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Networking Businesses The Internet

Time Warner Cable Implements Packet Shaping 492

RFC writes "In a move that may be indicative of modern ISP customer service, Time Warner has announced the introduction of packet shaping technology to its network. 'Packet shaping technology has been implemented for newsgroup applications, regardless of the provider, and all peer-to-peer networks and certain other high bandwidth applications not necessarily limited to audio, video, and voice over IP telephony.' As the poster observes, this essentially renders premium service useless. The company is already warning users that attempts to circumvent these measures is a violation of their Terms of Service."
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Time Warner Cable Implements Packet Shaping

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  • If you don't get (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xiph ( 723935 ) on Sunday June 10, 2007 @05:12AM (#19456579)
    what you pay for then stop paying for it.

    in the contract or at very least in the sale, they promise you a certain bandwidth, if they can't deliver what they promise you don't need to pay what you promised.
    • Re:If you don't get (Score:5, Informative)

      by tgd ( 2822 ) on Sunday June 10, 2007 @05:22AM (#19456609)
      All of those contracts clearly state "up to" a certain speed. No consumer service I've ever seen has a guaranteed speed claim.

      There's probably not much the consumer can do except vote with their money and cancel the service.

      This is why net neutrality laws are important -- because existing service contracts do NOT protect the consumer from this sort of action.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by timmarhy ( 659436 )
        when you sign up for an account advertised as a 20mbit service, 20mbit is what you are entitled to. fine print doesn't trump that later on. you could probably use this to weasle out of your contract easily enough.

        if i sold you a car, then ripped out the seats before you picked it up and claimed i didn't guarantee seats in the sale contract, it just wouldn't fly and neither would this.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by tgd ( 2822 )

          when you sign up for an account advertised as a 20mbit service, 20mbit is what you are entitled to. fine print doesn't trump that later on.
          Um... Yes it does. If you didn't read the contract thats not their problem.

          Wishing that wasn't the way it works doesn't make it so.
        • by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Sunday June 10, 2007 @05:59AM (#19456743)
          Contract law just isn't your thing really is it. No ISPs advertise guaranteed rates there is always a little * somewhere that says this is best case scenario and your rates may vary due to various factors. The fine print in your contract will also state this and you will have very little room for 'weaseling'.

          In fact attempting to cancel without being able so show your service has seriously degraded because of the ISPs actions will probably be treated as a breach of contract and trigger the usual attempt by the ISP to penalise you with a fee for the remainder of your contract.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by timmarhy ( 659436 )
            Not up on contract law? so then you'd be aware that in most contract law, if one party has the ability to change the contract terms to the detriment of the other, it has to allow the other party an "out" so the speak. always remmeber that the spirit of contracts is to lean towards fairness on both parties. contracts that don't always get trounced in any court

            i can only speak from experience here in australia, if this happens the ISP will usually let you off, if they don't you get the TIO involved they will

      • Re:If you don't get (Score:5, Interesting)

        by phoenix321 ( 734987 ) * on Sunday June 10, 2007 @05:45AM (#19456697)
        Of course they can't promise a certain bandwidth, because they'd otherwise be swamped with lawsuits. Every dimwit customer would be complaining about the occasional download from Zambia or India creeping along at modem speeds.

        But there's clearly a difference between
        "line speed 6mbit/sec and from there as fast as the target server allows",
        "line speed UP TO 6mbit/sec depending on what your neighborhood does and how much we overbooked our DSLAM"


        "line speed 6mbit/sec but we're turning it down to modem speed if we don't like your face" or
        "line speed 6mbit/sec, but we turn it down for every activity that could actually need that bandwidth"

        Home contracts used to promise at least the company's best efforts to maintain a certain service level - and now they're effectively promising nothing at all.

        Why anyone would enter a contract that states "You pay me every month full and in advance and I promise you nothing" is beyond me. Even mafia hitmen have more customer friendly terms, I think. But if you think that's fair trade practice, you may like to view that bridge I have on sale here...
        • by smittyoneeach ( 243267 ) * on Sunday June 10, 2007 @07:47AM (#19457191) Homepage Journal
          Now, if a bunch of /.ers got together and started an ISP (grafting on the significant marketing, legal, HR, and executive chops you'd need), who here really thinks the final company, Applied Slashdot Superiority, would offer a significantly less evil/more reliable offering to the public?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DMNT ( 754837 )

          Home contracts used to promise at least the company's best efforts to maintain a certain service level - and now they're effectively promising nothing at all.

          You know there is a market price for buying guaranteed bandwidth - at least here in North Europe - but I bet you can't afford it. Neither can I. Neither does the company I work for. Buying a reserved and guaranteed bandwidth means that you can't "overbook" that amount and you have to pay it in full.

          Statistically speaking a normal use of a computer is

          • Re:If you don't get (Score:4, Interesting)

            by jotok ( 728554 ) on Sunday June 10, 2007 @10:12AM (#19457769)
            The network usage becomes a Poisson distribution and combined the usage starts to resemble normal distribution.

            Citation? I've only seen a few studies on this but so far as I know "bursty" traffic doesn't approach a normal distribution, ever, over any large time frame.
          • by phoenix321 ( 734987 ) * on Sunday June 10, 2007 @10:12AM (#19457771)
            Please re-read my post: I'm not talking about guaranteed bandwidth, I'm talking about guaranteed *best efforts*.

