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Is Streaming Video the Real Throttling Target? 190

snydeq writes "Responding to legal pressure over its throttling of P2P traffic and other dubious practices, Comcast says it will now punish the most abusive users rather than particular applications. Yet its pilot tests in Pennsylvania and Virgina, which would 'delay traffic for the heaviest users of Internet data without targeting specific software applications,' raise greater concerns over net neutrality, ones that belie a potential preemptive strike against the cable company's chief future competition: streaming video. 'Despite the industry's constant invocation of the P2P bogeyman, at present, the largest bandwidth hog is actually streaming video,' writes Mehan Jayasuriya at Public Knowledge. 'Clearly, the emergence of online video is something that cable video providers find very threatening and by capping off bandwidth usage, they're effectively killing two birds with one stone; discouraging users from using their Internet connections for video while increasing the efficiency of the network. Is this anti-competitive? It sure seems like it.'"
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Is Streaming Video the Real Throttling Target?

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  • New business model (Score:5, Insightful)

    by simplyHere ( 1303427 ) on Friday June 06, 2008 @07:11PM (#23688971) Homepage
    It seems that promising too much in order to hook new users and then hitting the heaviest users (instead of fulfilling the promise)is a very valid business strategy lately.
    • I remember when my friend, Bob Ames was first running rush.com, and he kept having to change ISPs because EVERY ONE of them broke their promises regarding bandwidth. The business model seems to be provide the shittiest service possible to force users to upgrade well beyond their needs. Bob used to point out his throttled bandwidth to me when he was watching the news in dutch &c. Of course he had T-1 because he couldn't even get DSL service.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by slarrg ( 931336 )
      Well, the insurance companies have become huge with this business model.
  • by HockeyPuck ( 141947 ) on Friday June 06, 2008 @07:11PM (#23688973)
    So if I sign up with MLB to watch games which are not in my local television area, should I expect to get throttled by my local cable company because for 3hrs a week, I use a lot of bandwidth. The other hours of the week, I'm doing email and IM.

    • by owlnation ( 858981 ) on Friday June 06, 2008 @08:04PM (#23689373)
      I'm in the UK. My ISP, BT (which I believe stands for Bastard Telcom), does in fact throttle my MLB.tv connection for afternoon games -- which are peak hours in the UK time zone 6pm to 10pm-ish. They are pretty much unwatchable. I can only watch games that start after 6pm Eastern -- midnight UK time -- without much interference.

      We really need to fight ISPs a lot harder. They are killing progress. MLB.TV is a great idea. All sports should do the same, in fact the future of HBO or Showtime would be to use exactly the same business model. It would be popular, but it's impossible with the way ISP's behave right now.
      • by SlashWombat ( 1227578 ) on Friday June 06, 2008 @08:39PM (#23689671)
        It might seem like that, but I suspect that it is effectively just network congestion. The period you mention happens to coincide with the ankle biters getting home from school, and business activity as people finalise their work for the day. (Amazing how many businesses use remote servers ...)

        The whole throttling issue tends to point to insufficient network resources. Perhaps also the network routers are not up to the task. It will break peoples visions of on demand TV, as well as other services! High definition video seems to be totally out of the question on most of todays networks. (Most, but not all ... if your lucky enough to have fibre!)
      • by Z34107 ( 925136 )

        We really need a new ISP. The current ones are creating a market for inexpensive, unthrottled domestic connections.

        • by Hojima ( 1228978 )
          Just "starting" a new ISP is nearly impossible. At the Tier 1 level, the ISPs can just refuse to peer, and at the Tier 3 level, the ISPs can refuse to provide IP transit. There are really two scenarios that can stop this. One is to bust them for breaking anti-trust laws. The other is summon a meteor to smite them. Personally, I prefer both.
          • by Z34107 ( 925136 )

            Agree. But meteors also have negative consequences at the tier-1 level.

            No reason why you can't build a backbone to someone who will peer - it'll happen when there's money in it. And that will happen when enough people get annoyed.

    • Most of the models I have seen work in monthly blocks. $bandwidth amount of bandwidth for the month till you hit $cap at which point you are throttled down till your next billing cycle. I don't necessarily care what it is, so long as they tell me what kind of service I am getting, and can depend on how much it will cost when the bill rolls around. Not to mention an opt out for automatic extra charges / service.

      And as long as were on the topic, F*** Cingular Wireless. Not trolling, just my short version of
    • I sign up with MLB to watch games which are not in my local television area, should I expect to get throttled by my local cable company because for 3hrs a week, I use a lot of bandwidth.

