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Comcast's New Throttling Plan Uses Trigger Conditions, Not Silent Blocking

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the sir-there's-some-whining-on-lines-1-through-57 dept.

The Internet 698

clang_jangle writes with this excerpt from The Inquirer outlining Comcast's new traffic-throttling scheme, based on information from Comcast's latest FCC filing. "Its network throttling implements a two-tier packet queueing system at the routers, driven by two trigger conditions. Comcast's first traffic throttling trigger is tripped by using more than 70 per cent of your maximum downstream or upstream bandwidth for more than 15 minutes. Its second traffic throttling trigger is tripped when the Cable Modem Termination System you're hooked-up to – along with up to 15,000 other Comcast subscribers – gets congested, and your traffic is somehow identified as being responsible. Tripping either of Comcast's high bandwidth usage rate triggers results in throttling for at least 15 minutes, or until your average bandwidth utilisation rate drops below 50 per cent for 15 minutes."

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Laws (5, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29984994)

Comcast's first traffic throttling trigger is tripped by using more than 70 per cent of your maximum downstream or upstream bandwidth for more than 15 minutes.

Eh? In scandinavia countries new laws will state that "the speed of the line must be atleast 75% of the said one during 24 hour measurement period". And you get throttled with comcast if you're actually using more 70% of what you should have? Why do you put up with this shit?

Re:Laws (5, Insightful)

pootypeople (212497) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985022)

Because our laws are written by corporate interests, not the people.

Re:Laws (5, Insightful)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985094)

which is the inevitable result of "private funding of campaigns"

a more accurate term for "private funding of campaigns" is "buying votes of congresscritters".

Re:Laws (1, Informative)

cromar (1103585) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985328)

We really need preferential voting [wikipedia.org] in our elections. Maybe then we could elect people from a party that cares about more than lining their pockets with the blood, sweat, and tears of us lowly Citizens. Both of our current parties suck, to put it lightly. Also, the name "congresscritters" is really annoying. Can't we just go back to calling them "crooks?"

Re:Laws (4, Interesting)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985538)

I've long suggested the option to vote against a candidate instead of for one, that would be a variation on preferential voting.

Re:Laws (0)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985618)

some of them are still honest. and by some i mean 10%. some are semi-honest. they're not ALL outright crooks, but the majority of them are.

so while some congresscritters are crooks, not all congressscritters are crooks, neither are all crooks congresscritters.

equivalence fail.

Re:Laws (0, Offtopic)

rho (6063) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985340)

That's nothing. Psoriasis, anal prolapse and crotch-chiggers are also the inevitable result of "private funding of campaigns"!

Re:Laws (3, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985376)

No because our fool politicians granted Comcast a monopoly.

That monopoly needs to be revoked so competitors like Cox, Time-Warner, AppleTV, Charter Cable, and so on can move in. When Comcast screws the customer, the customer can abandon ship to another provider..... precisely the way cellphones operate.

Re:Laws (4, Informative)

Saishuuheiki (1657565) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985042)

Here in america we prefer a system where the ISP gets a monopoly and can advertise what you could get, not what you will get ...sadly

Re:Laws (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29985496)

That's because American blacks are a bunch of thug niggers. If you have ever met a black immigrant who really is from Africa, they're nice, they are pleasant, intelligent, and they have class. Nothing like the homie G wannabes.

Re:Laws (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985060)

What did your old laws say (or still say)?

Re:Laws (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985448)

I haven't looked for my country's or the others laws regarding it, but things have always worked like they should - no traffic limits, no throttling, no other dirty tricks. The new law will probably just make sure there wont be either. Of course the available speeds vary by area, but you can except 24mbit/100mbit in larger cities and they will actually work like that. Traffic throttling like this comcast case wont be possible either. On an interesting note I had 100/10 for a few years that seemed to work as 100/100 - upload speed didn't get always up there, especially at peak times, but hell they sold it as 100/10.

Re:Laws (3, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985508)

Cool. Well, I'm part Scandinavian if that counts for anything. Probably not. ;)

There are definite downsides to the way it is in America, heh. But I suppose most countries have downsides related to their governmental systems...

Unfortunately, we "put up" with stupid politicians and have decided to make "politics" a career choice, not a service to your country...

