is intimately linked to your free press and "legitimate" content. When you surrender your right to share and give control to some third party, you will lose your free press. The ability to censor you is what this is all about. Big publishers want all the control they have become accustom to with broadcast and then some. If you buy into the line, "these people are pirates who want nothing more than to steal" you have lost all faith in your neighbors and might as well disconnect your internet connection now. It always has been your neighbors who create your culture.

Re:One and the same voice. (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098727)

You have the ability to share with your neighbor under a bandwidth cap... you just need to purchase a web hosting plan from one of the hundreds of places offering them if you want to publish more than just casually.

And (4, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098143)

If you want/need more, you can get a business class account. I've had business class Internet for many years now. Currently it's with Cox cable, but I've used Speakeasy and Qwest in the past. Business class accounts get you a number of things, like static IPs and such, but one of them is no bandwidth cap. Whatever speed you pay for, you are free to use as much as you like and you'll hear not a peep out of them.

However, you are going to pay more for it. Where a normal cable account might be $50/month, expect to pay over $100/month for a business account. However, if you are the kind of person who needs lots and lots of bandwidth, it seems only fair you should pay more for it.

You have to remember that consumer connections are something like a big LAN. Everyone gets to have nice fast access, but only if people are nice and share it. You use your fast speed when you need it, let others have it. For example I work for a university. We have a nice fast network, I've got gig to my desktop. We've got plenty of upstream too. I've gotten things like 100+mbit download speeds on Linux ISOs and so on. Wonderful, however everyone on campus can't do that 24/7 full bore. If we did, well there's be maybe 300kbps of bandwidth for each of us. It is fast and cheap because we all share.

Same deal on your consumer grade cable modem. If you want a nice cheap price and a fast link, you need to be willing to share with others and that means not running it at full capacity all the time. Otherwise you either have to settle for less bandwidth, or greater costs. Me, I choose the greater cost option and then do as I please.

Re:And (4, Informative)

aztektum (170569) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098299)

My Comcast business account is only $5/mo more than my "home" service. And for 10 bucks on top of that I get 5 IPs. Sure only the upstream is a boost over my residential (384Kbps to 1Mbps) but I don't pay for satellite or cable TV, which is how I justified the extra cost.

Although I note my torrent speeds are still poo (I'm trying to download Intrepid Ibex Alpha 6 and I'm gettin' 25-30K). I have Googled around and found nothing about if they're screwing with P2P on their biz accounts.

Re:And (1)

AceofSpades19 (1107875) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098713)

The problem with that is people pay money for a certain speed. Its like paying for a gallon of gas and it turns out you can only use a quarter of it. If I pay for 10 mb/s or whatever it is, I should get 10 mb/s

Chicken Little? Industry Propaganda! (1, Insightful)

twitter (104583) | more than 5 years ago | (#25097985)

There is very good evidence that ATT and every major ISP is moving to pay per byte models and per site discrimination. It comes from whistle blowers [ning.com] . Ignore it at your peril.

There is not any good evidence that wireless wiretaps and email filtering will be abandoned anytime soon.

The issue is neutrality and censorship [slashdot.org] . Moore's law also makes bad things easier too. We should fight them when we see them. Never accept "how things really work in technology" as an excuse to do nothing. Your freedom of press is too important to sacrifice to technical details and a false sense of "professionalism"

Comcast is just playing by the FCC's rules. (4, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098005)

Isn't this what you guys wanted? Comcast is being told they're can't discrimate against so-called-p2p protocols... so they're just counting bits and if you use to many, you get a warning, then you're out. Only people who are using their Internet connection as their primary HDTV input will be affected at the proposed level.

There's enough room in 250 GB to watch what you want 16 hours a day... sleep the other eight or you'll go insane!

They are lying to you. (2)

inTheLoo (1255256) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098099)

The plan is to extend per byte per site [ning.com] , which will effectively end the internet as we know it today. The ability to turn off users will be abused in more than one way. Demand infrastructure upgrades and neutrality, you have already paid for it [newnetworks.com] .

Re:Comcast is just playing by the FCC's rules. (4, Interesting)

Fanro (130986) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098117)

The cap sounds pretty reasonable, but the warmings and disconnects are weird to say the least.

If you are over your alloted bandwith for a month, would it not be logical to block you for the rest of the month only, or even give you an option to buy more?

The warning and disconnect seems more like a scare tactic, "do not even dare to come close to this limit"

Re:Comcast is just playing by the FCC's rules. (4, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098173)

All of the major cell phone companies give you a free text message and/or wireless web page that tells you as best as they can how many minutes/bytes you've used this billing cycle and such. Why Comcast can't do the same for their bandwidth limit is beyond me.

