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Time Warner Filtering iTunes Traffic?

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the trial-has-begun-maybe dept.

The Internet 199

An anonymous reader writes "Starting on Thursday, January 31st, Time Warner subscribers in Texas starting experiencing connectivity issues to the iTunes store to the point where the service wasn't usable. General internet traffic issues haven't coincided with these problems, and many folks have reported that the store works as normal when they head to the nearest mega-bookstore and use their ISP instead. Time Warner has announced that they're going to begin trials of tiered pricing in one local Texas market, but I'll be darn sure to switch my provider if I hear the slightest hint of destination/content based tiers instead of bandwidth tiers."

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For $1500/month (4, Funny)

bagboy (630125) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280272)

I'll be happy to offer you dedicated - unthrottled bandwidth to the internet..

Thank you,

Your ISP

Re:For $1500/month (3, Insightful)

CriminalNerd (882826) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280292)

Note that there is no mention of a 20GB bandwidth usage cap.

BUYERS BEWARE

Frosty Piss (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22280296)

Nobody's going to throttle my frosty piss!
 

Re:For $1500/month (3, Interesting)

fitsnips (187974) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280310)

can you read?

"destination/content based tiers instead of bandwidth tiers"

bandwith throttling we understand, its the content/destination filtering that is bs. They now are deciding what biz survive and which do not.

Re:For $1500/month (4, Informative)

bagboy (630125) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280382)

Yes I can read... there are several products on the market that can throttle traffic based on protocols or destinations... I'm aware of their capabilities and I can tell you the one I have worked with (Packeteer) can throttle Itunes traffic (as well as shoutcast, bitorrent, etc...). It can shape on the protocol itself as a whole, a protocol with a limit and then dynamic allocation within it or on per-connection tracking within a protocol.

Re:For $1500/month (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280434)

I'm aware of their capabilities and I can tell you the one I have worked with (Packeteer) can throttle Itunes traffic

So ask yourself. What ISP would limit a popular service to such a degree that it becomes 100% unusable for their entire user base? That doesn't sound like successful traffic shaping to me. That sounds like a misconfiguration somewhere. If it was traffic shaping, I would expect that the speeds would drop to levels to where it would be impossible to watch a movie real-time (for example), yet possible to download it within the time-frame of a few hours. (Say, 4-8 hours as a reasonable range.)

Outright blocking a popular service like iTunes only invites unhappy customers and bad press.

Re:For $1500/month (2, Insightful)

bagboy (630125) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280488)

Imagine your ISP has 10mbps of traffic for all of their users (suppose for the sake of argument that if they buy any more at their current subscription base, they will bleed money). Suppose they begin to see over 4mbps of that traffic to itunes (now that you can rent there) 2mbps to bittorrent 2mbps of audio/media streaming other than itunes, and a myriad of ftp/smtp(consider spam traffic as part of this)/ssl/ipsec/etc... What does that leave for http traffic - the most common way of browsing the internet? Barely enough, causing slow loading of web sites. If the most common method of browsing becomes slow, what percentage of your users will complain? 99 percent? No suppose you decide to throttle the itunes to no more than 2mbps. Wow, a whole new world just opened up for your 99 percent. This is the way traffic shaping often keeps the majority happy and the business afloat. Many ISPs have to pay quite a bit to the tier one providers for their bandwidth. Keep in mind I'm discussing a third party ISP. Not the major ones. The internet bandwidth model has been broken for years. It was built on the premise that over subscription would ensure enough bandwidth.

Re:For $1500/month (4, Insightful)

NoodleSlayer (603762) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280520)

Then that ISP shouldn't be selling 1 Mbps 'unlimited' connections to 1000+ customers and then complain when people actually *use* the bandwith *they are paying for*. That's false advertising.

Re:For $1500/month (5, Insightful)

Goldberg's Pants (139800) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280560)

I remember an ISP I used a few years ago. The local main DSL provider was bringing in a 30 gig a month cap (that's up and down combined. And it was $45 a month). This new service came in offering UNLIMITED, so a ton of people switched. Their response? To retroactively bring in an even lower cap than the main one, and charge people upwards of $200 for "going over". I went so far as to file fraud charges against them.

It's so utterly ridiculous that ISP's can get away with this shit. I am fairly certain if iTunes started getting nerfed on a wide scale, they would incur the Wrath of the Jobs.

My ISP throttles Bit Torrent. Confirmed this myself the other day when I wound up back using the default port. Down and up sucked. Changed the port, reloaded, speeds increased 4000%.

Re:For $1500/month (3, Interesting)

pipatron (966506) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280808)

I went so far as to file fraud charges against them.

And what happened?

Re:For $1500/month (-1, Troll)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 6 years ago | (#22281972)

Perhaps the solution is that iTunes should bear some of the additional cost of the high amount of traffic their service creates. Then they can pass that additional cost along to their subscribers, rather than the rest of us subsidizing the Jobs company.

Re:For $1500/month (2, Informative)

pipatron (966506) | more than 6 years ago | (#22282034)

Perhaps the solution is that iTunes should bear some of the additional cost of the high amount of traffic their service creates.

They already do that, because they already pay for their bandwidth, and they pay a great deal more than you would pay for the same bandwidth.

Seriously. The only people who should be paying more here are the ISPs and ultimately us, the customers. The ISPs have been overselling bandwidth for years and years, and now that we are starting to use what they claim they have sold us, they can't all of a sudden tell us not to, without either increasing the price a lot, lowering the max speed, or admit to the general public that what they have been selling was not what they claimed it was. Some marketing nightmare there.

Re:For $1500/month (3, Insightful)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280614)

Then that ISP shouldn't be selling 1 Mbps 'unlimited' connections to 1000+ customers and then complain when people actually *use* the bandwith *they are paying for*. That's false advertising.
Thats actually fraud.

A customer pays for a service and the ISP takes payment but dosent deliver.

