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Comcast Accused of Blocking VoIP

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the comcastic-is-not-a-word dept.

325

kamikaze-Tech writes "Comcast, the largest USA Broadband provider is being accused of VoIP blocking, just days before they release their own VoIP offering. According to a long standing thread on the Vonage Forums, many Comcast ISP users are unable to use Vonage. Tempers are flaring: 'Although you will see all manner of opinions on this thread, there seems to be a sentiment that - politely put - Comcast could really be doing a better job of carrying Vonage bits.' Looks as though this could be the beginning of the broadband quality wars, with Comcast taking the first step."

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325 comments

Perhaps Comcast is just inadequate? (3, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834335)

All these ideas are entirely possible but it could simply be that Comcast doesn't provide the kind of broadband consistently necessary to use VoIP.

My experience with Comcast has been extensive and I am nothing but a little dissatisfied with how consistent my connection broadband width was. I'm not complaining that I lost connections (though I know people who have) but I will complain that my upload and download widths were anything but stable.

I eagerly await the broadband over power lines [wired.com] initiative that's inevitably going to be made available to everyone. Imagine paying for broadband but not having to pay also the cost of using an extensive cable network. Brilliant idea! Use rudimentary piggy backing techniques to deliver two signals through one line. It's actually not that difficult, I'm not sure why this took so long to develop and why it's taking even longer to make available to the public. Yes, I've heard of security concerns but there's got to be some encryption you can use.

If I ever live to see the day where cable is obsolete, I'm going to uncap my modem [cable-modems.org] and host something huge to my friends. Anyone care to take a guess on how long I'd be able to keep that up before they shut me down?

Re:Perhaps Comcast is just inadequate? (1)

parasonic (699907) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834388)

If I ever live to see the day where cable is obsolete, I'm going to uncap my modem and host something huge to my friends. Anyone care to take a guess on how long I'd be able to keep that up before they shut me down?
You would be able to keep that up for 0 seconds. CM's are a lot more tightened down than they used to be. You used to be able to trick the CM into downloading a config file really easily with SFTP...you can't just go and do that anymore. SNMP is also disabled nowadays because of hacks.

And even if you *could* uncap, concash has been implementing traffic shaping at the head end for well over a year now, and you have absolutely no control over that from your cable modem. Pretty implausible.

Re:Perhaps Comcast is just inadequate? (1)

Xymor (943922) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834700)

If people can encrypt bittorrent packet's header [slashdot.org] making it stealth and bypassing shapping, whouldn't be possible to encrypt voIP packets for the same purpose?

Re:Perhaps Comcast is just inadequate? (2, Informative)

Buffo (773488) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834413)

>>I eagerly await the broadband over power lines initiative

ARGH!

There are serious issues with BPL. It generates interference that compromises several amateur radio bands, and is likewise interfered with by the legal operation of numerous low-power transmitters. (This includes CB radio transmitters as well as ham radio transmitters.)

Visit http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/HTML/plc/ for more information.

Re:Perhaps Comcast is just inadequate? (1)

Chris6502 (857915) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834667)

It generates interference that compromises several amateur radio bands

To say nothing of the radio astronomy bands!

Re:Perhaps Comcast is just inadequate? (1)

Rickler (894262) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834750)

BPL is a horrible idea. It would turn powerlines into a huge radio antenna.

I'm waiting for FiOS from verizon; 15/2mbps fiber connection for only 44/m :P

Re: Comcast has other problems to resolve (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14834489)

COMCAST should concentrate their efforts on blocking the
outgoing SPAM from their domain and leave VONAGE and the
other the VOIP companies to do the VOIPing.

Re: Comcast has other problems to resolve (1)

TFGeditor (737839) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834719)

Agreed.

I get tons of spam (for reasons I cannot control), and the volume from Comcast and RoadRunner servers is so great that I filter at the server level all email from IP addreses owned by Comcast and RR. In a typical 24-hr period, 20-75 spam messages reach my inbox, and another 50-150 get filtered at the server as sourcing from Comcast/RR.

(On a side note, since I have no communications with anyone outside the U.S., all email from foreign IP addresses gets blackholed immediately.)

 

OT: Foreign IP addresses (1)

RangerRick98 (817838) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834751)

Where can I easily get a list of foreign IP blocks? I'd like to add something like that to my webserver to stop a lot of comment spam I get, but I can't seem to find a list of IPs.

Re:Perhaps Comcast is just inadequate? (1)

fistfullast33l (819270) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834528)

Forget BPL, let's get some of the Municipal Wireless programs implemented first. I think that it's a little more likely to happen once people start to pressure their politicians not to give into the demands of the telecom providers. Personally, I think the telecom arguments can be fought with the argument that the municipal contracts will go to them anyways, so it is a semi-moot point. Of course, IANAL nor a legislator, or anyone with any relevant information on the topic whatsoever. But, I've heard about BPL for years and there apparently are other problems with it besides just rolling it out. Municipal Wirelss could be made available tomorrow with proper infrastructure and legislative support. It's really the politics that keeps it out of our hands at the moment. New Orleans was a great example of how fast this could be rolled out and how helpful and necessary it is.

I personally wouldn't mind paying higher taxes if it meant I could surf the web anywhere, anytime without worry. According to Time Warner, right now I can't even run an internet webserver on my home network, and there's nothing I can do about it because it's their network. If it's the government, political pressure could possibly let this happen.

Re:Perhaps Comcast is just inadequate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14834718)

Municipal wireless setups cannot support VoIP. Viritually all municipal wireless operations, including the provider which I use, do not allow the running of any servers, including VoIP. Wireless broadband services are also typically half-duplex which creates problems with the continuous up and down stream of traffic with VoIP.