Re:Comcast is just playing by the FCC's rules. (5, Insightful)

nachoboy (107025) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098275)

All of the major cell phone companies give you a free text message and/or wireless web page that tells you as best as they can how many minutes/bytes you've used this billing cycle and such. Why Comcast can't do the same for their bandwidth limit is beyond me.

Then you haven't thought very hard about it from Comcast's point of view. It makes perfect business sense. Developing a customer-ready bandwidth usage meter has very real fixed and recurring costs to Comcast, costs which have no potential to increase profits now or in the future. If customers are going to switch to or from Comcast, it will be because of the cap, not because of the availability of a usage meter.

Additionally, an easily-viewable bandwidth meter would in all probability only encourage customers to get much closer to the limit than they would otherwise. It's fear-based policy. The more of their customers that decide "I'd better not download this movie/album/ISO/whatever, I might hit my bandwidth cap", the better. Comcast wants customers to stay in the dark regarding usage and be as conservative as possible in their internet activities, while still pretending to offer the full 250 GB.

"/." is just playing by the it's rules. (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098449)

"Additionally, an easily-viewable bandwidth meter would in all probability only encourage customers to get much closer to the limit than they would otherwise. It's fear-based policy. The more of their customers that decide "I'd better not download this movie/album/ISO/whatever, I might hit my bandwidth cap", the better. Comcast wants customers to stay in the dark regarding usage and be as conservative as possible in their internet activities, while still pretending to offer the full 250 GB."

Gee! What you all say to get in a political dig. Keeping track of your bits is a solved problem for the customer. You all just have to use them. As for "pretending"? Well if you can go up to your limit? Then there's no "pretend", any more than there's "pretend" in your checking account.

Re:Comcast is just playing by the FCC's rules. (1)

ryszard99 (1193131) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098721)

i used to work for an australian isp that did something pretty similar except ours was a relative measure (ie how your usage compared to the customer case).

flaws and business cases aside, there were some concerns about people increasing there usage, and in fact there was a semi organised attempt to raise the bar on the actual bandwidth overall (which means everyones relative position stays the same, but the amount you can consume goes up).

As it turned out most people just didnt care. By enlarge peoples usage habits are exactly that, habits.

Re:Comcast is just playing by the FCC's rules. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25098419)

They can, it's just another way of them keeping people uncertain so they don't think about sapping providers.

There's been a few providers like this here in Australia, most of them get shut down or heavily investigated by the TIO. In fact, without a usage meter no ISP has any rights to charge for excess or even slow your access down.

To me, this whole thing stinks of corporate blindsiding. They have a monopoly but aren't satisfied with that, they seem to want to hurt the customers as much as they can, then act like they are the ones hurting.

My advice for these fucked up ISPs - DON'T GET INTO BROADBAND IF YOU CAN'T KEEP UP WITH THE BANDWIDTH REQUIREMENTS OF YOUR FUCKING USERS.

Very very simple.

Re:Comcast is just playing by the FCC's rules. (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098515)

What if they don't want to? Why should they want to? To make you happy? Why wouldn't they just assume you'd find something else to complain about?

Re:Comcast is just playing by the FCC's rules. (1)

kramerd (1227006) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098751)

Probably because from a business perspective, you do not assume that customers are complaining for the lulz.

Of course customers are going to break the 250 GB cap. They will rightly complain that they had no way of knowing when they were approaching or breaking their limit until they had broken their limit. The majority of these users will be going beyond the cap for legal uses of internet.

In reality, 6 months after the limit is in place, users will start getting alerts when they break say 90% of their limits, and charged by the MB (yes, MB, not GB) by Comcast at a ridiculous rate. Comcast, as a business, would rather make more money than lose high use customers. 1 year from when this is in place, everyone will be on a metered use. My guess is that Comcast will make more money on a smaller user base, since 5-15% of customers will move specifically to get a different ISP that doesnt impose limits.

In the short term, any business that changes its business model is going to have growing pains. Just because you have a reasonable method for how they should change does not take into account how the majority of users will be affected. Comcast does. While I disagree with the method they are taking (its roundabout and will anger many customers, including those who dont come anywhere near the cap, because they have to adjust their usage until they find out how they are doing), it isnt necesarily incorrect.

Re:Comcast is just playing by the FCC's rules. (5, Interesting)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098239)

I agree. The cap is a perfectly good idea. Giving users no way to see how close they are to their cap, and cutting people off for exceeding it, are terrible ideas.

I see no reason why I, a moderate internet user, should subsidize that guy down the street who downloads 1TB of torrents every month. He uses more, he should pay more.

But the way Comcast is going about it is stupid. They're trying to have their cake and eat it too, essentially. An explicit cap can lead to more traffic, since now people know what the limit is and what they're really paying for, and they may decide that they should use more of what they're paying for. I think they're trying to limit the top people without causing this sort of increase, and doing this by having an explicit cap that still happens to be vague and dire.

