Cox Gets Aggressive With Traffic Shaping

from the taunting-the-fcc dept

In a move that's basically baiting the FCC and Congress to see if they will act, Cox has announced that it's going to experiment with rather aggressive traffic shaping, granting priority to bits that it feels have a great priority. Why Cox gets to describe what gets a priority and what doesn't seems pretty questionable. Cox is also the company that implemented a three strikes policy on file sharing without telling anyone.

To be honest, this seems like a really tone deaf move by Cox -- and I'd imagine that plenty of telcos and cable companies are pissed off about Cox calling extra attention to the topic right now. There's been plenty of talk of new net neutrality regulations in Congress, and with Cox putting the issue so squarely on the table, it's as if they're begging for such regulations (or at least to be slapped down by the FCC). You would think they would at least wait until it wasn't an issue getting so much attention before drawing extra scrutiny and daring regulators to act.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 10:59am

    I just read about this one an hour ago

    It's not as bad as it seems. They aren't deciding what traffic is allowed priority. What they are doing isn't much better. They leave everything as, what they call, "time sensitive data" except things on their list. P2P, uploads, FTP, and news groups.

    That's still pretty bad. I'd scream and yell and rave and rant if they blocked my FTP. I use it as an emergency server for work. It's one thing to lose connection because the network is unavoidably slow, it's another to have it intentionally blocked.

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    AnonCow, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 11:04am

    Question #1 for FCC Chair confirmation hearing: "How bad are you going to nail Cox's ass to the wall for openly vowing to screw over their customers?"

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous12, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 11:12am

    Just as a first thought on the subject (while in NO way defending Cox), they probably are "testing the waters". They have a buisness plan, in my opinion based on pure greed, and they want to move forward with it. They are trying to squeeze blood from a turnip, and catch every last penny. So they are doing this to say "this is our plan, is it acceptable to regulators or not? Tone deaf? Absolutely.
    Foolish? Probably. It remains to be seen however, what the FCC is going to do about it. Swift justice hopefully.

     

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

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous12, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 11:12am

    Just as a first thought on the subject (while in NO way defending Cox), they probably are "testing the waters". They have a buisness plan, in my opinion based on pure greed, and they want to move forward with it. They are trying to squeeze blood from a turnip, and catch every last penny. So they are doing this to say "this is our plan, is it acceptable to regulators or not? Tone deaf? Absolutely.
    Foolish? Probably. It remains to be seen however, what the FCC is going to do about it. Swift justice hopefully.

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Lucretious, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 11:42am

    I thought Cox was one of the good guys.


    Did they get new management or something?

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    jme, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 11:48am

    From that link:
    "File downloads, software updates and other non-time sensitive data may be slowed if there is congestion on the local network, Cox said."
    File downloads. Sounds like a winner, Cox!

     

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

  7.  
    icon
    GeneralEmergency (profile), Jan 28th, 2009 @ 12:02pm

    Excuse me...but...

    ...exactly how is packet inspection based traffic shaping legally distinguishable from eavesdropping?

    How would one know that one's mail is not being read or the file in a file transfer is not being copied and archived?

    Also, going forward, how will DMCA safe harbors not be legally assault-able in an era where the ISP actually DOES CONTROL WHAT and HOW data is transferred across the network?

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    TPBer, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 12:04pm

    It's in the Name!

    Cox Suckers. Does there really need to be any more explanation.

    BTW- TWC does not appear to care how much you DL or UL, I too have been testing the waters for quite some time. Time to get more external HDs.

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    zcat, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 12:06pm

    'file downloads'

    So if there's not enough bandwidth for everything, what would you prefer? That VoIP, Gaming and other 'low latency' services become completely unusable and normal web browsing becomes slow, or that services like p2p, Windows Updates, ftp, etc get slowed down a bit to leave enough free bandwidth for VoIP and gaming and normal web browsing?

    I'd prefer there was enough bandwidth for everything, but Parkinson's law applies; Network traffic (p2p downloads particularly) will simply expand to consume all available bandwidth.

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 12:11pm

    Re: 'file downloads'

    So if there's not enough bandwidth for everything
    Network traffic (p2p downloads particularly) will simply expand to consume all available bandwidth.

    In theory you have some basis, but reality doesn't always follow theory nicely. Those down in the weeks 9rather than the execs and policy makers) claim that current and predicted traffic is nothing that routine maintenance and upgrading can't handle. Which group (execs or technicians) do you think better understand the implications of Parkinson's?

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    Anon E Mous, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 12:28pm

    Not a right

    Broadband access is not a right but a commodity. If you don't like Comcasts' rules get a new provider.

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    jme, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 12:50pm

    Re: 'file downloads'

    Not looking for utopia, just a network connection that can handle the applications and use cases that customers demand.

    Cable company TV ads frequently tout that their "high-speed" internet services 'make downloads faster!', among other things. I just saw such an ad not 1 week ago. The fact that Cox might be de-prioritizing 'certain' file downloads is less surprising than ironic.