There is nothing wrong with overselling provided your customer can use what you sell them!

If everyone made a phone call at the sametime the phone network couldent handle it because they oversell the service to produce cheaper rates but I have NEVER had a problem making a phonecall because my service provider has carefully planned things out to make sure this dosent happen.

Overselling makes sense provided its dont intelligently so that the user can use what they pay for.

~Dan

Re:For $1500/month (2, Interesting)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#22281346)

This has already been through the courts. Someone tried exactly your argument and failed.

The ISPs successfully argued 'unlimited' means unlimited *access* not unlimited service. As long as they're not saying you can long use the internet at certain times they're safe.

Re:For $1500/month (2, Funny)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 6 years ago | (#22281380)

ISP : "But look, this user could have connected any time he wanted, like, and that's just for last week, monday between 4:15 and 4:17 or thursday between 13:42 and 13:58 !"

Judge : "Indeed, that user is clearly wasting the time of the court. 10 lashes ! Now tell me about how those tubes work again."

Re:For $1500/month (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 6 years ago | (#22281444)

This has already been through the courts. Someone tried exactly your argument and failed.

The ISPs successfully argued 'unlimited' means unlimited *access* not unlimited service. As long as they're not saying you can long use the internet at certain times they're safe.
What does unlimited access mean?

I can access as much content as I want!

But I cant because the ISP wont provide that even if the user paid for it.

Re:For $1500/month (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22281676)

How can you oversell and still have the customer be able to use what you sell them? It only works right now, because you have thousands of grannies with high speep internet who only use the internet for checking email and getting brownie recipies. Once you have everybody downloading a couple movies every week, things will start to get a lot worse.

Re:For $1500/month (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 6 years ago | (#22281738)

How can you oversell and still have the customer be able to use what you sell them? It only works right now, because you have thousands of grannies with high speep internet who only use the internet for checking email and getting brownie recipies. Once you have everybody downloading a couple movies every week, things will start to get a lot worse.
Because not everyone will use 100% of what they are provided.

This month I might use 100% of my avalible bandwith but next month I might use only 20% but when I want to use it I can.

Overselling is not without risk there is an outside chance that overselling will backfire and the isp may/should have compensation plans in place for IF that happens. With overselling you do need to carefully assess the situation to minimise your chances of failing to provide the customer with what they paid for. It is normally safer for larger ISPs to oversell because they have allot of users and are less likely to have 100% of their user base use up all of their allowance.

~Dan

Re:For $1500/month (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22281800)

If everyone made a phone call at the sametime the phone network couldent handle it because they oversell the service to produce cheaper rates but I have NEVER had a problem making a phonecall because my service provider has carefully planned things out to make sure this dosent happen.

You've never heard a fast busy signal or had a bad connection? Have you ever used a phone?

And how about cell phones? I'm so tired of the "system busy, try later" messages my Nextel Blackberry keeps giving me I'm switching to another provider.

Re:For $1500/month (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22281358)

As long as there is no service level agreement, the customer is not entitled to the full speed of the last mile all the way to the destination. The internet protocol is "best effort", which means that the customer is entitled to having his traffic treated like all competing traffic. That is where the false advertising lies. Destination/protocol based throttling violates the "internet access" definition, not the "unlimited" definition.

Re:For $1500/month (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280558)

Suppose they begin to see over 4mbps of that traffic to itunes [...] No[w] suppose you decide to throttle the itunes to no more than 2mbps.

Then iTunes users would see 1/2 the speed they were seeing previously. Unless the routers are extremely poor at traffic management, in which case half of the users would be zipping along while the other half would be dying. Of course, traffic is not constant. So if it was the latter, the speeds would pick up during off peak hours. Thus suddenly "solving" the problem temporarily.

Neither scenario fits. Especially since some of the reports included instances of dropped connections. Which sounds a heck of a lot more like a bad route than a lame attempt at traffic shaping.

Re:For $1500/month (2, Informative)

bagboy (630125) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280620)

>>Then iTunes users would see 1/2 the speed they were seeing previously. This a common error many people make about bandwidth, throughput and tcp. TCP works on windows (not MS) and acks. No acks equals retries. This lowers throughput because of windowing. It's not an exact science. Most providers in tier 1 likely leave their buffers on routers at fifo. This means if an isp's users are throttled back on itunes from 4 to 2, it doesn't mean you'll get half. While everyone is trying resends and windowing is dropping throughput, invariably there will be just too many connections for all to be maintained, and connections will time out and drop, I've watched it happen. When it does, the client will attempt a new tcp connection and the process begins all over again - this increases the overhead for the 2mbps. At the same time, additional users may decide to do some itunes, streaming or downloading, increasing the load even more. As I stated before, the isp oversubscription model is broken. But there has been no solution to this short of raising prices and charging users more so the isp can afford additional bandwidth.

Re:For $1500/month (5, Insightful)

Romancer (19668) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280676)

"But there has been no solution to this short of raising prices and charging users more so the isp can afford additional bandwidth."

Or perhaps the ISPs could not make record profits and send CEOs to resorts with multimillion dollar bonuses and instead spend some money on the infrastructure that supports their business model. You know, to be in business tomorrow.

Just a thought.

Re:For $1500/month (4, Insightful)

Nullav (1053766) | more than 6 years ago | (#22281104)

Why? With a natural monopoly, you only need to be good enough to keep people from moving away.

Re:For $1500/month (2, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | more than 6 years ago | (#22281304)

Or perhaps the ISPs could not make record profits and send CEOs to resorts with multimillion dollar bonuses and instead spend some money on the infrastructure that supports their business model. You know, to be in business tomorrow.

You're jesting. This is the US of A, where company bosses get paid with stock, and their main concern is thus the stock price. And investors (including the companies own CEOs and CFOs) don't care about what the stock price will be five or fifty years down the road -- they care about what it will be next week, or, at most, by the end of the fiscal year. Something that gives short term benefits but hurts the business several years down the road is going to win their vote, every time.

