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The Internet Businesses Communications

Comcast's Throttling Plan Has 'Disconnect User' Option 299

Posted by timothy
from the laters dept.
newtley writes "Comcast's new people, not protocols scheme may mean high speed for some, but by no means all. It's also created a draconian 'disconnect' option for use against anyone who fails to toe the Comcast line. But, says Robb Topolski, the Net protocol expert who originally uncovered Comcast's blatant efforts to control its customers, the plan does offer key take-aways, telling P2P users on Comcast how to do what they do without the risk of corporate interference."
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Comcast's Throttling Plan Has 'Disconnect User' Option

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  • Slow News Day (Score:5, Informative)

    by LostCluster (625375) * on Sunday September 21, 2008 @06:53PM (#25097977)
    Excuse me? Where's the news here? We already knew that Comcast's bandwidth cap will be (starting next month) 250 GB... break it once and you're warned, break it twice your service address is cut off for a year.
    • by amdpox (1308283)
      Yes, I could swear I read this exact same thing last week. In a Slashdot summary.
      • Re:Slow News Day (Score:5, Insightful)

        by traycerb (728174) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @08:27PM (#25098695)

        there's more to it than the cumulative cap. they also have an elaborate throttling scheme based on how much you're currently downloading:

        The issue will be their strange throttling scheme, which puts users in a "penalty box" for using more than 70% of available bandwidth in any 15 minute window and releases them from the box when their activity drops below 50%.

        It has the net effect of decreasing the effective sustained bandwidth. I don't have Comcast, and I think the cumulative limits are fair, but this strikes me as unfair. What if I don't come close to the monthly limits, but I'm streaming/DLing something that will take longer than 15min? If congestion isn't an issue, why not let someone DL at the capabilities of their connection?

        • Re:Slow News Day (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Mistakill (965922) on Monday September 22, 2008 @01:56AM (#25100579)
          yes the "70% of available bandwidth" is the issue which troubles me... im not a comcast user, but see it this way... 250GB per month? i can keep an eye on that... but id have no way of knowing what the currently available bandwidth from my isp was at any given time, so i would have no way of knowing whether im over or near such a target
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          It has the net effect of decreasing the effective sustained bandwidth. I don't have Comcast, and I think the cumulative limits are fair, but this strikes me as unfair. What if I don't come close to the monthly limits, but I'm streaming/DLing something that will take longer than 15min? If congestion isn't an issue, why not let someone DL at the capabilities of their connection?

          to make it even more interesting, since Concast doesn't tell us how much we're using (it's up to us they say), what if our metering t

    • And (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @07:14PM (#25098143)

      If you want/need more, you can get a business class account. I've had business class Internet for many years now. Currently it's with Cox cable, but I've used Speakeasy and Qwest in the past. Business class accounts get you a number of things, like static IPs and such, but one of them is no bandwidth cap. Whatever speed you pay for, you are free to use as much as you like and you'll hear not a peep out of them.

      However, you are going to pay more for it. Where a normal cable account might be $50/month, expect to pay over $100/month for a business account. However, if you are the kind of person who needs lots and lots of bandwidth, it seems only fair you should pay more for it.

      You have to remember that consumer connections are something like a big LAN. Everyone gets to have nice fast access, but only if people are nice and share it. You use your fast speed when you need it, let others have it. For example I work for a university. We have a nice fast network, I've got gig to my desktop. We've got plenty of upstream too. I've gotten things like 100+mbit download speeds on Linux ISOs and so on. Wonderful, however everyone on campus can't do that 24/7 full bore. If we did, well there's be maybe 300kbps of bandwidth for each of us. It is fast and cheap because we all share.

      Same deal on your consumer grade cable modem. If you want a nice cheap price and a fast link, you need to be willing to share with others and that means not running it at full capacity all the time. Otherwise you either have to settle for less bandwidth, or greater costs. Me, I choose the greater cost option and then do as I please.

      • Re:And (Score:5, Informative)

        by aztektum (170569) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @07:36PM (#25098299)

        My Comcast business account is only $5/mo more than my "home" service. And for 10 bucks on top of that I get 5 IPs. Sure only the upstream is a boost over my residential (384Kbps to 1Mbps) but I don't pay for satellite or cable TV, which is how I justified the extra cost.

        Although I note my torrent speeds are still poo (I'm trying to download Intrepid Ibex Alpha 6 and I'm gettin' 25-30K). I have Googled around and found nothing about if they're screwing with P2P on their biz accounts.

