Comcast's Technical Expert: Mary Bono?

from the that's-convincing dept

We've already discussed just how weak Comcast's defense of its traffic shaping efforts are, but Ed Felten chimes in with another point. It appears that Comcast relies on rather questionable "experts" in trying to present its traffic shaping as reasonable. For example, rather than quote an actual technical expert concerning how P2P file sharing systems work, it quotes Congressional Representative Mary Bono Mack saying (totally incorrectly):
For the record, broadband service providers are investing in their networks, but simply adding more bandwidth does not solve [the P2P problem]. The reason for this is P2P applications are designed to consume as much bandwidth as is available, thus more capacity only results in more consumption.
As Felten notes, P2P apps are not designed to consume as much bandwidth as is available, and certainly just having more bandwidth does not result in more consumption -- but the larger point is why is Comcast not just using incorrect statements, but relying on a Congressional representative to support a technical argument?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    DanC, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 9:30am

    Why would anyone in their right frame of mind pay any attention to Mary Bono Mack? She's very good at talking about things she has absolutely no understanding of. So we'll add peer-to-peer on to the list of things she doesn't understand, along with copyrights.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 10:16am

    Of course more bandwidth causes more consumption, but that isn't limited to p2p. Just like building more or bigger roads cause more traffic, more bandwidth will cause consumption to go up with things like YouTube, new capabilities and yes, p2p.

     

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  3.  
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    joe, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 10:33am

    Its Comcastic! thats why

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 10:45am

    What?

    "Just like building more or bigger roads cause more traffic"

    Uh... what?

    So I live in the arm pit of the middle of buttf**k egypt and I build a 6 lane superhighway and suddenly I'll have 60,000+ cars a day driving down it?

     

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  5.  
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    comboman, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 10:57am

    Dear Mary

    Dear Mary "Bono" Mack:

    Sonny Bono's been dead for 10 years and you've been married twice since then. Stop using his name you publicity-seeking whore.

    Thank you.

     

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  6.  
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    DeathsPal, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 10:58am

    Re: What?

    Ya if the road in BFE Actually goes somewhere from somewhere. now if you build a 1 mile stretch of 6 lane in the middle of nowhere and it doesn't connect to anything then no.... Just like if you hung a piece of OC 48 trunk line on the wall in your office and marveled at how fast it was (it wouldn't get traffic) if you give people a faster more reliable way to get where they are going, They will. it they get there faster and have time left over they may go some where else, and some where else, etc......

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 11:23am

    Easy you buy off enough people in Congress and your problems go away. Screw what the general public thinks if you spend enough money to get the legislature on your side. Isn't that the normal mode of operation in the US now?

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 11:53am

    Breaking down Mary Bono Mack's statement is kind of interesting:

    "...P2P applications are designed to consume as much bandwidth as is available"

    I see this as technically being true, since if 2 peers are transferring a file, the application will likely use whatever bandwidth is available.

    However, "thus more capacity only results in more consumption" isn't a good conclusion to draw from this. More consumption is a result of more or better content being made available. It is also a result of advancing technology.

     

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  9.  
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    Wyatt Ditzler, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 12:33pm

    It just exposes the stupidity of American politicians. I'll keep this short and pithy as to not clog the Internet "pipes".

    Maybe we will learn to have experts leading the way in areas instead of politicians. "A jack of all trades, is a master of none!"

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 12:37pm

    Stupidity of American politicians?

    So we should elect politicians based on their indepth knowledge of the Internet? Forget about war, security, healthcare, social security or the economy, lets get people in there who really "get" the Internet.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 12:41pm

    More capacity will just mean that the network will be clogged for less time. If downloading a 1 gig file at 5mbps so if I can dl it as 10mbps the network will only be troubled half the time as it was at the slower speed.

    For traffic shaping I do not mind it as long as its done correctly. IE emergency services have first priority. and then all users that pay for the bandwidth to be limited equally depending on the resources available at the time.

     

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  12.  
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    Bryan Price, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 12:47pm

    Interesting

    This argument came up on Dave Farber's Interesting People email list. Because that seems to be Brett Glass's argument about it.

    http://www.listbox.com/member/archive/247/2008/02/sort/time_rev/page/2/entry/9:141/2008021610 5049:E8968774-DCA6-11DC-B890-DCE656A607E7/

     

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  13.  
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    Me, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 12:54pm

    P2P Can sap bandwidth...so she is right...sort of

    I have been a victim of P2P sucking up all the bandwidth that we gave it. I used to admin a college campus network and every time we increased the pipe, the P2P traffic just got heavier. We eventually ended up having to packetshape and ban users, but it was a factual lesson learned. If you give them an inch...

     

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  14.  
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    Griper, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 1:08pm

    Re:

    Politicians are supposed to listen to experts in their respective field. Not whichever lobbyist throws the best best party.

     

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  15.  
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    Gunnar, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 1:09pm

    Re: What?

    Essentially, yes.

    Building them in the middle of nowhere won't do anything. But add roads into and out of a cit, and people who used to take the bus to work will start to drive because the traffic jam is gone. Well, the traffic jam on the highway is gone, the inner city traffic will still suck.

     

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  16.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Feb 20th, 2008 @ 1:25pm

    Re:

    Too bad politicians know nothing about any of those issues either. All they know is how to stay in office to make money for their friends and themselves.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 1:25pm

    Re:

    Apparently, it's hard to find politicians who even have a clue what any of those things are. Seems all they know it, "Give me money and you can write a new law".

