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?

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Comments on “Comcast's Technical Expert: Mary Bono?”

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31 Comments
DeathsPal (profile) says:

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……

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Me says:

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…

SilverSliver99 says:

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.

Bill says:

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.

Ruin20 (profile) says:

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?

Nick says:

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.

Robert (user link) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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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