      The short answer is yes.

      You won't be the only one maxing out their link when the Yankees play at home.

      MLB.TV [mlb.com] video is $60-$90 a year.

      The premium level service includes standard-def video, Player Tracker Live-At-Bat and up to six live game feeds. To me this screams "hard-core fan who will be sucking up all the bandwidth

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Randseed ( 132501 )
        If the ISPs had correctly implemented multicasting in the first place, we wouldn't have this problem.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I saw this response and decided to wireshark Comcast on my 8MB/3MB connection. I was shocked at the results... On a 2GB rsync upload to a webserver, I saw 4 distinct bandwidth steps switching from:

      3MBps
      2MBps
      1.5MBps
      1.2MBps

      at each transition, a very clear increase in the number of duplicate TCP ACKs appeared. When the transmission started, there were zero duplicate ACKs for 75 seconds. Then about half of the returning packets became duplicates. On and on....

      This is absolutely Comcast injecting these and i
    • I have (choke) Dial-up.
      Alas I live in the deep woods, with a 35-year-old underground telecom wire. And can barely pull 35 Kbs if I'm lucky.
      If I need an SPx upgrade or whatever, I go to a friend's in the town nearby and DL it onto my thumb-drive.
      I do not understand these people who use THE INTERNET to download live action! It slows down even MY pathetic bandwidth!
      Fer goodness sakes guys, get a satellite dish. And if it's some illegal movie? Hell- go rent the damn video at your local store! It's faster.
      • by Orange Crush ( 934731 ) * on Saturday June 07, 2008 @12:17AM (#23690899)

        Alas I live in the deep woods, with a 35-year-old underground telecom wire. And can barely pull 35 Kbs if I'm lucky.

        Then that's some good decades-old wiring. 50k is the best you can really get on dialup even in perfect conditions with pristine wiring, 33.6 without downstream tricks.

        I do not understand these people who use THE INTERNET to download live action! It slows down even MY pathetic bandwidth! Fer goodness sakes guys, get a satellite dish. And if it's some illegal movie? Hell- go rent the damn video at your local store! It's faster. And cheaper. And - it's ILLEGAL? So go get an FTA sat receiver. They are easy enuf to find! You idiots are destroying the internet! I use the internet for internet-specific tasks (wotever that means; I'm still in WEB-1) A pox upon your movie torrents!

        You're obviously trolling here, but it provides a good jumping off point for what I want to say, so I'll bite. First off, other people watching live streaming video online aren't likely to impact your connection. Satellite TV, Cable and over-the-air antenna don't carry every live video feed of interest to everyone, so that may be someone's only option to see a particular event live. Also, there are lots of legal services to get movies off the Internet--some dinky 2 bit operations you may have heard of called iTunes and Amazon.com. I can download a 2 hour standard def movie in about 20 minutes on my connection, which is on par with how long it would take to go to the rental store, minus the hassles and gasoline. And it's certainly not cheaper to rent.

        Nobody's destroying the Internet--well, maybe the cable companies. You see, what's going to happen is we consumers might actually get what we've been asking for these past few decades--ala carte channels. Paying only for the channels and shows you actually want, and the cable company becomes a mere bandwidth provider akin to a utility. No more content, premium channels, pay per view, or any of that crap. You pay for the pipe to your house, and what you want to watch. Cable companies want to retain control and maintain their monopolies, so they'll fight this every step of the way. That's what the net neutrality fight is really all about. The cable companies don't want to relinquish control.

  • by NoobixCube ( 1133473 ) on Friday June 06, 2008 @07:12PM (#23688981) Journal
    Isn't this taking away what people pay for? I know the main reason I got a faster internet connection was so I wouldn't have to wait for videos to buffer.
    • by Kligat ( 1244968 )
      I know that I'm not paying for a faster Internet connection to get Internet pages to load in two seconds instead of ten.
    • Isn't this taking away what people pay for?

      People are paying for broadband to the home at a mass market price.

      The question is whether everyone who wants standard and HD video streams at 9 PM Eastern Time can get them without being bumped up to a higher tier of service.

    • by Dan541 ( 1032000 )
      Yes,

      Comcast are what you could call a fraud.

      It goes like this

      You pay for bandwidth
      Comcast takes your money and doesn't deliver the bandwidth you paid for by means of throttling.
  • ... it's pro-retarded.