        • The difference between residential service and business class must depend on where you are in the country. I switched from standard residential service to business class with a fixed IP address and my download speed went from about 2 Mbps to over 20 Mbps. You also get different support staff that, in my case, actually knew what they were doing. Again, in my case, the additional $10/mo was well worth it. Unfortunately, based on other posts, your mileage may vary considerably.
          • by pnutjam (523990)
            Comcast has their heads up their ass when it comes to business accounts. I have 3 business comcast accounts I manage, 2 with brighthouse, and 3 w/ AT&T. Brighthouse is the hands down best because I have a single point of contact who just gets everything done. AT&T is ok, I call into a national line for help, but I also have a local rep for installs and to lean on when things are crappy.
            Comcast goes wrong from the start. My set up experience was I called a number and they took my number and cal
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by kramerd (1227006)

        In my area, comcast is the only non-dialup option. Business class is not available. The best I can get is 8 d / 1 up for $60 a month, but the best I have ever seen is about 300 kb down / 70 kb up ( i get about 700 kb d / 200 kb u for 10 seconds, then it falls quickly to 10 kb for both and slowly goes up to 2-300 kb). I am sure that many people (probably a material percentage of comcast users) are in the same boat.

        I don't have a problem with paying a higher cost, I will just offset it by canceling my comcast

      • Plant (Score:4, Insightful)

        by M1rth (790840) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @09:15PM (#25099041)

        I find it really funny how every time this comes up, rather than fulfill the contractual obligations they originally signed with people, Comcrap has a bunch of its plants hop onto Slashdot screaming "pay us more money."

        However, if you are the kind of person who needs lots and lots of bandwidth, it seems only fair you should pay more for it.

        I'm not the person who needs "lots and lots of bandwidth." I expect that, rather than be let get away with this crap, Comcrap and the other telcos be required to live up to their contractual obligations.

        They've screwed the customer, committed an amazing number of breaches of contract, and now want to have a do-over and get off scot free. I don't think we, the people, should let them.

      • Re:And (Score:5, Interesting)

        by WidescreenFreak (830043) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @09:22PM (#25099101) Homepage Journal
        Oh, you mean on the Comcast lines that were partially funded by U.S. taxpayer dollars that were given to Comcast (and others) to get the Internet infrastructure to reach as many people as possible? And now those lines that were funded by the public are to become new profit centers under the guise of "network management"? And you don't have a problem with that?

        How about instead Comcast actually do what they were supposed to do and build capable infrastructure that has enough bandwidth for everyone to do anything?

        Personally, I would love for the General Accounting Office to take a nice, close look at Comcast's finances to find out exactly where that taxpayer money went to. Looks more like it went into Comcast's advertising budget so that they could oversell their capacity instead of putting it into the hardware that could have prevented all of this in the first place.

        Verizon has millions of miles of dark fibre and have said numerous times that they have plenty of bandwidth as it is. What's Comcast's excuse?
      • Re:And (Score:4, Informative)

        by compro01 (777531) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @10:05PM (#25099365)

        That's presuming they'll sell you a business account in a residential area, which they won't always do.

    • by Dan541 (1032000)

      Out of interest, how do you break a bandwidth cap?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by b4upoo (166390)

      There is no way they should be allowed to cut anyone off or ban anyone for a year. In some areas they are a monopoly. And they advertised high speed internet service and have never, at any time, provided true high speed service. It's time for them to spend some time in prison which in my case would mean that they would follow the former owner of local cable service named Adelphia. It's time to cut the nonsense and have a real, legal, definition of high speed internet service and require Comcast to pr

  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Sunday September 21, 2008 @06:57PM (#25098005)

    Isn't this what you guys wanted? Comcast is being told they're can't discrimate against so-called-p2p protocols... so they're just counting bits and if you use to many, you get a warning, then you're out. Only people who are using their Internet connection as their primary HDTV input will be affected at the proposed level.

    There's enough room in 250 GB to watch what you want 16 hours a day... sleep the other eight or you'll go insane!

    • by Fëanáro (130986) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @07:11PM (#25098117)

      The cap sounds pretty reasonable, but the warmings and disconnects are weird to say the least.

      If you are over your alloted bandwith for a month, would it not be logical to block you for the rest of the month only, or even give you an option to buy more?

      The warning and disconnect seems more like a scare tactic, "do not even dare to come close to this limit"

      • by LostCluster (625375) * on Sunday September 21, 2008 @07:18PM (#25098173)

        All of the major cell phone companies give you a free text message and/or wireless web page that tells you as best as they can how many minutes/bytes you've used this billing cycle and such. Why Comcast can't do the same for their bandwidth limit is beyond me.

        • by nachoboy (107025) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @07:32PM (#25098275)

          All of the major cell phone companies give you a free text message and/or wireless web page that tells you as best as they can how many minutes/bytes you've used this billing cycle and such. Why Comcast can't do the same for their bandwidth limit is beyond me.

