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Vuze Petitions FCC To Restrict Traffic Throttling 159

Posted by Zonk
from the keeping-the-tubes-clean dept.
mrspin writes "Vuze, an online video application that uses the peer-to-peer protocol BitTorrent, has petitioned the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to restrict Internet traffic throttling by Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Vuze has been keenly aware of Comcast and the "bandwidth shaping" issue. Vuze filed its "Petition for Rulemaking" (PDF) to urge the FCC to adopt regulations limiting Internet traffic throttling, a practice by which ISPs block or slow the speed at which Internet content, including video files, can be uploaded or downloaded. As readers may remember, back in May, Slashdot discussed the issue of packet shaping and how ISPs threaten to spoil online video."
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Vuze Petitions FCC To Restrict Traffic Throttling

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  • Finally (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JCSoRocks (1142053) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @05:45PM (#21370703)
    I'm glad to see that someone out there is willing to take on Comcast to put an end to this kind of garbage. They may be doing it to protect their product, but the end result is good no matter who you are. Bravo I say!
    • Re:Finally (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Sloppy (14984) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @06:06PM (#21370995) Homepage Journal

      but the end result is good no matter who you are. Bravo I say!

      As much as Comcast sucks, it sounds like you're taking the position that the federal government should have the authority to regulate how networks work. I think that's awful, and endangers just about everyone.

      Comcast should be bitchslapped (and probably at the state level) for fraud: they fail to supply what they lead prospective customers to believe they supply. And in states where there are laws against impersonation, that should be enforced as well (or else repealed).

      But for feds to regulate-away throttling itself, is a nightmare. Networks need to be able to deal with congestion problems, even in cases where they are not overselling or otherwise engaged in fraud. Throttling large transfers to increase the performance of interactive stuff, is a perfectly sane (and fair) way to do it. FCC better keep out of this.

      Also, remember we're talking about feds. Comcast's monopoly, AFAIK, is provided by local governments. That's who should be setting terms. Kicking it it so far up the hierarchy of government, just reduces The People's power in the decision.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kcornia (152859)
        I think the general reasons for desiring government intervention are twofold. One, no one wants to wait around for all the telcos to get sued and dragged through ten years of civil litigation before a decision is reached. Two, and IANAL or a telco buy, but I think the government has these guys on a leash somewhat because we the taxpayers essentially paid for the creation of the network they're now charging for you, and that money was given based on them being common carriers. The reference to ATT trying
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by JesseMcDonald (536341)

          Two, and IANAL or a telco buy [sic], but I think the government has these guys on a leash somewhat because we the taxpayers essentially paid for the creation of the network they're now charging for you [sic], and that money was given based on them being common carriers.

          Comcast (the primary target here) is not a telco. It's trying to move into that market via VoIP, but it never received federal funds to do so; its network and equipment are privately funded and owned, and should remain so. Nationalizing t

      • Fair trade (Score:5, Insightful)

        by davidwr (791652) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @06:28PM (#21371255) Homepage Journal
        The courts, Congress, or a federal agency has the following responsibilities:

        • Prevent fraudulent advertising
        • Prevent unfair trade - if you throttle traffic because of some justifiable reason like bandwidth utilization, you must throttle all traffic on equal terms including your own. If you offer phone or video services you cannot give them preferential treatment.
        • No discrimination based on the content of the data. A bit is a bit is a bit.
        • No discrimination based on the port or protocol without a valid technical reason. "SSH triggers a bug in our routers that crashes our network" is a valid if very embarrassing technical reason. "SSH lets people hide torrents and torrents are big" is not.

        What the feds should NOT do:

        • Prevent shaping to enforce bandwidth-utilization. I may want to pay for a small bits-per-minute cap. My neighbor may want to pay for a higher cap.
        • Prevent shaping to offer quality-of-service tiers, provided that any data was eligible to travel on any tier if the customer wants to pay for it. I may want to pay for guaranteed low-latency and throughput of all traffic. My neighbor may want to pay for that service but only for traffic from YouTube.
        • by Shakrai (717556) *

          Prevent shaping to offer quality-of-service tiers, provided that any data was eligible to travel on any tier if the customer wants to pay for it. I may want to pay for guaranteed low-latency and throughput of all traffic. My neighbor may want to pay for that service but only for traffic from YouTube.

          I agreed with everything else you wrote, but I'm somewhat leery of this. Offering different tiers at the ISP level is all well and good -- nobody is suggesting that the 1,500 byte packet from the $29.95/mo residential customer should have priority over the 1,500 byte packet from the $500/mo business customer. In the ideal world they would also give priority to interactive traffic (ssh/telnet packets, ntp packets, TCP ACKs, gaming, voip, etc) regardless of what tier the customer is in, as such traffic te

        • In theory, I agree with much of what you say -- up to a point.

