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Comcast Outlines New Broadband Policy 350

Posted by timothy
from the knowledge-is-power dept.
Slatterz writes "US cable provider Comcast has presented its long-term solution for managing broadband traffic. The new system is set at putting to bed a minor scandal that erupted around the company when it was found that Comcast deliberately limited traffic for certain applications. The company said that under its new system, traffic will be analyzed every fifteen minutes. Users who are found to be occupying large amounts of bandwidth will be placed at a lower priority for network access behind users with less bandwidth-intensive traffic. The new system will not replace or be related to the company's earlier installment of bandwidth caps, which limited a user's data intake to 250GB per month."
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Comcast Outlines New Broadband Policy

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  • Dang... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kid Zero (4866) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @03:50PM (#25142471) Homepage Journal

    There are only two games in town: ATT's DSL (slow) and Comcast (Fast, but with strings).

    What's the point of having the internet when you can't do anything on it?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      "...traffic will be analyzed every fifteen minutes."

      Then use trial-and-error to find the sweet spot in Comcast's polling interval and automatically throttle your own traffic every 15 minutes for 1 or 2 minutes at a time ;)

      Of course, that dosen't matter if comcast measures your traffic for 14 consecutive minutes out of the 15 minute polling interval :(

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by arbiter1 (1204146)
        the program might look at how much you downloaded in that 15 period and if that is the case that idea will be pointless
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Kadin2048 (468275)

        I think what they're doing is averaging your traffic over 15 minute periods.

        At least that was the impression that I got from reading about it (not from TFA, but from the article on Ars a few days ago).

        • Re:Dang... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by superpulpsicle (533373) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:59PM (#25143695)

          So are the people using IPTV screwed? They will be queued worse due to their high bandwidth usage again and again if they watch a long IPTV show. What about households with multiple Youtube users streaming and watching different videos at the same time? Both are completely legal, but seems to something that occupies high bandwidth.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Kadin2048 (468275)

            In a word, yes.

            The nice thing about the new Comcast policy -- and I say that unsarcastically, because I think it is a good thing -- is that it doesn't care about the kind of traffic you're pushing. It doesn't try to separate out intent; it doesn't care whether what you're doing is "illegal".

            So yes, people watching a lot of YouTube will get throttled. It's even possible that people watching a lot of YouTube will even be throttled before people downloading warez, if the people downloading warez keep their b

            • Re:Dang... (Score:4, Interesting)

              by rtb61 (674572) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:19PM (#25147217) Homepage

              The only thing Comcast are trying to do with that policy is implement a masquerade behind which they can throttle a range of customers who refuse to pay extra for premium services. Network analysis which find the most intensive data traffic users (likely already has) and they will specifically be targeted, pay extra or have all your traffic shut down to a trickle every fifteen minutes for what, 2 minutes to start with and, then they will continually up that until, the customer leaves or pays the premium bandwidth fee, pays extra for the actual bandwidth, that Comcast B$ marketing claims to be selling.

              They are going to use that age old pathetic and immature excuse, don't blame us for the time outs, the computer did it. It is all just one B$ marketing campaign after another, all so they can claim to sell something they have no intention of providing all buried behind a maze of contract conditions, limitations, and lobbyists working to protect their ability to basically lie in their marketing.

        • Re:Dang... (Score:5, Informative)

          by B'Trey (111263) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @05:11PM (#25143883)

          Here's an email from one of Comcast's engineers recently sent to Dave Farber's Interesting People mailing list. It clarifies the policy quite well:

          From: "Livingood, Jason"
          Subject: Clarifying Misconceptions of the New Comcast Congestion Mgmt Syste

          Hi Dave

          I wanted to try to clear up a misconception about how the new Comcast congestion management system works. I believe we have both heard people complain that they fear that they will be unable to use their provisioned speeds during off-peak hours, for example, or at all times of the day, or that users are somehow throttled to a set speed. Neither of these two things are correct. Part of the problem appears to be confusion over how a user's traffic enters a lower priority QoS state, so I hope to clarify that here

          In order for any traffic to be placed in a lower priority state, there must first be relatively high utilization on a given CMTS port. A CMTS port is an upstream or downstream link, or interface, on the CMTS in our network. The CMTS is basically an access network router, with HFC interfaces on the subscriber side, and GigE interfaces on the WAN/Internet side. Today, on average, about 275 cable modems share the same downstream port, and about 100 cable modems share the same upstream port (see page 5 of Attachment B of our Future Practices filing with the FCC, available at http://downloads.comcast.net/docs/Attachment_B_Future_Practices.pdf [comcast.net]). We define a utilization threshold for downstream and upstream separately. For downstream traffic, a port must average over 80% utilization for 15 minutes or more. For upstream traffic, a port must average over 70% utilization for 15 minutes or more

