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Congressman Tells Comcast, Hands Off BitTorrent

kdawson posted about 7 years ago | from the but-we-won't-make-no-laws dept.

The Internet 304

An anonymous reader writes "Just a few months back, the Net Neutrality debate was all but dead. Luckily for fans of a free Internet, the telcos are their own worst enemies. Recent stories involving Verizon Wireless blocking pro-choice groups, AT&T censoring Pearl Jam's anti-war comments from a streaming concert, and most recently, Comcast finally admitting to using anti-BitTorrent filters. The Net Neutrality debate would appear to be alive and kicking, with Congressman Rick Boucher (D-VA) being the first politician to make a public statement sharply criticizing Comcast's actions."

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Comcast Tesll Congressman: We Own Your Colleagues (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21115379)

Comcast Tesll Congressman: We Own Your Colleagues

Comcast has politely reminded this wayward congressman that in America laws are paid for by bribes. Comcast then offered the congressman a "campaign contribution", silencing his dissent. The system works.

Re:Comcast Tesll Congressman: We Own Your Colleagu (0, Troll)

DragonTHC (208439) | about 7 years ago | (#21115799)

I wish that weren't true.

sadly, we live in a facist state.

Re:Comcast Tesll Congressman: We Own Your Colleagu (4, Funny)

Sunburnt (890890) | about 7 years ago | (#21115931)

sadly, we live in a facist state.

Indeed. We demand that our presidents' faces be "presidential," discriminating against those with "non-presidential" faces. Facial discrimination is the great unspoken tragedy that stalks this nation. Fight facism now!

Re:Comcast Tesll Congressman: We Own Your Colleagu (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21116209)

I'd mod you up if I had any points, but I doubt many people realised the pun in your comment.

Re:Comcast Tesll Congressman: We Own Your Colleagu (2, Insightful)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about 7 years ago | (#21116521)

I wish that weren't true.

sadly, we live in a facist state.
Fascism: A system of government that promotes extreme nationalism, repression, anticommunism, and is ruled by a dictator.

And this is related to corporate purchasing of congressmen how, exactly?

Re:Comcast Tesll Congressman: We Own Your Colleagu (0, Troll)

Truekaiser (724672) | about 7 years ago | (#21116777)

no fascism is the merger of the government and one or more corperations.

Nice glasses (-1, Troll)

Brian Gordon (987471) | about 7 years ago | (#21115387)

Re:Nice glasses (1)

Stanistani (808333) | about 7 years ago | (#21115519)

He's a nerdy guy with glasses who's interested in technology.
This is Slashdot.
Seems nice enough to me.

Re:Nice glasses (5, Informative)

brandor (714744) | about 7 years ago | (#21115539)

Congressman Boucher rocks. He actually does a great job of getting things done for everyone. It doesn't hurt that he is all about technology either. He's probably the main force driving broadband adoption in Southwest Virginia (my home). Some the most recent things he's helped get accomplished are a major fiber optic pipe to Lebanon, VA (it's slowly making it's way to my small town), that pipe has convinced at least two global companies to set up shop in Southwest VA. Northrop Grumman being one and CGI-AMS being the other. He does such a great job and is liked so much that I don't think he has even had anyone oppose him in the election for the past several years. And if someone has opposed him, he won by such a margin that they might as well have not shown up. (This is me talking, I'm too lazy to look up any stats, so what I just said could be completely wrong. But, he rocks so much, it doesn't matter. Watch out Chuck Norris?)

Re:Nice glasses (1)

brandor (714744) | about 7 years ago | (#21115583)

I forgot to mention that he worked with Verizon and got a WiMax testbed started in my hometown. :) That was pretty freaking sweet.

Re:Nice glasses (4, Informative)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | about 7 years ago | (#21115713)

Boucher was also one of the most vocal opponents of Clinton's impeachment, and has also been on record criticizing the excesses DMCA as well. He's one of the few congressmen that I'm actually glad is in in office.

Re:Nice glasses (0, Troll)

Myopic (18616) | about 7 years ago | (#21116109)

Boucher was also one of the most vocal opponents of Clinton's impeachment, and has also been on record criticizing the excesses DMCA as well.

Well, hey, 50% ain't so bad, all things considered. Strange such a great right-minded congressman would oppose the removal of a President who deliberately and directly lied to the American people. Does he also oppose a Bush removal? I support/supported both removals, for the same reason: if you are President, you can't lie to me, ever, for any reason. You may, if necessary, tell me you can't answer (national security, cf. Bush) or that the question is stupid and you refuse to answer (personal life, cf. Clinton); but you may not choose to answer the question with a baldfaced lie. So I think it's sad that Boucher doesn't see it that way.

Re:Nice glasses (0)

kjkeefe (581605) | about 7 years ago | (#21116677)

Admittedly, Clinton shouldn't have lied. But, impeaching him because he lied about a BJ is a waste of everyone's time. Bush lying about an illegal war and causing the deaths of thousands of American citizens and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths? Yeah, he should be drawn and quartered for that...

Re:Nice glasses (1, Funny)

DA-MAN (17442) | about 7 years ago | (#21115777)

Remember the time Bobby Boucher showed up at halftime and the Mud Dogs won the Bourbon Bowl do ya?

I love... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21115393)

I love the smell of kdawson stories in the morning. They smell like... controversy.