Re:Laws (2, Insightful)

bearflash (1671358) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985134)

Because we've gotten so complacent we just take it? Nothing is probably going to change about this until corporations as a whole have their guts and power ripped out and customers gain some sort of leverage back from them

Re:Laws (5, Insightful)

dwlovell (815091) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985186)

Because a T1 line is expensive and guarantees service 24/7. A residential cable/dsl service is far far cheaper and is contractually not obligated to provide consistent speeds, only burst speeds that can be affected by the traffic of other users of the system.

Consumers went from only have only T1/ISDN as a high-speed option and few could afford it, to cable/dsl that almost anyone could afford and has the performance 99% can appreciate. The 1% that expect 24/7 full throughput should understand they never bought that guarantee of service. Just because their aggregation point wasn't previously saturated and they weren't previously throttled doesn't mean that was an entitlement to that level of service forever.

Re:Laws (4, Insightful)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985318)

The 1% that expect 24/7 full throughput should understand they never bought that guarantee of service. Just because their aggregation point wasn't previously saturated and they weren't previously throttled doesn't mean that was an entitlement to that level of service forever.

I don't expect 24/7 full throughput. How about 72% for 24/7?

  I'd figure that a "C minus" is more than reasonable on my part, but apparantly it will get me throttled.

Re:Laws (2, Insightful)

tsm_sf (545316) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985396)

The 1% that expect 24/7 full throughput should understand they never bought that guarantee of service.

And yet it is advertised thusly.

Oh, and you're a mindless tool who'll be one of the first against the wall when the revolution comes.

Re:Laws (1, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985444)

>>>A residential cable/dsl service is far far cheaper and is contractually not obligated to provide consistent speeds, only burst speeds

This is why I only got the 750k service. I knew if I signed-up for 6,000k service I probably wouldn't get that speed most of the time, so why bother paying twice-as-much for little improvement?

The other thing we need in this country is A La Carte, where you can pay a base fee of $5 plus $1 for every extra channel you desire. (Or if you prefer, stick with the current package deal.)

Re:Laws (4, Insightful)

castironpigeon (1056188) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985226)

Why do you put up with this shit?

Because taking it up the ass from ISPs is more convenient than moving to another country.

Re:Laws (5, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985314)

Because we're a plutocracy masquerading as a democratic republic.

Re:Laws (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29985502)

Because 95% of us don't run twenty or thirty PERFECTLY FUCKING LEGAL TORRENTS STOP ACCUSING ME I HAVE MY RIGHTS THERE IS NO LAW AGAINST IT THAT'S NOT PIRACY I DESERVE EVERYTHING FOR FREE BECAUSE I SAID SO running 24/7 for PERFECTLY FUCKING LEGAL REASONS WHAT IS YOUR GODDAMNED PROBLEM STOP ACCUSING ME, so we don't even notice it.

It's the OCD people who feel that every second that more data COULD fit out their pipe is time and money wasted who are bitching about this. Do you REALLY need that much pr0n? Do all the Blu-Ray rips of movies you just don't feel like paying for but will still watch really make you that much more l33t?

Re:Laws (1)

holophrastic (221104) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985532)

How about because a sustained lower speed isn't preferable to a burstable higher speed.

I don't want 500 sustained. I want 500 typical and 900 burstable. Especially since most of my usage is burstable.

Substitute your speeds as appropriate. But think about how much more you can get if your ISP needn't sustain it.

So... (1)

mayko (1630637) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985002)

I'm only allowed to use 70% of the bandwidth that I pay for... for less than 15 minutes? Otherwise I can use as much as I want as long as I stay below half?

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29985058)

As much as you want below 70% before you hit your 250Gb cap.

Re:So... (2, Informative)

codegen (103601) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985124)

I read it as you can use 69% for as long as you want and can spike to 100% for periods of less than 15 minutes. If your spike lasts more than 15 minutes you have to stay below 50% for at least 15 minutes. Rinse, lather and repeat.

One might think this could even be written... (2, Interesting)

Jadecristal (135389) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985482)

One might think this could even be written as a nice plug-in style setup for "traffic shaping" on your local linux box. Define 100%, and it figures out how to maximize use w/o triggering the ISP-side throttling.

Re:So... (4, Interesting)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985492)

Or you can run at 100% for 14.5 minutes, automatically throttle yourself for 30 seconds, then go back to 100% for another 14.5 minutes. So for a 24 hours day you would be at 100% for 23.2 (non-consecutive) hours. Meh.