            Nobody expects home DSL connections to have more than 90% uptime or the transfer bandwidth set in stone. That's what T1, SDSL and enterprise-grade SLA's are for. But I expect my ISP to maintain his contractual obligations in at least *trying* to give the best connection that is feasible from an economical and whatnot point of view.

            Traffic shaping and intentionally throttling traffic in applications where sheer bandwidth (not latency) is important is NOT honoring the contract.

            To be short: I don't expect my ISP to have 24/7 onsite rapid-response teams, multiple backup lines and .99+ uptime. - But I sure as hell don't want my ISP to actively hamper my connection. Not helping is a whole lot better than intentionally blocking the way...
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by The Rizz ( 1319 )

              Nobody expects home DSL connections to have more than 90% uptime or the transfer bandwidth set in stone.

              Well, I sure as fuck do.

              The contract I signed said that I got a service, not that I got a service when it was convenient for them. 90% uptime is 9.99% less than I expect from any service that advertises itself as "always on".

              Also, the transfer bandwidth is set in stone as far as I'm concerned; the bandwidth is what I'm paying for, and I expect to get it. The whole "maximum speed may not be achieved" thing is only supposed to come into play when there is either (1) slowdowns/downtime due to repairs or maint

          • Re:If you don't get (Score:5, Interesting)

            by aaarrrgggh ( 9205 ) on Sunday June 10, 2007 @11:49AM (#19458287)

            Enter "Pete the Pirate". He's using the bandwidth in full and he won't fit in that normal distribution. The nice normal distribution turns skewed to the right, everyone gets worse response times and less bandwidth on average. The solution? Sell everyone guaranteed 10M/512k or what? Most of the people don't want to pay 60 times as much as they do because they don't have the need for guaranteed bandwidth. ISDN was about fixed bandwidth and it sucked. Nobody needed that bandwidth that much and therefore the costs were significantly higher than with ADSL technologies.

            Solution: Transfer based billing. I think the sender should pay for the bandwidth as it is with the web sites as well. Your incoming traffic requires also outgoing traffic and you attach the interest of the company (build as little infrastructure as economically feasible) with the interest of the client (use that infrastructure as little as economically feasible).

            The problem with that logic is that the statistical average of all users is pushed up by "Peter." He might not fit into the old distribution, but he is a part of the new one. As Quincy, Robert, Sam and Tom all begin to have similar usage patterns, the average usage begins to fit more closely Peter's usage.

            The ISP needs to adjust their models to reflect these changes over time.

            Personally, I would prefer for an ISP to tier levels of service and commit to a contention ratio they can afford. If a user exceeds the preset contention ratio for their package over a 7 or 30 day period, they are bumped into the next tier after a warning. Start out with a 512k, 1% contention which should be adequate for most users (ends up at 1.5G/month), then go to a 1.024M, 2% (6G/month), 2M, 5% (30GB/month), 6M, 10%...

            Tie the sense of value (bandwidth) into the true cost (transfer), and give the ISP the incentive to improve over time as well as give the customer an incentive to buy into a higher package. If internet TV takes off (for example), over time a market is created for improvements...
        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 10, 2007 @08:54AM (#19457445)

          Even mafia hitmen have more customer friendly terms, I think
          I can confirm this.
          Posting AC for obvious reasons.
        • by eonlabs ( 921625 )
          There clearly need to be more ISP providers out there for cable. It's either Time Warner or Dial-up in many areas. I don't like it either, but if you can't break the monopoly, what are you going to do about it?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Xiph ( 723935 )
        Just for shits and giggles, i just went to time warner to read the contracts(different for cali and rest of the us)...
        I'm glad that i don't have to put up with the crap that you guys do.

        Seriously, i think contracts like this would be made more humane,
        If consumers took the time to call them and ask, what each clause of a contract meant, before purchase.

        I'm curious as to how much, of the stuff they put in the contract, would be thrown out in a courtroom?
      • It's not that easy. (Score:5, Informative)

        by superbus1929 ( 1069292 ) on Sunday June 10, 2007 @06:30AM (#19456839) Homepage
        You can't just "cancel" your contract in a lot of cases. I know in my area, you have three choices: 1) use the cable provider (Comcast), 2) use dial-up, 3) go fuck yourself. It's a selective monopoly, and it seriously hurts a lot of consumers in a lot of less urban areas.
        • choice four (Score:4, Interesting)

          by poptones ( 653660 ) on Sunday June 10, 2007 @06:38AM (#19456865) Journal
          Move to a country home in the deep south and get DSL. I live 7 miles from a town with a population of about 1000 people, a mile off the highway on a dirt road and I have 3Mbit dsl service that's pretty darn reliable. How someone can live in the city and not have dsl or high speed wireless service available amazes me. Heck, you should at least be able to get cheap fractional T1. If no one else has decent service and you live in a populated area stick up a wifi gateway and offer it yourself. If the cable service really does suck that bad it shouldn't be hard at all to find customers to help defray the cost of that shared T1.

          • Re:choice four (Score:5, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 10, 2007 @07:48AM (#19457199)

            Move to a country home in the deep south and get DSL. I live 7 miles from a town with a population of about 1000 people, a mile off the highway on a dirt road and I have 3Mbit dsl service that's pretty darn reliable. How someone can live in the city and not have dsl or high speed wireless service available amazes me. Heck, you should at least be able to get cheap fractional T1. If no one else has decent service and you live in a populated area stick up a wifi gateway and offer it yourself. If the cable service really does suck that bad it shouldn't be hard at all to find customers to help defray the cost of that shared T1.

            Your provider is obviously operating at a loss in your area. The only explanation is that there is a high ranking company employee who lives in your area.

            I live five kilometers from a town of about 500 people on a paved road. The best connection avaialble is 28.8Kbps dial-up. You are aware that DSL signals are only good to about 2500 meters from the switch? To provide you with DSL there must be at least four pieces of expensive signal boosting equipment between you and town. It is pretty much guaranteed there are not enough subscribers to pay for it. (Thus my conclusion that an executive of the the ISP you use lives nearby.) Neither DSL or cable will be available in my area until the population grows large enough to make it profitable, at which point I will move farther out because there will be too many people. (Satellite is laughable for internet service and wifi is almost as bad.)

            Most modern cable internet service is far superior to T1. (Especially Eastlink in eastern Canada, the industry leaders for over a decade.) Eastlink can provide me a 10Mbit up and down connection for a fraction of the cost of a T1 with 6.6 times the capacity. Cable is superior to DSL. Why? Simple physics. Coaxial cable is a far superior signal conductor to the phone lines used by DSL. Look it up, or take a basic physics course.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by flipper65 ( 794710 )
            We in Georgia enjoy the fruits of all of your USF payments in the form of outstanding rural DSL availability. As for those of you comparing T1 to 5Mbps keep in mind that the T's only real advantage is the guaranteed speed and uptime. Let's face it, it's slower down and as for the up speed, what do I care how fast my request for porn gets to the server as long as it's delivered at a decent rate.
        • by quonsar ( 61695 ) on Sunday June 10, 2007 @09:41AM (#19457655) Homepage
          3) go fuck yourself.

          DickTel, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CheneyComm
      • Re:If you don't get (Score:4, Interesting)

        by l3v1 ( 787564 ) on Sunday June 10, 2007 @06:45AM (#19456909)
        No consumer service I've ever seen has a guaranteed speed claim

        Well, you've seen the wrong contracts then. The contract I have has a minimum bandwidth clause and also a maximum out-of-service period limit. But then again, this is not the U.S. here.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mikkelm ( 1000451 )
        If you're selling a connection with bandwidth "up to", say, 10Mbps, you have to prove that it is possible, within the realm of practicality, to attain that kind of bandwidth on a typical connection.

        If a car manufacturer claims that the top speed of a vehicle they're selling is 200mph, it has to be able to reach 200mph in a plausible situation. If the car can only attain 200mph going downhill with a hurricane behind it, it's deceptive marketing.

        When you market a product as going "up to" a certain level of pe
    • by Detritus ( 11846 )
      If you read the fine print, they don't promise diddly-squat. They will be more than happy to take your money. As far as delivering a service, you'll take what your given and like it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 10, 2007 @05:15AM (#19456595)
    This is the 'technical solution' to a typical case of selling a product that you can't actually deliver.
    NTL in the UK has just started to institute a similar policy, and is reputed to be haemorrhaging subscribers at an alarming rate (at least if you are a shareholder). It really defeats the point in having broadband to slap an arbitrarily low usage cap on a service that is expected to be used to transfer rich media content - which is by nature very large.
    Either these companies can invest in their network sufficiently to deliver this type of service, or they should withdraw from this business completely.
    Usage caps will only buy them a small amount of time, before proper investment in their networks must resume.
    • by jez9999 ( 618189 )
      NTL in the UK has just started to institute a similar policy

      By the way, they're called Virgin Media now.

      Is it really a similar policy? They take some users down to 1mb down, 128kb up after 350MB usage at peak times. It still seems fast enough (although I do hate the utter asynchronousness of it, I like my upstream dmanit!)

      If anything, what will make me go for Be Unlimited w/ Sky at my next property will be the truly terrible Indian-based 'customer service' call centres they seem to have switched to since
      • by Shemmie ( 909181 )
        There are good UK ISP's out there. I've just moved to one that stresses they sell you a bandwidth package - in my case, 30 gig peak, 300 gig off-peak. What you do with that bandwidth is your call.

        If a market demands it (And considering the UK market is near-enough completely traffic-management / FUP - certainly amongst the big players), then services willing to take your money to provide the service you want will spring up.
  • Class action? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> on Sunday June 10, 2007 @05:19AM (#19456601) Journal
    Ok, so I take this as an admission that they're not willing or able to deliver as advertised. Sounds like a lot of people are owed a refund.


    • Re:Class action? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by flyboy974 ( 624054 ) on Sunday June 10, 2007 @05:28AM (#19456629)
      I agree. The FCC has repeatedly denied ISP's the right to shape and/or filter traffic based on the common carrier laws.

      To do otherwise would cause the ISP to lose their status as a common carrier, and thus, for all legal matters, lose their "Internet Service Provider" status as well as far as the DMCA is concerned. At this point they start to filter and/or interact with the traffic, they are no longer a bipartisan, rather a willing participant in deciding upon the traffic of which they are choosing to send.

      Thus, any illegal content, they have chosen to allow. Regardless of protocol, technology, etc.

