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Competitors Ally With Comcast In FCC P2P Filings 220

Posted by kdawson
from the shoulder-to-shoulder dept.
crocoduck writes "Right before the deadline passed for filing comments in the FCC investigation of Comcast's traffic-management practices, telecoms and other cable companies submitted a slew of comments defending Comcast's actions to the FCC. 'Just about every big phone company has filed a statement challenging the FCC's authority to deal with this problem. AT&T, Verizon, and Qwest all submitted lengthy remarks on February 13th, the last day for comments on the proceeding (parties can still reply to comments through the 28th). "The Internet marketplace remains fundamentally healthy, and the purported 'cure' could only make it sick," AT&T's filing declared. "At best, the network-management restrictions proposed by Free Press and others would inflict wasteful costs on broadband providers in the form of expensive and needless capacity upgrades — costs that would ultimately be passed through to end users, raise broadband prices across the board, and force ordinary broadband consumers to subsidize the bandwidth-hogging activities of a few."' P2P fans have also weighed in."
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Competitors Ally With Comcast In FCC P2P Filings

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  • by urcreepyneighbor (1171755) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @05:15PM (#22480236)
    The "capacity upgrades" are obviously needed if you're having problems with "the bandwidth-hogging activities of a few."

    Shut up, cut your salaries for a couple quarters, and invest in the goddamn infrastructure.
  • by lucky130 (267588) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @05:22PM (#22480302)
    If you can't provide the speeds you advertise, then don't advertise them.
  • Lies, lies, lies. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot&gmail,com> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @05:23PM (#22480310) Homepage Journal
    Tagged: LiesAndLiars

    Seriously, if they were *just* throttling the connection, there wouldn't be a problem. They were basically "disconnecting" the file transfer. This is analogous to a telephone operator listening to your phone conversation & cutting you off if she doesn't like what you're talking about.
  • by Duncan Blackthorne (1095849) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @05:23PM (#22480316)
    IMHO broadband providers either have their heads in the sand, or they're just trying to delay the inevitable. In surveys I've read the United States is far from being the world leader in broadband internet connectivity in speed, price, availability, or even customer service -- and I think they all know that as well as anyone else does, too. P2P isn't going away anytime soon; as we speak developers are working on ways to rewrite the bittorrent protocol to get around the DDoS attacks that companies like Comcast are using to hamstring it's users. Beyond that, the reality is that we live in a country where more and more people are using the Internet for surfing, gaming, telephone, email, downloading (completely legal, paid-for) movies, and in some cases for live-streaming content; bandwidth demands aren't going to ever go down, they're only ever going to go up, and they (ISPs) damn well know that too. Perhaps this is just their first volleys in a war they want to start, with their preferred end-result being tiered pricing based on monthly bandwidth usage, but again I say they must have their heads in the sand because nobody is going to sit still for that, either.
  • by Nemilar (173603) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @05:25PM (#22480334) Homepage
    I don't think that word means what you think it means. "Needless" means unnecessary. Obviously, with more and more information going through the tubes, we NEED bigger tubes!

    People aren't going to stop transfering data over the internet just because the telecoms say so. The trend is towards larger files, faster downloads, and more data. We NEED more bandwidth. Just because you don't want to be bothered with upgrades, doesn't make the upgrades unnecessary.
  • by wiggles (30088) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @05:25PM (#22480338)
    So capacity upgrades are 'expensive and needless', eh? Is that why we're among the worst in the developed world for broadband speed and penetration? I don't know about anyone else, but I heard, "If our customers would only stop using our services, we wouldn't have to throttle them!"

    Maybe if they advertised lower peak speeds and limited their customers to those speeds and charged a premium for higher speeds, we wouldn't have this problem.
  • Watershed Moment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stanistani (808333) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @05:26PM (#22480348) Homepage Journal
    The FCC faces this choice:

    Take a step towards unrestricted bandwidth, build a new economy based on the innovative development of new business models using this bandwidth as a utility.

