November 30, 2007 4:00 AM PST

Net neutrality may not resolve Comcast vs. BitTorrent

Comcast's recent efforts to throttle file transfers that use the BitTorrent protocol have led to a renewed call for Congress to enact stiff Net neutrality laws.

Pro-regulatory groups including Public Knowledge have circulated press releases saying the episode demonstrates the "need for Net neutrality legislation." A Comcast-related post on DailyKos was titled "Why we need Net neutrality." Comcast, BitTorrent, and the phrase "need Net neutrality" appear in roughly 10,000 Web pages indexed by Google.

But even some supporters of new laws--which would enact antidiscrimination regulations aimed at broadband providers--are now reluctantly conceding that the proposals that have been circulating in Congress for more than a year may not do much to stop Comcast. (The company, a cable operator and broadband provider, has been sabotaging some peer-to-peer file transfers, which dramatically slows them down, although the file tends to be delivered eventually.)

Carole Handler, a partner at the law firm Foley & Lardner in Los Angeles who has written about Net neutrality and is now in favor of such regulations, says "the language is such that there is definitely some wiggle room in both bills." Handler was referring to bills that have been considered, but not approved, by both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Harold Feld, senior vice president for the Media Access Project, which lobbies for Net neutrality laws, is also skeptical about whether Rep. Ed Markey's legislation would do much. If Comcast announced, "'We are absolutely going to prohibit peer-to-peer on our network or even manage our network so when we reach some unspecified capacity restraint, we're going to start messing with everybody's BitTorrent uploads, but it'll be totally random...' that is arguably permissible under the Markey bill," Feld said.

One reason for this is the wording of the language that the House of Representatives considered. Lawyers think of it as the network management exception: it allows a broadband provider to implement "reasonable and nondiscriminatory measures" in order to manage its network, as long as the company doesn't discriminate "between content, applications, or services offered by the provider and unaffiliated providers."

According to Comcast, reasonable network management is all it's doing. "Comcast does not, has not, and will not block any Web sites or online applications, including peer-to-peer services, and no one has demonstrated otherwise," spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice told CNET News.com. "We engage in reasonable network management to provide all of our customers with a good Internet experience, and we do so consistently with FCC policy."

Fitzmaurice was referring to the Federal Communications Commission's 2005 broadband policy statement, which describes expectations that broadband providers will allow their users to view sites, run applications, and connect devices to the network as they wish. Crucially, it also contains an exception for "reasonable network management."

To make matters more complicated, most of the gray areas can be found in the earlier Markey legislation. The Senate counterpart, called the Internet Freedom Preservation Act and reintroduced in January by Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), is more specific. It doesn't contain broad immunity for network management, a legal shield that broadband operators argue is necessary.

It's not clear whether that potential murkiness will be resolved in a new version of the legislation, which Markey is expected to introduce during the next few weeks. An aide, who declined to be identified since the bill isn't yet final, told CNET News.com that the language--including the exception for network management--will probably not be significantly different.

When asked whether Comcast's conduct toward BitTorrent would be prohibited under the original bill, the aide said the clearest answer is "maybe." In any case, the bill's authors want to leave it up to an "expert agency," presumably the FCC, to decide whether a company's conduct in a particular situation was both "reasonable" and "nondiscriminatory," the aide said.

Until then, whether Comcast would be reined in by the two existing proposals remains, literally, an academic question. University of Pennsylvania Law School Professor Christopher Woo is one of the most vocal academic critics of extensive new Net neutrality regulations, which would typically be enforced by the FCC. Woo says that Comcast's conduct is "in a gray area," and it's hard to say exactly how either existing proposal would treat it. A "natural reading" of both bills, he added, is that Comcast's network management techniques would not pass muster because they're "discriminating on the basis of the application"--in this case, BitTorrent.

Another academic is more emphatic. Columbia Law School Professor Tim Wu, a proponent of Net neutrality regulations, said it's clear that neither of the proposals would allow the sort of activity Comcast is engaged in. "What Comcast is doing is 'application discrimination'--they are choosing one application and treating it worse than others," he said. "Nothing in any of the Net neutrality bills allows this."

CNET News.com's Declan McCullagh contributed to this report

See more CNET content tagged:
network management, Net Neutrality, broadband provider, Comcast Corp., BitTorrent

62 comments

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Guys, it's actually very simple...
Rules might be as simple as:

* Prioritization of packets must not be done by inspecting source or destination IP address, TCP application stream, etc.

In other words, TCP/IP!

directorblue.blogspot.com/2007/10/comcasts-world-without-network.html
Posted by directorblue (148 comments )
Reply Link Flag
good description
That is a good specific description maybe also include port ranges.

Argument 1: In some cases you might need to violate this, specifically for security against DOS where you are not sure full blocking is appropriate, but intelligent throttling might be. This is a huge gray area, but a necessary safeguard.

Argument 2: Prioritization allows you to better manage your limited resources. Lets face it, all resources are limited. For example does email require realtime delivery? Do you want grandma who sent a 2 MB file in email to cause your VOIP phone call to glitch? Forcing no prioritization will simply cause them to be forced to raise costs as they add bandwidth and is somewhat anti free market.

