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Comcast Not Counting Their Video Service Against Bandwidth Cap 284

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the net-neutrality-really-works-after-all dept.
tekgoblin writes something not quite worth rejoicing over. From the article: "Comcast Internet subscribers can rejoice. Comcast has recently announced that they will not be counting content streamed via their Comcast Xfinity App on the Xbox 360 against their bandwidth caps. Comcast claims that since the data is only traversing their internal Comcast network that it will not count towards your 250 GB limit a month." Comcast is claiming this does not violate net neutrality laws (and it very well may not); a number of folks are not very happy about it. I've always been perplexed by the large media interests of most U.S. last-mile providers.
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Comcast Not Counting Their Video Service Against Bandwidth Cap

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  • UVerse? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by realityimpaired (1668397) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @07:46AM (#39495253)

    I'm pretty sure that's what the competition is called in the US... they don't count their video/vod streams against your monthly data cap either, do they?

    I know that their competing services offered north of the border don't count... you'd blow through the monthly cap in less than a day if it did. So how is this any different? They're offering a VOD service and saying it doesn't count against your monthly cap.

    • by Sir_Sri (199544)

      Long before they had VOD services here up north your plan always stipulated that traffic on rogers or bell networks didn't count against your bandwidth. That even applies to mobiles on rogers for sure (not sure about any of the others).

      It was a hold over from the days of very expensive internet with modems etc and people didn't like the idea of having to pay more money to look at their bill or the like online. Now it has some other implications.

      Oh and Rogers does have a 250 GB/month plan ($100/month) and

      • Re:UVerse? (Score:5, Informative)

        by dkf (304284) <donal.k.fellows@manchester.ac.uk> on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @08:08AM (#39495425) Homepage

        Which are overall reasonable plans on capacity and speed, terrible on price, but well, that's the price we pay for living in a large country slightly larger than the US but with the population of california.

        California has about 5 million more people than Canada; it's so large that it would count as a medium-sized European country (with a very strong economy too).

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          I think that was his point - Canada has approximately the same population as California (less, actually), but spread over a much larger area... thus telecommunications become more expensive.

          In reality, though, the inhabited portion of Canada isn't all that big, and it is fairly densely populated. Something like 75% of Canadians live in a strip 100-miles wide on the US-Canadian border. That's about 1500 miles, so 150,000 square miles. Which happens to be almost exactly California's land area :)

          • by CastrTroy (595695)
            Which is why these arguments about "look how big my country is" are so stupid. People living in Toronto or surrounding areas have no less reason to expect quality, well priced, telecommunications than those in any other place around the world. You can't expect telecom to be cheap if you live in Nunavut, but nothing is cheap up there. The one exception I can think about is cellular service. Where the usual method of selling is to give you free local calling wherever you are in the country. And they make a
            • by Sir_Sri (199544)

              If you want to connect toronto to anything else though that's where costs start to rise. The windsor to montreal corridor is pretty manageable, trying to connect to thunder bay, winnipeg or farther east/west is where things start to fall apart fast.

              Having a 'toronto only' provider is as you say, one way around this. But I'm not in toronto, so that doesn't really do me any good.

              The marginal cases do drive up costs too. If you only ever had to supply paris, London, etc with telecoms it wouldn't be so bad, b

        • Which are overall reasonable plans on capacity and speed, terrible on price, but well, that's the price we pay for living in a large country slightly larger than the US but with the population of california.

          California has about 5 million more people than Canada; it's so large that it would count as a medium-sized European country (with a very strong economy too).

          And it's government is just as broke as a lot of medium sized European countries too.

        • by cpu6502 (1960974)

          California supposedly has the 3rd largest economy. BACK TO TOPIC:

          Comcast's move gives it an unfair competitive advantage against other streaming services (amazon, netflix, hulu) that are limited to ~250 GB per month. It's not just a violation of net neutrality but also a violation of Antitrust (antimonopoly) laws, and I figure it's only a matter of time until Comcast gets sued.

          • [offtopic, I know] We were fifth largest in the world for a long time, but have slid quite a bit in the last 5 years. Not sure where we are now with the Eurozone issues, but I think we're at 12th or so. Really sad thing is that our budget is nearly all legislated (something like ~70%), so all this bitching about balanced budgets is really the voters fault.
            case in point:
            1998, economy is on a meteoric rise because of the building dotcom bubble. Ballot measure passes that dictates a percentage of the revenu

      • by rtaylor (70602)

        Call to cancel your Rogers service (mean it, be familiar with Teksavvy or other alternatives) and you may find you get offered a 30% discount and elimination of the modem rental fee.