          If the "tubes" are full, one needs a way to prioritize traffic.

          BUT, there are some exceptions and questions:

          1) Why are the tubes full? Weren't telecom companies given billions of dollars SPECIFICALLYto expand coverage and upgrade capacity? Isn't it true that all of that money was taken and used by the companies, yet there was no measurable increase in coverage or speed to show where the money went?

          If telecom companies are given money to upgrade
      • Throttling large transfers to increase the performance of interactive stuff, is a perfectly sane (and fair) way to do it.

        Perhaps in an earlier paradigm, but there's really a small distinction today between "interactive stuff" and "large transfers". If by the latter you mean file sharing, a lot of the former (e.g. voip, video, etc.) is also using the same p2p technology. In fact, since a lot of p2p traffic, be it interactive or downloading stuff, is encrypted anyway, it's going to be very hard to tell whic

        • by mikael (484)
          Some friends asked me to burn a number of Linux LiveDVD's so they could compare the different releases. In a single afternoon I downloaded around 16 Gigabytes of data, along with using bittorrent to get the Fedora Core 8 LiveDVD (which didn't seem to be on a downloadable ISO file anywhere).
        • by Shakrai (717556) *

          erhaps in an earlier paradigm, but there's really a small distinction today between "interactive stuff"

          Umm, it's not really that hard. Here's some of my iptables rules:

          Flag traffic from my T-Mobile UMA phone:
          iptables -t mangle -A POSTROUTING -o eth0 -s 172.25.42.100 -j TMOBILE

          Flag TCP ACKs:
          iptables -t mangle -A OUTPUT -o eth0 -m length --length 0:52 -p tcp --tcp-flags ALL ACK -j ACKS

          Flag SSH and telnet (only small packets so to avoid giving priority to scp transfers):
          iptables -t mangle -A OUTPUT -o eth0 -p tcp --sport 22:23 -m length --length 0:200 -j INTERACTIVE

          Flag NTP:
          iptables -t mangle -A OUT

      • by rmerry72 (934528)

        But for feds to regulate-away throttling itself, is a nightmare. Networks need to be able to deal with congestion problems, even in cases where they are not overselling or otherwise engaged in fraud. Throttling large transfers to increase the performance of interactive stuff, is a perfectly sane (and fair) way to do it.

        Hate to use a car or "the internet is just tubes" analogy but there is a parallel with motorways, trains, and any heavily congested resource.

        What if motorway companies started with a poli

      • by PhxBlue (562201)

        As much as Comcast sucks, it sounds like you're taking the position that the federal government should have the authority to regulate how networks work.
        Wouldn't that be called "net neutrality"?
      • by Ogemaniac (841129)
        "Comcast should be bitchslapped (and probably at the state level) for fraud: they fail to supply what they lead prospective customers to believe they supply. And in states where there are laws against impersonation, that should be enforced as well (or else repealed)."

        Can you point me to the fraudulent advertising? If you believe that subscribing to broadband means "maximum possible bandwith all of the time" then you are an idiot. No one pretends to offer that, and the big ol' words "up to" are in every
      • it sounds like you're taking the position that the federal government should have the authority to regulate how networks work. I think that's awful, and endangers just about everyone.

        There is nothing new about government regulation of networks. Intentionally blocking competitors on networks is already against the law and has it's roots in common carriage laws that are a hundred years old.

        Overall, I'm with you and think it would be great if networks were free. Everything will be cheaper and easier wh

      • The government should have no say at all about how the networks are run.

        They should however restrict how ISPs can screw consumers.
        Its a subtle difference. They wouldnt be setting network policies directly, only indirectly.
        • I would much rather have my ISP do no filtering. I can filter VoIP stuff myself, if I want to.

          If there's congestion, they need to move to a metered model and start charging more. Then, either people will stop using so damned much bandwidth on BitTorrent, or the ISP will be able to actually build the infrastructure to support it.

          The "need" for filtering/shaping at the ISP level is a complete and utter myth.
          • You get what you pay for.

            I pay $80 AUD/month for 512k unlimited.
            Thats true unlimited with no shaping of any kind.

            Also the ISP is a good one and likes giving out bandwidth liberally on its other plans.
            Their backbone is top notch consequently.
    • People who don't know Vuse should be familiar with the members of "Save the Internet" [slashdot.org] which launched a similar pettition two weeks ago. No one but ATT wants anything but a neutral network.