If you were to do this right, you should really have a system where many different caps are available. You'd have a default one, probably well under 250GB, that comes with a service that's cheaper than what they offer now. Then you can pay more to increase your cap. You'd be able to monitor your usage, get a warning well before you hit the cap, and increase your account's cap at any time just by requesting it. And if you do hit your cap, then your account gets throttled to dialup speeds until your 30-day sliding window average decreases below the cap level.

Of course this would make far too much sense so Comcast won't do it, but it's what they ought to do.

Re:Comcast is just playing by the FCC's rules. (2, Funny)

billcopc (196330) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098265)

Yep that's the feeling I get as well. If Comcast wanted to play nice, they'd simply throttle after the cap was reached.

Frankly, if some kiddie was chugging 250gb of furry pr0n each month, I'd limit that user to 128kbit.

Re:Comcast is just playing by the FCC's rules. (2, Funny)

the_B0fh (208483) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098343)

Damnit, what do you have against furry pr0n?! Some of the finest people I know are furries! Or so they say. *ahem*

Re:Comcast is just playing by the FCC's rules. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25098511)

Damnit, what do you have against furry pr0n?! Some of the finest people I know are furries! Or so they say. *yiff*

Fixed that for you. Furries travel in packs; therefore, the only way you could know some is to be one.

Re:Comcast is just playing by the FCC's rules. (0, Redundant)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098415)

It's about that advertisement where they say they're selling you "unlimited bandwidth." the question is, how can limited bandwidth be considered unlimited?

Re:Comcast is just playing by the FCC's rules. (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098577)

Early dial-up providers promised "unlimited"... when has Comcast used "unlimited" in its ads?

Re:Comcast is just playing by the FCC's rules. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25098621)

Here's a better idea: I use the bandwidth that they agreed I could use when I signed up for service, and they don't penalize me for it.

Re:Comcast is just playing by the FCC's rules. (1)

ndege (12658) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098777)

...you get a warning, then you're out...

The way you said that makes me think Comcast should yell, in a middle-eastern voice, "No soup for you!"

Or... (2, Insightful)

Kneo24 (688412) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098031)

Comcast could do what they should be doing. Number 1 is using the tax-payer money that they were given to upgrade their infrastructures. Number 2 being that they could give a quality service.

Just saying...

Or...Target Practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25098359)

I looked at the paper everyone making your argument uses. The money in question went to telecom companies. NOT cable companies which Comcast and others are.

Now while I'm here I think it a tad ironic that when content is being discussed the "mommy taught us to share" argument makes an appearance, but when broadband comes up it's "unlimited" for ME and the rest of you have to fight it out amongst yourselves what's left.

Re:Or...Target Practice (1)

Kneo24 (688412) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098479)

I hate to burst your bubble, but providing an internet service makes you a telecom. So does providing a television service.

Wiki [wikipedia.org] - Not that AC's like the use of Wikipedia or anything.

Question (4, Funny)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098049)

I don't do a lot of torrenting -- only when I really want something I can't find for sale, or to download "legit" stuff -- but I've found that TOR works really well against comcast's nonsense. It isn't like I'm downloading much, maybe ten to fifteen GB on a busy month (and zero most months). Before I found TOR, I'd start a torrent and my connection would be cut off within an hour or two. I could reestablish it by powercycling the cable router, but then would have it happen again in a few minutes. Then, I started spoofing my MAC address, which seemed to buy a few hours each time before the same thing would happen. Finally, I installed TOR and now it just works, at least with rtorrent.
I have read that some people believe that using torrent over TOR is abusive, but I never saw an explanation of why that would be so. If I operate a node (give back) it's fair, isn't it? And if not, why not?

Re:Question (4, Informative)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098071)

That's the solution to the old model of blocking you... under the new plan that'll just put you deeper in the whole because adding all of TOR's routing information just makes your packets bigger. And bigger packets mean more bits against the 250 GB.

Re:Question (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098153)

I don't get anywhere near the 250GB cap anyway, but I was kind of hoping someone could explain why using TOR for torrents might be considered "evil".

Re:Question (3, Insightful)

neuromanc3r (1119631) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098253)

Basically because TOR's aim is to protect free speech and privacy on the internet, not to allow people to do torrenting, which probably uses disproportionately much bandwidth and other resources.

Re:Question (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098637)

Because you're choking the TOR network by using it for bittorrent.

Re:Question (2, Informative)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098095)

PLEASE! DON'T USE TOR FOR TORRENT!

Really, you're abusing the system. It's NOT designed to carry such high loads.