        • Don't forget, the Loyalty and Retention teams actually get paid more if they "save" your account, even if it means giving you a deep discount. So don't be afraid to push them, either!
      • Oh and Rogers does have a 250 GB/month plan ($100/month) and 120 and 150 GB plans. Which are overall reasonable plans on capacity and speed, terrible on price, but well, that's the price we pay for living in a large country slightly larger than the US but with the population of california.

        *shrugs* I pay $42/mo for 12meg service with a 300GB cap from TekSavvy... Rogers doesn't win the game there.

        Also, the "population density" argument is a false argument... yes, the total population is only about 35 million in the 2nd largest country in the world, giving one of the lowest aggregate population densities in the world, but the bulk of the population in this country is within 100km of the US border. When you discount the huge tracts of largely unpopulated arctic and tundra, Canada's population de

        • Here in France we have FDN, the ten-years-old "French Data Network" association, which among others proposes ADSL links with just the maximum available throughput they get to your home (typ. 18Mb/s) for €29/month (roughly $39).
          Of course they don't add fancy services around this -it's a pure internet line, with one fixed IP, full stop...
          But they are also intensely engaged into net neutrality, etc.
          These recent years they have started "swarming" into more regional ISPs while none exists yet in my region (

        • And how does it compare to the US when you discount the huge tracts of largely unpopulated deserts and sparsely populated farming land in the US?

          • And how does it compare to the US when you discount the huge tracts of largely unpopulated deserts and sparsely populated farming land in the US?

            About the same. The population density in Toronto is about the same as the population density in Los Angeles or New York. NYC and LA are larger cities than TO, but when you look at the land area they cover, they're about the same. Cities don't magically become twice as densely populated when you cross the 49th, it's just that there's more cities in the US, and particularly, more megacities like NY, LA, or Chicago.

            • by Sir_Sri (199544)

              And less huge gaps between them. Canadas big cities are the 'greater Toronto area', Montreal, Vancouver and then a significant dropoff in size when you get to Calgary and Edmonton.

              It's not that we don't have density, we do, it's just in very disconnected blobs and some of those blobs have nothing in between (especially as you move west)

        • by Sir_Sri (199544)

          If you look at the US they have the same thing though, 200 million people that ring the borders of the country about 100km deep and then the interior. Canada has a dense strip in the windsor to montreal corridor, and hooking up everyone else is a bugger of a problem, which is what lots of places face. It's the long tracts of emptyness that link up the one dense strip in ontario/quebec to the (kind of) dense bits in mannitoba, alberta and BC. Where we have density we're about the same as other places, it'

      • by compro01 (777531)

        but well, that's the price we pay for living in a large country slightly larger than the US but with the population of california.

        Uh huh. It's not like 16% of the country is in one city.

        Or that half the population is in the top 10 cities.

        We're far less spread out than blind division would indicate.

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

      by Sponge Bath (413667) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @08:22AM (#39495569)

      ...they don't count their video/vod streams against your monthly data cap either, do they?

      Correct. Step by step, major ISPs are transforming your internet connection into just another cable TV connection. Expect fees and restrictions to "outside" content to increase in an escalating war of combined telecom/content providers.

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

        by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @09:42AM (#39496555)

        Someone mod this guy up. This is exactly what this is all about. It is about the central core of network neutrality, it is about making sure that no one can ever threaten the business model of the incumbent telcos, and it is about turning the Internet into TV. And it is the entire reason behind the marriage of content and ISPs.

        The Internet is dead. Long live TV.

        I just hope Sonic.net can grow their network fast enough so that I can get more than a 1.5 Mbit connection from them.

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        Yep.

        Comcast's move gives it an unfair competitive advantage against other streaming services (amazon, netflix, hulu) that are limited to ~250 GB per month. It's not just a violation of net neutrality but also a violation of Antitrust (antimonopoly) laws, and I figure it's only a matter of time until Comcast gets sued.

        • by arekin (2605525)
          I think you misunderstand, they are giving you a service that is already provided to you without bandwidth cap via a box already in your home (your main cable box) without charging you for additional equipment charges for additional boxes. You cannot access VOD content without a video package, so they are simply providing an alternate means to view this content. If this was something that could ave been litigated then Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu would have done so years ago when on demand content became avai
      • by nurb432 (527695)

        It will also kill off p2p and the 'piracy issue' as if it costs more to download that movie then buy it or stream it on demand, who will get it off p2p?

