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Communications The Courts The Internet

RCN P2P Settlement Is Not Even a Slap On the Wrist 100

Ars covers the settlement of the RCN P2P throttling class-action lawsuit, which lets the company walk away without admitting guilt, without paying affected users, and without any meaningful restraint on their network management practices. "[The] settlement is due to be finalized on June 4. ... The case has largely flown under the radar. Yesterday, a notice ... was issued that alerted RCN customers to the settlement, and one Ars reader was aghast at the terms. Those terms provide nothing for users affected by RCN's practices. Instead, they require the cable company to change its network management practices. These changes are in two parts. ... These cessation periods would be retroactive. ... A moment's math will tell you that, when the settlement is finally approved, one cessation period will already have ended and the other will be ending soon. Once both cessation periods are over, RCN is allowed to implement whatever throttling regime it wants. Given that a federal court has just removed the FCC's authority to regulate network management, RCN appears to have carte blanche to single out BitTorrent and other P2P traffic for special throttling attention after November 1, 2010."
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RCN P2P Settlement Is Not Even a Slap On the Wrist

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  • by tceresini ( 241768 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @05:13PM (#31915720)

    Let's see: I can switch to Comcast, or I can stay with RCN. Perhaps you're fortunate enough to have limitless options for broadband providers, but some of us would prefer the protection of government regulation when our choices (e.g., between one of two providers with a demonstrated tendency to screw with our service) are limited.

  • by denis-The-menace ( 471988 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @05:14PM (#31915738)

    RCN users may not have another ship to jump to.
    Unless regular citizens build their own wireless network for P2P or Google gets into the ISP business, they (and the rest of us later) are screwed.

  • by u-235-sentinel ( 594077 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @05:24PM (#31915858) Homepage Journal

    RCN used QoS techniques on their network, which is expected. They weren't filtering BT or P2P per se. I'm not completely sure what this is in regards to, but I've never seen them as the big bad that Comcast was.

    Please explain how "delaying or blocking P2P protocols." constitutes QoS? Delaying perhaps as that's what QoS does. It prioritizes those packets but blocking? QoS doesn't block AFAIK.

    According to the judge's summary, RCN was charged with violating the Consumer Fraud and Abuse Act "by promising its customers 'fast and untapped' broadband Internet service, when in fact [it] was engaging in a network management practice called 'throttling,' which was designed to prevent or delay customers from using the Internet in certain ways, including for 'peer-to-peer' file sharing."

    Sounds like bait and switch like what Concast has been doing. Don't promise if you can't deliver IMO.

  • by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @05:45PM (#31916062)

    And some of us are more interested in what cand be done to improve our choices rather than agree to government regulation that will guarantee that our choices will be limited forevermore.

  • by Adrian Lopez ( 2615 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @05:46PM (#31916068) Homepage

    Stop waiting for big-daddy government to do something.

    Indeed. Customers have plenty of alternatives. They could invest billions of dollars to setup their own infrastructure or switch to IP by carrier pigeon. If you can't succeed at it without help from the government you are clearly a spoiled little baby with no more right to communicate than a spineless worm.

  • by steelfood ( 895457 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @05:46PM (#31916078)

    network management practice called 'throttling,'

    Throttling is a QoS tecnique of slowing down transmission of lower-priority packets in favor of higher priority packets. To be quite frank, when you're on a cable line (RCN is ia cable provider, FYI), you know you're sharing it with your neighbors. Cable is not a dedicated line, and there's no reasonable expectation of such regardless of how marketing material puff it up. That's the nature of the technology in question. If a home user wanted a dedicated line, they'd have to pay for a dedicated line, not cable broadband.

    It's completely reasonable to expect slowing down the transmission of packets that simply have a lower priority for the purpose of QoS using a connection shared between many clients. If a connection drops because of a timeout, then that's too bad. It's not a big deal, because that happens too in QoS (in fact, it'd happen without QoS, but for all of the users), and is more a symptom of the timeout of the client being set too low.

    You can't comapre that to Comcast, which was forging packet contents to force P2P and high-bandwidth connections to outright drop.

  • by ZekoMal ( 1404259 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @05:46PM (#31916080)

    but I have faith a free market system will work it out.

    Ha ha! Ha! That's funny.

  • by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @05:48PM (#31916092) Homepage

    The two parties are, more or less, "RCN" and "a bunch of class-action lawsuit lawyers". Compare the latter parties to the parties who could be construed as injured by this action, "the customers of RCN", whose recompense is nonexistent, and whose input seems to have been minimal.

  • by ZekoMal ( 1404259 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @05:48PM (#31916100)
    And how exactly are you planning on stopping corruption? Send in a good person who pretends to be corrupt and hope they don't get actually corrupted when offered millions to keep things the same?
  • Re:Choices (Score:3, Insightful)

    by snowraver1 ( 1052510 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @05:59PM (#31916204)
    Sure, the ISP has grown, but that's on the backs of new users who don't know any better, and would think that different internet services were just that slow all the time.

    Those are the customers that an ISP wants. These customers don't take alot of bandwidth and don't know when they are getting screwed, so they put up and shut up.
  • Re:Eh... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @06:06PM (#31916286)

    1. Your plan requires cooperation from too many people (including the higher-ups of the companies you're trying to screw), most of which are the typical american citizen which doesn't give a crap about your problems, so long as they can watch their nascar/american idol, drink beer, and drive to work in their SUV.
    2. Very little would happen to the companies, aside from the fact that the employees at the bottom of the ladder wouldn't get paid for a week (the higher-ups of course still would), and on top of that would be brutally slammed with work when they return, because:
    3. There would be a massive, MASSIVE surge to the stores after said week, IF it was pulled off. This would make up the week's loss of sales in a single day.
    4. In short, your plan would only hurt the lower employees, spoil a ton of food in grocery stores, let a ton of animals in pet stores die of starvation, and cause widespread panic when nobody could get help in hospitals. Insurance companies would be laughing, and you'd do nothing but, in the long run, help the bottom line of the companies you're attempting to screw over.

  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @06:39PM (#31916630) Journal

    but I have faith a free market system will work it out.

    It might, if it were allowed to operate. That is not the case, however: in most jurisdictions internet is limited by law to certain companies. It is in no way a free market.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger