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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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  • Needless? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MachineShedFred (621896) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @05:15PM (#22480230) Journal
    "expensive and needless capacity upgrades" which the US Taxpayers ALREADY PAID FOR THROUGH EXCISE FEES?!

    The telcos can eat a bag of dicks.
  • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @05:16PM (#22480254) Homepage
    In my experience in Eastern Europe, customers that heavily use bandwidth are the average customer. I know hardly a single household that doesn't massively download music and films. Nonetheless, the local ISPs can keep monthly fees down to what is even by local standards cheap, and people are increasingly getting fiber to their door. Funny how the U.S., that beacon of technological progress, is being outdone by some former Communist states.
  • Translation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wildclaw (15718) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @05:38PM (#22480512)
    Translations:

    marketplace remains fundamentally healthy,
    the non market driven place where the minimal competition allows us to dicate all the terms, remains a good place for us to squeeze money.

    and the purported 'cure' could only make it sick,
    the suggested changes would make it more difficult for us to squeeze money out of our customers.

    "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
    The suggested changes would force us to spend money on upgrades, that we could avoid spending by capping everyone so much that they become unneeded.

    ordinary broadband consumers
    customers who hardly use the broadband they paid for.

    the bandwidth-hogging activities of a few.
    the activities that we advertise our services for, but that we don't want our customers to use.
  • Re:Lies, lies, lies. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by NMagic (982573) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @05:48PM (#22480658)
    Yes, you may have 2-3 options where you live for an isp. What if 2 of them do the same thing Comcast does, and the other is obscenely expensive? Most people don't even have 3 options. The point is, if Comcast is allowed this, what's to stop other isps? There's only more money to make, with less infrastructure costs. If this is allowed, then all telcos will follow suit, and we'll continue to fall behind other countries.
  • by Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @06:44PM (#22481444)

    In fact, the problems in California were caused (primarily) by strict, government-induced price controls -- not exactly a free-market practice.

    Which is why the price of electricity spiked as it crossed the California border from Oregon, even though Oregon had all it could use? Face it, that tired excuse has never been true. The price controls were ridiculously high.

    There is no free market in the U.S. -- there is only a greater or lesser degree of regulation.

    Yeah. But that's a GoodThing(tm).

  • by Daniel Wood (531906) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @06:45PM (#22481454) Homepage Journal
    Ya know, to be honest, I would have no problems with ISPs placing P2P protocols in the bulk category for QoS on their end. This would ensure that other traffic has priority and no one would really be affected that much. The problem I have with Comcast is the method they use to essentially block P2P by forging RST packets.

    Then again, I would be perfectly happy paying $100 a month for a 2/2 connection with no limitations. It would be much better than the $60/month I pay for a 5/512k with a 50GB cap($3/GB after), weekly outages, and rollercoaster pings(Gotta love having no other broadband provider available). I don't even use P2P (NNTP FTW).
  • by funaho (42567) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @06:45PM (#22481468) Homepage
    Actually a better analogy would be that they're forcing all the sports cars to stay in first gear, and just to be sure they're throwing up fake stop signs every so often to slow down traffic flow.
  • Re:Duh (Score:2, Interesting)

    by t33jster (1239616) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @07:06PM (#22481782)
    It's not strange that they'd wait until the last minute to file their opinion. It gives the least amount of time possible for responses. Hurried and frantic responses from the masses sound quite similar to a hissy fit. If you don't believe me, keep reading the comments. The FCC has already been called corrupt. They're at least investigating the issue. If it turns out that the ruling is "nothing to see here, move along," then we can start complaining about it.

    The fact that the industry claims that the broadband market is "healthy" either indicates "not dead yet" = "healthy" or they're basing this on standards from 5-10 years ago.

    The problem we face is finding a viable solution. 'Net Nutrality' may or may not be the answer. Regulation seems to make sense, but with all of the utility deregulation in the past 10 years, it won't be easy to hang regulations on a utility that's not even legally considered a utility yet.

    That's it - we have 9 days to come up with a solution that ends with fiber to our doors and can't be outright rejected by ISPs. Get started, legalGeeks.
  • by electrictroy (912290) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @07:32PM (#22482100)
    Some interstates in high traffic areas have run into similar problems as the ISPs - namely too many cars (packets) and not enough bandwidth. Here is how the interstates are dealing with the problem:

    (a) Customers can choose to be "capped" during high-traffic times (6-9am/3-6pm) and thus be slowed down to only 10 miles per hour.

    (b) Customers can choose to enter the Express Lane and get 65 mph travel, but at a cost of approximately $5 per day.

    How does this apply to ISPs?
    Simple - amend the contracts
    (it's allowed; read the print)

    (a) Customers can choose to pay ~$40 a month, but have their speed slow to 56k after they have exceeded some cap (say 100 gigabytes).

    (b) Customers can choose to "bypass" the 56k cap by paying an extra ~$40 via a pop-up window & credit card. Just like buying an express lane on I-95.

    In other words, the more you use, the more you pay.
    If you want an Express Lane on the interstate, pay up.
    If you want an "express lane" on the internet, pay up.

    That would be fair.

