Comcast Sorta, But Not Really, Admits To Content Jamming

from the it's-all-in-the-weasel-language dept

Internet News is reporting that Comcast has put its “speed limit in writing.” This is in response to the stories from last year about how Comcast was jamming certain kinds of traffic without being clear about it to users. However, the details suggest that the headline writer is being a bit generous. Comcast hasn’t come close to putting the actual limits in writing. All it actually did was sneak some weasel language into its terms of service, saying that the company “uses reasonable network management practices that are consistent with industry standards.” That’s hardly being upfront about what’s going on in a manner that will help subscribers actually understand why certain apps appear to not be working properly. Rather than better informing customers, this seems like a move designed to get the FCC to drop its investigation of the company’s traffic shaping practices — especially since the phrase used is copied straight from an FCC statement.

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Companies: comcast

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Comments on “Comcast Sorta, But Not Really, Admits To Content Jamming”

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20 Comments
meddows says:

too remote for Comcast

I live in the black hole of their service area. Last year, my connection dropped so badly that I can no longer use a switch– much less my routers (wired or wireless). I have had FOUR of their morons come out and confirm it is too slow, but state they can’t figure out how to fix, it. I have an open service ticket with them since April 2007. I run a Support Dept, and know more than any of the idiots they keep sending out here. Apparently, owning a truck and ladder makes you qualified to service broadband and no– I have not other high speed options where I am.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

industry standards

The present industry standards are just to let you do your thing. They want to change that but are still working on that.

Ever since I heard about this I’ve been seeding 100% legal torrents. Fedora DVDs, two movies called “Steal this movie”, a ISO called Open CD that has a lot of open source programs. All of them were found on Pirate Bay, strangely enough. Before this started I had 24M down with 8M advertised. I now get 4M down with 8M advertised and I haven’t had my bit torrent open for two weeks. They can’t slow down my bit torrent (encrypted) so they just slow everything.

Jake Zebell (user link) says:

Comcast Bandwidth 1Mb = 8Mb

Ok, so I called up Comcast last night to report some trouble I have been having with downloading perfectly legit movies, i.e. Netflix streaming subscription. I reported to them that over the last few months that we have subscribed to 8Mb service we have yet to reach even 5Mb. According to their promotional material this level of subscription is supposed to be able to “burst” to 12Mb.

The tech had me go out to a couple of different bandwidth speed test sites and report to him the results. Each test had unique results with the lowest being 1.19 and the highest being 3.27Mb.

Get this, his response was that was completely within range!!!!!!! Anything between 1Mb and 10 Mb is considered an acceptable level of service. First of all why do I pay them for 1Mb when it is supposed to be 8Mb. And second, why would they state an upper limit on acceptable bandwidth.

Then I asked why Comcast “shapes” their bandwidth. He responded with a dumbfounded answer like he had no idea. Then his next sentence, and I am not joking, was “You mean where we throttle down your speed because you are using too much?”

These corps have their head so far up their arses that the techs are paid to lie for them.

Get it together Comcast!

Anonymous Coward says:

I worked in the MSO for many years. It is a fact the MSO HSD are using different means to rate limite customers. The difference here is, other cable companies use the rate limiting in the event one of the transits links went down and there isn’t enough bandwidth to go out through the secondary transist. In this fashion, rate limiting P2P, etc comes in effect to help all cusomters out.

Some cable companies are now starting charge and limit only for additional bandwidth being used. This way, the 5% that abuses the services are only effected and not the rest of the customers.

Now, Comcast, on the other hand rate limits everthing and all customers as you have read. So, instead of punishing the 5% customers that abuse the services, all customers are punished cause of the 5%.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Why dont they just install some more equipment on their end so ALL of their customers can get the FULL 8MB service they are paying for instead of saying its just the theoretical maximum speed depending on how many people around you use. It’s quite possible to provide a constant 8MB service to ALL of their customers but they dont want to spend a measly 2 million or so on additional hardware to support their users

inc says:

They basically tell you right here that they do whatever the fuck they want to degrade your traffic, “during periods of high network congestion” whatever that means. No need to prove that there is any congestion but they can just slow you down whenever.

How does Comcast manage its network?

Comcast uses various tools and techniques to manage its network, deliver the Service, and ensure compliance with this Policy and the Subscriber Agreement. These tools and techniques are dynamic, like the network and its usage, and can and do change frequently. For example, these network management activities may include (i) identifying spam and preventing its delivery to customer e-mail accounts, (ii) detecting malicious Internet traffic and preventing the distribution of viruses or other harmful code or content, (iii) temporarily delaying peer-to-peer sessions (or sessions using other applications or protocols) during periods of high network congestion, (iv) limiting the number of peer-to-peer sessions during periods of high network congestion, and (v) using other tools and techniques that Comcast may be required to implement in order to meet its goal of delivering the best possible broadband Internet experience to all of its customers.

