What Else Is Comcast Jamming? Gnutella? Lotus Notes?

from the might-help-to-be-a-little-transparent dept

After the AP confirmed that Comcast was clearly blocking some aspects of Bittorrent, Comcast continued to issue its oddly worded denial statement about how it doesn't specifically block access to any application or content. Of course, that can mean different things to different people, and as the EFF is discovering, perhaps Comcast is being half-truthful in saying it doesn't specifically pick on BitTorrent trafffic. However, that's only because it's doing similar kinds of blocking on other types of traffic, such as content using Gnutella or even Lotus Notes. The EFF has been running a variety of tests and has found that Comcast appears to send forged reset packets for Gnutella, and it points to someone else who found the same thing for Lotus Notes.

Of course, Comcast can do what it wants on its network, but to deny it and not be even remotely transparent about it is pretty questionable (and potentially a violation of FTC rules). Once again, this is the type of thing that wouldn't happen if there were true competition in the broadband market. If people knew that Comcast was arbitrarily cutting off what they could do on their network with no indication (and, actually, actively hiding the fact that they were doing so) many people would look for alternatives. The only problem is that there often aren't any alternatives. Even in the cases where there are, the alternatives often include one other player: a telco like AT&T who seems to be gearing up to do the same thing as Comcast in blocking certain types of content online. It really is a simple question, though: why won't Comcast tell its own customers what it's blocking? When you find out that the company is blocking completely legitimate applications and services with no recourse (or even information admitting it), it's really quite troublesome.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Ben Smith, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 7:41am

    I use Comcast and Notes...

    I work from home in B2B software sales and use Lotus Notes every day, without a VPN connection to my corporate office and I have never experienced any issues with my Notes client communicating with our servers or databases... I am actively seeking a new ISP (unfortunately my choices are limited, thanks Congress) because of Comcast's shady practices, but I think some of the rumors flying around are possibly unfounded. The guy linked to in the story who traced his Notes problem to Comcast appears to have a legitimate point, but I haven't had the same experience.

    Comcast still sucks though.

     

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  2.  
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    MATT, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 7:58am

    typo today mike :)

     

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  3.  
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    MATT, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 7:59am

    typo today mike :)

    forget -> forged :)

    just an fyi,as usual great writes keep up the interesting articles

     

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  4.  
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    vingold, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 8:06am

    It Sucks - But What Other Choice Do We Have?

    I've been pretty loyal to Comcast for about 5 or 6 years. For the most part, the outages have been minimal and brief (once or twice a year).

    My other option is Verizon FIOS. I have neighbors who swear by it, but whenever I've used it - I've been disappointed (various speed issues, they default to their own searches when you type a keyword or abbreviated URI into the address bar, etc.)

    Until we're all running on large scale publicly available wireless - this is what we have to deal with.

    No one is going to make the necessary investment to lay fiber in the ground in residential neighborhoods to compete with these two. And even then, one or the other will still own the last mile.

     

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  5.  
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    mkam, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 8:07am

    Comcast vs Verizon

    I currently have Comcast after getting upset with Verizon DSL and switching. I am in the process of switching back to Verizon because of these changes at Comcast (thankfully I didn't sign the contract for 2 years). 'True broadband competition' is apparently defined as having to choose between the lesser of 2 evils. I am in the middle of the city too, not in a rural area. Thanks FCC, and f-u Comcast!

     

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  6.  
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    anthony, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 8:14am

    speed

    yeap, comcast does not "block" trafic, but they QoS / (throttle) traffic such as torrent and gnutella, the reason i know this is becuase my buddies and i have a Napster server on port 80 and transfers go like at 700kb to 1mb ON ONE SOURCE !!

    yea right, its not "blocked" lol

     

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  7.  
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    Gunnar, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 8:14am

    As the AP article said, it was only certain markets where they blocked BT uploads. My uneducated guess would be that they only do it in markets where they have a monopoly.

    At least some of you have 2 places to choose from. Comcast is my only option.

     

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  8.  
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    Sean, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 8:20am

    Former Comcast customer

    I switched from one evil to another when I left comcast for Verizon. I had triple play with Comcast and every couple months my phone and internet would go down. I would be without phone service for 24 hours. The internet would constantly go out. Also got tired of paying for sucky TV.

    Verizon is a little better with the reliability, but it is still Verizon.

     

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  9.  
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    melodyof1974, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 8:37am

    Comcast the "bit-torrent blocker"

    I love Comcast. We have Comcast for 5 to 6 years and never had an issue other than their IT Departments don't know anything about Macs.

    I use bi-torrents all the time and it has been in the past month or so I have noticed the speed of transfer is not just slow but super slow! Currently to tranfer a file that is 430mb has an estimated time of 36 hours with Comcast.