      So they are not liable.
  • by timmarhy ( 659436 ) on Sunday June 10, 2007 @05:25AM (#19456619)
    In terms of QOS i agree with this. if for example you are downloading 100gig of porn from torrents then shaping that when you make a phone call in order to make sure the phone call gets through ok is GOOD. shaping however should NEVER prevent you reaching your maxium speed your line is capable of. what you spend your bandwidth on is none of their business, isp's have repeatedly stated they aren't responsible for your downloading habits, so they can't turn around and control them to suit themselfs and not be liable for it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rosyna ( 80334 )
      In terms of QOS i agree with this. if for example you are downloading 100gig of porn from torrents then shaping that when you make a phone call in order to make sure the phone call gets through ok is GOOD.

      Alternatively, the broadband provider could actually improve its infrastructure so it supports advertised speeds for all users.

      Packet shaping looks like a method for ISPs to have higher advertised speeds without actually increasing the capacity of their network as they should.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by NMerriam ( 15122 )

        Alternatively, the broadband provider could actually improve its infrastructure so it supports advertised speeds for all users.

        Well, there will always be a compromise between mean capacity and peak capacity. Expecting everyone with RR to be able to download NNTP feeds at full-speed at prime-time is not reasonable for any consumer service that will be affordable. But if I'm downloading at 3am and there is plenty of unused capacity that i'm capable of having, I certainly expect it not to be slowed down by R

      • You're not getting it, are you?

        I do this on my own networks, and I don't get complaints about it. Yes I'm an ISP. No, I'm not evil. I make every effort not to be evil. When it comes to transport out to the internet, YES, I do shape traffic. Priority goes (roughly) VOIP, Video, SSH/RDC, Web, P2P. In that order. Now, that doesn't mean you don't get the full bandwidth you're paying for with P2P. What happens is that packets get dropped and re-sent (as per TCP specs) and the result is additional LATENCY, not a drop in overall throughput. That only occurs if I'm horribly over-subscribed, which just won't happen, because if I'm paying wholesaler rates, there's really no way I'd allow it to happen. Bought in appropriate quantities bandwidth is cheap. TRANSPORT of that bandwidth is what is expensive. I can buy up all the bandwidth I want from the right location for next to nothing. Getting it to you is what costs me big time. If you build the infrastructure to me, support it, and don't whine at me when it's down, I can sell it to you cheaply, too.

        No, I don't like the big media conglomerates any more than you do, but being in the business I can tell you that this isn't wholly evil. What I would like to see from them is a release of HOW they're shaping it. That release makes it look to me more like they're doing Web > Everything Else, or putting hard caps on VOIP, Video, P2P, etc, which would be evil as well. I don't hard cap bandwidth below what you're paying for. Now, that said, our service contracts are worded such that you know up front that you're buying burstable service. We offer 10MBit symmetrical connection, but the contract states that we only guarantee 256k symmetrical dedicated. Anything above that is burst, which means that you have no right to saturate the connection full time more than 256k, but you're more than welcome to burst up to that for periods. To me this is fair. If you have a big download, burst away, that's what you've paid for. Running a warez FTP isn't. Running a (high bandwidth) website isn't. We don't have language that says you can't run a server. You can, but you're not allowed to saturate your connection 24/7. If we see that, you get a phone call asking you to purchase a dedicated connection rather than a burstable one. The problem with the cable companies is that they don't offer dedicated connections, because they CAN'T. You're on the same node as your neighbors, and whether you pay for a dedicated connection or not, you degrade the service of your neighbors when you saturate the line, end of story.

        I wish I could grow out faster, but I can't. I am try to get some investors to get more infrastructure out there, but Ma Bell isn't too happy about my existence right now. :\ I've tried to avoid doing business with "Mom" as I've taking to call them, but it's hard. Anyhoo...that's off-topic. Point is, don't bust their chops for shaping. Bust them for not telling you *how* they're shaping, and "ask" with your money for them to do it right, and not be greedy. If not, make sure your neighbors know what is up too, and if they don't initially care ("we just browse the web and check e-mail"), make them aware of the impact this sort of behavior could have on them down the road, and get them to at least make phone calls and case a ruckus. If they really are your only broadband choice, call the local newspaper, or tv station. They usually have investigative reporters on-hand, and if you can explain in layman's terms what's going on, guaranteed you might get them to re-think their policy. Companies hate bad PR, it hurts the revenue stream, and I know first hand that lost revenue HURTS.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jthill ( 303417 )

          Priority goes (roughly) VOIP, Video, SSH/RDC, Web, P2P. In that order.

          But, see, that's not what these guys are doing. What they're doing is forcibly idling bandwidth.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Lets take you at your wird, that internet bandwidth is cheap. Then there are two other major costs, the customer's line to your network and the switching in your network. Now you also say that if a customer has paid for the line size by a portion the contract, there is only one major cost left, your network switching connecting ther paid for line to the cheap internet connection. Then the major decision is how much do you pay for dumb common carrier type switching versus smart packet shaping switching.