    Or

    Allow the telecommunications oligopoly to produce a network ghetto, stove-piped and metered, and watch the US economy stagnate, and fall behind the rest of the developed world.
  • Duh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by the4thdimension (1151939) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @05:26PM (#22480356) Homepage
    Seemed like this was inevitable. Kind of strange that they chose to wait till the last day. They have an obviously vested interest in supporting this motion. As noted, its cheaper for them to limit P2P traffic unwatched than to face the glaringly obvious issue of bandwidth. If they had taken the government up on a plan to upgrade the nations network infrastructure, this wouldn't even be an issue. We need some tech-nuts in the government to keep this kind of thing alive and stop letting companies clinch their fists around end-users. Internet should be regulated like any other utility(gas, water, electric).
  • Unlimited comments (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KillerCow (213458) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @05:33PM (#22480440)
    The FCC should have stated that it would have accepted unlimited comments on the matter.

    After the comment period ended, they should have announced that certain comments were rejected because they were too long (beyond an arbitrary amount determined after the comment period) or contained too much legalese, since they didn't want to have make the other commenters "subsidize the [resource]-hogging activities of a few."
  • by GodCandy (1132301) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @05:39PM (#22480528)
    I would have joined in earlier but I was mitigating the tons of spam and other crap that filters through our company e-mail server daily.

    I don't agree with bandwidth shaping by isp's. I feel that I am paying them my hard earned money for my 10/1 connection and I should be able to receive that bandwidth when I want/need it. However having worked for a web hosting company I do realize how much bandwidth cost and how difficult it can be to get the proper peering where and when you need it. I can see why ISP's are filtering at this time (but still can't agree). I think that torrents and other peer to peer software has its use. Sometimes this use is illegal however who is the ISP to judge. I personally use a server at a hosting provider with a 100mb connection and unlimited bandwidth to download my torrent files (all legal linux distros and such of course). This keeps me from saturating my home ISP's bandwidth for days while I download a few gigs of data.

    I think that there is a big grey area that we are going to have to come to an agreement. I think that the end users who use more bandwidth should have to pay a premium and those who are more of a casual user who might actually utilize their connection 1 day a month for some software updates or to download some songs from iTunes should be allowed to do as they please. I personally always get the premium plan from the provider with the most available bandwidth knowing full well during peak hours I will not get anything close to what the claim I have. I think it's a loose loose situation and unfortunately we as consumers are going to loose financially.
  • A Bunch of Bull (Score:3, Insightful)

    by iviagnus (854023) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @05:54PM (#22480756)
    If the top 1% in the telecommunications industry weren't sucking the life (read money) out of their respective corporations, they'd have the funds to upgrade the networks when that need arises. If, as a consumer, I'm sold a 1.5Mbps/384Kbps package, I should have every right to utilize 100% or that bandwidth, 100% of the time. No exceptions. If the telecommunications industry can't deliver on that, they shouldn't be running a corporation. Businesses should be 100% liable for honesty and deliver 100% of advertized services. If I walked into any store in these United States, saw a package containing 50 items for $29.95, and after taking my money I find out the package now contains only 27 items, you can damn well bet I'm gonna be in the right to get back the difference. Every breathing soul on this planet would expect the same. Just because we're talking about electrons and not gumballs has absolutely NO bearing on what we as consumers should be getting. I would expect the other "players" to send in comments defending Comcasts practices. Each of them either already uses similar methods themselves or plans to, and they can see the writing on the wall. Here's some writing for AT&T, Verizon, and everyone other service provider that is "with" Comcast . . . "Eat my Dick Mother-Fuckers!"
  • Re:Yep (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Belial6 (794905) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @05:56PM (#22480798)
    The same could be said about all those jerks that want graphics sent across their internet connections. Really what needs to be done is to get us back to only sending green screen updates. All that wasteful html traffic has just caused needless upgrades. If you need to consume more than a what a 1200 baud modem can offer, perhaps what you need is a dedicated line. Not a consumer internet connection.

    Look, it was no secret as to what Comcast was jumping into when they decided to get into the internet business. In fact it seems pretty obvious that they were quite clear on the fact that bandwidth would keep increasing to the point that people would just get their video directly from the source, instead of paying them to be a gatekeeper middleman. What they were hoping for was that they could use their monopoly power to stifle the internet so that their monopoly would not crumble in face of actual competition. So far they have been successful. Now that people are starting to cry foul, they are trying to pretend that they are the victims.

