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Cox Communications and "Congestion Management"

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the why-isn't-everything-unlimited-and-free? dept.

The Internet 282

imamac writes "It appears Cox Communications is the next in line for throttling internet traffic. But it's not throttling of course; Cox's euphemism is 'congestion management.' From Cox's explanation: 'In February, Cox will begin testing a new method of managing traffic on our high-speed Internet network in our Kansas and Arkansas markets. During the occasional times the network is congested, this new technology automatically ensures that all time-sensitive Internet traffic — such as web pages, voice calls, streaming videos and gaming — moves without delay. Less time-sensitive traffic, such as file uploads, peer-to-peer and Usenet newsgroups, may be delayed momentarily...' Sounds like throttling to me."

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Well that... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26645741) Cox!

Re:Well that... (4, Funny)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 5 years ago | (#26645777)

Sounds to me like their customers are all getting screwed by Cox.

Re:Well that... (0, Redundant)

couzei (1340985) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646337)

will do... self proclaimed grammar police

Re:Well that... (1)

PalmKiller (174161) | more than 5 years ago | (#26645825)

I'd mod you funny if I could, good play on words :)

Re:Well that... (4, Insightful)

TriezGamer (861238) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646071)

If by good you meant 'pathetically obvious', then perhaps yes.

Re:Well that... (1)

Plaid Phantom (818438) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646749)

Can a pun be anything else? ;)

Guess the name... (4, Funny)

Darundal (891860) | more than 5 years ago | (#26645743)

...describes the executives at the company.

Re:Guess the name... (4, Funny)

db32 (862117) | more than 5 years ago | (#26645969)

My favorite lines...

So...I guess you work for Cox?
Does working for Cox pay well?
Do you enjoy working for Cox?
Is it hard when you work for Cox?
Do you pull a lot of cables working for Cox?
Do you bury a lot of cables working for Cox?

So.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26645745)

Explain to me why my gaming or surfing should suffer because you want to download/upload XXX_Donkey_Love.WMV from thepiratebay, again?

Re:So.. (5, Insightful)

Utini420 (444935) | more than 5 years ago | (#26645805)

It shouldn't.

They sold us both a product with a given set of expectations, in this case a reasonable amount of bandwidth. We should both be able to get what we paid for.

Or, put another way, why should my porn download suffer for your Warcrack addiction?

Or, put yet another way, why should either of us give a damn how over sold or under financed Cox is? They should give us both the product they advertised, sold, and (almost) delivered.

Re:So.. (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#26645897)

Or, put another way, why should my porn download suffer for your Warcrack addiction?

Because, done correctly, it provides a massive improvement in service for games and voice, with a small reduction in service for downloaders.

As for them overselling, if they had to be totally honest about how much bandwidth is available to each customer, they would have to say 'Total Bandwidth / Number of Customers = Your alotted bandwidth'. It would be next to nothing, and even more meaningless than the ideal maximums that they use for advertising now. That being said, perhaps they should be forced to make that data available to prospective customers, it would certainly influence my choice.

Re:So.. (4, Interesting)

Jeng (926980) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646187)

Time Warner has been able to provide me with consistent bandwidth that is not infringed upon by my neighbors downloading large files ( ok, so its usually me downloading large files not infringing on my neighbors bandwidth ).

So if Cox's competition can do it, why can't they?

If Cox cannot deliver what they advertise why can't they be sued for false advertising?

If Cox would just upgrade their infrastructure they wouldn't have this problem, not only that but they would have happier customers and less upset former customers.

So the basic idea of business that Cox seems to be unable to comprehend is that if they invested in their business then they would actually get more customers.

Instead Cox is going the MBA route of if they f*ck the customers then the customers will bend over and take it or leave.

Re:So.. (5, Interesting)

Utini420 (444935) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646189)

I'm no more interested in the quality of another customer's service with this product than any other -- when I go out to eat, I'm not going to let them overcook my steak to be sure they get your souffle just right. Why should this be different?

On the overselling, why should they be allowed to be anything less than totally honest? Again, just because its internet doesn't make it special.

As a further point, if you expect them to do it correctly you must have been dealing with some cable company other than mine.

Re:So.. (5, Insightful)

petehead (1041740) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646685)

I'm no more interested in the quality of another customer's service with this product than any other -- when I go out to eat, I'm not going to let them overcook my steak to be sure they get your souffle just right. Why should this be different?

They didn't sell you a steak and me a souffle. They sold us both a buffet. All of the other customers get their food as normal, but I'm a big fat guy. Instead of taking my plate, sitting down, and eating, I stay up at the buffet and eat there without even putting the food on my plate. I'm in the way of others trying to get food and eating most of it myself. Now the management is going to make me get in line to eat rather than stay at the buffet.

If you want your steak, you've got to get a dedicated line.

P.S. Hometown Buffet is gross.

Re:So.. (3, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646197)

As for them overselling, if they had to be totally honest about how much bandwidth is available to each customer, they would have to say 'Total Bandwidth / Number of Customers = Your alotted bandwidth'.

Yeah, I think some of the complaints about "overselling bandwidth" can be slightly silly. It's as though people assume that ISPs are going to just drag a cable to your house that connects directly to "the Internet" without going through any switches or routers or anything else that could become a bottleneck at any point.

I do believe that when an ISP advertises a X Mbps connection, you should be able to test your connection to nearby servers and find that you're getting something very close to X Mbps almost all the time. If they say you have "unlimited" usage, then they shouldn't be allowed to turn around and say, "Well, you've gone over your 10 GB cap, so we're cutting you off." Expecting ISPs to guarantee a X Mbps connection to everything all the time as though you had a direct X Mbps connection to whatever server you want to connect to-- it's just not going to happen. That's not how this stuff works.