    • by macz (797860)
      No No No. We don't want the FCC to know that there IS an internet, much less to REGULATE it!
    • Now if someone could do something about Verizon's port 80 (and 25?) blocks on their FIOS service, I might even have an actual choice for ISPs (even if it is only 2).
  • by cdrguru (88047) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @05:48PM (#21370743) Homepage
    A Comcast user isn't going to get much traction in trying to sue Comcast over services they were expecting and not receiving. I doubt Comcast has any more legal obligation to deliver "expected" service than Geico has to deliver "an English muffin with butter and jam" - in reference to their commercials.

    Now this company might actually have some standing to say their product is being blocked. Unfortunately, I don't think anybody has Comcast (or others) over a barrel quite yet. Comcast never agreed to deliver this content, or any other specific content. What did they agree to deliver? Probably not much, and nothing specifically. You aren't guaranteed email, web browsing, VPN or any other service. They didn't define what services they are delivering, what quantities of these services or anything else.

    I think the company already looked at suing Comcast and found out there isn't anything there. The only avenue would be rulemaking or legislation. Probably not much going to happen there either.
    • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @05:53PM (#21370805)
      Actually, the issue isn't blocking or throttling, it's sending packets telling you to disconnect from the sender, and these packets are constructed by comcast to look like they're coming from the peer you're downloading from. Since it's a fraudulent packet, they could get in trouble for that. I'm sure straight-up throttling would be less of an issue, although in that instance they're not living up to their speed claims on purpose. I guess the real problem is that Comcast promised more bandwidth than they could deliver, and now that customers are trying to use it, Comcast is in a bit of a bind.

      I will say this about Comcast, they're a hell of a lot better than Cox.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by farkus888 (1103903) *
        I think this is a better way to attack this, someone who is hosting legal bittorrent files needs to step up and sue comcast for forgery. there is no reason why creating a fake packet with my mac and ip and sending it to someone to cause them to drop my connection should be legally treated any differently than making a fake check with my banks watermark and my signature and using it to get a teller to give you my money. this cognitive disconnect between how the internet and everything else are treated absolu
        • Easy. Damages. You've lost nothing by them blocking a bittorrent transfer. When real fraud occurs (i.e. fake check), then it matters.
          • canonical and or the people who run traditional mirrors of ubuntu have real losses because their bittorrent seeds are being dropped when one end is on comcast. this forces people to either forgo ubuntu where each download is potential future support revenue, or to use one of the mirrors which costs someone bandwith money. remember that those bigger connections often get charged based on bandwith usage to some level even if it is only on overages.
        • by jimsum (587942)
          Why does everyone call these reset packets forged? If the reset packet didn't have the right source and destination information, it wouldn't work. Basically a reset packet is like all TCP packets; it has fields typically called source IP address and port, destination address and port, and a protocol code. If you want to end a connection, you send a reset packet to a destination address and specify the connection to reset using the rest of the address fields. Does the "source" information specify the sen
      • by KWTm (808824) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @06:32PM (#21371309) Journal

        Actually, the issue isn't blocking or throttling, it's sending packets telling you to disconnect from the sender...
        This has been repeated a number of times, and I recognize the truth in this, but you need to remember that the bigger picture is that an ISP is trying to change unilaterally how (and whether) it delivers traffic based on content.

        If we all complain, "Comcast is sending RST packets!" and then eventually Comcast says, "Okay, fine, no more RST packets," and then goes on to do other forms of extreme traffic shaping, then what? No, we want to nip this in the bud: no ISP, Comcast or not, should be allowed to unilaterally decide, "Hey, we don't like this traffic, so I just won't carry it." or "This is for The Good Of The People to Prevent Piracy" (or "Prevent Undermining Our Glorious President" or whatever).

        Moreover, people need to know the implications of traffic shaping / net neutrality / dearth of ISP competition. I was very frustrated about how BitTorrent has been marginalized as "something that only pirates would use". The more we show the lay public the many versatile uses for a protocol like BitTorrent (or any other protocol, really), the more we get a public response.
        • I was very frustrated about how BitTorrent has been marginalized as "something that only pirates would use"

          I think that we're seeing torrents going the way that encryption did: where at one time it was just the realm of geeks, criminals and spies, now it's used by everyone. Explicit use is still mostly limited to those three groups, but through ssl, wireless, and most vpns, encryption is a daily event for most people.