          Then you haven't thought very hard about it from Comcast's point of view. It makes perfect business sense. Developing a customer-ready bandwidth usage meter has very real fixed and recurring costs to Comcast, costs which have no potential to increase profits now or in the future. If customers are going to switch to or from Comcast, it will be because of the cap, not because of the availability of a usage meter.

          Additionally, an easily-viewable bandwidth meter would in all probability only encourage customers to get much closer to the limit than they would otherwise. It's fear-based policy. The more of their customers that decide "I'd better not download this movie/album/ISO/whatever, I might hit my bandwidth cap", the better. Comcast wants customers to stay in the dark regarding usage and be as conservative as possible in their internet activities, while still pretending to offer the full 250 GB.

          • "Additionally, an easily-viewable bandwidth meter would in all probability only encourage customers to get much closer to the limit than they would otherwise. It's fear-based policy. The more of their customers that decide "I'd better not download this movie/album/ISO/whatever, I might hit my bandwidth cap", the better. Comcast wants customers to stay in the dark regarding usage and be as conservative as possible in their internet activities, while still pretending to offer the full 250 GB."

            Gee! What you al

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Burz (138833)

              Gee! What you all say to get in a political dig. Keeping track of your bits is a solved problem for the customer. You all just have to use them. As for "pretending"? Well if you can go up to your limit? Then there's no "pretend", any more than there's "pretend" in your checking account.

              Um, excuse you! In this case we get a "checking account" with NO available statements or receipts to track the balance. Its just the customer's word against the bank's.

              They are setting up their operations managers for an opportunity to fraudulently keep trimming the higher-usage customers off their bell curve.

              • by Ostracus (1354233) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @10:34PM (#25099575) Journal

                "They are setting up their operations managers for an opportunity to fraudulently keep trimming the higher-usage customers off their bell curve."

                http://help.comcast.net/content/faq/Frequently-Asked-Questions-about-Excessive-Use#tracking [comcast.net]

                How does Comcast help its customers track their usage so they can avoid exceeding the limit?

                We are in the process of creating a usage meter that will measure consumption for the Comcast account which will be available in the coming months. In the meantime, we offer a meter for free with our McAfee security suite available at http://security.comcast.net/ [comcast.net]

                There are many online tools customers can download and use to measure their consumption. Customers can find such tools by simply doing a Web search - for example, a search for "bandwidth meter" will provide some options. Customers using multiple PCs should just be aware that they will need to measure and combine their total monthly usage in order to identify the data usage for their entire account. Comcast cannot verify that any tools customers may find themselves and use to measure data usage are accurate or without other flaws. Comcast's determination of each customer account's data usage is final.

                It's important to note that when our new threshold goes into effect on October 1,2008 it will not change our practice around excessive use. We will continue to call only the top users who consume the most data each month, which is usually well over 250GB, which is the same practice we've had in place for several years.

                250Gb/Month should be interpreted as start of a billing cycle to end of a billing cycle. Just call and ask at the first day of a billing cycle and set your meter appropriately. You can figure out the rest.

            • by JazzLad (935151) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @10:54PM (#25099683) Homepage

              First: My bank displays the amount avbl. in my checking account 24/7, I don't have to keep track.
              Second: Even if I had to keep track (which I happen to do anyway), it's not like I make as many payments as I do online interactions.
              Third: This is more akin to a cell provider threatening to cut off service if you go over on your minutes and not providing you access to how many you used - you could, of course, keep track yourself, but who does?
              Fourth: it's == it is, not possessive it.

          • by 1u3hr (530656)
            Additionally, an easily-viewable bandwidth meter would in all probability only encourage customers to get much closer to the limit than they would otherwise.

            Doesn't seem too hard. NetStat Live [analogx.com] seems quite reliable. Of course, the ISP isn't going to just roll over if this contradicts their (secret) meter level, but it gives you some idea of what's gong on.

        • by Kohath (38547)

          What if they don't want to? Why should they want to? To make you happy? Why wouldn't they just assume you'd find something else to complain about?

        • by Pathwalker (103) *

          Back in 1998, when I was on tci-mets for cable modem service, they had a handy website you could check to see how much data you had received/sent in the previous month.

          There wasn't any cap - they had all of the modems uncapped, and encouraged people to use as much bandwidth as they could. METS was their testbed network, and they wanted it under a heavy load.

          10 years ago, I had a faster, cheaper connection than I can get at home today.

      • by Free the Cowards (1280296) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @07:27PM (#25098239)

        I agree. The cap is a perfectly good idea. Giving users no way to see how close they are to their cap, and cutting people off for exceeding it, are terrible ideas.

        I see no reason why I, a moderate internet user, should subsidize that guy down the street who downloads 1TB of torrents every month. He uses more, he should pay more.