The solution: Make dividends tax free, and have a substantial capital gains tax. That, of course, would never pass, but it would reduce short term "pump-and-dump" thinking, and increase long term investments.

Re:For $1500/month (2, Informative)

Raven42rac (448205) | more than 6 years ago | (#22281914)

Them overselling their capacity is "NMFP", not my fucking problem. Either don't promise what you can't deliver, or increase capacity. Speaking of "net neutrality", consumers pay for internet access, Apple is paying bandwidth for itunes. Who is getting a free ride? The ISPs just want to bleed you more for a service you're already paying for.

Re:For $1500/month (4, Interesting)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280892)

Not to mention that Time Warner either owns or has partnered with Rapsody, an Itunes competitor.

Re:For $1500/month (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22281248)

An ISP owned by a commercial competitor to that popular service might try to degrade their competitors service. Maybe they got the degrading a little too agressive? Remember that in this case, the ISP is owned by a company that is suffering from paranoia, feels its very existence is under threat and doesn't know what to do about it.

Re:For $1500/month (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22281028)

It may very well wind up being consumers that decide their new Internet plans don't need to "live." There will always be alternatives. Of course, the alternative companies will probably wind up doing something else nasty to piss off their customers, but that's just the nature of progress.

Re:For $1500/month (4, Insightful)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280340)

Not sure if your joking or not, but honestly if they were up front about limits and caps I'd certainly appreciate it.

Its their ISP and if they feel the need to cap bandwidth to certain sites, block sites/ports etc - thats fine - just put it in writing.

Re:For $1500/month (5, Insightful)

taylortbb (759869) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280426)

You make a good point about ISPs being upfront about their policies. If they're reasonable and clearly explained so I can make an informed decision I am understanding about many restrictions. My current ISP does have a bandwidth cap, but set at a reasonable 200GB/month with more available for a decent price. They don't rip me off on overages, $0.25/GB, and they average over two months so if I lose track one month overages aren't automatic.

I don't get the paranoia people have with regards to bandwidth caps, the truth is it costs ISPs a certain amount per gigabyte. A heavy user should be paying more, this isn't unreasonable. What is unreasonable is when ISPs advertise unlimited and then put a cap in the fine print.

I will however disagree the idea that is okay for ISPs to throttle traffic just because they're upfront about it. Network neutrality is what made the internet the force it is today, without it the internet cannot thrive.

(and if anyone's wondering, my ISP is TekSavvy. No this is not a advertisement, if it was I'd ask you to mention me so I get referral credit)

Re:For $1500/month (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22280948)

Wow only 200 GB? How can you survive?

Re:For $1500/month (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22281476)

No this is not a advertisement, if it was I'd ask you to mention me so I get referral credit
How incredibly subtle...

Re:For $1500/month (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22281640)

It doesn't cost an ISP more per Giga-byte. What costs them is bits per second. A heavy user during peak hours costs money. Moving a bunch of bits when no one else wants to should be ok.

If, at a given instant an ISP has regular users and hogs, then maybe what the ISP sould do is push the hogs' packets to a lower priority. Therby giving them higher delay and probability of dropping a packet. It should be on a per subscriber basis, certainly not on a per service basis.

Unless of course the ISP is tired of Comcast getting all the glory being the poster child for net neutrality.

 

Re:For $1500/month (2, Insightful)

ocbwilg (259828) | more than 6 years ago | (#22281860)

I don't get the paranoia people have with regards to bandwidth caps, the truth is it costs ISPs a certain amount per gigabyte. A heavy user should be paying more, this isn't unreasonable. What is unreasonable is when ISPs advertise unlimited and then put a cap in the fine print.
I disagree. Putting in the data pipes costs ISPs a certain amount of money. Putting in bigger pipes costs ISPs more money than putting in smaller pipes. But ISPs do not pay for their connections to the Internet on a per gigabyte basis. They pay for a pipe capable of sending X amount of data per second, and they're allowed to use up to that limit. So why should we be charged differently? If someone pays for a 7Mb down/1.5Mb up connection they should be able to use 7Mb/1.5Mb. If two people are neighbors and they bother pay for a 7Mb/1.5Mb connection, why should one of them have to pay more for using the connection more often? If I pay to have an analog phone line installed should I pay more if I make twice as many local calls as my neighbor? If my neighbor and I both have cable installed, should I have to pay more if I watch twice as much TV as my neighbor? If I pay for satellite radio, should I have to pay more if I listen to it twice as much as the next guy?

You have already bought into the greedy ISPs way of thinking, that somehow bandwidth is metered. It's not. We are paying for a data connection to be installed. We can pay more or less based on how much data that pipe can transfer in a second. We shouldn't have to pay extra on top of that for actually using the pipe too.

Re:For $1500/month (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22282042)

>I don't get the paranoia people have with regards to bandwidth caps, the truth is it costs ISPs a certain amount per gigabyte

Depending on what top tier provider they use, they pay a flat rate. Cogent does this, for example. Other providers use a percentile system. So no, in fact, very few top tier providers just simply charge by the gigabyte. You'd probably have to search for one that does nowadays. It isn't 1998 anymore.

I wish the myth of providers being billed by the byte would finally vanish, it's about time. They're either billed by average usage (averaged out to about the 95th percentile in m/g/tbits) or they're billed flat-rate for the entire pipe. So, a user that downloads 1 TB per month, but only at night, costs the ISP less than a user that downloads 20 GB a month, but only at 4:00 - 5:00 pm. If your ISP is stuck on the old system, tell them to join the new millennium like all the other ISPs have. Some smarter ISPs do not count transfer outside top percentile hours (whatever they may be, the ISP will usually advertise them as "at night" hours) against any caps they might have. ISPs that do this know their business. ISPs that just have flat caps end up with all their users beating the hell out of the internet during peak hours, because users figure (rightly so) why be arsed to download anything at night when there's no benefit?