  • The packet shaping they talk about doesnt seem to have any concrete cut offs for when it is used, just a vague reference to "excessive bandwidth usage." [what exactly do they think is excessive?] what is going to end up happening is the broadband users that know enough about it will either leave or try to go around the packet shaping. in the latter case, if they got caught they would likely have their account trashed which would quickly lead to a lot of people knowing about it. seems like an awful effic
    • A cunning plan... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sam0ht ( 46606 ) on Sunday June 10, 2007 @05:34AM (#19456653)

      TW are probably HOPING to lose 10% of their customers... the 10% who use 90% of the bandwidth. By biasing their customer base towards those who just want to read their email and check CNN online, they can carry on collecting the fees and not bother with the costs of providing greater bandwidth.
      • Oh come on now,

        If this is the reason that TW want to lose these customers then they should not be promoting a high-speed service and hoping that the majority of users will only use low bandwidth applications. I don't use a lot of always on high-bandwidth apps, but on the occasions I do I expect the experience I'm paying $50/month for.

        If there is some kind of monthly "bandwidth cap" after which point your service will be degraded that is one thing. To simply degrade the service for anyone using certain types
    • Oh I see.. so if they screw over every smart customer they have and make them leave their bandidth requirements would decrease drastically thus allowing them to overbook their service like they wanted to in the first place. BRILLIANT!
  • by Detritus ( 11846 ) on Sunday June 10, 2007 @05:30AM (#19456637) Homepage
    Oops, we broke your third-party VOIP service. Why not sign up for Time-Warner VOIP, which works much better?

    I'm just waiting for the jerks to declare any use of IPSEC as a violation of their TOS.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DigitAl56K ( 805623 )
      Not only that, but perhaps more significantly TW is a media/content company. The moment that they start shaping traffic to Internet media sites of various kinds (e.g. online video), which is more likely due to higher bandwidth consumption, aren't they being anti-competitive?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 10, 2007 @05:36AM (#19456663)
    Since when is voice a high-bandwidth application? A telephone call only uses 56kbps (that's bits per second), and that's without good compression. I can't imagine how a call made with a good codec could be considered enough of a problem to be throttled.

    • by evanbd ( 210358 )
      That should be obvious. TWC sells VOIP phone service last I checked; of course they'll "shape" other VOIP traffic.
    • by macdaddy ( 38372 ) on Sunday June 10, 2007 @11:33AM (#19458205) Homepage Journal
      I think something needs to be explained here. Apparently from the threads I've been reading in the article most people do not realize that VoIP is a high bandwidth application. It's true. Consider this, we allot 8kbps per user for our b-band offering which is 125:1 if you're a network person or 128:1 if you're a retarded systems administrator. This typically leaves us with a surplus of bandwidth. For businesses it all depends on the SLA. If they want 1:1 then they'll be paying about $100/meg. Our cheapest upstream is $75/meg plus our own network costs (we just sunk $750k in a new core in one POP and we only replaced 2 devices). How do I know this? I run an ISP.

      Going back to the original topic. Skype, Vonage and VoIP offerings built into IM clients, FPS and role-playing games (or the addons) consume between 32 and 64kps, depending on the codec and utilization of the voice frequencies (ie, my phone calls consume around 32kbps but a call between my aunt and mother run much closer to 64kbps). Contrary to popular misbelief just because an audio codec like G.711 claims to only use up to 64kbps does not mean it won't consume more bandwidth with more voice traffic, ie both people talking simultaneously. The voice traffic is many times the average transfer rate of most consumers. While surfing the web and checking email most users will barely make a blip on a I/O graph of their CM or their DSL modem. Most of the VoIP apps I've worked with use G.711 by default instead of G.729 or some other less demanding codec. I haven't even touched on IP/UDP overhead for VoIP traffic. A G.711 64kbps stream is around 84kbps with IP/UDP overhead. This overhead is even greater if you're putting the traffic onto a VPN tunnel of some sort. GRE adds 24; IPSec adds 40 IIRC. Depending on your method VPN implementation you could even be pushing IPSec over TCP adds another 20+, depending on header options. Your VoIP call could be close to the upstream limits of your b-band connection and you don't even realize it, depending on your setup of course.

      So in short, yes, VoIP is considered a high bandwidth application when compared to the atypical "95%" user. These are the users that we base on bandwidth allotments on. P2P, NNTP, and porn downloaders fall into the "5%" category. The unused excess from the "95%" users generally takes care of these users. We also run with a fairly substantial buffer, just in case. We have now decided to push for up to 100Mbps to the doorstep over the course of the next 3-5 years. We're rolling out ADSL2+ in some areas as a stop-gap measure and have started on a FTTH project for the remaining areas. We anticipate that more of the "95%" users will be become bandwidth consumers as IPTV, video-on-demand and online movie rental products become more prevalent. The trick is to not overbuild the network before users are ready to use it. We can't pass along the increased costs until they're ready for improved service. Raising cable bills by $5/month will piss alot of people off, even when we've deployed $50mil of plant and network upgrades.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        No VOIP is not high bandwidth. Cellphone users transmit only 9-12Kbps each way and that is good enough for most so long as latency remaions low. VOIP, like most interactive applications, needs low latency and streaming needs relatively constant latency. To get that low latency, which is an artifact of a low usage packet switched network, requires either a dedicated virtual circuit or plenty of spare capacity. That sparseness is what you call "higher BW needs" of VOIP.

        If you are reselling a 1000/1000 con
  • by bhima ( 46039 ) <Bhima.Pandava@gmail. c o m> on Sunday June 10, 2007 @06:18AM (#19456785) Journal
    This is the problem with these 'unlimited' plans, there no way all users can consume the peak bandwidth advertised and we all know it. Many 'enthusiast' users signed up for such plans thinking their providers were fools for offering such plans. Well who's the fool? The guy that oversells a product by an order of magnitude or the guy that bought into it knowing that it was?