          When one of these threshold conditions has been met, we consider that individual port (not all ports on the CMTS) to be in a so-called Near Congestion State. This simply means that the pattern of usage is predictive of that network port approaching a point of high utilization, where congestion could soon occur. Then, and only then, do we search the most recent 15 minutes of user traffic on that specific port, in order to determine if a user has consumed more that 70% of their provisioned speed for greater than 15 minutes. By provisioned speed, we mean the "up to" or "burst to" speed of their service tier. This is typically something like (1) 8Mbps downstream / 2Mbps upstream or (2) 6Mbps downstream / 1Mbps upstream

          So how does this work in action? Let's say that a downstream port has been at 85% utilization for more than 15 minutes. That specific downstream port is identified as being in a Near Congestion State since it exceeded an average of 80% over that time. We then look at the downstream usage of the ~275 cable modems using that downstream port. That port has a mix of users that have been provisioned either 8Mbps or 6Mbps, so 70% of their provisioned speed would be either 5.6Mbps or 4.2Mbps, respectively. So let's use the example of a user with 8Mbps/2Mbps service on this port. In order for their traffic to be marked with a lower priority on this downstream port, they must be consuming 5.6Mbps in the downstream direction for 15 minutes or more, while said port is highly utilized

          Once that condition has been met, that user's downstream traffic is now tagged with the lower priority QoS level. This will have *no* effect whatsoever on the traffic of that user, until such time as an actual congestion moment subsequently occurs (IF it even occurs). Should congestion subsequently occur, traffic with a higher priority is handled first, followed by lower priority (and this is not a throttle to X speed)

          I hope this helps. You can others can feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions
          Regards
          Jason Livingood
            - Engineering & Technical Operation

          For verification, you can find the original in the IP Archives. [listbox.com] Date of the email is 2008-09-24 12:37:35

          • Re:Dang... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by skroops (1237422) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @05:28PM (#25144137)
            So this only hurts the dumb.

            Every bittorrent client I've ever used has easy to set upstream and downstream limits. Simply set your upstream and downstream to 65% and 75% of you're max connection and you'll never be slowed down.
            • Re:Dang... (Score:5, Funny)

              by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @05:48PM (#25144393)

              never? you'll be slowed down by 25-35%, all the time ^_^

          • Re:Dang... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by ChuBie (945413) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @05:53PM (#25144493)
            I hate to say it, but the above email sounds fair.

            I just hope Comcast implements it as laid out in their email.
    • Re:Dang... (Score:5, Informative)

      by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @03:58PM (#25142637) Homepage

      I don't know what you're talking about. Where I live, I have two options.

      1. ATT's DSL: Full rated 6Mbps speed
      2. Comcast: No matter what speed grade, almost never faster than 6Mbps, yet more expensive.

      Beats my old options: Comcast, unreliable ISDN, or 12.6Kbps dial-up.

      My take on this? It's a much better policy than just randomly killing connections that look like they might be doing something that may be using large amounts of bandwidth.

      • Re:Dang... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by peragrin (659227) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:21PM (#25143099)

        right up until your skype or vonage sessions are interperted as too much bandwidth. Also video chat is the kind of thing that will probably set this off.

        lots of high bandwidth low latency connections are required by many programs to provide features that dial up couldn't.

        • Re:Dang... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Kadin2048 (468275) <[slashdot.kadin] [at] [xoxy.net]> on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:39PM (#25143389) Homepage Journal

          The solution then is to rate-limit at the router or TCP stack, or for applications to start being more careful about how much bandwidth they use -- just because a user has 6.0Mbps available for peak speed, doesn't mean that applications should assume that they can or should use as much of it as possible, all the time.

          P2P applications have had rate-limiting controls for a long time; it's probably about time for Skype and video-chat applications to have them too. Skype is particularly bad in this regard because it automatically defaults to the highest-quality codec that a connection supports. While this might make sense on fixed-bandwidth connections, it's not great for the majority of broadband connections, which have the capability of pushing a high peak speed, but shouldn't be expected to sustain that peak for very long. (And this isn't a bad thing or rare, either; lots of "real" internet connections are the same way. You can buy a 100Mb pipe because you occasionally need the full 100 megabits, even though you can't afford to saturate it 24/7. I'd wager most SLAed connections at .coms and .edus are like this.)