    What the F*ck Comcast! As many have said one evil for another, what to do.

     

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  10.  
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    William C Bonner, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 8:54am

    Examining content to block it

    Wouldn't the fact that they are examining the content and blocking some of it imply that they are allowing other content?

    That would say that they are complicit in any illegal actions in the traffic that they are not blocking.

     

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  11.  
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    greybeard, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 9:00am

    I've not run into that issue, but we have AT&T, Comcast, Astound and a municipal wi-fi connection to choose from so we're closer to a real competitive environment.

     

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  12.  
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    Michael Schmitt, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 9:15am

    Comcast in the Pacific Northwest

    I've been a customer of Comcast cable internet and have noticed that the speed on the uploads and downloads varies widely when it comes to using the service. I don't use bittorrent, but I HAVE noticed that when I'm using the web, downloads (for YouTube and IGN, other video services) are speedy (300-400 kb/s)and the downloads for my podcasts from iTunes and iTunes purchases are about 100 kb/s. Very strange.

     

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  13.  
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    Daniel Lammert, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 9:25am

    Notes Traffic Manipulation Confirmed

    I am a Notes/Domino Admin and can confirm the findings that comcast is manipulating the notes traffic on port 1352. The thing is though, that comcast seems to be doing this only in selective markets and only some of the time. We have a wide variety of field service engineers based out of the home office using comcast. Only some are effected and of those individuals only some of the time.

    I spent a couple of hours troubleshooting with one individual in the Philadelphia comcast market that was experiencing the symptom where any email over approximately 2.5Mb he would try to pass through to our Domino server would basically time out.

    Doing further investigation I was able to confirm (using the wireshark packet sniffer) that he was being sent RST packets by comcast basically telling the server and client to drop the session. These RST packets were made to look like it came from the server but doing traffic analysis on the server side, the server definitely was not sending them out.

    I opened a PMR with Lotus technical support and they are just as frustrated as I am. They are aware of the issues specific to comcast and are cant do much because the problem is not on their end and comcast wont even admit they are doing any thing to the traffic stream. I can confirm that comast is lying by my traffic captures. Bastards.

     

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  14.  
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    Brad, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 9:28am

    I've been with Comcast for nearly 10yrs here in Jax, FL. and have rarely experienced any issues. P2P xfers fly without a problem. Though I'm not happy with Comcast's pricing for broadband it's my only choice due to AT&T's(formerly Bellsouth) slow poking DSL speeds. I can't take that especially as a gamer. These two control the market here and no FIOS will find it's way here according to AT&T via the grape-vine. As for Comcast TV pricing..that sucks too but I'm switching to satellite once my new house is done, even though my broadband costs will rocket up another $10 for that.

     

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  15.  
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    Daniel Lammert, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 9:30am

    BTW

    By the way it was good to see that this issue got (inter)national coverage. It was at the top of The Drudge Report, Bolded and in red this last Friday!

     

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  16.  
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    Brad, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 9:31am

    Con't...

    Of course I forgot we have Clearwire here now but again...the speeds don't compare in my area so I'm somewhat forced to stay with Comcast, fortunately for ISP only.

     

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  17.  
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    Jay, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 9:40am

    Im all for it!

    I hope Comcast and all high speed providers block any form of bit torrent.These programs were ok back in the day but are abused so much it clogs up the network with to much traffic.If you really have a need to pirate stuff get a news service with the back bone and servers to support such mass file sharing.Having 3 teens on the same block sharing 5 gig porn files 24/7 screws up the flow of traffic for all Comcast subscribers on that block, bit torrent IMO is lame.

     

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  18.  
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    Dirk, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 9:56am

    That explains it

    I use bittorrent regularly, and havve always wondered why my download speeds can be phenomenal but my upload speeds are terrible (~3kb/s max)

    those bastards!

     

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  19.  
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    Mike (profile), Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 10:01am

    Re: typo today mike :)

    forget -> forged :)

    Oops. Fixed. Thanks!

     

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  20.  
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    Everyman, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 10:11am

    No competition

    in my area. We have only Verizon DSL, which has been OK for regular use, but VoiP is throttled. I would dump Verizon DSL if I have anything to choose from, but it has become apparent that the three major players, Verizon, AT&T and Comcast are all Fascist Corporate.

    It is starting to look more and more like Germany in the 1930s. With the FCC changing the rules of ownership by Fiat, soon blogging about these issues will become illegal.

    :(

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    David, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 10:42am

    Net Neutrality

    And so how does everyone feel about net neutrality now?

     

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  22.  
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    xxl3w, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 10:47am

    Re: Im all for it!