    In my opinion un-metered plans should not be offered at all, there is no such thing as a free lunch. You pay for an upload/download capability, then pay for brackets of monthly bandwidth, and you should get a break on packets transfered during off-peak hours.

    Do we really want or need government regulation of ISP capacity marketing? If that's the case I guess the free market economy doesn't work as well a some folks think.
    • the problem is not with the users. any user who buys a plan marketed as 20mbps has the right to assume that is the speed they are entitled to. the "up to" clause, at least in most contracts I have seen, is there to allow for the rare case where due to technical problems or other temporary circumstances the company can't guarantee the speed, not as a device to systematically oversell the service.

      also, where i live the providers have more or less kept up with capacity increase partly because the government in
    • by zotz ( 3951 ) on Sunday June 10, 2007 @07:39AM (#19457149) Homepage Journal
      "In my opinion un-metered plans should not be offered at all, there is no such thing as a free lunch. You pay for an upload/download capability, then pay for brackets of monthly bandwidth, and you should get a break on packets transfered during off-peak hours."

      No thanks.

      Here is something I would buy...

      Flat rate. Guaranteed X up / Y down (preferably X = Y) with ability to go up to a.X up and b.Y down when the network loading can handle it. (a and b are greater than 1!)

      Over selling is cool down at the home level, just sell and manage it honestly.

      Don't give me this per byte game though. And I dont want to pay by the word for my phone calls either.

      all the best,

  • by ColeonyxOnline ( 966334 ) on Sunday June 10, 2007 @06:19AM (#19456793)
    Time Warner Cable is showing just how much they learned from AOL during the AOL/Timer Warner days.
  • Flat rate makes sense when available capacity is so high compared to common usage that accounting for usage is more expensive than simply letting everybody just use the service at a fixed fee. That's true for voice, dial-up, and maybe ISDN speeds.

    For broadband, flat rates don't make any sense yet. What you get is either volume-capped flat rates, traffic shaping, or some kind of nebulous enforcement. Since those tend to be not very transparent to customers and hard to compare between providers, those kind
  • ... and not South Korea.

    In general, the population density is far too low in North America to make it financially feasible for ISPs to lay out improved infrastructure as they become available. In the US of A, the average population density is 31 per square km. In Canada, it's a paltry 3.2 per square km. South Korea, on the other hand, has a population density of 480!!! per square km. Over 15 times that of the U.S., and over 150 times that of Canada. This makes it a lot easier for ISPs to roll out improved i
    • by pv2b ( 231846 ) on Sunday June 10, 2007 @06:59AM (#19456963)
      Population density isn't the whole explanation though.

      Here in Europe, for example -- Belgium, with a population density of 343 people/km^2, has realtively crappy broadband, with bandwidth caps of a few tens of gigabytes per month being prevalent with most ISPs. At least, last time I checked. I might be out of date.

      Sweden, however, with a population density of just 22 people/km^2, has great broadband. I have uncapped cable at 24 Mbit/s down and 8 Mbit/s up, and I do use it rather heavilly, although I use far less than my total theoretical capacity. I haven't received any nastygrams from my ISP about this either. The very young wireless 3G broadband market, which used to have an industry standard of a 1 GB/month cap, has under the last few months come under competition, with most providers giving uncapped access. Broadband in rural areas is less spectacular, but ADSL is available in many areas, if you're lucky enough to have bought in before they ran out of space for equipment in your local telephone station. (A widespread problem right now, it seems.)

      The most important piece of the puzzle is working competition between providers. Sure, a dense population helps, but it's in no way so significant as you make it out to be.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by swilver ( 617741 )
        Or just look at your Dutch neighbours, they have a lot of competing ISP's while Belgium only has a few (and I believe all of them are using the same network which charges very high rates). A little competition goes a long way, because in the Netherlands, ISP's not only offer cheaper service, they offer faster service without data limits (my ISP doesn't even blink when I download 200 GB+ for months in a row).

        The Dutch government has forced the owners of the biggest telephony and data networks to open their

    • by IgnoramusMaximus ( 692000 ) on Sunday June 10, 2007 @09:19AM (#19457551)

      In general, the population density is far too low in North America to make it financially feasible for ISPs to lay out improved infrastructure as they become available.

      This is an old, tired and worn-out and patently absurd canard, which is being spread by apologists of the US telecommunication oligopolies since the beginning of the Internet. The truth is that in much of the US the population density in major metropolitan centres is as great or greater then the average Korean, Swedish or Japanese ones and yet, in those same very areas, which in your reasoning shoud be extremely suitable for deployment of 100mb Internet connections comparable to those being deployed en-masse in those other countries, you get .... 1.5 mb DSL. If you are lucky that is.

      In short, the problem is the ever expanding culture of corporate avarice, corruption, attempts to make a quick buck and wholesale deterioration of marketplace ethic in the USA, which then spreads via USA-based multinationals to other nations where those same multinationals and their CEOs have influence. Get rich quick at any cost to everybody else is the new "motto" of Corporate America. "Work hard and make a good product" is sooo early 20th century!

      Large businesses need to fear their customers, but because they essentially run and control the US government -- the only force capable of opposing and controlling them -- they are in a position to longer care about the supposed "invisible hand" of the marketplace. Now they can do whatever they want, and the "consumers" (the most derogatory term for a "person" ever invented) have to just take it.