          In general, it's a pretty fair policy, especially because it only goes into effect when a neighborhood node starts to become congested. (Unlike their 250GB/mo cap and their old policy, which didn't care whether you were actually competing for resources with anyone else.) If I'm using huge amounts of bandwidth for Skype or video-chat, to the point where my neighbors are being affected even though they're just trying to check their mail and log off, they're not going to care what application I'm using. It's fundamentally no different, to anyone else in my neighborhood, if I'm taking up all the bandwidth on the upstream node with VoIP calls, Linux ISOs, or midget porn. They all have the same effect on my network neighbors, and all should get me throttled.

          What needs to happen, is applications need to get smarter about their bandwidth consumption. If a VoIP program finds itself getting throttled (increased latency), it should try dialing down its bandwidth usage -- by choosing a tighter codec, perhaps -- and seeing if the situation improves.

          • Re:Dang... (Score:4, Interesting)

            by rawg (23000) <phill@k[ ]yer.com ['eno' in gap]> on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @06:45PM (#25145063) Homepage

            Strange. My Skype calls only take about 19-30kbps, even with five people on the line. I have a 4.5mbps line. Is there something wrong with your Skype?

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Kadin2048 (468275)

              One user running Skype isn't that much of a problem -- as you point out, it's not that bandwidth-intensive -- but keep in mind that it's up to ~30kbps per user. (And the usage can go up by 40kbps beyond that if one of the users is a supernode, although admittedly only one user per IP address should do that.) It can pile up to a significant amount if you have a bunch of people using it at the same time.

              But really I was just using Skype as an example of an application that's particularly aggressive about us

        • Re:Dang... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by ivan256 (17499) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:39PM (#25143401)

          It would be really unfortunate if VoIP was considered "too much", considering that VoIP is a low-bandwidth application that depends on latency more than throughput.

          You can easily use more bandwidth casually surfing the web than you ever will talking on the phone using VoIP.

          There is a three orders of magnitude difference between a high-quality VoIP call and a BitTorrent download. It should be easier than trivial for them to configure this so the former doesn't get throttled, but the latter does.

        • Re:Dang... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Carnildo (712617) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @07:23PM (#25145423) Homepage Journal

          "Too much bandwidth" is defined as a sustained download of more than 4Mbps or a sustained upload of more than 700kbps, over a period of 15 minutes. That works out to ten simultaneous VoIP calls; I don't know how many video chat streams you'd need to reach it.

          On the download side of things, that corresponds to downloading one CD image every 20 minutes.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        My take on this? It's a much better policy than just randomly killing connections that look like they might be doing something that may be using large amounts of bandwidth.

        I'm not so sure. Am I going to time out from IRC now because I'm downloading a large ISO?

    • What...? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MikeRT (947531)

      What's the point of having the internet when you can't do anything on it?

      What legal activity are you doing from home that takes over 250GB of data and requires that you always have a blazing fast connection? Sheesh, give them a chance to balance this out so that a few miscreants can't ruin it for everyone else.

      • Re:What...? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Fulcrum of Evil (560260) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:06PM (#25142801)
        So suddenly any large use of BW is illegal? Way to distract from the point.
        • Re:What...? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by HiVizDiver (640486) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:24PM (#25143161)
          I'm not sure why this was modded -1, Flamebait. The parent makes a good point - as I posted in a semi-related thread a couple of days ago, I rented a movie from the Playstation store as an HD rental. The filesize was 6275 MB (around 6 GB). This download definitely saturated my connection, as I had the whole thing in around 2 hours. I realize that Comcast has a way of telling (or maybe they don't, who knows) P2P traffic from a straight download, but ultimately the question is the same - if I'm blasting a 6 GB file download in an hour or two, does that piss them off? Because I'm going to be mad if it does, since it was a perfectly legitimate use of the service that I'm paying for (vs. some "gray area" activities).
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Wildclaw (15718)

            if I'm blasting a 6 GB file download in an hour or two, does that piss them off? Because I'm going to be mad if it does, since it was a perfectly legitimate use of the service that I'm paying for (vs. some "gray area" activities).