    It always amazes me how many people will defend someone who is clearly trying to screw them.
  • by esocid (946821) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @06:00PM (#22480858) Journal

    Time-Warner Cable's comment all but condemns P2P applications as "designed to consume all available bandwidth and, if left unchecked, will prevent consumers from continuing to access the wealth of content available over the Internet."
    So their solution is to hinder or completely block a technology or protocol because they aren't up with the times? So let me use another car analogy, since Comcast is fond of that one. They are saying that since everyone just got sportscars, we shouldn't pave the dirt roads but force most people to keep riding horses and allow only 30% of people to share these sportscars on the available paved roads at peak traffic hours.
    It's outrageous that they can say that with a straight face! This seems like a perfectly obvious sign that their infrastructure is in a serious need of an upgrade in order to maintain competition with the up-and-coming technologies that are being, or are already, released. This has me fuming.
  • by sd.fhasldff (833645) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @06:04PM (#22480918)
    There's just no two ways about it. Throttling *selectively* is censorship.

    Comcast unilaterally decides that some content is good and some bad - and that should just plain be illegal.

    I know many are opposed, but I don't mind the actual *throttling* itself, if it were just protocol-neutral. I cannot accept, however, that Comcast gets to decide that I can't use the rated capacity of my line (you know, the number they tout in their PR) to download Ubuntu with a bittorrent client, while my neighbor can max out his identical connection downloading movies over HTTP or FTP.

    (And, no, the actual *content* shouldn't matter either, of course, that's just a feeble attempt at highlighting the inherent stupidity of the method).

    Requiring an ISP to have enough capacity to enable ALL its customers to max out their connections would be monumentally wasteful, no question. However...

    What Comcast, and any other ISP should do, is actually tell you what you are buying, up front, so that it's possible to make an informed purchasing decision. E.g.:

    6Mbps down, 1Mbps up. Rated bandwidth available at least 90% of the time. Minimum bandwidth of1Mbps down, 256kbps up (except in case of equipment failure).

    The ISP can then throttle users with this connection in times of peak load, but still protocol (and content) neutral!

    If they wanted to get really advanced, they could give their users the ability to use some kind of QoS feature, so that e.g. a user could choose to prioritize http and ftp over, say, bittorrent. Or to prioritize whatever port #s the user's favorite multiplayer game uses, so that using the internet connection for other stuff introduces a minimum of lag on gaming.

    In any event, there's just no justification for saying that my downloading Ubuntu or whatever should be throttled in favor of some idiot streaming porn over HTTP. (OK, maybe if it's porn... bad example... you get my drift, though)
  • by esocid (946821) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @06:28PM (#22481204) Journal
    I'm pretty sure subsidies aren't included in the free market model. That's what makes this a "free market." It isn't decided by competition. The FCC is another nail in the coffin in that "free market."
  • by cheater512 (783349) <nick@nickstallman.net> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @06:30PM (#22481248) Homepage
    They are the ones advertising the connection as unlimited. Not our fault that we have a dictionary.
  • by dkf (304284) <donal.k.fellows@manchester.ac.uk> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @06:46PM (#22481470) Homepage

    When I pay for a service that claims 'unlimited' internet access, I'd say I've payed quite enough. Don't give me shit because *gasp* Comcast doesn't (or can't) give me what I payed for.
    To me, it seems like one of the roots of the problem is that Comcast et al are using false advertising. If there are caps, they should say so up front, before you pay anything. If they're blocking some services, they should say so up front, before you pay anything.

    The other problem is that the FCC seem to be a terrible regulator. A bigger display of craven grovelling in the general direction of those that are supposed to be regulated I've not seen since, well, ... Hmm, I can't think of anything right now that's not contemporaneous. Help me out here!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @06:50PM (#22481556)
    Actually, a better analogy would be a telephone operator listening in to your phone conversation & getting the other person to hang up by pretending to be you.
  • Re:Yep (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ChaosDiscord (4913) * on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @06:59PM (#22481662) Homepage Journal

    "I think this problem is indeed about the few people trying to max out their "unlimited" connections, and the rest of us paying for it."

    If they don't want people to think the connection is unlimited, maybe they should tell people about it up front. If they think that killing P2P connections during peak usage is a good idea for most people, maybe they should boldly tell their customers about this great feature instead of lying about it until confronted with evidence. They have shown themselves to be unworthy of trust. They deserve no sympathy.