Wouldn't it be better to have the option of using a low budget carrier that is known to prioritize? If you hate that your carrier does prioritize packets, change carriers. If its important enough to enough people, carriers will advertise that they don't prioritize.
Posted by The Wiethoff (32 comments )
Link Flag
Guys, it's actually very simple...
Rules might be as simple as:

* Prioritization of packets must not be done by inspecting source or destination IP address, TCP application stream, etc.

In other words, TCP/IP!

directorblue.blogspot.com/2007/10/comcasts-world-without-network.html
Posted by directorblue (148 comments )
Reply Link Flag
good description
That is a good specific description maybe also include port ranges.

Argument 1: In some cases you might need to violate this, specifically for security against DOS where you are not sure full blocking is appropriate, but intelligent throttling might be. This is a huge gray area, but a necessary safeguard.

Argument 2: Prioritization allows you to better manage your limited resources. Lets face it, all resources are limited. For example does email require realtime delivery? Do you want grandma who sent a 2 MB file in email to cause your VOIP phone call to glitch? Forcing no prioritization will simply cause them to be forced to raise costs as they add bandwidth and is somewhat anti free market.

Wouldn't it be better to have the option of using a low budget carrier that is known to prioritize? If you hate that your carrier does prioritize packets, change carriers. If its important enough to enough people, carriers will advertise that they don't prioritize.
Posted by The Wiethoff (32 comments )
Link Flag
Time sensitive data
A week doesn't go by where comcast interrupts my data connection.
Doesn't matter if it is a live video feed over the internet or playing some internet based game like warcraft. Time and time again comcast is making me feel like I am paying for something that is acting like dialup when in fact it is an ALWAYS ON connection to the internet.

I consider this not to be 99% uptime availability.
It apppears to be more like 75% uptime availability. I will be switching soon to FIOS.
Posted by inachu (963 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Time sensitive data
A week doesn't go by where comcast interrupts my data connection.
Doesn't matter if it is a live video feed over the internet or playing some internet based game like warcraft. Time and time again comcast is making me feel like I am paying for something that is acting like dialup when in fact it is an ALWAYS ON connection to the internet.

I consider this not to be 99% uptime availability.
It apppears to be more like 75% uptime availability. I will be switching soon to FIOS.
Posted by inachu (963 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Liberals don't want regulation of the Internet, except when they want it
Can't have it both ways...

Either the government regulates it or it doesn't. Let the government regulate one little thing about it, and you are opening up a whole can of worms...

But the myopic liberals don't care - they want to make it a political issue now, rather than having a long term view of things. Hypocrites.
Posted by fafafooey (171 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dang them Liberalls!
Them thars roton Liberalls just want be screwin thangs up for good
christian folk like me. Cause they hates America and want to hand
the contry over to mexhecan! Rush told me so.
Posted by montex66 (370 comments )
Link Flag
Really missing the point
Trying to left/right an issue like this is pointless. Treating Net Neutrality like a purely regulatory question is like treating the Internet Tax Moratorium Bill like a regulatory question. It's not. Net Neutrality conceptually is actually very much about free commerce. And while any legislation can have unintended implications, there are bills in effect today which do work to protect free commerce in many sectors. The case of Comcast and BitTorrent is an interesting one that should make people consider again how to best acheive net neutrality, but their case also points to precisely why the legislation is needed. Both BitTorrent and Comcast are engaged in free commerce as they see it, and they are falling into a dispute. Eventually they'll be in court. If you are a conservative, I'm guessing you don't want the courts to have to legislate an answer from the bench. So call it regulation if you must, but understand that it simply gives the players a clear set of rules so that competition and markets can flourish.
Posted by Markomusic (15 comments )
Link Flag
polititcizing, ftw.
It's jackasses like you who stand in the way of true bipartison solutions.
Posted by Hogleg MacDrillun (79 comments )
Link Flag
Liberals don't want regulation of the Internet, except when they want it
Can't have it both ways...

Either the government regulates it or it doesn't. Let the government regulate one little thing about it, and you are opening up a whole can of worms...

But the myopic liberals don't care - they want to make it a political issue now, rather than having a long term view of things. Hypocrites.
Posted by fafafooey (171 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dang them Liberalls!
Them thars roton Liberalls just want be screwin thangs up for good
christian folk like me. Cause they hates America and want to hand
the contry over to mexhecan! Rush told me so.
Posted by montex66 (370 comments )
Link Flag
Really missing the point
Trying to left/right an issue like this is pointless. Treating Net Neutrality like a purely regulatory question is like treating the Internet Tax Moratorium Bill like a regulatory question. It's not. Net Neutrality conceptually is actually very much about free commerce. And while any legislation can have unintended implications, there are bills in effect today which do work to protect free commerce in many sectors. The case of Comcast and BitTorrent is an interesting one that should make people consider again how to best acheive net neutrality, but their case also points to precisely why the legislation is needed. Both BitTorrent and Comcast are engaged in free commerce as they see it, and they are falling into a dispute. Eventually they'll be in court. If you are a conservative, I'm guessing you don't want the courts to have to legislate an answer from the bench. So call it regulation if you must, but understand that it simply gives the players a clear set of rules so that competition and markets can flourish.
Posted by Markomusic (15 comments )
Link Flag
polititcizing, ftw.
It's jackasses like you who stand in the way of true bipartison solutions.
Posted by Hogleg MacDrillun (79 comments )
Link Flag
Go somewhere else
Yes, it is simple. Under new net neutrality laws we have the option to use another provider. When hundreds of thousands of Comcast users take their business elsewhere Comcast will get the message and certainly regret doing what they are doing. I know I am happy I am not a Comcast subscriber now that they voluntarily give private information out and selectively throttle bandwidth. I've expressed my opinion in a way that really counts.
Posted by GrandpaN1947 (187 comments )
Reply Link Flag
True, but...
Some people don't have so many other options. For instance, DSL is not available everywhere, and cable modem from Comcast may be the only available high-speed internet option (at least for any reasonable price). Even where DSL is available, it may be that it is available only from a single provider with policies and practices that are no better than Comcast's (ie, AT&T/SBC), leaving a non-choice "choice".