Re:So... (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985580)

Except you forgot the bit that said:
if the head end controller gets swamped and "your traffic is somehow identified as being responsible".

So full bandwidth downloads that take more than 15 minutes are likely to get you throttled regardless of what method you use, http, bit torrent, or ftp.

But even setting your bittorrent download rate at modest speeds to be a good neighbor can bet you "Somehow Identified" when they need to shed load.

Its not clear from TFA what throttling means. The proper way is to drop packets randomly, which will signal congestion to the sender, which will slow down. My bet is Comcast does not do this.

Re:So... (5, Insightful)

Znork (31774) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985200)

ISP's should be legally obliged to advertise only what they actually offer. If you can only use half, then they can only advertise half with any burst capability added as a possible extra.

Re:So... (1, Insightful)

dwlovell (815091) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985312)

Even since cable/dsl was introduced it was made clear you didn't buy 24/7 full throughput, you bought burst speeds that were subject to the traffic of others on your aggregation point. So yes, you are getting to use exactly what you paid for.

The alternative if you wanted guaranteed 100% throughput 24/7 was and still is a dedicated line like a T1. There is a technological limitation to providing those burst speeds in a guaranteed way 24/7 to every subscriber on the network. They let power users get by when they aren't single-handedly affecting the performance of all of their neighbors, but you get throttled if it turns out you are.

If cable/dsl are forced to require 100% guaranteed speeds like a dedicated line, you will see the cost go way up, or the speeds go way down.

"guaranteed not to get"!="not guaranteed to get" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29985504)

You're argument is disingenuous because you moved the logical negation operator.

The issue is not that a subscriber is not guaranteed to get 100% throughput -- the issue is that subscibers are now guaranteed not to get 70% throughput.

Re:So... (3, Informative)

gangien (151940) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985544)

comcast can suck it. maybe off topic, but i just ditched them.

* they advertise how customers will need to do nothing for the digital conversion. then we get boxes
* they've lied to my mom about prices, she called up before she had somethign done, they insisted it was free of charge, then she got a bill with.. charges on it, now it's of course it's not free.
* internet sucks, last few months during the evenings i had lag spikes all the time.

i've switched to verizon fios and so far i like it better, plus it's a few bucks cheaper. hoepfully i'll continue to liek it

Advertised Speed (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29985008)

How can they advertise xx mbps when you can only use said speed for 15 minutes? Shouldn't it be advertised as a burst speed with a real speed of 70% of burst speed.

Re:Advertised Speed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29985154)

So I can just request to have my speed reduced to 70% all the time, right? Then I don't have to worry about throttling down to 5% at all.

Oh, they don't let you do that either. I see...

Re:Advertised Speed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29985316)

I agree.

We can find a middle ground here. If they provide us with:

a. Well defined "burst speed limits"
b. Well defined "maximum speed limits"
c. Information about bulk bandwidth periods (similar as to how after 7:00 pm calls are free because there is less traffic)
d. Better router hardware

Much of the problems will be avoided, nay, welcomed by consumers. If you let me download at 2600 kB/s (kilobytes per second) for 15 minutes, then that would make my life so much easier. If I then can have it scale back to 1800 kB/s (~ 70%), that would still be fine.

Furthermore, if you allow me to use 2600 kB/s between the hours of 1am to 6am, I would gladly offload my high bandwidth actions to a time when there is less network traffic.

But, unfortunately, we all see the reality. It's just a slippery slope. As soon as we accept a little bit of provider abuse, the gloves are off. So, people like us shout "HELL NO". So we're stuck in that deadlock.

If only communities were allowed to deploy their own high speed networks, like Credit Unions. It would be a lot more sensible! But that's a whole other bag of eggs.

Re:Advertised Speed (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985456)

Shouldn't it be sold by what you are promised to get, not what you might get if the solar flares, lunar alignment, and the Unicorn roaming Yellowstone are all just right?

They need to stop selling UP TO 15MB!!!@$!@$ and sell 5MB all the time, to everyone.

Selling by burst speeds are retarded. You don't by a car that can 'burst to 150hp for 15 minutes', you buy a car that has 150hp at X rpm, and Y torque.

They aren't lying, but they are misleading, as most women will tell you, its really the same thing. Okay, at least mine does.

Re:Advertised Speed (1)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985542)

How can they advertise a 250GB cap when they make it incredibly difficult to reach it?