    "You can use your car for anything you want... as long as you don't use it to go to work, or drive long distances. That's rough on the engine."
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 06, 2008 @07:19PM (#23689031)

      "You can use your car for anything you want... as long as you don't use it to go to work, or drive long distances. That's rough on the roads."
      There, fixed it for ya.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      ... it's pro-retarded.

      It is retarded, or rather retarding, as in America is falling behind in technological infrastructure. 60% of Hong Kong is using IPTV, and here in this former super power, we have ISP throttling connections because of YouTube. Maybe if we weren't spending all of our money rebuilding/destroying/rebuilding the infrastructure on the other side of the globe.....
      • Companies maintain the IT infrastructure, and the war spending doesn't impact that. We are not spending all of AT&T's money rebuilding other countries.
    • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Friday June 06, 2008 @08:09PM (#23689425) Homepage Journal
      The argument is spurious. You can't just use your auto for anything. To begin with, if you use it to run over people, or knock down people mail boxes, you will be arrested. if you go over the speed limit, or park in the wrong place, you will be ticketed. To move more directly to the analogy, the amount you drive, and how fast you drive, is related to what you are willing to spend to operate and maintain the automobile.

      Which is why the analogy is deeply flawed. Owning a car is not like hiring an ISP. You pay the ISP some money and they have to cover all the costs. The contract is short term. Any equipment is often consumable. It is not like owning a car, where you buy the car and can do anything you want with it because you own it. It is yours, you are keeping it, and the dealer could care less.

      A more reasonable analogy is leasing a car. In this case you are paying for the use of the car for a specified time period, just like most ISP contracts, and, just like a lease, the ISPs are being forced to impose limits on the heavy users to be fair for everyone. Most lease agreements limit your use to 15000 miles. You can buy more up front, or pay for overages at the end. There are often other restrictions, But again, you are responsible for the car, so even this is not a good comparison.

      Likely the best comparison is renting a car. The agency covers all maintenance, you just pay for the gas. In this cae, the agency is very interested in what you do with car, even putting tracking devices that record speed, distance, and location. It seems to me that, due to the fact that there is little physical product involve. the most reasonable case is somewhere between a lease and rental. But the idea is this, as people begin to use bandwidth, either all of us will pay equally to cover the high end users, much like what happens now with the subsidies of big cars, or those that want more will pay for it themselves.

  • Last I checked, Verizon wasn't doing this to their customers. Guess they're becoming the better communications company on multiple fronts now, huh?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 0xygen ( 595606 )
      FiOS is still in the "early stage" where customers are profitable and competition is low.

      DSL was not throttled for early subscribers, it has now reached the point where it is cheap and the infrastructure behind it is getting too expensive to run if everyone uses it heavily.
      • There are those of us that live outside the FIOS and U-Verse footprints that have limited (read: no) choice except to accept dial-up, satellite or cellular (which may be secretly capped as well) services. Even if we wanted to buy a "Business Grade" DSL/T1/FIOS/Metro-Ether/CableModem it's just not possible. Last time the quote for the T1 included a $5200 installation fee to install the repeater. That was roughly 1 year of service cost to be billed at the outset, not including the then upcoming MRC at a mu
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I would be a Verison customer if they serviced my area. I pay ~$72 a month for 16/2 (Comcast PowerBlast) while my neighbor not so far away pays ~$49 for 50/50 (Verison FiOS).
  • Netflix Roku (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mprindle ( 198799 ) * on Friday June 06, 2008 @07:15PM (#23689001)
    I was just looking at the new Netflix Roku streaming service. To me this seems like a no brainer. $9/month for 1 DVD out at a time plus unlimited streaming movies and tv shows from there current selection. If Comcast was to start resetting connections while I was watching a movie that would really tick me off. Also don't providers realize that entertainment is moving more and more to the internet.
    • Re:Netflix Roku (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NoobixCube ( 1133473 ) on Friday June 06, 2008 @07:25PM (#23689083) Journal
      They do, and they want to stop that. As long as people are forced to physically go to a store and buy some hard media, the copyright holders have us over a barrel and can do whatever they want. Sony's rootkit on it's music CDs, Starforce on a lot of games. Sooner or later, if laws and regulations force us to use hard media, those self-destructing DVDs will become the norm. Except, we'll be paying $20 each, instead of $5.
    • Re:Netflix Roku (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bryce1012 ( 822567 ) on Friday June 06, 2008 @07:49PM (#23689267) Journal
      Netflix not working for ya, huh? Oh, hey, good thing Comcast offers stutter-free On-Demand videos!