Re:I love... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21115413)

I thought they just smelled like shit

If Rick Boucher is the only one talking about it.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21115499)

There is no controversy. He's probably the only guy up there that gives a damn about YRO.

Re:I love... (1, Funny)

feed_me_cereal (452042) | about 7 years ago | (#21115521)

Quick! One of the 7 stories kdawson posted this morning is related to ploitics! Everybody freak out!!!

Great start (5, Funny)

martin_henry (1032656) | about 7 years ago | (#21115421)

As a Comcast customer in Virginia, I am glad that Congressman Boucher is taking a stand for net neutrality. Mostly because I need to get my share ratio back up.

Re:Great start (5, Funny)

TheRequiem13 (978749) | about 7 years ago | (#21115467)

Hopefully not on OiNK. :/

Re:Great start (1)

mandark1967 (630856) | about 7 years ago | (#21115633)

I LOL'd in RL. Someone mod parent up, please :)

Re:Great start (2)

jagdish (981925) | about 7 years ago | (#21115647)

I agree, there are a lot of Linux ISO's out there that need to be seeded.

Re:Great start (4, Interesting)

spottedkangaroo (451692) | about 7 years ago | (#21115875)

Ubuntu needs to get bit torrent (or any other distributed p2p sharing actually) for things like the update manager and apt-get . It may already do it, I don't really know for sure, but I doubt it. Personally I'd throw 500KB/s at it if it were possible to do so. I sit on a bunch of distro .isos at that rate from work and my boss is cool with it. Anyway, when I excitedly upgraded ubuntu to 7.10 on my laptop last friday, it took some 6 hours to download everything and it seemed a little silly since there's plenty of people like me that would willingly share some spare upstream.

Re:Great start (4, Informative)

compro01 (777531) | about 7 years ago | (#21116053)

you can get debtorrent [] for that i believe.

Re:Great start (1, Insightful)

griffjon (14945) | about 7 years ago | (#21116663)

Yeah, too bad that as a VA Comcast subscriber, you might never hear from your congressman again. Not because he's been offed, just because you're probably a Triple-Play (Cable/Voip/Net) subscriber and Comcast now controls everything you see and hear.

Best of luck with that!

Comcast seems to be fast (5, Interesting)

Technician (215283) | about 7 years ago | (#21115487)

Am I the first to notice that Comcast may have removed the filter? Last night I started the Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon DVD download. I thought it would be done this morning, but I noticed the network switch still blinking like crazy. I logged in and checked the status. The download is done. I checked the upload status...

1286 K uploaded at a rate of 20KB/s. This is the first time in weeks I have seen upload speeds better than 0.0 KB/s and a transfered size larger than 0.1 KB. Since I am finally able to help spread Ubuntu, I'll let it run all day. Maybe I'll be able to upload more than I download for a change. Seeing any upload traffic after a completed download is highly unusual on Comcast lately.

Re:Comcast seems to be fast (1)

martin_henry (1032656) | about 7 years ago | (#21115571)

That sounds promising. I was still not able to upload as of early yesterday evening (Oct 25), but I will definitely check again tonight.

Re:Comcast seems to be fast (4, Funny)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | about 7 years ago | (#21115781)

Yes, we'll all pretend that's what you were really downloading. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more.

Re:Comcast seems to be fast (1)

Technician (215283) | about 7 years ago | (#21116043)

Yes, we'll all pretend that's what you were really downloading. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more.

Cut and paste... /tmp/gutsy-dvd-i386.iso.torrent /home/-------/Ubuntu/gutsy-dvd-i386.iso
4336.0 of 4336.0 MB at 63.49 KB/s
16 hours, 59 minutes, and 51 seconds

Re:Comcast seems to be fast (3, Funny)

guaigean (867316) | about 7 years ago | (#21116705)


Re:Comcast seems to be fast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21116733)

Cut and paste... /tmp/gutsy-dvd-i386.iso.torrent /home/-------/Ubuntu/gutsy-dvd-i386.iso
4336.0 of 4336.0 MB at 63.49 KB/s
16 hours, 59 minutes, and 51 seconds

Yes! That should prove it without a shred of doubt.

Re:Comcast seems to be fast (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | about 7 years ago | (#21116525)

I have a half dozen or so live shows by The Black Keys on perpetual seed and I haven't noticed much of a difference.

Re:Comcast seems to be fast (1)

Erik Noren (926115) | about 7 years ago | (#21116583)

I'm on Comcast in Arlington, VA.

Oddly enough, the night before last I started the Gutsy Gibbon DVD download as well. Speeds weren't terrific on the download but I was shocked to see any upload speed at all. It took all night but in the morning it was fully downloaded. The upload was at a paltry 6Kb but I decided to let it run, set the ratio to unlimited and came home to find it still going.

There was only 1 peer connected and an updated to my client (with some nice new features) so I disconnected, did the update and jumped back on. Within a few minutes, I had a couple peers and was uploading 12-18Kb again (max upload I've ever seen approached 25Kb and not for very long). I had only about 1.2GB uploaded so I left it running. I didn't check it this morning but I hope it continues. I'm planning to seed until I need to shut down to install the new Mac OS this weekend. ;)

The speeds aren't super but to get anything out is amazing. I'm even giving a shot back at trackers that require you to keep a good share ratio since I can contribute again.