Interestingly enough, my ISP is Teksavvy also. Teksavvy offers unlimited usage accounts (what I use, although I rarely use more than 100 GB a month, I like never having to worry about paying more), and those all go through... guess who... COGENT! Why? Because Cogent bills them flat rates. Their other peers work on the percentile system. If you don't believe me, call Teksavvy. It is unfortunate that Teksavvy, while a good ISP, doesn't offer a benefit to users "abusing" the internet during off-peak hours. If they did, they'd probably find they could have stuck with the 100 GB cap rather than the 200 GB cap that they just implemented this month.

$0.25/GB isn't bad, I suppose, but the reason it's so high (be assured, they do make a profit on that) is because Teksavvy doesn't pay for their internet this way. So they have to charge _at least_ the equivalent percentile charge at peak times converted to raw GBytes (would be in GBits/s for them, really) plus admin fees. Of course, this means that if you went "over" at 3:00 am, they are making money hand over fist, since they paid $0.00 for that extra data. If you go over at 4:00 pm, they probably break even, plus a penny or two. Oh well, if anyone in Ontario converts to a reasonable billing system, Teksavvy will probably be the first. :-)

[ Why did I choose 4:00 pm? I work tech support, guess when the queue is 10x heavier than any other time of the day... ]

Re:For $1500/month (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22282054)

ISPs are billed by 95th percentile bandwidth. The amount of data does not affect price. The average bandwidth consumption does affect price because it determines what sort of connectivity they need. A gigabit link will easily transmit 200GB, but the ISP will need a new incoming line if everybody downloads something at once, else speed will drop significantly. Charging by GB tends to work though for large userbases.

Re:For $1500/month (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280422)

I'll see you in court for misleading advertising, since there is no mention of site based filtering. Thank you, Your customers.

ugh (1, Insightful)

dellcom (1213558) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280290)

Horray we get to pay more money for DRM content.

Never attribute to malice... (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280338)

...that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

Based on all the comments, I have a sneaky suspicion that it's not an attempt at active filtering, but rather a network screwup somewhere in the Texas routers. I imagine that the Apple guys will be talking to every network admin up the line until they find the one who is responsible for maintaining the malfunctioning routers. Should be back up in a few days, unless I miss my guess.

Re:Never attribute to malice... (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280360)

I suppose I should have read the last few comments. It sounds like the crisis is already over and that people are getting back through.

Re:Never attribute to malice... (1)

Faylone (880739) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280402)

According to the discussion thread linked in the summary, it already is back up, at least in some areas

Re:Never attribute to malice... (4, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280452)

You don't say. Why, I never even noticed.

Sarcasm aside, it doesn't detract from my point. There was a misconfiguration somewhere in the chain of routers between TWC and Apple's nearest server. Maybe a bad routing table, an incorrect configuration of traffic shaping, or a router on the fritz. Either way, I seriously doubt this outage was intentional. Because if it was, it was possibly the most incompetent attempt at traffic shaping in the history of the Internet.

Re:Never attribute to malice... (5, Funny)

wik (10258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280512)

> Because if it was, it was possibly the most incompetent attempt at traffic shaping in the history of the Internet.

No, that coveted spot is already reserved people who truly do reshape traffic: backhoe operators and anchor-dragging boat captains.

Re:Never attribute to malice... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22280632)

Snort!
Not really.

Re:Never attribute to malice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22280670)

Exactly. I can't connect to iTunes from my house using Comcast cable or Qwest DSL in Seattle but it works from Cypress Communications at work and from Tully's free WiFi. Does that mean they're blocking iTunes? No, it just means that they're both complete idiots that can't seem to get traffic routed correctly. I didn't post to Slashdot about Comcast "blocking" traffic to Google the three weeks I couldn't get to Google because of a routing problem by Comcast. No, this is just idiots that are too cheap to hire good technical people that are the problem. I've managed servers connected to the Internet since Aug 1989, and when I interviewed with Comcast they only offered me $35k/year. I made more than that my first year out of GA Tech in 1987. It would be very hard to live off of that little here in Seattle. There's a reason these large companies have such horrible service. It's because they don't care and don't try. If they did care, they'd offer more money.

Re:Never attribute to malice... (2, Informative)

Ecks (52930) | more than 6 years ago | (#22281876)

On malice/stupidity: So say we all. Nowhere on the thread did I see anyone try any standard diagnostic tools (ping, traceroute, etc) on the problem. This could have been anything from a router misconfiguration to a broken peer connection. Nonetheless Time Warner should be careful if they plan on implementing traffic shaping that could actually limit connectivity to something like the iTunes store. From this reaction I would expect quite a few angry customers if they do.

-- Ecks

Re:Never attribute to malice... (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 6 years ago | (#22281934)

...that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

But sometimes its pretty malicious to be that willfully stupid.

Totally against tiered internet, but (-1, Troll)

cjsm (804001) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280348)

there is the another side of the coin. Does a small group of mega corporations have the right to hog significant chunks of the nation's bandwidth for their own personal profit, at no cost to them. The worst offender would be downloading and streaming movies. How about in the future when HD movies take off, and we're all downloading and streaming HD movies to watch on our 65" flat screen HD TVs. That would eat up huge amounts of bandwidth. Do we want to subsidize the oligarchy of Hollywood movie studios and their distributors?

Re:Totally against tiered internet, but (5, Informative)

I kan Spl (614759) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280378)

Errr... They DO pay for it.

"Bandwidth" (data transmission) is paid for by both the sender and the receiver of data. Apple has an ISP at the data center where they are housing the iTunes servers, they pay for the level of service they recieve. You and I also pay our ISPs for the level of service we receive.

Everyone is already paying. Tiered internet is just about making some people pay more for the same level of service then other people do.

Discrimination is bad mmmmmkay ?

Ironically... (4, Interesting)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280690)

Tiered internet would support oligarchies and monopolies more.