     

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  18.  
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    SilverSliver99, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 2:14pm

    I like how the one guy at 11 or 12 likes to try and defend politicians. No one can know everything, but I know as an engineer, I don't go off and try to make something work without doing a little research and having some kind of a foundation. Likewise politicians shouldn't be running there mouths and making decisions based on little to no knowledge. Thats not a good way to do anything. That is why she is an idiot my friend, not because she doesn't know the internet, but because she didn't take the time to understand it enough to make an intelligent point, but rather just flapped her gums for the sake of publicity. There is nothing scarier then when someone knows (or thinks they do) just enough to be dangerous.

     

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  19.  
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    Bill, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 2:16pm

    Politics & Me

    "why is Comcast not just using incorrect statements, but relying on a Congressional representative to support a technical argument?"

    To me it looks like a simple attempt at playing politics. Mary is known to the body of Congress; respected or hated, but known. So by using her words Comcast kills several birds at once: Mary will rally for Comcast because it serves her purposes, Comcast can save a bit of bribe money and the blow hards in Congress won't have to have the issue explained to them (since Mary will be talking their language). Hopefully someday Congress gets a clue...

    @Me: Unless your network works like Comcast which imposes b/w caps and limits, I don't think your Uni's network compares. When I attended college, most user accounts were on our mainframe which had no b/w caps (storage limits only). Our Unix network accounts were wide open although storage quotas were enforced when needed. Standard policy was that networks were for class work and non-academic related traffic received low priority.

    Comcast's main problem is that they oversell the lines and ensnare users with their "up to" promises. What Comcast is doing is adjusting the data volume to fit their over-subscribed pipes.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Ruin20, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 2:26pm

    It's not that it grows to match...

    It's just that demand far outstretches supply at the moment, so incremental increases don't change the status of the network being chocked because the change didn't add any surplus. Of course the network being choked probably deters a certain percent of activity, but that's just excess demand masked by the fact that technology doesn't match.

    I find it ironic that a lot of Peer to Peer was initially developed to distribute bandwidth load, and take it off of the destination server. It shifts the bandwidth availability problem onto the ISPs instead of the filehost and therefore the ISP's are lashing out at the technology that enables it...

    But in a much more sensible fashion couldn't they just dynamically cap individual users to guarantee everyone gets access to an equal share of the data pipe?

     

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  21.  
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    ErvServer, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 2:30pm

    the internet

    the internet is just a series of tubes

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 2:48pm

    Silver, her statement was basically correct, although put on a bumpersticker, which is what politicians are good at doing.

    If you increase your pipe, consumption will go up, although p2p is only one issue.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Nick, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 3:29pm

    Bono: rent-seeking, special interest copyright bar

    What ever happened to the bandwidth or time cap business models of AOL? Make the market fix its own problems, and keep government out of this. The only reason to bring government in is to politicize the issue because it is about p2p, and violation-of-business-model of Mary Bono's special interest: the death +75 years of rent-seeking royalties of her late husband's song "I Got You, Babe" and other Sonny Bono hits. The only thing she is an expert in is digging for gold.

     

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  24.  
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    Nick, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 3:31pm

    baroness

    Baroness was supposed to be in the title of my last comment but it was too long.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Celes, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 4:54pm

    Re: Dear Mary

    But then I'll no longer feel right teaching my daughter how to play "Miss Mary Mack"...

     

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  26.  
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    Mike, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 7:04pm

    Re: Politics & Me

    Bill - University networks all have bandwidth shaping devices of some sort. The general rule is that if they did not shape bandwidth, they would not have a usable network. P2P would consume any rational amount of bandwidth. Spoken from experience.

    (Shaping 2million P2P sessions @ 750Mpbs.)

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Robert, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 7:55pm

    Traffic Shaping

    Traffic Shaping is not necessarily a bad thing, in fact it is necessary to keep a network running smoothly.

    However, it all depends on the implementation. Available Network bandwidth should be evenly distributed among the different users, not according to what protocol is being used.

    Furthermore, I believe if you are going to sell a service described as 10mbps "Always On" internet you should be prepared to provide 10mbps of data transfer to each user 24 x 7 x 365.

    You shouldn't be able to sell an unlimited "always on" product and then piss and moan about it later when it turns out some people actually want to fully utilize it.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2008 @ 4:40am

    "So I live in the arm pit of the middle of buttf**k egypt and I build a 6 lane superhighway and suddenly I'll have 60,000+ cars a day driving down it?"

    At the very least, two at a time, with 60,000+ spectators.

     

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

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2008 @ 10:47am

    Well, think this over. The telcom & communication companies were given giant tax breaks (and allowed to raise prices - and who knows what else) so that they could invest in their networks to keep the US up with the rest of the world. The problem? They spent the money on raises for their CEO's and now the network suffers from lack of maintenance (and upgrading).
    I think they should cough up the money to fix things even if they choke on it! Look at what the CEO of ATT made in 1995 and look how much it is now! All through the 90's the government let them "not pay taxes" so that money could be used to provide and better faster internet.
    Now they want to charge us more for what we already have because they didn't build what they were given money to build and we need! We were sold "high speed internet so you can do more! Download movies! Music & MORE! WOW you must have it!" It is the same old bend over and get screwed again. Might as well assume the position for next time...you know its coming!

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2008 @ 11:00am

    Re: Traffic Shaping

    No kidding! ALL YOU CAN EAT FOOD BAR! $5.99 Oh wait, after 3 plates we charge $2.00 more!

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2008 @ 11:04am

    Re: It's not that it grows to match...

    Yes, they could...but then they couldn't charge you $49 a month for unlimited 3Mbps! They'd have to charge you $29 for 1.5 Mbps...but they want that money!

     

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


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