Comcast Defends Its Traffic Shaping Efforts
from the on-the-warpath dept
Following the FCC’s decision to investigate Comcast’s traffic shaping efforts, the company has now responded in great detail to the investigation, but has done so in very questionable ways. While the company finally admits that its doing some traffic shaping (no, the minor change to its terms of service doesn’t count), it’s clearly gearing up to fight any allegation that it was wrong in its actions. As Broadband Reports notes, the company uses the word “reasonable” over 40 times. That’s no surprise, since the FCC has said that it would allow “reasonable” network practices. It also uses some questionable metaphors for its actions suggesting that forging packets (oops, sorry, “resets”) are perfectly normal activity, comparing it to a fax machine getting a busy signal. Of course, the difference there is that the fax machine at the other end is actually busy whereas in this situation Comcast gets to arbitrarily (and without any explanation or notice) tell you that the machine on the other end is busy, just because it says so. Even worse, unlike with the “busy signal” you’re not actually informed. You just notice that things don’t work.
Comcast also claims that it’s not “blocking” anything and that the situation is no different than a traffic jam for a car trying to get on a highway, where “one would not claim that the car is ‘blocked’ or ‘prevented’ from entering the freeway. Rather, it is briefly delayed, then permitted onto the freeway in its turn while all other traffic is kept moving as expeditiously as possible.” That sounds good, but again, is simply not related to reality. If you’re waiting to get on the highway, you know what the situation is. You know how far you are from the highway and you can see how much traffic there is in front of you and how fast it’s actually moving. In Comcast’s case, you’d be driving towards the highway on a perfectly open road, and then suddenly, without reason or explanation, Comcast would have your car stop moving and pretend like nothing was wrong. That’s a bit different.
Finally, there’s this beautiful section where the company claims that the FCC shouldn’t take any action because the blogs will keep it honest. Seriously. “The self-policing marketplace and blogosphere, combined with vigilant scrutiny from policymakers, provides an ample check on the reasonableness of such [network management] judgments.” Uh huh. This would be the same blogosphere that was screaming about this for months, and which Comcast has totally ignored, denying and stonewalling its way through every attempt at getting some reasonable response.