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Washington Wants 10,000 Web Surfers

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the you-only-have-to-wire-money-to-this-account dept.

The Internet 147

crimeandpunishment writes "This one sounds too good to be true: surf the Web, and you'll be helping the government. The FCC is looking for 10,000 volunteers to take part in a study to determine if broadband providers are really providing Internet connections that are as fast as advertised. The broad look at broadband will involve special equipment installed in homes across the country to measure Internet connections and compare them to advertised speeds." Here's where to go to apply.

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147 comments

Uh oh (1)

AnonGCB (1398517) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427098)

Hide the fileboxes kiddies!

As Admiral Ackbar says... (3, Interesting)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427148)

It's a trap! Are we actually supposed to believe that even if they *do* find foul play, the ISP's are actually going to get punished with any efficacy?

Re:As Admiral Ackbar says... (2, Interesting)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#32428348)

You don't think the major ISP's have the ability to prioritize traffic to specific locations. Methinks consumers will happen to get much better throughput to this website than they will get to most others...

Re:As Admiral Ackbar says... (2, Insightful)

clarkn0va (807617) | more than 4 years ago | (#32428418)

You don't think the major ISP's have the ability to prioritize traffic to specific locations. Methinks consumers will happen to get much better throughput to this website than they will get to most others...

As long as it's in the ISP's interest to cast their speed in the best light (and I would think so in this case), I think it's pretty much a given that they will game this test accordingly, to the extent that they can.

Re:As Admiral Ackbar says... (3, Insightful)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#32428962)

Well, seeing as how they're looking for volunteers it's not as if they're going to uncover anything illegal. Think about it, what person that downloads illegal material would, in their right mind, volunteer to have a freaking monitoring box hooked up to their network.

So probably not a trap.

Yes, the ISPs have lobbyists and I'd usually be quick to say that nothing will happen because the lobbyists will kill anything they don't like. But at the same time the government has never actually gone to the effort of doing this type or survey before. Sure, you can write off an internet speed test as nothing more than lip service, but a study involving 10000 and monitoring equipment for an extended period of time? This indicates that they're actually prepared to do something. No doubt the lobbyists have already been campaigning against this but apparently it didn't stop them from moving forward with it anyway.

Re:Uh oh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32428626)

Hide the fileboxes kiddies!

Yep. And the first quiet words you'll hear from the "special equipment" will be, "Can you hear me now?"

Offer you can't refuse (2, Informative)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427138)

If you get selected, can you call up your ISP and give them a head's up? Maybe you could get a ... special price for a big upgrade in speed.

More seriously, since my only realistic option to get decent Internet speed is Verizon Fios, and they've basically given up on rolling that out, I'm basically screwed for at least another few years. Serves me right for being a loyal Verizon customer for over a decade, my fault.

Before anyone asks... (4, Informative)

thePsychologist (1062886) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427144)

This thing doesn't look at your surfing habits, and it's not available to those who download more than 30GB/month, which probably excludes many Slashdotters.

Re:Before anyone asks... (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427176)

This thing doesn't look at your surfing habits, ...

And how do you know this?

Re:Before anyone asks... (3, Funny)

toleraen (831634) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427202)

Because the FCC says so! [testmyisp.com] They've never lied to anyone, right?

Re:Before anyone asks... (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427226)

Well, I imagine any reasonably competent techie would be able to take a look at the equipment and see if it does what it says, wouldn't they? Unless you think they're going to waste time with some hardcore black-box type shit.

Re:Before anyone asks... (1)

Galactic Dominator (944134) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427402)

Unless you think they're going to waste time with some hardcore black-box type shit.

Yeah, I imagine if they were going to deceive the participants, they wouldn't take steps to hide it. It's probably just plaintext HTTP post requests or some XML-RPC's.

On a serious note, if there is a good level of security on the device the best you can hope for is learning destination address(es), payload signatures, payload captures, and traffic patterns. All these items are relatively meaningless unless you have a high degree of knowledge. A serious crytpo person might able to get more detail, but the skills of such an individual != "reasonably competent techie" despite whatever the techie may think. I think you'd hard-pressed to find any similar projects that don't have at least some elements of "black box" -- yes even those that include opensource applications.

I also imagine some Canadians would appreciate you changing or removing your sig.

Re:Before anyone asks... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32427658)

I also imagine some Canadians would appreciate you changing or removing your sig.

Why? They're sorry he's Canadian too.