      And that is the truth of the matter, in affairs ranging from the Internet service to cell phone service to motor vehicle fuel consumption and so on.

  • by DigitAl56K ( 805623 ) on Sunday June 10, 2007 @06:32AM (#19456847)
    On June 7th I experienced a drop in bandwidth to certain online video sites down to only 300Kbps, where usually I can get a full 5Mbps downstream. I can't say for sure that this was 'traffic shaping', but it's quite a co-incidence that TWC made this announcement one day earlier.

    Does anybody have a link to a list of ISPs or non-business plans that are not traffic shaping? If a 16x drop in performance is going to become a frequent occurrence I aim to leave RoadRunner quickly. I'll look to the /. crowd for some respectable recommendations.
    • by M. Baranczak ( 726671 ) on Sunday June 10, 2007 @12:10PM (#19458419)
      Actually, I'm a little suspicious of this story. I googled it and all I could find was this Slashdot story and the source it links to - which is a forum posting that reproduces an email which was supposedly received by a Time Warner customer. There's nothing about this on TW's official site, and no other news sites have written anything. I'm not saying it's not true, it's just a little unusual for Slashdot to publish breaking news like that.
  • The only option (Score:5, Insightful)

    by javilon ( 99157 ) on Sunday June 10, 2007 @06:41AM (#19456881) Homepage
    Is to encrypt every protocol so it looks like IPSEC or ssh and use random ports. This is going to be defeating the point of network management, firewalls, etc, but it is the only option they allow us to get information across without it being cataloged, censored and billed according to whatever criteria they want to impose.

    • Re:The only option (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Phil246 ( 803464 ) on Sunday June 10, 2007 @07:05AM (#19456987)
      tell that to Rogers in canada.
      They're throttling all encrypted traffic, just incase that its used to bypass the traffic throttling they imposed.
      see [] for details
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by noidentity ( 188756 )

        They're throttling all encrypted traffic [], just incase that its used to bypass the traffic throttling they imposed.

        So, we need to convert our traffic into bloated HTML code or something. Would use even more bandwidth, but that's what they get.

  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Sunday June 10, 2007 @08:21AM (#19457313) Homepage Journal
    A Time Warner cablemodem account (really RoadRunner sold by Time Warner) I've been using has grown suprisingly fast in bandwidth. Every 12-18 months it approximately doubles, from 2Mbps to 10Mbps over the past 4 years. Its upload was about 600Kbps until last week, but one day it went symmetric, 10Mbps in each direction or both simultaneously.

    (Strangely, just uploading with wget doesn't do it, but rsync over scp gets the full 10Mbps instead of the old 0.6Mbps.)

    The jumps happen suddenly, but what's strange is that Time Warner doesn't promote the increases. I'd expect them to put ads screaming about how I'm paying the same, but getting so much more, steadily for years. I'm pretty cynical, but I can't keep up with that mystery.
  • encryption (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Danathar ( 267989 ) on Sunday June 10, 2007 @09:57AM (#19457725) Journal
    Bittorrent currently only encrypts the headers of it's packets. I predict that developers who make those applications affected will do everything they can to make their packets look like https or VPN by using SSL or similar technology.
  • I just don't get it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 10, 2007 @10:55AM (#19458005)
    Why do U.S. ISPs do this?? I'm and expat living in Japan, and we get what we're told we get. I had 100Mbps fiber for about US$60/mo. They say it's a best effort and not a guaranteed connection, but they must be putting a lot of effort into it because I certainly got over 65Mbps throughput. The other 35Mbps may actually be my computer not keeping up with things, and not the network itself, for all I can tell. We don't have packet shaping. We don't have "fake unlimited" accounts, but real unlimited accounts. This sounds fair, we get what they providers advertise. Why isn't this the case in the U.S.? Sounds like unfair and deceptive practices, especially since "voting with your wallet" doesn't always work, since the alternative is just as bad.

    But before you blast me with the "Japan is a smaller country and easier to get 100Mbps in urban areas", hear me through. I now live in Hokkaido, the northern most island in Japan, which accounts for over 23% of land mass, with a fraction of the population of the main island. This is closer to Canada or Alaska in terms of landmass/person. Next door neighbors may be several miles away. I live in a sleepy little town, and I don't have fiber, and I don't suspect we'll get it for a few more years minimum. But we do have ADSL, and I have it at about 45Mbps throughput (downstream) right now. Not bad at all. And again, no traffic shaping or false "unlimited" gimmicks. (For what it's worth, I don't think there are ANY providers left in Japan that have a cap on total trafffic per month anymore.)

    It sounds to me like the FCC should start kicking some telecom butt right about now, and tell the telecoms that they need to advertise what they're offering, and not something they want people to THINK they're providing. If the costs just can't justify true unlimited access, why not advertise it as being "limited" and offer a more expensive "truly unlimited" account? Over here in Japan there are residential and business lines. The business lines cost about 3 times as much, but there is a difference. Business lines have multiple static IP addresses. And if you pay even more, you get a "guaranteed" throughput speed, and an SLA with five-9 uptime guarantees.

