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Comcast, Cox Slow BitTorrent Traffic All Day 342

Posted by timothy
from the enhancing-consumerness dept.
narramissic writes "A study by the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems found that Comcast and Cox Communications are slowing BitTorrent traffic at all times of day, not just peak hours. Comcast was found to be interrupting at least 30% of BitTorrent upload attempts around the clock. At noon, Comcast was interfering with more than 80% of BitTorrent traffic, but it was also slowing more than 60% of BitTorrent traffic at other times, including midnight, 3 a.m. and 8 p.m. Eastern Time in the U.S., the time zone where Comcast is based. Cox was interfering with 100% of the BitTorrent traffic at 1 a.m., 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. Eastern Time. Comcast spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice downplayed the results saying, 'P-to-p traffic doesn't necessarily follow normal traffic flows.'"
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Comcast, Cox Slow BitTorrent Traffic All Day

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  • W T F (Score:5, Insightful)

    by n3v (412497) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @05:39PM (#23425020)
    I'm paying for bandwidth, I should be able to use 100% of what I paid for. If their infrastructure can't handle it - maybe they should go back to selling tv.
    • I'd probably settle for 50%.

      I get fiber-to-the-home. I may have to call at some point, as I'm supposed to get 100 mbits, and their test actually results in more like 60. But you know, a doller/month/megabit is a damned good deal. Full duplex, too -- I often seed torrents at one megabyte per second.

      The difference is, of course, Fiber rocks, and also, my ISP actually believes in net neutrality, or claims to. If they're throttling my traffic, fine, I'm still downloading at 300 kilobytes/second. Again, kilobyte
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Xanius (955737)
        Only downloading at 300KB/s? My average speed on torrents when downloading TV shows I miss is 1.4MB/s(Megabytes since you want to point it out).
  • Well, yeah (Score:4, Insightful)

    by entmike (469980) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @05:39PM (#23425036) Homepage

    Comcast spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice downplayed the results saying, 'P-to-p traffic doesn't necessarily follow normal traffic flows.'"
    It would if they'd let it.
  • by Ninlar (949142) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @05:40PM (#23425038) Homepage
    It is horrible. My experience is that all of your internet traffic grinds to a halt while running a BitTorrent client for more than a couple hours. It takes forever to even load a web page. I usually have to kill my BitTorrent client and wait about five minutes for things to return to normal.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I hate everything about Cox. Their customer service is horrible and not at all knowledgeable. I had to explain to the Cox agent how much I was paying for cable while she was looking at my account. I've had mistakes made in my service, slow speeds, long wait times, and billing mistakes. Comcast was much, much better to work with, and if that doesn't give you a good idea about how bad Cox was, nothing really will.

      On the internet end it's really slow, too. On their highest tier of home internet service, I g
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cayenne8 (626475)
        "I hate everything about Cox. Their customer service is horrible and not at all knowledgeable. I had to explain to the Cox agent how much I was paying for cable while she was looking at my account. I've had mistakes made in my service, slow speeds, long wait times, and billing mistakes. Comcast was much, much better to work with, and if that doesn't give you a good idea about how bad Cox was, nothing really will."

        Interesting, I've had the complete opposite track record with Cox. I have an business interne

        • by rfunches (800928)

          You actually have an SLA...chances are GP doesn't, like most of us residential customers. There's nothing we can point to contractually that will (should?) make them jump and fix the problem now. Personally, I want to pay Comcast as little as possible per month. In general they don't try to go the extra mile for me, so I don't place a premium on their service.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2008 @05:48PM (#23425146)
      I have Cox and run bittorrent 24/7 and have never had bandwidth problems at all. Are you maxing out your upstream? If so, you could be choking your internet connection. I always set my bittorrent client to upload at about 10KB less than my maximum upstream. If I let it go to maximum, everything grinds to a halt.
      • by Traxxas (20074)
        I have cox and do the same by limiting my upstream. I have no problems here.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by puppyfox (833883)
        Indeed. Also about the speed, I have had their middle tier service for a while, and in the end it depends on where I am. My first apartment was fine, then got horrible, I moved, and the new place is great: I get up to 400kbps+ on bittorrent and 1000kbps+ from a fast normal server (like MSDN Subscription downloads). My former roommate at the old apartment complained and complained, and eventually they added capacity to his area as well, which really made a difference. It's unsettling how variable it is, but
      • by Hatta (162192)
        Same here, use Cox, throttle upload, no problems. Also, use encryption.
  • You still suck. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Thursday May 15, 2008 @05:40PM (#23425040)

    Comcast spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice downplayed the results saying, 'P-to-p traffic doesn't necessarily follow normal traffic flows.'
    Of course it doesn't. I can setup a download and let it run all night so I can have it in the morning.

    But that does not address you blocking any of the traffic.
    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      The Internet users who participated in the study may not be representative of Internet users overall, she added. The users who run the Glasnost tests may be "heavy users of p-to-p," Fitzmaurice said.

      http://broadband.mpi-sws.mpg.de/transparency/bttest.php [mpi-sws.mpg.de]
      The Glasnost webpage has been responsive, but the test has been throwing up a busy signal for me since yesterday.
      Anyone else?