Choice (5, Funny)

jwietelmann (1220240) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646215)

Your market has choice? Because my market has just Cox and AT&T/BellSouth. BellSouth offers underpowered, overpriced DSL service if you sign up for a one-year contract for an overpriced local phone line. As for Cox, this is a conversation I had with their salesperson:

HER: There is an installation fee of $80.
ME: What's to install? Cable already comes to the apartment.
HER: You're already a subscriber?
ME: No, your people just didn't bother to shut it off after the previous tenant moved out.
HER: Oh, well you're a new customer, so there's an installation fee.
ME: So what is the service you perform in exchange for that $80? One of your technicians flicks a switch off and then flicks it back on again, thereby "installing" my cable?
HER: (blank stare) ... There's an $80 installation fee for new customers.
ME: (blank stare)

Re:So.. (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646271)

I came in here to make just this point. File sharing is rightly low priority traffic, and if their bandwidth is getting tight during internet rush hour, I'd expect them to prioritize accordingly.

Honestly, would you rather your downloads slowed down fractionally, or your streaming music/video/phone getting unbearably choppy? Extra lag in your online games? Yuck.

Though yea, if they start throttling it all the time and just constantly saying, "Whoa boys that traffic is sure mighty high today HA HA HA," then yea, they need to pay.

(Disclaimer: I have only Cox and AT&T where I live, and I hate both of them for various reasons, but Cox is awesome compared to, for example, Comcast).

Re:So.. (1)

mpeskett (1221084) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646317)

The "up to" dodge has been used for too long, and people are starting to get pissed off. I know that here in the UK there's some action being taken by the regulatory types to force ISPs to be more up front about what kind of speed you can actually expect to get (given your distance from the exchange, amount of contention etc) rather than just the theoretical maximum they're selling.

To be fair to them, it doesn't make economic or technological sense to give every single customer a dedicated pipe fat enough for them to saturate it 24/7, because the large majority of customers will never use even close to that amount of bandwidth - most people's usage comes in relatively short bursts, which they will want to have served quickly.

So they could cater to these 2 markets in a variety of ways. They could have the normal high contention connections for most people, and a separate service with more guarantees on it being fully available all the time, but that would mean the heavy users pay heavily, which they won't like. They could do what they're doing and serve the majority of their customers as best they can, while royally screwing over the heavy users (non optimal, but might make business sense from their end). They could invest heavily in infrastructure until they actually can guarantee everyone the bandwidth they signed up for 100% of the time (would be nice, but unlikely). They could encourage heavy downloaders to do their heavy downloading when everyone else is sleeping so congestion won't be an issue (bigger download allowances in off-peak times maybe, I've seen it offered by some ISPs)... etc

Whatever they do, I think they need to start by being much more honest about exactly what we're paying for - guaranteed minimum speeds, expected maximum speeds at peak time, contention ratios, make the data public so that people can make their choice with all the information available to them. Plus of course, those infrastructure upgrades wouldn't go amiss... it has to happen eventually after all.

Re:So.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26646981)

If you've got a big download that's going to take 10 minutes, are you really going to care if some traffic management slows you down occasionally to allow interactive traffic through?

Assuming the congestion is only transient, you'll make up the difference later anyway and you won't even notice. VOIP, games, or other interactive traffic will suffer much more from transient congestion than bulk downloads. This kind of traffic management only causes problems if congestion is sustained. I vaguely recall some stu

Re:So.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26645807)

Why should my uploading/downloading suffer because of your playing a game or surfing?

Besides, people who are downloading Donkey Love files should be left alone; imagine what they would be doing otherwise.

Re:So.. (1)

quickOnTheUptake (1450889) | more than 5 years ago | (#26645901)

Explain to my why my uploading XXX_Donkey_Love.WMV should suffer because of your browsing

Re:So.. (1)

Immostlyharmless (1311531) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646079)

I was wondering why my download speeds on that torrent were so slow :*(

Re:So.. (2, Insightful)

Shadow-isoHunt (1014539) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646131)

Because you're both paying for the same service. You are no more entitled than any other customer.

Re:So.. (1)

Da_Biz (267075) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646211)

The converse (especially in light of what others have already said) is also true: why should my file transfers need to suffer because of your gaming or surfing?

First class / second class (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646347)

As several people have responded to you, we are all paying the same price, we should get the same performance.

But there's a difference: downloading isn't as sensitive to slight irregularities in delay as gaming or VoIP. If the service you want requires more stringent standards, it would be fair that you should pay more to get the same level of service. Or get a lesser quality for the same price.

In a fair system, a price of $X should give you Y bytes/second within a Z latency range, no matter what kind of service you use. I don't want my dollars to pay for an infrastructure investment that you alone need.

Re:So.. (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646875)

Explain to me why my surfing should suffer so your game has real time response?

QOS (5, Insightful)

raju1kabir (251972) | more than 5 years ago | (#26645765)

Sounds like throttling to me.

Sounds like QOS to me.

Re:QOS (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26645815)


I should add that it sounds like cheap, Open Source socialist "everything should be free" hippies, who still live out of their parents' basements because they can't afford rent want to pay for affordable home service but demand enterprise services.

Sorry guys. Cox is right to do this. Plus, I have no complaints with the way Cox manages its network, and they deliver what they advertise.

Re:QOS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26646053)

HAHA someone on /. posting something about people living in their parents' basements.. this shit never gets old; oh wait it isn't 2000 any more, make up something original or stfu.