        I have always said its the only way to stop p2p, and that it will happen. Too bad it looks like i was right.

    • The trick is that Comcast is, that their service uses their "Internal Network" to give a "Value Add" service to "Their Customers", So in theory you are not Using your Internet Access to access the content thus doesn't affect your bandwidth cap. Because you bandwidth cap is for data that leaves Comcast's "Internal Network".

      The rules would change, if you could access the data outside the Comcast network.
      • The problem is that Comcast is using their monopoly of being the network provider to further their media business interests.

        Other companies wanting to compete, ala Netflix, are at a significant disadvantage if their movies count against the cap but Comcast's don't.

        It's a clear anti-trust issue unless Comcact allows Netflix movies to also not count against the cap.
    • I'm pretty sure that's what the competition is called in the US... they don't count their video/vod streams against your monthly data cap either, do they?

      I know that their competing services offered north of the border don't count... you'd blow through the monthly cap in less than a day if it did. So how is this any different? They're offering a VOD service and saying it doesn't count against your monthly cap.

      What we're seeing is the second shot in the war to monetize bandwidth. the bandwidth owners don't care so much about how much is used, IMHO, as to who makes the money of the bandwidth. Being dumb pipe is a low margin game relative to that content providers can make; so they want to ensure they get a cut of that revenue as well. Caps were first put in place to get people to used to the idea that content costs money - no they can move them to their "no cap" services and get them to subscribe to the appropriat

  • WAN (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DigiShaman (671371) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @07:47AM (#39495257) Homepage

    Cuts both ways? Does that mean I can FTP an unlimited amount of data to my neighbor that also has Comcast too? Where all part of one giant happy WAN, right?

    • Re:WAN (Score:5, Informative)

      by nolife (233813) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @08:15AM (#39495487) Homepage Journal

      They have inconsistent acceptable use policies with data transfers or different definitions of public and local network bandwidth? I don't know, I am more confused now.

      This is from http://customer.comcast.com/help-and-support/internet/common-questions-excessive-use/#excessive22 [comcast.com] stating that the cap indeed still applies for XfinityTV.com which I would assume is on the Comcast local network just like the Xbox service. It was last updated Updated 3/9/2012.

      Does the Comcast Usage Meter measure data that I consume from XfinityTV.com?

      Yes. XfinityTV.com is an Internet web service from Comcast that you receive using your XFINITY Internet service. Comcast treats its affiliated services the same as it treats any unaffiliated services that you use your XFINITY Internet service to access. All data that travels over the public Internet on our high-speed Internet service (and all data that XFINITY Internet users send to one another using the service) is counted toward the monthly Data Usage Threshold, regardless of the source.

      • Since we don't know where XFinityTV.com is located, it's possible that the traffic is leaving the Comcast network at some point. As far as I am aware, you can't access the XFinity XBox app if you're not on the Comcast network. This is similar to ESPN3.com where the app is useless if your ISP doesn't pony up for access.
    • You mean your Comcast ToS don't already preclude doing that on residential accounts? A friend of mine on Charter got hammered by them for running a media server off of his residential line (and allowing too many people access), they cut him off and told him to either lose the server or upgrade to a commercial account at twice the monthly cost. Didn't take long, either...

      Either way, given that these corporations can force us to give up our right to sue, let alone anything else, I'm sure there are plenty o

    • The technical argument against that -- separate from what the terms-of-service agreement might say -- is that to push data to your neighbor requires that you use upstream bandwidth. Your cable modem does not transmit on the frequencies that your neighbor's modem listens to. Each packet will be transmitted from your modem to the head end, queued up, then sent downstream on a different carrier frequency. For various valid reasons, upstream is a much scarcer resource than downstream.
      • My understand is that the upstream is only more scarce because that's how the bandwidth is provisioned that way. It's not a technical limitation, but a business decision based on pairing agreements and other industry de-facto standards based entirely on momentum. Technically, cable modems could be reconfigured at the headend to provide a 50/50 symmetrical balance in both upload and download rates.

    • Actually, a Portuguese ISP (who was the market leader for broadband Internet) had exactly this policy almost ten years ago. There was a 2GB cap for international downloads, a 20 GB cap for national downloads, and transfers between its clients didn't count toward that. Of course, nowadays, data caps are pretty much extinct here (except for mobile), but some ISPs do throttle torrents.