Re:Before anyone asks... (1)

unixguy43 (1644877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427714)

Since one of the participation requirements is that you have to "promise not to reverse engineer the box", I'm guessing that it will do something more than just plain-text pass through "counting" of packets over time.

And since every packet is going to go through this box, that means that every packet can be monitored as it's registered for "bandwidth" purposes.

My vote goes towards the black box approach, otherwise why would the be so adamant about people reverse engineering it?

Re:Before anyone asks... (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427802)

    I'd imagine it would be a nice unhackable black box. All they'd have to do is build out a little *nix box, and send "statistics" back home over an encrypted channel. We wouldn't know the difference between it sending bandwidth stats, or a list of all URL's that were requested.

    Yes big brother, please put your box in my home. I'm not doing anything wrong. :) With the searches I've done on Google, I'm surprised there aren't a few extra black vans parked outside the house. Hmmm, there are 3 tonight. Maybe I should disappear again on my own, before they help me disappear.

Re:Before anyone asks... (1)

Peach Rings (1782482) | more than 4 years ago | (#32428736)

What is this 1966? You can't just look at the flashing lights to see what it's doing. Besides, all they have to do is put it in a box and lock the box.

Re:Before anyone asks... (2, Funny)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427280)

They hired the Google Street View team to code the drivers.

IT'S A TRAP! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32427152)

In your hearts, you know it to be true.

The Government? (5, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427156)

Are you sure this isn't an effort by the *IAA crowd to 'happen upon' illegal file sharing or other such frowned upon activities?

Call me stupid, paranoid or even bat-shit crazy, but I don't want the government (or *IAA) installing a device that my "bandwidth" goes through. If they want that level of access let them get a warrant ;-)

Re:The Government? (3, Interesting)

FlyByPC (841016) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427310)

Well, you could do a reverse sting. Set up a bunch of torrents of Ubuntu Linux or some such totally Free content, then rename it as AvatarDVDRip.iso.torrent or something like that (with the content files renamed as well). Or use random data so it won't match the Ubuntu checksum, if they look for that. When they complain, you've got 'em.

Re:The Government? (1)

awall222 (1276148) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427520)

When they complain, you've got 'em.

until they get a search warrant for your computer and you get sued for every mp3 you can't prove you purchased...

Re:The Government? (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427758)

You'd have the advantage of knowing it was a sting before they could get a search warrant. Obviously if you are going to attempt something like this you'd do it with squeeky clean computers prepared beforehand for exactly this task.

Re:The Government? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32427974)

When they complain, you've got 'em.

http://news.slashdot.org/story/10/06/02/0035237/Washington-Wants-10000-Web-Surfers?from=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Slashdot%2Fslashdot+%28Slashdot%29&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher#

until they get a search warrant for your computer and you get sued for every mp3 you can't prove you purchased...

truecrypt?

Re:The Government? (1)

jisatsusha (755173) | more than 4 years ago | (#32428378)

They don't sue for downloading, they sue for "making available".

Re:The Government? (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427796)

I'd definitely go with the random data. Only a pirates use Linux so you'd be determined guilty right from the start!

I think it would be fun to start naming Ubuntu releases after the latest movies. Then we could have 'Avatar', 'Hurtlocker', 'Toystory3' etc

Re:The Government? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32428812)

When they complain, you've got 'em.

...after a lengthy/expensive court battle, where you'll probably be found guilty of SOMETHING and forced to pay a huge fine.

Yeah, you'll get 'em alright.

Re:The Government? (2, Funny)

stms (1132653) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427378)

If you worried about the *IAA I don't think this service is for you ;).

Re:The Government? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32427410)

If you insist. You're stupid, paranoid and even bat-shit crazy.
Now that that is taken care of, I wouldn't want one of these things on my connection either.

Heh, what about the OTHER direction? (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427518)

How about a bunch of ACORN volunteers bitching about poor service so the Government (e.g. YOU) need to step in and shovel money at yet another "problem"...

Re:Heh, what about the OTHER direction? (1)

kainosnous (1753770) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427892)

That's exactly what this appears to be. Not that the government hasn't been known to throw cash an resources away, but I imagine that they intent to use this data for something. Either they will use it to create rules that will reward "good" (plays well with Uncle Sam) ISPs or they will use it to provide a "public option" for internet. I would guess that this isn't so trivial as finding software pirates. Either way, it will hurt most of us.