Their standard tier is 12Mbps. That means that downloading a 1GB file can cause you to become throttled, because it would take longer than 15 minutes at 70% of your capacity.

This means that pretty much any large download (buy a video from iTunes, download a large update to WoW, buy a game on Steam, etc) will throttle you.

let me get this straight... (1)

YouWantFriesWithThat (1123591) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985026)

so you sell me a package that advertises a maximum download speed of X, but if i use it for 15 minutes straight you will take it away for 15 minutes?

so i have to use less than 70% of X at all times or risk having my service interrupted. hmm, that seems like it is a little one-sided.

Re:let me get this straight... (0, Flamebait)

raymansean (1115689) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985390)

well you do not have to use the service they offer. The great thing about America baring taxes and death, is that you have a choice. However, if you wish to use their service you must agree to a contract, usually in the form of a TOS. Once you agree to it then well yeah.... the terms are the terms. I am sure that if you want to use the maximum bandwidth offered 100% of the time there is a plan that you can purchase. However, I doubt that price increase will just be 43% compared to the 100% bandwidth 70% of the time plan.

Re:let me get this straight... (2, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985486)

the delusion of choice and reality of choice are different things.

I have no choice of a provider that is competitive to comcast in my area, for example. So yes, I do have a choice, but it's not a competitive one, even at the 50% speed.

It also means that effectively, you may as well call the connection 50% of it's total speed. Thus, with a 22mb plan, I'm getting 11mb, effectively unless I throttle my own connection to 69%.

Re:let me get this straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29985524)

Some choice: broadband or nothing.

Re:let me get this straight... (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985558)

well you do not have to use the service they offer. The great thing about America baring taxes and death, is that you have a choice.

You don't have a choice, because they advertised it was X. And gave you Y instead.

You chose X, but they gave you Y. And in this case, Y < 70% * X.

In many areas, big cable companies have a monopoly. You can't go get your Cable internet service from company B instead of company A.

DSL might not be available, or the speed may be piss poor.

You don't really have a choice at all, in most cases. You can buy their service, or go without decent speed internet.

Re:let me get this straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29985614)

the terms are the terms

you would have love nazi germany: "zee rules are zee rules! now get into that boxcar!"

Re:let me get this straight... (1)

Stephen Samuel (106962) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985470)

uhm, No. You have to use less than 50% of your rated bandwidth to avoid being blocked. the 70% rule is only one of a number of triggers, any one of which can trigger rate limiting. by the rules that they document, about the only thing that can keep you up to full bandwidth capability is to be under 50% of your rated bandwidth for the last 15 minutes.

Sadly in America (1)

Super Dave Osbourne (688888) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985046)

We apparently here don't believe in customer service, or quality of service, just monopolies.

Throttled how far down? (1)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985050)

How far down are they throttling? Down to 50% capacity? Or REALLY far down?

10 mbps on a 20 mbps line I can understand and live with
100kbps on a 20 mbps line I can't

Re:Throttled how far down? (1)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985146)

I just noticed something else

Comcast has also imposed a monthly 250GB bandwidth usage cap on all of its customers, and it will, after one warning, terminate service for one year to those who exceed that cap twice within a six-month period.

So you're effectively limited to an average throughput of 800 kbps? WTF??? On a potentially upwards of 15 mbit line? Wow...

Re:Throttled how far down? (1)

Joe85 (1627241) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985232)

I don't think they would throttle it to below 50% capacity, else why add the condition to return it to normal if bandwidth use stays under 50% for 15 minutes.

Re:Throttled how far down? (1)

radish (98371) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985350)

I noticed exactly this the other day when I was downloading a bunch of big ISOs from Technet. My typical d/l speed when maxed out is around 1.5mbyte/s. After the first few files it dropped right down to 200kbyte/s and stayed there until those files were done (which took quite a while!). So in my case it went from ~12mpbs to ~1.6mbps. Now I know it's policy and not just a glitch, I'll be calling FIOS in the morning.

Re:Throttled how far down? (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985604)

You and me both... as a Vonage user, I have no desire to catch hell from the missus when/if the phone voice quality goes straight to hell during one of her marathon "I'm just going to call mom and say hi" sessions.

(and yes, I know it'll take more than VoIP usage to trigger it, but given the overly-aggressive load of ads in my physical mailbox for Comcast's overpriced phone service, I really wouldn't be surprised if it did start crapping out).