Re:Perhaps Comcast is just inadequate? (1)

bobbutts (927504) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834535)

Comcast has delivered me nearly continous 6mb/384kb for some time. More than sufficient for VOIP and a home network with the help of http://dd-wrt.com/ [dd-wrt.com] with QOS. Also I have never had any issues with port blocking and I run SSH/VPN/HTTP/Shoutcast/Skype/Vonage off of this connection (low traffic for my personal use). Compared to other companies that have been a pain to me: Sprint, Verizon Wireless, Bell South.. I've always considered Comcast OK as far as service goes. I don't have Vonage anymore to test this out, but my skype calls are working fine still.

cable tech (1)

r00t (33219) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834549)

Cable modems are based on TV channels being used for data.

Each channel is something like 6 to 8 MHz wide. They can be dedicated, time sliced, or done like Ethernet. Different channels are used for up and down.

The down channel tells your cable modem where and when it may transmit.

If you get a channel to yourself, great! They are allocated based on demand, more of less. An idle computer doesn't need a dedicated channel for hourly DHCP updates.

Latency varies. If you need to wait for a transmit window, well, you wait. If you have a dedicated channel you don't wait.

Re:Perhaps Comcast is just inadequate? (2, Insightful)

afternoon_nap (640340) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834593)

You believe BPL will be less expensive? I doubt it. Modulated frequencies on medium voltage, unshielded lines act as huge antennas and will cause all kinds of grief to licensed radio services (ham radio, public safety, SWL, etc.) If BPL is to succeed, I'd rather see fiber on the power lines connected to 802.11 devices which you'd interface with.

I doubt BPL will work effectively. Many US companies have sworn off it for technical and financial reasons. I just don't want BPL to fill the airwaves with noise.

BPL is just crap, really.

Yes, it is that difficult. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14834673)

I eagerly await the broadband over power lines ... it's actually not that difficult, I'm not sure why this took so long to develop and why it's taking even longer to make available to the public.

Let me guess - you're a PHB or work in marketing, right? You're clearly no an electrical engineer or you wouldn't make such uniformed statements. There are actually several issues (eg. transformers) that make it more difficult than providing data over phone lines or television cable.

Re:Perhaps Comcast is just inadequate? (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834717)

Imagine [...] not having to pay also the cost of using an extensive cable network.

Broadband over power lines uses the power lines - the power grid - which is an extensive network of cables. It has a definate cost. In fact, the costs are higher than that of cable - since the power lines are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the power poles themselves, while the cable companies merely rent space on them.

Re:Perhaps Comcast is just inadequate? (2, Informative)

garcia (6573) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834723)

Anyone care to take a guess on how long I'd be able to keep that up before they shut me down?

Anywhere from a few minutes to 24 hours. The uncapped modems were usually scanned for at least twice daily. First "offense" and your modem was cycled remotely and the correct cfg file was downloaded again "capping" your modem. Your account was flagged and a ticket was opened for you. If you did it again then you were booted permanently for a TOS violation. Depending on the severity of the uncapping (10+mbit/10+mbit) you might be banned on the first violation.

Some people were referred to legal services after their first offense and ATTBI was looking to prosecute for theft of service.

Not a good idea, really.

FUCK YOU, FUCK THIS SHIT (0, Troll)

(TK)Dessimat0r (668222) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834342)

SLASHDOT IS COCKS

FP (-1, Offtopic)

sogoodsofarsowhat (662830) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834344)

FP :P (prolly not)

Pretty typical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14834351)

ConCash sucks balls. I've had them for years. Raising rates for cable non-subscribers from $3/mo to $20/mo, knocking down the bandwidth at the @home transition, killing off our newsgroups, killing my static ip and wanting money for me to get it back. All very gay.

You forget that bandwidth has gone UP... :) (1)

Xystance (660413) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834379)

I was in on the second test in the -world- for Cable Modems, and back then it was a full 10mbit up and down.

Today it's a full 10mbit down, 768k up for the "higher" tier of service for a little more money than back "in the day".

I'm pretty satisfied with my speeds now, just been having Vonage problems lately.

Actually... (2, Informative)

Xystance (660413) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834361)

The last few days I've been having real problems with OUTGOING Vonage calls, but incoming Vonage calls have been ok.

Outgoing calls are extremely choppy and cutout in the middle of words, but I can hear the other person without a problem.

Re:Actually... (1)

negative3 (836451) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834396)

Are the problems in the forums centered around any specific location? I've had no problems with my Vonage service recently, but now I want to go home and see if it works.

Re:Actually... (1)

That_Dan_Guy (589967) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834458)

I've noticed this too. Some calls are OK out have been OK. But a fair number are having problems. Receiving has been ok.

To add to this, I've noticed Comcast is offering phone service of its own on their website. Perhaps this is what they are up to, scrrewing with Vonage and trying to tell us it doesn't work, but then saying: "Why don't you try our service instead?"

The thing that sucks is I just signed up for Vonage and a have a couple months to go to get my rebate check. I also redid all the drops in the house to be RJ45. I guess I can use RJ11 I'll have to check whcih (568a or b) std I used on the punch downs and if it will work with RJ11 phone cables (been a dang long time since I did any cabling)

I won't really miss the 6-8 megs down, I don't download Distros that often anymore, or any other 500+meg files.

Re:Actually... (1)

pushf popf (741049) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834474)

Since the outbound data rate for cable is typically only a fraction of the inbound rate, I'd suspect they either don't have the outbound bandwidth available, or are intentionally limiting it.

Could be crappy service, could be a setup for their own broadband. The only way to tell would be to subscribe to both, and if theirs works and Vonage doesn't it's time to bring in the lawyers.

Re:Actually... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14834645)

Actually, the Comcast Digital Voice is allocated its own bandwidth aside from youir cable modem for internet, so the above test wouldn't prove much of anything.

unprecedented evile accused/convicted of life0cide (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14834367)

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uhmmm.......huh? (-1, Offtopic)

StumpMan (176725) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834444)

mmmmmmmmkay...

Not sure what that was, or how it ties into VOIP, but thanks for the uhm..comment?

Only thing I recognized was 2 Chronicles 7:14..

The rest I think was run thru babblefish.

Anyone got a translation on this?