Re:The Government? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427634)

You plug it into your router, your traffic doesn't go through it, its a stand alone device just like another PC. If you use a real switch it will never know anything about your other traffic. Use a hub or a fake 'switch' and it might be different.

Re:The Government? (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427778)

Go to dictionary.com and look up the word 'volunteer', I'm sure you won't find the word 'warrant' in that definition.

Of course if you don't volunteer then you obviously have something to hide :)

Re:The Government? (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427850)

    You can volunteer to let the police into your house to search. They sometimes try that. "May we have a look around your [house/car/office]?" People usually say "yes" thinking it'll help them. Nope, it won't. Just ask a defense attorney. Never, ever, ever, give up anything you don't have to. Even innocent things can be made to look dangerous. My garage has plastic sheeting, duct tape, rope, shovels, saws, and other assorted tools. If they suspected that I broke into a home, killed the occupants, and disposed of the bodies, now they have what would look like perfect equipment to do it.

    And no, the stuff in my garage is for legitimate purposes. :) Don't ask about the freshly dug area in the back yard. I was just .... ummm .... planting vegetables.

Re:The Government? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32429294)

but I don't want the government (or *IAA) installing a device that my "bandwidth" goes through. If they want that level of access let them get a warrant ;-)

You do realize they are looking for volunteers, right? If you don't want to participate, you don't have to.

I'm not gonna call you stupid, paranoid or bat-shit crazy for not wanting the government (or anyone really) to do the thing they'd do here, but I AM gonna call you stupid and paranoid for missing the above, rather important, point. :P

No offense, man, but really.

Too good to be true? (2, Insightful)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427158)

Why would I help the government? Are they going to pay me? If not, it's hardly "too good to be true", more like doing their work for them.

Re:Too good to be true? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32427250)

I seem to remember hearing stories of yesteryear that discussed common folks volunteering to make this country a better place.

Now the country is just filled with douchebags I guess. Yes, why wouldn't you want to help the FCC blast the big telecoms when all these tests show their networks are complete shit? Why wouldn't you want to give the FCC more ammo for net neutrality?

Re:Too good to be true? (2, Insightful)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427306)

Because like everything else, the days of "being a good neighbour" are long gone.

Example that happened to my own brother years ago ... We were out on the town one Friday, and my brother spotted something amiss further up the avenue. A guy beating the crap out of (presumably) his girlfriend. My brother runs up and punches the guy out. Next thing the police arrive, immediately get the wrong end of the stick (helped in part by the stupid girl who then defended her boyfriend's actions and said my brother had been the instigator of the violence), end result being my brother gets jailed overnight and faced an assault charge. Luckily due to the testimony of me and my friends who'd also witnessed the incident, at least the judge had the common sense to let him off with a caution.

But the fact remains, these days you DO NOT get involved. There's so many ways you end up getting bitten in the ass by trying to be a good citizen.

yes, this broadband monitoring MIGHT be for the good of the people, and it might just as easily end up in the hands of the RIAA or christ knows who, and you facing a day in court arguing a P2P "illegality", with the big boys holding evidence obtained using a government based monitoring system. Tell me, who's going to win ?

Fuck it, better to be safe than sorry ...

Re:Too good to be true? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32427554)

"DO NOT get involved" Good call. The next time this happens and its your sisters boyfriend beating the crap out of her, "DO NOT get involved" or if its your mother getting beaten because she wouldn't give up her purse "DO NOT get involved." When its all said and done I'll let them know I was just following your caution. But If its my sister or my mother or anybody else for that matter. Get involved! Its cowardice bastards like you that have enabled such acts to become so commonplace. Your brother may have gotten the short end of the stick but he still stood up for what he believed in. He would rather try to help another human being than stand by and watch like his brother would. Why don't you show your mother this post and then ask her which of her sons she is proud of!

Re:Too good to be true? (1)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427588)

What a self-righteous tit you sound. It's not black and white, you get involved when you judge it to be overall in your best interests (and of those you care for around you, which sometimes might include total strangers who you feel empathy for). Otherwise, the society we have built generally supports the view of the parent post - don't get involved because chances are you'll come off worst. In his case he hadn't reckoned on a) the stupid loyalty of girlfriends whose boyfriends are violent morons, and b) the stupidity of the police in general.

Re:Too good to be true? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32427904)

I'm glad all of the women in your life have a big strong man like you to defend them. All women need such a protector. Because they're so weak.