          Likewise, bittorrent was once seen as the realm of pirates, linux geeks and pornographers. While this might still be the case for explicit use, more and more we're seeing it being used by WoW,

        • At the end of the day, it's their network. If you don't want your packets to ride their network, don't use their service. Do you care that they block Microsoft file sharing ports through their network? How about SBC/Yahoo DSL blocking port 25 outbound except to their internal mail servers? In the end, you can always go with a provider who will just give you pipe (Speakeasy), but it's going to cost you a premium (as it should).
          • At the end of the day, it's their network.

            Not if I'm paying for it -- then the part I'm paying for is mine. It's bullshit excuses like "it's their network/content/whatever" that makes sure that the people paying for it have no rights whatsoever, not even the right to get what they're paying for.

            • You're paying for the use of their network. It's not yours. No part of it is yours. When you rent a car, you pay for it's use. It. is. not. yours.
              • Except the fact that its creation was funded by taxpayer dollars?
                • Really? Because I thought it was Comcast and SBC that paid the huge capital expenditures to lay the copper/fiber. Being granted the right to lay copper/fiber is not the same as getting a fist full of taxpayer dollars.
                  • They were given gigantic subsidies and tax benefits in order to lay that copper.
                    • So are airlines. And nuclear power plants. And my favorite, railroads (you know how many miles of land they were given?).

                      I've gotten off track though. Tax subsidies and benefits aren't taxpayer money though (although the two are confused often).

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cromar (1103585)
      Of course, there are the upload/download rates you are supposed to get. Otherwise, why pay for 10Mbps when they can just give you 1bps. It is a clear cut case of fraud. You pay for one thing and get another. If it's not one speed for every protocol, it's not any speed at all: it's simply their whim.
      • You aren't paying for 10Mbps. You're paying for a theoretical maximum of 10Mbps, likely with no minimum guaranteed service. If you want a full, unthrottled 10Mbps connection to the internet, look into a pair of T2s. I can guarantee that you'll be paying more than $40/month though.
    • by AndersOSU (873247) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @05:56PM (#21370845)

      They didn't define what services they are delivering, what quantities of these services or anything else.

      Isn't it precisely the FCC's role to step in and say, "By being a telecom company offering a product labeled as Internet access, you must provide the following:..."

      ATT couldn't get away with saying that calls to Montgomery county aren't included in phone service, Comcast shouldn't be able to get away with saying bit torrent isn't included in internet service.
      • by bagboy (630125)
        Internet delivery is a non-regulated service - no matter if you are a telecom or not. Most telecom companies have a separate sub-company that deals with non-regulated services, such as internet or voip. Therefore they "MUST" provide nothing more than an access port and other ancillary services as part of your contract (ie, email accounts, dns, etc...) just like you don't have to buy service from them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by faloi (738831)
      Now this company might actually have some standing to say their product is being blocked.

      Think about the grander scheme though. Vuze comes out discussing Comcast having, essentially, hampered the service for all users of the service. Remember, Comcast isn't throttling the bandwidth, they're shaping packets to drop connections on both ends of the pipe...Comcast customers and non-Comcast customers. If someone that participated in a service with, oh...let's say 9.3 million subscribers with each individual
      • Comcast will simply come out and say "Hey, we gave you users a chance. Now, we throttle Australian-ISP style". You'll get unlimited Internet. It'll just be at 6-8Mbps in short bursts, and the rest throttled down to 256kbps.

        It comes down to people wanting champagne internet connectivity on a beer budget. Want 10Mbps up and down? Pay for a real internet connection.

    • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland @ y a hoo.com> on Thursday November 15, 2007 @06:20PM (#21371169) Homepage Journal
      If Gieco sold their insurance with "unlimited English muffins with butter and jam" , they damn well better provide all the muffins and jam I want. Even if it is more then what they want to give away.
      • by rossz (67331)
        Geico includes muffins and jam!?

        Damn, I should have gone with Geico. :(
    • by gd2shoe (747932)

      I doubt Comcast has any more legal obligation to deliver "expected" service than Geico has to deliver "an English muffin with butter and jam"

      Wrong, sorry. Geico was extremly careful to include a disclaimer in the add. Specifically the gecko stating "that's a complete dramatization of course, but you get my point" (from memory). Comcast has not disclaimed unusual limitations to what they claim is Internet access. Geico is not AS obligated as Comcast.
      (Legally speaking, we have yet to see just how oblig

  • Does the FCC have the authority to restrict throttling? I thought wired communications, like cable TV, were largely out of their control?
    • by teebob21 (947095)

      Are you serious or trying to be funny?? The FCC is the regulatory body for basically all telecommunications; thus Federal Communications Commission. Anybody who's in the communications business in the US is the FCC's bitch. Especially cable TV, with Kevin Martin currently wearing the FCC jester's hat.