Comcast blocking doesn't surprise me... (2, Interesting)

harshmanrob (955287) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834371)

Comcast and its sibling company Road Runner routinely block access to alternative websites such as www.infowars.com and www.rbnlive.com because they take on the Feds and the "yes-man" major media. Time Warner (the owner of both Comcast and Road Runner) is a "yes-man" major media company, towing the neo-con line.

It is does not surprise me they would block access to their competitors. Soon I expect them to begin survelliance of their customers and reporting their "un-American" activities to the alphabet agencies.

Re:Comcast blocking doesn't surprise me... (1)

BacOs (33082) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834410)

TimeWarner does not own Comcast, nor does TimeWarnerCable have exclusive ownership of RoadRunner.

Re:Comcast blocking doesn't surprise me... (1)

Wheel Of Fish (305792) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834431)

Actually, according to Hoovers, RoadRunner is 100% owned by Time Warner, and Comcast has a 21% controlling stake.

Re:Comcast blocking doesn't surprise me... (1)

harshmanrob (955287) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834435)

You're right...there is no official ownership, but both Comcast and Road Runner answer to the same master (Time Warner) and their service departments service each others services. In my area, I have Biz class Road Runner but when I needed on-site help, a helpful tech in a Comcast truck showed up to fix it.

time warner-owns comcast? (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834421)

Citation? they partnered to buy Adelpgia, but time warner does NOT own comcast....

Re:Comcast blocking doesn't surprise me... (0, Offtopic)

sinfree (859988) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834627)

Perhaps a bit off-topic... but if it is main-stream, it isn't neo-conservative anymore.

Re:Comcast blocking doesn't surprise me... (1)

bhirsch (785803) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834649)

I don't think I've ever seen a comment so ridiculous here, mainly because you seem so sincere.

Road Runner and Comcast are not sibling companies, they have deals in some areas for the purposes of branding. Comcast, to the best of my knowledge, has never blocked out specific web sites from its subscribers. Time Warner contributed large amounts of money to Democrats this past year (IIRC, more than 2/3 of its campaign contributions, the only major media company to donate more to GOP and its candidates was Disney/ABC). I've used Vonage for the past two years and the only problems I've ever had were when my internet connection was generally poor -- they have never seemed to be doing anything to target Vonage (or VoIP) specifically. Finally, do not forget that Comcast challenges subpoenas for customer info (based on IP address) in court.

Are you a lunatic or a troll?

allow me to join in the post-bashing (1)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834699)

The 'alphabet agencies' were set up to provide work for the millions left unemployed after the 1929 stock market crash, stuff like building roads. They weren't in the business of spying on 'commies' or dealing with 'unamerican' elements. Most (if not all) of them don't exist anymore.

*takes the pedant-points and runs*

Re:Comcast blocking doesn't surprise me... (1)

JohnnyKrisma (593145) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834704)

I'm on Comcast and both of the sites you mentioned are open and quite responsive. There's no vast political conspiracy here, just the conspiracy of greed. It's driven by analysts who can't stand to see any public company leave any potential revenue streams on the table. If Comcast makes a billion dollars this year, the analysts will want to know why they don't make 2 billion next year.

This is why I have ADSL... (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834376)

For all the mud slung at them, SBC has given me nothing less than great service. VOIP works great, I get better-than-advertised throughput (5 Mb down, instead the listed 3 Mb), and I've asked them repeatedly if I could run small servers off my connection and always been told "yes".

Now the rumor is that they're trying to bring fiber into homes and deliver television signals over the phone system.

Re:This is why I have ADSL... (1)

OldeTimeGeek (725417) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834506)

I could rant about the year of hell that SBC put me through trying to get their ADSL to work for more than a couple hours at a time, but I've already wasted enough of my life on them.

I'm happy it works for you.

Libertarians and tollroads (2, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834382)

Penn Jillette, in one of his books, wrote about how his ideal society would have all roads privately owned and managed. You'd pay as you went rather than paying for the road as part of your taxes. Those who used the road the most paid the most in tolls.

However, such a situation generally assumes that road operators would be willing to build roads out to remote areas where only a handful of customers would ever drive. It also assumes that these so-called "liberated" road owners would be unprejudiced individuals who weren't concerned about the any color but green. Unfortunately, both of these are just about impossible in the real world. You'll always have that last mile unpaved, and you'll always have owners who don't like a certain type of customer.

The solution is to mandate that the roads be publicly accessible, and if the owners are not willing to do so, that the government own the roads outright.

Blocking specific packets is not the role of the road owner, and if it ends up that such is the case, then that owner should be put out of business.

Re:Libertarians and tollroads (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834455)

Penn Jillette, in one of his books, wrote about how his ideal society would have all roads privately owned and managed. You'd pay as you went rather than paying for the road as part of your taxes. Those who used the road the most paid the most in tolls.
That's pretty much how it worked in the USA until the early 20th century. For example, the Lancaster Pike (variously known as Lincoln Highway, Lancaster Ave, and US 30) was built by a private company (although incorporated by the state legislature) in the 1790s as a toll road and finally purchased by PA in 1902. Roads are essential infrastructure and should not be privately owned under most circumstances.

Re:Libertarians and tollroads (0)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834477)

Let us be honest here for a second. Comcast blocking VOIP of a competitor is censorship. It is censorship by profit, but it's still censorship.

Imo they shouldn't be even able to positively discriminate their own VOIP offering by giving it higher priority on routers or something similar, because it would be like the postal services trying to put their new pidgeon mail protocol in the spotlight by blocking email.

I'm sure someone will mention: "but it is a private company and they can do whatever they want", but it is not true. Corporations should adhere the laws and if corporations don't respect basic human principles laws need to be made and enforced, which for example guarantee the integrity of the Internet by not letting corporations censor what goes on it. Also, why do I have a feeling that comcast won't be investigated for frauding it's customers? Comcast agreed to provide internet access to their users for a monthly fee, which technically means that comcast will forward traffic from their users towards the rest of the internet and vica versa.