Furthermore, while these practices may impact a subsantial number of subscribers, most won't be impacted either way (or, more importantly, won't be AWARE OF BEING IMPACTED), so I doubt Comcast risks losing very many subscribers over this.

Also, while at this point it is being painted as a matter of convenience, it's the kind of capability and policy that could easily be turned to more nefarious purposes (much like electronic spying by the government - it's painted as being for the common good to prevent terrorism, but can be turned to oppressive political ends very easily).
Posted by fredmenace (159 comments )
Link Flag
Take your traffic away, please!
Those of us who don't do massive file transfers, four-hour downloads, high bit rate streaming video, etc. are happy to see the heavy users go someplace else. And so are the ISPs.

Hurting Comcast by leaving? They, and we, are delighted to see the big-byte users take their traffic to another network. The remaining users see performance improvements, we tell our friends, Comcast gets good viral marketing, and everyone is happy.

Except the terabyte folks.

Should we provision a separate (at least logically separate ? think MPLS) network for big-byte users with pricing based on the cost of that network?

And yes, I do know that bytes are generally neither big nor small. They're all two nibbles. :->
Posted by gjl229 (95 comments )
Link Flag
True, but double but...
I agree with the True But... post. Not many markets are well covered by multiple similarly effective competing broadband providers. Also the complexity, technical underpinnings, and various ways in which an issue like this might actually manifest itself to the user make it less than clear that free market behavior would actually respond as you describe.
Posted by Markomusic (15 comments )
Link Flag
happy to be lucky he is lol
There is little if any competition for a household in broadband. Almost everyone has at most one cable provider. Twisted pair is the other choice and it is rarely a good deal.

The problem of course is ithat you can't use your dsl box to actually call another DSL box at residentail rates.

My understanding is that what has happened is that an arbitrary limit on analog bandwidth was mandated, and we have not been allowed to see digital networks be offered to homes. Businesses can hire a company to install a network like homeowners used to be able to do through the utility- but not now for digital lines of service!


Only lame video phones are taking advantage of the miracle of free v92 long distance calling. Cell phones can be used by dialup modems but I have no idea how mu9ch the best ones cost are how fast they can connect.

Cell phones though have DRASTICALLY REDUCED THE BANDWIDTH PROVIDED TO CALLERS. IT WAS NEVER ANYWHER ECLOST TO V92 and is now around 1200 BAUD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted by molybdinum (4 comments )
Link Flag
Go somewhere else
Yes, it is simple. Under new net neutrality laws we have the option to use another provider. When hundreds of thousands of Comcast users take their business elsewhere Comcast will get the message and certainly regret doing what they are doing. I know I am happy I am not a Comcast subscriber now that they voluntarily give private information out and selectively throttle bandwidth. I've expressed my opinion in a way that really counts.
Posted by GrandpaN1947 (187 comments )
Reply Link Flag
True, but...
Some people don't have so many other options. For instance, DSL is not available everywhere, and cable modem from Comcast may be the only available high-speed internet option (at least for any reasonable price). Even where DSL is available, it may be that it is available only from a single provider with policies and practices that are no better than Comcast's (ie, AT&T/SBC), leaving a non-choice "choice".

Furthermore, while these practices may impact a subsantial number of subscribers, most won't be impacted either way (or, more importantly, won't be AWARE OF BEING IMPACTED), so I doubt Comcast risks losing very many subscribers over this.

Also, while at this point it is being painted as a matter of convenience, it's the kind of capability and policy that could easily be turned to more nefarious purposes (much like electronic spying by the government - it's painted as being for the common good to prevent terrorism, but can be turned to oppressive political ends very easily).
Posted by fredmenace (159 comments )
Link Flag
Take your traffic away, please!
Those of us who don't do massive file transfers, four-hour downloads, high bit rate streaming video, etc. are happy to see the heavy users go someplace else. And so are the ISPs.

Hurting Comcast by leaving? They, and we, are delighted to see the big-byte users take their traffic to another network. The remaining users see performance improvements, we tell our friends, Comcast gets good viral marketing, and everyone is happy.

Except the terabyte folks.

Should we provision a separate (at least logically separate ? think MPLS) network for big-byte users with pricing based on the cost of that network?