Re:Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25098097)

Because torrenting over Tor uses up a lot of network resources that could be use for someone whose freedom of speech is much more limited than yours.

Re:Question (3, Informative)

hax0r_this (1073148) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098103)

Torrenting over TOR is incredibly slow, I typically get maybe 3-5kbps, as opposed to 150-800 without it.

Re:Question (4, Interesting)

pwizard2 (920421) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098127)

I have read that some people believe that using torrent over TOR is abusive, but I never saw an explanation of why that would be so. If I operate a node (give back) it's fair, isn't it? And if not, why not?

Full disclosure: I'm in the Don't-use-Tor-for-torrenting camp.

I think the issue depends on how much you give back vs. how much you take. If your node is running 24/7 and you aren't limiting how much bandwidth goes through it (since it eats up your own bandwidth) I say torrent away. Whatever you're downloading is your business, BTw. What I take issue with are the people that leech off the Tor network by sending GB of data through it without giving anything back. (leeching http/text doesn't count as being bad, IMO, b/c it 's too small to make much of a difference)

Re:Question (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098217)

Thank you, that's a reasonable explanation and you have set my conscience at ease -- I'll sleep a bit better tonight. I thought it was *probably* OK, because it does appear I'm contributing more than I'm using, but I just wasn't 100% sure if maybe there was some obscure reason why that would still be wrong. I do run a node 24/7 unlimited for the duration of my torrent sessions, and my router always shows that the node comes out ahead. I'm still well within the 250GB cap doing that.
BTW, my torrents are not slow at all this way, in fact I manually throttle them at 220 up/110 down so they don't take all my bandwidth.

Re:Question (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098325)

220 up/110 down

Ooops, I meant 220 down/110 up.

Re:Question (1)

Simon80 (874052) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098327)

It would probably be better to send only the tracker traffic through tor, since that is very light traffic, and use encryption on the rest of the traffic. I'm not sure if that would be enough to fool the inspection software, but if you ever test it and find out, feel free to post a reply to this message with your results, I would want to know.

Re:Question (4, Informative)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098169)

It really depends on how much you give back.

Remember, Tor uses onion routing which means that every packet you send or receive goes through many nodes to get to you. This effectively multiplies your bandwidth usage by a factor of perhaps 5-10, depending on how many hops your packets travel. (I don't really know what a typical number would be.)

So, you run a node. Do you process 5-10x as much traffic as you torrent? If so, great. If you're only passing an amount of traffic equal to what you torrent, or worse less, then you are definitely abusing the system.

Re:Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25098267)

This is actually a very good idea. It might not be feasible for everyone, but if more P2P users also ran Tor nodes, things would not be happy for Comcast.

Re:Question (2, Informative)

ogl_codemonkey (706920) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098307)

I don't really know what a typical number would be.

3.

You to an intermediary.
Intermediary to exit node.
Exit node to destination.

There's been a great deal of discussion over the possibility of any further benefit to anonymity by adding more than one intermediary hop, but no significant evidence has been put forward that it would (any attack that would disclose the origin through one intermediary would work through many); so in the meantime we conserve the bandwidth of all those other nodes.

Re:Question (1)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098405)

Thanks for the information. That's much lower than I thought it would be. Are your attacks which can work through many intermediaries theoretical or practical? It seems to me that adding intermediaries would make the problem much more difficult for an attacker in a practical sense, even if he could theoretically just apply his attack many times. With 3 hops, you only need to be sniffing two machines to find out who I'm talking to, whereas increasing that number would significantly raise the challenge. But I haven't thought about the problem in depth, so there could definitely be aspects I've missed.

Possible Answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25098507)

Before I found TOR, I'd start a torrent and my connection would be cut off within an hour or two. I could reestablish it by powercycling the cable router, but then would have it happen again in a few minutes.

 

Most likely this has nothing to do with Comcast and everything to do with either your router or your cable modem. Torrents are very greedy and, depending on your torrent client, can open too many connections for your router/cable modem to handle. The router/cable modem keeps track of these connections even after they're closed, and if it runs out of memory the symptoms you described may occur.

Try limiting the number of simultaneous connections your torrent client uses. Start at something reasonable like 40, and if it fixes the problem, great, if not, try going even lower.

Warning! Don't read referenced articles! (4, Funny)

lancejjj (924211) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098059)

telling P2P users on Comcast how to do what they do without the risk of corporate interference.

I've already watched a Netflix movie and downloaded a couple iTunes this month.

So I haven't read the referenced articles, as I'm afraid that doing so might exceed some Comcast quota.

Re:Warning! Don't read referenced articles! (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098655)

My wife an I watch a different Netflix Watch It Now movie every night. We've already got AT&T coming out to install U-verse (new subdivision; fiber to the house). AT&T gave me something in writing says there is absolutely, positively no cap. It's cheaper than Comcast to boot.