Sigh (5, Insightful)

bucky0 (229117) | about 7 years ago | (#21115493)

Guys, if we want to win the argument on Net Neutrality, we can't keep confusing QOS with NN. If they want to indescriminantly block bittorrent, that's QOS. Saying that QOS runs afoul of NN means that later Comcast can say, "Look, if you enforce net neutrality, we won't be able to do QOS on our networks which means that internet tv will be bogged down"

NN is preferential shaping based on the source of the data. QOS is preferential shaping based on the type of data.

Re:Sigh (1)

_14k4 (5085) | about 7 years ago | (#21115601)

I know... but this one type of data comes from only, really, one source: "OMGCOPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT!!1" So, really, it's NN, no? :P

Re:Sigh (1, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | about 7 years ago | (#21116369)

I hope you're being facetious. No. This one type of data comes from tens of thousands of other BitTorrent clients across the internet. It does not come from "only... one source".

This has nothing to do with network neutrality. Zip. Zilch. Zero. This is precisely the sort of shaping that saner heads think is appropriate. Your BitTorrent download takes a little longer to ensure that my VoIP works at all.

QoS is all about prioritizing traffic based on what will happen if it gets dropped on the floor. With VoIP traffic, a small delay hoses everything. With FTP, a download can be slowed down almost arbitrarily, but you can't guarantee that it can be killed and will restart without starting from scratch. BitTorrent, however, can be killed over and over and will always recover. Thus, BitTorrent traffic is the least important traffic on the internet. It is bulk traffic---large volume transfers that can be safely delayed without consequence.

Network neutrality is about preventing companies from taking advantage of their ability to do traffic shaping and using it to blackmail other companies into giving them money to avoid having their traffic deprioritized. It is basically about preventing the Comcasts of the world from picking Google up and shaking the change from their pockets. It is about ensuring that the AT&Ts of the world can't do QoS to ensure high quality for their own VoIP solution but give bottom tier bulk priority to VoIP traffic from Skype or Vonage users. It is about preventing something that is genuinely unfair to individual people or corporations on the 'net, not about preventing something that's a slight inconvenience to people who use a certain low priority protocol---and it is a low priority protocol. The world won't end if your BitTorrent download takes seven hours instead of six.

Re:Sigh (4, Informative)

mikael_j (106439) | about 7 years ago | (#21115615)

Completely blocking an entire protocol isn't QoS, Qos is about giving priority to certain types of traffic that need lower latency or more bandwidth, an example would be VoIP which needs low latency to not become useless.

What Comcast has been doing is outright blocking an entire protocol, sort of like how some ISPs block their users' ability to use SMTP, mostly outbound but in some cases inbound as well. The difference being that there is a good reason to block outbound SMTP, it may be a PITA for those trying to run their own mail server but at least the reason isn't so much direct greed as it is to protect the network at large from zombie machines trying to spam the rest of the net...


Re:Sigh (3, Insightful)

Alistar (900738) | about 7 years ago | (#21116165)

If you are fine with them blocking SMTP to protect their network from zombie machines running large, why is it wrong for them to block bitTorrent to prevent their network from grinding to a halt. (Arguements of "unlimited" internet aside)

Both have legitimate and devious uses.

Re:Sigh (5, Insightful)

Andy Dodd (701) | about 7 years ago | (#21116231)

Actually, they're not blocking an entire protocol.

They're actively resetting ANY TCP connection that involves uploading significant amounts of data for more than a few seconds.

There have been numerous reports of this killing Lotus Domino connections too, and I wouldn't be surprised if I found lots of complaints on the SmugMug forums about people being unable to upload pictures if they were on Comcast. (Same traffic patterns - lots of upload for a while.)

Still, anything that involves resetting/blocking connections is not QoS. I don't think people would care if BT were the "bottom of the barrel" and was superseded by any other traffic type - it would still be wicked fast at 3 AM. The problem here is that Comcast is actively killing connections regardless of what the actual status of the rest of the network is, instead of taking advantage of TCP's built in congestion control mechanisms to slow things down.

I worry that if done wrong, legislation will be passed that even forbids QoS, which will make things really bad for both users and ISPs. The legislation would have to have wording that QoS is OK as long as the "bottom of the barrel" protocols are able to use full bandwidth when no one else is using the network.

Re:Sigh (3, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | about 7 years ago | (#21116441)

The ironic thing is that this is more likely to hurt people who download files by FTP or HTTP than BitTorrent. It should not be hard at all to tune BitTorrent use a larger number of shorter-lived connections. Of course, doing so would basically bring down Comcast's network pretty hard, as it would increase the overhead of BitTorrent traffic fairly dramatically.... I wonder if they've thought about what they are likely to create by doing this....

Re:Sigh (4, Insightful)

Paradigm_Complex (968558) | about 7 years ago | (#21115639)

There's definately some blurring between the two. There's a problem if I payed for my internets and don't use internet TV or phone or the like, so my bandwidth is shot because my interests are considered less important. If Internet TV or Internet Phone or whatnot require X amount of bandwidth, have people pay for that much bandwidth, don't suck it out from other paying customers. QOS is a subset of NN - so yes, QOS will take a blow if NN is enforced. As it should be. My bits are just as important as the next guy.

