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Comcast's New Terms of Service Disclose Traffic Management 302

cremou brings us word that Comcast has changed its Terms of Service to include policies on traffic management. This comes after the FCC's recent decision to investigate Comcast's P2P throttling. The language in the updated Terms of Service, according to Ars Technica, mirrors the FCC's 2005 Internet Policy Statement[PDF]. "According to Section III of the revised ToS, Comcast 'uses reasonable network management practices that are consistent with industry standards.' The company points out that it is not alone in the practice, saying that 'all major' ISPs engage in some form of traffic shaping. Comcast does it to keep its subscribers from suffering the heartaches of 'spam, viruses, security attacks, network congestion, and other risks and degradations of service' and to 'deliver the best possible Internet experience to all of its customers.'"
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Comcast's New Terms of Service Disclose Traffic Management

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  • So... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Adradis ( 1160201 ) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @10:17PM (#22343904)
    So... Comcast is saying that 5% of its customers aren't customers at all?

    They did say ALL afterall.
  • Traffic Shaping (Score:5, Insightful)

    by greenbird ( 859670 ) * on Thursday February 07, 2008 @10:22PM (#22343956)

    So now forging TCP packets is called traffic shaping and is an industry standard. Yeah right, maybe for the Russian mafia.

  • Translation - (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 07, 2008 @10:23PM (#22343970)
    "Hey, in light of that whole FCC investigation thing, we just thought we should let you know that we're fucking you out of the service and bandwidth you've been paying for. No hard feelings, just clearing things up. It's alright, you can use your internet just as long as you don't use much of it; You know, like most of what you're entitled to in your service plan. Oh, and in case you were wondering, everybody does this, so that makes it cool, alright? Glad we could get this sorted out."
  • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @10:29PM (#22344030) Journal
    Yes, all the right buzz words to arguably be trying to protect the unwashed masses of people that believe whatever the government, fox news, or their ISP tell them. I'm personally sorry that we didn't listen to Mr Orwell's nightmarish vision of the future. It's upon us now.

    By way of interpretation: We're going to blame the 5% percent of our customers who actually use the amount of bandwidth that they purchased. We know that if you had paid us only 50% of what we robb^H^H^H^H charge you, you would be happy with 1.5 Mbs download speed, but it sounds so much better if we promise you 3Mbs even though 90+ percent of you will never use it. This way we look like a super broadband provider to most of you, and to protect that false image, we're going to punish the few people who actually thought they were getting what they paid for.

    It's not that we, Comcast, think our customers are fucking idiots, it's just that we know the damned good money we paid our congressional lobbyists is going to go a lot further than the whiney complaints of less than 5% of our consumer base.

    So, we at Comcast want to assure you we are protecting you from the people who want to rob you of bandwidth so they can have the actual bandwidth that they paid for. By protecting you from these greedy bastards you can rest assured that we are doing all we can to keep your cash falling into our pockets every month. Thank you for being a Comcast customer.
  • by bh_doc ( 930270 ) <> on Thursday February 07, 2008 @10:30PM (#22344046) Homepage
    Are people really worried about 5 extra minutes? Or are people pissed off about packet forgery and actively breaking protocols?
  • by unlametheweak ( 1102159 ) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @10:34PM (#22344082)

    'all major' ISPs engage in some form of traffic shaping.
    Perhaps it's time people stopped using major ISPs.

    I have never used a major ISP, and to this day my bandwidth is not shaped (unless I exceed a soft limit of 100 GB of bandwidth per month); something that was introduce long after the major ISPs started to secretly introduced bandwidth shaping. Spam controls and firewalls, etc are most effective on the client side, not the server side. Yes there are arguments for the latter, but the downsides of letting an outside agency control your connection outweigh the upsides of users having control of what type of email they accept, or the trojens they so naively install. As with everything good comes bad; let people learn from their experiences and keep the Nanny out of my bandwidth.

    And no please don't ask me what my ISP is; it's small and regional and not much use to most ppl here.
  • Re:So... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ( 1195047 ) <philip.paradis@p ... net minus author> on Thursday February 07, 2008 @10:41PM (#22344140) Homepage Journal
    I'm sure glad I'm not one of their customers. If their moves piss off enough of their customers, they'll either (1) start getting crushed with support issues related to customers frustrated with their service, or (2) start losing customers to ISPs who don't screw with their customers connections constantly. I've seen and heard enough negative PR about Comcast that I actively engage in the practice of telling people to avoid their service at all costs.
  • by stmfreak ( 230369 ) <stmfreak AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday February 07, 2008 @10:47PM (#22344190) Journal
    I have hated comcast for their customer service and service quality since I first subscribed to cable back in the very early 90s. Thank the gods for DirecTV introducing competition to this market of city and county sponsored monopolies.

    Unfortunately, I recently moved back under comcast's umbrella and had no other options for internet within my budget. And now I'm suffering latencies as high as three seconds whenever I download a torrent. As soon as I stop torrent downloads, my latency returns to 25ms.

    This is not traffic shaping. This is crap.

    Shaping involves prioritizing and queing packets so that every process gets fed, regardless of what's running. You can also force downloads like BT, FTP, and even HTTP to take the slow path, moving icmp and ssh to the front of the line. This is quite easy with tc and other professional tools.

    However, what comcastic seems to be doing is more akin to load leveling back in the days of mainframes. In those situations, you find that a user is hogging the resource and you would load level ALL of that users processes, regardless of function. As a result, if I'm downloading a torrent, my ssh sessions take 30 seconds to establish and keystroke confirmation lags three seconds behind my typing. Since I type about 60 words per minute, that's about three words or more behind my fingers. Wow.