  • by NonCow (1159679) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @07:16PM (#22481880)
    Just rebadge this entire story: "Big mega-corp directors, disconnected from any social reality beyond their golf club, just want to stuff their pockets with our cash for minimal service in return. Regulators who attend the same golf club will legislate it and enforce it." Oh what a surprise.
    I give you the precedent: "let them eat cake".
  • by Alsee (515537) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @07:20PM (#22481930) Homepage
    Filing on the last day is still quite effective for limiting the reporting and analysis and reply possibility to ten days, as opposed to a month and ten days.

    The longer you leave bullshit sitting on the kitchen table, the more chance for someone to notice the stench and loudly blame the guilty party for having the gall to bring it to the breakfast table.

    -
  • by syzler (748241) <david AT syzdek DOT net> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @07:20PM (#22481942)

    Or put in a less inflammatory way, how preventing or slowing some P2P operations or otherwise using some QoS methods is going to cause any disastrous effect. Part of the problem I have in seeing it is I don't see the importance of the people having very high speed broadband.

    As the Internet becomes the delivery agent for more entertainment venues and other uses that have yet to be foreseen, implementing QoS becomes more questionable. Let's say a similar device to the AppleTV is created and released by a competitor to Apple. Let us also assume that Comcast is permitted to enforce QoS for various services. Comcast could then give preferential treatment for QoS to one content provider over another which puts Comcast in the position to either extort one or both companies or lock competitors out of the market (for Comcast subscribers).

    By allowing ISPs to implement QoS to limit some types of use, we are allowing ISPs to dictate how data services are used. Depending on how draconian they are about QoS, this could reduce innovation for data services which will then cause this part of the economy to stagnate.

    Right now we are mostly talking about movies, however in the future (maybe as little as 3-4 years) we may be talking about something a little more dear to you personally. Allowing them to do this to something you don't care about will set a precedence that will make it easier for them to do the same to something you hold dear later.

    Here are a few example uses that I see today that could be impacted:

    • Buying/Downloading Software Over the Internet (Omni Group, Parallels, GNU, BSDs, Linux Distros)
    • Telecommuting for office workers
    • VoIP and Video Communications
    • Home/Business Security Systems

    Rights and privileges lost are not easily obtained again.

  • Nice thought,but here is how it is more likely to go--$40=10Gb after that $1=1Gb.Never underestimate the greed of a teleco.If they have to go capped I can promise you thaat an unlimited account will be over $100,and even then "uncapped" will equal something like 80-100Gb.They will make sure that you don't get jack for less than $100.That way they can oversell their capacity that much more,while not bothering to upgrade anything.


    This is why the USA will soon be like the USSR after the fall of the wall.Already our bridges are falling apart,our schools are falling behind,and while the rest of the world upgrades their broadband infrastructure for the 21st century our answer is "cap everything".Unfortunately this is what happens when all the power is concentrated on Wall Street,because our "bigger profits this quarter at all costs!" attitude of our big corporations simply doesn't allow one to plan for anything more than 2 quarters ahead.


    As much as I hate Big Government,I simply don't see how things vital to our ability to compete like national highways and broadband infrastructure can be left in the hands of corporations that simply refuse to build the capacity we need for the 21st century.Just as VoIP is changing our phone service,many of these new broadband technologies will change the way we work, play and do commerce.Without the capacity to innovate we will simply be left behind. As usual my 03c(inflation,you know) YMMV.

  • Re:Yep (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Curunir_wolf (588405) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @08:29PM (#22482736) Homepage Journal
    Wow. So much bullshit - so little time.

    That's ridiculous. About 10 years ago you could as an average person get at best a dial-up connection that might (theoretically) be able to download at up to 56kbps (actually 53). If you wanted a little better you could pay for ISDN. If you wanted better than that you could pay for a T1.

    Ok, that much is true. I had ISDN 10 years ago, and it was not real cheap. I paid $30/month, but with limited connection time (I don't remember my limit, but I never went over). Whenever I connected, though, I used the maximum bandwidth available. Why wouldn't I? I was charged by the minute.