        But the way Comcast is going about it is stupid. They're trying to have their cake and eat it too, essentially. An explicit cap can lead to more traffic, since now people know what the limit is and what they're really paying for, and they may decide that they should use more of what they're paying for. I think they're trying to limit the top people without causing this sort of increase, and doing this by having an explicit cap that still happens to be vague and dire.

        If you were to do this right, you should really have a system where many different caps are available. You'd have a default one, probably well under 250GB, that comes with a service that's cheaper than what they offer now. Then you can pay more to increase your cap. You'd be able to monitor your usage, get a warning well before you hit the cap, and increase your account's cap at any time just by requesting it. And if you do hit your cap, then your account gets throttled to dialup speeds until your 30-day sliding window average decreases below the cap level.

        Of course this would make far too much sense so Comcast won't do it, but it's what they ought to do.

        • by Techman83 (949264)

          If you were to do this right, you should really have a system where many different caps are available. You'd have a default one, probably well under 250GB, that comes with a service that's cheaper than what they offer now. Then you can pay more to increase your cap. You'd be able to monitor your usage, get a warning well before you hit the cap, and increase your account's cap at any time just by requesting it. And if you do hit your cap, then your account gets throttled to dialup speeds until your 30-day sliding window average decreases below the cap level.

          Of course this would make far too much sense so Comcast won't do it, but it's what they ought to do.

          That's how nearly every company in Australia works. However there are few that have a limit and whenever you go over, they charge the moon for data and our caps don't even get close to 250GB. Most that advertise big caps (100-150GB) usually offer the bulk of the data withing small "off-peak" windows, that you would have to flood your link with traffic to get even close to the limit, a another amount for peered traffic (usually within your city/state, which is irrelevant unless your employer is using a peere

        • by jonwil (467024)

          Your proposal is what ISPs here in Australia do and it works great, most ISPs have different speeds (256k, 512k, 1.5mbps, 8mbps, ADSL2 where available etc) and different caps (10gb, 20gb, 50gb or whatever)

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by billcopc (196330)

        Yep that's the feeling I get as well. If Comcast wanted to play nice, they'd simply throttle after the cap was reached.

        Frankly, if some kiddie was chugging 250gb of furry pr0n each month, I'd limit that user to 128kbit.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by the_B0fh (208483)

          Damnit, what do you have against furry pr0n?! Some of the finest people I know are furries! Or so they say. *ahem*

    • by ndege (12658)

      ...you get a warning, then you're out...

      The way you said that makes me think Comcast should yell, in a middle-eastern voice, "No soup for you!"

    • I use P2P

      Left online, I upload at about 40kb/s that is 100gb/month, just in uploads.

      Downloads tend to be about the same amount as uploads, if not more. I also enjoy watching TV online, heavy gaming, and a number of other things.

      Online gaming uses a good amount of bandwidth, figure about 10gig a month between two users. General internet usage adds up. Then of course online TV and radio...

      All in all, I could see hitting 250g. I'll be cutting uploads to 30kb/s, which will leave me more elbow ro
  • Or... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kneo24 (688412) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @07:00PM (#25098031) Homepage

    Comcast could do what they should be doing. Number 1 is using the tax-payer money that they were given to upgrade their infrastructures. Number 2 being that they could give a quality service.

    Just saying...

  • Question (Score:5, Funny)

    by clang_jangle (975789) * on Sunday September 21, 2008 @07:02PM (#25098049) Journal
    I don't do a lot of torrenting -- only when I really want something I can't find for sale, or to download "legit" stuff -- but I've found that TOR works really well against comcast's nonsense. It isn't like I'm downloading much, maybe ten to fifteen GB on a busy month (and zero most months). Before I found TOR, I'd start a torrent and my connection would be cut off within an hour or two. I could reestablish it by powercycling the cable router, but then would have it happen again in a few minutes. Then, I started spoofing my MAC address, which seemed to buy a few hours each time before the same thing would happen. Finally, I installed TOR and now it just works, at least with rtorrent.
    I have read that some people believe that using torrent over TOR is abusive, but I never saw an explanation of why that would be so. If I operate a node (give back) it's fair, isn't it? And if not, why not?
    • Re:Question (Score:5, Informative)

      by LostCluster (625375) * on Sunday September 21, 2008 @07:05PM (#25098071)

      That's the solution to the old model of blocking you... under the new plan that'll just put you deeper in the whole because adding all of TOR's routing information just makes your packets bigger. And bigger packets mean more bits against the 250 GB.