Re:QOS (2, Insightful)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646751)

So you think that if young people had to live in their parents' basements in 2000, they won't have to now because the economy is so much better off?

Re:QOS (2, Interesting)

Mascot (120795) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646521)

I guess it depends on what you are used to. The Cox web page doesn't seem to want to tell me much. The highest speed I found mention of is 15Mbit so I'll go with that.

If that is the case, they *are* ripping people off from my perspective. Unless they're offering it for very cheap prices, of course. In which case "you get what you pay for" applies, obviously.

No provider where I live even mentions throttling. I've never in the years I've had my current 20Mbit (14-15 effectively as it's ADSL and I'm a bit far out) experienced not getting it maxed out when downloading. They just don't seem to be overselling their bandwidth. And I hear no stories of any provider doing it.

I'm considering switching to my cable company's 50Mbit offering. Mainly for the upstream speed. No throttling of any kind there either, and I haven't found anything but praise for the delivered speed in forums.

No word about actually offering it commercially for a good while, but they currently have a customer up with a 1Gbit connection for testing purposes. They've been struggling with the capacity of the equipment at the residence, but have logged 920Mbit effective with it.

I guess comparing the US market to that of a small country like mine isn't really fair. But I can't quite get a grip on why it differs so much in this area. The speed is the major selling point here. They've been upping it gradually over the years, while keeping subscription rates static (though offering cheaper low speed subscriptions for those that want that). None of the commercials make a huge point about how cheap they are, but they do climb all over eachother yelling about the maximum speed they offer.

Re:QOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26645827)

My sentiments exactly.

Re:QOS (4, Interesting)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#26645941)

Yeah, prioritizing some traffic isn't, in theory, the same thing as throttling other traffic. To me, "throttling" suggests that they're saying "traffic using protocol X cannot use more than Y kbps," whereas "prioritizing" would be ensuring that, "whenever we have to choose between delaying protocol X or protocol Y, we always delay protocol X."

Now there are still potential issues with implementation, which protocols you chose to prioritize, and outright abuse for other purposes (such as promoting your own services or degrading competing services). However, in abstract, I don't think it's an absolutely awful idea.

Re:QOS (0, Offtopic)

Sancho (17056) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646503)

It's 6 of one, a half dozen of the other.

Why should they only prioritize known good traffic? Why not just throttle known bad traffic (when there's congestion)? At least then, unknown good traffic won't suffer.

Here's my anecdotal story.

Like a lot of people, I have a vanity domain. My desired domain was taken on all TLDs except for .mobi, so that's the one I chose. All was well until some people on Verizon complained to me that they couldn't send me mail--Verizon always came back with "invalid e-mail address." I thought that was kind of strange, so I started investigating. Went to a friend's house (he had Verizon) and tried to send mail--no dice. Sent raw SMTP commands to the server, and it turns out that Verizon just doesn't acknowledge that .mobi is a valid TLD.

Now that's just stupid. There's no need for Verizon to whitelist TLDs. None. DNS is here so that we don't have to micromanage things like that. The mail server should be looking up the domain name, getting the MX records, sending the message, and moving on. And Verizon is the only ISP I've been able to find doing anything like this. They probably made the whitelist before .mobi was created and just failed to keep up.

Just like an ISP might whitelist good protocols, but not keep up with the changing times, Verizon for some reason felt the need to enumerate TLDs and hasn't kept up. It's really quite irritating. Probably the most infuriating thing is trying to get in contact with someone who can actually /change/ it....

Re:QOS (2, Informative)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646703)

Why should they only prioritize known good traffic? Why not just throttle known bad traffic (when there's congestion)?

Did you read my post about how prioritizing one protocol isn't the same as throttling all other protocols? I don't want my ISP throttling any of my traffic. In my opinion, none of my traffic should be considered "known bad traffic" by my ISP. On the other hand, it makes a lot of sense to prioritize traffic that they *know* is sensitive to delays.

It is QOS but they better do it right (5, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#26645993)

If they don't want egg on their faces, they better do this right.

They better be completely transparent about what does and does not get priority.

They better be completely transparent about any "special rules" like "no more than 128kb/sec will get preferential treatment" - that's more than enough for 2 simultaneous 2-way audio channels.

They better be completely transparent if they make "additional priority traffic" a premium-charge option.

They better use common sense when determining what is and is not "priority." "If it looks like real-time, treat it like real-time unless the customer is above his real-time quota, then use more discerning measures" is a good rule of thumb. Another good rule of thumb is "only throttle as much as necessary, no more" so that bits fly without delay during times of no congestion.

They better listen to their customers and be willing to admit if they make a mistake.

If they fail do do all of these, they will get some major backlash.

Re:It is QOS but they better do it right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26646283)

Agreed, especially since I got a notice yesterday that the cost of my internet access is going up.

Re:QOS (2, Insightful)

weiserfireman (917228) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646253)

Yep. QOS isn't the same thing as throttling. Giving priority to high-priority traffic is a basic network management function in a world of streaming video and VOIP

"time sensitive"? (4, Interesting)

Mariner28 (814350) | more than 5 years ago | (#26645773)

Are they purposely referring to priority traffic as "time sensitive" as opposed to "delay sensitive" just to make the average joe think this is better? Don't get me wrong - as a network design engineer I'm all for prioritizing latency sensitive traffic like VoIP or streaming video. Just don't treat Cox's VoIP any better than Skype's or Vonages... This whole Net Neutrality thing is a bummer. I like the idea of democratizing traffic - but only of the same type. No way in hell should FTP or BitTorrent have the same priority as VoIP.