    I know for a fact they were making a profit. Same old copper lines that had been in the ground since 1962, and I had to pay $100 for the connection!

    Today you can get a cable modem or DSL for not much more than you'd have paid for dial-up and probably less if you had a second phone line dedicated to your internet access. Technology advanced. The providers improved their infrastructure. Costs came down.

    No - this is bullshit. More bandwidth, sure. But it's more expensive, too, and we paid for it in myriad ways (check out the $200 Billion Ripoff [pbs.org] for example). I could get dial up for $10 a month (yea, plus phone line). Now I pay like $55/month, and it would be $15 more if I also didn't buy their "cable TV" service.

    The sad fact is that what we have now is more or less what we can collectively afford. It's easy to point to more socialized states and say that a handful of them have faster internet connections. What you seem to fail to consider is that those faster connections were paid for. Most likely it costs the average person in one of those states a lot more for their internet connection, they just don't see it as a separate internet bill. If they do get an internet bill it's not really reflecting the true cost of providing the service.

    This is speculative and complete bullshit. Just because other countries don't have schizophrenic policies ("it's a phone - no it's a data service - no it falls under this other rule") and corporations writing the laws so they favor their own monopolistic pricing doesn't mean they are subsidizing the costs. Those countries are just more *efficient*. The US is falling behind in data communication infrastructure - and it's not just anecdotal evidence that demonstrates it - it's a troubling trend.

    Comcast alone makes about $1.2 Billion dollars in profit a year. Billion with a "B". Not revenue - *PROFIT*. I think they're doing just fine - maybe they should invest in a little more infrastructure instead of bitching about having to keep up with demand.

    I'm no socialist - but Internet infrastructure needs to be either regulated or state supported. It's too critical to be left to these corporations that just want to slow everybody down!! If there was real competition, it might work to motivate these guys to make their customers happy. But there's not, so it doesn't.

    If you can live with forcing everyone to pay several times what they're paying now for internet access we can do this too. But don't sit there and spout that we could do better without pointing out that it does actually cost more to do so. I personally find that my cable modem is fast enough and I don't want to pay more than I do per month. I especially don't want to have the money effectively hidden in a bunch of federal budget documents.

    As if... Look - this is critical infrastructure we are talking about. Everybody says that when they talk about "security measures" to make sure anybody that tries to cut a trunk line will get put under the ground for the rest of their lives. But we have these clowns running it that think it's okay to just put the brakes on innovation and new business models and growth of the economy so they can squeeze more profit out of the infrastructure that really needs constant upgrades.

  • by twitter (104583) * on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:56PM (#22484248) Homepage Journal

    We don't need an FCC because the entire spectrum should be liberated [salon.com]. Doing so would undo sixty years of damage done to world culture by government interference. The last mile problem would go away. The RIAA, MPAA MAFIAA companies and most of what people think of as "major" publishers would be forced to adapt or die. News and entertainment would live and die based on merit instead of payolla. Brainwashing through Faux News would be impossible. Companies that survive of billions of dollars in ad spending each month would collapse and markets for lemons would be much smaller. The US would once again have a free and competitive press and telco. Every other segment of the economy would benefit from having this kind of basic infrastructure function and the value is orders of magnitude greater than $200 billion. Only tyrants would oppose the move to open spectrum and it will take terrible tyranny to keep it from happening.

    The "War on Terror" is looking more and more like a fight to impose the kind of laws required to preserve broadcasters, wiretappers and those who manufacture public opinion. The terrorist have not only won, they were in control all along. It is time to bring real democracy and freedom to the US.

  • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @02:36AM (#22484962)

    The "root" of the problem is that the Internet is a shared resource and ISPs oversell their bandwidth to make money. The system isn't setup for users to utilize it full blast 24 hours a day. That is just the way it is.

    No, the root of the problem is that telcos were given taxpayer subsidies to improve the infrastructure, failed to do it, and aren't being forced to make good on their promise. And on top of that, the right-of-way monopolies they got as part of the deal are the only bits of regulation that are actually being enforced. They're getting all the benefits (from their perspective) of regulation (the locking-out of meaningful competition) without suffering any of the costs (requirement to serve the public interest), and we're getting the shaft! That's the fucking root of the problem!

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