Re:Too good to be true? (1)

amentajo (1199437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32429002)

Gender specificity aside, there are some weak people out there. Sometimes they get beaten up, and sometimes it's not their fault (they didn't start / strongly provoke it). Odds are, one or more of your close relatives fits that bill, and (call it kin selection if it helps) you might be more inclined to help them once they're in trouble. That's all that the grandparent was going for (I think).

Re:Too good to be true? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32427662)

Be a man and break up the fight if you can. Seems safer.

Blindly throwing punches sounds more like a way of getting in a dangerous situation.

Re:Too good to be true? (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427932)

He learned the wrong lesson. It wasn't "do not get involved", it was "don't stay around for the glamor of being a hero." As soon as the fight was done, walk away. He'd know he did the right thing. The girl would know she was saved from getting her ass kicked. The boyfriend would think twice about doing it next time, since some random stranger kicked his ass for doing the wrong thing.

    There's no reason to stay around. If he didn't get arrested, and she told the truth, he'd still be in court as a material witness to the events. The boyfriend would likely have a grudge against him, now there's a new enemy out there.

    The better thing would be if he learned some good restraining moves. Not a single punch has to be thrown, and he could have secured the boyfriend on the ground. There's nothing like a knee in the back, and your arm twisted in an armbar [blogspot.com] , to remind someone that they're doing wrong. "I'm going to let you go. Don't ever do that again. Do you understand?" become very powerful words. A bit of pain compliance will get them to agree.

Re:Too good to be true? (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32428652)

>>Fuck it, better to be safe than sorry ...

Coward.

Your brother shouldn't have just run in and thrown a punch, but he was still trying to do the right thing. As soon as normal people stop trying to care for their fellow man, that's the end of civilization, man. You think the police by themselves can keep a civilization running when it doesn't want to?

A week or so ago I found a naked drunk guy passed out on the asphalt at 2AM, in cold weather. I woke him up, probably saved his life, but he attacked me for my help. I got tagged a couple times when he came into my car after me when I tried to leave (after dodging his clumsy attacks for a few minutes), but I'd do the same thing again tomorrow if I had to.

In other words: fucking suck it up and be a good man, even if it does end up with you being arrested or punched in the face.

Re:Too good to be true? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32427354)

Yes, why wouldn't you want to help the FCC blast the big telecoms when all these tests show their networks are complete shit? Why wouldn't you want to give the FCC more ammo for net neutrality?

Look at his last name - he's obviously related to the people who own Cox Cable or is such a devoted employee that he's changed his name to match. I don't think he's on the side of Net Neutrality at all. I think we've found ourselves a "Smithers".

Re:Too good to be true? (2, Funny)

muridae (966931) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427390)

The re-captcha I got when looking at the signup sheet was "that narcs". While not being paranoid about helping the government, this detail does give me pause.

Re:Too good to be true? (3, Insightful)

dbet (1607261) | more than 4 years ago | (#32428104)

Well, they either ask for volunteers, or hire people. Option 1 costs them (and you) less.

Re:Too good to be true? (4, Insightful)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | more than 4 years ago | (#32428128)

Why would I help the government? Are they going to pay me? If not, it's hardly "too good to be true", more like doing their work for them.

Why would you help the government? Doing their work for them? Last I checked, this was a government by the People for the People, and if you are a citizen of the United States of America, you are a part of that. It's one thing if you argue against this initiative because it's not something you would like your tax dollars spent on, but to insinuate that the government is using the citizens to get "free" work out of them is almost offensive.

Now, if this was a mandatory program, that would be a completely different story, but this is a voluntary way that you may apply to take part in of crowdsourcing data about the ISPs that we all know have been guilty of little (and some not so little) lies about the capabilities of their networks in a way that doesn't cost a fuckshitton of money and can be constantly monitored for realtime results.

Re:Too good to be true? (1)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 4 years ago | (#32428426)

Last I checked, this was a government by the People for the People

Are you certain about that? Really?

and if you are a citizen of the United States of America

Actually, I'm not. It was a hypothetical question.

Re:Too good to be true? (1)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | more than 4 years ago | (#32428948)

and if you are a citizen of the United States of America

Actually, I'm not. It was a hypothetical question.

That's irrelevant, because you participated in a scenario involving the United States, so your hypothetical question involves you hypothetically being a United States citizen.

Re:Too good to be true? (1)

tsm_sf (545316) | more than 4 years ago | (#32428716)

but to insinuate that the government is using the citizens to get "free" work out of them is almost offensive.

