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Comcast Finally Files Suit Against FCC Over Traffic Shaping

ScuttleMonkey posted about 5 years ago | from the hoping-for-mutual-destruction dept.

353

Following up on their threat last year to sue the FCC over sanctions imposed, Comcast has finally filed suit, stating that there are no statutes or regulations that support the FCC's authority to stop traffic shaping procedures. "First, let's recap: After months of proceedings, hearings, and investigations, the FCC concluded on August 1, 2008 that Comcast was discriminating against certain P2P applications using deep packet inspection techniques. These methods thwarted the ability of users to share video and other files via BitTorrent. 'Comcast was delaying subscribers' downloads and blocking their uploads,' declared then FCC Chair Kevin Martin. 'It was doing so 24/7, regardless of the amount of congestion on the network or how small the file might be. Even worse, Comcast was hiding that fact by making [affected] users think there was a problem with their Internet connection or the application.'"

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Republicans (-1, Troll)

Brian Gordon (987471) | about 5 years ago | (#29097037)

Do you need any more proof that the government needs strong regulative powers?

Re:Republicans (4, Insightful)

GigaHurtsMyRobot (1143329) | about 5 years ago | (#29097055)

Why are you directing this at Republicans when Democrats have a veto and filibuster proof control of the entire government?

Re:Republicans (4, Informative)

dwiget001 (1073738) | about 5 years ago | (#29097117)

On top of your great observation, the article blurb specifically states: "..."First, let's recap: After months of proceedings, hearings, and investigations, the FCC concluded on August 1, 2008 that Comcast was discriminating against certain P2P applications using deep packet inspection techniques...." Now, IIRC, we had a Republican administration in the White House at that time and a Democrat majority in the House and Senate. So, who was responsible for the August 1, 2008 conclusion by the FCC? Why, the Republican administration, of course. Sure, there may have been members of the House and Senate (various committees) that helped push or prod it along, but it was the Republican administration, which the FCC falls under, that gets the majority of the credit here. I believe the grand parent is a bit myopic.

Re:Republicans (3, Informative)

ari_j (90255) | about 5 years ago | (#29097193)

Yes. The Republican administration took regulatory action against Comcast's pervasive and dishonest traffic shaping, so it's very appropriate to snidely tell Republicans that they are idiots for ... well, apparently for not regulating enough. I honestly can't figure out what the OP is trying to get at. It's either some deep magic breed of sarcasm I'm not fluent in, plain stupid, or both.

Re:Republicans (5, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | about 5 years ago | (#29097121)

Because it is always the other party's fault, no matter what the problem is, when it started, or who started it.

Re:Republicans (4, Insightful)

causality (777677) | about 5 years ago | (#29097527)

Because it is always the other party's fault, no matter what the problem is, when it started, or who started it.

If only each person who said "that other party is to blame" would instead say "the two-party duopoly is to blame" we might actually have real reform.

Re:Republicans (1)

babywhiz (781786) | about 5 years ago | (#29097131)

I think he was trying to give an example of why gov regs are good. ;x

Re:Republicans (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | about 5 years ago | (#29097195)

I think he was trying to give an example of why gov regs are good. ;x

No, he was trying to pander to the left-leaning partisan audience with mod points. Why else would he aim his comment at Republicans? Are all Republicans opposed to all forms of regulation? Are all non-Republicans automatically in favor of them?

Re:Republicans (5, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | about 5 years ago | (#29097347)

No, he was trying to pander to the left-leaning partisan audience with mod points.

If he's a karma whore he's not very good at it; there are a LOT of Republicans here. I think what he was trying to point out was that the last administration was one that viewed the government as "always the problem", and face it, the Republicans deregulated, deregulated, and deregulated some more. Of course there were exceptions, but on the whole they're mostly for deregulation.

Not all regulation is good, not all deregulation is bad; what you need is effective regulation.

Re:Republicans (1)

Old97 (1341297) | about 5 years ago | (#29097767)

Not ALL Republicans are anything but Republicans. However, if you aren't aware that the Republican party makes a lot of noise about how bad government regulation is then you aren't paying attention. It's a key part of their platform. The clear tendency has been for the Republicans to claim to want less regulation and the Democrats to advocate more. Now I question the sincerity and consistency of most of the politicians of both parties, but if you run across Joe Sixpack and he identifies himself as a Republican, ask him what he thinks about "government regulation".

Re:Republicans (5, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 5 years ago | (#29097147)

Why was that modded down? I don't see how either party is involved, except that Bush appointed the FCC Chairman who shot down Comcast. If anything, wouldn't that be one of the (possibly few) good that he did?

Re:Republicans (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | about 5 years ago | (#29097119)

Do you need any more proof that the government needs strong regulative powers?

This is stupid one-sided political trolling. Why don't you take your partisan blinders off and ask yourself who it was that supported telecommunications deregulation back in the 90s? My memory is a little hazy but I'm pretty sure he was a Democrat who had a fondness for cigars and centrist (some would say "corporatist") domestic policy.

One could also make the counter-argument -- that it's the very involvement of government that gives Comcast their monopoly in the first place. Ever ask yourself why you can't just find some investors and start up a cable company to compete with them?

Re:Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29097397)

Why don't you take of your partisan blinders and look at how the free market treats consumers.

The last 3 places I have lived at had only 1 cable company "choice".

Why do you think that is? Some nonsensical bullshit about democrats that you will try to pass off as an argument?