      The top paragraph of this page [fcc.gov] pretty much sums it up: All your base are belong to us^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H "The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent United States government agency, dire

      • by omeomi (675045)
        Are you serious or trying to be funny??

        I'm not trying to be funny, I'm asking a question. There's clearly some difference, since the FCC can regulate content on broadcast TV and Radio, and can fine broadcasters hundreds of thousands of dollars for a nipple slip during the Super Bowl, but cable stations like HBO and Cinemax can show all the nipples they want. Not to mention the internet. So they don't have complete ability to control *everything* when it comes to communications. My question is do they hav
  • You can have my bandwidth when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    that this company thinks that this company thinks that removing P2P throttling will help streaming video?

    And yes, I did RTFA and saw that they're delivering streaming media via the bittorent protocol. I say it's they're own damn fault for using a protocol which is well known for huge bandwidth use and no latency requirements to deliver media with critical latency requirements. If you don't want the ISPs messing with your video stream try not making your video stream look like a file download.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      The question is more along the lines of 'why should it be fine for them to mess with file downloads but not streaming video?'
    • by kcornia (152859)
      How about the telcos not worry about being an arbiter of what traffic is ok and what traffic isn't. The latency argument is a red herring. Internet providers, let the law worry about copyright infringement and quit using it to cover the fact that you've oversold your bandwidth now that more than a minority of your customers want to use everything you guaranteed.

    • by Ilgaz (86384) *

      that this company thinks that this company thinks that removing P2P throttling will help streaming video?

      And yes, I did RTFA and saw that they're delivering streaming media via the bittorent protocol. I say it's they're own damn fault for using a protocol which is well known for huge bandwidth use and no latency requirements to deliver media with critical latency requirements. If you don't want the ISPs messing with your video stream try not making your video stream look like a file download.

      Actually some numbers of companies managed to do such P2P sharing for streaming audiow/video years ago and they are still doing it. It didn't break down anything and in fact actualy helped ISPs since a truely popular live Radio would have to hit 3-4 very high bandwidth IPs and distributed locally.

      For example Octoshape is endorsed/used by Deutsche Welle TV, EBU
      http://www.octoshape.com/about/octoshape.asp [octoshape.com]

      I am all for actual, pure UDP streaming with auto fallback such as Quicktime, Real but... People choose t

  • Who is Vuze? Well... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 15, 2007 @06:02PM (#21370945)
    Vuze would be the Azureus [sourceforge.net] guys.

    Now remove the tag that prominently displays your inability to use Google, you apes.
  • Vuze is correct in thinking that protocols and the Internet connections as a whole shouldn't be throttled, in theory, however in practice ISPs are limited in how much available bandwidth they have. As much as I don't like it, there is often a requirement that ISPs throttle some of the more bandwidth intensive protocols so that everyone on their network can have an enjoyable Internet experience.

    Now, ideally, I think that the ISPs should be actively lighting up lots of new fiber between each other (peering)
    • don't sell bandwidth you can't supply... what's that, it would be more expensive? awww shucks.
      TFB.
      • by Burdell (228580)
        Do you really want to pay $400+/month for a 3 meg guaranteed-bandwidth DSL? I just got a quote for a high-speed link from a "top tier" backbone provider. I can get high-quality backbone bandwidth for about $30/meg/month, but then it costs about the same for the loop to carry that bandwidth to my network facility. Customers expect ISPs to have network redundancy, so to sell that 3 meg DSL I have to pay $360/month for 3 meg of Internet bandwidth to two backbones. I also have to pay the telco for the DSL l
    • by Chirs (87576) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @06:19PM (#21371145)
      "As much as I don't like it, there is often a requirement that ISPs throttle some of the more bandwidth intensive protocols so that everyone on their network can have an enjoyable Internet experience."

      I know...how about they just make people pay for the bandwidth they use?

      They could offer X GB/month packages, where bigger X means bigger monthly fees. They could even get fancy and say that traffic between the hours of 1am and 7am doesn't count, or counts less.

      There are all sorts of ways for them to ensure they don't lose money while still giving unfettered access.
      • It wouldn't work, simply because in many parts of the country, there is a competitive landscape.

        If Comcast said "10G/Month for $40", then Verizon could say "yeah, well, 20G/month for $40". To which Verizon would be forced to say "Okay, unlimited", and then they're back where they started except now they actually have promised unlimited.