And yes, I do know that bytes are generally neither big nor small. They're all two nibbles. :->
Posted by gjl229 (95 comments )
Link Flag
True, but double but...
I agree with the True But... post. Not many markets are well covered by multiple similarly effective competing broadband providers. Also the complexity, technical underpinnings, and various ways in which an issue like this might actually manifest itself to the user make it less than clear that free market behavior would actually respond as you describe.
Posted by Markomusic (15 comments )
Link Flag
happy to be lucky he is lol
There is little if any competition for a household in broadband. Almost everyone has at most one cable provider. Twisted pair is the other choice and it is rarely a good deal.

The problem of course is ithat you can't use your dsl box to actually call another DSL box at residentail rates.

My understanding is that what has happened is that an arbitrary limit on analog bandwidth was mandated, and we have not been allowed to see digital networks be offered to homes. Businesses can hire a company to install a network like homeowners used to be able to do through the utility- but not now for digital lines of service!


Only lame video phones are taking advantage of the miracle of free v92 long distance calling. Cell phones can be used by dialup modems but I have no idea how mu9ch the best ones cost are how fast they can connect.

Cell phones though have DRASTICALLY REDUCED THE BANDWIDTH PROVIDED TO CALLERS. IT WAS NEVER ANYWHER ECLOST TO V92 and is now around 1200 BAUD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted by molybdinum (4 comments )
Link Flag
Why is Bit Torrent even an issue?
The main issue here is not Bit Torrent. It's not any application
wether it be computer or web based. It the management of Data
streamed on private networks that commonly agree to allow this
data to flow free with respect to it's users.

So how the hell does anybody need to stray away for the basics
of what is needed. A frickn' child just hung herself while the
neighbors that killer her are sitting in there house and not in Jail
because of the vague language that deals with an issue like this!

WHY...Same frickn' reason as net neutrality. Nobody wants to
handle the main subject here which is the transfer and abuse of
data on the networks. How hard is this?

1. Laws that deal with the transfer of data

2. Laws that deal with the abuse of data

I personally believe its a "big lack of knowledge" on Congress's
part to just let the system be pulled from all angles to the point
where it's just easier to "not deal" with it than to "deal" with it.

How about Congress does what its good at, get the techies from
the hill to get together and create a "Special" panel; and DEAL
WITH THIS NOW.

Justin G
Tech01.net
Posted by OneWithTech (196 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why is Bit Torrent even an issue?
The main issue here is not Bit Torrent. It's not any application
wether it be computer or web based. It the management of Data
streamed on private networks that commonly agree to allow this
data to flow free with respect to it's users.

So how the hell does anybody need to stray away for the basics
of what is needed. A frickn' child just hung herself while the
neighbors that killer her are sitting in there house and not in Jail
because of the vague language that deals with an issue like this!

WHY...Same frickn' reason as net neutrality. Nobody wants to
handle the main subject here which is the transfer and abuse of
data on the networks. How hard is this?

1. Laws that deal with the transfer of data

2. Laws that deal with the abuse of data

I personally believe its a "big lack of knowledge" on Congress's
part to just let the system be pulled from all angles to the point
where it's just easier to "not deal" with it than to "deal" with it.

How about Congress does what its good at, get the techies from
the hill to get together and create a "Special" panel; and DEAL
WITH THIS NOW.

Justin G
Tech01.net
Posted by OneWithTech (196 comments )
Reply Link Flag
If a provider advertises a certain speed
If a provider advertises a certain speed then they should be held to that. Bitorrent client or not.

Maybe the law could be written to say that the providers need to provide a minimum speed at all times.

And if they advertise that, they need to provide it. Maybe this will also get them to bump up the speed, too.
Posted by ordaj (338 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Comcast can't guarantee bandwidth
How can Comcast guarantee a certain bitrate? They don't own the whole internet, or the servers you might want to contact. If you connect to an overloaded server, sitting on slow network not controlled by Comcast; how can they guarantee anything?

Even on their own network, they can't guarantee anything. For example, you can't download from another Comcast user any faster than they can upload. Even if upload is equal to download, what if two clients connect to the same server?

It is fashionable to blame every delay and glitch on Comcast; but there are plenty of reasons that the internet doesn't work so well that can't be blamed on an evil ISP.
Posted by jimsum (7 comments )
Link Flag
If a provider advertises a certain speed
If a provider advertises a certain speed then they should be held to that. Bitorrent client or not.

Maybe the law could be written to say that the providers need to provide a minimum speed at all times.

And if they advertise that, they need to provide it. Maybe this will also get them to bump up the speed, too.
Posted by ordaj (338 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Comcast can't guarantee bandwidth
How can Comcast guarantee a certain bitrate? They don't own the whole internet, or the servers you might want to contact. If you connect to an overloaded server, sitting on slow network not controlled by Comcast; how can they guarantee anything?

Even on their own network, they can't guarantee anything. For example, you can't download from another Comcast user any faster than they can upload. Even if upload is equal to download, what if two clients connect to the same server?

It is fashionable to blame every delay and glitch on Comcast; but there are plenty of reasons that the internet doesn't work so well that can't be blamed on an evil ISP.
Posted by jimsum (7 comments )
Link Flag
Tricky, but not impossible
While I'm all in favor of net neutrality as a general concept, and opposed to Comcast and others' practices in this regard, it can be tricky to implement such laws without impacting necessary activities, and omitting network management provisions would not be practical.