No, it's because when governments look the other way, the free market rapes consumers.

I'm sure you will go on believing your discredited bullshit, making half assed non-arguments in its defense...

Re:Republicans (4, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 5 years ago | (#29097607)

Why don't you take of your partisan blinders and look at how the free market treats consumers.

The last 3 places I have lived at had only 1 cable company "choice".

Why do you think that is?

Because the government has encouraged there to be only one cable company in most areas. I don't know what the current laws are, but I remember when cable was being rolled out. Different cable companies would apply for the franchise to operate in a particular area (if it was an area that was lucrative enough that more than one was interested), then the local government would grant a monopoly to one of them. I remember some major scandals when it was discovered that some local officials were accepting what amounted to bribes to grant the local franchise to one company or another.
So, to reiterate, the answer to your question as to why in most areas there is no competition among cable providers is that the government set it up that way.

Re:Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29097655)

Interesting but wrong.

I can get my choice of FIOS or Cable in houses near the apartments I rent.

The apartments I rent have been bought off by the cable companies. It's really just that simple.

Before someone says... well go rent something else, you should know that all apartments sell out to a cable company.

In short, while what you say may be in true in some places, it is not true for apartments.

Re:Republicans (1)

clesters (793568) | about 5 years ago | (#29097619)

" The last 3 places I have lived at had only 1 cable company "choice". "

That is because the local government in the last 3 places you lived had a franchise agreement with the cable provider. That means the government IS the reason you have no choice, which pretty much makes your argument poop.

Re:Republicans (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 5 years ago | (#29097671)

Do you think that things would be no different if local governments were not handing out protected monopolies to cable companies? If the federal government did not begin the telecommunications monopoly? If you want to see more regulation then fine. Do not though make the mistake of thinking that this problem is caused only by a lack of regulations. There may be some blame to spread from existing regulations themselves fucking you in the ass from good ole "Uncle" Sam.

Re:Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29097537)

My memory is a little hazy but I'm pretty sure he was a Democrat who had a fondness for cigars and centrist (some would say "corporatist") domestic policy.

Cigar? check. Excellent b-b-b-but Clinton, sir. You win!!!

Re:Republicans (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 5 years ago | (#29097549)

Just to be clear, your first paragraph is talking about Federal Government, while the 2nd paragraph's discussion of monopolies should be talking about Local Government. Though frequently the monopoly is handed out by non-governmental organizations like the developer who is building the community.

Re:Republicans (1)

Stevecrox (962208) | about 5 years ago | (#29097757)

At the end of the day who cares about what political party caused the problem. The real issue is if the current government is capable of solving the problem. Maye the Democrats did de-regulate the industry and cause the current issue. But do the Democrats aknowledge and have a plan on how the fix the mess?

Take the current credit crunch; a lot of the problems were caused by a short term bonus environment which encouraged excessive risk taking. I'm a lot more interested in hearing a UK party actually come up with a workable regulation system to discourage that, than hearing the Tories take cheap shots at Labour about Brown and Darling's inability to do anything to fix the issue.

Then again I'm so tired of insulated Westminster politicians out of touch with anything not to do with the City (term describes London's Financial Sector) I'm looking in to see if I can afford to join the Pirate party and stand in my local area. I won't win but maybe the local MP will pay more attention to certain issues.

Re:Republicans (1)

sparhawktn (818225) | about 5 years ago | (#29097149)

No this has nothing to do with government regulations it has to do with the business practices the business is doing. Which is why the FCC stepped in. Comcast in their terms of agreement are too vague and too heavy handed. Comcast is using this to "say" they are trying to maintain the network bottom line is Comcast got caught with their hand in the cookie jar and now are trying to blame the government for stepping in hoping their customers have forgotten or gotten used to their business model. If Comcast wants to block certain content that is their prerogative BUT they must disclose this and stop selling "unlimited" services and then trying to pull a Bill Clinton and "define" unlimited in stupid ways.

Re:Republicans (4, Insightful)

GooberToo (74388) | about 5 years ago | (#29097693)

Not to mention, the writing on the wall is, if they want the right to be non-regulated despite deep inspection on the data they carry, they clearly are responsible for the data which they carry. Seems they are begging to fall under telephone regulations; which they absolutely don't want. Either they are a transparent pipe or they are going to be held responsible for inspecting, routing, prioritization, and monitoring all traffic they carry. Seems they want to have their cake, eat it, and all the while rape your mother with no price to pay. Hopefully Congress will grant the power to the FCC to remind ISPs the privileges they've already been granted.

Re:Republicans (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29097173)

Comcast forges RST packets and intercept DNS requests using man in the middle attacks. This not only disrupts legitemate use of peer to peer technology but corporate VPN access for people working from home. If you or I were to do the same thing, we could be arrested and charged as felons under the DMCA and other "hacking" laws. Comcast is a criminal organization, its time for them to be held to account for the federal felonies that they are committing. Unfortunately, the limited liability of the America corporate system ensures that these felons will never serve jail time even in the unlikely event that something is done to stop their crimes.

Re:Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29097241)

Yeah. Proof that the Government won't overstep it's bounds, pick winners, and play favorites. *cough* Government Motors, Chrysler, & the Unions *cough*

Re:Republicans (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 5 years ago | (#29097261)

You mean like the strong regulative powers that handed Comcast the data provider monopoly it enjoys in many places?