            If you do it during primetime when everyone else is on and the bandwidth is saturated, Yes. And by pissed off, I mean that your traffic will get less priority and slow down to avoid you hogging all the availible bandwidth.

            If you are doing it during the night when there is plenty of availible bandwidth, No. Sure, you will still get deprioritized, but it doesn't matter as the bandwidth isn't saturated and you will be just another bulk downloader making use of the less "crowdy" nights.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Kadin2048 (468275)

            The system (based on everything I've read) does not care, or try to detect, the contents of your packets.* It doesn't care whether what you're downloading is legal or not.

            This is exactly as it should be, since it doesn't matter to other people on the local node what you're doing, only that you're hogging bandwidth. Legal movies, illegal movies, videoconferencing, a totally opaque VPN connection ... it doesn't matter. They all have the same effect on other users of the network, and should all be treated

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ajparr (1366929)
        If you must know, I'm jerking off to time-delayed video of myself jerking off sent to my server on the other side of the world and back. I do this for 8-12 hours each day. ...then again... What business is it of ANYONE's what I'm doing with my bandwidth? What ever happend to innocent until proven guilty? Sheesh!
      • Re:What...? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Pathwalker (103) * <hotgrits@yourpants.net> on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:16PM (#25143003) Homepage Journal
        Offsite backups.

        My disk array syncs to a disk array about 2000 miles away, and that one syncs to mine.

        I used about 230G last month, and that was the largest part.

        The next largest component was torrents of lectures (such as this [stanford.edu] machine learning class offered by Stanford).
        • Re:What...? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by vux984 (928602) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:27PM (#25143215)

          You could always upgrade to a class of service that doesn't have the caps, or has caps in line with what you require.

          A system in which people like you who use 100s or thousands of gigabytes per month pay more than people who use 10 or 15 a year seems entirely fair to me.

          • Re:What...? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Skye16 (685048) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @05:14PM (#25143927)

            Then shouldn't the people who use 10 or 15 a year pay considerably less than they are now?

            After all, the only reason pricing is at this point is because they reasoned that the people using the service at only 5% capacity would effectively subsidized the others who use it at 100% capacity.

            If you're now making those who would use it at 100% capacity pay more for service, shouldn't those who are only using a fraction of the network capacity get a major discount to their connectivity?

            • Re:What...? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by vux984 (928602) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @05:49PM (#25144413)

              Then shouldn't the people who use 10 or 15 a year pay considerably less than they are now?

              Perhaps a bit less, but not necessarily considerably less. (After all, there is considerable fixed overhead to a DSL line on top of the bandwidth, those 5% bandwidth users consume telephone support, need their "modems" fixed, have line trouble, etc at the same rate as the 100% users.)

              After all, the only reason pricing is at this point is because they reasoned that the people using the service at only 5% capacity would effectively subsidized the others who use it at 100% capacity.

              That's true to a point, but its a gross oversimplification.

              If you're now making those who would use it at 100% capacity pay more for service, shouldn't those who are only using a fraction of the network capacity get a major discount to their connectivity?

              Let me give you an example to illustrate my point.

              Lets say we have a service that costs $20 for the average person. But instead we charge $21. So if 1000 people pay 21$ instead of 20$ for a service, that subsidizes the 1% of people who uses $120 worth of service. Are you with me?

              So costs are: 990 people use $20 worth of service ($19800) plus 10 people use $120 worth of service ($1200) = $21000.
              While revenue is: 1000 people * $21 = $21000.

              So the low end users are subsidizing the high end users, and we 'break even'.
              That's more or less how the subsidy works in reality.

              So if we start charging those 10 people $120 directly. We can afford to knock a whole dollar off everyone else's plan? Big flipping deal. That gets lost in the noise.

              (The "noise" being price increases due to inflation, cost decreases due to modern technology, it gets used to cover some new 'feature' like anti-spam on the server, or free antivirus for subscribers, etc, etc).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by c0d3g33k (102699)

        I can't speak for everyone, but I do bioinformatics/computational biology and often telecommute when consulting or to continue the days work at home when deadlines are tight. Depending on the project or analysis task, having local copies of public scientific databases is very useful (eg. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Database/ [nih.gov]). These databases are rather large and are growing rapidly. Since terabyte drives have become affordable, it's become feasible to maintain up-to-date personal copies at home rather t

        • So, if you're working at home, making money for yourself and/or your employer, you have a business-class connection, right?
      • Re:What...? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by kimvette (919543) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:42PM (#25143437) Homepage Journal

        Uh, let's see:

          - Downloading F/OSS software?
          - hulu.com?
          - Various TV networks?
          - Netflix?
          - VOIP?