Re:Libertarians and tollroads (1)

Syberghost (10557) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834596)

Comcast agreed to provide internet access to their users for a monthly fee, which technically means that comcast will forward traffic from their users towards the rest of the internet and vica versa.

Unless their contract with their users, into which their users enter voluntarily, says differently. Or are you only in favor of people's rights when they're rights you wish to exercise?

Re:Libertarians and tollroads (1)

Improv (2467) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834661)

Contracts can be based on a situation that is by nature coercive. There can be a public interest in overriding their specifics or entirety.

Re:Libertarians and tollroads (1)

somoose (780633) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834652)

I don't see how this post has a +3 score. Last time I checked the government was prohibited from censorsing the press but private corporations are not. As a matter of fact, I think it is becomming more and more expected that ISP's will do whatever they can to block viruses and spam, which menas that they are expected to NOT "forward traffic from their users towards the rest of the internet and vica versa." This isn't to say that Vonage is the same as a virus, it just points out that most customers now expect ISP's to perform some packet filtering and bit blocking. This being said, as a Comcast and Vonage customer I hope that this is a technical problem rather than a business plan. I fully plan to take my business to whichever ISP in my area provides the most open access to the internet so that I can use Vonage and other services. Like all of my neighbors, I have had problems with Comcast's HSI service over the past few months, especially with poor upload speeds, and the poor upload speeds have led to poor Vonage performance. I truly hope that another broadband alternative will become available soon which will provide non-discrimatory service and leave it up to me to decide what I want blocked.

Re:Libertarians and tollroads (1)

loraksus (171574) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834658)

Technically, they can argue that using a packetshaper and reducing the QoS on vonage bound packets isn't blocking.
Wouldn't be surprised if this was the case.

Re:Libertarians and tollroads (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14834544)

IT'S an industry undertaking uniformly adopting anti-competitive practices for the sole purpose of plugging into established (and should be extinct) companies.

These "established" companies waited to long and now can see their demise. Their pouring money into good specially targeted PR rather then R&D hoping to maintain the status quo of their obsolete industries (right now, they've got the money).

Not the brightest choice by any standard. If things are left, M$, Comcast, as well as many other tech companies will replace the industies at a fraction of the costs by obsolete industries. Personally, I'd soak them for all their worth and then leave them high and dry.

Vonage will sue? (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834392)

How is this legal?

Or is it that Comcast has full control of what gets sent through the bandwidth they provide?
Inquiring minds want to know.

Re:Vonage will sue? (1)

magefile (776388) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834496)

Technically, they have every right to filter what goes through the connection you lease from them (barring contractual violations - not sure if that applies here). But then they run the risk of losing common carrier status. IANAL, of course.

Re:Vonage will sue? (1)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834755)

It would be legal under the guise of their TOS.
Most if not all ISP's have 2 things in their TOS:
  • 1) there is no garuntee of service quality or throughput levels.
    If you get dropped packets but have a stable connection there is no problem from their POV.
  • 2) They reserve the right to filter trafic in order to meet business needs. RCN blocked incoming port 80 calls following the Code Red virus. Several ISP's block ougoing mail not directed through their mail server in an effort to keep themselves off the blacklists.

People need choice (1)

rtkluttz (244325) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834394)

These companies need some good old fashioned competition. When I buy unlimited internet, I don't expect security decisions to be made for me or any ports to be blocked. I want raw network access, no value added crap and I want to be able to do with it as I please.

I think it is time the gub'ment to step in and finally classify ISP's as common carriers that provide a raw network level service.

packet filtering can be good (1)

r00t (33219) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834612)

Think of it as cheap insurance against flood attacks. I can't deal with a 10 megabit/second flood coming my way. The provider sure can, though not for every customer at once. Floods are rare enough that the provider should be able to tolerate them, protecting my normal-speed connection from occasional multi-gigabit blasts.

Of course it would be nice if they'd let me adjust the settings via my account web page. That's a bit much to ask for from a company that has to deal with so many idiots and their spyware-infested Windows PCs.

Not enough upload (2, Informative)

DrRobert (179090) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834400)

I had Comcast and Vonage. Comcast's lower lever service has a limited upload cap which is not quite enough to get consistently clear calls, especially if you are doing anything else with the computer at the same time. It is not clear that this is a problem because they don't talk about upload bandwidth on the Vonage box, only total bandwidth, which Comcast technically meets. I cancelled Vonage after a couple of months, when I encountered almost comical ass-ness from the Vonage customer support. Those guys are complete bastards.

Re:Not enough upload (1)

kawika (87069) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834703)

Baloney. Bandwidth is not the problem. Comcast's upload cap is 384kb, which is enough for at least two good VoIP calls at once, if nothing else is using the link. It's possible that Comcast is doing traffic shaping to curb people they feel are bandwidth hogs. After all, "unlimited" does not really mean unlimited. You'll never see them admit that though.

Re:Not enough upload (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14834708)

I agree that Vonage are a bunch of nitwitted ass hats, I have to disagree wrt Comcast's upstream - I average 40 kilobytes upstream and had never had a problem with Vonage's quality.

Of course, I canceled Vonage anyway because their customer service is apparently a bunch of knuckle dragging morons.

Didn't an ISP already get busted for this? (1)

Newer Guy (520108) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834412)

If I remember, about a year ago here on Slashdot, I read about a DSL ISP who got busted by the FCC for doing exactly this. They got fined a heap of money. I pay for Internet and WANT Internet, NOT just port 80 for web browsing. So Far both Cox and Verizon DSL do NOT block VOIP - a good thing for me, as I have both of them.

Business move? (2, Interesting)

Dimentox (678813) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834422)

Comcast probably did this blocking to sell their own service.

They could justify the block with this part of their TOS.
http://www.comcast.net/terms/use.jsp [comcast.net]

"You shall ensure that your use of the Service does not restrict, inhibit, interfere with, or degrade any other user's use of the Service, nor represent (in the sole judgment of Comcast) an overly large burden on the network. In addition, you shall ensure that your use of the Service does not restrict, inhibit, interfere with, disrupt, degrade, or impede Comcast's ability to deliver and provide the Service and monitor the Service, backbone, network nodes, and/or other network services."

