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Cable Co's Want More Control Over Your Network 726

Posted by timothy
from the but-of-course dept.
Moonshine Coward writes: "'The CAT and the NAT' in latest issue of www.cedmagazine.com discusses Cable labs and their efforts to come up with a 'better' protocol than NAT that allows them more control over devices behind your cable modem. Their upside on this...$4.95 per IP per mth. Their #1 concern...people putting in 802.11b hubs and sharing with their neighbors. Fine in principle and if it gets them drooling enough to speed up the deployment of fiber to the home it might be a good thing. However I can see way too many downsides...not least of which is being nickled and dimed to death..my webcam, cable ready microwave, refrigerator, pictureframe that shows revolving jif's ... each costing me $4.95 p.m. -- all on top of regular $39.95 cost." Note: the article is written from an interesting point of view -- it's aimed at the people who want to collect the additional per-IP charges.
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Cable Co's Want More Control Over Your Network

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  • by VEGETA_GT (255721) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @04:59PM (#2621046)
    I am already splitting a cable line in my house to 5 different computers. I use a old p120 as a dhcp/firewall to split off to the other 4 main computers. If they do come up with a better protocol than NAT that allows them more "control" over devices behind my cable modem" they are going to come smack into my firewall. This would stop their protocol cold.

    So what dose this mean, not much if you put in a fire wall on a old computer worth 50$ which in the long run would cost less then paying for a few extra ip's.

    My 2 cents plus 2 more
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @05:07PM (#2621127)

    As a consumer with a long term view, I'd much prefer a commodity market for packet delivery - just as I would for any other essential utility such as phone or electric.

    I'd be willing to pay based on Quality of Service parameters, time of day, mean bandwidth, maximum latency, etc., but definitely don't want the service provider reaching into the guts of my home network as part and parcel of the service. Naturally, services based on open standards are subject to greater rigor in the competitive marketplace than closed "standards".

    While I realize that no stone goes unturned in the marketing departments seeking to

    • "provide solutions" ,
    • "add value" ,
    • "open new revenue streams",
    it would be as if my electric company were billing me for every circuit in my house instead of just the 200 A service to the meter! As another example, it would be as if your trucking company started to provide warehousing and inventory control of your goods.

    It's fine to provide and charge services for a separate business of Home LAN Construction and Management (assuming you trust your vendor), but artificially mixing packet transport providers with this other service seems to me to be just another attempt to provide a gratuitous lock-in in the guise of and end-to-end "solution".

    Alas, people will probably fall (again) for a well-marketed scheme to reduce apparent complexity, even as they remain unaware of the long-term consequences of their choices.

    The costs of simplification are greater than many realize.

  • by mdpowell (256664) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @05:17PM (#2621217)
    The problem for the cable co's is that the internet was/is based on the "dumb network, smart device" model where all the network does is push data across wires and the connected devices do all of the computing, etc.. That fundamental paradigm doesn't mesh well with their business plan which has consumers paying extra $ for each "device" (tv, fridge, toaster, computer, etc.) and corresponding services we hook up to the network. NAT is a prime example of how the "dumb" network neither sees nor cares what is behind the data it moves.

    Instead of what they want, big cable seems to be stuck with a scheme where all they can really sell is bandwidth, not connections. That's not what they want because tacking on more fees for each toaster consumers add costs the cable co. much less than providing X additional gigabytes/month of bandwidth for the same additional fee.

    --mdp
  • by Krieger (7750) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @05:22PM (#2621261) Homepage
    Note that most acceptable use policies specifically disallow you from using more than one computer without paying for each additional device. Thus achieveing the same effect.

    Most people don't read their AUP or don't care. I made certain that I found an ISP that had a good AUP before I signed up (Telocity), but they've now been bought and sold enough times that I'm not certain if it still holds true. Guess I'll have to go wade through legalese again.
  • [OT; sorry] (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheTomcat (53158) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @05:27PM (#2621298) Homepage
    $5/GB would be a sweet deal.

    My provider [videotron.ca] (hurray for monopolies!) gives me 5GB downstream and 1GB upstream per month for the flat rate.

    Any traffic exceeding those limitations is billed.
    AT 7 CENTS PER MEGABYTE!

    Yes, I did type that correctly.
    $71.68 per GB.

    I'm glad they didn't even bother trying to charge me during Sircam/CodeRed. My traffic light (incoming) was going crazy, and I wasn't about to pay them for traffic I didn't ask for.