I have a philosophy ... (5, Informative)

neonprimetime (528653) | about 5 years ago | (#29097271)

... a Republican is a Democrat is a Politician ... they're all the same

Lack of government regulation can be bad. Some government regulation is good. Massive amounts of government regulation is bad.

who here disagrees?

Read Common Sense - not so common anymore (3, Interesting)

dsginter (104154) | about 5 years ago | (#29097541)

Of the Origin and Design of Government in General, with Concise Remarks on the English Constitution [ushistory.org]

Although the prose is a bit dated, this is some remarkably "back to basics" thinking that could do some people a lot of good. I quote:

Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer

Re:Read Common Sense - not so common anymore (3, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 5 years ago | (#29097665)

The problem with any sort of Libertarian position is that, from everything we can tell, no human society has ever functioned like that. We can talk about theoretical governments (like Plato did, he pretty much being the guy that gave us the first concise definitions of major governing models), but I think it's important to look at the reality of the human condition.

We need governments. More to the point, if we didn't have them, we would create them. We're social animals, are basic instinct is organize into dominance hierarchies. What the Enlightenment thinkers who troubled themselves with politics tried to reason out was a balance between the human nature to form governments and the philosophical notion that people deserve and need a certain amount of liberty to achieve their aspirations as individuals and as groups.

Saying "governments are evil" is as about as sensible a position as declaring "art is evil". To be sure, both can be used to evil ends (and for those of us just coming out of the 20th century, we have an era when every possible evil any government could commit seems to have been committed by some government). At the same time, governments can produce beneficial things, as the ultimate agent of our species' need to work collectively.

Re:I have a philosophy ... (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 5 years ago | (#29097567)

I think it rather depends on what the regulations are supposed to do. If it's to create a level playing field, which I think network neutrality legislation would do, then that's a good thing. It means players, regardless of size or of who they ultimately pay to get on the Internet have a certain baseline performance.

The trouble is that the big Telcos have managed to intentionally confuse two related but quite separate issues; QoS and neutrality. No reasonable party is saying that there shouldn't be some sort of methods invoked to assure that the physical bandwidth of any company is equitably divided (the old 1/2 1/4 1/16 rule...), or that during periods of heavy congestion that some reasonable steps be taken to assure the overall network remains stable and accessible for all users.

But what the big guys really want is the capacity to essentially charge end points for preferential treatment, or even worse, when rolling out a service, to give it an unfair advantage over potential competition (ie. a Telco rolling out a search engine and crippling bandwidth bound for Google, Yahoo, etc.).

Both concepts use the same underlying technologies, but the intentions are quite different (one is, as I said, QoS, the other is simply a form of predatory behavior).

Re:I have a philosophy ... (1)

clesters (793568) | about 5 years ago | (#29097647)

My god, somebody who is intelligent on the interwebs!!!?

Are you lost?

Re:Republicans (0)

Anarke_Incarnate (733529) | about 5 years ago | (#29097377)

The government's strong regulatory powers GOT US HERE. If Comcast did not have legal monopolies on cable where it operates, competition would force this to change. The government has your back the same way that any bunch of thieves do. As long as it suits them, they will.

Not traffic shaping! (4, Informative)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 5 years ago | (#29097083)

Following up on their threat last year to sue the FCC over sanctions imposed, Comcast has finally filed suit, stating that there are no statutes or regulations that support the FCC's authority to stop traffic shaping procedures.

Traffic shaping is writing rules like "give ssh and http packets priority over ftp-data". This is good and something almost all ISP that care about good customer service already do. What Comcast was doing, aka packet forgery, was a deliberate attempt to disrupt certain types of transfer. NO good ISP does this, by definition.

Re:Not traffic shaping! (4, Funny)

Aldenissin (976329) | about 5 years ago | (#29097135)

... NO good ISP does this, by definition.

Well mine does, and it is absolutely COMCASTIC! My turtle is now a much faster... turtle.

Re:Not traffic shaping! (1, Interesting)

BlueKitties (1541613) | about 5 years ago | (#29097185)

Saying that big trucks must use the left lane is traffic shaping. Saying that these upload packets must go slower than these is also traffic shaping. However, they are "using" traffic shaping to control something else (e.g. "Trucks must go 10mph..." is obviously intended to make trucks avoid that road, but it's via traffic shaping.)

Re:Not traffic shaping! (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 5 years ago | (#29097307)

Except that isn't what comcast was caught doing. To use your freeway analogy, it's more like Comcast put up a big sign that said "Trucks use this exit" except instead of an exit, it was a cliff. Whenever they detected P2P traffic, they sent a reset packet to both sides of the connection, severing it completely before any significant amount of data could be sent.

Re:Not traffic shaping! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29097565)

That's the funniest car analogy I've heard in quite some time. Bravo.

Re:Not traffic shaping! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29097747)

That is pretty good!...and you gotta admit, it gets rid of the big traffic....

Re:Not traffic shaping! (1)

pha7boy (1242512) | about 5 years ago | (#29097349)

except that in case of roads, you have a choice. Most times, you don't have much of a choice in terms of internet providers. Break the local monopolies and stuff like that won't happen.

Re:Not traffic shaping! (1)

trentblase (717954) | about 5 years ago | (#29097713)

There is rarely any choice in the case of roads. If I don't like the way my city is maintaining the roads, what alternative do I have? Occasionally you will find a private turnpike or bridge, but usually there is a monopoly road provider.