Monarch says:

Too many morons commenting. First of all, the peeps you call for support have NO CLUE what is being done on a higher network level.
When they say a certain amount of bandwidth is acceptable, that is what management deems acceptable and that is what they are responsible for from the support end.
The support peeps, nor their supervisors, nor their managers have any say or ability to change what is done with the throttling of bandwidth.
Oh, and another thing, there is NO SUCH thing as Speed with an internet connection when talking bandwidth. (Bandwidth =/ Speed) (Latency = Speed) A person could essentially have faster speeds with a dialup connection than with a cable, fiber or DSL connection. They may not have the same amount of bandwidth to utilize for whatever they are doing online, but they may have faster speeds with dialup. Oh, and speed test sites are useless for troubleshooting bandwidth issues.

BTW: I do not work for Comcast, but have been working for Service Providers for the past 10 years. I’m no shill for Residential ISP’s, I’m as frustrated as the rest of you, and dislike Comcast as much as anyone, as they unfortunately rape my wallet each month for the pity service they provide me. It’s just a pet peeve of mine to read some peoples whinning about things they only have a minor clue about.

John Doe says:

I use to be with TimeWarner and everything went great here in Houston, TX. When comcast took over, I’ve gotten nothing but outages out of the blue. This whole week around 8-9pm nothing would work.

In the good old days of TW, I would host a boyscout web page to display news and events for the parents and kids. Guess what? After comcast, they totally blocked off my port 80.

Could someone explain this usage “abuse” to me? If you pay for unlimited txting on your cell and get like 500,000 txt that month will they charger you overages? Hell, these day, most likely.

Honestly, if they don’t want us using the full advertised speed, then lower everyone’s up/down speed. In the mean time give us a stable and reliable connection! I don’t want to be doing something important internet related and be cut off!

Anonymous Coward says:

Megabit vs Megabyte

Be careful of what measurement you are using. bits or bytes. I see this mistake ALL the time.

8 megabits to 1 megabyte
the abbreviation Mbps = megaBIT per second , where as MBps = MegaBYTE per second

Downloads and Speed test usually rate in MegaBYTES not MegaBITS

ISPs always rate in MegaBITS because A) Back in dial up days, modems could only send in BITS, so it’s always been that way B) from a network perspective a bit is the lowest denominator and C) for marketing purposes bits yield a bigger number.

Take your 8Mbps Comcast service… divide by 8 to get the MegaBYTE rating and you will see that a 1MBps download IS what you are paying for and TOTALLY acceptable.
IF you were only getting 1Mbps then your download speed would max out at only 125KBps

In my Humble Opinion….
Many popular sites have too much traffic to give everyone 1MBps of traffic for each ocnnection. Smaller sites being hosted by some shared hosting probably can’t give each person 1MBps either. So finding a download site that has enough bandwidth to max out your comcast connection aren’t easy to find.

Jake Zebell (user link) says:

Re: Megabit vs Megabyte

I am very aware of bit versus byte! I have an advanced degree in CS. I know what the speed tests are saying even when they are much less than clear. I also understand plenty about overhead.

I also understand that they sell it in bits and not bytes. This is why I used the small “b”. I performed the tests in front of a technician today who had no idea how to fix it other than to call his supervisor. He messed around with the rg cable signal strength some by using less splitters, moving the modem closer to the house connection, etc… His supervisor then told him to tell me that they were going to look into possible issues at the local hub.

@Monarch
I am “deeply sorry” for using the term speed when I posted earlier. I know the difference and expected that I would be understood. My average “!= bandwidth” is around 170ms. So that could also be an indicator.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: Megabit vs Megabyte

“So finding a download site that has enough bandwidth to max out your comcast connection aren’t easy to find.”

ATI. I had their web site up to 3MBps downloading their catalyst drivers (multiple times). Now I can’t get it above 550KBps.

Yes, I am using the correct capitalization. You’re on a site called TechDirt. People here probably know this. The Speak Easy speed test also is measured in bits just like the advertisements.

Ken Hanscom (user link) says:

Lack of Clarity = PR Disaster

I love how companies attempt try to implement “stealth” tactics to manage the bandwidth of customers without being clear about in in the terms of service. In almost every case, the PR nightmare becomes worse than the initial disclosure.

Apparently someone is sitting in the back-room apparently think they are being sneaky. Why don’t they learn?

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