  • by jijacob (943393) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @07:47AM (#39495263) Homepage
    So if I set up a couple friends with ftp servers within comcast's network, and use over 250GB between them, I won't get charged?
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      This is what I was thinking too. And not just a couple of friends, but anybody else in the city. You could get quite a network set up.
    • by Joe Snipe (224958)

      Take it a step further. They surely use cache proxies to serve up repeatedly requested content, so I'm exempt from the cap when I look at popular websites correct? And even if they did decide to do this, then it would be like you were being punished for looking at something unique.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @07:51AM (#39495291) Journal
    This is the core issue of network neutrality! A network provider should be a neutral network provider, it should not prioritise one vendor's service over another vendor's equivalent service. Network operators being content providers at all is a violation of network neutrality in its purest form. Imposing limits on other services' traffic but not on their own is a blatant violation by even the loosest definition.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is actually the first I've heard people complaining about this from a network neutrality perspective. In Australia, where bandwidth caps are the norm and exceptions are extremely rare, a lot of the nicer ISPs (e.g. Internode) offer unmetered content on their own network to add value to their service- Internode's big thing was offering a huge mirror of open source and other popular software, gaming servers etc.

      I'm not sure how much that applies now since to my knowledge the content isn't unmetered on th

      • by tepples (727027)

        In Australia, where bandwidth caps are the norm and exceptions are extremely rare, a lot of the nicer ISPs (e.g. Internode) offer unmetered content on their own network to add value to their service

        I'm guessing the problem is that only major incumbent media companies (e.g. Disney, Fox, Paramount, Sony, and Warner), not aggregators of independent video productions (e.g. YouTube, Vimeo, and Dailymotion), can get works onto the unmetered Xfinity On Demand application.

        • That, and it gives them another incentive to provide poor service. So long as they keep their caps low enough, it'll be impossible for customers to effectively use any media service other than their own.
      • by subreality (157447) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @08:10AM (#39495439)

        Things are different in Aus. You don't have very good connectivity off the island so it's a big advantage for the ISP to encourage you to get files domestically.

        In the US the weakest link is the last mile; transit between ISPs is dirt cheap. I think it's pretty clear that they're doing it as an abuse of their near-monopoly, and not as a result of their costs.

      • by MobyDisk (75490)
        There is another example of this problem in Australia:
        Australian ISPs also offer a local cache for iTunes downloads. The idea was established by the Australian government because iTunes downloads were eating into their undersea cables. (There was a Slashdot article on this a year or two ago, but I can't find it now.) The problem with this is that the Australian government just skewed the market by aiding one individual corporation over its competitors. So iTunes downloads are now faster than Amazon do
        • by laptop006 (37721)

          That's almost entirely false. (ISP network engineer in Australia here)

          The major cable leaving Australia for the last decade has been Southern Cross (there's more now) and the Australian government have no significant interest in it (the NZ government on the other hand does by way of cable system part owner Telecom NZ).

          iTunes downloads (at least some of them) are cached by Akamai, and traditionally most medium to large ISPs hosted Akamai caches inside their network (at $JOB[-1] Akamai was ~30% and Google was

          • by MobyDisk (75490)

            Okay, thanks. That's good to know. I redoubled my effort to find the Slashdot discussion and I couldn't find it. Perhaps I am wrong and it was a hypothetical situation.

            Is there a way to search all your old comments? My best effort so far has been to use Google to search for:
            username usernumber keywords site:slashdot.org

    • by surgen (1145449)

      This is the core issue of network neutrality! A network provider should be a neutral network provider, it should not prioritise one vendor's service over another vendor's equivalent service

      Yup, this really is the core of the issue. Now, its easy to understand why this exception they've given themselves seems to make sense, the problem is what it implies. A popular 'worst case' is that service providers can't just buy bandwidth and sling to all consumers limited only by the bandwidth they buy and the network path to the consumer. Now, with comcast pulling this, it will eventually be rightly called out as anti-compeptive, they will go to whatever authority calls them out hat-in-hand and say

    • Well, the way I see it is this.

      If they treated all content equally, then if you were watching streamed video on the Comcast system it would consume your 250gig cap. By making this content 'free' it allows you to consume more content from other networks. So, it can be argued that making a bandwidth expensive service not count towards your cap you are actually helping the other networks.

      Of course, if you had no cap whatsoever, then there would be perfect neutrality all around.