Re:Not traffic shaping! (2, Interesting)

Nickodeimus (1263214) | about 5 years ago | (#29097221)

How do you figure that traffic shaping is good when the ISP has no idea what the traffic is used for? Case in point: I work for an IT shop that supports many physicians offices. one of the primary methods of moving data between offices and hospitals is through EMR applications that USE FTP. Who is the ISP to tell me that my FTP traffic is less important than Disney's HTTP traffic?

It is not the ISP's place to make these decisions. Period. End of Story.

Further, if they choose to make these decisions on "their network" then they should lose common carrier status. And while I admit I am not sure if they have this, they certainly cannot use it as a defence at all going forward since they are looking inside the packets and determining what they hold. They have just made themselves complicit in committing innumerable crimes ranging from spreading virii to transmitting child porn to terroism.

Common Carriers (3, Informative)

overshoot (39700) | about 5 years ago | (#29097283)

Further, if they choose to make these decisions on "their network" then they should lose common carrier status. And while I admit I am not sure if they have this

They don't.

Re:Not traffic shaping! (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | about 5 years ago | (#29097285)

Case in point: I work for an IT shop that supports many physicians offices. one of the primary methods of moving data between offices and hospitals is through EMR applications that USE FTP. Who is the ISP to tell me that my FTP traffic is less important than Disney's HTTP traffic?

Yikes, what the fuck hospitals and doctors do you work for?

Can we say major HIPAA violation? Clear text passwords, no data encryption for EMR?!?

Jesus. At the shop I work at, SCP, IPSec ONLY, for all of our HIPAA-covered data (EMR, claim and benefits).

Re:Not traffic shaping! (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 5 years ago | (#29097433)

Yikes, what the fuck hospitals and doctors do you work for? Can we say major HIPAA violation? Clear text passwords, no data encryption for EMR?!?

In fairness, the data could be pre-encrypted and login could be with a one-time password. Why you'd do want all that and still have to dick around with FTP's nightmarish unwillingness to be easy firewalled instead of just installing an SFTP server is beyond me, but you could do it if you really, really wanted to for some bizarre reason.

Re:Not traffic shaping! (3, Informative)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | about 5 years ago | (#29097561)

Case in point: I work for an IT shop that supports many physicians offices. one of the primary methods of moving data between offices and hospitals is through EMR applications that USE FTP. Who is the ISP to tell me that my FTP traffic is less important than Disney's HTTP traffic?

Yikes, what the fuck hospitals and doctors do you work for?

Can we say major HIPAA violation? Clear text passwords, no data encryption for EMR?!?

Jesus. At the shop I work at, SCP, IPSec ONLY, for all of our HIPAA-covered data (EMR, claim and benefits).

Meh.

We use plain FTP for stuff that's legally protected like that, we just make sure that everything on the ftp server is pgp/gpg encrypted.

Re:Not traffic shaping! (1)

hesiod (111176) | about 5 years ago | (#29097603)

Can we say major HIPAA violation?

Yeah seriously; I saw that and felt a facepalm moment. I work at a tiny hospital (25 beds) and still, anything we send off-premises is encrypted in some way, either by sFTP or VPN (usually the latter).

Of course, one problem is the software vendors who don't give a crap about you violating HIPAA and don't try to work with you to stay secure. That's is one nice improvement in the recent HIPAA update, if I have been informed correctly: business associates are extended under the law, so that they have liability for their idiocy as well.

Re:Not traffic shaping! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29097305)

"transmitting child porn to terrorism" (Corrected spelling)

Another strike against terrorists!

Re:Not traffic shaping! (5, Interesting)

gad_zuki! (70830) | about 5 years ago | (#29097335)

>It is not the ISP's place to make these decisions. Period. End of Story.

Actually it is, because it becomes the ISPs problem when my VPN, VOIP, gaming, etc time out because some guy doing bulk transfers is eating into all the bandwidth. Running a network involves priority and shaping. You may not even notice the shaping, because you can handle 150-200ms latencies with FTP, but the services I mentioned above will notice. Frankly, its networking 101.

>They have just made themselves complicit in committing innumerable crimes ranging from spreading virii to transmitting child porn to terroism.

I see youre as much as a lawyer as you are a network admin.

Re:Not traffic shaping! (1, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | about 5 years ago | (#29097599)

The answer to that problem is not "shaping" (or in this case, literally blocking and interfering with specific packets which is not shaping at all). The answer is building a better network and boosting the capacity. But as I understand it, the cable ISPs have control over the cable modems and can limit the over-all bandwidth being consumed by any one customer. (Yes, I know there are hacks that users can perform to overcome this, but that's beside the point... and the hacks can be detected and the user disconnected for violation of TOS.) With the individual user's max bandwidth limited, there should be no need for this shaping, unless, of course, their network simply can't support what they are selling.

So the real answer is for Comcast to upgrade their network to accommodate heavy usage and to apply appropriate limits on individual peers to maintain good balance. Picking on individual protocols is not the correct answer.

Re:Not traffic shaping! (3, Insightful)

ichimunki (194887) | about 5 years ago | (#29097625)

Why, if we both pay for the same service level, should your packets get priority just because your protocol wants less latency? That means that you get the service you paid for and I don't. If you want more of the pipe more of the time, then you should pay for the privilege.

Re:Not traffic shaping! (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 5 years ago | (#29097379)

How do you figure that traffic shaping is good when the ISP has no idea what the traffic is used for?

My goal was to use a simple illustrative example. More sophisticated shaping uses token buckets and other structures that can prioritize interactive traffic over bulk traffic.