Heh heh heh... (3, Interesting)

suck_burners_rice (1258684) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098067)

How about a better idea. They should put into place a system whereby the speed of your access is inversely proportional to the amount of data you transfer. Thus, when people first sign on to this service, they'll be impressed by its speed. But as time goes on, it'll slow down increasingly, until Google's homepage takes a year to load.

Re:Heh heh heh... (3, Informative)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098101)

Similar systems already exist overseas and with the US satellite Internet providers.

Idiotic Sig (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25098113)

"McCain/Palin '08. Now THAT's hope and change!"

Is that supposed to be funny?

Re:Idiotic Sig (1)

martinw89 (1229324) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098223)

suck_burners_rice hopes to change it so THAT's funny.

Re:Heh heh heh... (4, Funny)

lancejjj (924211) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098115)

They should put into place a system whereby the speed of your access is inversely proportional to the amount of data you transfer. Thus, when people first sign on to this service, they'll be impressed by its speed. But as time goes on, it'll slow down increasingly, until Google's homepage takes a year to load.

Comcast has that option already. It's called "Comcast High-Speed Internet".

Re:Heh heh heh... (1)

Eil (82413) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098509)

You joke, but this is sorta what happened to me. About 7 years ago, I moved into an area with no broadband available at all. Not long after, Comcast moved into the market. I signed up right away and even though I thought $60/month was expensive (even back then), I certainly enjoyed the solid and stable 5 mbit connection.

For a few months anyway. They kept signing up customers in the area without increasing capacity and after about six months, I was consistently getting better speeds on a backup dialup account than through Comcast. This was before P2P was really cool and I wasn't doing more than web browsing and downloading the occasional Linux CD. I suffered with around 2.0Kbps speeds for two months before I moved out of state and cancelled. Whenever I called, their technicians always said that they would send someone out to look at the problem but as far as I know, they never did.

To add insult to injury, they made me drive an hour to one of their service centers in a mall just to return the cable modem. (That is, if I didn't want an extra $100 charge or so on my final bill.)

Re:Heh heh heh... (1)

suck_burners_rice (1258684) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098525)

What I love most about "high-speed" ISPs is that they promise you "up to" X megabits per second. So if you're getting one bit per millennium, they are providing services as advertised.

Re:Heh heh heh... (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098189)

Its not a bad idea, but most people would end up sitting at the 'slow' part and accepting it, rather than the 'fast as advertised' speed. Anytime a company has leeway, expect them to go for profit rather than satisfaction and service.

Problem with caps (5, Insightful)

fishthegeek (943099) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098235)

The problem I have with bandwidth caps as offered by ISPs is that when the ISP is also the cable provider the bandwidth cap is anti-competitive with Hulu and other video entertainment sites. As far as I can tell this is prime territory for an anti-trust investigation.

IANAL but it seems to me that these caps are not because of P2P but put in place because of competition for the television audience. By capping the users Comcast seems to be trying to guarantee that their cable service is still viable.

Re:Problem with caps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25098441)

NO I THINK THE PROBLEM WITH CAPS IS IT LOOKS LIKE YOU'RE YELLING

(the lameness filter ruins bad jokes, doesn't it? words lowercase blah blah)

Re:Problem with caps (1)

sleeponthemic (1253494) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098505)

IANAL but it seems to me that these caps are not because of P2P but put in place because of competition for the television audience. By capping the users Comcast seems to be trying to guarantee that their cable service is still viable.

It isn't that what you are saying isn't plausible - but it's blatantly obvious that these caps only effect those who are high volume, low profit (actually, probably "loss" customers). It is sound business practice to remove these people or place restrictions. These people are subsidized by the low volume users.

Residing in a completely capped land (Aus) and having been labelled "a heavy user" (which, for the record is on a scale where about an eight of that cap makes you a heavy user) I have experienced a decent amount of this practice.

The only questionable issue I would raise with this service is that they are purposely leaving the user in the dark to their quota status? Go over and get warned? That to me is even better evidence of what they are trying to do. Remove people. If they were interested in capping you and keeping your business they would inform / throttle you.

Easy solution: don't do business with Comcast (1)

merc (115854) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098279)

What I am about to say is not meant to play the "blame the consumer" game except this could be solved by the Comcast customers if they weren't so willing to act like sheep. There's only one way for the public to deal with Comcast, a mass boycott.

This anti-consumer behavior will only continue until their clientele start to leave en-masse. Only a large exodus from Comcast will force them to re-evaluate their bad attitude towards the very people who put bread on their tables.

I am speaking as someone who is practicing what they preach. When I moved into a Comcast area (the bay area) I decided to avoid them and switched to a local DSL provider. I will never be a Comcast customer, I just wish others would switch to alternate providers and give Comcast something to think about.