    But let's cut to the chase and talk about that elephant. This all seems like a zero-sum issue because of the bandwidth(s) offered as "high-speed" by Cox, Charter and other cable providers here in the US. Mr. Parkinson's old saw may be true in general, but there also exists a minimum level of service required to satisfy customer expectations. It should be no surprise to anyone that those customer needs have a pesky way of increasing over time. And increasingly that client traffic is looking more symmetrical. 5mbps/512kbps down/up rates were enough a couple of years ago, but probably not today and certainly not tomorrow.

    Build-out, not box-in. Our cable bills won't be getting any cheaper anyway.

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 12:52pm

    Re: 'file downloads'

    So if there's not enough bandwidth for everything, what would you prefer?

    Care to provide proof that there isn't enough bandwidth? So far there's been proof only to the contrary, available bandwidth outpaces the need for it.

     

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

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 12:52pm

    Re: Not a right

    Broadband access is not a right but a commodity. If you don't like Comcasts' rules get a new provider.

    And if there is no choice, as happens to be the case in many areas? I am sure your argument covers that obvious problem... oh wait, it doesn't.

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 12:53pm

    Re: 'file downloads'

    I'd prefer that our ISPs provide more bandwidth at lower prices. Average US download speed has dropped to 19th place in the world, at 2.3 mbps, while Japan is in 1st place at 63 mbps. For lowest average price per mbps per month, the US is in 18th place at $2.83 PPP, while Japan again is 1st at $0.13 PPP. For lowest average monthly bill, the US is 22nd at $53.06, while Finland is 1st at $31.18 PPP.

    I hope the Obama administration can do something to improve this situation, as our IPSs have failed to do much beyond trying to squeeze more money from their inadequate, old services.

     

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

  16.  
    identicon
    A. L. Flanagan, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 1:04pm

    Re: Excuse me...but...

    GeneralEmergency said "...exactly how is packet inspection based traffic shaping legally distinguishable from eavesdropping?
    How would one know that one's mail is not being read or the file in a file transfer is not being copied and archived?"

    Beats the heck out of me. Also, what prevents everyone from going to encrypted data streams?

     

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

  17.  
    identicon
    Jus Visitin', Jan 28th, 2009 @ 1:09pm

    Cox Traffic Shaping

    I new at this but the obvious question is are you still getting what you're paying for?

    Using them for a backup server may be pusing the limits of the home user agreement.

    Many poeple around the world have much less bandwidth and pay much more... seems to me that everyone wants unlimited bandwidth for $29.00 a month.

     

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

  18.  
    identicon
    Nick, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 1:34pm

    It's just responsible network managment

    I don't see what the big problem is. All they did was say that *IF* there is congestion that they would prioritize real-time traffic over non-real time traffic.

    So *IF* the tubes get clogged, then they've implemented as system so that your VoIP will continue to work properly so you can use the phone, and your web browsing will still work properly (the primary use of such a connection). Anything else simply gets prioritized down - not blocked.

    How is this, in any way, a problem? All they're doing is making sure the network continues to work well for applications that are congestion sensitive!

     

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

  19.  
    identicon
    PRMan, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 2:08pm

    I wonder...

    I wonder if Vonage VOIP gets the same priority as Cox VOIP...

    Hmmm.

     

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

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 2:13pm

    As a Cox customer I can say that Cox is a bunch of a**holes. This is one of many, many things they do to hurt their customers. If I had a choice to leave the Cox monopoly where I live, I would leave in a heartbeat.

     

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

  21.  
    identicon
    Joe Krahn, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 2:58pm

    Re: Re: 'file downloads'

    Care to provide proof that there isn't enough bandwidth? So far there's been proof only to the contrary, available bandwidth outpaces the need for it.

    Well, if that is true, then you will never notice the traffic shaping rules, and there is no problem.

     

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

  22.  
    identicon
    Xanius, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 3:06pm

    Re: I wonder...

    I'll be interested to see how this works out. I recently upgraded my line to a business account with them so that I can use port 25. Irritates the hell out of me that all major ISPs block port 25 unless you pay 3x as much for the same speeds.

    But if they start shaping my traffic and prioritizing things with my connection there will be hell to pay. I use FTP and torrents to transfers files for work/personal websites that I host from my house(one reason I upgraded as well).

     

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

  23.  
    icon
    GeneralEmergency (profile), Jan 28th, 2009 @ 3:10pm

    The a-ha momment...

    This could represent the beginning of a whole new kind of ISP.

    Imagine a "TDISP" or Tunnel Destination ISP, (or better yet for marketing purposes a "Privacy Management ISP",) whom you contract with who serves to anchor the far end of an always on VPN session that tunnels through your RAT-BASTARD, PACKET SPYING, RIAA LACKEY, TRAFFIC SHAPING, ASSHAT primary ISP like Comcast or AT$T and releases your spring-fresh, unmolested packets onto the internet. As A. L. Flanagan correctly points out above, we can all encrypt our traffic, but usually this is done at the application level. To REALLY slap these invasive ISPs in the face, we need to encrypt all of our traffic.