Case in point: I work for an IT shop that supports many physicians offices. one of the primary methods of moving data between offices and hospitals is through EMR applications that USE FTP. Who is the ISP to tell me that my FTP traffic is less important than Disney's HTTP traffic?

Traffic shaping isn't about importance. It's about responsiveness. Again, the idea is that interactive protocols like SSH, Jabber, etc. send relatively tiny amounts of time-sensitive data. Next up are bulkier protocols like HTTP that are still fairly interactive. Least sensitive are bulk transfers like FTP, P2P, and so on.

Your transfers are important, and traffic shaping won't prevent them from going through. It will prevent each keystroke of my SSH session from taking 10 seconds to respond just because you happen to be using your connection at the same time I am. Put this in a computer context: would you run Folding@home at the exact same priority as your mouse driver, or do you enjoy having a responsive pointer (while still allowing your heavy background processes to run at full speed)? Modern OSes spend a lot of effort on traffic shaping, except they call it process scheduling.

Your "common carrier" rant isn't applicable either. Shaping is not the same as filtering as it involves managing data flows and not rejection of unwanted traffic.

Re:Not traffic shaping! (1)

natehoy (1608657) | about 5 years ago | (#29097583)

You know, I'm a Comcast customer, and I use BitTorrent, and I agree with you - traffic shaping is a valid practice. Because I also use Vonage, and I understand that some packets are more important than others.

What I find invalid about what Comcast did was they actually shut down my BitTorrent connections completely. I would have been perfectly OK with them throttling the connections, though I'm a little miffed because they ALREADY throttle my upstream connection at 128kbps anyway, which is the fastest upload speed available where I am located. But I'd be OK with them throttling BitTorrent at 56kbps (modem speeds) or even slower when demand is high.

But they were simply disconnecting any connections made if deep-packet inspection revealed that the packets were BitTorrent. From my point of view, I saw connections being made, then going away.

So definition of terms is important. "Traffic shaping" good, "complete denial of entire classes of service" bad.

Re:Not traffic shaping! (1)

nabsltd (1313397) | about 5 years ago | (#29097687)

Put this in a computer context: would you run Folding@home at the exact same priority as your mouse driver, or do you enjoy having a responsive pointer (while still allowing your heavy background processes to run at full speed)?

This comes down to "it depends on how much bandwidth/CPU power you have".

I was doing completely normal computing the other day with no obvious speed issues, when I realized I was still running 4 instances of Prime 95 to stress-test the machine. Then, I fired up a game and couldn't even notice that anything was running in the background. This was on a Core i7 920 with hyperthreading enabled.

So, Comcast could just increase the bandwidth they have to the rest of the world, and there would be no need for any sort of traffic shaping that anybody would notice.

Re:Not traffic shaping! (1)

MaerD (954222) | about 5 years ago | (#29097463)

You're right. No *good* ISP does this. But if you're in an area where Comcast has been given a monopoly on cable service and your phone company can't/won't provide DSL (or FIOS), do they have the right to be a bad ISP?
The market will regulate them, but only if others can provide service to the market.

Re:Not traffic shaping! (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 5 years ago | (#29097563)

But if you're in an area where Comcast has been given a monopoly on cable service and your phone company can't/won't provide DSL (or FIOS), do they have the right to be a bad ISP?

Well, the FCC doesn't (or at least didn't) seem to think so, hence the fact that this article was written in the first place.

Write the regulations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29097103)

Then tell them to shut up! The FCC makes the rules.
While they are at it, the FCC needs to forbid commercial content on cable from being or appearing louder than the program content.

Also, I already know what channel I am watching,they also need to forbid banners and advertisements from being displayed on my screen, interfering with my program viewing.

Hey, let's go back to the days of NO Commercials at all. I am paying for content already. Infomercials need BANNED too.

Re:Write the regulations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29097533)

I really hope this is a joke.

Do you actually think you're paying for the content on TV? Maybe a small portion of your money goes to the networks and the channels, but a vast majority of it goes to maintaining the infrastructure, providing you with shitty service, and giving Comcast execs piles of money to bathe in.

Advertisements rake in a hefty portion of the money that keeps channels afloat, and without them you would not be able to watch television at all.

130 Million Credit Card Numbers Stolen (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29097107)

by RUSSIAN criminals [foxnews.com]

Please give me some credit for NOT using the Fox term "hackers".

Yours In Satan,
Kilgore Trout

Comcast could be right, except (3, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 5 years ago | (#29097109)

Comcast could be free to throttle. Except that the initial cost of building the "Comcast owned" networks was paid for by tax payers. Also, because they acted dubiously, and pretended that it wasn't them that was throttling, but instead some connection problem, or other problem with the application. Throttling is ok, provided you have a choice of choosing another provider (internet providers usually have a monopoly, or at best, duopoly, in most areas) and that they make it completely clear to the customer what they are throttling. Throttling all instances of a specific type of traffic, even when there is no congestion going on, is really not what anybody wants.

All about: Higher Margins (1)

StCredZero (169093) | about 5 years ago | (#29097395)

Comcast is doing this for one reason: so it can continue to vastly oversell it's network. "Unlimited" = "Unlimited because we hope you're all grannies who check their email once in awhile."

Comcast sucks Cheney's balls (2, Interesting)

linzeal (197905) | about 5 years ago | (#29097113)

The only reason Comcast gets my money is because they were granted a monopoly for Cable in my area. IMHO, we really need to start talking about taking away cable and in some places fiber monopolies.