Re:Sigh (1)

The -e**(i*pi) (1150927) | about 7 years ago | (#21116085)

you only go from having each packet delivered in 20 ms, to each packet delivered in 200 ms and maybe not even that bad. 200 ms more time for a bittorrent download is not going to kill you, and the VOIP guys will use less bandwidth since they don't have to make up for high latency and loss. QOS does not have to be limiting bandwidth, it is more about latency, well depending on the algorithm it may be different. with QOS you can use the FULL internet pipe all the time and in an ideal scenario thats what, 50mbps/10? rather than an artificial 2-8/.364-768 mbps limit. The only catch is that the traffic that is defined as Urgent gets through immediately without interruption, and your bittorrent traffic gets ALL the leftover bandwidth rather than whatever the marketing department says you can use. and who says they can't charge more for data you mark as urgent and let you define urgent if you are willing to pay, and give people whatever is left over for a low rate for those grandmas that only use email once a day.

Re:Sigh (5, Funny)

bkr1_2k (237627) | about 7 years ago | (#21116255)

"My bits are just as important as the next guy."

Yes but your bits aren't as large as the next guy's so you'll have to compensate with a cool car.

Re:Sigh (1)

mdmkolbe (944892) | about 7 years ago | (#21115651)

Good definition. But where does spam/virus blocking fit into this? One could say that spam is "just" an e-mail like any other.

Even more importantly, how would you write a law that avoid the sort of unintended consequences that arise when these are confused (e.g. someone claiming that virus blocking is censorship).

Re:Sigh (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 7 years ago | (#21115879)

opt-in blocking? leave the choice on it to the customer.

by default, ISP is not allowed to block anything (QoS only when necessary (peak hours), but nothing else), but if the customer says they want spam/viruses/bittorrent blocked, the ISP jumps in and enables that for them on a per-customer basis. if they find they want bittorrent unblocked for at a later date, off goes the block.

Re:Sigh (0, Flamebait)

Lugor (628175) | about 7 years ago | (#21115697)

Um no. If you want to win this argument, you keep it simple stupid (KISS). You don't throw in grey areas and technicality's that only techies and geeks can understand. You make a simple point and keep repeating it over, and over and over again.

It's worked for the Bush Administration and the Republicans for the past 7 years.

Re:Sigh (1)

ElBeano (570883) | about 7 years ago | (#21115855)

Yes, but that's winning the battle and losing the war. KISS is not always appropriate, and as a principle, it is why Evolution continues to flail at winning the majority of American minds. Understanding the underlying principles of science on this last front, and understanding the arguments for free and open networks on the front that is central to this story, are both prerequisite to "winning the war".

Re:Sigh (3, Insightful)

compro01 (777531) | about 7 years ago | (#21115767)

fine if they re-prioritise (VOIP/games before bitrorrent/FTP) and traffic shape (websites/IPTV/etc. work normal, BT runs slower) stuff when necessary (peak hours), but when they're sabotaging a protocol all the time for no good reason, that ticks me off and shouldn't be allowed.

my personal idea of NN is "don't shape by origin/destination ever, shape by traffic only when absolutely necessary".

Re:Sigh (1)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | about 7 years ago | (#21116327)

Agreed, and the solution they've chosen to use (I.E. sending end packets) doesn't even allow them to keep track of how much traffic users WANT to send.

End result they won't know if their network can handle 15% of user demand or 5% and eventually they won't care!

Their IT guys go home thinking that the network is only using 40% of bandwidth because they killed everything that might use more bandwidth, also they're attacking upload... which doesn't make any sense since they buy syncronous links to the net... WHY DO ISPS NEED ALL THIS SURPLUS UPSTREAM?!

Re:Sigh (1)

PPH (736903) | about 7 years ago | (#21116329)

my personal idea of NN is "don't shape by origin/destination ever, shape by traffic only when absolutely necessary".

That seems like a fair policy. But the broadband operators aren't likely to give up on billing the endpoints. To quote Willie Sutton [] "That's where the money is."

Re:Sigh (2, Insightful)

xigxag (167441) | about 7 years ago | (#21115923)

NN is preferential shaping based on the source of the data. QOS is preferential shaping based on the type of data.

That's a nice soundbite but it's an oversimplfication.

If I'm using up the majority of the bandwidth on my block downloading files, and Comcast decides to throttle me, they're doing QoS, even if they're just totally throttling my speed without regard to the type of data.

They also are doing QoS if they throttle my uploads, although it's preferentiial shaping based on the source of the data, namely, my house.

And one could imagine that Comcast could decide they're going to allow one form of P2P, their own (imaginary) protocol "crapcast," patented, and end-to-end encrypted. For which, of course, you'd have to pay a monthly surcharge and 3rd party providers would need to obtain licenses at exorbitant rates. Every other form of p2p they would block, based upon type of data. Even so, that would be NN.

Re:Sigh (2, Informative)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | about 7 years ago | (#21116007)

Comcast's treatment of goes even farther though, they simply terminate the stream. It's one thing to have it slow down or lower priority than other services, but halting or ending transfers is a different matter.

Re:Sigh (2, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | about 7 years ago | (#21116233)

If they want to indescriminantly block bittorrent, that's QOS.

Not unless they're equally blocking ALL other P2P protocols, including those used by major companies...

What if they were blocking SIP (Vonage, et al.), but giving a high priority to their own company's proprietary, non-SIP, VoIP protocol? Gee, if you'd just license the technology from them, you too can get high-priority on your traffic...