Re:"time sensitive"? (5, Insightful)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 5 years ago | (#26645855)

Except for when I don't use VoIP but half my neighbors do, and I get less connection than my neighbors for the same price just because the company doesn't have the infrastracture to handle what they sold me.

Re:"time sensitive"? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26646017)

OK, so you would be happy paying the same price for a 128 Kbps connection or something? Then everyone could use their fully bandwidth all the time (and never any more than that).

Re:"time sensitive"? (4, Insightful)

icedivr (168266) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646031)

How many of your neighbors have to create ~96kbps VoIP stream to innundate the local uplink? It's probably not even possible. How many people using BitTorrent would it take to do the same? Not very many. If you're pulling 7Mbps from a torrent, isn't it reasonable that the ISP makes sure others still have bandwidth available to them? From their description, their prioritization is pointedly vendor-neutral, ie they aren't preferring their own video application over Hulu, or some such competitor. How is this unfair to you?

Re:"time sensitive"? (4, Insightful)

thule (9041) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646111)

Even big pipes can get congested. P2P programs can generate 100's of connections for each client. For VoIP, it is just a single connection. Why have the router process 2,000 packets of P2P for one connection of VoIP? The router should make sure time sensitive things like VoIP get the priority so people that use VoIP can use it without getting crammed out by P2P traffic

The people that browse and have Vonage expect the same level of service as someone that is running P2P 24-hours a day.

I think the discussion of net neutrality keeps getting confused. Maybe confused on purpose. For what reason I am not sure. It seems to me that making sure that, known, time sensitive traffice *should* get priority. Isn't that what TOS bits are for in the IP stack?

Re:"time sensitive"? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646367)

You're right, the network neutrality discussion is constantly confused. Packets have a QOS field for a reason, because some packets really are more time sensitive than others. Real network neutrality is neutral with respect to the source and destination of the packets, not their application.

Re:"time sensitive"? (1)

qwertysledge (1341637) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646243)

> doesn't have the infrastracture (sic) to handle what they sold me
and to:
> they can no longer deny that they support VOIP or gaming[...]
IMHO, I'd add that selling a 10-20 Mb package (Cox [] ) and their first thought of my usage is web pages...I know msn [] is bulky, but Jeez Louise!

Also, do you know how quick you can blow through a monthly consumption cap of 60 GB (480 Gb). You can probably do the math in your head, so I won't bother.

Re:"time sensitive"? (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646073)

The whole reason for doing this was that the FCC slapped them around about their last plan which was that all traffic for high bandwidth users was throttled, except COX digital cable and VoIP was excepted because they used different channels, not the bulk IP transports. This is probably the best possible solution to oversubscription without favoring COX's own offerings over 3rd party providers.

Re:"time sensitive"? (3, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646113)

No way in hell should FTP or BitTorrent have the same priority as VoIP.

      Yes because you calling your grandmother to chit chat using VoIP is far more important than me sending Magnetic Resonance Imaging files to India via FTP.

      That is exactly the kind of argument you will be dragged into the minute you choose one thing over another. You just can't make generalizations over which type of traffic is more "important".

Re:"time sensitive"? (4, Insightful)

AlexCV (261412) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646305)

Yes because you calling your grandmother to chit chat using VoIP is far more important than me sending Magnetic Resonance Imaging files to India via FTP.

If you need guaranteed bandwidth, you buy it. We receive hundreds of MRIs per months at work and we don't have a residential DSL. We have an optical fiber link (GigE) with an ultimate "Internet" (for what it's worth in a BGP world) link around 300mbps 95-percentile. Guess what, we get our contracted bandwidth... All the time. It's not exactly cheap though, but then we're not downloading porn torrents...

Re:"time sensitive"? (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646593)

It's not about "importance", it's about sensitivity to latency. Interactive streams like VOIP require low latency and jitter to be usable. In exchange, they're limited to a very low bandwidth. Bulk transfers, like FTP or BitTorrent, aren't sensitive to a few tens (or hundreds) of milliseconds of jitter here and there; overall bandwidth is far more critical.

All that it means to give VOIP higher priority is that when there are both VOIP and FTP/BitTorrent packets in the transmit queue, the VOIP packets should be sent first, up to certain predefined bandwidth limits. (The limits ensure that VOIP isn't prioritized to the point of crowding out all other traffic; once they're exceeded VOIP is treated as just another form of bulk traffic.)

Re:"time sensitive"? (2, Insightful)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646869)

Yes because you calling your grandmother to chit chat using VoIP is far more important than me sending Magnetic Resonance Imaging files to India via FTP.

Sure is. In fact, you are stating as much by choosing to use residential cable service to do it. If it's that important, pay for a guarantee.

Re:"time sensitive"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26646333)

No, FTP, BitTorent, P2P, and web pages should have priority over VoIP! VoIP is f**king usless and needs to be killed off!

First Post! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26645779)

Unless they've decide to throttle /. traffic too

Re:First Post! (0, Troll)

malkir (1031750) | more than 5 years ago | (#26645797)

i lol'd

The summary sounds fine (3, Insightful)

Tancred (3904) | more than 5 years ago | (#26645785)

The same technology may give them the capability to do all sorts of mischief, but I don't see a problem with prioritization based on application. If they prioritize their own VoIP but somehow keep dropping or delaying Vonage packets, that's a problem. That's just an example, of course.

Re:The summary sounds fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26645865)

As long as they prioritize World of Warcraft over everything else, I'm happy.