On another note it would be way cool to be able to have whichever company's box has the broadcast channels on it that you associate with your home town, in my case New York and San Francisco. Do particular broadcast company stations have monopolies as well for geographic areas? I'm pretty damn sick of monopolies, we need to go antitrust hopefully with this administration before its too late.

Re:Comcast sucks Cheney's balls (2, Interesting)

ari_j (90255) | about 5 years ago | (#29097259)

I don't think broadcast stations have monopolies, really. Since they have to get their broadcast feeds from the networks, it's hard to imagine the networks granting more than one station franchise (or however it's administered) in a given geographical area. And as long as you have more than one network with a local station, it's not really a monopoly.

As to cable companies ... sigh. I hate those bastards. Mine spent time and money mailing and broadcasting about how much my bill would go up if they gave in to the Fox affiliate's ridiculous demands for a penny per day more to keep Fox on their cable line-up that, if spent more appropriately, could have reduced my bill by quite a bit. Instead, I just canceled and am saving $75/month by having cable internet but no TV. I don't watch $75 worth of TV in a year, much less a month. And they recently sent out a flier advertising improved cable services with modestly increased prices ... with about a 10% reduction in bandwidth at every level.

Re:Comcast sucks Cheney's balls (1)

pha7boy (1242512) | about 5 years ago | (#29097387)

since local stations are owned and operated by large corporations, and since large corporations are governed by media laws, ergo you can't have more then two "ABC" stations in the same market. That would constitute an unfair advantage. It's the reason why broadcast stations have "monopolies" in local markets.

Re:Comcast sucks Cheney's balls (1)

linzeal (197905) | about 5 years ago | (#29097423)

The broadcast companies only allow one station in a geographic area to carry their broadcasting. Why can't I watch a station on the other side of the country, who am I hurting? Is it so local advertising stays local? I have two TIVOs and a Myth boxen and have not paid attention to a commercial in years anyways. I'm sure I'm not the only one here in such a situation as wanting to watch another city's stations than I am in currently.

Re:Comcast sucks Cheney's balls (3, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about 5 years ago | (#29097267)

IMHO, we really need to start talking about taking away cable and in some places fiber monopolies.

The Economist, a pro-free-market newsmagazine, proposed [economist.com] something like that recently:

With broadband networks, the role of the state has less to do with limiting handouts than increasing choice. Fibre-optic networks can be run like any other public infrastructure: government, municipalities or utilities lay the cables and let private firms compete to offer services, just as public roadways are used by private logistics firms. In Stockholm, a pioneer of this system, it takes 30 minutes to change your broadband provider.

Unfortunately, I doubt there are very good prospects for this: the business model of the telecom firms depends inherently on rent-seeking enabled by lack of competition.

Re:Comcast sucks Cheney's balls (3, Interesting)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 5 years ago | (#29097509)

On another note it would be way cool to be able to have whichever company's box has the broadcast channels on it that you associate with your home town, in my case New York and San Francisco. Do particular broadcast company stations have monopolies as well for geographic areas?

I live equidistant to Omaha, NE and Sioux City, IA. The FCC has declared that my city is part of Sioux City's viewing area. No matter what we tried, the FCC would not allow us to get Omaha channels from Dish Network, even though Omaha is much larger than Sioux City, has more interesting news, and is actually in the same state I live in.

So, no. What you're asking for is unthinkable to the FCC, and they will talk to you like a kindergartener with air-spread tapeworms if you have the audacity to ask them to let you do it.

Re:Comcast sucks Cheney's balls (1)

rawr_one (1474675) | about 5 years ago | (#29097557)

Find the venture capital required to provide an infrastructure to compete with Comcast/AT&T/whoever and have fun competing. You're looking at a whole crapload of money, and if you think you can get ahead in the cable/fiber game simply by telling people that your company is nicer than the other companies, you are sorely mistaken.

Re:Comcast sucks Cheney's balls (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29097613)

I'm pretty damn sick of monopolies

Could that be because they are very economically harmful and rob the consumers of all the benefits of a free market?

A fundamental paradox of capitalism is this: all companies must compete for dominance, but no company is ever allowed to win.

Troll-tastic! (1)

R2.0 (532027) | about 5 years ago | (#29097705)

Aside from the title troll (Cheney? WTF?), your faith in the current administration is almost touching in its naivete.

Think I'm wrong? It's entirely possible. But consider this - Comcast waited until a change of administration to fight a ruling that went against them. Sound familiar? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Microsoft [wikipedia.org] .

Everyone here bitched about MS getting off with a slap on the wrist because of the change in administration, replete with details about campaign contributions, etc. Think maybe lightning will strike twice?

Dear Comcast, (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29097153)

Dear Comcast:

FUCK YOU.

  - a former customer

Regional Monopolies (1)

janeuner (815461) | about 5 years ago | (#29097167)

Regional Monopolies are either utilities subject to intense regulation, or are subject to the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

Where's your Attorney General now? Seriously....where is he/she??

Makes sense to me (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 5 years ago | (#29097175)

Comcast is currently looking for lots of content to buy. They will then need to be able to cut WAY back on competing companies to force those companies to pay Comcast as well as their ISP. Now, lets see what the dems will do.