  • Amazing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by alphastar (150578) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @07:39PM (#22482190) Journal
    This whole argument strikes me with this odd thought:

    Some Peer-to-Peer protocols (i.e., BitTorrent) were developed in order to take the burden of content distribution _away_ from the "dedicated server" (do reduce demand on bandwidth) and push it more on the users engaged in retrieving.

    Comcast and ilk seem to be arguing in favor of the _exact opposite_ of this point.
  • Re:Yep (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @08:51PM (#22482942)
    But it's more expensive, too, and we paid for it in myriad ways (check out the $200 Billion Ripoff for example)

    I tend to agree with you, but that 200 xtra-large was pretty much all you had to mention. They have the funds, or did (I'd very much like to know where they went, that's a metric fuckton of money), they just don't want to spend them on us. Of course, that's pretty much what you get with the likes of Brian "You can squeeze blood from a stone!" Robertson and Edward J. "Those are my pipes!" Whitacre. Humanoid leeches, that's what they are.

    Obviously, throwing vast quantities of taxpayer dollars at big societal problems doesn't work with people like this running the show (just look at the education system in the U.S., it's in equally sad shape, and for much the same reason.) I'm not really sure where we go from here: it's hard to legislate ethics. In the past, the Feds tightly regulated telecommunications in order to assure quality of service, etc. The problem is, the Feds can no longer be trusted to make good decisions in that regard, any more the telecom providers themselves can.

    It's a bad situation, all the way around. I don't see any way out, frankly, other than the government passing some laws to encourage municipal broadband or otherwise get competition moving again. The odds of a corrupt Congress or FCC ever doing that are remote.
  • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @02:25AM (#22484918)

    In a competitive environment where multiple choices exist...

    Sure, but the reality is exactly the opposite of that!

    Here's reality:

    • There is exactly one cable ISP. It is the same company that provides cable TV, and has a government-mandated monopoly on cable right-of-way. Where I live, it's Comcast.
    • There is exactly one DSL ISP. It is the same company that provides phone service, and has a government-mandated monopoly on phone line right-of-way. Where I live, it's the AT&T.
    • The cable ISP and DSL ISP collude to provide about the same speed for about the same price. Around here, that's $40/month for 6Mbps download (if your wire is brand new, in pristine condition, and there's nobody else connected to the same CMTS or DSLAM).
    • Satellite Internet doesn't count as broadband (because upload is via modem).
    • Cellular Internet is too expensive and slow, and always will be by its inherent nature.
    • Verizon FiOS doesn't exist. As far as I can tell, it's just a lie perpetuated by Verizon in order to keep the government from demanding all that taxpayer money (that was supposed to be used for upgrading the infrastructure) back.

    Non-broadband options, such as satellite and dialup, are entirely irrelevant -- unless, of course, you get a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that our situation is slightly better than some rural, 4th-world Hellhole where they've only recently decided that not shitting in the drinking water was a good idea. I, for one, think we ought to hold ourselves to higher standards than that!

    Besides, not even cable and DSL count as real broadband! Real broadband, like they have in Europe and (especially) Asia, is in the tens or even hundreds of Mbps range. What we've got here is lies and excuses caused by insufficient regulation of a decidedly non-free market!

    In reality, there are two solutions:

    • Force the telco and cableco monopolies to follow through with their promises by actually regulating them.
    • Entirely deregulate the industry, including removing all exclusive right-of-way agreements, and demand repayment of the billions of taxpayer dollars the industry has received in infrastructure subsidies over the years.
  • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @02:49AM (#22485022)

    ...they simply do not have the capacity to give everybody 16 Mbps sustained. It just isn't there. And it's not going to be there any time soon.

    Alright then, let me ask you this: then what the fuck have we been subsidizing them for (with taxpayer money and exclusive right-of-way agreements) over the past few decades?! They were supposed to be building out the fucking infrastructure to prevent this very problem!

    Now, you're about to spout some whiny bullshit about "but America is rural." Fine; I'm not saying that I expect everywhere to have decent service. But you know what? I live in a fucking big city -- within the city proper, not the suburbs -- and I can't get any better access than some bumpkin in Utah! What. The. FUCK?!!

    The telcos and cablecos are simply making excuses for their embezzlement of public subsidies. And that's just simply not acceptable!

  • by BVis (267028) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @11:49AM (#22488736)
    The reason I expect there to be one flat fee regardless of how much I use is THAT WAS HOW IT WAS REPRESENTED TO ME. If Comcast said to me when I went to buy their product "Oh, and we'll cap your service if we think you're using too much, and we'll kill the traffic we don't like, blah blah" then that would be different.

    The phone and electric companies make all of these terms available up front. Would I expect to pay the same amount for electricity that the big box store down the street does? Of course not. Nor would I expect to, since that isn't how it was sold to me. Would I expect to pay the same phone bill as my neighbor who uses the phone five times as much? Not if the terms of my phone service said otherwise.

    Comcast doesn't tell its customers what the terms are, it merely reserves the right to do whatever the fuck it wants to with your traffic. They should be held accountable for their false advertising, and be required to disclose what their practices are regarding 'overuse', so their customers can make informed decisions about their usage.

    The other problem is that I am 99% sure that Comcast wouldn't lower rates for the light users, it would keep them the same and hike up rates for users they arbitrarily define as 'heavy'. And since they have no competition to speak of, they will do so.

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