Imagine a world where "the studios" had to pay for all bandwidth usage twice, or suffer degraded performance. What happens to independent [youtube.com] projects [sanctuaryforall.com] , then?

Did someone actually try to argue that raising the barrier of entry can do anything at all other than support the existing, entrenched power structures?

Re:Totally against tiered internet, but (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280398)

How about in the future when HD movies take off [...] That would eat up huge amounts of bandwidth. Do we want to subsidize the oligarchy of Hollywood movie studios and their distributors?

Seriously... what?

I understand the words individually. But when strung together they don't seem to make any sense. What it sounds like you're saying is that HD movies willingly delivered by content providers to customers who want to pay for them somehow constitutes a greedy misuse of bandwidth by the content producers?

I could follow that argument if you were at least blaming the consumers. But the producers?

Whiskey.
Tango.
Foxtrot.

Maybe I'm missing something here?

Re:Totally against tiered internet, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22280400)

Who says its no cost to them? They have to pay for internet connection too. Servers/Services don't get free bandwidth, they pay for the connection to the internet as well. So no its not "at no cost to them". The internet service providers get paid to connect you and for them to connect.

Sure... (4, Insightful)

Smordnys s'regrepsA (1160895) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280354)

I'll be darn sure to switch my provider if I hear the slightest hint of destination/content based tiers instead of bandwidth tiers.
Sure, because the free market forces will magically make them stop their experiment. How about some gosh darn regulation already!

Re:Sure... (5, Insightful)

riseoftheindividual (1214958) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280428)

How about some gosh darn regulation already!

This can be translated as "Can't somebody else do it?"

Giving a government run by politicians who are in the back pockets of these same corporations the power to regulate is not going to achieve what those who want regulation want to achieve.

Re:Sure... (1)

bjourne (1034822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22281202)

So government penalizing certain business behaviour will not lead to fewer ocurrances of said behaviour?

Re:Sure... (1)

Murrquan (1161441) | more than 6 years ago | (#22281792)

If only it were that simple! People still die of drug-related illnesses and tainted meat, and a large part of the reason is how cozy the people in charge of the regulatory agencies are with the corporations. There's not a lot that politicians can do when the companies are financing their elections and controlling the media outlets, even if we would like them to.

Bad Summary (4, Informative)

KillerCow (213458) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280356)

I read TFA (blasphemy, I know) and there are users in Arlington, Arizona, and somewhere else on AT&T DSL reporting the same problems.

There are also a lot of comments about how it all happened when they upgraded to iTunes 7.6, including this gem (which includes a work-around:

It appears that 7.6 messes with the way NAV manages the firewall.


Of the few that claim that they were not using 7.6, a couple of them later came back and said "[oops, I did have 7.6]"

But of course, Apple is the perfect and the evil cable monopoly must be violating net neutrality.

Re:Bad Summary (4, Interesting)

solar_blitz (1088029) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280412)

At the beginning it seemed as that iTunes 7.6 is just as likely to be the culprit as the ISPs, but given that the peoples' speeds returned to normal (I, too, rtfa'd) - without an update patch for iTunes - it would seem like it was an issue on the server side of Apple or Time Warner. Since nobody from other areas in the United States complained about the issue as frequently as those from the Austin, Texas region this is not likely caused by Apple. Odds are it is a Time Warner issue. I never studied servers or networking, so all I can go by is my own experience.

Metered lanes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22280368)

"Time Warner has announced that they're going to begin trials of tiered pricing in one local Texas market, but I'll be darn sure to switch my provider if I hear the slightest hint of destination/content based tiers instead of bandwidth tiers."

May I recommend switching to tiered dialup? 14.4, 33.6 and for the speedster, 56.

itunes?? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22280374)

i hate to say it, but its their own fault for using itunes!
oh, and time warner too i suppose...

I can back these claims (2, Interesting)

yamamushi (903955) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280376)

I'm in San Antonio TX right now, and Itunes has been so slow since thursday, to the point of being completely unusable. Whereas downloading albums or tv shows would take a few minutes, I'm now looking at an expected wait of 4 hours for a 3mb download. I thought it might have been issues with the itunes servers, but kudos to the article for shedding some light on the issue.

Re:I can back these claims (1)

Amigori (177092) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280994)

Agreed! I'm in NW Ohio, have iTunes 7.6, and downloaded the new LOST episode Friday morning...and Friday afternoon...and into the evening! Usually, it takes 20-25 min for the 500MB file, but not Friday; somewhere around the 6h mark. It was downloading between 15-20kbps, with a spike to 80kbps here and there. But YouTube videos were loading at their normal 300kbps+ rates.

Perhaps some of the iTunes/Akamai servers are in India? The 3 fiber pipes that were cut last week would certainly slow things down.

Will people understand monopoly issues? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22280404)

This is interesting, since whilst you could call it a "net neutrality" issue, it's really a monopoly issue. US cable suppliers really have a monopoly on each geographical area. They can use this to force you to use their music services instead of their competitors since you can't switch suppliers. If the US had stronger anti-monopoly laws then this would only be allowed where consumers have a choice of supplier. An "corporates should be free to be evil" campaigner would tell you that this means that others can enter the market and offer competition. That's not true unfortunately since such barriers are very temporary. If you start trying to sell cable service with music in a particular area, TW could just speed up itunes around there so their customers don't see the problem.

In the end, I think we are back to the times when it makes sense for everybody to start building their own internet connections again and buying a single corporate connection per group. Look up community network [google.com] on google and start building. You know best how do do it.

Re:Will people understand monopoly issues? (1)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 6 years ago | (#22281298)

Here's the thing, though... if an ISP starts having different service levels based on the site you're browsing to/downloading from, wouldn't that cause them to lose common carrier status?