I have worked for ISP's where if someone is using to much bandwith we cut their connection. Most of the times ISP's oversell their network and hope that people dont use it up.

But i belive in this case this was just a shot to sell their own service, the main question is since its their network are they really ALLOWED to do this?

Re:Business move? (1)

That_Dan_Guy (589967) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834507)

I only just started having problems calling out in the last week. Yesterday I too noticed they are selling their own service.

I suspect you may be right.

As far legality goes, they've got the money to hire the lawyers to make whatever they want legal as far as the courts see. They just claim Vonage takes up too much bandwidth and therefore violates the Terms of Service agreement that says they alone determine who or what is using up too much bandwidth and causing problems on their network.

Time to dump Comcast it seems.

Re:Business move? (1)

ThePyro (645161) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834529)

I doubt a judge (or anybody with sense, really) would conceed that using Vonage's VoIP creates an overly large burden on the network, in light of the fact that Comcast is days away from rolling out their own VoIP. If VoIP created such a huge burden, then why would they start offering it themselves?

Re:Business move? (2, Interesting)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834571)

But i belive in this case this was just a shot to sell their own service, the main question is since its their network are they really ALLOWED to do this?

Sure, just as soon as they give up all their lines using publicly owned right of ways and are willing to no longer be protected from legal action for all the copyrighted material and kiddie porn they republish from router to router. That is to say, when they are no a government mandated local monopoly with special protections and privileges they can stop upholding the responsibilities of a common carrier that requires that treat everyone on their network, including services they offer themselves, equally.

Comcast Generally Sucks (2, Interesting)

xrecruit (956246) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834423)

I have been working with one of their local spot advertising reps, and was informed that "They may not be willing to work with me, because I have a competing product." Its too bad this kind of thing is even legal--From an economic standpoint, competition benefits consumers. Their rep has been shady, she said a 30-second spot (with my parameters) costs $3,000 to produce, but when I spoke to the producer, he laughed and said at most $500, and sometimes they do the first one for free. When I ask the rep questions over e-mail, she says "Call me on this one." Obviously she wants to go off the record... All in all, its really shitty dealing with them. My product is local, and they are the best tool to reach my audience--so I really need them, but I have been looking into other avenues, including local broadcast advertising...

Common carrier status? (1)

Old Man Kensey (5209) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834424)

The solution to these kinds of games by telcos and cable companies is to remove whatever legal protections the perpetrators may enjoy under common-carrier or similar legal theories. When they suddenly become criminally liable for the unsavory activities of their users they'll rethink this idea.

Re:Common carrier status? (1)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834515)

ISPs generally don't have common carrier status.

From wikipedia: [wikipedia.org] "Internet Service Providers generally wish to avoid being classified as a "common carrier" and, so far, have managed to do so. Before 1996, such classification could be helpful in defending a monopolistic position, but the main focus of policy has been on competition, so "common carrier" status has little value for ISPs, while carrying obligations they would rather avoid. The key FCC Order on this point is: IN RE FEDERAL-STATE JOINT BOARD ON UNIVERSAL SERVICE, 13 FCC Rcd. 11501 (1998), which holds that ISP service (both "retail" and backbone) is an "information service" (not subject to common carrier obligations) rather than a "telecommunications service" (which might be classified as "common carriage")."

(This is the third time I point it out on /.)

Re:Common carrier status? (1)

Old Man Kensey (5209) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834705)

I read that very article before posting, which is why I said "or similar legal theories". Some ISPs might be considered common carriers for certain purposes -- if Verizon, a telco, starts providing VoIP over its FiOS fiber service, does Verizon FiOS become a common-carrier service? Current law is very unclear.

In any case, the business operations of Comcast and other cable companies depend on monopoly franchises granted by local governments. That means they have a responsibility beyond maximizing their own profit if they want to keep the monopoly that enables that profit. It's not "common-carrier" status, exactly, but it means they have a similar responsibility to provide service to customers on non-discriminatory terms if that's what the locality decides to require.

Re:Common carrier status? (1)

jauren (71647) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834668)

I hope this was a troll. This has got to be the most ass-backward wrong thing I've heard on Slashdot in some time... Do you really want your ISP breathing down your neck about what you do with the bandwidth you paid for b/c they're afraid that they'll be sued for what you do? What you suggest will have the exact opposite effect from what you seem to think. I suspect that perhaps you don't understand what common carrier status actually means. (Your choice of the word "legal theory" to describe it seems to back up that suspicion).

Comcast is a Nice Company (1)

JehCt (879940) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834425)

Oh come on, Comcast wouldn't be anti-competitive. They're in business for the good of their customers, and so is Vonage.

Have you ever tried to switch your service away from Vonage? Can you port your number to another provider? No. Should you be able to? Yes. Is Vonage just as guilty as Comcast? Yes. Will both companies hose customers if they can make more money? Yes. What can we do about it? Expose them and recommend that people switch.

Re:Comcast is a Nice Company (1)

Wheel Of Fish (305792) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834484)

Can you cite any examples of this? Have people been having problems porting their numbers away from Vonage?

Re:Comcast is a Nice Company (1)

IflyRC (956454) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834485)

Very true but I think I hate Comcast more. I use a local DSL provider now but a few years ago I used Comcast. I got upset with their cable service so I switched to satellite but wanted to keep my cable modem active - and I let the know that the cable modem service would continue.

They didn't just shut off service to both - they came out and physically removed the line from the box to my house! Thanks Comcast for pushing me away - I didn't need ya any way.

They just changed their DNS... (1)

TD-2779 (840642) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834426)

I got an email from Comcast today talking about how they've changed their DNS, & MY VOIP is down at the moment too. Don't know if they're related, but I bet that I manually assigned the old DNS info into my VOIP equipment when I first got it.

Perhaps this is what's happening to everyone else?