      What's that? You didn't want to use Comcast's on-demand, because it's more expensive and has a crappy selection?

      Huh. Too bad, I guess.

      Welcome to the world of tomorrow.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        My recent experience with Broadstripe(Cablespeed in disguise).

        I try NBC.com video stutters and buffers every 3 seconds.
        I try Hulu video stutters and buffers every 3 seconds.
        I try Netflix and video stutters and gives me "3 hours" to ensure smooth playback.

        I give up and bittorrent it.

        2 days later "We've registered a copyright violation on your connection and will be disconnecting you. You get three free reconnects after which it'll cost $30."

        My bandwidth is fine--over an average of 30 seconds. Within 10 sec
      • Well, sure, either there's some anti-competitive behavior going on in which case there should be an investigation. Or, more likely, NetFlix doesn't peer with Comcasts network directly whereas Comcasts own video service does?
  • by whosaidanythingabout ( 1144725 ) on Friday June 06, 2008 @07:20PM (#23689045)
    I watch most of my news stories on the internet, primarily CNN. I have noticed in the past week that the videos seem to be stopping midstream when it never did that before. I glance over at my gkrellm network monitor and see zero data coming to my box. Then it will pick up again after a short pause. Something has changed, not sure if it is Comcast or the video feed itself.
  • But Comcast always seemed fine with my purchasing only their HSI package. I even once scheduled DirecTV and Comcast to show up at the same time. Amusing for all. :)
  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Friday June 06, 2008 @07:23PM (#23689061)

    Clearly, the emergence of online video is something that cable video providers find very threatening and by capping off bandwidth usage, they're effectively killing two birds with one stone; discouraging users from using their Internet connections for video while increasing the efficiency of the network.

    I'd be delighted to see streaming video killed.

    We'd go back to "download the video to the client's hard drive, and play it back." Was that really such a bad thing?

    Requiring a web-based client to stream content hosted on an external server, is, at the root of it, a form of DRM. When the server goes away (or deletes the link to it), the content becomes unplayable. This applies whether you're talking about YouTube's embedded flash player, or the hoops through which Windows users have to jump in order to save .wmv clips from TV news sites, etc.

    And streaming is inefficient. You not only require a continuous throughput at a reasonably high bitrate, but after you've finished downloading your 20 megabytes of content for that 2-minute video clip, your client does you the favor of immediately deleting it. So the next time you want to watch the video, you get the joy of re-downloading it. WTF? In an age of $200 terabyte hard drives, that's ridiculous.

    So bring on the death of streaming video, and let's get back to the good old days of File->SaveAs .mpg, .flv, .avi, .mp4, and a few minutes later, you can play the locally-stored content to your heart's content. Forever.

    Like I said, cable companies... be careful what you ask for.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tubal-Cain ( 1289912 )

      And streaming is inefficient. You not only require a continuous throughput at a reasonably high bitrate, but after you've finished downloading your 20 megabytes of content for that 2-minute video clip, your client does you the favor of immediately deleting it. So the next time you want to watch the video, you get the joy of re-downloading it. WTF? In an age of $200 terabyte hard drives, that's ridiculous.

      I pull streamed videos I will want to watch again out of the /tmp/ folder.

    • Do you mean Video on Demand? Otherwise, you're also railing against how TV works.
      • Do you mean Video on Demand? Otherwise, you're also railing against how TV works.
        Well, actually, he's railing against how TV used to work before Tivo.
    • by Stormwave0 ( 799614 ) on Friday June 06, 2008 @07:41PM (#23689213)

      Streaming video has its purposes. I know a site that recently switched to streaming after having the old download and watch method as you described. The reason? Bandwidth. Streaming for them uses LESS bandwidth because people were just downloading all their videos and leaving the site - never even watching them after they've been downloaded. The owners have to pay for that bandwidth even if it's going to waste.

      You say that streaming is inefficient but that's not always true. I mean, if you're only going to watch something once you don't need the file again. And if you only want to watch a certain portion or decide you don't like the video halfway through then you've saved bandwidth.

      • Like I said above, that particular problem is actually pretty easy to fix, like we're doing in IIS 7 Media Pack. I'm sure other web servers will do the same thing eventually.
    • And streaming is inefficient. You not only require a continuous throughput at a reasonably high bitrate, but after you've finished downloading your 20 megabytes of content for that 2-minute video clip, your client does you the favor of immediately deleting it. So the next time you want to watch the video, you get the joy of re-downloading it. WTF? In an age of $200 terabyte hard drives, that's ridiculous.