Re:Will people understand monopoly issues? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22281758)

Here we go again: ISPs are not common carriers. Even the Telcos are not, with regards to their data services, which received an exemption from common carrier requirements.

darn sure to switch my provider? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280410)

Sounds nice in principle, but when you don't have any choice in your area, you are sort of screwed.

Even if you do have choice today as more buy-outs/mergers take place that choice will go up in smoke.

Perhaps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22280416)

Time for Texas to break from america? I THINK SO. Yeeehaaaaw!!!

Re:Perhaps (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22280478)

Might be a little Offtopic, but the states in the United States used to be autonomous governing bodies before the American Civil War. The states had power to trump the Federal level on their own soil. So if Texas, or any other state, wanted to not observe the federal laws that serve no purpose, I wouldn't have a problem with that. In fact, I might just consider moving.

How about what I pay for? (2, Informative)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280450)

I would be happy to get the bandwidth I already pay for!

As a Comcast customer, I have tended to get about 1/10th of their advertised "you will get up to..." bandwidth, and sometimes not even that.

And yes, they are STILL throttling BitTorrent traffic, illegally. I have been trying to download perfectly legal but large files, with plenty of peers and seeders, yet my download speed has been between 1k and 30k! This on a multi-megabyte-download-speed cable service. Just about everything else downloads very quickly... but of course would download even more quickly if I got anywhere near the throughput they advertise.

You know it is getting bad when certain traffic (BitTorrent, for example) downloads faster on dialup than it does on cable.

If this is true... (1)

devjj (956776) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280464)

...just smile, sit back, and watch how badly this explodes. This is actually going to be fun. These assholes have no idea the kind of mistake they've just made.

Pass the popcorn!

Re:If this is true... (2, Insightful)

kemushi88 (1156073) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280496)

Never underestimate the ability of people to not care and not do anything about it.

Re:If this is true... (1)

ppz003 (797487) | more than 6 years ago | (#22281544)

Never underestimate the ability of people to not care and not do anything about it.
Does not apply to people that use Apple products. Those whiny bastards will demand their service is fixed or sick Jobs on the router responsible.

Re:If this is true... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22280516)

and who exactly is going to blow it up in their faces.. the republican administration and idiots in congress who have allowed them to completely eliminate any and all competition (not that the Democrats are much better)... and, as for changing your ISP, congrats if you can... most of us are damn lucky to have ONE ISP for high-speed internet access... where I live Verizon has made it perfectly clear that they are going to install FIOS ONLY in new $1,000,000+ subdivisions... not in older neighborhoods where houses cost only $600,000 ....

A little offtopic... (1)

glitch23 (557124) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280474)

but TW is changing a lot of things recently. I just noticed starting on this past Friday that TW has their own search page load if you type in an invalid domain name. Similar to how IE would load an MSN (now it loads live.com) search page, TW now loads a search page with the domain of ww23.rr.com. Luckily they let users opt out so that your browser's normal error page is displayed but it is just another way for TW to annoy customers when they think they are trying to help. And of course do this unannounced. Their redirected search page is located here [rr.com] for anyone who is curious what it looks like. I hope the pilot project for tiered pricing falls flat on its face.

Great maker, what has slashdot become? (3, Insightful)

arcade (16638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280544)

I don't know the specifics here, but this seems like user gripes without a proper troubleshooting. "Waaaah, I can't connect to \$RANDOM_SITE !!" .

Maybe a router was down? Maybe BGP was flapping a bit? Maybe there is just a couple of peering partners between apple's provider and this provider ? And a backhoe took the cable?

Maybe powerloss in a Single Point of Failure?

That conspiracy theories should reach slashdot due to a couple of hours of outage is just insane. I expect more of slashdot. And also I expect more of the slashcrowd.

we expect more than amature results like 95' (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280908)

These days, how can they not afford 2-3 people being on call after hours to fix things remotely. If they cannot then they are cheaper than a used car sales yard.

Or is all infrastructure in usa falling apart like the soviet union in 85?

Re:Great maker, what has slashdot become? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22281434)

I don't know the specifics here, but this seems like user gripes without a proper troubleshooting. "Waaaah, I can't connect to \$RANDOM_SITE !!" .

Wahhh, the iTunes is bricked again!

Re:Great maker, what has slashdot become? (1)

VitaminD3 (1232350) | more than 6 years ago | (#22281708)

Any of that is possible, but do most people working in tech support at most ISPs even know what half of the terms you just said even mean?

Time Warner routing issues (1)

Tigris666 (197729) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280550)

Time Warner have also been having big issues with routing to certain Blizzard WoW servers. I wonder how many customers they are losing because of routing issues over the past month.

Out of curiosity, who is to blame when a big company like Time Warner has those routing issues, and ISPs from other countries use those some routes within the US, hence affecting services for them as well? The customer in the other country can't deal with their ISP, it's not their fault, and it's hardly the fault of the company providing the service.

Net neutrality doesn't exist even now. (2, Insightful)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280580)

First, let me say I support net neutrality.

Net neutrality is an illusion. If you want to use different services, you have to pay more RIGHT NOW regardless of who your ISP is. Let me explain. Net neutrality is a concept stating something similar to the following. Your ISP gets bought out by Microsoft. Suddenly, you as a consumer on the "Cheap" internet tier can no longer perform web searches on Google without experience long page loads. Your searches on Microsoft Live are fast as lightning, but you don't like the results. You call your ISP and tell them that you can't access Google properly, and they tell you there's no problem with their "Cheap" service, it's that the cheap service has a Microsoft "Preferred Portal." If you would like to use other "Internet Portals," you have to switch to their "Unlimited Tier," and pay $20 more per month for your "Unlimited" internet access.

If you're like most nerds, and have even a decent understanding of how the internet works, you know that this is a scam in the making. You, of course, are paying for bandwidth and IPv4 connectivity out to the rest of the internet, not "Microsoft Direct Connection Service plus Internet."