To be honest... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14834437)

To be honest, I don't think its VoIP they're blocking. Since their nationwide "upgrades" last week, no one in my town has been able to use any remote tools or VoIP, including PCAnywhere, Remote Desktop, or remote access to their IP of any sort (if you have a webserver setup, for example). They're definately having problems, I just don't know if they were done on purpose.

FTC needs to be all over this one (1)

egarland (120202) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834462)

Purposfully degrading the quality or blocking certain network trafic to hinder a competitor's ability to compete with you is clear cut anti-competitve behavior and illegal in the US. This type of underhanded "cheating" to make your service look better by making someone elses look worse must be wildly tempting for a company that both provides connectivity and competes with others to provide services on top of that connectivity but no ammount of tempation makes it any less illegal.

Any Comcast employee asked to do something that would cause this better make damn sure they document who asked them and why to make sure when the FTC comes knocking and the fingers point at you, you have a way to point the finger at someone else.

And stop it! Compete by serving the customers needs as best you can, not by hindering others ability to do the same.

Qualtiy of Service (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834656)

make your service look better by making someone elses look worse

That's what quality of service is all about and why putting intelligence in the network is stupid and wrong. No matter how fast your equipment gets, decisions take time that could better be spent just moving the data. No matter how good you make yourself look, you are never your best. Common carriers should never engage in net shaping other than routing around damage or pulling the plug on spambots and infected machines.

Doing a better job carrying Vonage bits? (2, Funny)

magefile (776388) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834466)

Why should Vonage get special treatment? After all, it's not like Comcast does a decent job carrying *anybody's* bits.

Re:Doing a better job carrying Vonage bits? (1)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834523)

There is a difference between doing more for certain bits (which would not be expected) and making sure to do less (illegal and not to be expected)

I empathize with the victims (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14834472)

But this is how it works in a truly free market, if the victims want to they can switch to another ISP, nobody is stopping them. The alternative is socialism and all the ills that come with it. I for one would rather not be able to use VOIP than be ruled by socialists.

Thank you Comcast (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834480)

You have given me another reason not to keep your service when I move. Between the constant blacked out and pixelation of tv channels, the high price of said cable channels, the moronic tech who said my surge suppressor was the reason some of my channels were snowy even though I had the device for years and had no problems and which said problems were fixed a few hours after I reattached the suppressor, your usurpation of the last 7 minutes of CNN Headline news at the top and bottom of every hour (which means I miss the interesting stories) and your continuing bombardment of ads for your shitty CN8 channel as if the high schoolish production quality is offset by your idiot hosts, I can and will laugh in the persons face (via the phone) when they try to convince me to keep your service.

This, if true, is a completely unacceptable practice and just another indication of what a waste of resources you are.

Re:Thank you Comcast (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834735)

I had Comcast for years and their customer service was lousy, usually ineffectual, and their service over-priced. Not to mention the constant outages that used to seem to take place when I was in the middle of something for work. Nothing quite like picking up the pieces when the Internet connection drops out! Mind you, I'm with Cablevision now, and the service has not improved, though I have no trouble with the Internet connection. I can't get them to change the phone number on my account with any success (I've tried three times).

I think it's the state of cable companies in general. Despite laws that were supposed to be giving us competition and lower prices, you can't get service from whatever cable company you want where you want, their prices all seem to be the same (high), and apparently they can dictate the terms of service with impunity. What are you going to do, run to a competitor? Doesn't suprise me that Comcast is using this leverage to hold Vonage down while they launch their own service. Until there's real reform, expect more of the same.

What Comcast actually blocks is (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834517)

What Comcast actually blocks is a rewarding customer experience, and the desire to continue paying them money. I've never had a pleasant experience dealing with Comcast, but unfortunately, they are the only cable company available to me currently. Verizon FIOS will be here soon, and the noise you hear will be the sound of my cable modem shattering on the driveway.... Not that I expect Verizon to be nicer or anything, but it will be good to have competition and a new set of foreign national customer service reps.

A good way to fix this... (1)

michaelas (588213) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834559)

Someone mentioned the idea of privatizing the public roads. Why? It's worked as it is and promotes commerce and free enterprise. In fact the public roads have benefited us so much, the wires to our houses should also be public. This would promote compeition among internet carriers and cause a bunch of other services such as VOD and VOIP to florish. It wouldn't prevent others from connecting wires or building wireless networks, but it would ensure competition.

It needs some tweaking, but here is the plan:
http://michaelsilver.us/?p=1 [michaelsilver.us]

...Michael...

Similar things are happening in Greece (1)

pyrrhos (227998) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834562)

This is not new to greek ADSL users...
The company OTE is Greece's main telephony and adsl provider. However, the adsl lines (which are by the way extremely expensive) are crippled and it is impossible for many subscribers to use any voip service (skype, voipbuster etc.). This is done as follows:
The advertised bandwidth is provided on a packet rate basis! (of course not officially, but very easy to test) assuming a maximum MTU of 1500, which of course means that any application that uses small packets (see voip etc.) is doomed not to work as the bandwidth plummets. This is blamed by OTE to network congestion, not able to guarantee bandwidth and other bla blas that you have signed for when getting the adsl line. It just happens that it is very convenient for the major telephony provider in Greece! It is ridiculous but true.
For anybody interested there is a very long thread [adslgr.com] where we, the victims, discuss our frustration (in greek)

Comcast sucks... but the option is Bellsouth (1)

sgent (874402) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834568)

I've been doing some troubleshooting on my comcast connection. I wrote a python script to ping comcast.net and google.com 10 times every 5 minues, since I was having a lot of intermittent problems.

It seems that every 6 hours or so (like clockwork), my average ping times go to 600+ (from under 100), and my avg. dropped packets go to 10%+. I'm not convinced this is comcast shaping vonage -- but rather that they generally suck.

Unfortunately, my only other option is Bellsouth -- which does sell business class DSL here w/o a telephone subscription. I don't think in 6 months they will be any better given their recent comments.

Any suggestions?