      I suppose your argument can be di

      • And when was the last time they changed that 250GB cap? Considering users eat twice the bandwidth every 18 months, how long will it take before that 250GB cap feels like a 5GB cap? I will save you the trouble, it's approximately 8 years. Ask again in 8 years how great of an idea it was to let this happen.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by fast turtle (1118037)

      A Bandwidth cap is not a network neutrality issue. It's just a cap on how much bandwidth you can use. In this case, they've properly stated that internal bandwidth usage does not count against your cap, which is for external bandwidth

      • It wouldn't be a network neutrality issue if they offered connection to their network to other content providers with the same terms that they offer to their in-house content provider. The problem comes when they are the only ones able to get this special privilege.
        • I don't get comcast here but isn't their VOD service just a DVRless solution to see things that are already included in your cable package? Couldn't you argue that giving free bandwidth to access it is just a way to not penalize people for the way they chose to access the content they already paid for? Saying watching a video through the cable on your TV is okay but watch a video that goes through the cable and into the router is not.

          The cable company where I live counts bandwidth for their streaming site a

    • A network provider should be a neutral network provider

      Agree 100%.

      However there is nothing about this that breaks neutrality, which is all about them not LIMITING other services. You seem to think it is but all it's doing is allowing access to some content they offer at reduced cost - where is the "limit" on other people?

      It's simply the case that content they can store on the same network costs them nothing to transmit, and so you get it for free. It's simply passing along a cost reduction.

      It boggles my m

      • Well considering that comcast instituted their 250GB caps Oct 1, 2008, and it has not changed since, and the amount of traffic that users consume doubles every 18 months, what was once a reasonable cap is now effectively 1/4th that amount. I suspect that comcast will continue to either not increase their cap, or increase it at a much slower rate than consumers increase their traffic, and you quickly begin to see this effectively the same thing as raising the cost of external content in relation to their ow

    • by game kid (805301)

      Ah, but Comcast was careful here. They said "Comcast is committed to an open Internet and has pledged to abide by the FCC's Open Internet rules -- and our policies with respect to XfinityTV and the Xbox 360 fully comply with those rules and our commitments."

      In short, they said they are "committed to an open Internet" and complying with the FCC's (weak) rules, neither of which (if they are even doing either) would imply actual net neutrality.

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      Comcast's move gives it an unfair competitive advantage against other streaming services (amazon, netflix, hulu) that are limited to ~250 GB per month. It's not just a violation of net neutrality but also a violation of Antitrust (antimonopoly) laws, and I figure it's only a matter of time until Comcast gets sued.

  • IP Insanity (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @07:54AM (#39495313)

    Why do we get so crazy when data is sent over IP rather than another way? If they had done this with their cable lines and not used TCP/IP, nobody would bat an eye. In fact, that's how content was always served in the past. When they decide to cut costs and use the newer, better infrastructure for the old stuff, people freak out.

    A company serving their own service over their own lines is nothing to freak out about.

    I will agree that if they were doing this with other companies' data, it would be worrisome. But not their own.

    • They are doing it with other companies' data: the other five incumbent movie studios'. Or will only NBCUniversal-owned works be available over this service?
    • Re:IP Insanity (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SilentChasm (998689) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @08:03AM (#39495381)

      The problem is the reason for the bandwidth caps to begin with was that the last mile was the weak link (cable being shared, your heavy usage affected your neighbors, thus the cap to get you to limit yourself). Now they want to put data from their service over that same link, causing the same congestion problems but not counting it towards the cap. This limits the spread of competing services that might use enough bandwidth to hit the cap.

      Either congestion on the last mile is a problem requiring caps or it isn't. It shouldn't matter what's in the data packets or where they're from.

      • Either congestion on the last mile is a problem requiring caps or it isn't.

        The congestion isn't on the last mile to nearly the extent that it used to be. As of about fifteen months ago at least, Comcast was regularly saturating its upstream link to Tata [slashdot.org].

      • by jythie (914043)
        This has been a good example of slippery slope.. they used that excuse at first and now that people have gotten used to the caps (or at minimal are not fighting them as hard) they change the reason in order to start using them the way they were intended.. cutting out competition.
    • Technically, Ethernet/IP is not a broadcast technology. So historically, all your service provider had to do was provision a chunk of cable bandwidth to broadcast several hundred channels to several thousand users, and then carve out a little bit extra for IP data. Now that they are all moving to IP and HDTV, there is no way to provision enough bandwidth to broadcast (or multicast) everything, even on a 10GigE transport.
      In short, there is a technological limitation at play - but it is not an excuse for ser
      • by laptop006 (37721)

        Ethernet most certainly is a broadcast technology, and it and IP have supported multicast for many years (IP multicast across several networks is very common on research networks).