    I suppose an ISP could then block or throttle traffic to these end points but how would they distinguish your connection as a TDISP customer or an Employee?? What if the TDISP was a collective, customer owned enterprise?

    If my ISP blocked my VPN connection to my employer, there would be hell to pay.

    Ideas....Ideas.....

     

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

  24.  
    identicon
    Gretchen Huckabay, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 4:11pm

    Cox service

    I've been having problems with email and downloads with Cox. If this is the reason I'm really not happy. I pay for my service and I expect the same.
    I'm not a happy customer at this point.

     

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

  25.  
    identicon
    tim, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 5:11pm

    on the subject of p2p

    how would things like this affect gaming? the main game I play is halo3 on xbox live, and while it uses servers to create the games and connect the players, as soon as the game start it IS a p2p transfer service. Would a paid gaming service then get blocked by isp data sniffers? and would their data sniffing introduce a noticable increase in lag/latency to make games unplayable?

    btw, I am in Australia, where we currently have NO unlimited internet. I have to pay $69/month, to get adsl2+(20mbit theoretical max) with 10gb of peak downloads(10am - 2am) and 15gb of off peak downloads. Once I use this up, my connection speed gets shaped to 64kbps. Believe me, internet shaping is the devil.

     

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

  26.  
    identicon
    ToySouljah, Jan 29th, 2009 @ 12:56am

    Re: on the subject of p2p

    WOW...that's it...I'm not moving down under...lol. I pay $51 and change for unlimited access at 22mbps through TWC (Time Warner Cable - Roadrunner). I've downloaded more than 25gb in one day so I'd be screwed. So far I have not noticed any shaping from TWC, but I also use encrypted servers for usenet access. I do not download from P2P things like most people since I never liked the speeds compared to usenet. I average about 15mbps on usenet, but I am usually browsing as well...lol.

     

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

  27.  
    icon
    Yeebok (profile), Jan 30th, 2009 @ 1:06am

    Yep the net sucks in Australia

    Bah, you lot and your limitless internet for 15c/month (and complaining!) makes me cranky.

    I pay 109/mth for 1500/256 + VOIP (all free calls 'cept to mobiles) and get shaped to 64kb/s past that point. I am pretty sure my ISP does *something* to my P2P, it seems nowhere near as fast as it was even 2 months ago -- 40 seeds and I get 10kb/s. It'll get even better when we get the "save the kiddies" filter. Don't laugh, once one "free and democratic" country gets one in, it'll be the thin end of the wedge.

    Think about the wider scope though - what if YOUR ISP throttles traffic from a site I visit and traffic from that site to me goes through them ? Not only will it affect their own customers, but anyone "downstream".

     

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

  28.  
    identicon
    iPodPal, Feb 21st, 2009 @ 9:14am

    Cox Internet Overcharges

    For 4 years we've been paying Cox Cable $44/mo. for "Premier" service (up to 9MB download) and for the past 2 years getting between 1 and 2Mb download speed. Two techies Cox sent out confirmed the low speeds with no explanation. Cox insists their broadband width is more than needed for our area. They suggest paying for the "Standard" service which we're concerned will cap up at dial-up speeds (some of our speed tests have come in at 54K modem speed). We do no movie or other large file downloads. . . mostly email and research on websites. What recourse do we have? Hopefully not just AT&T. . .
    Are we asking Cox the right questions?
    Thank you for your thoughts on this . . .

     

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

  29.  
    identicon
    Matt Nelson, Mar 5th, 2013 @ 3:45pm

    Re: I just read about this one an hour ago

    I dunno... as of 2013, cox internet can no longer support my webshow / livestream. (all i need is 3-5mbps up consistent) Even after upgrading to their "ultimate" package. I still can't do my livestream anymore. Essentially wasting 3 months of work (i'm relatively new to this). I've called and had techs come to my home just to constantly tell me "everything is fine, it's you or your modem or your computer" So naturally i believed them, formatted several times, bought modems i didn't ever really need, bypassing router's all sorts of shit I never needed to do. Just to find that they've changed something and are unwilling to admit it. So essentially I wasted my time every trying to do this shit. The worst part is they've got a monopoly in my neighborhood so I have 0 other options. The weirdest part is speed tests. With their best and most expensive 4th tier"ultimate package" i barely manage a 2-3mbps up and when i downgraded to their 2n'd tier package ( i think it's called essential or something) And get 15mbps up. But the weird thing is i still can't livestream with settings only at 2300kbps for video and 192kbps for audio. That's fucked imo. It started exactly on January of 2013 as well. The only possibility at this point is traffic shaping completely screwing over my connection when i actually go to utilize it.

     

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This