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Comcast Corp. actively interferes with attempts by some of its high-speed Internet subscribers to share files online, a move that runs counter to the tradition of treating all types of Net traffic equally.
The interference, which The Associated Press confirmed through nationwide tests, is the most drastic example yet of data discrimination by a U.S. Internet service provider. It involves company computers masquerading as those of its users.
AP via Yahoo! News: Woman fined for hammer fit at Comcast [news.yahoo.com]
"I smashed a keyboard, knocked over a monitor ... and I went to hit the telephone," Shaw [75!] said. "I figured, 'Hey, my telephone is screwed up, so is yours.'"
Another fine example of why one should not mess with little old ladies! :)
Of course, I changed to another ISP the same day.
There contention is that they are blocking such traffic but because of the excessive bandwidth P2P services use. By that token it could applied to youtube or any other site that requires a lot of bandwidth.
But when Comcast uses its servers to send packets that do not originate from a users computer, or when they begin falsifying network traffic -- that's illegal.
I'm all for Net Neutrality, but I do understand that many ISP's will employ tactics to better manage their networks.
Well there is two sides to that issue, one they want to offer tiered service to consumers which is absolutely great, I'm all for customer choice. It would certainly weed out the people abusing the service with constant uploading and downloading 24/7.
On the other hand they want to double dip and charge the content provider for faster service. In essence the consumer isn't getting what they are paying for because the ISP will be restricting the speed of sites and services that have not paid the fee. If they are going to go that route they should be forced to put a giant asterisk next to the speed stating that the speed is dependant on whether the site has paid us or not. Better yet be forced to state which site will be able to reach that speed.
From the AP report:
Comcast subscriber Robb Topolski, who discovered the blocking earlier this year and traced it to reset packets, pointed out that a Canadian company called Sandvine Inc. sells equipment that promises to save bandwidth for Internet service providers by managing and redirecting file-sharing traffic.
BitTorrent Inc. President Ashwin Navin said that the interference method on Comcast's network is consistent with Sandvine's technology. Sandvine did not respond to a request for comment.
Analysis of AP's analysis by Mathew Ingram of the Canada's Globe and Mail:
Like those "unlimited" cellphone data plans that turn out not to be unlimited at all, this kind of thing is another example of how the cable companies and telcos try to suck and blow at the same time: they sell you their unlimited or high-speed plans, bragging about all the things you can do with them, and then charge or block you as soon as you try and do any of those things.
I completely agree and this thread was mixing apples and oranges in that regard. An ISP filtering file sharing traffic to decrease network usage is completely different than an ISP filtering YouTube because YouTube didn't page a licensing fee to them.
The same Internet service plan I'm offered in my area is considerably less in more urban areas, time and time again companies that have monopolies have shown they will take advantage of that fact. Allowing them to place the burden of the costs on the content provider will only squeeze the little guys out and allow the mass media companies to keep their foot squarely on top of what is available to consumers. The internet right now has a nice even playing field, providing my server is fast enough I can deliver any content I want at the same speed abc.com can.
If you take for example the recent success of Radiohead with the release of their album as a download that may not have been possible if ISP's were restricting the speeds of their server or not allowing bit torrents downlaods (I read many of the downloads were via bit torrent because of slow initial speeds on their server). Radiohead most likely could have afforded to pay such a fee but if it was small town band that made a big splash it would have failed miserably.
Again there's two sides here, tiered pricing for the consumer and tiered pricing for the content provider. The cost of the service should be placed upon the consumer and not the content provider. Tiered pricing for the consumer is great idea as it provides the consumer with choice. I would suggest simply limiting the bandwidth available and not allow restrictions on how the consumer uses that bandwidth. No content provider should receive preferential treatment, the only limiting factor for them should be what they can afford for a server.
Getting back to Comcast blocking the bit torrent downloads frankly what they did should be illegal. Interfering with a private communication between you and another party without notice should not be tolerated under any circumstances. To quote the original article its as if the operator broke into a telephone conversation and said "Sorry, I have to hang up. Good bye."
That wouldn't be allowed on the telephone and I don't see why the Internet should be any different.
This comes from an investigation by New York State Attorney General office into the company's marketing practices.
They offer laptop cards used for wireless Internet access with "an unlimited monthly usage plan" for $59.99, but terminated the accounts of more than 13,000 users nationwide because of excessive network use.