It's been similar for Charter... (1)

garylian (870843) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834578)

I live in the North Texas area. Charter communications has been the big cable internet provider in this area for seemingly forever. And, in the last few months, they have had their service for cable internet degrade horribly.

Many of my neighbors used VoIP, and were unable for hours at a time to use their phones. It's the major reason I never went to VoIP.

Just about a month ago, Verizon threw down fiber optics, and within a few weeks, offered their FiOS service. For basically the same price as Charter's fastest service of 3Mb down / 384KB up, I got 15Mb down / 5Mb up. The best part is I have better stability of my internet service. In less than 2 weeks, 25% of all of Charter's customers in one neighborhood switched, and another 25% will go in the next month.

I am still seeing interruptions at times, making me wonder if something is going on with the backbone somewhere in this area. But everything is sure flying, now. And all my immediate neighbors say their VoIP is much better with the switch.

To their credit, it probably isn't intentional.... (1)

loraksus (171574) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834584)

It's just when you oversell your service, everyone ends up with shitty QoS - and since Vonage's protocol likes bandwidth (skype has much, much lower bandwidth reqs), naturally, their stuff doesn't work all that well.

That said, they have been jacking their rates while at the same time killing off features - newsgroups, static ip addresses, and of course, the ever decreasing transfer limit (I don't believe there is a place in the USA where you are allowed to transfer more than 80 gigs combined up / down monthly and some areas have a much lower transfer limit) which is usually magically secret.

Just be glad you still have an alternative and that DSL is available and has slightly friendier terms of service - I've recently moved up to Canada where the Cable and DSL offerings are virtually the same - both pretty much useless - 30 gigs combined transfer, high latency and very slow speeds during the day.
In fact, just a couple months ago, Shaw decided to cut speeds, and then, at the same time, brought out a "Extreme" package for another $10 a month. They advertised it a lot, but forgot to mention that the speed "increase" was just "increasing it to what you had before we chopped it".
And just like in comcast's case vonage doesn't work all that well..

All I'm saying is that this ever decreasing level of service is inevitable, you have Bell South playing games, and, of course, comcast. These big ISPs have finaly realized that they are the only broadband providers out there for a majority of their customers and can do pretty much anything they want and people won't switch because they can't. /ex-victim of comcast //Now I wish someone would go on a shooting spree at Shaw ///Would be ok if the same thing happened to some of the Comcast folks.

Re:To their credit, it probably isn't intentional. (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834620)

Just like to point out you can configure Vonnage to use lower bitrate codecs. Just most people leave it at 64kbps. IIRC you can go all the way down to GSM CELP at 8kbps.

Even a dialup modem can handle 8kbps reliably.

Tom

Re:To their credit, it probably isn't intentional. (1)

loraksus (171574) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834725)

Yeah, that is true, and I was going to mention it. But I had problems with Vonage under Comcast (and with my new connection up here) even when I set the bitrate to lowest quality. Besides, a good chunk of the problems is the voip box having an intermittent connection with the server.

I don't want to sound like I'm advertising skype, but I've been on 3 way conference calls with people on dialup lines in Germany and haven't had any issues with sound quality and I've used skype quite a bit when my vonage service was out and I just felt like making a call and not screwing around with the voip box again.

Re:To their credit, it probably isn't intentional. (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834759)

I think your ISP just sucks.

I use Vonnage as my home phone and it's 95% of the time just fine. I do get the occasional "unrecoverable 1.5 second lag" bullshit. But I'd say the vast majority of calls are crystal clear.

Coupled with the fact it forwards to my cell phones and I can call anywhere in North America for unlimited time ... it's pretty decent.

Skype is ok too. I don't have anything against it. And I don't represent Vonnage.

I just like the service is all. ... stupid cold ... arrg.... day go faster!!!!

Tom

I experienced this (1)

netsavior (627338) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834589)

vonage sucked with comcast, my bandwidth was very consistant and MMOs and other more-intensive (even 2 way intensive) apps worked fine. my new connection is about 1/6 the speed and Vonage works great, I cannot play MMOs because my bandwidth sucks so bad.

Competition Injection Needed (1)

ROOK*CA (703602) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834591)

Seems to me it's definitely time for a new round of "fierce" competition in the ISP space, since the .COM bubble burst it seems that we're getting more and more consolidation in the residential space. I liked the idea of community (city) built/owned networks, however it appears that the big players have moved to kill off that idea as well (and have had some success).

Perhaps WiMax will open things up a bit or neighborhoods getting fiber to the curb, and I think it's sorely needed since it's no surprise at all the Cox is making moves (or perhaps will make moves) to inhibit other VoIP services on their network, after all they want to sell their customers on EVERY possible service they can and milk every dime out of them (hey they are in business to make a profit after all).

As far as Cox Internet goes, they've been getting more and more restrictive as time goes by, I remember getting a Cox broadband subscription pretty early on their deployment (late 90's) and you could run any service you wanted on a residential subscription, not to mention the bi-directional speed was only limited by the number of subscribers on your segment.... well those days are LONG gone :(

I wonder how long it's going to take them to implement a "pay for QoS" levels on top of their current tiering packages...sigh.

common carrier (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834607)

It seems every 3 months or so ISPs forget they're common carriers. You can't limit traffic beyond the tech specs and then say "we're not responsible for what the traffic represents".

Being immune from prosecution is a privilege extended because you're enabling the citizens to live peacefully and freely.

Otherwise the MPAA and RIAA may want to have a chat with you.

That and if Comcast is really doing this then fuck them. Make it expensive for them to suck. E.g. share connections with your neighbours, call tech support all the time, fight over every line of your bill (even if there is only one), etc...

Seek out competitors if possible which sadly is not always possible (hey, you need monopolies afterall!).

But most importantly don't buy Comcast VoIP at all. Go back to a POTS if you have to. Giving them more business just encourages this radically stupid behaviour.

Tom

ISPs are not "common carriers" exactly (1)

Old Man Kensey (5209) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834629)

According to the FCC, Internet service providers are "information services", not common carriers. They exist under a different but related set of legal regulations (see In re Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service, 13 FCC Rcd. 11501 (1998)).