Re:The summary sounds fine (4, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#26645919)

That's the problem. As soon as they start "managing congestion" with anything other than the bandwidth they sold us, it becomes an issue. When my Vonage VoIP packets are getting delayed, is it because of Cox or because of greedy bandwidth hogging porn downloaders and music file sharers? I'll wager that Cox says it's not because of them. There is no way to view why or when they "manage congestion" so users will never know, and the product and service sold to them is incapable of being verified as fit for purpose.

Something tells me that this is not right, and should be taken to court. I just can't figure out on my own how to win.

Don't confuse things! (4, Informative)

thule (9041) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646453)

Yes, the technology could be the same, but let's keep the issues separate. After reading about this stuff for a while now it hit me that there is confusion. I am starting to wonder if the confusion is on purpose.

One issue is over subscription. Unless a company is large enough to have lots and lots of peer connections, your ISP is probably over subscribes their upstream connections. This is fine, because on average traffic goes in bursts. The problem is that everything starts to break down once you have a small pool of people running P2P 24/7. These people are just as greedy as the ISP's they complain about. They want a huge "dedicated" pipe, but have others subsidize it. I have no issue with someone like Cox de-prioritizing their traffic so that the people that just want their Vonage to work don't get squashed out. This is a temporary solution because the ISP will eventually have to up their pipe speed.

The other issue is granting certain companies privileges on a network and penalizing other companies they don't like (e.g. penalize Vonage and prioritize a VoIP partner). This should be illegal. This is a clear case of violation of neutrality. At the same time, the company should be able to directly peer with a company (say a VoIP provider) without violating the law. This may seem unfair, but peering has been a perfectly valid way of reducing traffic on a transit connection.

The last issue is traffic caps. I don't think there should be a law against it as long as the company is upfront about it. Putting caps on traffic allows ISP's to maximize their over subscription and cater to people that want low cost Internet service. We *want* people to afford Internet services. The market chooses. If you are a big user of P2P, then you will have to go with another ISP that does not have caps. You may have to pay more for this privilege... sorry, but that is how things go. The market must have a way to manage scarcity of resources. If you want more of a resource, you will have to pay for it even it if looks the same (e.g. 5mbit from Cox versus 5mbit from FiOS).

Don't confuse QoS with net neutrality. As long as the QoS is applied equally, then it should be perfectly fine.

Re:Don't confuse things! (4, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646849)

The end game on that is a lose-lose proposition. When dial-up was still popular this over-subscribed broadband plan was workable. The traffic generated by file sharing, email, web browsing etc. could be handled in this manner. The trouble is that ISPs did not update or upgrade the 'tubes' to handle the traffic that they themselves intended on selling to users. All this crap about bundled services (triple-play and Quadruple-play) for the last 5 years is about ISP's selling you streaming content and high-bandwidth content. To claim that they need to 'manage congestion' while trying to sell data content is absolute BS. What they want is carte blanche to tell you what data you are allowed to send and receive. period. no arguing.

We tend to forget that they have this plan to sell you streaming data that has to fit in the same damned pipes as the data you are using now, that they claim are not big enough to handle some file sharing. I call bullshit. The ISPs cannot force the Internet to be how it used to be. Rich Internet content, web 2.0, streaming content... all of this is ruining their original over-subscription network configuration plan. Now, the very same ISPs that are complaining about congestion are fully into planning and implementation of bandwidth intensive services they want to sell you. What they want is for you to only use bandwidth on data services that you have purchased from them. They are double dipping on this, and there is no other way to see it.

Re:The summary sounds fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26645949)

If it is within one user's traffic that makes sense. But there isn't a reason that one user's traffic should trump another's unless they are paying for traffic in a different class.
The way this should be done is that traffic should be shaped by user and class rather application. There could be different plans for users allowing for different capacities in the offered classes. There would also need to be some way for users to classify their traffic. Since some network traffic appears to have QoS settings dropped in transit getting the latter to work nicely across networks might be difficult.

Re:The summary sounds fine (1)

mpeskett (1221084) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646459)

When there's no congestion, allow everyone to soak up as much bandwidth as the pipes will allow, then when network load gets near to capacity, give every user a precisely equal share of the available bandwidth. That's only fair.

Allow each customer to set their own preferences about what kind of packets of theirs they'd like to have prioritised. Set sensible defaults for the tech-clueless and we're done.

That way, when bandwidth is plentiful, everyone can have plenty (hopefully finishing off that download before peak time arrives) but when it runs short, everyone is slowed down by the same amount, and can see exactly what the connection they're paying for actually is (if 1/(number of users) out of the available bandwidth isn't enough to run VoIP, they need better pipes)

Prioritising one customer over another based on application is just a cheap way to try and make your network look faster than it is, at the expense of the people trying to use their connection for "non-time-sensitive" things. I'm sorry, but how important that download might be is up to _me_, not my ISP and I shouldn't suffer a downgraded service compared to the avoid VoIP-er next door.

Re:The summary sounds fine (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646495)

Either way, the effect is the same. If you make it per user, the only way to make that fair would be for each user's slice of the total bandwidth to be allowed to grow until it hits a point at which that user is using as much bandwidth as all of the other users. If you do that, however, the VoIP user starting a call still steals the exact same amount of bandwidth from each of the BitTorrent users as he/she would if prioritization were protocol-based (unless the VoIP app uses more bandwidth than the average BitTorrent user, which is rather unlikely). The only real difference is in the user experience of the VoIP user; with service-based priority, you can ensure low jitter for VoIP, while with user-based balancing, you can't. The BitTorrent user still gets the same bandwidth either way, and the extra latency to reduce VoIP jitter should have a negligible impact on downloads so long as the latency isn't so great that there are no outstanding requests waiting to come in and you get a pipeline stall....