        And even if they promised 10G/Month, I'm guessing a huge part of their customers are lucky to download 1G/month. These people are the goofballs who get high speed internet
        • Wait, capitalism wouldn't work because of competition? Pulled some crazy double-logic there. This is exactly why Comcast (and everyone else) should be forced to simply charge what they have too to deliver what they promise, or promise less. If someone else (e.g. Verizon) can do it better for less, consumers win.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by eth1 (94901)
        I think one of the better ways to do this is to sell a package with X GB of unthrottled transfer per month. As you approach X, instead of just letting you blow past it and chargeing for the extra bits, start throttling the sustained transfer speed down while leaving short bursts unthrottled.

        You can pay more to increase X, but there's no fear of getting cut off or ending up with a large bandwidth bill to make people wary of buying a 'limited' or 'metered' service.

        The huge bandwidth users will either have to
    • by Wesley Felter (138342) <wesley@felter.org> on Thursday November 15, 2007 @06:21PM (#21371185) Homepage
      there is often a requirement that ISPs throttle some of the more bandwidth intensive protocols so that everyone on their network can have an enjoyable Internet experience.

      No; ISPs could throttle the bandwidth-hogging customers while remaining ignorant of protocols.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Volante3192 (953645)
      Vuze is correct in thinking that protocols and the Internet connections as a whole shouldn't be throttled, in theory, however in practice ISPs are limited in how much available bandwidth they have.

      This practice is countered by the ISP's willingness to advertize bandwidth WELL in excess of what they have. Perhaps ISPs should just use real numbers, not mythical ones some marketing genius picked out of a hat.

      It's the same with airlines and overbooking. It should just be illegal to sell more than you can reas
    • by PhantomHarlock (189617) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @06:32PM (#21371311)
      It's definitely an imperfect solution to a complicated problem. As a previous poster put it:

      Also, remember we're talking about feds. Comcast's monopoly, AFAIK, is provided by local governments. That's who should be setting terms. Kicking it it so far up the hierarchy of government, just reduces The People's power in the decision.


      The root issue here is the 'last mile' problem. A bunch of competing cable and phone providers would result a mass and tangle of wire going everywhere. A government enforced monopoly (which is what we have) is not much better, but it's more aesthetic. What we really need is a proliferation of secure wireless based services, much like how satellite TV competes with cable TV. Unfortunately, consumer grade satellite internet has horrible latency and other problems. I think the answer is some type of cellular or mesh solution. Some companies use long range wifi and other directional antenna based systems, and mesh networks are pretty awesome if you can get enough people to participate. There also needs to be enough competition among all of these services to foster innovation. So more than one wireless provider for any given service area.

      Again we run up against the FCC, which allocates wireless frequency spectrums here in the US. There is a lot of artificial and real scarcity - with the most innovation happening on the unlicensed bands (2.4ghz and it's multiple 5.8 ghz).

      Internet connectivity (fiber optic) as a public utility is interesting - but only if it is done on a local level. Anything bigger than that, say, statewide, is bound to become mismanaged and horrible. (just think of the DMV...)

      Comcast is just trying to protect its bandwidth, but as the parent poster mentions, the way they are doing is potentially dubious.

      Also, to correct a misnomer from another post, their principal purpose is not to -stream- video via torrent (although they are now experimenting with that using their internal player) but to allow downloads of very large video files that people then watch locally.

      I am a Vuze / Azureus user and so far this is the only good solution I've found for hosting my legal original HD videos on the web short of running a legal torrent server myself, which wouldn't get as much exposure. Vuze has also set up a system where you can sell downloadable video content for a price if you wish, a boon to indepdendent video producers.

      Some things that they have done recently have been aggrivating (re-compressing files to a semi-proprietary format) but on the whole they have the right idea. And they are the textbook example of a company that is the most hurt by bandwidth throttling if it is done to an extreme as Comcast is doing (completely denying a download session)

      Unlike Comcast itself, Vuze provides an outlet for speciality video producers to get their stuff out there.
      • by langelgjm (860756)

        with the most innovation happening on the unlicensed bands (2.4ghz and it's multiple 5.8 ghz).

        You, sir, have an interesting definition of multiple.

      • by dodobh (65811)
        You could force last mile unbundling, in return for access rights.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kazrath (822492)
      I really do not like the available bandwidth argument. 15 years ago there was no home based broadband and the argument was still being made that there was not enough bandwidth. A decade ago AOL lost a HUGE suit over it.

      These companies are holding a monopoly and raking in the cash. If you take into account just the internet sector has something like 13 million subscribers that 650 million gross a month. Their cable TV pretty much uses the same bandwidth also. Why are they not investing their huge profit
  • by Silentknyght (1042778) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @06:19PM (#21371141)
    (1) FCC gets petition to prohibit bandwidth throttling
    (2) all bandwidth is "unthrottled"
    (3) all (at least US-based) ISPs have lack-of-bandwidth issues
    (4a) all ISPs revoke any claim to "unlimited bandwidth" in a revised agreement notice upon which you have no say, and begin charging per-kb.
    (4b) all ISPs actually perform the service upgrades for which they were already paid years ago.