        Face it: (IMHO) Comcast is afraid of streaming video sites, and are using P2P as an excuse to curb competition. They do not want to happen to them what happened to land line telephone companies when cellular and VOIP took off.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You mean I can get bandwidth caps AND high latency in one premium priced package requiring up-front install fees and a complex long-term commitment that can change at any time?

      What a great deal! Where do I sign up?!?

    • Re:Dang... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by lgw (121541) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:17PM (#25143037) Journal

      At&T's DSL gives me more performance than Comcast will allow you to sustain. Comcast offers a faster burst rate, but how useful is that really? If you're just dowloading a few K, 6M bps is fine.

      But personally I'll never do business with a cable company no matter how bad the alternatives are. The only thing worse than a big telco is a cable company!

    • Re:Dang... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Drakin020 (980931) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:24PM (#25143155)

      I'm sorry, I didn't know limiting yourself to 250GB a month was "I can't do anything"

      Seriously?

    • Re:Dang... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by cmacb (547347) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:53PM (#25143615) Homepage Journal

      What's the point of having the internet when you can't do anything on it?

      The part of the system where you send them money every month is working just fine. I have inside information that they are not planning to disrupt that in any way.

  • by Aphoxema (1088507) * on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @03:51PM (#25142481) Homepage Journal

    I can deal with that, it's fair and doesn't really stomp on anyone's feet. So what if users eat up all the available bandwidth? Just make it fair who eats up more than others.

    • by RabidMoose (746680) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:04PM (#25142761) Homepage
      I agree. This way of load balancing seems incredibly fair. However, the first time I get close to the 250gb cap, I'm heading over to Qwest and finding out how much an FTTP install costs.
      • by BobMcD (601576) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:26PM (#25143191)

        I agree. This way of load balancing seems incredibly fair. However, the first time I get close to the 250gb cap, I'm heading over to Qwest and finding out how much an FTTP install costs.

        Which is EXACTLY the way the free market is intended to work. Comcast gets the business they want, and Qwest gets to sell a service they offer.

        Free markets, FTW.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Free markets, you say? They get to use publicly funded infrastructure to rake us over the coals. They block competition. The broadband/telecom market is most decidedly not a free market.

          If you want to see what free market broadband looks like, look at Asian countries. They have 20+ megabit un-metered connections, at a fraction of the price our duopolies grant us. And that's the low end.

        • by LunaticTippy (872397) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:41PM (#25143417)
          I must not have read that properly. Did you just say that telcos and cable companies are free market?
    • by Wildclaw (15718) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:48PM (#25143519)

      Yup. As someone who usually complain about these companies not doing things neutrally, I don't really have anything to stand on this time. This is basically how it should work. It is the network neutral way of doing things. Don't analyze the type or destination, but instead just look at the traffic you are causing. If you are using more than your fair share, you get put behind the one who has used less.

      There only is so much bandwidth during primetime and to divide fairly among all users you have to do something. The system mentioned in the article is about as fair as you can get. It doesn't matter if it is video streaming or bittorrent, you shouldn't be able to use more than your fair share. Yes, high quality video streaming is probably hit, but that is because it is an incredibly wasteful type of technology, requiring high bandwidth during primetime when the user online.

      Of course, you can still complain about comcast not providing enough last mile bandwidth, having a too high oversubscription ratio, but that is a different matter. As an actual packet prioritizing scheme, this is a good one.

  • Backwards? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by businessnerd (1009815) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @03:53PM (#25142521)

    Users who are found to be occupying large amounts of bandwidth will be placed at a lower priority for network access behind users with less bandwidth-intensive traffic

    So they're saying that if I am doing something that requires more bandwidth, I will get less bandwidth; and when I don't need much bandwidth, they're going to give me more? I'm really confused by this. Can anyone make sense of this for me?

    • Re:Backwards? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Fulcrum of Evil (560260) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @03:55PM (#25142589)
      No, it means that bulk transfers are lower priority than someone checking email, since that's fairly low load and interactive.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Count Fenring (669457)

        But doesn't streaming video or audio fit the high-yield/bulk-transfer pattern as well?