    Yea, they should stop all file transfers. Also, block all multiplayer games. I hate when some kid down the street plays WoW and ruins my online browsing.

    You're a retard. If all we wanted to do was browse the net, we should go back to dialup and have text-only websites. The only reason for broadband is to speed downloads/uploads up. In my experience upload speeds are pitiful. I don't think upload speeds have changed since 28.8 modems. I know this is on the topic of bittorrent traffic, but wtf is wrong with comcast and others? It's amazing companies will regulate internet traffic. Maybe we should start regulating childbirth and give out food rations. Whatever happened to freedom?

     

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  23.  
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    Everyman, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 10:47am

    Net Neutrality ?

    In every world there are the eaters and the eaten.

    We are being eaten alive, and there is no escape.

    How can you vote with your pocketbook when there is no competition.

    Thank you FCC and Congress for protecting us from out Fascist Overlords !

    *kicks dog*

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Just Me, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 10:49am

    Re #17

    "I hope Comcast and all high speed providers block any form of bit torrent.These programs ...are abused so much it clogs up the network with to much traffic.If you really have a need to pirate stuff..."

    I think this is the point you might be missing; just because someone is using a BitTorrent does NOT mean they are automatically a pirate and should be blocked/throttled vs someone else's serfing.
    I use BT all the time to backup apps and cd's I *purchased* or to download things that, while legal, are going to download faster via BT.

    It sounds like your argument is along the lines of "Most BT traffic is illegal so it's ok" but where does this end? How can you assume that because the traffic is BT it must be illegitimate?
    Some people use YouTube to post copy written material...so maybe we should throttle YouTube too. Heck the entire internet can be used for illegal activity - lets just cap everyone's traffic to 128mbps and be done with it.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    R. H., Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 10:52am

    Re: Im all for it!

    Don't tell me that you think that an entire protocol should be blocked because some people use it in an illegal way. That's a somewhat draconian way of doing things isn't it? People do illegal things using TCP/IP too, does that mean that TCP/IP traffic should be sent these same reset packets? I wouldn't have as much of a problem if Comcast told us customers that they were doing this. However, they just did it without telling anyone and they're still denying it. For those people using Lotus Notes that are having their connections adversely affected, complain to Comcast. If their customer support is clogged with tickets from disgruntled customers maybe they'll at least admit what they're doing.

     

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  26.  
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    xxl3w, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 10:53am

    Also...

    Whatever happened to notifying customers WTF they're doing? I always get an e-mail when I can see Justin Timberlake on Comcast's (god I had to be immature, but this is the only word that fits here) lame news site. I also receive e-mails when they "REVAMP" their site (which usually means they moved a letter to the right 1px) or changed the way they report news about Britney Spears' baldness.

    I've never received an e-mail about "planned downtimes", "planned maintenance", or changes in their services. It'd be great if ISPs would actually tell you what they're doing.

    When broadband was first introduced, I was with a company known as Knology. They always kept me up-to-date with maintenance and issues. They even let me test different modems to better their service. I'm guessing Comcast just buys the cheapest equipment possible and says "good luck". Their customer/technical service is a joke. The only word they know is "reboot". "Reboot your modem." "Reboot your computer". They're not open on weekends, so it's impossible for a working family to get a technician out to your house. They won't replace your modem or any hardware unless they can come out and look at your settings.

     

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  27.  
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    TaNd3M, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 11:10am

    Help with your Torrents

    I got PeerGuardian and found it GREATLY increased the speed of my torrents by blocking bogus packets. It does this by maintaining a MASSIVE list of IPs from corps and govs that try the anti-P2P tactics. Google it and get it.

     

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  28.  
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    Jack Sombra, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 11:22am

    Got to love the UK at times like this

    Cannot count how many possible alternative ISP's i have, so when my ISP starts playing games like this i just switch to one who is not (happened twice over last 6 years now)

    And a nice letter to the isp in question from a lawyer friend normally gets me out of their 12 months lock in contracts to

     

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  29.  
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    jon, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 11:24am

    why not encrypt you bt traffic?

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymoose, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 1:03pm

    Comcast also blocks MS Exchange

    We have a lot of people who work from home using their work notebooks one or more days per week as a way to cut down on traffic hassle, among other things; only problem we discovered was that no one using Comcast for Net access could access email from home. Comcast apparently blocks most common Exchange Server ports - preventing outlook users from connecting. Of course, Comcast denied it at first, then eventually admitted that they do - and suggested our employees get (4x more expensive) "Comcast@Work" accounts for their homes. Right. So while we were using encrypted tunnels between outlook and exchange, the ports themselves were blocked. We eventually tunneled around with a more extensive VPN system; but for them to say that they don't edit the Internet or deny application access is just crap.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 2:41pm

    the country with the most armed civilians in the world is taking crap like this and many many others...makes me wonder why we sit and allow our goverment to be ruled by corperations. seems that our constitiuon is made to prevent stuff like that, but people need to step up with any means nesscarry

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 2:46pm

    Not just BT!