In a perfect world... (5, Interesting)

whisper_jeff (680366) | about 5 years ago | (#29097177)

In a perfect world the FCC will rip Comcast apart. Seriously. When Comcast is looking to buy a content provider like Vivendi or Disney, rather than investing money into infrastructure improvements, then something is entirely, completely off kilter and needs to be corrected. First, while I know that big companies are in business to make money, Comcast should not be in a financial situation to buy a company the size of Disney nor Vivendi. Second, and more importantly, if they are going to operate as a service provider, they should invest profits into ensuring they are able to be the best service provider they can. But, of course, they don't have to because they don't really compete with anyone so they can be a sub-par service provider who over charge for their service and make stupid amounts of money.

With luck, the FCC will get pissed and make an example of Comcast. I know it won't happen, but I can hope.

Re:In a perfect world... (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | about 5 years ago | (#29097279)

This, This, This! Support your local municipal broadband provider!

Re:In a perfect world... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29097733)

In every area I've lived in (3 areas in various parts of the country, east to west coast), municipal broadband was either non-existant or cost an arm and a leg to provide those *extra* services.

In my specific case right now, the only municipal broadband provider works only via land-mounted satellite dish (ie: requires line-of-sight) and, therefore, has 2-3x the cost of my cable or DSL provider.

From what I can gather (I used to work at the ISP), the only reason they stay in business is because they have a few friends that own business and use them as clients.

Re:In a perfect world... (1)

pha7boy (1242512) | about 5 years ago | (#29097413)

it is not the job of the government to tell a company how to invest it's profit. Unless you re-write the laws to make cable a "utility" you can't govern the way they provide service. The most government can do (and should do) is prevent a company from having a local monopoly. Have Comcast compete with Cox and Verizon and see how fast this type of bullshit goes away.

Actually, the time has come... (5, Insightful)

TheReaperD (937405) | about 5 years ago | (#29097623)

'Unless you re-write the laws to make cable a "utility" you can't govern the way they provide service.'

Actually, I believe the time has come to re-categorize internet providers as utilities. Most ISPs operate as either a monopoly or duopoly, have municipal districts and are considered to be an essential service for both business and home. All of these are common traits for a utility. It's time to start treating them as such.

what are you a democrat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29097469)

It's Comcast's hard earned money, they should be able to expand their monopoly as far as they can without government interference.

Re:In a perfect world... (1)

sohmc (595388) | about 5 years ago | (#29097479)

What most people mistake is that when a company buys another company, it's because they have gobs of money that's burning a hole in your pocket. This may be the fact of some companies (specifically google) but for most companies, they buy other companies because they believe long-run, they will survive. As I've been learning in my MBA class, companies often go into tremendous debt to buy other companies and it's usually because they need a new revenue stream. This is no different than an average person: as you get older, the more money you want to make because of various expenses. Again, Google is the exception to the rule. They just have loads of money they can piss away. They probably could buy the United States if they wanted.

Re:In a perfect world... (1)

whisper_jeff (680366) | about 5 years ago | (#29097585)

Replying to my own post to correct something - Viacom, not Vivendi. Mixed up my big "V" content providers... Point remains the same though.

A long time ago Macauley addresed this thus: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29097663)

... Second, and more importantly, if they are going to operate as a service provider, they should invest profits into ensuring they are able to be the best service provider they can. But, of course, they don't have to because they don't really compete with anyone so they can be a sub-par service provider who over charge for their service and make stupid amounts of money. ...

"I believe, Sir, that I may with safety take it for granted that the effect of monopoly generally is to make articles scarce, to make them dear, and to make them bad."

Comcast is doing nothing to disprove his theory.

Common carrier status.... (0, Offtopic)

kidgenius (704962) | about 5 years ago | (#29097183)

Doesn't this go back to the telco's being granted common carrier status, by their claim that they don't know what's going over their lines, therefore they aren't responsible for things like people using the telephone to commit crimes, or other things like child porn, etc? Kind of like how the gun makers provide a means of harm being done, but are free from the actions the individual takes? So, if they are shaping traffic, they obviously know something about what's on their lines, therefore they should not allowed to have common carrier status anymore, right? I'm sure if the FCC threatened to revoke their common carrier status, Comcast et al would pipe down quicker than you could blink an eye.

One little problem with that (4, Insightful)

overshoot (39700) | about 5 years ago | (#29097353)

I'm sure if the FCC threatened to revoke their common carrier status, Comcast et al would pipe down quicker than you could blink an eye.

That might be viable, except that Comcast has never had common-carrier status.

Re:One little problem with that (1)

MaerD (954222) | about 5 years ago | (#29097741)

Explain, please.

From ye olde wikipedia:

A common carrier is a business that transports people, goods, or services and offers its services to the general public under license or authority provided by a regulatory body.

Which has been held to include telecommunication companies, and has been used for ISPs. Comcast certainly claims to provide service (cable, internet, and phone) to the general public under license from a regulatory body. Heck, just like the phone companies they have been granted a license to be a monopoly cable utility in various areas.

I would really like to know why you believe they don't qualify.

Re:Common carrier status.... (1)

R2.0 (532027) | about 5 years ago | (#29097555)

"I'm sure if the FCC threatened to revoke their common carrier status, Comcast et al would pipe down quicker than you could blink an eye."

That would work great - if indeed Comcast had common carrier status. In the US, data services are generally exempt from common carrier regulation.