        I'm just wondering what method they're using to separate high and low priority.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Yes, but the FCC says that Comcast must be neutral with respect to application type, so Comcast is complying. If that means that high-bandwidth streaming media gets hosed, well, take that up with the FCC.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Wildclaw (15718)

          It is simple. The more bandwidth you use, the less priority you will get.

          Streaming audio, not so much. It doesn't use that much bandwidth.

          Streaming video will suffer. Really, those people who download huge files during primetime (mainly streaming that can't schedule downloads) are hurting the network far more than someone who download/upload large amounts of data during the night. The p2p bogeyman is getting tired of taking all the blame.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Skrapion (955066)

          Clarification: when they say "lower priority", they mean "higher latency". It shouldn't noticeably affect streaming video or torrents, because those require high bandwidth, but not low latency. It's not the end of the world if you need to wait 5 seconds for your YouTube video to start streaming, as long as it doesn't pause to buffer while you're trying to watch the video.

          On the other hand, VOIP and online games -- which don't require high bandwidth -- will benefit from better latency than they currently g

    • Re:Backwards? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RobBebop (947356) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:10PM (#25142879) Homepage Journal

      when I don't need much bandwidth, they're going to give me more?

      Prioritization is not the same as giving you more bandwidth. You packets are just dispatched through their servers faster than the lower priority ones. The net effect is that you get less bandwidth when the routers are overloaded (which is VERY sensible), but when the routers are not overloaded then you will get the quicker speeds (at least, that would be a fair understanding of how it *should* work).

      The theory is that casual users are more deserving of the higher speeds and more appreciative of getting content quicker, whereas somebody who is spending 15+ minutes downloading a single thing is going to be more forgiving that it takes 4 hours instead of 2 hours to arrive.

      Personally, I think Comcast's goal is to degrade internet streaming video to the point where it matches their cable services with the "Occasional 5 Second Pause" (TM) where the service goes apeshit and becomes unusable.

      Full disclosure: I won't give Comcast a dime, and am waiting patiently for more capable internet to come to my neighborhood. Value = price + quality... and IMHO Comcast is simply a bad value.

      • by uncqual (836337)

        Personally, I think Comcast's goal is to degrade internet streaming video to the point where it matches their cable services with the "Occasional 5 Second Pause" (TM) where the service goes apeshit and becomes unusable.

        Ah, you sound like you may be another satisfied Comcast customer with a Motorola DVR - you should be happy that your pauses are only 5 seconds, you lucky SOB. Around the hour and half-past the hour, I'd welcome 5 second apeshit periods. It's beyond me why the stupid Motorola DVR decides at those points that the most important thing is to perform some sort of O(n^4) algorithm figuring out what programs to record and which ones not rather than, oh, maybe processing my realtime remote clicks.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ChrisA90278 (905188)

      "So they're saying that if I am doing something that requires more bandwidth, I will get less bandwidth; and when I don't need much bandwidth, they're going to give me more? I'm really confused by this. Can anyone make sense of this for me?"

      You got it wrong. If you are using a lot of bandwidth you do NOT get throttled down. You are simply put at the end of the queue and a few shorter network packets are allowed to go to the front.

      What they have is a fixed size pipe. When they see more demend for bandwidt

  • by SleptThroughClass (1127287) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @03:53PM (#25142525) Journal
    Low priority for large transfers is fine with me, but can we mark which data should be high priority? So we can download a movie from Comcast-Buy-A-Movie-Service in the background while online with Halo 3?
    • by Pathwalker (103) * <hotgrits@yourpants.net> on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:01PM (#25142693) Homepage Journal
      RFC 1349 [faqs.org] describes how you can specify priority for IP packets:

      The types defined in the RFC are:
      • minimize delay
      • maximize throughput
      • maximize reliability
      • minimize monetary cost
      • normal service

      I believe an extension also had a "maximize security" option as well.

      Alas, almost nothing supports these flags, and I believe a later RFC has proposed reusing the QOS bits in the IP header for an incompatible use.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Unfortunately, I believe they are more interested in forcing you to buy movies from their OnDemand cable TV system or watch TV over their digital TV, rather than using the internet to get movies and TV which may, or more likely may not be from their service.

      This, I believe, is why they are limiting downloads to 250G a month. So you don't go online to watch your TV shows and movies and not need their 65+ a month digital TV. They want to charge you lots for cable TV.

      Why increase capacity when you can charge

  • by mugnyte (203225)

    I'm not afraid of hitting their monthly limit, but they've deliberately hid any sort of metering concept from their public services, probably in fear of users gaming the system to use 249.9GB a month.