        As for bandwidth, assuming 20Mbit streams (fairly standard BluRay, broadcast in some parts of the world approaches it as well) you can fit 500 channels on 10G. In practice as you only have to send out what at least one client has requested you can have more channels then can be streamed, cable companies do this already with Switch

    • Re:IP Insanity (Score:5, Insightful)

      by javakah (932230) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @09:17AM (#39496265)

      There are a couple of problems.

      Cable companies used to simply be mechanisms to get content created by other companies to users, and they did so through the TV.

      As time progressed, the cable companies also began providing Internet access over the cable lines.

      The cable companies also changed from simply being mechanisms for transferring the content that others have created, to owning some of those content creating companies as well.

      New companies sprung up (such as Netflix) which realized that they could serve content through the internet, and serve it to more devices than just TVs.

      This tends to drag on the profitability of Cable TV if people start feeling they have a better costing, reasonable alternative, so customers started dropping cable. Meanwhile, content creating companies not owned by the Cable companies were given a new outlet for distribution, not having to rely essentially on their competitors (the Cable companies) for distribution, possibly at unfair terms.

      So around the time that the Netflix user base was really exploding, the Cable companies started putting caps on their Internet service, along with creating their own clones of the services provided by other websites that were now serving up content.

      The problem now is that the cable companies seem to be unfairly using the arm of their company that provides internet access in order to artificially help it's Cable TV and content creation arms. By keeping the caps artificially low, they keep people from being able to use the Internet to get their content, pushing people towards their Cable TV. Now, by allowing their own sites to not count towards the cap, they are telling people that they can go back to getting content from the Internet again, but only if it's provided by them.

      This is compounded by cable companies being granted local monopolies, so many people don't have a choice than to use these Companies that are trying to limit what content they can receive.

      Imagine Walmart buying out USPS/UPS/FedEx. People have to go through Walmart to get anything sent to them. Now imagine Walmart saying that you are now limited to receiving 3 packages per month. This would be terrible for Amazon, a competitor in getting a good number of things to customers. This is now the equivalent of Walmart saying, "You are limited to 3 packages per month, but any packages you receive from us won't count, so order from us!". This has a chilling effect then beyond simply winding up costing customers more. A student is studying WWII. They want to read Mein Kampf. Walmart doesn't like it, so doesn't sell it. They've killed Amazon. You can't get it.

      TL;DR- So the issue is that because the Cable companies are controlling several parts of the entertainment business, this is monopolistic behavior that will cost customers more and limit customer options.

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      Comcast's move to "uncap" its own video business gives it an unfair competitive advantage against other streaming services (amazon, netflix, hulu) that are limited to ~250 GB per month. It discourages me from buying those products and buying Comcast's product instead (because it's unlimited).

      So it violates net neutrality. AND it is also a violation of Antitrust (antimonopoly) laws, and I figure it's only a matter of time until Comcast gets sued by these companies & by State general attornies.

      BTW cable

  • by MarcQuadra (129430) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @08:00AM (#39495363)

    I've been saying this all along. The answer for these companies is not to cap or throttle, it's to behave like a good citizen on the internet and either peer with or colocate the data customers want.

    Now imagine if Google, Apple, Amazon, and Netflix could host a few boxes inside the Comcast network. Everyone wins. Unfortunately, that's just not how higher-ups in most organizations think.

    • by forand (530402)

      I think there is one group missing from your "everyone wins" statement, mainly the companions that provide both cable and internet access. Such companies, Comcast being one, do not want its users to stop paying for cable AND internet. By allowing competing video services such as those you listed into their internal networks thereby reducing the network congestion they are letting their paying customers gain access to content they provide but are not being paid for.

      That is I use Comcast as my ISP (no other c

      • by k6mfw (1182893)

        That is I use Comcast as my ISP (no other choice) but not cable. I pay for Netflix, Amazon Prime, and watch lots of stuff on Hulu and PBS.com. I pay about 20 a month for my service.