    On that note, if I get pingflooded some night, without noticing -- say I get 100kB/sec for 3 hours; and it's over my limit, that costs me ~$100.
  • Re:Umm, what? (Score:2, Informative)

    by philipsblows (180703) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @05:30PM (#2621315) Homepage

    Network Address Translation

    See here [ietf.org] and elsewhere via google for lots of info.

    ipmasquerading is an example of this using in the linux kernel, where packets from one ip address (your neighbor's wirelessly-connected laptop, perhaps) are changed so that they appear to come from a different place (the ip address associated with the cable modem, for example), and reply packets are then forwarded back to the translated source.

    read about iptables and netfilter in kernel 2.4.x for the latest...

  • by DaveWhite99 (525748) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @05:50PM (#2621457)
    I'm sure many of you have seen those hilarious DSL commercials that cast cable-based broadband access in a bad "shared access" light. That's because the current Data Over Cable System Interface Specification (DOCSIS), 1.0, is a best-effort packet delivery system and thus has no guarantees for Quality-of-Service(QoS). Thus, the cable operator (MSO) has no way of throttling bandwidth, especially upstream bandwidth. That's why the MSOs don't like NAT and want to be able to bill their subscribers on a per IP basis. Enter DOCSIS 1.1, essentially a QoS add-on to DOCSIS 1.0 . With a DOCSIS 1.1 Cable Modem Termination System (CMTS) sitting at the MSO's cable head-end and a DOCSIS 1.1 cable modem (CM) sitting at your house, QoS can be guaranteed. That is, the MSO can both limit you to a certain upstream and downstream bandwidth as well as guarantee a minimum upstream and downstream bandwidth. So, given a DOCSIS 1.1 deployment, I see no need for the MSOs to agitate customers with this intrusive CAT proposal, since they now have a way to bill you by bandwidth. Two months ago, the first set of DOCSIS 1.1 products were certified by CableLabs. However, I don't expect DOCSIS 1.1 deployment and replacement of DOCSIS 1.0 systems to happen in large numbers until the end of 2002. Another insider note: CableLabs, the entity pushing CAT, is funded by the MSOs, but has no authority to push its proposals into implementation. Only vendors building CAT products and MSOs buying those CAT products have the power to deploy this ludicrous CAT proposal.
  • by dcavanaugh (248349) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @06:05PM (#2621547) Homepage
    "At the very least, cable MSOs involved in CableHome want a counting mechanism, with parameters set by them, that specifies a maximum number of connected devices. Until then, all indicators point to DOCSIS 1.1, which includes methods to monitor bandwidth consumption (how much is used per customer) and speed (who's bursting at what rates)."

    They want to protect the revenue stream from additional IP addresses. This will fail, because...

    1. It will cost money
    2. A fair percentage of the installed base will walk, especially if this means no Linux
    3. Any software that runs on the client is open to all sorts of hacking fun. Perhaps the cable geniuses will get their software written by the MPAA masterminds who created CSS for DVD players.
    4. The hardware manufacturers will not be pleased.
    5. There are easier ways to make money

    As soon as they have the ability to easily track bandwidth utilization, they will use that to drive the billing. Far better to charge per megabyte than to waste time trying to figure out how many toys the customer has and how many of them are really using the Internet. Besides, bandwidth measurements are [almost] fraud-proof, whereas this address counting stuff is a losing battle for them. They will use metered service to drive home the mother of all rate hikes, so that [among other things] AT&T can pay for @Home's sins.

    Of course, metered service brings up the spam problem. Instead of the benign tolerance that most ISPs have, they will need a massive crackdown on spam unless they want all kinds of billing disputes regarding unsolicited bandwidth consumption. It's not just spam, there is also the issue of unsolicited pinging, port-scanning, and unauthorized telnet/ftp logins. If they want to measure my consumption, I intend to pick and choose which packets I pay for.

    For the record, I set up my NAT-based LAN in the old days, when the cable company had no intentions of selling additional IP addresses. My continued use of this arragement is non-negotiable. I'll pull the plug before tolerating any of this CAT crap.

    I wonder what these cable geniuses plan to do when they over-sell their IP allocations and need to take back the addresses. The whole concept of selling additional addresses is really wasteful. The government should have some kind of whopping tax (like 500%) on secondary residential IP addresses, so as to make the problem go away. The cable companies have never been great thinkers, they obviously need the governement to think for them.

"Don't discount flying pigs before you have good air defense." -- jvh@clinet.FI

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