    Nice way to show your colors comcast. Once again, you are guaranteeing that:

    1. as soon as I can, I'm dumping you.
    2. I'm already telling EVERYONE to avoid you
    3. I will go out of my way to starve you of customers
    4. I will seek out and endorse your competitors

    Good luck. May you soon die a well deserved and early death.
  • Re:So... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mrxak ( 727974 ) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @10:54PM (#22344228)
    So does one, so will another. If you think the other cable companies won't follow suit eventually, you're dreaming.
  • Re:Time to grow up (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @11:06PM (#22344340)
    A couple of things that may have escaped your attention:

    One, it's not the ISPs business to determine what is or is not acceptable traffic. That's a moral/legal judgment that they have no authority to make, are not equipped to make, and could not under any conditions be trusted to make. I don't pay them to monitor my communications and tell me what is right and what is wrong. Let the copyright holder go after me if he or she really believes that I've infringed upon any of their legal rights.

    Two, owning up to copyright infringement may or may not be the right thing to do from an ethical perspective, but it's the exact wrong thing to do if you don't want to end up penniless. Keep firmly in mind that the media companies (not all, just the majors that are funding the likes of the RIAA) have no interest whatsoever in redress of grievance. They have no concern with such niceties as "right" and "wrong", as most of us understand the terms. They want deterrence. That means they need to destroy as many people as they can before they're stopped, because that's what they've determined is their best course of action.

    Go check out this blog [] if you want to learn more about what's really going on, and why the infringers are not the real evil here.
  • Re:So... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Thursday February 07, 2008 @11:21PM (#22344470)

    ...start losing customers to ISPs who don't screw with their customers connections constantly.

    Name one. No, seriously. Name a broadband ISP in Atlanta that doesn't screw with their customers' connections. I dare you!

  • by BuhDuh ( 1102769 ) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @11:27PM (#22344540)
    is did Comcast inform every customer in writing that they were changing the ToS/AUP?
    A previous discussion and reference []
    seems to imply that's a no-no and a breach of contract if they did not.
  • by Akaihiryuu ( 786040 ) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @11:30PM (#22344556)
    Comcast's policies on traffic shaping are fine. There's nothing wrong with what they SAY they are doing. There is nothing wrong with prioritizing traffic based on traffic type (as long as it doesn't differentiate by source). Indeed, running a network without this type of traffic shaping would be foolish. However, this is NOT what Comcast is doing to bittorrent connections. They are actively disrupting them by doing a man-in-the-middle attack and impersonating one of the parties in the connection. This is not only immoral, but also probably illegal.
  • Re:So... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 07, 2008 @11:45PM (#22344662)
    I'd also agree with picking Qwest. They like Verizon and Level 3 are also a Tier 1 provider, and have a lot of bandwidth, so capping is unlikely. Pretty much when Comcast throttles you, your speed drops to below 2mbits anyway.
  • Re:So... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by spirit of reason ( 989882 ) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @11:49PM (#22344696)
    I'd like to know where this "competition" is. Comcast is the only broadband provider for my residence.
  • Re:So... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 08, 2008 @12:12AM (#22344836)
    You know, in Australia, fucking Tels** even blocks port 25. Oh they will unblock it for an extra $10 a month. Most of their tech support don't know what port 25 is anyway. This means setting up sendmail (etc) is a royal pain in the arse. Like email uses a HUGE amount of bandwidth.
  • by a_nonamiss ( 743253 ) on Friday February 08, 2008 @01:04AM (#22345142)

    my bandwidth is not shaped (unless I exceed a soft limit of 100 GB of bandwidth per month)
    In North Korea, freedom of speech is not limited, unless you say disparaging comments about the great and glorious leader.

  • by megaditto ( 982598 ) on Friday February 08, 2008 @01:31AM (#22345304)
    There aren't that many broadband ISPs you say? So your point is that (perhaps) the ISP business isn't all that lucrative?

    Might this mean that *some* limits could be a good idea, and by cutting off the top 0.5% of hogs the ISP can avoid price hikes for the other 99.5% of customers?

    It makes perfect sense for most of us; if you insist of doing 500+ GB/month downloads perhaps residential cable isn't for you. Try switching to the $399+ dedicated line.
  • by shootTheMessenger ( 768396 ) on Friday February 08, 2008 @02:54AM (#22345658)
    ...when they turned off the torrents For I was not a torrent user...
  • At Starbucks: "I'd like a grande latte". "here you go". "uhm, why is it in a thimble?" "what? You actually want a grande sized drink? You're ruining it for everybody else, you thief!"

    At Arco: "I got charged for a full tank of gas, but it only filled up half way." "You want a full tank? You're ruining it for everybody else, you thief!"

    At the record store .... On second thought, bad example.

    At H.R. at the office, "How come I only got half my pay?" "You want a full paycheck? You're ruining it for everybody else, you thief!"

    In other words, in what other industry are you treated like a thief when you expect what you pay for?

  • Re:So... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 08, 2008 @08:47AM (#22347262)
    In fact, this is absolutely true... Posting AC for obvious reasons, but I have been in several meetings over the last few days where we are investigating the cable internet strategies you've seen on Slashdot over the past few days... Primarily the usage-based model, where there is even an application vendor pitching their software for it.

A consultant is a person who borrows your watch, tells you what time it is, pockets the watch, and sends you a bill for it.