And they haven't stopped (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29097211)

Comcast is still screwing with P2P traffic. When I use a P2P client to download a torrent, invariably it reaches a point where my internet connection slows to a crawl, then stops. Then nothing connects, neither my browser, email or P2P client. I have to toggle the power on the cable modem, and after it reboots and reconnects, everything is peachy for a few hours until it happens again. This doesn't happen with any other internet activity, even when I stream large video files for an extended time. Just with P2P downloads, even small ones.

Re:And they haven't stopped (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | about 5 years ago | (#29097295)

My wireless router had a bug where it would hang after seeing some large number of connections (memory leak?), which went away after a firmware update. Perhaps your cable modem has a similar issue?

Re:And they haven't stopped (1)

ekgringo (693136) | about 5 years ago | (#29097573)

I was going to suggest the same thing. I switched my Linksys to the DD-WRT firmware (http://www.dd-wrt.com/ [dd-wrt.com] ) and now everything works much smoother.

Re:And they haven't stopped (1)

turbidostato (878842) | about 5 years ago | (#29097409)

"When I use a P2P client to download a torrent, invariably it reaches a point where my internet connection slows to a crawl, then stops. Then nothing connects, neither my browser, email or P2P client. I have to toggle the power on the cable modem, and after it reboots and reconnects, everything is peachy for a few hours"

Blame the router: that's typical symptom on P2P over cheap routers of congestion problems with the connection-tracking table,.

Go FCC (1)

C_Kode (102755) | about 5 years ago | (#29097227)

Go FCC, snuff out Comcast.

Federal Wiretaping Laws?!?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29097357)

I know net neutrality is still being messed around with in courts, and in this scenario Comcast has grounds to do what they are doing. However, what about the Federal Wire Tap Act? They are intercepting and modifying data without the user's consent. Although, I have a feeling that some place in the jungle of the Comcast TOS, there is legalese that lets them do this, but is it still right?

Just goes to prove that EVERYONE needs to be critical of their ISPs TOS and practices. Buyer Beware!

Comcast's Case Must Not Be So Great (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 5 years ago | (#29097373)

Comcast's case must not be so great if it has taken them this long to file it. One would think that their case will also be much weaker under the current administration than the last one. What Comcast seems to fail to realize is that they are an effective monopoly in much of the area that they serve and monopolists aren't allowed to just go out and do as they please.

Re:Comcast's Case Must Not Be So Great (1)

Enkrypter (252673) | about 5 years ago | (#29097499)

What Comcast seems to fail to realize is that they are an effective monopoly in much of the area that they serve and monopolists aren't allowed to just go out and do as they please.

You can do anything you want with enough money, lawyers, and lobbyists; and they have a lot of all three!

Bad Plan (4, Interesting)

overshoot (39700) | about 5 years ago | (#29097429)

Comcast has finally filed suit [CC], stating that there are no statutes or regulations that support the FCC's authority to stop traffic shaping procedures.

Consider that the only thing keeping hordes of State regulators from insisting on much stricter requirements (and even open access to that "last mile") is Federal preemption. If the FCC doesn't have the authority to do it, the States do.

Biting the hand that shields you. Smooth move, Comcast!

Common carrier status. (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29097445)

>stating that there are no statutes or regulations that support the FCC's authority to stop traffic shaping procedures

But there are... It's called "common carrier status." The FCC should say "Fine, go ahead. Now you no longer have common carrier status."

Perhaps the FCC is the wrong government entity (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 5 years ago | (#29097467)

The FCC doesn't regulate the internet... not yet anyway. However, the problem described does seem to illustrate some very deceptive business practices on Comcast's part. So perhaps the FTC or the Justice Department are more appropriate government entities to address the problem.

The proper response to this news (3, Insightful)

desertfoxmb (1122201) | about 5 years ago | (#29097487)

The proper response to this news is not to push for regulation. It's Comcast's network they can do what they like with the data so long as what they are doing is part of the customer agreement the user signed up for. The proper response to this news is to push for anti-trust prosecution against Comcast, Time Warner, et al who are running monopolies in their markets and force competition. Whether that is in the form of forcing them to allow unrestricted usage of their network (for a fee of course) by competitors a la the power grid or some other form. It is not data shaping that is really the issue. It is lack of competitive choice for customers.

!packet shaping (4, Informative)

pak9rabid (1011935) | about 5 years ago | (#29097491)

That's all fine and dandy, except what Comcast was doing wasn't packet shaping. What they were doing was actively manipulating traffic (inserting reset flags onto P2P packets to disrupt connectivity). That's a big no-no that they should suffer for dearly.

HALP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29097501)

I have Comcast :( What do I do?

Lets see (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29097641)

Comcast claims that it's method of traffic shaping using fraudulent reasons is legal?

If a judge does anything but laugh this out of court he should be given shock therapy.

"Best Effort" (1)

Miros (734652) | about 5 years ago | (#29097763)

I feel as though many home broadband connections and business connections are really at the mercy of these shenanigans because there are no SLAs or anything like that, everything is "best effort" delivery. The ISP is promising to try to bring you network connectivity, but they are not promising much beyond that.

I've also been a little afraid of where net neutrality could go. I agree with it 100% in principal, but if congress says that the ISPs cannot essentially shape or prioritize traffic without the approval of the federal government (lets not kid ourselves, that's what it would really end up doing) we could just end up giving the lobbyists even more power over what kinds of content get to our doorsteps. I think the expansion in power behind something like a properly functioning net neutrality law would open the door to the federal government direct restricting the use of things like P2P networks.

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