Re:Throttled how far down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29985586)

Supposedly they aren't throttling your packets/connection, but changing the priority of your packets. That way somebody's youtube video stream will have a higher priority over your vonage voip call...

Re:Throttled how far down? (1)

immortalpob (847008) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985598)

They do not throttle you to a particular bandwidth limit. They put your traffic and a second queue, this queue will only empty if the first queue is empty. A two queue system as they are implementing is susceptible to starvation, so if the network is congested your service could drop entirely. However if there is no congestion your service is not affected.

Then throttle yourself (4, Interesting)

RichardDeVries (961583) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985112)

What if you throttle your own connection for 5 seconds every 14 minutes? (No, I don't agree with the policy. At all.)

Re:Then throttle yourself (1)

gclef (96311) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985240)

I would imagine that they're doing this off a running average, so a short time below the peak won't do...you'll have to pull your sampled average below the peak.

Re:Then throttle yourself (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985256)

More likely they just check each minute to see if the total bytes for the last 15 minutes exceeded bandwidth*15*0.7.

Re:Then throttle yourself (1)

elbles (516589) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985286)

Exactly. If this policy stands, I can't imagine it'll be long before someone writes some iptables/QoS rules for DD-WRT/OpenWRT/et cetera that automatically perform the throttling for you, as needed. Just enter your bandwidth—or have your router perform a speed test—and restrict as necessary. Allow peak bandwidth for a maximum of 14 minutes, 55 seconds, and then restrict to 69% or whatever. Someone will definitely automate that. Definitely.

Re:Then throttle yourself (2, Interesting)

rant64 (1148751) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985352)

FTFA:

Internet packets to and from a specific subscriber are assigned 'Priority Best Effort' (PBE) queueing by default, and the traffic rate is throttled by switching packets to lower priority 'Best Effort' (BE) queueing.

So, throttling in this case simple means that your traffic is delivered after alle PBE traffic (all other customers) was dealt with in the router's queues.
That also means that you'll hardly notice the difference when there's no congestion, but it may also cause complete packet loss at busy times.
Something TFS fails to note is this, at the bottom of TFA:

Comcast has also imposed a monthly 250GB bandwidth usage cap on all of its customers, and it will, after one warning, terminate service for one year to those who exceed that cap twice within a six-month period.

Re:Then throttle yourself (1)

rant64 (1148751) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985434)

Excuse me, this was intended as a general comment. I don't want to imply you didn't understand the throttling part. But it may imply that it's hard to notice when you're being throttled, and rather difficult to find the limits of this system.

obligatory... (1, Funny)

AmericanGladiator (848223) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985140)

In Soviet Russia, network throttling trigger trip YOU!

So Comcast is ... (3, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985156)

Falsely advertising. Isn't that what this really comes down to? It seems like Comcast is allowed to do what they want with the service they provide. But they need to advertise it correctly.

Not sure about the monopoly bits though.

Re:So Comcast is ... (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985572)

I can find no where on their site where the speeds they state are not preceded by a cute little "up to"; making them only maximum, not minimums.

Just set maximum Upload to 69% (1)

Sirusjr (1006183) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985158)

Clearly the answer is to never go above 69% of your maximum upload speed. Too bad it is hard to manage all that when you are seeding 30 torrents at once that may have new leechers at any time. Good thing I download most things in less than 15 minutes though so I don't have to worry about that. Oh and I don't have Comcast.

Re:Just set maximum Upload to 69% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29985494)

Clearly the answer is to never go above 69% of your maximum upload speed.

True, however there's still the monthly cap to worry about. As far as managing your torrents, it's easier to do that at the "router" level. I always keep a flashable NAT/wifi box between my network and the world. They make it easy to cap your own speed at 69%. Someone might even program it up so that you can get 10 minute bursts as needed.

Re:Just set maximum Upload to 69% (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985512)

Of course, silly consumers for trying to use what they paid for.

Uh Oh (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985160)

I hope I will still be able to watch youtube and Netflix streaming. I only have the 768 kbit/s service, so streaming video really does use more than 70% of my bandwidth. Waiting another few minutes for an ISO to download is one thing, but losing streaming video would really stink.

250GB cap is meant to discourage competing service (5, Interesting)

zerofoo (262795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985196)

So you've hit the 250GB cap, but you aren't a pirate. You pay for everything you consume - including bandwidth. Your only crime is that you went to another company for video service. You like your Apple TV and the iTunes store, or you like using a slingbox, or you like movies on demand from your Roku, or your DirecTV receiver.

