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.

Filed Under: false advertising, terms of service, traffic shaping
Companies: comcast


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Feb 2008 @ 1:54am

    POPPY COCK!

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

  • identicon
    Comcast Client, 8 Feb 2008 @ 2:25am

    I just downloaded a torrent today as well as seeded some while i was Downloading. So i don't really see the issue, but i don't DL full length HD Dvd's so maybe for some people who are constantly UL and DL there are some limitations .

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Feb 2008 @ 2:57am

    Phil Ken Sebben would be proud.

    "Ha ha! Dangly Parts."!

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

  • identicon
    molex333, 8 Feb 2008 @ 4:57am

    sluggish

    I run a completely legal FTP site. No torrents. Comcast throttles me down at least twice a week. I have to call and complain to them. They always say that there is nothing wrong. Magically, within minutes, my account operates within normal speed! Reasonable network practices my ass!

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

  • identicon
    meddows, 8 Feb 2008 @ 5:31am

    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.

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

  • identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, 8 Feb 2008 @ 5:44am

    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.

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

  • identicon
    Jake Zebell, 8 Feb 2008 @ 6:34am

    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!

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

    • identicon
      R.H., 9 Feb 2008 @ 1:40pm

      Re: Comcast Bandwidth 1Mb = 8Mb

      I'm a Comcast subscriber too and well, the contract says UP TO 8Mb/s with 'Power Boost' UP TO 12Mb/s so your range is actually 'normal'. Unfortunately unless you have a business class account with them you won't get any actual bandwidth guarantees.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous, 8 Feb 2008 @ 6:41am

    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%.

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

    • identicon
      Deserving Name, 8 Feb 2008 @ 6:45am

      Re: Abuse

      By abusing you mean using what they are paying for right? I mean paying for an unlimited 3 Mb connection does mean that you get to use the full 3Mb every second of the month right? According to you that would be abuse, right?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Feb 2008 @ 7:56am

      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

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

  • identicon
    inc, 8 Feb 2008 @ 6:57am

    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.

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

  • identicon
    Monarch, 8 Feb 2008 @ 7:27am

    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.

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

  • identicon
    John Doe, 8 Feb 2008 @ 7:28am

    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!

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

  • identicon
    Jake Henry, 8 Feb 2008 @ 8:18am

    True

    I worked for Comcast and it's true. We do turn it down for user that are using alot of bandwidth. It's a fact. I hate the company and that's why I left

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Feb 2008 @ 8:33am

    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.

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

    • identicon
      Jake Zebell, 8 Feb 2008 @ 10:34am

      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.

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

    • identicon
      Chronno S. Trigger, 9 Feb 2008 @ 7:40am

      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.

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

  • identicon
    Ken Hanscom, 9 Feb 2008 @ 9:24am

    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?

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


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