      It doesn't have to be that way. In Windows Media, for example, we have the Fast Cache option, which allows the client to buffer the streamed assets so that you can watch the same part of the stream again without having to resend.

      Now, in the big picture, the usage models between progressive download over http and streaming over UDP are going away pretty quickly. With byterange seek, you can do random access in progressive download now, and with server-side bitrate throttling you can avoid the problem of a u

    • The pricing of these streaming services is also heavily discounted compared to purchasing a DVD. Most people will find the limitiations of streaming/DRM acceptable under these circumstances; they don't _want_ to keep a episode of The Office forever and ever on their hard drive.
  • by flaming error ( 1041742 ) on Friday June 06, 2008 @07:23PM (#23689063) Journal
    They want to control what we access, and when. The motive, of course, is money. But the collateral damage is our freedom.
  • Simple solution (Score:2, Interesting)

    by davidwr ( 791652 )
    Set the "baseline" price for video-on-demand = to your per-bit price for internet.

    If the video is ad-supported, the price goes down.

    If it's a blockbuster video, the price goes up.

    Either way, the cable company gets the same $carraige_fee for every 1-hour video, whether it's from the end user or a sponsor. If the cable company has to pay a studio something, then that cost is passed on to end users.

    So, instead of videos being "free" because the cable co. doesn't have to pay a vendor, they'll be $1 or somethin
    • I have a simpler solution. Get multiple wireless cards in a Linux box, hack your neighbors' wireless networks, and load balance across all of them. ;)
  • All vs. Some (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ADRA ( 37398 ) on Friday June 06, 2008 @07:33PM (#23689155)
    Non-discrimanatory traffic throttling and bandwidth caps are in my eyes, the only workable solution for a balance between net neutrality and 'ISP over-saturation'.

    If my telco/cable offers a rate based on raw bandwidth even if it is tiered more expensively during peak times, it still means they have more respect from me than specificly targetting any given application / company. At least then I pay for my access to a given service is directly relational to the amount I pay for their service, instead of having a divisor calculated based on how much Google payola's to my ISP.

    If I download 120GB and my cap is 100, I should get throttled/warnings/charged/dropped based on my ISP's policies. If I want >200GB cap, I can pay more, or look for a carrier that is more bandwidth compatable.

    The most important factor in this whole thing is transparency. If my ISP wants to meter me at a given policy, the policy should be laid out 100% in my terms of service. If 'changes' that affect my experience on their network occur, it should be reported -proactively-. It doesn't mean that I can change their mind, but it does allow me to decide if I want to change providers before they break my internet.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hairyfeet ( 841228 )
      The problem is you are shooting WAY too high on how much you'll actually get. I took the best of the two in my area,and luckily they are a little cable co. so they'll usually let you go over by a couple,but it is still $33 for 35Gb. The other only gave you 20Gb for that price. And the MAXIMUM you can buy around here is the business package which gets you 75Gb for $120. So the problem isn't so much the tiered idea,although it sucks IMHO,it is that they will lowball you so bad that it is pretty much useless e
  • by putch ( 469506 ) on Friday June 06, 2008 @07:34PM (#23689163) Homepage
    most of the major ISPs either already provide video (cable) or are paying billions of dollars to offer video (verizon, att, etc).

    the phone companies got hit by VOIP. and now the cablecos and the telcos are worried that some "video vonage" will come in and offer video at a lower rate over their own data lines.

    this has been the game all along. come on in, take a seat.
  • Of course it is. These cablecos and telcos care most (and in fact, care only) about one thing: preserving their monopolies, or at worst, keeping their cartel defended against any new entrant, especially ones who aren't $billion network corporations, which have similar $billion interests and agendas.

    A horde of independent YouTubers, whether at some new Google operation like YouTube or millions of independent video websites or P2P sessions, is a nightmare for them. Because they all want a free ride on the net
  • I honestly couldn't believe it, but this past week Comcast has stopped throttling my torrent traffic completely and even increased the upload speed. Granted, they said they were increasing the speed a couple weeks ago (I suspect due Verizon recently entering the area and adding some competition). However, I figured it would be the usual initial burst of high speed followed by an immediate dive that never recovers, which is what has been happening as long as we've been hearing about it.