        That is very interesting, I knew nothing of data only service, is this listed in the fine print? I have cable but don't want to pay them more for internet (will cost $180/month for both) since I hate Comcast I'm reluctant to give them more money. OTA tv sucks except for PBS and difficult to get in my part of town. Heck, even most of CATV sucks. But with data only, maybe I can have fun with this new slashdot TV.

    • Comcast doesn't want to compete with the likes of Google, Apple, Amazon, and Netflix on an equal footing. Owning the network is the one advantage they have. If Xfinity was just one of several options, no one would pick it. You go with it because that's what the cable company offers and you go with the cable company because of where you live.

    • by Above (100351)

      Several of the CDN's, most notably Akamai try really hard to locate boxes inside of networks like Comcast so there is no peering or transit link to traverse. Often they in fact pay for the right to be inside the network, on the grounds that it increases performance.

      I don't know how many, if any, CDN's are inside of Comcast's network and possibly _paying_ for the privilege to do so. However if Comcast wants to make the case that Internal traffic shouldn't count against caps with their own services I see no

  • 250GB (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @08:02AM (#39495375)

    Gawd, I can't even vaguely imagine using 250GB in one month... Canada's caps are typically on the 60-ish range, if you're lucky or 90-ish range if you pay a significant chunk of money. 250GB would be nirvana!

    Oh, and to claim that doesn't violate net neutrality shows a complete lack of understanding of what net neutrality is. It's a poster child example of a violation of net neutrality.

    • by AikonMGB (1013995)

      Try again; I get a 300 GiB/mo cap at 24vMbps/1^Mbps for ~$50/mo. Get a better service provider (read: get off the incumbents).

      • by Yvan256 (722131)

        My cap is 35GiB, speed is 5Mbps/768kbps for ~30$/month.

        Get a better service provider, you say? There's none!

        • by AikonMGB (1013995)

          Depends on your area, obviously, but there are definitely third party Internet providers out there. I'm on Teksavvy myself; never looked back after switching away from Rogers.

    • Re:250GB (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ken D (100098) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @08:40AM (#39495749)

      That's what I thought too.
      Then since we got a Roku and Netflix for Christmas, our monthly data usage has steadily climbed up from 10GB to 125GB. If our data usage continues to climb we will be at the limit in a few months and we have done nothing except basically replace cable TV with internet TV.

    • I live in a house with 4 other heavy use roommates. We have the medium tier of Comcast Business Class (ie no bandwidth caps). We broke 1TB transferred last month...
    • by danomac (1032160)

      I'm on one of the two main providers here, on the middle plan at 15/1 (~$50/month.) My cap is 250 GB. They must've increased it on me, as I remember it being 125 GB when I signed up...

    • by GiMP (10923)

      I've transferred 220GB in the past month, evenly split between upload and download. No, I am not using P2P networks. This is just standard usage.

      That said, I do have a Netflix account... but I haven't used it this month. I work from home, do lots of SSH and a few minutes a day of VoIP. My wife uses Skype video extensively on the weekends. I use VNC and other remote console stuff on occassion, but not frequently. I have a number of computers that download updates from the internet, including a Windows deskto

  • by mbone (558574) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @08:07AM (#39495415)

    These companies see themselves as gatekeepers, not service providers. In other words, they think that they will make money from their ability to control what you do or see, not by providing you with the ability to do something. Getting them to realize that their business model has, in fact, changed and that they now are, in fact, service providers is going to be a long and messy project.

  • by tgd (2822) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @08:17AM (#39495519)

    You have to be a Comcast *TV* provider to use those services. If you stream HBOGO over your Comcast internet connection, when you get TV via FIOS, you pay for that bandwidth, because you're not a Comcast TV customer.

    This isn't a net neutrality case, this is a case of Comcast delivering content from your *TV* service to you via IP instead of QAM.

    I'd actually be pissed off if they weren't doing this, because it would mean it was free to watch on-demand using their cable boxes, but not my devices.

  • by Taibhsear (1286214) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @08:24AM (#39495605)

    Part of the problem here is they've effectively cordoned off the other services. There's us and them. Now all they have to do is squeeze them out with increasingly smaller bandwidth caps so that you'll use more Comcast controlled services to not go over your cap (and likely justify it with their inability to handle the traffic volume instead of actually upgrading their damned equipment which we paid for years ago, which they just pocketed the money for instead.) or they'll just start charging for anything non-comcraptastic. This is why it's a net neutrality problem.