Re:Sigh (1)

Wildclaw (15718) | about 7 years ago | (#21116275)

From my viewpoint, QoS and End Point Differentiation are just two different parts of Net Neutrality. If a company are using their own protocol, ISPs can blackmail that company by threatening non neutrality. If a company is using their own IP, ISPs can blackmail that company by threatening non neutrality.

Just because QoS can make it easier for some network administrators, doesn't mean that it doesn't have anything to do with neutrality. Calling only one of those two net neutrality is just as stupid and idiotic as the naming of the US PATRIOT act.

Re:Sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21116723)

Well, I am glad we have you to explain the two, the fact is it is neither. First, this is not a net neutrality issue since Comcast is not adjusting speeds or access for given services, sites, or IPs. Second, this isn't QoS because Comcast isn't truly shaping traffic and in reality isn't performing some of the key steps to do real QoS. Let's look at the second point. In order to do QoS, you need to be adjusting the bandwidth and latency of connections based on the types of packets and data being sent. As we have seen (with things like Lotus Domino connections dropping), Comcast is taking any high bandwidth operation and killing it by essentially telling each side the session has ended. They are not really doing QoS but simply killing anything over some imaginary temporary bandwidth limit.

This screams of another case of offering more speed then you have and more bandwidth then you have. The fact is cable is unable to keep up with the demand for higher bandwidth consuming applications and is going to start doing this sort of thing more and more. This has nothing to do explicitly with P2P. So calling it QoS is a mistake, because they are obviously killing whatever high traffic they want and the traffic killed be damned.

Too late for Comcast (5, Interesting)

Space cowboy (13680) | about 7 years ago | (#21115507)

At least, from my perspective [] . I'm not a huge user of P2P, my ire is more directed at the violation of the principles that founded this 'internets' thing. If we let company-interests direct the future development of the internet, we may as well give up now.

What *did* annoy me, after the decision was taken, was that my difficulties with ichat [] over the last few months seem to be similarly down to Comcast policies.

I use iChat a lot to keep in touch with my family (all of whom have Macs, and 4-way video-conferencing can be pretty cool). There's several thousand miles between us, so this is one of the few ways we can actually see each other without major travel.

Until a few months ago, it all worked great. Now, I get less than a minute of great picture, and then everything breaks up. I was putting it down to transatlantic bandwidth issues, but then I tried it from work, and (lo and behold) had no problems whatsoever.

I pay (not for long, now though, the T1 arrives in 2 weeks) for the most bandwidth Comcast offer, and I cannot believe I average even 1% of that bandwidth. To have them limit me when I *do* want to use it, as a deliberate *general* policy of theirs, is infuriating. All I can do is cancel the service, and hope others do too. Eventually, hopefully, they'll get the message. Not everyone can cancel due to the monopoly they hold in some areas, but perhaps enough can to make a difference.

Now a T1 used to be a lot of bandwidth, but it's not so much any more (1.5Mbit/sec is pretty poor by advertised-bandwidth standards). I'm willing to trade off the small time-periods I actually can use that advertised bandwidth for the reliability of always having the smaller amount - it may not work for everyone, but it works for me :)

And so, Comcast lose another ~$200/month. Hopefully part of a trend, because won't anyone think of the network ? [grin]


Re:Too late for Comcast (3, Insightful)

murrdpirate (944127) | about 7 years ago | (#21115709)

The monopoly is what irritates me. If someone set up their own ISP without the government, I think they're free to do whatever they want with it. But if we're giving them a monopoly, I think we have some say in the service.

Re:Too late for Comcast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21116485)

but you cant. in many towns Comcast negotiates a "franchise agreement" that locks out competition. effectively making it "illegal" for you to start up your own broadband ISP. while they give a kickback to that city/town for the right to have a monopoly.

ask your congresscritter to make "franchise agreements" illegal.

Re:Too late for Comcast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21115765)

Please tell them why you are cancelling and also please tell apple about this and please tell your congressman. We will all thank you if you do this as it shows when comcast starts messing with things it causes problems for legitimate programs (not just p2p file sharing). It's much easier for them to dismiss p2p file sharing since that's frowned upon, but messing with one of apple's key applications is a huge example of the damage they are causing.

Re:Too late for Comcast (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | about 7 years ago | (#21116219)

We will all thank you if you do this as it shows when comcast starts messing with things it causes problems for legitimate programs (not just p2p file sharing)
Because p2p programs are never legitimate. Nope. The openSUSE install I downloaded from bittorrent is simply a figment of my imagination.

Re:Too late for Comcast (5, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | about 7 years ago | (#21115805)

The problem is that broadband providers really do have a monopoly. In any given area, you have dial-up (56k), a single cable (8mbps) provider or a single DSL (768kbps to 7mbps) providers. While every city varies, you can usually get dial-up in 100% of the area, cable in perhaps 70% of the area . . . but DSL in only a small percentage of the area. At least if you want speeds that are even remotely comparable. If you don't live down the street from the local CO, you are going to get speeds that are difficult to tolerate. And of course, phone companies have bandwidth and usage concerns, too. They aren't selling you a dedicated service anymore than Comcast or Cox or Shaw is.

What really annoys me is that my tax dollars are used to provide these "utilities" with a limited sanctioned monopoly for the supposed public good, yet they don't offer services that address the whole public. If you really only intend your $65/mo service to be for grandmothers who use the account for email and checking up on their local church and the occasional amazon service, then offer a more expensive account for people who want heavy use and connect to work via VPN, back stuff up to remote servers, connect to colo hosted systems, use bit-torrent, watch lots of streaming videos, etc.