First, many could agree that the way to deal with customers over-use of the network to the extent of impacting other customers would be to throttle their total bandwidth, but not pay any attention to the source/destination, the protocol it's running under or the content of the traffic. That is, Comcast need not even be aware it's BitTorrent traffic, just that it's a lot of traffic in a given period of time that exceeds the customers' service plan.

Providers should thus write plans that explicitly set out how much traffic can be transferred and in what time periods - plans that are reasonable and flexible enough to work for everyone even if many users exploited them to the maximum. Such plans would be a bit more complex than current plans, but at least the would be both workable and honest. They should also notify the customer each time the customer's traffic is throttled in some way, and the reason why. The practice of selling "unlimited" service that is not actually unlimited should be forbidden, as should "hidden" throttling where the customer is not informed it is happening.

But another issue is dealing with network attacks (denial-of-service attacks, botnet traffic, spam/phishing, viruses/worms, break-in attempts, etc). An over-broad Network Neutrality bill could essentially outlaw networks' ability to fend off these menaces to the internet, which I assume they are continuously fighting to a degree far greater than most customers would ever suspect. And dealing with these certainly DOES require being specific about source/destination addresses, protocols, ports, content, etc.

I am not certain exactly how one would phrase a bill which allows the kind of necessary network management while forbidding discriminatory behavior, but that is a challenge even if the intentions are good.

One approach might be to require reporting to a clearinghouse any "attack" or "abuse" incident from a non-customer that warrants intervention (ie, a DOS or spam attack or break-in attempt); for abuse by customers to meet explicit guidelines in the customer agreement before intervention can take place and for the service provider to notify the customer of how and why their traffic was limited in each case; and to limit the nature of abuse that can legally be written into customer agreements. This latter part would be essentially what we are thinking of as "Network Neutrality legislation".

So it would be OK to carve out exceptions for network management, but they must be very specific to prevent discrimination unless the activity is actually abusive of other people or of the network (DOS/break-in attacks, cons, scams, bulk mail not in accordance with CAN-SPAM, etc.), rather than a side effect of the traffic volume needed for an otherwise possibly legitimate activity, such as file sharing, in which case the more general customer provisions regarding excessive bandwidth would come into play, and, again, the customer would have to be informed in advance of what those limits are, and kept informed each time specific interventions occur.
Posted by fredmenace (159 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Tricky, but not impossible
While I'm all in favor of net neutrality as a general concept, and opposed to Comcast and others' practices in this regard, it can be tricky to implement such laws without impacting necessary activities, and omitting network management provisions would not be practical.

First, many could agree that the way to deal with customers over-use of the network to the extent of impacting other customers would be to throttle their total bandwidth, but not pay any attention to the source/destination, the protocol it's running under or the content of the traffic. That is, Comcast need not even be aware it's BitTorrent traffic, just that it's a lot of traffic in a given period of time that exceeds the customers' service plan.

Providers should thus write plans that explicitly set out how much traffic can be transferred and in what time periods - plans that are reasonable and flexible enough to work for everyone even if many users exploited them to the maximum. Such plans would be a bit more complex than current plans, but at least the would be both workable and honest. They should also notify the customer each time the customer's traffic is throttled in some way, and the reason why. The practice of selling "unlimited" service that is not actually unlimited should be forbidden, as should "hidden" throttling where the customer is not informed it is happening.

But another issue is dealing with network attacks (denial-of-service attacks, botnet traffic, spam/phishing, viruses/worms, break-in attempts, etc). An over-broad Network Neutrality bill could essentially outlaw networks' ability to fend off these menaces to the internet, which I assume they are continuously fighting to a degree far greater than most customers would ever suspect. And dealing with these certainly DOES require being specific about source/destination addresses, protocols, ports, content, etc.

I am not certain exactly how one would phrase a bill which allows the kind of necessary network management while forbidding discriminatory behavior, but that is a challenge even if the intentions are good.

One approach might be to require reporting to a clearinghouse any "attack" or "abuse" incident from a non-customer that warrants intervention (ie, a DOS or spam attack or break-in attempt); for abuse by customers to meet explicit guidelines in the customer agreement before intervention can take place and for the service provider to notify the customer of how and why their traffic was limited in each case; and to limit the nature of abuse that can legally be written into customer agreements. This latter part would be essentially what we are thinking of as "Network Neutrality legislation".

So it would be OK to carve out exceptions for network management, but they must be very specific to prevent discrimination unless the activity is actually abusive of other people or of the network (DOS/break-in attacks, cons, scams, bulk mail not in accordance with CAN-SPAM, etc.), rather than a side effect of the traffic volume needed for an otherwise possibly legitimate activity, such as file sharing, in which case the more general customer provisions regarding excessive bandwidth would come into play, and, again, the customer would have to be informed in advance of what those limits are, and kept informed each time specific interventions occur.
Posted by fredmenace (159 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
Quote{
According to Comcast, reasonable network management is all it's doing. "Comcast does not, has not, and will not block any Web sites or online applications, including peer-to-peer services, and no one has demonstrated otherwise," spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice told CNET News.com.
}

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.eff.org/press/archives/2007/11/28" target="_newWindow">http://www.eff.org/press/archives/2007/11/28</a>
Posted by tagno25 (20 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
Quote{
According to Comcast, reasonable network management is all it's doing. "Comcast does not, has not, and will not block any Web sites or online applications, including peer-to-peer services, and no one has demonstrated otherwise," spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice told CNET News.com.
}

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.eff.org/press/archives/2007/11/28" target="_newWindow">http://www.eff.org/press/archives/2007/11/28</a>
Posted by tagno25 (20 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Monstercast needs competition
Comcast sucks like their Big Brother twin, AOL.