While factually correct, your post goes against the narrative we're trying to push here. "Us" vs. "Them" doesn't work too well if there is no "them".

Re:Too good to be true? (1)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | more than 4 years ago | (#32428932)

While factually correct, your post goes against the narrative we're trying to push here. "Us" vs. "Them" doesn't work too well if there is no "them".

But the point is clear. I guess I should have put "them" in quotes as well.

Re:Too good to be true? (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 4 years ago | (#32428752)

Heaven forfend the government initiate any kind of scheme to listen to its electorate, because then they might have to talk!

Adverse selection anyone? (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427170)

Adverse selection anyone?

Re:Adverse selection anyone? (1)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427262)

Since the majority of the traffic measured will be YouTube and Facebook, this will be an excellent tool for these companies to statistically prove the ISPs are throttling their traffic. Useful traffic patterns will be dismissed as statistical noise. More wasted tax dollars at unwork.

not gonna work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32427174)

surely the equipment or its traffic (even just the destination ip or range, if data is encrypted) will give away its presence on the provider's network. then the provider(s) will make sure that those particular customers get at least what's advertised, if not a little more, so they like more like santa instead of the grinch.

Re:not gonna work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32427284)

surely the equipment or its traffic (even just the destination ip or range, if data is encrypted) will give away its presence on the provider's network. then the provider(s) will make sure that those particular customers get at least what's advertised, if not a little more, so they like more like santa instead of the grinch.

Are you assuming a throttled connection that could provide more throughput but does not due to throttling?

Suppose that throughput is limited for physical reasons. Then there's really no way an ISP could "make sure that those particular customers get at least what's advertised" short of providing upgraded infrastructure.

Re:not gonna work (1)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427374)

I volunteer for this and Verizon fixes the oversubscribed upstream bottleneck that's making my 1.5meg DSL drop to 600k during the day? That sounds like it winner to me. Where do I sign up? Think they'd notice if I ran BS data through their box?

News to me (0, Troll)

tpstigers (1075021) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427222)

So now helping the government = good. Wow. What country do you live in?

"Washington" is a US State (2, Informative)

huskerdoo (186982) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427234)

Argh! for the 8^56th time!

- "Washington" is a US State founded in 1889.
- "Washington D.C." is the Capital of the United States.

This article was obviously not written by anyone on the west coast.

Re:"Washington" is a US State (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32427332)

Actually, if you want to get particularly pedantic, its "Washington, D.C." (note the comma.) The District of Columbia is a territory wholly occupied by the city of Washington.

It wasn't always this way. At at least one point in time, Georgetown was its own city (town, village, hamlet?) existing beside Washington, inside of D.C.

Re:"Washington" is a US State (1)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427620)

Argh! for the 8^56th time!

That's a very specific (and large) number of times you've answered this point. Or did you forget the *^%$ shift key?

Re:"Washington" is a US State (1)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 4 years ago | (#32428072)

They were going to name the state Columbia, but then thought people might get it confused with the District of Columbia, so they called it Washington instead.

Re:"Washington" is a US State (1)

Korbeau (913903) | more than 4 years ago | (#32428176)

Argh! for the 8^56th time!

- "Washington" is a US State founded in 1889.
- "Washington D.C." is the Capital of the United States.

This article was obviously not written by anyone on the west coast.

West coast? Which one? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Coast [wikipedia.org]

Re:"Washington" is a US State (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 4 years ago | (#32428524)

Why would anybody get upset about this?

Not math/maths and legos/lego, that is worth arguing about.

As a consumer... (3, Interesting)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427246)

I care about speed, but I also care about transfer caps. Note that I'm not saying we should legislate this (I'm about to pay for "business class" service without a cap), but I'm saying 250 GB a month doesn't cut it for me. I transfer large disk images (server backups, even compressed, they're big) several times per month , move virtual machine images around on a routine basis, use streaming video services in lieu of television, streaming audio on top of that, etc. The list goes on, and my #1 concern isn't the transfer speed anymore. It's the transfer cap.

Re:As a consumer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32427540)

Well, then it's safe to say that you shouldn't participate in this study, and this study isn't really for you. Since they indicate that they don't want anyone who downloads more than 30gb per month that rules you out of the first bit; your last few words tell why the second bit isn't you either.

So, the only question is: Why did you post?

Re:As a consumer... (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427596)

Very simply this: voicing an opinion that, while not directly related to the topic, I believe is important and related. What good is blazing fast Internet when content delivery is increasingly going 100% online, and you're stuck with an insufficient cap?