Re:ISPs are not "common carriers" exactly (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834674)

Whoops sorry.

My point though is that if they want to claim they let all non-abuse traffic through and are not responsible (for say piracy or kiddie porn) then they ought not to modify legitimate packets and data.

Of course I live in a country where GSM comes from ... Rogers. It's direct competitor is ... Rogers (there is only one GSM provider in Canada).

You can get net access from ... Bell Canada or .... Rogers.

etc...

You think your monopolies suck in the USA. Here in Canada we put the "pwned" in Monopwnedly.

Tom

Re:common carrier (1)

ROOK*CA (703602) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834633)

But most importantly don't buy Comcast VoIP at all

Here, here... well said, screw Cox and their dreams of owning every form of communication under the Sun.

E-911 (1)

chrispix (624431) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834614)

This almost makes me want to get comcast, hook up my VOIP to their network, and then have an emergency where I can't dial E911 b/c they are blocking calls. OOoh that sounds like a lawsuit ready to happen. I can't wait. Yay for E911!

I can tell you my experience with Comcast & Vo (1)

SensitiveMale (155605) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834631)

I had been using Vonage with my Comcast cable modem with no problems for over 2 years. Last last summer, I started having severe problems with Vonage. Calls sounded like very poor cell phone calls and a 4 to 5 second delay from when I spoke and the person acknowledged they heard me.

I called Comcast to complain. After 3 service calls in 2 months, I finally was tired of the problems and went with Verizon DSL for 2/3rds the cost of Comcast broadband.

Vonage works perfectly again.

Comcast and VoIP (1)

Feneric (765069) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834639)

This agrees with my own experiences with Comcast. I was testing VoIP through my own local company and for the first couple of weeks it worked great. However, in the past month or two things changed dramatically. Now VoIP calls are 100% guaranteed to disconnect during a conversation and are very choppy even when they work.

Running mtr shows lots a significant amount of packet loss though and lots of jitter; it may not be enough to affect e-mail or web browsing, but it's plenty enough to disrupt VoIP.

No problems here (1)

moracity (925736) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834660)

I've been a Comcast internet customer for 4 years. I've seen it go from 1.5 Mbps to 6.6Mbps with only one $3 price increase. In 4 years, I've only had service interruption twice and both times were within a single day.

I've been a Vonage customer for a few months and have had no issues with them except some weirdness now and then with the phone not ringing when someone calls. In those cases, I do get my email notification that there is a voicemail. We've also had a couple issues where someone could not reach our number at all. That hasn't happened since the first week after the transition, so it must have worked itself out.

I will certainly be keeping an eye out for problems.

I loathe Comcast (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14834677)

They were the only viable ISP for a while in my area. I couldn't get DSL, satellite was prohibitively expensive, so I was stuck with them for several years. I adopted the "Comcast is evil" slogan, and spent way too much time trying to find something different. They've done nasty things like had spyware their "required" software for connected PCs and other assorted privacy violating fun. Their service was clueless and suck. They didn't even try to support linux. They didn't supply static IP's or a service to allow me to stand up servers legally. Service dropped often, robbing me of important gaming time. They made me hate.

When DSL finally rolled out in my area, I cancelled my internet service with Comcast. The following is the shortened version of my call to Comcast to cancel my service:

Me: I want to cancel my broadband service with you guys.
Phone Jockey: May I ask why you want to cancel?
Me: Because Comcast is evil.
PJ: We're.... evil?
Me: Yes.
PJ: (hesitantly)Well, is there anything we can do to keep you as a customer?
Me: Nope. (kicking myself for not replying "Not be evil")

It wasn't much, but damnit it made me feel better.

ComCuss and RoadRunarounder (1)

Wansu (846) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834714)



I'm not surprised that VoIP doesn't play well over ComCuss or RoadRunarounder. I was with Roadrunarounder for 3 years. The first year and a half was flawless. Then came the packet loss. They claimed it was "signal strength". They replaced our cable drop with RJ6 but the problem came back. Then they replaced the hybrid splitter transformer but the packet loss reared it's head after a few months. Then the packet loss went away for 4 or 5 months and it was smooth sailing. It reared it's head again and RoadRunarounder denied there was a problem. Then they had techs measure it. It was so bad I couldn't ssh to a shell account. I showed them this and their response was that they don't support that. At first, their tech support didn't understand what ssh was. If it ain't web or email, they don't understand it. I gave up and switched to DSL with a small local company 3 years ago and it's been smooth sailing since.

 

Throttling (1)

CsiDano (807071) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834722)

On the issue of suspected throttling, some companies are saying they should be allowed. I don't know how it works for all companies, but, I pay for tiered service already, tiered service should be for bandwidth only, not content. I pay for extra bandwidth and I pay a lot for it. So far my internet provider has not tried to stop or limit voip, however they did call to offer me their more expensive voip, which coincidentaly offers less than what Vonage gives me. For now I will assume this is US issue as I don't know anyone here in Canada that is on voip and having bandwidth problems, except that Newfie on dialup that subscribed to vonage.

Vonage + Comcast (1)

SparcPlug (911168) | more than 8 years ago | (#14834760)

I have 8M/768k sevice with Comcast and have had Vonage service for about a year. Works fine, always has. I have a unique setup though. I opted to setup one of linksys PAP2 units behind my router (a freebsd box). I also have the freebsd box using QOS so I can be downloading 3-4 torrents without getting any echo or anything. These accusations smell of anti-Comcast marketing FUD. I've always had all the bandwidth I've been allotted. I'm actually getting comcast's phone service as soon as it's available in my area so I can take some rules out of my firewall and expect that it'll perform better then the Vonage. In addition, it seems that Vonage shouldn't be using any more than one sixth of the 384k upload that folks get with the basic comcast service, maybe that's just me though. Why would 384k be insufficient for Vonage when the phone comanies have been squeaking QUALITY voice through significantly less for years.
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