  • by Lorien_the_first_one (1178397) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @08:27AM (#39495645)

    I think the point is abundantly clear in the following article:

    http://readersupportednews.org/pm-section/186-186/4184-net-neutrality-is-a-ruse [readersupportednews.org]

    Designate Comcast as a common carrier and watch how fast they split their business between content and carriage. For as long as Comcast is connected to a public network carrying data from other networks to their customers, they are a common carrier, no matter what the FCC says. If Comcast wants to remain a private network, they can cut their connection to the Internet and provide their own content to their users.

  • Why now? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bluestar (17362) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @08:44AM (#39495807) Homepage

    I am Jack's complete lack of surprise. This is exactly what everyone here was warning about when the whole Net Neutrality "controversy" started. I just wonder why Comcast thought now was the right time to do it.

  • So, does this include torrents that don't route outside of Comcast's network? Presumably a good proportion of P2P need not cross their perimeter, I wonder if support for such "preferred" netranges can be added to P2P clients..

  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @08:47AM (#39495849) Homepage

    Part of the deal to purchase NBC Universal required that Comcast offer equal access to NBC content over other networks. But making it free bandwidth for your customers, but not for other customers, seems to violate the intent of that requirement while perhaps adhering to the letter of it.

    *This* is why you cannot have one company as the service provider and the content provider.

    Prior to the merger, the justice department released a Competitive Impact Statement [justice.gov] which is concerned with Comcast not allowing access to NBC (and others) content. But it did not consider the possibility of Comcast offering special benefits to the content for their subscribers. Now that I think about it, nothing stops Comcast from offering content cheaper, faster, better quality, in 3D, etc.

    Comcast's web site has the regulatory approval document [comcast.com] which explains their limitations. It doesn't seem to specifically say they can't do this, but it looks like other people figured they couldn't do this. This blog entry from Mediapost [mediapost.com] says that the ruling:

    Does not disadvantage rival online video distribution through its broadband Internet access services and/or set-top boxes. Does not enter into agreements to unreasonably restrict online distribution of its own video programming or programming of other providers.

    So I think most people believed that this was illegal.

  • Comcast is giving the customer more value for their money and people are complaining about net neutrality. Would it be better if Comcast counted it's own content against the cap?

    Comcast is a cable company that provides television service which people pay extra for anyways, so it isn't free. The only difference is that you are distributing the content to PCs and tablets instead of a television set.

    I don't see how anyone would argue that it should count against your bandwidth cap when you already pay for th

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      > Comcast is giving the customer more value for their money

      No they aren't. They are engaging in an obvious and blatant form of monopoly abuse. They are exploiting the natural monopoly part of their business to unfairly benefit the content delivery aspect of their business against rivals.

      These rivals are well established first movers that rightfully deserve the "spoils" of innovating and providing new products.

      Continued tolerance of these blatant monopoly activities will only drive the best companies out

      • Abuse of monopoly power would be to lower the cap or start limiting third party websites, which Comcast isn't doing.

        How is what Comcast doing any different than the cable TV that you paid for? The content is exactly the same just the means of distribution is a little different to make it more convenient to watch.

  • Would this be akin to having General Electric owning your electric company then saying that they won't charge you for the electricity used to power G.E. branded toasters and dishwashers (hello "smart grid")? Of course non-G.E. branded appliances would be charged as normal, or at a higher rate.

  • Before this month, I definitely fell into the category of the 99% of users they claim never even get close to the 250GB limit, but this month, I'm already at 230 GB (I know what the spike in traffic is from, and, shockingly, it's not torrenting, not video streaming, and nothing illegal). My plan right now is to change the way I do things with regards to this service, but if Comcast offers a higher tier plan with a larger cap, I'd definitely consider uprgading to it.
  • Assuming the following is true and that the content on the xbox app is a subset of the VOD service offered on the cable tv service, this should not have anything to do with network neutrality. It is simply turning an xbox into a second cable box for VOD.

    " Q: Does a customer need to have a Comcast cable box connected to the TV, along with the Xbox 360?
    A: No, but the customer does need to have a cable box or CableCARD-enabled retail device connected to at least one TV in the h

  • You should have separate caps for traffic that goes out through the ISPs backhaul and traffic that doesn't. Because the former costs them more (transit charges) than the latter. And the latter may have no cap at all if that's feasible.

    I also think that large ISPs like Comcast should be required to give other services who want to evade the backhaul cap the ability to colocate in the ISP data centers.

    The big data companies (like streaming video) would then move into ISP data centers and reduce the load on the

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