    I'd be very interested in such a service, since I run our modem to several systems and I'm simply curious about where we rank in monthly usage.

    The bandwidth changes sound like someone finally came to their senses about the purpose of an internet. Prior to this, it was an awful mess of d

  • by eepok (545733) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:02PM (#25142715) Homepage

    1) User pays for their own broadband access (cost of bandwidth). $$
    2) User pay for Netflix a service contract (which includes more bandwidth costs). $$
    3) User uses the bandwidth for which he paid by watching streaming movies and suddenly the movies don't load anymore... because it takes a bit of bandwidth to download movies.
    4) User buys digital movies from Amazon et al? $$
    5) User gets kicked from ISP because he paid enough to use what bandwidth he used.

    Sounds like a scam to me!

    Why offer high speed internet if you're not going to provide high speed internet?

  • Cool! (Score:5, Funny)

    by BigBlueOx (1201587) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:05PM (#25142789)
    So when NBC or ABC/ESPN/Disney or CBS/Viacom or Sony Pictures or Time Warner comes to me and says "Look at our really great new streaming movie/TV/video service! Pay only $29.95/mo and you can watch anything anyTIME ALL THE TIME!!!", I'll say "Sorry. Can't do streaming video. It puts me in the Comcast doghouse. I just play Nethack."?

    Ok
  • Sold Vs Delivered (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WTSane (1371365) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:06PM (#25142809)
    I am upset by the fact that they have now told their users that if they try and use the bandwidth that they were sold for too long a period of time, thier service will be degraded until they fall in to the 50% bracket as compared to all other users. If they can not support speeds that they are advertizing, they should not be selling them. If you have a 250GB a month limit, you should be able to use the speeds you are paying for until you reach that limit.
  • I'm studying the AT&T U-verse postcard with more interest, now.  Although I hate AT&T, and seriously doubt they're much better.  In fact, the postcard has a tone of fine print on it.  And that's just the postcard!
  • Just got Netflix.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Duncan Blackthorne (1095849) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:15PM (#25142965)
    ..and I guess I won't make any plans to watch streaming movies through them, even if I have the bandwidth to do so in high quality BECAUSE 15 minutes into the movie they'll cut the speed back (to WHAT, by the way?) and there goes my movie. Not acceptable. I'd recommend everyone with Comcast get a Netflix subscription, and watch movies online. Then if and when it gets screwed up, complain to Netflix AND Comcast about it. Hopefully they'll eventually get tired of the complaints from customers AND from Netflix, and cut this nonsense out, too.
  • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:15PM (#25142973) Homepage

    Wow, what a crazy idea. If only they could have deployed this sooner! Pity the technology has only been available for far longer than bittorrent has been a problem...

  • by HerculesMO (693085)

    That all the World of Warcraft players, when installing the new patch for the Lich King, will now be subject to slower download rates cuz they need a 1GB patch?

    Woo hoo!?!

    • by Z34107 (925136)

      That all the World of Warcraft players, when installing the new patch for the Lich King, will now be subject to slower download rates cuz they need a 1GB patch?

      Comcast is bad, but no.

      They're not talking about changing anybody's bandwidth (this time), but which packets are given priority. A router will dispatch a packet from your grandmother checking her e-mail before a packet from your WoW torrent... but you'll get the same download speeds.

      It's latency, not bandwidth, as other wise people have said. As

  • by DynaSoar (714234) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:27PM (#25143217) Journal

    "Comcast deliberately limited traffic for certain applications."

    That's wrong. It shouldn't be in past tense. Some IPs on Comcast space still drop p2p connection after 30 seconds. Dropping is common. Dropping consistently at 30 +/- 5 seconds from those IP blocks is too much coincidence to bear.

    "The new system will not replace or be related to the company's earlier installment of bandwidth caps, which limited a user's data intake to 250GB per month."

    Of course it won't replace their previous 'solution'. It will apply to uploading, as does their connection dropping, not to downloads.

    If they can get their quotas to fly, they'll next offer to keep users off their slowdown list for a fee. That way they can charge users more without having to up their bandwidth.

  • Look. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Drakin020 (980931) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:27PM (#25143223)
    If you seriously think you are going to exceed 250GB a month, spend the extra money and get a business account. If you are that heavy of an internet user, moving to 70 bucks a month or so shouldn't be that big of a deal.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by BulletMagnet (600525)

      If you seriously think you are going to exceed 250GB a month, spend the extra money and get a business account. If you are that heavy of an internet user, moving to 70 bucks a month or so shouldn't be that big of a deal.