    Methinks that if 1 leads to 2, then it leads to 4a. 4b is there just for giggles. They'll never actually do that, of course.
  • Tag system (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wylfing (144940) <brian AT wylfing DOT net> on Thursday November 15, 2007 @06:20PM (#21371157) Homepage Journal

    Completely off-topic, but what the deuce is going on with tags lately? To the adjectives absurdly long, meaningless, and obscure, now we can add obscene.

    • by Ilgaz (86384) *
      I think I did the neccesary feedback via turning them off. It is turned off at

      http://slashdot.org/users.pl?op=edittags [slashdot.org] (must be logged in of course).

      I think if enough (99%) turns them off, CmdrTaco would remove that junk "Web 2.0" feature. There are some serious offensive tags I saw especially personal attacks to not-so-loved authors. Now marking every Anti Apple story as "FUD" is something, personal attacks are much more serious things which would degrade image of Slashdot and may even create legal trouble
      • by stinerman (812158)
        Yeah, they don't add anything to the discussion. They're just a way to post an opinion to the front page.
      • The tags are the moral equivalent to wikipedia defacing. They are amusing, and you knew it was going to happen. //reads them for the humor value
    • by illumin8 (148082)

      Completely off-topic, but what the deuce is going on with tags lately? To the adjectives absurdly long, meaningless, and obscure, now we can add obscene.

      In case anyone is wondering what Vuze actually is (based on the obscene tag, I guess a few are), this is a company started by the developers of Azureus, the popular Bittorent client on Sourceforge. It's basically a new version of Azureus that hides all of the "technical" bittorent junk behind a media player interface. I think they're trying to make money

  • by pcause (209643) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @06:20PM (#21371163)
    The truth is that all ISPs rely on the fact that if they are selling 5Mbps t 10 people they don't have to have 50Mbps of available backbone. They assume that web applications are using the connections intermittently or that if you have a long running connection it doesn't matter if it slows down from time to time. If everyone on their 5Mpbs lines was downloading large files the best they'd each get would be something like 500Kbps assuming a 10-1 contention rate and most ISPs are are 20-1 or 50-1.
    P2P traffic will slow down if there is a lot of it or if there is other long running traffic, without Comcast doing anything.

    The bigger issue is that our connections are a shared resource. I it fair for you to get all of the bandwidth and leave me with slower response for my web traffic just because you want to download movies. Should we all get an equal slice. The only way for the ISP to do this is traffic shape - limiting the amount of total available bandwidth available for high use protocols like P2P traffic. Ding this means that when I try to load my web page or shoot a dragon in my MMOG there is some bandwidth left to give me a decent response.

    Now, you could say that all the ISPs should have enough backbone to supply each of us with full time use of the bandwidth that the ISP talks about providing. The problem is that this would cost a HUGE amount of money and your bill would up 10-50 times what you now pay (depending on your ISPs contention factor).

    The so called "net neutrality" debate is mis-named. The question is who pays for the cost of infrastructure and who makes the profits?
    • by Stray7Xi (698337)
      Ok because you want faster service for your web/mmo traffic some other traffic should never get any bandwidth? More bandwidth isn't the crux of the problem even if it would solve the problem. They can throttle P2P without blocking it. Instead they decided to kill all connections.

      In the end they just need to give SLA's with a minimum guaranteed bandwidth and also additional burst capability based on network load. Sure it may be something like 256Kbps guaranteed 12Mbps burst which would really make them l
    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @07:09PM (#21371749)

      Now, you could say that all the ISPs should have enough backbone to supply each of us with full time use of the bandwidth that the ISP talks about providing.

      Nope. ISPs should, however, be required to advertise what they're actually offering rather than misleading potential customers.

      The problem is that this would cost a HUGE amount of money and your bill would up 10-50 times what you now pay (depending on your ISPs contention factor).

      Please. Comcast does not charge cost plus a markup for service. They charge what maximized profit because in many locations they have a government enforced monopoly and because their infrastructure was subsidized by our tax dollars to the tune of billions. They don't compete because no one else can get access to the last mile public right of ways needed to lay lines and because the government won't shell out billions more to establish a second player and won't require Comcast share the lines with competitors.

      The so called "net neutrality" debate is mis-named.