      • I don't get anywhere near the 250GB cap anyway, but I was kind of hoping someone could explain why using TOR for torrents might be considered "evil".
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by neuromanc3r (1119631)
          Basically because TOR's aim is to protect free speech and privacy on the internet, not to allow people to do torrenting, which probably uses disproportionately much bandwidth and other resources.
        • Because you're choking the TOR network by using it for bittorrent.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Cyberax (705495)

      PLEASE! DON'T USE TOR FOR TORRENT!

      Really, you're abusing the system. It's NOT designed to carry such high loads.

    • Re:Question (Score:4, Informative)

      by hax0r_this (1073148) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @07:09PM (#25098103)
      Torrenting over TOR is incredibly slow, I typically get maybe 3-5kbps, as opposed to 150-800 without it.
    • Re:Question (Score:5, Interesting)

      by pwizard2 (920421) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @07:13PM (#25098127)

      I have read that some people believe that using torrent over TOR is abusive, but I never saw an explanation of why that would be so. If I operate a node (give back) it's fair, isn't it? And if not, why not?

      Full disclosure: I'm in the Don't-use-Tor-for-torrenting camp.

      I think the issue depends on how much you give back vs. how much you take. If your node is running 24/7 and you aren't limiting how much bandwidth goes through it (since it eats up your own bandwidth) I say torrent away. Whatever you're downloading is your business, BTw. What I take issue with are the people that leech off the Tor network by sending GB of data through it without giving anything back. (leeching http/text doesn't count as being bad, IMO, b/c it 's too small to make much of a difference)

      • Thank you, that's a reasonable explanation and you have set my conscience at ease -- I'll sleep a bit better tonight. I thought it was *probably* OK, because it does appear I'm contributing more than I'm using, but I just wasn't 100% sure if maybe there was some obscure reason why that would still be wrong. I do run a node 24/7 unlimited for the duration of my torrent sessions, and my router always shows that the node comes out ahead. I'm still well within the 250GB cap doing that.
        BTW, my torrents are not
        • 220 up/110 down

          Ooops, I meant 220 down/110 up.

        • by Simon80 (874052)
          It would probably be better to send only the tracker traffic through tor, since that is very light traffic, and use encryption on the rest of the traffic. I'm not sure if that would be enough to fool the inspection software, but if you ever test it and find out, feel free to post a reply to this message with your results, I would want to know.
    • Re:Question (Score:5, Informative)

      by Free the Cowards (1280296) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @07:17PM (#25098169)

      It really depends on how much you give back.

      Remember, Tor uses onion routing which means that every packet you send or receive goes through many nodes to get to you. This effectively multiplies your bandwidth usage by a factor of perhaps 5-10, depending on how many hops your packets travel. (I don't really know what a typical number would be.)

      So, you run a node. Do you process 5-10x as much traffic as you torrent? If so, great. If you're only passing an amount of traffic equal to what you torrent, or worse less, then you are definitely abusing the system.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        I don't really know what a typical number would be.

        3.

        You to an intermediary.
        Intermediary to exit node.
        Exit node to destination.

        There's been a great deal of discussion over the possibility of any further benefit to anonymity by adding more than one intermediary hop, but no significant evidence has been put forward that it would (any attack that would disclose the origin through one intermediary would work through many); so in the meantime we conserve the bandwidth of all those other nodes.

        • Thanks for the information. That's much lower than I thought it would be. Are your attacks which can work through many intermediaries theoretical or practical? It seems to me that adding intermediaries would make the problem much more difficult for an attacker in a practical sense, even if he could theoretically just apply his attack many times. With 3 hops, you only need to be sniffing two machines to find out who I'm talking to, whereas increasing that number would significantly raise the challenge. But I

    • by Burz (138833)

      If I operate a node (give back) it's fair, isn't it? And if not, why not?

      I won't say its unfair when you also contribute.

      Its just too bad that Tor doesn't yet require contributing as a relay by default. That would kind of resolve the 'abuse' stigma.

  • by lancejjj (924211) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @07:03PM (#25098059) Homepage

    telling P2P users on Comcast how to do what they do without the risk of corporate interference.

    I've already watched a Netflix movie and downloaded a couple iTunes this month.

    So I haven't read the referenced articles, as I'm afraid that doing so might exceed some Comcast quota.

    • My wife an I watch a different Netflix Watch It Now movie every night. We've already got AT&T coming out to install U-verse (new subdivision; fiber to the house). AT&T gave me something in writing says there is absolutely, positively no cap. It's cheaper than Comcast to boot.
  • Heh heh heh... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by suck_burners_rice (1258684) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @07:04PM (#25098067)
    How about a better idea. They should put into place a system whereby the speed of your access is inversely proportional to the amount of data you transfer. Thus, when people first sign on to this service, they'll be impressed by its speed. But as time goes on, it'll slow down increasingly, until Google's homepage takes a year to load.
    • Re:Heh heh heh... (Score:4, Informative)

      by LostCluster (625375) * on Sunday September 21, 2008 @07:09PM (#25098101)
      Similar systems already exist overseas and with the US satellite Internet providers.
    • by lancejjj (924211) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @07:11PM (#25098115) Homepage

      They should put into place a system whereby the speed of your access is inversely proportional to the amount of data you transfer. Thus, when people first sign on to this service, they'll be impressed by its speed. But as time goes on, it'll slow down increasingly, until Google's homepage takes a year to load.