I think Cox is doing it, too, though, but by blocking ports. I've never been able to make port forwarding work on my local Cox.

I had Comcast back east. They sucked then. Too bad big operators have such a monopoly in most areas. That's the problem - monopoly. Deal with that and the problems go away. I had billing problems with the phone company before they were broken up, and they wouldn't do anything. Years later, After they were broken up and had competition, I had another billing problem - but This Time they were eager to solve billing problems. When companies can't lord it over you they become much more reasonable.
Posted by cybervigilante (529 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Monstercast needs competition
Comcast sucks like their Big Brother twin, AOL.

I think Cox is doing it, too, though, but by blocking ports. I've never been able to make port forwarding work on my local Cox.

I had Comcast back east. They sucked then. Too bad big operators have such a monopoly in most areas. That's the problem - monopoly. Deal with that and the problems go away. I had billing problems with the phone company before they were broken up, and they wouldn't do anything. Years later, After they were broken up and had competition, I had another billing problem - but This Time they were eager to solve billing problems. When companies can't lord it over you they become much more reasonable.
Posted by cybervigilante (529 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Delay equals denial
"Delaying" packet delivery is the same as denial of service, period. It just shows how collectively ignorant Comcast is as an ISP, that they think it's fine if the data gets there 'eventually'. They obviously still view the entire internet world to be made up of people browsing websites; if your favorite porn site takes another half second to display a page, who cares, right?

Actually, BitTorrent isn't even the most susceptible to this "delaying" tactic; usually the content still gets to the user. Of greater concern to me is other time-sensitive data, such as online gaming, VOIP, videoconferencing, etc.

I personally experience repeated connection drops when gaming on Comcast. Games are increasingly using the P2P model, where you're no longer connecting to some company's dedicated server, but rather hosting your own connection for peer systems. Without fail, after about 5 minutes of hosting such a game, Comcast's crack network analysis tools view me as some pirate file-swapper, and drop the connection. You can't simply delay packets and expect applications to function. And good luck to anyone trying to explain the problem to their "technical support".

Comcast: Find some other way to limit bandwidth use. I don't mind having a cap, but tell me clearly what it is, and then leave my damn connection alone!
Posted by guerojose (30 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Did you read your own comment?
You say: "Actually, BitTorrent isn't even the most susceptible to this "delaying" tactic; usually the content still gets to the user."

So how does this prove your point that delay equals denial? The fact that BitTorrent content still gets to the user is proof that Comcast is telling the truth when they claim they are delaying rather than blocking BitTorrent.

Assuming Comcast is telling the truth that they only block when there is congestion, then they aren't hurting you at all. Even if they didn't block the connection, there wouldn't be enough bandwidth available to make connecting worthwhile. If you were running Comcast, what would you do when there was congestion; delay BitTorrent (which is going to take hours or days to complete) or drop packets at random (which can make VoIP or real-time video unusable)?

Comcast's crack network analysis tool is acting like a bouncer at a popular bar. A bouncer "blocks" people from going into a bar when it is full; then when some people leave the bar, the bouncer stops blocking some people and lets them in. If the bouncer didn't "delay" people by blocking them, the bar would be overcrowded and people would stop coming because of the slow service and lines for the bathroom.

Now maybe Comcast shouldn't use a bouncer, maybe they should just build a bigger bar. It's up to you to decide whether Comcast is worth using; but I don't think the mere fact that they are trying to control congestion in an intelligent manner disqualifies them.

By the way, Comcast's crack network analysis tool probably doesn't think you are a pirate when you host a game; it probably thinks you are running a server when you host a game. Your agreement with Comcast doesn't allow you to run a server, so I don't see why you should be complaining.
Posted by jimsum (7 comments )
Link Flag
Do you understand how cable internet works?
It is very much like a token ring network. You are only allowed to send or receive data when it is your turn to do so. You are sharing a connection with all your neighbors. Your precious packets are almost always delayed a bit. And no, a delay is not even close to DoS.

Cable TV is also on that network.

So is VOIP.

Ditto for VOD.

Guess which one of those needs real time service? Hint: not bit torrent. Guess what happens when a bunch of your neighbors are using VOIP or VOD, or using internet services that require real time service? Your available bandwidth drops.

This is by design and how cable networks operate. If you don't like it, don't use cable.
Posted by The_Decider (3097 comments )
Link Flag
Delay equals denial
"Delaying" packet delivery is the same as denial of service, period. It just shows how collectively ignorant Comcast is as an ISP, that they think it's fine if the data gets there 'eventually'. They obviously still view the entire internet world to be made up of people browsing websites; if your favorite porn site takes another half second to display a page, who cares, right?

Actually, BitTorrent isn't even the most susceptible to this "delaying" tactic; usually the content still gets to the user. Of greater concern to me is other time-sensitive data, such as online gaming, VOIP, videoconferencing, etc.