For those who live in areas where they're ostensibly forced to use Comcast consider satellite providers such as HughesNet.

Re:Easy solution: don't do business with Comcast (2, Interesting)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098367)

I'm a Comcast customer and I'm also happy with this cap.

There's no way I'm going to ever come close to it. There's very little way that anyone is going to come close to it with reasonable usage. And if they do, they can always pay more money. I see no reason why I should have to subsidize people who use far more resources than I do. Pay for what you use, that's what I say.

I'll certainly say that the way Comcast is implementing the cap is crappy. Not telling people their current usage and disconnecting users who exceed it are extremely bad policies. But neither of those is going to make me leave them, and the cap is still overall a very good idea.

I'm not aware of any broadband consumer-class connection that has ever been truly unlimited. They're always ready to give you the axe if you exceed some sort of secret limit. Comcast is just making it explicit. No real change.

Re:Easy solution: don't do business with Comcast (1)

realisticradical (969181) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098457)

I wish it were that easy. I live in an apartment in Boston where RCN terminates service at the next building over and it doesn't look like FIOS is coming any time this decade. I'd be more than excited to watch at least a tiny bit of competition work but the cable/internet game is even worse than the cellular phone game in the US so I'm left with absolutely no choices.

Re:Easy solution: don't do business with Comcast (1)

kerashi (917149) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098463)

You obviously haven't done your research on HughesNet. Their bandwidth cap is FAR FAR FAR lower. 500MB a day for their top home user account. That works out to about 15 gigs in a 30 day period. If you're a business, you can get a connection that gives twice that, for substantially more. That 250GB cap isn't looking so bad, once you know what those of us out in the boonies get screwed with, huh?

Re:Easy solution: don't do business with Comcast (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098571)

Most people don't agree that you need more than 250 GB per month. Why should I engage in a boycott? It makes things worse for me. I should do that to benefit you?

I have a better idea. You should boycott that 251st GB every month to benefit me.

All in favor? Comcast agrees. Motion carries. Meeting adjourned.

Less than it appears? (1)

Deuxsonic (828456) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098289)

Excuse my ignorance, but when they say 250 GB, I assume they mean 250 GB of downstream and upstream usage combined? With P2P usage, wouldn't this cause that 250 GB to go really quickly?

Chill pill people (4, Insightful)

nweaver (113078) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098291)

250 GB is both transparent and a real shitload of bandwidth.

This is 7 hour a day, 7 days a week, of 720p HDTV video over Hulu. It takes a LOT to reach this point.

Additionally, beacuse any user who gets terminated will undoubtedly ALSO terminate their cable TV and phone services with Comcast, its something that a company would not want to do lightly.

Re:Chill pill people (2, Insightful)

BuhDuh (1102769) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098465)

250 GB is both transparent and a real shitload of bandwidth.

When a legitimate torrent of [insert your Linux distro of choice here] can run 700MB? I think not. What has been noted ad nauseum in threads all over is that the real problem is lack of investment in bandwidth - "Hey! the suckers have no choice but to accept it, and we make money hand-over-fist."

Re:Chill pill people (1)

TrancePhreak (576593) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098627)

How many linux distro CDs do you need to download? 250GB = 357 CDs.

Re:Chill pill people (2, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098711)

He really means Windows Ultimate Edition, but doesn't want to be ostracized by the rest of Slashdot.

Re:Chill pill people (1)

byornski (1022169) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098715)

Do you download a new distro every day? 250 * 1024 / 700 = 365.7

Re:Chill pill people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25098753)

No it isn't. Do an rsync of a Debian or Ubuntu package repository to a local copy and see how much data that is. Hint: more than 250GB. 250GB per month is *NOT* very much.

When do they send me my bandwidth meter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25098379)

So Comcast customers need to homebrew their own bandwidth monitor to see if they're nearing their cap each month? Pretty hefty consequences when you are not provided with an official way of measuring your own usage.

allright - already (1)

rfoot (60954) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098391)

So - we all sit at the Internet buffet - just so happens that cable IO has the capability to deliver remarkable amounts of data - who says it should?

Agreed that they are fairly shady in their purposes - but you have to concur - traffic exceeding 250gig - protected? huh? come on - that's a LOT of pr0n

 

Where's my measurement tool? (3, Insightful)

dniesen (1368875) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098399)

So Comcast customers need to homebrew their own bandwidth monitor to see if they're nearing their cap each month? Pretty hefty consequences when you are not provided with an official way of measuring your own usage.

Re:Where's my measurement tool? (1)

realisticradical (969181) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098443)

My complaint exactly. How does Comcast expect me to keep below a specific download cap when first they've done nothing to properly inform their customers and second have no method of measuring how much bandwith has been used each month. At least it should be on my bill, perhaps even going back a few months so I can have some retroactive data before the policy goes into place.