  • by snowraver1 (1052510) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @05:41PM (#23425054)
    'P-to-p traffic doesn't necessarily follow normal traffic flows.'

    Nope it sure doesn't when you implement layer 4 filtering and then configure it to block/messwith/"delay" p2p apps. Who knew?
  • by urcreepyneighbor (1171755) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @05:42PM (#23425066)

    Comcast issued a statement repeating its earlier position that it "does not, has not, and will not block any Web sites or online applications," including BitTorrent.
    That's no different than amputating a man's legs and then demanding he thank you for not murdering him.
    • No, they're not demanding that you thank them for anything, just keep the money flowing :)
  • Will they change? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MrCrassic (994046) <<li.ame> <ta> <detacerped>> on Thursday May 15, 2008 @05:44PM (#23425092) Journal

    Now the real question is whether there will be enough pressure for Comcast to remove this unnecessary throttling. Given their track record with many of their other questionable services, I doubt that they will.

    • by rolfwind (528248)
      I assume it is necessary (for them) otherwise they wouldn't be doing it.

      I'll admit, I don't know much cable bandwidth, but wouldn't it be wise for them to start laying fiber and cable side by side and then do a seemless switch one day?

      It seems cable vs fiber is a losing battle for cable.
      • by rfunches (800928)

        With DOCSIS 3.0 [wikipedia.org] cable can run as high as 152/108. And no, that's not in kbps.

        When they implement DOCSIS 3.0 is a different question. I asked a Comcast tech if he had any idea about when they would implement it in the Northern Virginia area. He laughed in my face.

        And Comcast is running a set of [inaccurate] commercials touting their fiber optic network -- they already run some FTTN. The trick is FTTH, and the last mile is the most expensive part of the infrastructure. (The commercial implies that Comcast r

  • Sounds about right (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bersl2 (689221) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @05:45PM (#23425108) Journal
    Cox is my ISP. Sometimes, after using BitTorrent, regardless of what is being transferred, my cable modem's connection to their system will be severed, and it will not return for a time which more or less seems to be directly proportional to the time spent using the torrent.

    I remember that someone here on /. told me that they had the same phenomenon happen to them when using VoIP.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dunezone (899268)
      This happens with Comcast in my area outside of Chicago. My connection runs fine without running any torrents. If I turn on my torrent all hell breaks lose, and I only run one torrent download/upload at a time. My connection will drop every 5-10 minutes, severing my internet access. It will return by itself in 2-3 minutes or if I restart the modem.

      My torrent settings are standard, encryption with max 50 simultaneous connections a time on a single torrent. I actually used to be able to put 75 but recently
      • I had this on my Motorola router; when I would set number of allowed connections to unlimited, after reaching a certain speed and certain number of connections, it would cut off and stop working for 30 or so seconds.
        Now, going straight to the internet, not through the router, that doesn't happen.
        Could be something with the modems.
        Torrents are getting fast nowadays.
      • My connection will drop every 5-10 minutes, severing my internet access. It will return by itself in 2-3 minutes or if I restart the modem.

        I used to have a similar problem, except with eMule. I'd fire it up, it would run for a few minutes, then my internet connection would go down.

        Turns out it was my router, a D-link DI-524. It has a tiny connection tracking table, and reboots if you go over.. which happened reguarly when using eMule's KAD network and all the UDP packets that implies. If I disabled KAD, I no longer had the problem.

        You could be seeing something similar with the DHT that is used in some BitTorrent clients, or really any fe

  • by StaticEngine (135635) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @05:45PM (#23425112) Homepage
    I don't really use BitTorrent much at all. Sure, I downloaded some HiDef video to test out content delivery over my home LAN from a server to my HDTV, but I don't scour the net for movies and music like I used to. I just don't have the time and interest.

    However, I did just grab the new Nine Inch Nails album, and as a former musician myself, I still dabble in remixing on occasion. Thus, when I went to go grab the freely available multitracks for remixing, I was somewhat surprised that they were only available via Torrent. That's smart on the part of Trent Reznor and his tech team (why bog down only his own servers with information that he's freely sharing with everyone?), it's bad for other artists and remixers if their access to this media is going to be limited because of the "taint" associated with BitTorrent.

    I'm not sure there's a solution here. Any distributed network will inevitably be used for some amount of "gray market" trafficking, but it would be nice if we preferred and promoted technologies for their Common Good usage rather than limiting them by their potential negative effects. And by "we" I mean the corporations who gouge us for $100 each month just to shuttle electrons around.
    • it's bad for other artists and remixers if their access to this media is going to be limited because of the "taint" associated with BitTorrent.

      But you can apply that same reasoning to any service offered across the internet. What if they'd just posted it on mirrored web servers? Is Comcast going to start limiting web traffic? Or FTP? I suppose I shouldn't give them any ideas.

