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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.
    • 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.
      • by 0racle (667029)
        I'm really having a hard time seeing how preventing Timmy from downloading the latest movies at a bujillion MB a second is going to cause the economy to stagnate.

        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.
        • by funaho (42567)
          What happens when you can watch all your movies, on your TV, streamed from the net? Apple seems to be trying to push things in this direction with the AppleTV. I think this is really what the game is really all about. These guys don't want to be cut out of the loop when it comes to who provides your entertainment. Right now they have you locked in, as you usually have a choice of OTA, one cable company or a couple of sat companies. Eventually this list is going to grow to include dozens of online providers,
          • by 0racle (667029)
            Yes, I know why they're doing it, I asked how doing QoS will adversely affect the economy.
        • 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.

  • 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 msobkow (48369) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @05:20PM (#22480288) Homepage Journal

      The United States has been falling behind on the capacity game for a long time now, so it only makes sense that the ISPs and telcos there are crying the blues about the need for upgrades. Had they been upgrading all the way along as other countries have, they wouldn't have the capacity shortfall that they do now.

      I deal with SaskTel as my ISP. We actually get the full use of the provisioned bandwidth as promised, with no filtering, traffic shaping, or other artificial impediments. The downside? My internet connection costs $45/month instead of $22 for the basic "DSL Lite" subscription.

      • by urcreepyneighbor (1171755) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @05:25PM (#22480324)

        The downside? My internet connection costs $45/month instead of $22 for the basic "DSL Lite" subscription.
        Downside?! That's less than Comcast!
      • by SeaFox (739806)

        The United States has been falling behind on the capacity game for a long time now, so it only makes sense that the ISPs and telcos there are crying the blues about the need for upgrades. Had they been upgrading all the way along as other countries have, they wouldn't have the capacity shortfall that they do now.

        Gee, sounds just like the utility companies.

        1) Neglect maintenance on national power grid in the name of short term profits.
        2) Grid begins to fail in dangerous ways.
        3) Request government bail-out to

  • Yep (Score:5, Funny)

    by mikkelm (1000451) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @05:16PM (#22480242)
    I've gotta go with AT&T on this one. Allowing people to use their connections without restrictions would create a need for needless capacity upgrades.
  • That's what they get for throttling their own connections...
    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      Why Did They Wait Until The Last Day?
      Because they didn't want the public & think tanks to submit comments ripping apart or contesting their arguments.
      Maybe the FCC needs the equivalent of an anti-sniping feature on their comment period.
    • by eln (21727)
      Duh. You ALWAYS submit things on the last possible day, because that makes it look like you were working so hard on your well-reasoned and well-researched arguments that you were just barely able to slide in by the deadline. You can't just submit something two weeks early, because then everyone will think you just threw some crap together and ignore it.
      • Thank Gord that's not how every industry works...

        "Mr Dubany, we have your new heart, but we're not going to do the transplant until your current one actually craps out, so... don't go anywhere, ok?"
  • 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.
    • Quite, and they sell it honestly. None of this "up to 24Mb" bollox, when your average download speeds struggle to reach 5. Bah.
    • by grumpygrodyguy (603716) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @05:27PM (#22480366)
      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.

      You're right, and it's not funny, it's sad.

      The US is falling more and more behind, while the telecoms have the gall to say things like:

      "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".

      This is what happens when 'free market' monopolies are allowed to continue unchecked by a corrupt FCC.

      The money goes straight into shareholder's pockets [cnn.com], and almost nothing goes back into the network.
      • This is what happens when 'free market' monopolies are allowed to continue unchecked by a corrupt FCC.

        I don't understand the quotes around free-market... It is a free market. Free markets are bad in the case of utilities however (see California, early 2000's).

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by esocid (946821)
          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."
    • In Soviet Russia, customers throttle ISPs!
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        I think if I met the decision makers at Comcast, I'd probably throttle them... so i guess that would work in the USA too
  • 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.
    • by misleb (129952)

      If you can't provide the speeds you advertise, then don't advertise them.


      Or continue to advertise high speeds and put something in the contract that says you will pay for what you use. Really, I don't know why this solution isn't as obvious to everyone else as it is to me.

      -matthew
  • Lies, lies, lies. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jaysyn (203771) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (todhsals+nysyaj)> 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 greenbird (859670) *

      They were basically "disconnecting" the file transfer.

      No. They were literally forging TCP packets.

      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.

      A better analogy would be intercepting both sides of the call and having a fake voice that sounds just like the person you were talking to say they were through talking to you, goodbye.

  • 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.
    • People aren't going to stop transfering data over the internet just because the telecoms say so.

      They might if they charge enough, per bit. I'm really surprised they haven't pushed harder for a consumer per bit billing scheme.

      But I agree with you, the tel-co arguments are just ridiculous. If they are having bandwidth shortages, then increases in capacity are necessary. It's not like they haven't been on the receiving end of a significant amount of tax payer money to do just that.

      -Rick

  • 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.
    • by esocid (946821) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @06:33PM (#22481278) Journal

      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!"
      Sorry, all I heard was penetration.
  • was "Think of the Children"
  • Duh (Score:2, Insightful)

    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 the
    • by bkr1_2k (237627)
      Kind of strange that they chose to wait till the last day

      It's not strange at all. It gave them time to grease the right cogs in the machine, polish their arguments and get the "last word". It doesn't really matter how many comments the FCC got from other sources early on, it's the last comments that they will remember the most, whether they want to or not. It's just the nature of memory, and decision making, actually. The most recent information generally has the most impact on decision making unless it
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by t33jster (1239616)
      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
  • by jesdynf (42915) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @05:29PM (#22480392) Homepage
    I'd solicit it through illegal means and shield them with retroactive immunity.
  • 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."
  • 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.
    • 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.
      You sir are far too polite. The proper word of choice here should be E-X-T-O-R-T.
  • 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
  • by GlobalColding (1239712) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @05:51PM (#22480716) Journal
    The "tubes" aren't limitless. If we dont cap their use, we will run out of Internets.
  • 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!"
  • 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.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Daniel Wood (531906)
      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 afte
    • 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.
  • 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)
  • The P2P users may be complaining today, but this isn't a salvo against P2P - P2P is an archetypical case for these bozos (Comcast and their allies).

    How soon before VoIP users are inconsiderate bandwidth hogs? Planning on buying an Apple TV for that nifty HD download? How about Netflix? How about iTMS? Amazon? Magnatune.com? Internet radio?

    Somebody want to tell me that P2P torrents aren't used for _fundamentally the same_ content (with exception of VoIP... maybe), with fundamentally the same bandwidth r
  • Many online video games use P2P, but it hasn't been done to its fullest where like 500 people can play Tekken at the same time.
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • If you think this issue is important, you should write some letters. Today, I wrote both my Senators, my House Rep, the FCC, and my cable company. Personally, I am appalled at this douchebaggery. Someone else said it best: selective throttling is censorship. It is therefore a violation of the First Amendment. Also keep in mind that some would-be ISPs are the same folks offering illegal wiretaps. Lastly, as consumers we *must* demand better. I live in Los Angeles, one of the most urbanized areas in t

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