    In my area, the primary Comcast DNS server sucks, I worked around that by setting the their secondary DNS as my primary. Then I found OpenDNS... it was going great for a while, but as of last weekend, it seems that queries to OpenDNS servers are blocked as well!

    I'm actually leaving the US soon... good luck, citizens...

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Benjamin M. Orsini, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 4:41pm

    Cox's Political Filtering

    I was a Cox customer three or four years ago when I suddenly noticed that I couldn't connect to certain European web sites any more. I e-mailed Cox customer about the problem several times and several times they assured me that Cox was not filtering those sites and that the problem must be with the sites themselves. After a few months of this I finally met a Cox network engineer and he agreed to confidentially look into the situation for me. After some digging around he found out that Cox was indeed filtering those sites. It seems that some people at Cox were upset that France did not support the US invasion of Iraq and so decided to block all traffic to any address blocks assigned to French ISPs. (Note that although they were assigned to French ISPs, many of these addresses were actually used outside of France in places like the UK) This filter was implemented at the local router level so customers in some areas experienced it while those in other areas did not, depending upon the political views of the local administrators. At the time, Cox was the only broadband provider in my area so there wasn't much I could do about it but since then I've been a proponent of network neutrality.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 4:46pm

    Fraud

    Free markets don't work in the face of rampant fraud and official corruption that prevents its full prosecution.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Junior Samples, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 6:22pm

    It's the Network

    > Of course, Comcast can do what it wants on its network

    I don't buy this logic. Why the hell do we insist on giving up rights? This information I am typing and sending right now is MINE and is intended for YOU, and Comcast or any other ISP has no right to say that you can't read it.

    If I am paying for a service, then they have no right to dictate what information I can send and receive. The post office can't do whatever it wants with my mail. FedEx can't do whatever it wants with my packages. I pay those entities to get my stuff from point A to point B in a set amount of time.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Junior Samples, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 6:26pm

    There is no Free Market

    > Free markets don't work in the face of rampant fraud and
    > official corruption that prevents its full prosecution.

    Nor do free markets work when there is no competition. Face it friends, it's now or never for net neutrality. Give up this right and we will all be limited to watching sock puppets on parade while the corporate masters decide where they want to send your kid to go fight some war on their behalf.

     

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  37.  
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    inc, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 7:09pm

    time to make our own wireless network. Ultra fragmented but free!

     

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  38.  
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    Comcast doesn't want my business, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 8:50pm

    Comcast & Google

    I am having the same problem with iGoogle and the Google reader. They work when I get home from work, then they quit working for several hours (constant "connection reset ... while page was loading"). Which if you take it literally, if the page was loading, the originating web server is not going to issue a RESET! The only logical explanation is that Comcast is issuing the RESET. I don't run BitTorrent or any p2p file sharing software, but I may have triggered some download limit for the month, since this problem has shown up for the last 4 nights.

     

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  39.  
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    kylere, Oct 25th, 2007 @ 11:32am

    Re: Comcast & Google

    Go to opendns.com and use their DNS servers, Comcast is selectively blocking websites. Once I stopped relying on them to guide my traffic, I was able to visit google again.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 26th, 2007 @ 1:54am

    Re: Re: Comcast & Google

    Go to opendns.com and use their DNS servers, Comcast is selectively blocking websites. Once I stopped relying on them to guide my traffic, I was able to visit google again.
    Unfortunately, there are also reports of Comcast blocking OpenDNS.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 26th, 2007 @ 6:41pm

    Re: speed

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
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    ugg, Oct 26th, 2007 @ 6:42pm

    Re: speed

    don't complain, thats really fast.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2007 @ 5:08pm

    Re: Comcast the "bit-torrent blocker"

    I love Comcast.
    After reading that and the rest of your comment I can only conclude that you are one of those people who actually like getting screwed, and not it a good way. Oh well, to each his own, I guess.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
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    Stacie, Oct 28th, 2007 @ 9:13am

    Replying to Article

    I used to live out in the East and had to deal with Comcast. Thankfully they are not in the area I am in now. I have Mediacom and they have pretty good service. I agree with the fact that all the porn on the Torrent Sites sucks, but I use it to upload files,pictures, ect to family members back home. Not everyone uses torrents for illegal purposes. I hope COmcast faces penalties for what they are doing it is wrong to pick and choose which customers are allowed to do what. Isn't it almost an invasion of privacy for them to do this anyway? It will be interesting to see how they handle the PR they have gotten on this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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