And for people who want to know "how in the hell do you use so much bandwidth?! 30gb should be more than enough!". Well, just downloading a few popular podcasts will do it. Especially now that they're HD quality. Diggnation, Crankygeeks, DL.TV, Totally Rad Show and a couple others downloaded every week at an average of almost 500mb each comes out to about 12gb per month right there. And that's if you aren't acquiring them via bit torrent where you'd have some overhead as well as at least 6gb to 12gb in upward bandwidth. So right there, you're at 24gb. Just to keep up with half a dozen weekly podcasts.

Throw in a couple people at your address listening to a lot of streaming radio. Watching streaming movies and news. Downloading five to ten gigs of demos on Xbox Live and Play Station Network. Perhaps connecting to your office with VPN and VNC to use your desktop. That's quite a lot of bandwidth. For completely legitimate purposes. And we haven't even touched things like using remote backup services that you can find online or downloading linux ISOs or the other streaming services like Vongo, Netflix and Amazon Unboxed.

Re:Too late for Comcast (2, Insightful)

Myopic (18616) | about 7 years ago | (#21115969)

All I can do is cancel the service, and hope others do too.

That's the most likely thing to do, and a very appropriate consumer-level response. If all consumers would take that simple step, then we would even need alternative measures. But since most people are willing to shut up and deal with crappy service and marketing lies, we do have other possible reprisals. For you, you might consider a lawsuit, especially one in small claims court, where (if I understand correctly) you would argue with a regular human instead of a lawyer. Sue for the maximum allowed in small claims court and see what happens.

Or, screw it, just cancel the service and fire off a nasty letter to the company. Also, post to online forums for Comcast service, hopefully convincing other people never to become customers in the first place.

Re:Too late for Comcast (1)

MyrddinBach (1138089) | about 7 years ago | (#21115973)

Monopoly issue solved: []

Re:Too late for Comcast (1)

base3 (539820) | about 7 years ago | (#21116163)

Can't get it in lots of Comcast areas, and didn't you know Speakeasy got bought out by Best Buy? Any good policies they still have left aren't going to last long under that corporate yoke.

Re:Too late for Comcast (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 7 years ago | (#21116343)

Interesting, I'm surprised to find it is available in my area --- at a whopping 384kbps! Oh well, at least they are trying... To bad the new FCC rules mean that they won't be able to offer this anymore, since the telcos no longer need to open their lines to competition.

Isn't it strange... (5, Interesting)

teutonic_leech (596265) | about 7 years ago | (#21115579)

... that we actually cheer when a politician we put into office for once stands up and protects our [fill in civic right of your choice]? I mean, when did things go so bad? (rhetorical question) It's sad that we all have gotten used to a status quo where our elected leaders work hand in hand with big business and constantly screw us over. I don't care what political affiliation you have - just take a step back and look what's going on in our country. I do feel very strongly about net neutrality but must also concede that it might be the least of our problem right now. Nevertheless, it is one of thousands of important issues that needs to be addressed and coming next election day we all should do our part and 'kick the bums out' (not my quote - start hearing that very frequently on Hardball recently). Anyway, sorry for the rant, but I'm trying to make a point here, which is that we need to take a step back and rebuilt our democracy - it's ridiculous that we continue to desperately grasp for a few breadcrumbs from an administration that's blatantly in bed with big business.

Re:Isn't it strange... (2, Interesting)

east coast (590680) | about 7 years ago | (#21115823)

it's ridiculous that we continue to desperately grasp for a few breadcrumbs from an administration that's blatantly in bed with big business.

I think you need to put your political affiliations aside if you simply want to point the finger at this administration as far as their track record on rights.

Sure, it's worse now than it has been in the memorable past but it seems that with each new administration, regardless if they be the jackass or the elephant, sells their candidates on bringing new change about instead of peeling back the layers of crap that the former administrations have done.

My question to the Democrats: Even if you get someone in the Whitehouse during the next election what are you going to do if they don't start repealing all of the crap that's gone on in the past 6+ years? Are you going to keep drinking the kool-aid?

The American political system simply does not have enough competition in it to provide real changes. Especially the changes we keep hearing people talk about on here.

I'd rather see a government that is hampered with infighting instead of one side of the fence simply pushing on the other just because they can.

The current political situation we find ourselves in goes back a long way. The big two parties are enjoying every minute of it regardless of wins and losses since you suckers keep coming back and buying more. The boycott of both parties by voting third party is the only way to send a clear message.

Re:Isn't it strange... (1)

AmaDaden (794446) | about 7 years ago | (#21115909)

Something I've noticed is that when things are good no one pays attention to what is going on. So after a while greedy people start moving in and taking anything that isn't nailed down. All the people then get pissed and something happens. Be it a revolution or just basic repairs. So as bad as things are now I get the impression that it is just part of the ebb and flow of things. At least there are people out there who are starting to realize these problems now before we have even more work to do to fix it all.

Re:Isn't it strange... (2, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | about 7 years ago | (#21116031)

... that we actually cheer when a politician we put into office for once stands up and protects our [fill in civic right of your choice]? I mean, when did things go so bad? (rhetorical question) It's sad that we all have gotten used to a status quo where our elected leaders work hand in hand with big business and constantly screw us over.
Yeah, it really is sad that every new change has to be met with "Ok, so how are you fucking me now?" It really is a surprise when the answer is "No screwing, this is actually a good thing."