Some people don't realize that Net Neutrality doesn't even exist today. Try this: If you have email at, say, your office and you host it on your own domain, Telnet into port 25 on your email server. No response? That's because your ISP is filtering you RIGHT NOW. You can't send packets out on or receive them in on a variety of ports, notably 21, 25, and 80. I figured that there must be filters up on my connection because most consumers don't require service on them, and on Joe Sixpack's connection, it's more secure that way. So I called my ISP and asked them to remove the blocks so that I could test my email server at work, set up a personal FTP, and, god forbid, accept Email. I argued with them for two hours, during which they told me, several times, that I could get Business Class cable internet service (sound anything like the "Unlimited Tier" I mentioned above?) to alleviate my problem, and that the port filtering was in place to protect my ISP's subscribers from viruses and so on. I told them I didn't need that "protection" and would like it removed. They eventually forwarded me to a department that didn't give a shit.

My point is, we all get the idea, but how far fetched is the difference from paying extra for the ability to send and receive SMTP traffic, paying extra to send/receive HTTPS traffic, and, of course, the coup de gras, paying extra to access Google or Yahoo!

Time Warner thinks they can convince the American consumer that they should pay extra to access Google the same way they pay extra to watch HBO or Showtime... The same way we have to pay extra to send and receive SMTP traffic. This isn't the way it is now, and it's not the way it should be.

Re:Net neutrality doesn't exist even now. (1)

m0i (192134) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280674)

You can't send packets out on or receive them in on a variety of ports, notably 21, 25, and 80. I figured that there must be filters up on my connection because most consumers don't require service on them, and on Joe Sixpack's connection, it's more secure that way.
May I suggest you go visit an abuse's desk of an ISP not filtering port 25 outbound before stating that it's blocked for the unique reason that they don't require it? Viruses on customers' computers don't need port 25, period. It's allowed for businesses because they usually have some kind of IT dealing with viruses, but at the ISP I worked for we could block these as well if abuse was reported, no matter the price of the connection.

Re:Net neutrality doesn't exist even now. (2, Informative)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280682)

You can't send packets out on or receive them in on a variety of ports, notably 21, 25, and 80. I figured that there must be filters up on my connection because most consumers don't require service on them, and on Joe Sixpack's connection, it's more secure that way.
May I suggest you go visit an abuse's desk of an ISP not filtering port 25 outbound before stating that it's blocked for the unique reason that they don't require it? Viruses on customers' computers don't need port 25, period. It's allowed for businesses because they usually have some kind of IT dealing with viruses, but at the ISP I worked for we could block these as well if abuse was reported, no matter the price of the connection.

My point is that ISP's unrelentingly filter port 25 traffic. Abuse or not. And in the case of my ISP, they claim it's for security.

Re:Net neutrality doesn't exist even now. (2, Interesting)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280712)

My point is, we all get the idea, but how far fetched is the difference from paying extra for the ability to send and receive SMTP traffic, paying extra to send/receive HTTPS traffic, and, of course, the coup de gras, paying extra to access Google or Yahoo!
It is coup de grace, but otherwise, spot on. Someone mod this guy. This is the wet dream of all ISPs: to charge you by connection type, by port, by protocol and finally, by content and end-point access. They want to charge you the same way they charge your cell phone usage: lots of completely made up charges that are only differentiated because their tracking software can.

I predict in the fairly near future (5 years or so) that there'll be a lot of these tests going on, and a lot of cut-rate Internet offerings that have these sort of restrictions. If even 20% of all customers sign on, I expect that all future offerings will be of that nature.

Shudder. It will be the end of the Internet as a medium of innovation, communication and productivity enhancements... it'll become like TV and radio.

Re:Net neutrality doesn't exist even now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22280738)

There is a difference between not allowing access to certain ports and not allowing access to certain services.

The ports you mention are blocked going from them to other service providers for security and bandwidth purposes, especially over telnet. You can access the ISPs email servers, especially via a POP3-compliant email client, or via HTML/browser, usually with no issues.

Denying access to a port is not a "violation" of "net neutrality". Forcing you to Microsoft Live instead of Google would be.

Apple serves content via Akamai (1)

SethJohnson (112166) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280672)



As an ex-Austin customer of Time-Warner ISP, I would say that the first suspect in any service outage should be TWC's incompetence. I finally switched to their new, local competitor: Grande Communications [grandecom.net] and have been thoroughly pleased ever since. The final straw for me was a network outage for my entire neighborhood that was identified on wednesday, they sent a guy out thursday, then said it would require a tier-2 tech to fix, who won't come out on the weekends, and friday is all booked up. So our whole neighborhood didn't get back online until monday.

Apple is a significant stockholder of Akamai and uses their distributed load balancing service for iTunes content [internet.com] . Before I'd suspect a server-side problem with Akamai (who knows a little bit about networks), my first go-to for troubleshooting would be TWC (who has demonstrated that networks are hard).

Seth

Tiscali do this in the UK (5, Informative)

groovelator (994174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280700)

In the UK Tiscali have been 'unintentionally' blocking iTunes traffic during peak periods for some time now. This, again, on 'Unlimited' MAX ADSL connections where p2p regularly slows to a crawl...

Despite having acknowledged the problem recently (they said they're working on it - try turning off your traffic shaping???) they initially ignored it, deleting support forum posts wholesale.

I've walked away.

Re:Tiscali do this in the UK (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#22281334)

From the ISPs point of view they're going to be prioritising HTTP and probably POP3. If itunes isn't that much bandwidth it'll generally escape. Bittorrent is the real target, using 90% of off peak bandwidth for 5% of users.

They're not going after apple specifically, but when they announce a bandwidth sucking HD download service the ISPs have two possible responses:

1. Charge more for their service so they can afford to significantly upgrade their pipes.
2. Throttle itunes.

My own ISP doesn't even currently need to throttle bittorrent, but then I pay 2-3 times the average for that level of service.