I personally experience repeated connection drops when gaming on Comcast. Games are increasingly using the P2P model, where you're no longer connecting to some company's dedicated server, but rather hosting your own connection for peer systems. Without fail, after about 5 minutes of hosting such a game, Comcast's crack network analysis tools view me as some pirate file-swapper, and drop the connection. You can't simply delay packets and expect applications to function. And good luck to anyone trying to explain the problem to their "technical support".

Comcast: Find some other way to limit bandwidth use. I don't mind having a cap, but tell me clearly what it is, and then leave my damn connection alone!
Posted by guerojose (30 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Did you read your own comment?
You say: "Actually, BitTorrent isn't even the most susceptible to this "delaying" tactic; usually the content still gets to the user."

So how does this prove your point that delay equals denial? The fact that BitTorrent content still gets to the user is proof that Comcast is telling the truth when they claim they are delaying rather than blocking BitTorrent.

Assuming Comcast is telling the truth that they only block when there is congestion, then they aren't hurting you at all. Even if they didn't block the connection, there wouldn't be enough bandwidth available to make connecting worthwhile. If you were running Comcast, what would you do when there was congestion; delay BitTorrent (which is going to take hours or days to complete) or drop packets at random (which can make VoIP or real-time video unusable)?

Comcast's crack network analysis tool is acting like a bouncer at a popular bar. A bouncer "blocks" people from going into a bar when it is full; then when some people leave the bar, the bouncer stops blocking some people and lets them in. If the bouncer didn't "delay" people by blocking them, the bar would be overcrowded and people would stop coming because of the slow service and lines for the bathroom.

Now maybe Comcast shouldn't use a bouncer, maybe they should just build a bigger bar. It's up to you to decide whether Comcast is worth using; but I don't think the mere fact that they are trying to control congestion in an intelligent manner disqualifies them.

By the way, Comcast's crack network analysis tool probably doesn't think you are a pirate when you host a game; it probably thinks you are running a server when you host a game. Your agreement with Comcast doesn't allow you to run a server, so I don't see why you should be complaining.
Posted by jimsum (7 comments )
Link Flag
Do you understand how cable internet works?
It is very much like a token ring network. You are only allowed to send or receive data when it is your turn to do so. You are sharing a connection with all your neighbors. Your precious packets are almost always delayed a bit. And no, a delay is not even close to DoS.

Cable TV is also on that network.

So is VOIP.

Ditto for VOD.

Guess which one of those needs real time service? Hint: not bit torrent. Guess what happens when a bunch of your neighbors are using VOIP or VOD, or using internet services that require real time service? Your available bandwidth drops.

This is by design and how cable networks operate. If you don't like it, don't use cable.
Posted by The_Decider (3097 comments )
Link Flag
my take on the fundamentals
What cable offers isn't really a network at all.

Dial up modems could be called or used to call with.

When using broadband you are stuck dialing up just one entity.

There is no switch that you are subscribed to connecting to others similarly subscribed.

Most of what we want can be found locally even online. Plenty of hidef webcams can be served very economically for example.

We need government to provide these avenues to us just as it has roads, waterpipes, even in some places electrrioc and gas conduits.

When someone wants to visit a site like yahoo etc. they can negotiate with someone on the citywide network to connect them- but should not have to deal with there 'cable' company just because they want to watch a next door neighbors bluray dvd without having to knock on his door.

As has been pointed out I didn't mention whether that dvd was purchased bland for $25 at compusa and contains footage from the free public zoo, of a lunar eclipse, of a talk he gave himself etc.

Using dialup at v92 rates for needs beyond ones own city streets is a workable solution IF one can enjoy lowcost fiberoptics to everyone with dozens of miles jin every direction, to hundreds of thousands of people potentially.

bit torrent etc. are fundamentally wasteful of resources. users should be able to submit transfer requests to the network specifying the priority with some incentives to be honest perhaps. scrambling and unscramblingi large files near randomly is a neat trick but has no real value.

One need only look at the silly history of home networking to see that by not being embraced by real corporate power it has never gone anywhwere in all its' iterations.
]
What's needed now for example is good homenetworking boxes for HDMI lol.

At the very least when shopping for a high rise apartment DEMAND all units be on a multi-glass-fiber network... thta is every unit have fiber connecting it to someplace in the building where eventually the ends can be connected in some way when the equipmetn is affordable.

Wifi is of course not worthy of comment as it is below 110 baud of yesteryear for such situations. Wifi makes sense for environments with width of a human hair perhaps. But when there are more then two users people need a bandwidth that can keep up with someone saying "yes N O " slowly and there are millions of people.

Fiber optics are a way of getting some benefit in computational etc. power of central systems. The most powerful personal lcomputer should be nothing compared to what can be networked.

THE BOX THAT IS NEEDED MAY IN FACT NEED TO BE MECHANICAL FOR THE NEXT FEW YEARS AT LEAST, WITH THE ENDS OF THE FIBER BEING MOVED IN FRONT OF EACH OTHER JUST LIKE THE MAGNETIC RELAYS OF YESTERYEAR CONNNECTED CALLERS ON COPPER WIRE BY SIMPLY CLOSING A CIRCUIT AND ALLOWING THE CURRENT TO FLOW.