Re:Isn't it strange... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21116405)

Standing up to protect [insert civic right here] is par for the course for Wisconsin. We sent Russ Feingold [] up there.

Do the research, Please!!!! (-1, Flamebait)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 7 years ago | (#21115595)

Would ANY of the things you are objecting to have been prevented by the proposed Net Neutrality laws?

Note that it's very likley Comcast will face a nice juicy class action suit over actions that they have taken - all under the umbrella of current laws. So then WHY do we need more legislation to screw up ISP's in other unforseen ways?

Please keep the government off my internet.

KISS (2, Interesting)

bendodge (998616) | about 7 years ago | (#21115597)

I am personally against the current form of net neutrality. I think that government intervention is almost always bad. The ONLY regulations that should be passed:

1. All common carriers must allow other providers to connect to them on a naked pipe
2. All providers must support standard protocols.*
3. Providers may only prioritize data/bandwidth based on protocol, not orgin/destination.
5. No data/bandwidth throttling, only prioritization.

*I'd leave defining "standard" up to ICAAN, with these additional rules:
1. The protocol must be open - anyone can see how it works and get specs for it.
2. Usage or modification of the protocol must not be restricted by patents or copyright.

Re:KISS (1)

stinerman (812158) | about 7 years ago | (#21115793)

4. ????

You do realize that would be a lot of government intervention, right? In fact, the reason why our state of affairs wrt broadband is because the government hasn't meddled enough. With the new ruling that DSL is an information service, you can say goodbye to Speakeasy, Covad, and all the other CLECs. It'll be DSL through your phone monopoly or cable Internet service through your cable monopoly. So long as the owners of the infrastructure sell services on that infrastructure, there will be no real competition.

Re:KISS (1)

bendodge (998616) | about 7 years ago | (#21115881)

I guess I just numbered wrong...sorry about that.

It is government intervention, but it's a lot less than the massive document that is currently Net Neutrality.

Re:KISS (2, Insightful)

stinerman (812158) | about 7 years ago | (#21115937)

Well Net Neutrality has the right goals but goes about it in the wrong way. Instead of trying to control what the monopolies do, we should attempt to foster competition so that the user can choose which ISP they want. Enough competition will eliminate stunts like what Comcast is pulling. Government intervention is required in either case since we are in oligopoly territory right now. I like the one that will offer more choices down the road.

Re:KISS (2, Funny)

KlomDark (6370) | about 7 years ago | (#21115929)

6. Profit!!!

Re:KISS (2, Insightful)

nuzak (959558) | about 7 years ago | (#21115853)

> 1. All common carriers must allow other providers to connect to them on a naked pipe

You do realize that ISPs are not common carriers, right?

> 2. All providers must support standard protocols.*

Great, I guess the IETF can disband, since it's now the US congress that really vets standards.

> 3. Providers may only prioritize data/bandwidth based on protocol, not orgin/destination.

So the head end video distributor node can't pre-empt your xbox's background downloads? I'm afraid the reality is more complicated.

> 5. No data/bandwidth throttling, only prioritization.

Guess how QoS actually works?

Thankfully.... (2, Insightful)

Jaysyn (203771) | about 7 years ago | (#21115607)

... the big ISPs are so short-sighted that they are their own worst enemies when it comes to things like this.

Simple soulation (5, Interesting)

Anon-Admin (443764) | about 7 years ago | (#21115611)

There is a simple solution,

If Comcast, Verizon, AT&T or anyone else blocks any content for any reason, they are (from that point on) legally liable for all remaining content. This is because the have made an effort to control the content crossing there service and by default must agree that all remaining content is acceptable.

Then remind there legal department that it means "If you keep it up, we will hold you responsible for all the remaining content including but not limited to all the child porn, child predators, etc."

In other words, they have violated the common carrier clause and thus are not protected from prosecution!

Where is a lawyer when you need one?

Re:Simple soulation (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21115933)

Cable Companies are not common carriers. They should be, but aren't

Re:Simple soulation (4, Insightful)

Thaelon (250687) | about 7 years ago | (#21116001)

Internet providers are not common carriers. In this case I wish they were.

Re:Simple soulation (0)

Anon-Admin (443764) | about 7 years ago | (#21116083)

Both are common carriers because they are now telephone companies as well.

Re:Simple soulation (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 7 years ago | (#21116123)

I don't think this applies to their data service though, only to the VOIP service.

Re:Simple soulation (1)

Anon-Admin (443764) | about 7 years ago | (#21116305)

Hmmm, in what way is there VOIP and there Data services different? both are packets in a tube! :P

Re:Simple soulation (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21116093)

"Insightful"? How is the parent "Insightful"? He thinks cable companies are common carriers, which they are not. He's not "Insightful", he's "Ignorent".

Congrats to the Congressman (4, Insightful)

ronadams (987516) | about 7 years ago | (#21115635)

From TFA:

Unfortunately for fans of Net neutrality, the congressman said he was not ready to go down this path and instead stressed market-based methods of fixing the problems.

Thank God. There is an alarming trend among those who want to see a "neutral net" (a sentiment I agree with) to have "Dr. Government" fix it all. this is a slippery slope in plain sight; the idea of trusting the government to keep the net neutral doesn't appeal to me any more than having Comcast do it. What happens when the next elections come, and a new party/interest is in power? What happens when X lobby group petitions to sway the government's control of the network?