      Comcast has that option already. It's called "Comcast High-Speed Internet".

      • by Eil (82413)

        You joke, but this is sorta what happened to me. About 7 years ago, I moved into an area with no broadband available at all. Not long after, Comcast moved into the market. I signed up right away and even though I thought $60/month was expensive (even back then), I certainly enjoyed the solid and stable 5 mbit connection.

        For a few months anyway. They kept signing up customers in the area without increasing capacity and after about six months, I was consistently getting better speeds on a backup dialup accoun

      • What I love most about "high-speed" ISPs is that they promise you "up to" X megabits per second. So if you're getting one bit per millennium, they are providing services as advertised.
  • Problem with caps (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fishthegeek (943099) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @07:26PM (#25098235) Journal
    The problem I have with bandwidth caps as offered by ISPs is that when the ISP is also the cable provider the bandwidth cap is anti-competitive with Hulu and other video entertainment sites. As far as I can tell this is prime territory for an anti-trust investigation.

    IANAL but it seems to me that these caps are not because of P2P but put in place because of competition for the television audience. By capping the users Comcast seems to be trying to guarantee that their cable service is still viable.
    • IANAL but it seems to me that these caps are not because of P2P but put in place because of competition for the television audience. By capping the users Comcast seems to be trying to guarantee that their cable service is still viable.

      It isn't that what you are saying isn't plausible - but it's blatantly obvious that these caps only effect those who are high volume, low profit (actually, probably "loss" customers). It is sound business practice to remove these people or place restrictions. These people are subsidized by the low volume users.

      Residing in a completely capped land (Aus) and having been labelled "a heavy user" (which, for the record is on a scale where about an eight of that cap makes you a heavy user) I have experienced

  • What I am about to say is not meant to play the "blame the consumer" game except this could be solved by the Comcast customers if they weren't so willing to act like sheep. There's only one way for the public to deal with Comcast, a mass boycott.

    This anti-consumer behavior will only continue until their clientele start to leave en-masse. Only a large exodus from Comcast will force them to re-evaluate their bad attitude towards the very people who put bread on their tables.

    I am speaking as someone who is p

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I'm a Comcast customer and I'm also happy with this cap.

      There's no way I'm going to ever come close to it. There's very little way that anyone is going to come close to it with reasonable usage. And if they do, they can always pay more money. I see no reason why I should have to subsidize people who use far more resources than I do. Pay for what you use, that's what I say.

      I'll certainly say that the way Comcast is implementing the cap is crappy. Not telling people their current usage and disconnecting users

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ritchie70 (860516)

        Hopefully you're right.

        I have no CLUE how much bandwidth our household of three uses.

        AFAIK, we don't do P2P. (I say AFAIK because of the 18-yo.)

        We do have Second Life, streaming video, WoW, streaming audio, iTunes, VPNs for work, and near constant web browsing.

        I emailed Concast asking for my usage figures. They replied that I should call them and they could "help me to examine my system." WTF? If they can monitor they can tell me.

        I don't have any real problem with a bandwidth cap, so long as they 1) tell me

        • From your description I absolutely wouldn't worry about it.

          If you have a typical 6Mbit connection then the 250GB cap is about 1/8th utilization. In other words, if you use your connection full blast for 3 hours a day, or if you use it constantly at 1/8th of its full speed, you'll just reach the cap. Now consider, how often are you using the full capacity of your connection? SL, WoW, and streaming audio never come anywhere close. Streaming video isn't coming anywhere close unless it's streaming HD video. iTu

    • I wish it were that easy. I live in an apartment in Boston where RCN terminates service at the next building over and it doesn't look like FIOS is coming any time this decade. I'd be more than excited to watch at least a tiny bit of competition work but the cable/internet game is even worse than the cellular phone game in the US so I'm left with absolutely no choices.
    • by Kohath (38547)

      Most people don't agree that you need more than 250 GB per month. Why should I engage in a boycott? It makes things worse for me. I should do that to benefit you?

      I have a better idea. You should boycott that 251st GB every month to benefit me.

      All in favor? Comcast agrees. Motion carries. Meeting adjourned.