National security of course is demanding that all switches be splitters and that they get connected but this should not apply to a cooperatively owned high rise... IT MUST NOT APPLY!
Posted by molybdinum (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
my take on the fundamentals
What cable offers isn't really a network at all.

Dial up modems could be called or used to call with.

When using broadband you are stuck dialing up just one entity.

There is no switch that you are subscribed to connecting to others similarly subscribed.

Most of what we want can be found locally even online. Plenty of hidef webcams can be served very economically for example.

We need government to provide these avenues to us just as it has roads, waterpipes, even in some places electrrioc and gas conduits.

When someone wants to visit a site like yahoo etc. they can negotiate with someone on the citywide network to connect them- but should not have to deal with there 'cable' company just because they want to watch a next door neighbors bluray dvd without having to knock on his door.

As has been pointed out I didn't mention whether that dvd was purchased bland for $25 at compusa and contains footage from the free public zoo, of a lunar eclipse, of a talk he gave himself etc.

Using dialup at v92 rates for needs beyond ones own city streets is a workable solution IF one can enjoy lowcost fiberoptics to everyone with dozens of miles jin every direction, to hundreds of thousands of people potentially.

bit torrent etc. are fundamentally wasteful of resources. users should be able to submit transfer requests to the network specifying the priority with some incentives to be honest perhaps. scrambling and unscramblingi large files near randomly is a neat trick but has no real value.

One need only look at the silly history of home networking to see that by not being embraced by real corporate power it has never gone anywhwere in all its' iterations.
]
What's needed now for example is good homenetworking boxes for HDMI lol.

At the very least when shopping for a high rise apartment DEMAND all units be on a multi-glass-fiber network... thta is every unit have fiber connecting it to someplace in the building where eventually the ends can be connected in some way when the equipmetn is affordable.

Wifi is of course not worthy of comment as it is below 110 baud of yesteryear for such situations. Wifi makes sense for environments with width of a human hair perhaps. But when there are more then two users people need a bandwidth that can keep up with someone saying "yes N O " slowly and there are millions of people.

Fiber optics are a way of getting some benefit in computational etc. power of central systems. The most powerful personal lcomputer should be nothing compared to what can be networked.

THE BOX THAT IS NEEDED MAY IN FACT NEED TO BE MECHANICAL FOR THE NEXT FEW YEARS AT LEAST, WITH THE ENDS OF THE FIBER BEING MOVED IN FRONT OF EACH OTHER JUST LIKE THE MAGNETIC RELAYS OF YESTERYEAR CONNNECTED CALLERS ON COPPER WIRE BY SIMPLY CLOSING A CIRCUIT AND ALLOWING THE CURRENT TO FLOW.

National security of course is demanding that all switches be splitters and that they get connected but this should not apply to a cooperatively owned high rise... IT MUST NOT APPLY!
Posted by molybdinum (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
His Name is YOO, Not WOO
You may be getting him confused with Professor Tim Wu of Columbia. They are on completely opposite sides of this issue. It's sloppy to confuse the two.
Posted by ethanluc (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
His Name is YOO, Not WOO
You may be getting him confused with Professor Tim Wu of Columbia. They are on completely opposite sides of this issue. It's sloppy to confuse the two.
Posted by ethanluc (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You Gotta Do What you Gotta Do
Obviously to me the comments here come from people not familiar with either running a network or a business.

Comcast or any other ISP will and should limit any traffic they see fit to insure other traffic their customer's use works smoothly. Is this discriminatory to block or slow traffic of a few users/(those using Bit Torrent) to insure the vast majority of traffic by all the other users works? Sure, they are discriminating in favor of the many over the few because if they let the few suck all the bandwidth, they will not be in business.

Regulation in my opinion of the operators ability to make these determinations will only strengthen the large operators like Comcast, which will in turn limit consumers choices for other providers even more, which is really the heart of this dilema for most who have posted here. They don't want to pay for a connection like a T1 that would give them all the bandwidth and flexibility they desire. They want a lot for the price of cable. They just don't understand.

I don't know Comcast's bandwidth limitation that led them to this, but I bet it isn't lack of or cost of bandwidth, it's the disruption of the network in between the customers and their CO caused by the traffic they are blocking or slowing down, so providing more bandwidth to people like many have suggested just isn't economically feasible. They would have to replace all the cable and it's supporting equipment to make that part of the network faster.

The real solution is something with seemingly unlimited bandwidth potential like fiber in every home, but I'm sure we will find even better ways than P2P to suck that bandwidth up too!
Posted by moxienet (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Oh ya, and
make our neighbors Internet tank to dialup speeds.

This is the way of networks, the faster they get, the more ways we find to use more bandwidth.
Posted by moxienet (5 comments )
Link Flag
I agree
When Everquest first came out, a lot of smaller local ISPs shaped traffic by prioritizing UDP way down there. In my mind, that's completely legitimate. You shouldn't let a few high-bandwidth apps sink your whole network. Gamers and p2p people may complain (both of which are communities of which I am a member.), but it's as if people using ip telephony killed your ability to play WoW or Warhammer.

Traffic-shaping is a real concern for any serious networker.
Posted by Hogleg MacDrillun (79 comments )
Link Flag
 

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