Re:As a consumer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32427852)

I'm the same AC.
I believe as legitimate content increases, so will the caps increase in a likewise manner. I see no problem with the current cap situation, honestly.

As an aside, I'm a very happy high-speed top-tier Comcast user who watches lots of streaming Netflix and Hulu, and I also buy lots of Xbox 360 games from the Xbox Live service (maybe not every month, but often enough). Also, I download all manner of torrents, legit and otherwise -- mostly music in uncompressed FLACs. I don't see any bandwidth cap problem. I've never been tapped on the shoulder over how much I download. I think even if I had a twin in the house doing the same type things, we wouldn't have an issue. If we did, we'd make a plan about it.

All of this that I'm saying is about as relevant to the topic at hand as Uwe Boll is to good movies... which is why I'm posting AC. Your point, although sorta roughly valid, is nontheless completely out of place in this particular thread.

Don't need a magic box (1)

Cylix (55374) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427264)

I'm on DSL and I never hit my paid for maximum. More or less I expected never to actually reach this rate because it was stated up front this was a theoretical maximum and it is what it is. (Read, haha sucker.)

The 20% less then advertised speed I can actually live with. It's the latency that I find horrendous. In addition their hideous network of latency hell I also get interleaving. I love a little boost of 32ms added to an already slow and hoppy network.

Well it is unfortunately this or some awful awful ISP that has changed it's name to hide from the bad reviews.

On the bright side there is a new WiMax provider in the area and it may be a promising alternative.

i kick mine over too oftent (1)

mehemiah (971799) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427266)

it sais to promise not to unplug your modem. thats much to hard, if my look at mine funny it falls over and the power cord falls ou

Oh Hai the CIA... (1)

CupBeEmpty (720791) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427272)

..."is looking for 10,000 volunteers" to monitor for all kinds of stuff.

bandwidth meter! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32427352)

why cant the government run a few bandwidth meter tests to decide that?

Do you receive your advertised bandwidth? (1)

poly_pusher (1004145) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427360)

I don't...
Comcast frequently throttles connections. Aside from that, I am supposed to be at 22 Mbit per sec. It usually idles around 17 18 in tests and drops to 8-12 about 30 minutes into large downloads.

That is definitely not what is advertised.

If this helps the government come down on those practices then great.

But yeah... I'm not signing up...

Re:Do you receive your advertised bandwidth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32427414)

I predict that if the FCC goes after inet providers they will advertise their bandwidth at absolutely maximum 22mbits, mostly 17, and no guarantees.

Re:Do you receive your advertised bandwidth? (1, Insightful)

muridae (966931) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427456)

So, you are willing to complain, but not willing to do anything about it? The people who don't have a problem with this policy probably will not bother to join in. So how, exactly, do you think the government can "come down on those practices" if no one is willing to do more than say "My ISP does this, but I will not help you prove it"?

Put this device between your DMZ/wifi router and your internal router. Then just make sure your torrent or other illicit traffic goes around this device. Easy, helps you nail your ISP for this crap, and you don't have to worry about the government spying on your Ubuntu iso uploads.

Re:Do you receive your advertised bandwidth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32427718)

Put this device between your DMZ/wifi router and your internal router. Then just make sure your torrent or other illicit traffic goes around this device. Easy, helps you nail your ISP for this crap, and you don't have to worry about the government spying on your Ubuntu iso uploads.

Except, you know, this would be false testimony, considering the device could only measure the "legal" bandwith used and not the torrent bandwidth, but both are provided.

Re:Do you receive your advertised bandwidth? (1)

poly_pusher (1004145) | more than 4 years ago | (#32428028)

Are there not other options? It would be very easy for them to gather information from the online speed test. Provider can easily be determined. All you would need was a check box establishing advertised bandwidth.

Do people ever think about what they type? (1)

Tink2000 (524407) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427594)

Yeah about that... Actually it's completely what's advertised, and what's more it isn't even in any fine print: it's in the FAQ [comcast.com] : ...customers' accounts must exceed a certain percentage of their upstream or downstream (both currently set at 70%) bandwidth for longer than a certain period of time, currently set at fifteen minutes.

Emphasis mine.