All of these technologies may cause you to run over your cap, and they all have one thing in common - they directly compete with Comcast's video services.

Now Comcast appears to be using their broadband monopoly, in the form of transfer caps, to discourage the use of competing services.

If this isn't the very definition of an abusive monopoly, I don't know what is.

-ted

Re:250GB cap is meant to discourage competing serv (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29985372)

I smell class action Sherman Antitrust suit. Or is this a violation of Clayton? I always forget what falls under which. Either way, this is most DEFINITELY a violation of one or both.

Re:250GB cap is meant to discourage competing serv (1)

hatemonger (1671340) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985416)

Though you're right, Comcast will argue that it's only pirates that they're trying to limit. And since the people making the laws don't understand how computers work, they stand a good chance of winning. It will be interesting to see if the FCC's new net neutrality regulations will be applied here.

Actually, its not... (2, Informative)

nweaver (113078) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985478)

Lets do a little math. Good video over the net is 2 Mbps for Netflix. At that rate, this is ~9 hours of video a DAY before you get to the 250 GB cap. Do you watch 9 hours of video a DAY over netflix's service?

Time/Warner's previous attempts to do a 50 GB cap? Thats anticompetitive.

But comcast's is sooo high that you basically have to be a massive Warez trader or doing something very stupid (offsite backup better handled by Sneakernet) to get to.

Re:250GB cap is meant to discourage competing serv (2, Funny)

Rayeth (1335201) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985528)

Comcast is not a monopoly. They are pretty close, and they certainly operate like one in certain local areas, but on the whole there is competition nationwide. So trying to prosecute under monopoly statues is impossible.

Video and Phone Provider (1)

Talennor (612270) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985210)

So if I'm watching video or using VoIP for more than 15 minutes I'll get put in the lower priority queue? And I'll lose frames or drop calls?

Oh wait, Comcast wants to sell me cable TV and VoIP that doesn't get messed up after 15 minutes, but asks a large fee for it? I think I see what's going on here.

Power Drain (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29985212)

From the company that brought you Power Boost. Introducing Power Drain!

What the hell... (1)

danking (1201931) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985218)

What the hell is the point of having download/upload speeds if you can't utilize them.

News for nerds? (5, Funny)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985224)

This article is from January. Maybe it got throttled somewhere.

Don't use a UPS (1)

Rhys (96510) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985252)

... or if you do and have a 10-minute power blip, expect to get throttled. Well, assuming Comcast's equipment actually stays up during the power blip. I've seen it go both ways depending on exactly where and how the power drop hits.

Hack your router (1)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985254)

That is the answer. You're only getting what you really payed for. FUCK the DMCA.

This actually makes sense (0)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985262)

I know there will be lots of complaints about throttling, and they are probably valid. But before that starts I'd like to point out that this kind of throttling actually makes sense! I just want to know why it never occurred to them before to implement these kind of simple rules before.

Re:This actually makes sense (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985342)

I just want to know why it never occurred to them before to implement these kind of simple rules before.

Because there are a bunch of companies selling DPI equipment, but very few selling simple bandwidth management.

I have an idea... (5, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985272)

If they are going to "throttle" my service, it seems only fair for me to "throttle" my payments.

"Oh, you've been billing 100% of the advertised rate for the last 4 months? I'm going to have to cut you down to 50% until your annual average is under 75%..."

Re:I have an idea... (1)

NETHED (258016) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985366)

If I only had karma...

Re:I have an idea... (1)

Gudeldar (705128) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985514)

Crap like this makes me want to "throttle" Comcast.

Snowballing... (1)

Evelas (1531407) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985278)

This just keeps getting worse and worse...surely there must be something we can do to end this. (not a comcast user)

PBE vs. BE (1)

Pearlswine (1121125) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985296)

Can anyone explain the difference between 'Priority Best Effort' (PBE) queueing and 'Best Effort' (BE) queueing? If a node isn't saturated, are the BE packets delayed and if it is saturated will they just not arrive?

#1 sounds reasonable. #2 does not. (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985310)

>>>when the Cable Modem Termination System you're hooked-up to - along with up to 15,000 other Comcast subscribers - gets congested, and your traffic is somehow identified as being responsible.
>>>

What if it's prime-time and all 15000 people decided to watch Heroes at the same time. Why should I be targeted just because I decided to watch both Heroes and CSI on two separate windows? This is a case of everybody being at fault, not just one person.