Re:Where's my measurement tool? (1)

kerashi (917149) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098583)

I'm not gonna get into right and wrong here, cause they really should provide a tool (I know other ISP's with limits do), but there are (free) ways to monitor your bandwidth.

I recommend FreeMeter [sourceforge.net] for Windows XP which has a Totals Log function that does exactly that. If you think you might cross the line on bandwith, download it.

Re:Where's my measurement tool? (1)

dniesen (1368875) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098685)

There are a great number of tools, thanks for that recommendation for Windows. I personally recommend doing this at the gateway level using a Linux firewall or pfSense [pfsense.org] and bandwidthd [sourceforge.net] .

While it's fine and dandy to monitor your own bandwidth, what happens when Comcast says you hit 250GB and bandwidthd is showing 150GB? With no official, transparent meter from the service provider the customer is never right.

That isn't so bad (4, Insightful)

kerashi (917149) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098413)

I have WildBlue Satellite for internet, as I live out in the boonies where there is no cable or DSL. I am restricted to 17 gigs download, 5 gigs upload, the least restrictive option available to me (Hughes Net and Starband are worse in that regard). At this point, I would fucking kill for a 250gig cap.

That said, most people won't ever come close to hitting it. I don't use P2P (it simply doesn't work on a satellite connection) but I do a reasonable amount of downloading, and I manage to keep around 11 gigs download.

That said, Comcast definitely needs to provide a bandwidth meter. They're obviously metering bandwidth to employ the cap, it would be a simple matter to provide a web interface for their customers. Hell, every satellite ISP does it. Comcast must just be lazy, incompetent, or both.

Re:That isn't so bad (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098539)

Hmm. 17 gig/mo cap, right? Does it make sense?

Lets compare with dial-up.

4KB/s = .004MB/s .004MB/s * 60 = .24MB/minute .24MB/Minute * 60 = 14.4MB/hr
14.4MB/hr *24 = 345.6MB/day
345.6MB/day *30 (avg month) = 10368 MB

Our dial up plan is 10 GB a month for 10$, plus 20$ second line. 30$ for 10GB, and we live in BFE. 3$/GB isnt great, but its what we have. Though, I thought sat was worse, considering the 400+$ initial device.

Re:That isn't so bad (1)

kerashi (917149) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098651)

Hmm. Well WildBlue where we live, is $89.95 per month for the top speed/bandwidth package (it's what I have) There's a $149.95 activation fee Equipment is either $5.95/month for 24 months, or $99.95 one time. So not exactly the least expensive of options. But the download speed more than makes up for it (though if you want games online, you'll still have to have dialup).

My web site has had a cap for years! (1)

Waccoon (1186667) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098423)

I still don't get it. ISPs have been putting bandwidth caps on web servers for quite a long time. But people complain when ISPs do this to web browsers?

The amount of bandwidth is irrelevant. What matters is that you know what you are getting for a certain price. If I know that 250GB is enough for my needs, then I'm all set. If Comcast were to throttle my connection without telling me where the threshold is, then that would be a problem.

People complaining about HDTV channels being reduced in quality on a day-to-day basis is an issue. People not getting more than their fair share as described in the TOS for a certain price is not.

Monopoly here (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25098431)

I live in Atlanta and Comcast is it for High Speed Internet. There is no one else for cable. There's no fiber. And DSL is still a joke in my torrenting, usenetting, multitasking opinion. How can they get away with something like this when they have such an obvious monopoly? Say I wanted to seed a linux distro 24/7 with my account or some popular torrent. Looks like that would get me banned. Wow, I am pissed and I do no like Comcast.

"without the risk of corporate interference" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25098445)

Why are corporations always the bad guys? A corporation is not a thing, it is just people. People make the decisions, and people implement them. Corporations are owned by their stockholders, and the people running the corps make decisions to maximize the value of the shareholders. Why is that bad?

Re:"without the risk of corporate interference" (4, Insightful)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098641)

Are you really that fucking stupid?

To put it as plain as day: If the corp is making a decision to maximize value, by denying or restricting your access to something, you are going to want to find a way around it. None of this is good or bad in any general sense, just rational behavior.

A better question may be, why don't we give credit to corporations when they do good? Well, we do give credit, in the form of $$$. Complaining, boycotting, &c. is the socially acceptable form of "negative money" (the unacceptable form is vandalism, robbery, kidnapping, &c.).

I think the problem is that Americans (I am one) tend to pay far too much respect to the rich and corporations. I can and do complain legitimately about Microsoft, but I still oppose most uses of anti-trust against them. Nonetheless, people look at me like I'm a communist, when I suggest that Bill Gates isn't wonderful. Even an atheist can appreciate the sense of the phrase "Render unto God what is God's and unto Caesar what is Caesar's."