    • by CSMatt (1175471)

      You assume people care. Most people never reach this limit, and Comcast doesn't really care if those that do reach it decide to quit or never sign up. People who don't reach this limit don't have an incentive to care.

  • Chill pill people (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nweaver (113078) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @07:34PM (#25098291) Homepage

    250 GB is both transparent and a real shitload of bandwidth.

    This is 7 hour a day, 7 days a week, of 720p HDTV video over Hulu. It takes a LOT to reach this point.

    Additionally, beacuse any user who gets terminated will undoubtedly ALSO terminate their cable TV and phone services with Comcast, its something that a company would not want to do lightly.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by BuhDuh (1102769)

      250 GB is both transparent and a real shitload of bandwidth.

      When a legitimate torrent of [insert your Linux distro of choice here] can run 700MB? I think not. What has been noted ad nauseum in threads all over is that the real problem is lack of investment in bandwidth - "Hey! the suckers have no choice but to accept it, and we make money hand-over-fist."

      • How many linux distro CDs do you need to download? 250GB = 357 CDs.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          He really means Windows Ultimate Edition, but doesn't want to be ostracized by the rest of Slashdot.

        • by Pathwalker (103) *

          More and more collages are putting lectures online.
          For example, Stanford has a very interesting looking Machine Learning [stanford.edu] class which comes in at about 25G for the lecture videos.

          A few classes like that can eat up a 250G limit rather quickly.

      • by reemul (1554)

        When a legitimate torrent of [insert your Linux distro of choice here] can run 700MB? I think not. What has been noted ad nauseum in threads all over is that the real problem is lack of investment in bandwidth - "Hey! the suckers have no choice but to accept it, and we make money hand-over-fist."

        250 GB means you have to download 12 of those Linux distro torrents every day, 30 days a month. Do you really have a legitimate need to do that? I'm on Comcast, and I'm damn relieved to see that the nebulous high usage cap has been written out as such a large number. I'm pretty sure that I've blown past 8 GB in a single day before, but I'm nowhere near to averaging that sort of usage. Even with my usenet service and p2p traffic. I can certainly wish that there were less periods where my dl speeds lagged due

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Pathwalker (103) *
      250G is not that much.

      Looking at the stats on my router, last month I used 230.60 GB.
      This month I've used 139.38 GB so far.

      Where was the bandwidth used?
      • Downloading videos of university lectures - Video for a entire class tends to run about 20G~25G. I'm interested in lots of things, so I tend to download a lot of them.
      • Offsite Backups - My disk array syncs with a disk array at my parents house, and theirs syncs with mine. This way we both keep all of our data safe.
      • VPN connection to work - I tend to lea
  • by dniesen (1368875) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @07:47PM (#25098399)
    So Comcast customers need to homebrew their own bandwidth monitor to see if they're nearing their cap each month? Pretty hefty consequences when you are not provided with an official way of measuring your own usage.
    • My complaint exactly. How does Comcast expect me to keep below a specific download cap when first they've done nothing to properly inform their customers and second have no method of measuring how much bandwith has been used each month. At least it should be on my bill, perhaps even going back a few months so I can have some retroactive data before the policy goes into place.
  • That isn't so bad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kerashi (917149) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @07:50PM (#25098413)

    I have WildBlue Satellite for internet, as I live out in the boonies where there is no cable or DSL. I am restricted to 17 gigs download, 5 gigs upload, the least restrictive option available to me (Hughes Net and Starband are worse in that regard). At this point, I would fucking kill for a 250gig cap.

    That said, most people won't ever come close to hitting it. I don't use P2P (it simply doesn't work on a satellite connection) but I do a reasonable amount of downloading, and I manage to keep around 11 gigs download.

    That said, Comcast definitely needs to provide a bandwidth meter. They're obviously metering bandwidth to employ the cap, it would be a simple matter to provide a web interface for their customers. Hell, every satellite ISP does it. Comcast must just be lazy, incompetent, or both.

    • Hmm. 17 gig/mo cap, right? Does it make sense?

      Lets compare with dial-up.

      4KB/s = .004MB/s .004MB/s * 60 = .24MB/minute .24MB/Minute * 60 = 14.4MB/hr
      14.4MB/hr *24 = 345.6MB/day
      345.6MB/day *30 (avg month) = 10368 MB

      Our dial up plan is 10 GB a month for 10$, plus 20$ second line. 30$ for 10GB, and we live in BFE. 3$/GB isnt great, but its what we have. Though, I thought sat was worse, considering the 400+$ initial device.

  • by glwtta (532858) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @07:57PM (#25098471) Homepage
    A draconian option for those who don't toe the line? Blatant efforts to control their customers? Corporate interference? Are you sure you aren't being just a teensy wee bit melodramatic about this?