Or, put another way, for the VoIP user to not reduce the bandwidth of BitTorrent users in other houses, those BitTorrernt users would have to be capped at a particular percentage of total available bandwidth. That's wasteful and inefficient, as there is no reason to cap bulk bandwidth usage if that bandwidth would otherwise go to waste. Protocol-based priority ensures that BitTorrent users get more bandwidth than they would with pretty much any other viable scheme (other than disallowing VoIP/streaming audio and video entirely) because it minimizes how much BitTorrent traffic must be throttled for anybody else to be able to get any use out of the network at all. It's really a much, much better solution than any of the alternatives... short of adding more pipes, of course.

That said, realistically, even adding pipes doesn't really help. No matter how big the pipes get, bandwidth will always be a problem because things like BitTorrent will always try to consume every bit of bandwidth that they can, up to the limits of the upstream network, so you just move the bottleneck a little farther out, until eventually the bottleneck is at the ISP of the VoIP user on the other end of the call, at which point they start increasing the size of their pipes farther and farther out, and the bottleneck moves back the other way. The only effective way to make networks viable for latency-sensitive traffic is to discriminate between latency-sensitive traffic and non-latency-sensitive traffic, and prioritize the two appropriately. Fortunately, if you do it correctly, it has little to no impact on bulk traffic.

Re:The summary sounds fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26646059)

They address this.

How does Cox's approach treat competing applications?
Our approach is based on the time-sensitivity of the traffic thatâ(TM)s using our network â" it is not based on the owner or source of the traffic. For example, most Internet video competition comes in the form of downloadable and streaming video from the Internet. Our congestion management practices should actually help ensure that these and other applications run smoothly on our network.

Kansas and Arkansas? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26645795)

Wouldn't it be much simpler and cheaper to implement an Akamai-style solution and install local servers for popular content? With quality animal-based porn available for free download the yokels' demand for peer-to-peer would soon dry up.

umm.. Not Throttleing (5, Insightful)

linuxbert (78156) | more than 5 years ago | (#26645845)

Umm.. thats not throttling, it applying QOS (Quality of service) Throttling would slow your traffic all the time, where as this applies prioritization to data that needs it. Packets have a qos field that says the priority they should be given..

Im glad there is a telco that will respect QOS - I've wasted a week with a voip problem, only to learn that the telco was shaping traffic and discarding everything above 3mb without paying attention to QOS Flags.. Allstream charges more for this!

Re:umm.. Not Throttleing (1)

Chirs (87576) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646227)

The problem with QOS flags is that the end-user can set them. There's nothing preventing me from marking every single packet I send as high-priority.

Ideally, if the network is congested than each user should be throttled, but low-priority packets should be throttled first.

Re:umm.. Not Throttleing (1)

Steve Blake (13873) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646437)

And they are free to ignore the QoS flags (i.e., DSCP field) that you set, or even rewrite it. That's part of the Diffserv architecture.

"Throttling" is blocking transmission even when there is available link capacity. Hopefully they will instead use some form of priority scheduling, so that delay insensitive traffic is only affected whenever a link is congested (that is basically what they say they are going to do).

Re:umm.. Not Throttleing (2)

WolfWithoutAClause (162946) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646733)

Really, the ISP needs to give a maximum budget for the fraction of your connection bandwidth you can set as high-priority (probably in practice this would be the contention ratio you have paid for); if you go consistently above that, the ISP should downgrade the excess to best-effort.

Re:umm.. Not Throttleing (1)

zarthrag (650912) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646249)

Actually, I have Cox (...and Cox internet...snicker) - granted I don't use the cheap plan, I can really say that I have no issues with them at all. They're awesome about download policies ("Do whatever, just don't get caught uploading.") yetthey have plans that are decent for uploading. I'm running a torrent-based media center setup, gaming on the 360 and God-knows what else, with nary a complaint about the bandwidth I'm using. According to my router (DDWRT), I've moved upwards of 150GB/month at times. Not a single problem. I don't mind them running QoS on torrents if traffic is heavy, as long as I can take advantage of off-peak, and my games keep humming along.

Re:umm.. Not Throttleing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26646835)

They do have pretty awesome downloading policies. We got our service shut off for a DMCA complaint about a torrent uploading, and the site said "Stop the upload and click this link to restore your service. You can avoid this in the future by disabling the sharing feature of your P2P clients.

Wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26645891)

they have the internet in Kansas & Arkansas?

Yes, they have internet in Kansas and Arkansas (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646035)

They use a European [] implementation of an American [] technology.

Re:Wait... (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646299)

I think they are still on Web 1.0.

Does this mean I will see an improvement.... (1)

Immostlyharmless (1311531) | more than 5 years ago | (#26645967)

Does this mean when I call these bumbledweebs when my connection crashes or they suddenly decide to send my packets halfway to Zimbabwe and back to get to a server in the next state over that they can no longer deny that they support VOIP or gaming?

Damned A--hats.....

In related news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26645971)

...Web Servers around the world are now listening on port 5060.

QoS or actual throttling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26645995)

I've read about 5 different articles on this and none of them make the clear distinction as to whether or not Cox plans to use QoS for traffic classification on their transit network or if they're going to be doing actual all-out throttling. I don't want to defend them doing either but the implications are different between the two implementations.

Articles also seem to be fond of mentioning and comparing it to Comcast's p2p blocking where they actively reset TCP streams inline -- which in my opinion is ethically dubious (just like NetSol's hijacking of all unregistered .com space a few years ago so their could set up that Sitefinder crap). If all they are doing is effectively implementing QoS, I don't really see a problem with it as long as it is source/destination agnostic and is only classifying by protocols.