      Net neutrality is a different issue altogether, despite propaganda trying to confuse the topic. Net neutrality is simply advocating a law that says ISPs can't treat traffic differently depending upon the source and destination of the traffic. That is to say, they can throttle all bittorrent traffic, but they can't throttle all bittorrent traffic except traffic to a service they are offering or service to a company they get paid extra by.

      The question is who pays for the cost of infrastructure and who makes the profits?

      The entrenched telecos make the profits, because their lobbying dollars are more influential than the threat to politicians posed by the chance that voters will be informed of how new laws affect them and vote on the issue. The infrastructure has already been paid for largely by the US taxpayer. In fact, we've already paid more per person than Sweden, which has similar population density and who subsidized the entire infrastructure and have much more widespread coverage. They have faster speeds and pay a fraction of what we do. This is despite a huge misappropriation scandal there. That means in the US we pay more monthly. after having paid more in taxes, and we have a significantly inferior system. What does that tell you aside from the fact that telecos in the US are more greedy and our government is significantly more corrupt.

      Finally, we have granted these big companies immunity from prosecution for breaking a huge number of laws like copyright violation, child pornography laws, libel and slander laws, etc. We grant them this protection under the guise of their being "common carriers" but many of them are not officially bound by the restrictions we place on other common carriers. Instead they have all the benefits of common carriers, but eschew the responsibility (to carry all traffic impartially without censorship or discrimination). It is clear to me that our current laws and the way these companies operate is not in the interests of the people, but only in the interests of milking as much money as possible. If we can publicize what is happening and get people to care about how far the US is falling behind other industrialized nations, maybe we can see some real improvement and move back to the top 10 internet enabled countries in the world, where we need to be if we hope to salvage our economy.

      • by cdrguru (88047)
        It has nothing whatsoever to do with common carrier. It is called DMCA Safe Harbor provisions.

        A whole different thing that any sort of "common carrier" status.
        • It has nothing whatsoever to do with common carrier. It is called DMCA Safe Harbor provisions.

          The DMCA regards the distribution of tools that can be used to bypass encryption based DRM on copyrighted materials. The safe harbor provision mostly apply to online publishers hosting content, not ISPs. The DMCA does not grant ISPs the right to make and distribute copies of copyrighted works, like every time they transmit a copy of a Web page from router to router to an eventual client.

    • by Ilgaz (86384) *
      Yes, there is no guaranteed bandwidth so those companies still buy "real" T1, T3 lines.

      I wonder one thing. How come those ISPs aren't hurt by millions of people actually streaming/downloading flv files over HTTP, the protocol every "real" media player falls back as last resort?

      ISPs have something deeper against P2P technology and its becoming household item via legal distributors such as Vuze, Bittorrent(.com) etc.

      In fact, lets say one day a hit movie ships legally online exact same time as cinemas. It is r
    • Peering (Score:2, Insightful)

      by raidfibre (1181749)
      I would like to propose for a minute that if everyone has faster connections, and everyone uses p2p protocols to transfer some of their content, that bandwidth peering will go up, and ISPs won't really have to pay a lot more for the OC48s. I realize that a lot of that is in upkeep/exotic hardware.

      I guess what I'm saying is that this is a possibility, and a study should be done to see what the REAL effect of p2p is. If I'm connected to 10 other people in the Boston area on Comcast's network, would I REALLY b
    • by MulluskO (305219)
      Seems like they're taking a page from the banker's textbook.
  • New Linux ISOs (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FudRucker (866063)
    when popular Linux distros get released there is no way in hell the servers can keep up with users wanting the new distro that just got released, and BitTorrent is the only way to get a copy, not all BitTorrent users are downloading music & video. and not all music & video is copywrite infringement, and how dare the ISPs tell customers how they use the bandwidth they are paying for!!!

    i hope the FCC accepts and enforces this petition...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cdrguru (88047)
      How dare they indeed. Except you aren't paying for raw "bandwidth", you are paying for a service that the ISP is providing. The terms of that service and what it consists of are not clearly defined. Nowhere does it say that specific protocols, transports and applications are either allowed or disallowed.

      Pretty much, you bought a pig in a poke.
  • I'm going to be a bit blunt here, but I think that what I'm going to say is well-deserved and is certainly backed up by the facts. It appears that Vuze has based its business plan on not buying sufficient bandwidth to deliver its products and then taking the bandwidth from the ISPs of its customers. It states as much in its petition to the FCC, where it writes: "Torrent technologies make use of resources -- bandwidth, storage, and processing power -- on a decentralized basis, allowing large data transfers

"Mach was the greatest intellectual fraud in the last ten years." "What about X?" "I said `intellectual'." ;login, 9/1990

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