      Guess what, I have the Comcast Business 16/2 Account at home - and we got the "You now get 250GB of monthly bandwidth " e-mail just like everyone else....

  • I could simply not use torrents before, Giganews (with encryption) was a better way to go any ways, this new system seems like they will dump on me every 15 minutes regardless of what I am doing (gaming, downloading, streaming) and doesn't have a easy dodge for me to avoid it...at least not yet.
    Knowing what a crap company Comcast is you can't expect anything ethical or fair from these people.

    Why do we not have an internet where bandwidth is not an issue? We are so far behind some others it's embarrassing...

  • Don't see much of a reason to stay with them. Too bad cable is a monopoly ( that needs to be broken up with their treatment of the customers )

  • .... they include in their plans. if you are hampered because you use higher bandwidth in 15 minute intervals, that means that the plan is not unlimited. its a goddamn LIE.

    hell. i live in turkey. we used to suck tit in regard to internet connectivity. now i have a 800 kbit connection adsl that delivers both download and games unhampered, and a cable that does 400 kbit with even better latency.

    SO that im not torrenting or dling anything anymore. you know, when you have something readily available at an
  • So, if i get slowed down do i get a discount for reduced service?

  • I guess the next time I install an OpenBSD or FreeBSD release, I will just buy the CD's. Anyway, it helps fund the projects- and don't forget about the great Blowfish T-shirts.

    If I start downloading an iso image (and I used to get 500kb/s with my old Comcast installation, depending upon the ftp site) and suddenly the transfer speed drops to 25kb/s, I am really going to be pissed, and pull the plug on Comcast. But I think thats a moot point now that I got a letter from property management.

    The property mana

  • I've been doing this kind of throttling on a per-connection basis for a long time. I needed to set up the packet scheduler on my Linux-based router correctly, but now it's configured to watch connections and any connection that eats a lot of sustained bandwidth gets bumped down to bulk-transfer priority. Packets for those connections go to the back of the queue and get to share the bandwidth left over after everything at a higher priority's gotten what it needs, subject to a hard cap of 80% (20% of total ba

  • by Allnighterking (74212) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:49PM (#25143537) Homepage
    Cable Internet, as configured by Comcast (bombast) has a fixed ceiling for how much traffic can flow through it's network without interfering with TV/phone. More people can watch a pseudo HD TV show, on the cable than can fairly share the bandwidth. So in the case of Comcast they are pulling an airline trick. In order to ensure max revenue they also "over book" the line. Problem is as time goes on more an more people are using their internet connection for more than e-mail.

    Now on a airplane you can "bump" passengers. However in the case of bandwidth there is no bump available. The only options they have are to either put in more lines/equipment (quite often impossible due to community regulations and available space in underground cable easements) or drop customers. Both a and b won't sit well with the board. The only remaining options are to not renew customers who leave. (difficult since it also cuts into TV/phone revenues) or they can do what they are doing and refuse to service properly existing customers.

    Problem for many is that it comes down to a choice between Darth and Adolf. Chose your darkside. But at least on ADSL you know that the bandwidth you use has little affect on anyone but people in your household.
  • by unity100 (970058) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:50PM (#25143553) Homepage Journal
    its called "class action lawsuit" - it works !
    • Class Action (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jmichaelg (148257)

      I'm thinking the same thing and am not laughing - don't know why your post was moderated as 'funny.'

      Comcast is selling bandwidth and, because they can't deliver what they've sold, is resorting to prioritization algorithms. If Comcast's problem is some users are using what they've been sold and that's overloading Comcast's ability to deliver, Comcast needs to either increase their ability to deliver or admit they can't deliver what they've sold.

      Admitting the later is tantamount to admitting to fraud.

  • by Tumbleweed (3706) * on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @05:00PM (#25143711)

    "Broadband: You can't have any(tm)."

  • by DragonTHC (208439) <Dragon&gamerslastwill,com> on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @06:09PM (#25144683) Homepage Journal

    That was their selling point.

    I want a lower price. What makes ISPs so brash that they can just alter the terms of an agreement to suit them and we're expected to pay the same price.

It's a naive, domestic operating system without any breeding, but I think you'll be amused by its presumption.

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