    I recently got Comcast (they are the only provider available at my new place), I routinely get download speeds around 1-2MB/s (with a 'bytes', not a 'bits'), including torrents, and the price is more or less reasonable. By my calculations I am damn unlikely to ever hit the 250GB cap (I may use 8GB in day from time to time, but far from most days), and even if I do, I was aware of this limitation of the service before signing up.

    So remind me, why am I so damn outraged about this? Is it because someone would dare to suggest that there be some kind of limit to the amount of porn and movies I can download for 60 bucks a month?

    I used to pay through the nose for Speakeasy, so far I'm getting a better service from Comcast.
  • by realmolo (574068) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @08:31PM (#25098719)

    It's not that Comcast is setting bandwidth caps. It's that they have no choice. Now that you can get high-speed internet service via the cellphone network, AND Verizon is rolling out FiOS everywhere, how can they compete?

    Remember, the internet runs over the *phone* network. The big cellphone/telecommunications providers own most of that. AT&T and Verizon are both Tier 1 providers with huge networks. It's almost *guaranteed* the Comcast is paying AT&T and/or Verizon for bandwidth and/or transit. And yet, Verizon and AT&T are competing with them.

    And the same is true for most of the other cable TV providers in the United States. They have been offering phone and internet service for the past 5 years or so, but only because the telcos weren't doing it. They are now. The cable companies are FUCKED.

    • by rfc1394 (155777)

      Remember, the internet runs over the *phone* network. The big cellphone/telecommunications providers own most of that. AT&T and Verizon are both Tier 1 providers with huge networks. It's almost *guaranteed* the Comcast is paying AT&T and/or Verizon for bandwidth and/or transit. And yet, Verizon and AT&T are competing with them.

      And the same is true for most of the other cable TV providers in the United States. They have been offering phone and internet service for the past 5 years or so, but only because the telcos weren't doing it. They are now. The cable companies are FUCKED.

      Actually, you can get unpaid peering with most larger providers if your traffic with them is very high and more-or-less symmetric. A company as large as Comcast has its own internal network and probably has significant peerage arrangements with other providers. I wouldn't be surprised if Comcast didn't qualify as a Tier 1 provider themselves in view of their size.

      If you do huge volumes, AT&T, MCI, AOL and several others will do unpaid peerage, provided you don't use them for transit (traffic being tr

  • The position that an entity like Comcast enjoys is that of a local monopoly. There *may* be competition, but for most, we have only one viable option for broad band. Like I said, I have *no* problem with a bandwidth limitation on service as long as it is a reasonable business proposition based on the locally awarded monopoly position and market conditions.

    The issue I have is the contortions and control. There is no reason why port 80 should be any more favored than any other port. I want "broad band" access

  • by Nester-San (839035) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @09:31PM (#25099167)
    My Comcast Exp: Florida/Fort Lauderdale: I have always left by total upload speed capped at 24 Kb, so the excuse that I am seeding is rubbish. As soon as I load a torrent my download bandwidth drops to 10Kb. I cannot resolve pages, my browser gets timeouts. Email cannot connect, even the Comcast email, Yahoo and MSN Clients both disconnect. Within ten minutes of closing the bittorrent app, my connection speeds up again. Of course the self-proclaimed "Engineer" from Comcast told me my computer is not compatible with Comcast, despite it working great until bittorent opens. I informed her that I was aware of the bandwidth throttling, but she was telling me that "Bittorent, or whatever it is, is not compatible with Comcast at this time, please call Microsoft for help. Is there anything else I can help you with" Last night I decided to play hard and leave my bittorent client open chugging along at 4Kb. This morning no internet, not even tracert to www.cnn.com or www.comcast.net would work. I went out and came back at night about 9:30 Pm Eastern, my internet is back to normal speed. WTF..they are surely laying the smacketh down on me :-(
  • This is NOT new. (Score:2, Informative)

    by the_greywolf (311406)

    Last month, I got a little carried away with binary newsgroups.

    I got a phone call from Comcast. They informed me that I had managed to suck 450GB of data over my connection that month.

    They said that if I didn't immediately curtail my traffic, I would not only be disconnected, but my service would be terminated for twelve months with no option for reactivation.

    I really should have called up Qwest and gotten DSL and cancel my cable. A threat like that, to me, is unacceptable. If I actually had an option for a

  • If you are in an underserved area without competition, what does it take in practical and financial terms to build out a community ISP that can compete with the Comcasts of the world?

    A 24-port ADSL2+ DSLAM and associated CPE would run about $200-300 per user, "last quarter mile" wiring could be anywhere from $300-3,000 per user.

    What would you have to pay to get an OC3 for upstream connection?

    I looked at a few years back when end-user bandwidth wasn't as much of an issue and you could get much better reach,

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