Re:Do you receive your advertised bandwidth? (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427748)

Ya lucky bastard! You Comcast guys don't know how good you got it, do you? Try Cox sometime, and enjoy paying $145 for a lousy 2Mbit (that's right, a whole 2) with a cap of 36Gb! oh and if you go over, which they don't bother giving you any kind of app so you're best guessing, it's $1.50 a Gb after! The only good thing about their service is the VoIP, and since my GF lives 250 miles away round trip it is the only reason I've stayed. Well that and the fact the local AT&T DSL is lucky to hit 756k when it works.

So next time you're bitching about Comcast, just remember it could be worse, you could be on Cox. Oh and I just looove paying for basic cable when I don't even own a TV, because the assholes at cox refuse to sell anything unbundled. Thanks Cox!

Riiiiiiiight! (1)

re_organeyes (1170849) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427370)

And we're supposed to trust the government on this why?

Another version of Big Brother?

No way. (1)

astro (20275) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427376)

There's no way in hell that I would voluntarily give the feds unfettered access to my web surfing logs. I'm a pretty innocent guy, but imagine the expansion of this program if it "succeeds".

Speakeasy.net (1)

srwood (99488) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427388)

Who hasn't heard of speakeasy.net?

Re:Speakeasy.net (1)

Scutter (18425) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427460)

Who hasn't heard of speakeasy.net?

Speakeasy is awesome....when you can get it. The only thing I've been able to get from them in the 8 years at this location is IDSL. I had to go with SBC to get anything faster.

Re:Speakeasy.net (1)

masterwit (1800118) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427472)

This is a great tool to see the "best scenario", but a direct connection to a speakeasy server isn't everything. For instance an internet service provider could be...

Filtering your traffic deeming what it feels is "worthy of quality bandwidth

-and-

A network can be considered "good" getting to some main nodes and whatnot, but what really defines a good network is the reliability, latency, and speed to those "tricky" spots.

I am really just using analogies here, but speakeasy.net is a great tool to be used as a supplement imo to get an accurate picture of ISP's behavior...

PLEEEAASE READ!!! C'mon, now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32427444)

Sounds like Bill Gates is ready for another MS/AOL email giveaway! Yippee!

They're monitoring what? (1)

correnos (1727834) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427464)

I dunno, I'm not sure I feel safe with all of my web traffic going through a little box, no matter who it's offered by. I like my privacy, and having it go through Comcast is bad enough.

Too Good? (0, Troll)

mxh83 (1607017) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427568)

What's so good about this? Getting a monitored net connection and a few bucks that will make NO difference to your life; and in the bargain throwing away your privacy? And trusting people who should never be trusted? Did you ever hear of "Never talk to the police?"

http://www.testmyisp.com/ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32427608)

http://www.testmyisp.com/

Interrogative? (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427720)

How many surfers does it take jump start SKYNET?

Seriously /.? (5, Insightful)

AngryPhysicist (1824196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427832)

I'm impressed. Really I am. Of all the complaints I've read in commentary, about the way major ISP's are treating their customers, this should be a call to arms for everyone. But no, everyone here has to put on their tin-foil hat and cower in fear because the government is actually trying to give a damn. They are asking for your help to prove to the rest of the nation that you are being ripped off by your ISP. They even describe what they intend to do with your bandwidth usage in the FAQs!

How does this affect my security and privacy? The unit operates as a normal router and exposes absolutely no services to the Internet. It's similar to installing a print server or a NAS on to your home network - it's a cut down device that serves a very specific purpose. We should point out that assuming the unit is installed as per the instructions, all network traffic will be flowing through it. However, the unit simply acts as a standard switch or standard router and does not look at any of the packets flowing across your network. It only monitors traffic volumes for the purposes of deciding when to run (or not to run!) the tests and to measure consumption. Testing information uploaded from the unit to our servers contains no information about you whatsoever. Furthermore, all such communications are encrypted, ensuring that results cannot be tampered with en-route. Your individual unit's test results will be available to you alone. Your unit's results will also be aggregated with others from the same ISP to form a larger average set of results that can be viewed publicly. We have absolutely no intention of doing anything that may adversely affect your privacy or security. If you have any concerns please feel free to contact us to discuss them. SamKnows, on behalf of the FCC, is collecting and storing broadband performance information, including various personally identifiable information (PII) such as the street addresses, email addresses, online usage patterns, and broadband performance information, from those individuals who are participating voluntarily in this test. SamKnows will not release, disclose to the public, or share any PII with any outside entities, including the FCC, except as is consistent with the Privacy Act of 1974, Public Law 93579 (5 U.S.C. 552a(b)(5)). For more information, see the SamKnows privacy policy. The broadband performance information that is made available to the public, including the FCC, will be in an aggregated form and with all PII removed, in compliance with subsection (b)(5) of the Privacy Act of 1974, as amended (5 U.S.C. 552a), and the SamKnows privacy policy. The broadband performance information that is made available to the public, including the FCC, will be in an aggregated form and with all PII removed, in compliance with subsection (b)(5) of the SamKnows privacy policy. The FCC is soliciting this information under authority of the Broadband Data Improvement Act of 2008, Pub. L. No. 110-385, Stat 4096 103(c)(1); American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (ARRA), Pub. L. No. 111-5, 123 Stat 115 (2009); and Section 154(i) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended.

