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Groups unite to undo Comcast transfer restrictions

updated 03:15 pm EDT, Thu November 1, 2007

Groups unite vs. Comcast

A number of consumer groups and legal scholars have united to petition the FCC over Comcast's bandwidth policies, the Associated Press reports. The news organization recently uncovered that Comcast has been sabotaging BitTorrent traffic, slowing it down or preventing it from functioning at all. Consumers Union, Media Access Project, the Consumer Federation of America and professors from Yale, Harvard and Stanford's law schools have come forward, asking the FCC to label Comcast in violation of government policy; two more groups, Free Press and Public Knowledge, are asking for a $195,000 fine per affected subscriber.

An executive VP with Comcast, David Cohen, has responded by saying that FCC policies acknowledge a need to control network traffic. The company has in the past admitted to "delaying" BitTorrent traffic, but insists it is unavoidable, since even a small number of file sharers can slow an entire network.

Comcast's bandwidth control may however constitute a violation of net neutrality, a policy espoused by the FCC and many non-governmental organizations, stating that all Internet traffic should be handled equally. The difficulty is that neutrality has not been a legal obligation since 2005, leaving open the possibility that no action may be taken against Comcast.



By Electronista Staff
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  1. TheSnarkmeister

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2007

    0

    Well?

    While I certainly recognize the potential for abuse in letting providers charge differently for different uses when they resell bandwidth, one can't help but recognize that some arguments against net neutrality are valid. Why should the kid next door get to pay the same price as everyone else, when he soaks up the whole neighborhood's bandwidth with his torrent activity? We all are paying the same price, shouldn't we all be guaranteed an equal portion of the pie? Isn't it unfair that everyone else's e-mail slows to a crawl so that the kid can trade gigabytes of MP3 files? Why shouldn't he pay more to use more? An alternative that sounds good, if actually metering isn't available, would be peak-period pricing. Let the kid soak up cheaply priced bandwidth at night while everyone else is asleep.

  1. bhuot

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 2003

    0

    Linux too

    Illegal file sharing is not the only use of bit torrent. Many Linux distributions can only be downloaded that way.

  1. vasic

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2005

    0

    Wrong interpretation

    The Snarkmeister makes a valid point, but it doesn't apply here.

    In the US, there hasn't been metered pricing since the early days of dial-up, and even then it was by the hour, and not by volume (obviously, data rate being severely limited by 56k modems).

    Many countries have broadband plans that charge per MB/GB transferred (each direction). In the US, however, you pay flat rate and your ISP GUARANTEES you service and bandwidth (to certain extent). Kid next door cannot be responsible for poor network design that causes him to hog bandwidth away from all other users. ISP is obligated to design its network so that all users, regardless of their neighbours, get reliable, consistent and fast service. ADSL is technologically superior in that it allows ISPs to provide more consistent service to individual customers. Cable internet often lumps many users into the same broad pipe, where the kid next door can hog a lot of it for himself.

    I don't want to have to pay on top of what I'm already paying for UNLIMITED throughput, just so that I can use iChat AV, which can sometimes take up a bit more bandwidth.

    If ISPs perceive bittorrent downloaders as a problem, they should design a different pricing structure. Let's see how ordinary folks would like that.

  1. eldarkus

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2004

    0

    and....

    They DO have metering technologies. I have read several articles that say Comcast has cut service for some users because they are using "too much" bandwidth. Of course, they do not tell users how much bandwidth is too much, which is another gripe against Comcast.

    I don't know if they have this technology on all parts of their network, but if they don't, Vasic is right.. it's their fault.

    all I can say is All Hail FIOS! I kissed Comcast goodbye 3 months ago and I've been happier ever since!!

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    0

    Re: linux too

    Illegal file sharing is not the only use of bit torrent. Many Linux distributions can only be downloaded that way.

    There's nothing about this that is about legal vs. non-legal filesharing (its not like they're doing this for the RIAA). Its all about trying to keep their bandwidth from being sucked dry.

  1. Feathers

    Grizzled Veteran

    Joined: Oct 1999

    0

    Backwards...

    The torrent approach is a far more efficient use of bandwidth that more traditional peer-to-peer networking. In fact it's a misnomer to describe bit-torrent as peer-to-peer at all. The distributed approach ensures that the traffic is routed around the whole (road) network and not shoving everything down the I95! Comcast are not being entirely truthful if they are saying it's to do with network management or efficiency. Better a torrent than hotline!

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    0

    Re: wrong interpretatiopn

    In the US, however, you pay flat rate and your ISP GUARANTEES you service and bandwidth (to certain extent).

    Actually they guarantee you'll have service most of the time (and if it's comcast, some of the time). And the bandwidth is usually regarded as a 'maximum', not a guarantee.

    Kid next door cannot be responsible for poor network design that causes him to hog bandwidth away from all other users. ISP is obligated to design its network so that all users, regardless of their neighbours, get reliable, consistent and fast service.

    Actually, an ISP isn't obligated to do this at all. There's nothing I recall saying "ISPs must make sure their users are work OK.". Especially in the unregulated world of broadband the FCC is pushing.

    And keep in mind that how your neighbors work is only part of the problem. If the internet itself is just slow way up-stream, there's nothing an ISP can do about that.

    Cable internet often lumps many users into the same broad pipe, where the kid next door can hog a lot of it for himself.

    Which is how they're able to cut costs and charge 'less'.

    I don't want to have to pay on top of what I'm already paying for UNLIMITED throughput, just so that I can use iChat AV, which can sometimes take up a bit more bandwidth.

    If ISPs perceive bittorrent downloaders as a problem, they should design a different pricing structure. Let's see how ordinary folks would like that.


    So you're saying you don't want to pay extra, then suggesting they try a different pricing structure. What will you do if they decide "Hey, we're going to charge on a throughput level. The more you use, the more you pay"?

  1. Hobeaux

    Junior Member

    Joined: Mar 2002

    0

    not just linux

    Luxology modo is distributed via torrent in order to preserve their servers (electronic distribution is far less expensive than packaging). Personally, I'd love for Apple to adopt an electronic distribution model for all their apps--I'm sure if they applied torrent to their music downloads it'd be a huge cost savings.

  1. Guest

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 1999

    0

    testudo

    Hey Testudo, Since when does Comcast charge less. Obviously you dont deal with them regularly. I am held hostage by these corparate greed monsters. They are the only way I can get broadband. I have to pay more for less band width because I refuse to use their TV service. I am looking forward to the day I can cut those bloodsuckers loose. I read these forums regularly and all I ever see from you is an opposite. I think your whole reason for being is to be contrary even when you know it is wrong.

  1. Athens

    Addicted to MacNN

    Joined: Jan 2003

    0

    this is stupid

    Im not 100% sure how it works in the US or with Comcast but here on Shaw Cable, you have a few packages to pick from with different speeds and different amounts of traffic your allowed per month. For example my basic cable internet is 45 bucks a month with a extreme option for a extra 10 bucks a month that gives me 10Mmbs down, 1Mbps up for speed and something like 160GB per month of Traffic. If the system can not support 10Mbps down and 100Gb of traffic a month they should not be selling it. I can't hog all the bandwidth since I am capped at 10Mbps down as with every other user. If every one decided to max out the 10Mbps speed at the same time and the system can't handle it, its not our fault, or any of the users fault for the ISP over selling how much bandwidth they have.

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