I will bet it is not implemented as worded. (1)

RichMan (8097) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985320)

As worded we see "by using more than 70 per cent of your maximum downstream or upstream bandwidth for more than 15 minutes"
Which would imply that a few seconds gap of less than 70% traffic every 15 minutes would allow you to go at 100% for the rest of the time.

I bet it is actually done as "using more than 70 percent bandwidth averaged over 15 minutes". In which case 12 minutes of 100% followed by 3 minutes of silence is 12/15 -> 80% usage.

And also they don't mean a short burst that uses 100% of the load 5 sec out of every minute for 15 minutes.

So they are talking average bandwidth load vs short term load.

Typical non-technical notice not able to conceive the difference between throughput usage and bandwidth capacity. But then they want to sell you the capacity but not the usage.

lag (2, Insightful)

DaveGod (703167) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985356)

Its second traffic throttling trigger is tripped when the Cable Modem Termination System you're hooked-up to – along with up to 15,000 other Comcast subscribers – gets congested, and your traffic is somehow identified as being responsible.

This I don't like, but I understand. If this happens often Comcast should be upping capacity, but as a short-term solution the principle seems reasonable and fair (putting aside the filtering looking a bit extreme).

Comcast's first traffic throttling trigger is tripped by using more than 70 per cent of your maximum downstream or upstream bandwidth for more than 15 minutes

This however appears to be a solution without requiring there to be a problem. Being penalised regardless of whether there is congestion or not, simply for utilising three-quarters of what you paid for. The description in TFA does seem to imply that if there is no congestion the actual bandwidth won't change too much, but I guess it would significantly impact gaming lag (particularly if you're hosting).

Glad I have municipal cable (2, Interesting)

gujo-odori (473191) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985360)

I live in the SF Bay area, which is mostly Comcast country, but I'm really lucky to be in a city that has municipal cable. I have 12 mpbs down with no throttling. If there's a transfer cap, I've never run up against it.

I suspect what's going on with Comcast is their subscribers and bandwidth use are growing faster than they can (or at least want to) add capacity, so they're solving the problem with throttling. As a network engineer in a previous career life, I have a certain amount of sympathy for them in this case. Their bandwidth demands may be growing faster than they can add capacity while having their Internet business remain profitable. Throttling heavy users is one solution, and they are far from the first ISP to do so. The ISP I worked for 10 years ago did it in some cases. Our TOS allowed it in all cases, but it was usually only enforced in cases where a particular user was being regularly problematic.

Of course, my municipal cable provider seems to have no problem maintaining infrastructure, and IIRC they charge about the same as Comcast, so...

However, I do take issue with applying such a throttle after only 15 minutes. For most people, that's not long enough to download an install CD ISO (I can do it, since I usually see download speeds >= 1 megabyte/sec for ISOs) but I don't think most Comcast users get a connection as fast as mine; correct me if I'm wrong). Since I'm sort of a distro whore, I tend to download a lot of install ISOs. For distros that install from DVD, that 15 minutes is even worse. I think the throttling threshold should be at least 30 minutes.

Summary Backwards (5, Informative)

HoboCop (987492) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985380)

I read the FCC paper.. the summary is full of errors. The individual user does not get throttled until the entire CTMS port is in a congested state (that's 80% downstream, 70% upstream). And 'throttled' is a loose term.. if the bandwidth is available you get it. You are throttled if there are lower volume users on the shared pipe, and even then they just get a higher priority. Depending on how bad the congestion is, you might not even notice this.

They just kill my connection (1)

dae3dae3 (1434795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985394)

If I torrent anything my cable modem will lose its connection. I can go for weeks at a time with no problem but if I decide to torrent a TV show I missed my connection will be dead within 20 minutes and I have to power cycle the modem. It is very annoying.

this is VERY old news, and its fairness (3, Informative)

nweaver (113078) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985400)

Comcast rolled this out nearly a year ago.

And its not throttling, its a fairness mechanism: It means that light users won't get outcompeted by heavy users, but heavy users shouldn't get starved out unless things are really REALLY bad.

Wow, this is AWFUL (1)

wonkavader (605434) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985446)

If you've got a big download going, you're screwed until it's done. It'd be faster to break the files up into chunks and really dance around the timing.