Honestly it sounds to me, from all I've read, is that they're just planning to classify some protocols as high priority and some as normal priority, ala QoS. Naturally if there is congestion at some router in their network, the high priority traffic will be forwarded before the lower priority. IMO that's more ethically tolerable than Comcast's current "if you're using what we deem is too much of the bandwidth you paid for, we're going to QoS your ass to the lowest priority queue we can invent"....

Weapons of mass destruction, anyone? (1)

uvajed_ekil (914487) | more than 5 years ago | (#26645997)

It sounds like they are throttling but have simply change the term for it and the stated reason for doing it. Kind of like when you invade a country to protect your own from weapons of mass destruction that you "know"" exist, and none are found so you say you went in to liberate the country's people from an evil dictator. I know that is not a fair comparison, but that's where they learned it from: if someone objects to what you are doing or why, change your reasoning or supposed goals until they shut up.

Gdmnt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26646025)

Cox suckers!

How is this bad? (3, Insightful)

jonwil (467024) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646027)

As long as the P2P apps and file transfers can run at full speed when nothing time sensitive is using the network, this is the RIGHT way to do things.

time sensitive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26646049)

How are file uploads and P2P traffic intrinsically less time sensitive than other types of traffic?

Re:time sensitive? (2, Insightful)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646373)

"Latency-sensitive" would be a better term. P2P can tolerate a packet arriving half a second after it was sent (even batter than a regular HTTP download, in fact), and assuming they are pushing out packets at a steady rate you shouldn't notice a drop in your kbps. However, I know from experience that WoW and VoIP are very painful to use if you have a half-second delay.

Fine with me * (2, Insightful)

chrysrobyn (106763) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646089)

As long as they're using QOS techniques instead of throttling parts of the network that are not under duress, it's fine with me. As long as they're not prioritizing one party's packets over another's of the same protocol (Vonage vs Cox's self-branded VOIP) it's fine with me.

It seems foolish to expect a consumer ISP to provide 100% of the advertised bandwidth 100% of the time. If you need it, there's a certain expectation that you can get a professional line with some established guarantees there. It's widely known that the bandwidth is oversold, and while it's their responsibility to work out some of the congestion, it's not their responsibility to provide bandwidth for 100% of their customers to be uploading at 100% of their available bandwidth.

Re:Fine with me * (2, Insightful)

EGenius007 (1125395) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646959)

It seems foolish to expect a major airline to seat passengers 100% on their scheduled flight 100% of the time. If you need it, there's a certain expectation that you can get a first class ticket with some established guarantees there.

As the airline industry is one of the most recognizable services that is also oversold, imagine if the above statement were true. Can you imagine how you would feel if you & your spouse/significant other were in a snowy airport waiting for the flight that was taking you to the port city where you were going to board a cruise and the desk attendant said "Being as we've overbooked this flight, we're going to allow first class passengers, passengers headed to medical or business destinations, and families traveling with children to board. All others will be seated on a later flight without any additional compensation. Thanks for again for flying with Cox, where we're proud to live up to our name."

This has been envisioned for quite a while... (2, Informative)

SwashbucklingCowboy (727629) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646119)

Both IPv4 and IPv6 headers have fields for the priority of the associated data...

You're gonna flag me down anyways... (4, Insightful)

mnslinky (1105103) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646121)


Why is it that every form of bandwidth throttling is seen as evil? There are some good, legitimate, reasons for managing traffic flow across a network. While most of the pukes on Slashdot may be hugely inconvenienced by having their latest pirated copy of software X, or DVD rip of 'I love it in the ass' over BitTorrent slowed down, there are people who are trying to use the same pipes for more normal activity. Who cares if it takes an extra five or ten minutes to download that file. I'm much more annoyed when a VoIP call, or streaming video gets choppy.

Whether you mod me -1 Troll or -1 Flamebait or not, you know you agree with me, at least in part.

Re:You're gonna flag me down anyways... (0, Redundant)

Piranhaa (672441) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646223)

-1 Flamebate (If I had mod points).

What seems innocent to you is really NOT. ISPs are oversubscribing their networks with customers. Rather than spending dollars to increase the infrastructure, which will be required EVENTUALLY, they are simply implementing this as a "bandaid" for the problem. They get lazy, and the same problem will happen down the road. The problem is: Who decides what traffic gets priority? VOIP? Your WoW game? Your CRISIS online Game? PS3?.. Your ISP obviously decides. Please complain to me when you complain your neigbours on your street are talking on their phones so much that you can't play your online FPS game..

Read more about traffic shaping before you speak. Thanks

Re:You're gonna flag me down anyways... (2, Interesting)

mnslinky (1105103) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646721)

Read more about traffic shaping before you speak. Thanks

Try this. Take a LARGE file, and transfer it locally across your LAN. While you're doing that, try your VoIP, WoW, whatever. You may find it's a bit difficult. Throwing a random 'Read more about X so I sound smart, as if I've read about it,' doesn't mean anything. If you look heavily into corporate network infrastructure, I think you'll find a lot more traffic shaping going on that you think.

For the record, it's FLAMEBAIT, not FLAMEBATE. Learn how to spell, you ignorant ass.

Re:You're gonna flag me down anyways... (1)

John Sokol (109591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646667)

Look, I will spend as much as it takes for me to get the broadband I want.

Problem is Cox is the only game in town, and if they start messing with me, I am hosed.
There is no place else to turn, other then move to a new city!

No free lunches (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26646157)

There needs to be a distinction made between people whining that their service provider won't give them unlimited bandwidth at blazing speeds for a low monthly fee, and those who aren't getting the full connection that they're paying for.