      From a technology standpoint it just seems like a retarded policy. The rise of BitTorrent traffic only means the content avai

  • To be fair... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gzerphey (1006177)
    To be fair what she is refering to about "normal traffic patterns" is the sustained nature of P2P. That said there are much better ways to go about traffic control then what they are doing. I love P2P and see an enormous amount of potential in the future. At some point the ISPs and P2P programs need to find a way to get along. What that is, I don't know, but we have to figure it out somehow.

    Thoughts? (and please dont just cry about the evil ISPs. We honestly need to have a constructive conversation a
    • At some point the ISPs and P2P programs need to find a way to get along.

      Here's a thought. Since most p2p sites feature lots of ads and generate lots of hits, why don't the ISPs run P2P sites themselves and gain that revenue stream?
  • WOW (Score:5, Insightful)

    by azzuth (1177007) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @05:53PM (#23425248)
    World of Warcraft used torrents to patch the game when last i was playing. My ISP US Cable throttled the traffic severely and I always had to download the patch using other methods. There are many legitimate uses for torrents.

    Limiting bittorrent because it can be used for illegal downloads is like scrambling epsn because people make illegal bets on football games.
  • Call Comcast during a business day and select the choices to cancel service. A customer retention person will come on and ask why. Say you're switching to DSL at $25 a month. They'll lower your rate to 33. And in the meantime, it's 3:00pm PST and pretty much every peer that tries to leech from me is getting killed by lovely Comcast.
  • by vsage3 (718267) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @06:05PM (#23425406)
    Here [mpi-sws.mpg.de] is a link to the actual study (toward the bottom are the pertinent charts). Looking at the third pair of bar graphs, they readily admit

    Note that the data for Cox is more noisy than Comcast, due to the smaller number of measured hosts.
    In fact, the "100%" number for Cox comes from a whopping sample size of TWO.

    Now I shouldn't be defending them because I have Cox, but I'd just like to say I get anywhere from 30-300kBps when downloading torrents which is not terrible but ultimately lags far behind what I could get back in the urban area where my parents live that uses Bright House.
    • by rrohbeck (944847)

      In fact, the "100%" number for Cox comes from a whopping sample size of TWO.
      No, the total number of tests with 100% blocking was 7. All of them from 1am to 5am, interestingly enough. During peak hours, the blocking rate was more like 50%.
      Seems to me that they're not inspecting 100% of all connections due to limited resources. During peak daytime hours, some connections slip through.
  • by alxkit (941262) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @06:08PM (#23425454)
    better title: `cox blocks around the clocks`
  • I always make sure that I use the transport encryption settings within Azureus. Enable RC4 encryption block non-encrypted both ways and enable the "cryptoport" tracker extension is on. Then I make sure I cap everything out at 80% of my total upload. Sure it lowers my total connections but anything to keep from getting throttled.

    This is the only thing I have seen that will allow me to get speeds on torrent networks where they should be. If I didn't do this Cox cable red flag me for days and my internet dra

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I have Cox internet in Rhode Island, and I have not experienced any throttling. The difference is that there is a strong presence of fios from Verzion, which is known to not mess with your connection. Cox, and all these ISP networks actually have tons of extra capacity. The proof came for me when fios first arrived. Cox flipped a magic switch, and increased their standard service to 5Mb down/2Mb up, to directly match the specs and pricing of a basic fios connection. While I won't complain about the huge inc
  • Is there a good reason that common carrier non-discrimination was removed from data networks?

    Does that reason outweigh the benefits of a non-discriminatory communications network?

    Should we not restore at least the non-discrimination provisions of common carrier for data networks?

    Would non-discrimination not automatically, and with minimal government interference for good actors, result in net neutrality?

    The only downside I can immediately come up with is that less regulation means less opportunity for graft
  • Comcast lies yet again! News at 11.

    Yawn.

  • Blocking P2P pure and simple is saying that your computer can connect to some computers (web sites) on the Internet to exchange data, but can't connect to other computers (private P2P users) to exchange data.

    Net Neutrality is obviously already dead as long as this is true.

  • 'P-to-p traffic doesn't necessarily follow normal traffic flows.'
    and being a deplorable bitch doesnt mean that you wont be taken as one, either.





    you gotta low how bold corporate shills can speak due to years of republican administration spoilage.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by darkpixel2k (623900)
      you gotta low how bold corporate shills can speak due to years of republican administration spoilage.

      how bold corporate shills can speak

      What? She's not allowed to speak? Or she's not allowed to speak boldly? Or is it that she works for a corporation? Isn't this (at least where I am, and Comcast is) America? Ever hear of the first amendment? Be you a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Marxists, or Communist--you can't restrict the freedom of speech in America.

      republican administration spoilage
  • No Issues. I have been on torrents and uploading at the same speed for well over 2 years with no issues. I have tracked a solid 70k/sec upload speed for months and months and my charts show no throttling at all. I am on the best residential connection Cox offers and I cannot see how my experience would be any different than another users unless Cox is identifying the tracker and blocking if they recognize it (TPB/*nova/etc). Cox would be unable to identify the trackers I use and maybe that lets me get away
  • I am a subscriber to Comcast in a metropolitan area. Whenever I've used BitTorrent, the upload/download speeds were actually very fast. Perhaps Comcast doesn't throttle traffic in all areas.

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