That's crap.

Oops, left something out (4, Informative)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985450)

This part is rather important, yet amazingly was left out of the summary.

During the time that a subscriber's traffic is assigned the lower priority status, such traffic will not be delayed so long as the network segment is not actually congested. If, however, the network segment becomes congested, such traffic could be delayed.

So what they are really doing is lowering your priority. If there is no real congestion then you notice no difference. If things get saturated then your packets are delayed before other peoples.

Wow, that's quite reasonable (1)

holophrastic (221104) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985472)

Makes a lot of sense. You get burstable speed, and bursts are up to 15 minutes. I'm not on Comcast, but this would make me switch if comcast were in my area. Thatnks for 15 minute downloads at full speed.

Sounds reasonable (3, Insightful)

ceswiedler (165311) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985474)

It sounds reasonable to me. If it doesn't, you may need to accept the fact that you're not at all guaranteed that you can get your full 6Mb download bandwidth 24/7. If you thought you did, sorry; you misunderstood, possibly because of shady (but probably not illegal) advertising, in which case I don't blame you for being angry. But a reliably 6Mb connection is vastly more expensive than the $50/month you're paying, so your anger is akin to being disappointed that the 120 MPH car you bought isn't guaranteed to make your 10 mile commute in 5 minutes during rush hour.

Business clas customers please note (4, Interesting)

dragonsomnolent (978815) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985522)

The 250GB cap mentioned in the article does not affect business customers (I called to confirm it). I know I have a contract for 3 years (they were the only ones who could deliver service in my area), and was so floored by the assertion that all customers would be subject to bandwidth caps, I called about it. The rep informed me that there is no bandwidth cap for business customers, although if you do use a lot of bandwidth, they will let you know about it (I have no idea what limit would trigger that event or anything, but then again, neither did the rep I spoke with).

They have enough money. they want to buy NBC. (2, Insightful)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985546)

If Comcast can afford NBC, they can afford the bandwidth being used by its subscribers. This is just a way to increase profits at the cost of service.

Any broadband provider that fails to understand that bandwidth usage ALWAYS increases... might as well start selling tomatoes.

Just to be clear... (4, Informative)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985552)

From the actual PDF:
  • ... create two Quality of Service ("QoS") levels for Internet traffic going to and from the cable modem: (1) "Priority Best-Effort" traffic ("PBE"); and (2) "Best-Effort" traffic ("BE").
  • During the time that a subscriber's traffic is assigned the lower priority status, such traffic will not be delayed so long as the network segment is not actually congested. If, however, the network segment becomes congested, such traffic could be delayed.
  • Given our experience so far, we have determined that a starting point for the upstream Port Utilization Threshold should be 70 percent and the downstream Port Utilization Threshold should be 80 percent. (The term "port" as used here generally contemplates single channels on a CMTS, but these statements will apply to virtual channels, also known as "bonded groups," in a DOCSIS 3.0 environment.) -- (Basically, a "port" is the neighborhood connection.)
  • (Given the above) When a subscriber uses an average of 70 percent or more of his or her (individually) provisioned upstream or downstream bandwidth over a particular 15-minute period, that user will be in an Extended High Consumption State.

Simply put, there are four steps to determining whether the traffic associated with a particular cable modem is designated as PBE or BE:

  1. Determine if the CMTS port is in a Near Congestion State.
  2. If yes, determine whether any users are in an Extended High Consumption State.
  3. If yes, change those users' traffic to BE from PBE. If the answer at either step one or step two is no, no action is taken.
  4. If a user's traffic has been designated BE, check user consumption at next interval. If user consumption has declined below predetermined threshold, reassign the user's traffic as PBE. If not, recheck at next interval

A Solution! (1)

gedrin (1423917) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985600)

If I understand correctly:

Option 1
I buy service under certain conditions from Comcast.
I don't like those conditions.
Therefore the government forces Comcast to do things I do like.

Alternatively.
Option 2
I buy service under certain conditions from Comcast.
I don't like those conditions.
Therefore people laugh at me for buying thins I don't like.

I think it's a great plan ... (1)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 4 years ago | (#29985608)

But it should go both ways. If I'm on hold for more than 15 minutes and because of the crappy on-hold music they play I don't have the mental bandwidth to do anything else, they owe me a month's free service. If we detect their lawyers consume more than a certain amount of their allocated air, another free month. Sounds fair to me.
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