Re:Tiscali do this in the UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22281686)

My old ISP here in the UK, TalkTalk, restricts P2P openly, here is the FAQ entry [talktalk.co.uk] about it

This strategy may work initially... (1)

sweepkick (531861) | more than 6 years ago | (#22280946)

The ignorant thing about a strategy like this is that companies don't seem to realize that they are simply creating demand for service offerings other than their own. Ultimately what will happen, considering that internet access is a fairly competitive market, is that they risk ending up losing customers to another service provider... and the SP that *doesn't* throttle, or tier, their services will become the favored alternative. Unthrottled bandwidth becomes a feature that people who use these services will seek out and prefer to spend their hard-earned cash for. It isn't just about raw bandwidth anymore... it's about features and functionality as well.

Why any company would endanger their current *and future* customer base through these type of shenanigans is mind-boggling foolish... and anyone who has invested any sort of money in the corporation should really re-think their investment and get the fuck out (i.e. SELL) while the getting-out is good. All may be good in the initial stages, but believe me it will be short-lived.

You don't invest in a company who creates a market for an alternative to their service. It's that simple.

Re:This strategy may work initially... (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 6 years ago | (#22281532)

I thought the whole point was that there isn't any competition when it comes to ISP's in the US.

Anchor (1)

maccam (967469) | more than 6 years ago | (#22281002)

Any dodgy looking ships drop anchor in or around Texas on Jan 31st?

it's a side-effect of their packet-shaping box (1)

cjmilne (38848) | more than 6 years ago | (#22281082)

A similar thing happened with Rogers in Canada a few years ago, except in that case the connections were completely killed. Encrypted https connections to the store worked OK. It seems likely that they're packet shaping for bittorrent & the device they're using also manages to throttle iTunes connections. Here's the ehmac.ca thread [ehmac.ca] and the dslreports thread [dslreports.com] . Then it was a P-cube box (pdf) [p-cube.com] that was causing the problem & Rogers managed to reconfigure it (through Cisco) to fix the problem. The best way to speed up the solution was to complain to the ISP.

Should have seen this coming. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22281136)

This should make sense to everyone that this was coming.

Did anyone find it ironic that the big announcement of tiered testing came at about the same time Apple announced iTunes movie rentals?

It's all very simple. Time Warner does not want Apple to have any ability to infringe on their monopoly for on-demand movies. Time Warner is notorious for charging more than their competitors and restricting the ability for any competitor to use their network. Look at what they have done in the past throttling non-TW VOIP. Their horrid CableCard support pretty much makes you use their crappy overpriced cable boxes.

Now they want to make sure you still have to pay twice as much for their on demand movies.

Re:Should have seen this coming. (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 6 years ago | (#22281382)

Occam's Razor says that an accident or a configuration problem or a fault somewhere (e.g. with their shaping hardware) is more likely than a deliberate attempt to sabotage iTunes (especially given the fact that Warner is offering content for purchase and rent over the iTunes store)

HAS THE WHOLE WORLD GONE MAD!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22281386)

On February 2nd, users in the discussion group used to create this post reported the issue was resolved. SO.... where dose the poster get off assuming on the 3rd, that time warner is throttling bandwidth? As far as I can tell the whole claim is based solely on circumstantial evidence. The fact that the Austin division, may or may not be conducting tests in throttling is a convenient excuse to even give this play.... As far as I know, (havening worked for time warner for 3 years), When the company tests a product line they don't just UNLEASH it on a whole division and hope it wont fail. There are corporate procedures, and guidelines for rolling out a product that would affect an entire division of customers... I think everybody, Including the original poster might be a bit paranoid about this whole thing; I think what most likely happened, and I can't speak for the company but its just an educated assumption... Is, there was an outage, on this and probably several other less popular ports in the division; at the switching level. Through customer feedback the issue was able to be forwarded to the divisional NOC level, where the problem was isolated and resolved.... end of story. Hopefully this allows some light on the issue for some people. sorry for the anonymous post but company policy prohibits speaking directly to media on issues that impact the company. Slashdot is hardly a traditional media outlet (don't get me wrong I think its valid.) However, this is another example of the kind of thing that gives ignorant people, a reason to put down sites like slashdot as not being a legitimate news source.

Re:HAS THE WHOLE WORLD GONE MAD!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22281842)

Wasn't the symptom that only iTunes slowed down?

Seems like an outage would be more broad reaching.

Looks like a lawsuit in the making (1)

oDDmON oUT (231200) | more than 6 years ago | (#22281612)

Time Warner, whose subsidiaries include numerous entertainment firms [hoovers.com] and content delivery companies [timewarner.com] , may at the very least look at a restraint of trade suit in the making.

I hear the saliva splatting on the floor from the lawyers dripping jaws already.

On Road Runner Business in Greensboro, NC (3, Informative)

LWolenczak (10527) | more than 6 years ago | (#22281798)

I have a "teleworker" account, which means I get business class service to my house. (I might add, its useful to be able to get them dispatched in the middle of the night with such an account.) I've noticed that using iTunes before 8pm, its useless, right after 8pm though all my iTunes downloads speed up from 1-2 hours for a half hour tv show, to like 10 minutes. Its pretty clear that something is amiss, but I just went to downloading everything after 8 PM.

FWIW, Before 8pm, I've seen no other speed impacts, and have been able to download ISOs at a normal speed. I've only seen it with iTunes.

Unlimited ISP connections (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22282028)

Everytime this comes up in slashdot people trot out the argument about the limits on their "unlimited" ISP account. I've heard this argument since the days of dial up when some people took "unlimited" to mean "my isp dedicated a modem just for my use". These people expected to be able to run services on by bolting up a connection via the phone and never hanging up. For the good of the whole everyone should get a clue. The cable ISP's should stop advertising unlimited connections when they really have a bandwidth cap of 200~300Gb per month. And customers should learn to recognize that marketing speech is mostly hype meaning the active word in the phrase "virtually unlimited" is virtually.
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