I personally find most people that complain about 'throttling' are in the former category. The internet is not a landline phone, period. The linked article does not provide the information to assess which boat Cox's customers are in.

I can agree, but... (1)

crazycheetah (1416001) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646169)

I can agree with the way the way they state they're going to do this...


Does this mean that 5 hour download to upgrade stuff on my Linux box because I didn't upgrade for like 2 weeks and some bigger stuff came out (openoffice upgrade, kde 4.2, etc.), is going to take even longer? That, I hate. I already didn't have enough time to sit here and wait for the damn 5 hour downloading.

Oh wait, I don't have Cox any more... ok... dammit, I have AT&T... *kills himself*

My ultimate preference would be to see all of the ISPs upgrade how much bandwidth they can actually handle, instead of getting more and more customers, and then bitching when they don't have enough bandwidth to handle all of the customers they got, while they still go out to get more customers. Would any of this really be a problem, then? I suppose that costs money, but we're all giving them money every month; and many of us got their service expecting no such problems as this. I guess I, like a lot of people I know, just expected too much...

Re:I can agree, but... (1)

themightythor (673485) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646519)

Does this mean that 5 hour download to upgrade stuff on my Linux box because I didn't upgrade for like 2 weeks and some bigger stuff came out (openoffice upgrade, kde 4.2, etc.), is going to take even longer? That, I hate. I already didn't have enough time to sit here and wait for the damn 5 hour downloading.

I don't know how you're doing it, but I have my machines download updates every night. It only applies them when I say to. The point is that watching downloads is pointless; there's nothing there that you're needed for. Let the downloads happen automatically and be present during the install if you want to be.

So much... (1)

feepness (543479) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646171)

For that imminent future of everybody doing hi-def downloads...

QoS is OK for certain things (1)

Beve Jates (1393457) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646221)

Personally I wouldn't mind them giving real-time traffic like VoIP priority (SIP, Skype, etc). I don't think anything else deserves that treatment though. ...and WTF are they talking about, limiting newgroup traffic... They already have a bandwidth cap on it that is like 10 times slower than your connection when using the COX (highwinds) servers. How much more do they want to limit it?!

The most annoying thing to me is COX's monthly bandwidth limits. They give you a 10 Mbps connection with a 40 GB allowance. You can blow that out in just a couple hours and it's suppose to be for the whole month!

Please Verizon, hurry up with the FiOS already! My choices right now are either COX with extreme restrictions or expensive and slow DSL.

well, crud. (1)

zeroharmada (1004484) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646297)

As a cox customer in Kansas I will be keeping a definite eye on this, but I don't feel too concerned. I know that I use up more than the average user in bandwidth, but I set up my large bandwidth uses to operate overnight when congestion is not an issue. Cox has always been pretty open about being able to talk to a real person who actually knows what they are talking about whenever I have a problem, so I am far more inclined than the regular /.er to trust them. Provided they are only traffic-shaping people who are using more than their fair share of bandwidth during times of congestion I not only am OK with it, but expect it. I will allow their previous good PR with me to give this a rose tint, but you can be sure that if it does become an issue they will both lose me and any client/personnel recommendations they are getting right now. Fortunately, Kansas has surprisingly diverse internet options in its bigger cities.

Spam (1)

tif (207976) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646469)

Why is Email "time sensitive"? I think I can wait 5 more minutes for the next Viagra add to show up. Even if it's important email, who cares if it gets delivered now or 5 minutes from now? In fact, the protocol itself expects to be prioritized low, thus the retries.

Is this a North American problem? (1)

chortick (979856) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646533)

The 'provider so-and-so throttles traffic' story keeps coming up. My own Canadian telco is guilty of this. I keep hearing 'in Japan you can get 100MB/s consumer-grade service' or 'in France you can get 60MB/s'... but I never hear that a provider outside Canada and the US is shaping/throttling/whatever their traffic.

Is this truly a global problem that I just don't hear about because of my own media filter?

Re:Is this a North American problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26646825)

Some of it is probably the amount of ground they've got to cover in the US/Canada -- it might be somewhat more accurate to compare infrastructure with Mexico or Russia, for example.

On the other hand, I heard we paid a massive amount [] to subsidize broadband in the U.S., so no doubt there's a shiny new infrastructure they'll be surprising us with any day now. Guess you Canadians are just out of luck.

Re:Is this a North American problem? (1)

mnslinky (1105103) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646829)

No, I think most people on this side of the pond are becoming whiney little kids. As was said above (somewhere), everyone expects blazing speeds, all the time, for almost no money at all. We've all come to expect everything for free (or close to it).

Cox is generally "good" (1)

markdavis (642305) | more than 5 years ago | (#26646793)

I know it is not popular to post positives about an ISP, but...

As far as ISP's go, I must say that Cox is generally very "good". They don't use PPPOE, they don't redirect DNS, they don't lock the MAC address of your equipment to their modem, they don't require MS-Windows "stuff" to set up your account, they have not dropped/outsourced services like Email, they don't block "non-server" ports, they have not dropped USENET, they don't penalize non-Cox VOIP and such, and they have a very fast and robust setup. I must say, I have been quite pleased over many years; especially hearing the horror stories about other ISP's, both local and afar.

Note- this is the Hampton Roads market, not their other ones; so I can't attest to any other locations.

Anyway, I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt that they will do the "right thing" and just prioritize traffic, only when necessary, not just to screw people. No matter how much bandwidth an ISP has, the customers are going to suck it all up, so *some* amount of traffic management really is necessary to prevent mass discontent from the customers. Let's hope Cox has watched and learned from the mistakes of other ISP's.

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