https://www.testmyisp.com/faq.html [testmyisp.com] If you consider this flaimbait, I don't care. But for once, stop being paranoid and actually take the chance to help out. And before anyone asks, yes I am new here.

Re:Seriously /.? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32428420)

And before anyone asks, yes I am new here.

...then how did you know to say that?

Re:Seriously /.? (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32428678)

>>But no, everyone here has to put on their tin-foil hat and cower in fear because the government is actually trying to give a damn.

Government spying vs. a chance to take Comcast down a notch?

My lord, man, stop! You'll cause their heads to explode!

Apparently, privacy a non-issue (1)

SheeEttin (899897) | more than 4 years ago | (#32428044)

I don't claim to be a hard-core network tech, but it seems that this device is just a router/gateway, which you could presumably just attach to your existing router, rather than replace it. This way, you wouldn't be passing your traffic through it, and it presumably wouldn't be able to see anything beyond what your router decides to route in its direction, and it could still perform its tests.

And once the telcos get a box to play with? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32428070)

Let's assume that there are bandwidth shenanigans going on. What do you think is going to happen here?

1) FCC sends out boxes
2) ISPs put a high bounty on finding a box-recipient to cooperate with their engineers for testing
3) ISPs use what they learn to identify every box-recipient via the boxes' reporting data back to the central server
4) All box-recipients get double speed broadband, to the detriment of everyone else.

When the plan is that obvious, it really makes you question the FCC that much more in this. What do they honestly expect to happen? And wait, doesn't the government already have the capability to monitor the Internet at a much more fundamental, back-bone-esque level? Isn't there some way they could measure this from there?

But then, why would they send the boxes out, if they could just monitor our traffic from that same level?

When you realize that there is NO WAY the ISPs wouldn't cheat the distributed-box system if they were already cheating on bandwidth, this whole thing really makes no sense at all.

An easy option (no 10k users needed) (1)

ncgnu08 (1307339) | more than 4 years ago | (#32428236)

Do the companies provide as much speed as they advertise? Umm... no, not at all. I'm lucky to get my Charter Cable connection to work at all between midnight and 4am. I usually lose my connection 4-5 times daily (during the normal day, not the 12am to 4am). It is a POS but my only option for high speed. I have had 15-20 techs out at different times, and the last one finally admitted "no one gets the full speed" that is advertised. After talking to many of my "less tech savvy" neighbors I found out they think that the internet just goes out like that. And conveniently enough my internet connection just hates Hulu or any other video streaming site. I would be very surprised if anyone has a different experience with Charter (I love them!)...

Too good to be true usually is, the basis scam (1)

qwerty8ytrewq (1726472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32428366)

In this case, this looks like gently exploitative crowdsourcing (someone needs to coin a phrase for that). I am very reminded of the

microsoft scam email [snopes.com]

which still does the rounds. classic stuff.

Sounds similar to stuff in the UK (1)

BandoMcHando (85123) | more than 4 years ago | (#32428870)

These folks - http://www.samknows.com/ [samknows.com] - do a similar thing in the UK conencted to ofcom (similar body to FCC), and a look at the website indicates it actually probably is them.

UK ISP's (1)

mistralol (987952) | more than 4 years ago | (#32428974)

Well this is pritty simple in the UK for any BT based isp. They advertise up to 8mbit or up to 24mbit for adsl 1 / 2+. However BT have an ip profile which is always slightly lower that the archives dsl sync rate. This is the maximum data rate that will be delivered across the BT atm cloud. Therefore it is impossible to actually achieve the advertised speed using anything that is based on the BT 20cn and BT 21cn types of connections. Why do they need volunteers when "technically" is it impossible to work?
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