    Each time I hear about these things, it just makes my eyes roll. WTF???? It is just insane that ISPs can actually get away with this. What they're doing is pretty much the same as an airline selling the same seat 3 times, and telling 2 out of 3 passengers that the flight was overbooked and they're SOL.
  • by CheSera ( 176903 ) on Sunday June 10, 2007 @11:31AM (#19458187)
    I work in one of the 5 TWC Regional Data Centers. There was no memo like this on Wednesday, nor have I ever seen such a memo. Reading it, you can clearly see that its a faked up story, as it mentions applications that take "lots of bandwidth". I'm sorry, but the people who write our memos wouldn't use verbage like this. Excessive maybe, considerable surely, but not "lots". On top of that, do you really think that TWC Corporate would send out a memo to announce this? I can guarantee you that if and when we do start packet shaping your traffic, it won't be announced to the world. And finally, the story itself is false. We haven't, nor have we any plans what so ever to start doing this. And come on, newsgroups? You think newsgroups are killing our bandwidth? That's just silly.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      You may work for TW - but did you read the DSL Reports thread? Several people contacted TW and received replies to this effect.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Vegeta99 ( 219501 )
      I work in real estate, the same situation as you - in a satellite site, away from the corporate office.

      The company I work for manages the property, but does not own it. One day, I went in - on rent day - and the phones were ringing off the hook. Nobody could pay online - it said we no longer supported that "amenity" at our location.

      For about 20 calls, I just directed people to try again a little later, until I tried to get our maintenance reports for the day, and found that our property's login had been dis
  • by straponego ( 521991 ) on Sunday June 10, 2007 @11:42AM (#19458257)
    The cable companies claim that they don't have a published or even fixed usage cap, but they are just cancelling the accounts of those who use more than the other 99% of the users. The justification for cancelling them: they use more than the rest.

    Okay, assume that's true. Cancel the top one percent. Now you have a new top one percent. Cancel them. Now...

    Pretty soon they'll have a lot of bandwidth freed up, and it'll be fair for everyone.

  • by mabu ( 178417 ) on Sunday June 10, 2007 @12:16PM (#19458465)
    I know many of you may not have choices for broadband, but this isn't surprising when you compare the legacy of telephone with cable companies. The former has been considered a common carrier and respected the data as autonomous. The latter, cable, has made as part of its business model, controlling data and limiting access to it. This is in-effect the fundamental difference between these two types of companies. If you care about data being free, you should not get your broadband service from a company who makes its money by feeding you little bits of traffic a la carte.
  • by grapeape ( 137008 ) <mpope7 AT kc DOT rr DOT com> on Sunday June 10, 2007 @01:14PM (#19458865) Homepage
    I switch back and forth between providers as soon as my contracts run out. I go to the lowest price...all the service is equally shitty in one way or another so its really just a matter of who gets the least amount of money from me. This crap actually started a long time ago with certain applications. My latest move was to drop from the highspeed $75 a month package to their dirt cheap $19 one because there was virtually no difference at all with caps in place.
  • by scottsevertson ( 25582 ) on Sunday June 10, 2007 @06:17PM (#19460617) Homepage
    Just chatted with an Earthlink Sales-Bot:

    Andy P.: Thank you for using EarthLink's live Sales chat. How can I help you today?
    Scott: I'm considering switching to Earthlink Cable from Time Warner Cable, but I'm wondering if TWC's newly announced packet shaping policy will be affecting Earthlink customers? See,18468495~da ys=9999~start=100 [] for some details regarding their announcement.
    Andy P.: One moment while I get that information for you.
    Andy P.: No, this does not affect us.
    Scott: How sure of of that answer are you? No offense, but I don't want to subscribe, then later find out you were wrong.
    Andy P.: The Topic on the Forum itself says "TW Officially Announces Packet Shaping for All RR User" It does not mention EarthLink and If this was the case with us we would definitely have received an update on this by now.
    Scott: Thanks! Appreciate your time.

    Could be the news hasn't trickled down to Sales, but I guess I'm hopeful. Only other option here is DSL, which has a higher total cost if you don't already have a phone line.
  • by JimDaGeek ( 983925 ) on Sunday June 10, 2007 @09:16PM (#19461513)
    I have been a digital cable, digital phone and digital roadrunner user for at least 8 years now. I just noticed this "issue" recently. I pay for Usenet access and noticed that downloads were going way slower then the 8 Mbps I pay Time Warner for (I pay an extra $9.95 a month to go from 5 Mbps to 8 Mbps). However, the "fix" is easy, just change ports for your Usenet client. The Usenet server I use NewsDemon [] offers many ports, just try each one until you get your speed back. I just switch to port 80, and wham, I am back to 8 Mbps goodness.

    Their traffic shaping seems to only be port based. Another example is that my upload is 512 Kbps. However, I tried to set up a small website for family and friends and noticed that upload from my port 80 was dog slow. So I setup a free [] WebHop service which sends all HTTP traffic to a different port. Wham, back to my full upload bandwidth. I also set Apache on my Mac to have a VHost on *:80 and *:5090. *:80 just redirects everything to *:5090.

    I noticed the shaping for Bitorrent as well. I just use a client that doesn't use the traditional ports and now I can download Linux ISO's at a good speed again. Though personally I don't use Bitorrent much. Usenet is much safer if you want to "try before you buy". With Usenet, you are not uploading, no one has ever been sued for downloading only. Copyright right restricts distribution (uploading), not downloading.

    I don't really see the reason for this shaping crap. Any some what technical user can bypass it by changing from the standard ports.

Vitamin C deficiency is apauling.