Fortunately, we have this convenient mechanism called the free market, where an outcry of foul play means an increased demand for competition. I realize this doesn't mean overnight those in Comcast-only zones are given an alternative, but over time, it is possible.

Now, when it comes to the infrastructure, the actual physical cables, etc., there's some room for talk as to whether the Government can have some limited intervention there, because we're dealing with interstate business and infrasturcture... but that's another story.

Re:Congrats to the Congressman (5, Insightful)

stinerman (812158) | about 7 years ago | (#21115887)

You miss the point of those of us who are for government regulation. I'm willing to go with a totally free market where ISPs compete on service and price. The problem is that we need the government to step in and create a free market. Last mile connectivity is a natural monopoly (which is why you can't get POTS from anyone you want, nor can you get cable television service from anyone you want). The government should own all the pipes and allow anyone access to it at non-discriminatory rates. That is the only way you're going to have meaningful competition.

This "hands off" talk assumes there is a free market already. There isn't, and the market will continue to devolve into an oligopoly until the government does something about it.

Re:Congrats to the Congressman (1)

Badmovies (182275) | about 7 years ago | (#21115939)

[quote]Thank God. There is an alarming trend among those who want to see a "neutral net" (a sentiment I agree with) to have "Dr. Government" fix it all.[/quote]

Actually, a good function of government is ensuring that those who have power (near-monopoly cable companies) do not abuse it. If the big providers started doing this and persisted as a group, they could make it the standard. That is when the government of the people needs to step in and fix the issue. Just another reason why government has to be free of corruption.

Re:Congrats to the Congressman (1)

sashapup (1025115) | about 7 years ago | (#21116037)

... but there is one thing that the government could do to help solve this. Get the FCC to revise their statement that the cable companies are indeed Common Carriers on their Internet Service and not just their IP phone services. That would at least help those of us stuck with Comcast as a sole high-speed provider some sort of recourse beyond a gamble on a class-action suit that may or may not go anywhere.

Re:Congrats to the Congressman (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | about 7 years ago | (#21116355)

The day they can compete is the day they don't need to run cables through public property. Until then, the government must step in and regulate, at the very least they need to regulate the laying of the cables. I'm not hearing many people anxious to give up on cable internet in favor of satellite internet. Therefore we must have a regulated internet.

Truth in advertising (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about 7 years ago | (#21115649)

What we really need is a truth in advertising law with some real teeth. I recommend public stoning for liars- doesn't matter to me if they are CEOs , politicians, or just advertising execs.

Just what part of "unlimited access" in the contract do these ISPs NOT understand?

Comcast just all-around sucks (0, Flamebait)

Theovon (109752) | about 7 years ago | (#21115743)

It seems to me that it's common knowledge that Comcast are bastards. I pity anyone who is unfortunate enough to live in a place where they have to get their internet service from Comcast.

Re:Comcast just all-around sucks (1)

Bemopolis (698691) | about 7 years ago | (#21115917)

**snerfle** Thanks, man. Your moral support really means a lo——

Shrug (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 7 years ago | (#21115795)

This is why net neutrality is a non issue. The carriers can't help themselves fucking off their customer base.


Charging more for users who use more bandwidth (2, Insightful)

javakah (932230) | about 7 years ago | (#21115895)

From the article, Congressman Boucher said that 'Comcast should "simply tier their offerings and engage in a pricing structure that allocates more bandwidth to those who pay more, and less to those who pay less."' Why the hell should I have to pay more for even more unlimited bandwidth? The issue is not just that Comcast is crippling bitTorrent, but that they are doing so to try to make their false advertising look legitimate.

Talk is cheap... (1)

BUL2294 (1081735) | about 7 years ago | (#21115903)

...actions are not. It's so sad how badly the US Government is addicted to corporate contriubtions and Congress is too inept to actually do something about it. One member going on-record complaining about it won't amount to shit...

Re:Talk is cheap... (1)

east coast (590680) | about 7 years ago | (#21116349)

It's so sad how badly the US Government is addicted to corporate contriubtions and Congress is too inept to actually do something about it.

Inept? That would be biting the hand that feeds!

You show me the elected politician who got to office on a state of federal level who didn't spend more on their campaign than they have been paid. You may find a couple but I doubt even that. As long as the American public keeps voting for the guy or gal with the most commercials on the TV this will not change. Grass roots movements have helped a few politicians get some support in the face of big money but I can't recall the last one who was able to go the extra mile on home made fliers and word of mouth.

Quaking in their boots (1)

overshoot (39700) | about 7 years ago | (#21116003)

Congressman Boucher has been speaking loudly on various geek-friendly subjects for quite a few years, but his record at actually getting legislation passed suggests that he's carrying a Nerf-bat.

Tiers of Service.. bad? (2, Insightful)

rotide (1015173) | about 7 years ago | (#21116613)

For those of you saying that a Tier based service system is "bad" because it will raise rates, look at it this way. Currently, you are NOT getting unlimited service, you are getting a soft capped service that is labeled as unlimited. The big issue is that you probably don't even know what that cap even is.

Now a Tier based service may "cost more for unlimited" but it might actually BE unlimited.

Simple Question: Would you pay $20 more a month for truely unlimited service of which you could even run servers off of, if you so choose?

I would.
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