Holy exaggeration Batman! (4, Informative)

glwtta (532858) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098471)

A draconian option for those who don't toe the line? Blatant efforts to control their customers? Corporate interference? Are you sure you aren't being just a teensy wee bit melodramatic about this?

I recently got Comcast (they are the only provider available at my new place), I routinely get download speeds around 1-2MB/s (with a 'bytes', not a 'bits'), including torrents, and the price is more or less reasonable. By my calculations I am damn unlikely to ever hit the 250GB cap (I may use 8GB in day from time to time, but far from most days), and even if I do, I was aware of this limitation of the service before signing up.

So remind me, why am I so damn outraged about this? Is it because someone would dare to suggest that there be some kind of limit to the amount of porn and movies I can download for 60 bucks a month?

I used to pay through the nose for Speakeasy, so far I'm getting a better service from Comcast.

Re:Holy exaggeration Batman! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25098587)

A draconian option for those who don't toe the line? Blatant efforts to control their customers? Corporate interference? Are you sure you aren't being just a teensy wee bit melodramatic about this?

Ask those that died in concentration camps if Nazi-opposers were being melodramatic. You racist, hateful fuck.

Re:Holy exaggeration Batman! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25098657)

This is much better than it used to be-guessing why your bandwidth went through the floor after torrenting for a few seconds.

That said, I just wish they were a little more clear in their adds. They are not providing the bandwidth they say they are. They could say:

250gb a month with burst speeds up to 1mb/200k (or whatever it is)

Instead they just say they are offering that speed when they are not.

Cable would be my last choice, but it's nice to have as an alternative because every year you have to threaten to move over to the "Other" provider when they try to jack up your "introductory" rates--regardless of which one you go with.

The other big question--how come my FIOS is giving me a clear 10/2 connection and Comcast can't? I don't mean the rate of the cable, I'm saying, why does Comcast have to limit people beyond the limits of the wires when nobody else does? Their network is probably held together by b

Hmm, I just realized something--I work for them (indirectly) now. (Seriously, this just occurred to me).

I'm out.

I guess I'll just have to... (1)

biased_estimator (1222498) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098527)

Well I guess since I'm a Comcast customer and I disapprove of how they handle my business, I'll just have to switch providers. Oh wait, they have a monopoly where I live... f*ck.

Re:I guess I'll just have to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25098731)

yeah, keep up the hollow threats that every other fag on here uses against a company they don't like... i'm sure the bitches at comcast are reading your post with great concern. really.

Are we sure this is a bad thing? (1)

PatDev (1344467) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098653)

Seriously? Let's take a second to (there goes my karma) see this from Comcast's point of view. They want to run a profitable business. We want net neutrality - the ability to use our bits as we see fit. Comcast sold unlimited internet, and found that they were losing money on too many accounts - so they switched to selling limited internet. This is a step *forward*, not back. Comcast is now being honest about its caps. Ultimately, we need them more than they need us. There's two ways to handle the increased bandwidth usage that bittorrent and streaming HD have created - we can let Comcast DPI, throttle, and otherwise mess with our bits, or we can accept that the cost of a commodity is fixed to how much we use it (like every other commodity we use). I don't see why its so bad that Comcast should enforce bandwidth caps. And we get all excited about the cutoff, but think how mad you would be if they went the other route - charging you a higher rate per Mb when you went over.

Say what! (0)

dataninja (1368311) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098717)

Blaming the consumer for using the previously unlimited service ISP used to provide is wrong. If any body says "well is this what you want it?" is retarded. The ISP's have built the network they now control with the tax payers money they owe the user not the other way around. Bandwidth is not a limited resource it always adapts unless it's managed by incompetent people who already have uncreative minds. By the way my monthly usage is around 60GB, yet I think of the future.

The beginning of the end for cable modems (4, Insightful)

realmolo (574068) | more than 5 years ago | (#25098719)

It's not that Comcast is setting bandwidth caps. It's that they have no choice. Now that you can get high-speed internet service via the cellphone network, AND Verizon is rolling out FiOS everywhere, how can they compete?

Remember, the internet runs over the *phone* network. The big cellphone/telecommunications providers own most of that. AT&T and Verizon are both Tier 1 providers with huge networks. It's almost *guaranteed* the Comcast is paying AT&T and/or Verizon for bandwidth and/or transit. And yet, Verizon and AT&T are competing with them.

And the same is true for most of the other cable TV providers in the United States. They have been offering phone and internet service for the past 5 years or so, but only because the telcos weren't doing it. They are now. The cable companies are FUCKED.

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