    No shit though, tha
  • Guilty. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by notdotcom.com ( 1021409 ) on Friday June 06, 2008 @07:57PM (#23689327)
    MIT's Open Course-ware has videos (for some courses) of the entire semesters. I usually watch one or two per day, and they stream over an hour of .rm content each. So, I'm guessing that MIT is inherently evil for opening its fascinating courses for the public to view? Wait, MIT is trying to ruin the internet? OMG!! Not to mention, I routinely download Linux images for Open Suse, Fedora, and Ubuntu for 3 different architechtures AND keep them up to date with patches. That's about 25+ GB (big B) of data/month in free software and video alone. Damn, this free stuff is undermining the entire ISP's monopoly and forcing them to expand their networks... and charge me more money/month. Guess there really is no such think as a free lunch. Can I get some sort of open source ISP please?
  • by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Friday June 06, 2008 @07:57PM (#23689329) Homepage
    This is just the fundamental flaw with cable that has been waiting to expose itself since day 1:

    Cable uses a shared local loop, and they advertise it as unlimited, and they advertise it as having 5 megabits. That math does not work. It is a lie. It is false advertising. They've only been getting away with it because most customers don't use what they've been sold.

    Except that is changing. Video is exposing the lies of cable, and they're proposed solution is screwing the customer. Since they've been getting away with it for so long, they believe they are entitled to continue lying and to screw their customers to protect their lies. This is false advertising that has not been painful enough to result in a lawsuit. Now it is going to get there real fast unless they do something. So they are trying to convince the world that the customers are at fault. That is another lie. Don't buy it.

    Stop lying about the product. False advertising is the problem here. People expect their cable to support 5 megabits unlimited because that's what they were sold. Degrading the service to those who consume what they were sold isn't just ethically reprehensible, it is (or at least should be) illegal.

    There is no question of whether protocol throttling or customer throttling is the solution to the problem. There is no problem with the product. The problem is the false advertising.
    • by cdrguru ( 88047 )
      The problem is that you don't want what they have to sell. They knew that in 1995. You want what they do not have, will not have in the near future and probably will never have.

      The real problem is that some users now can make use of 10+ megabit transfer rates continuously for long periods of time. The only connection that can do that is a dedicated fiber that extends from the head end to the home. And then the OC3 headend is vastly overcommitted as well. No, that isn't going to happen in the US anytime
    • You are an idiot. The "shared" nature of a cablemodem network isn't the problem AT ALL.

      The problem is the cost of bandwidth in general. Do you know how much the bandwidth your ISP resells to you costs THEM? It's a hell of a lot more than $40-$60 for 6 megabits. More like $100/megabit. More than that if your ISP is in a rural area.

      Cable ISPs aren't trying to be dicks. They're trying to keep the cost of the service down. To actually provide 6/8/10 megabits to EVERY user would mean that, guess what, you'
      • by Bob9113 ( 14996 )
        I'm not saying they have to provide something that cannot be provided. I'm saying they need to stop lying about the product and blaming the customer. If it is 50 megabits shared (or whatever it is), then sell it as 50 megabits shared. Or sell metered access. Or sell tiered access. But don't call it 5 megabit unlimited unless that is what the SLA specifies. Can't explain what you are selling to the customer? Well, then hire better advertising people. Or change the product. Or tell the truth and let the custo
      • by Wildclaw ( 15718 )

        The problem is the cost of bandwidth in general. Do you know how much the bandwidth your ISP resells to you costs THEM? It's a hell of a lot more than $40-$60 for 6 megabits. More like $100/megabit. More than that if your ISP is in a rural are

        Bulk bandwidth price at a good location and in big enough amounts is no more than $10/mbit.

        Of course, ISPs aren't optimally located (especially rural ones) and they also have to maintain the last mile network. But don't go spewing crap like the general bandwidth prices being too high.

        Also, the bulk of the cost from having to dig the lines in the first place. Upgrading capacity should be far from a linear increase in bandwidth costs, especially in rural locations, where the base cost is larger so the capaci

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        As you say this, I'm enjoying my 100mbit uncapped fiber connection in Japan for less than $40/month, and that includes the fiber connection (NTT) AND my provider, OCN (here in Japan, the actual internet company and the providers are different, and there is much competition in the providers).

  • Tell me... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WiglyWorm ( 1139035 ) on Friday June 06, 2008 @07:59PM (#23689339) Homepage
    How does one abuse an "unlimited" internet plan?
  • Look at the words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wzzzzrd ( 886091 ) on Friday June 06, 2008 @08:03PM (#23689369)
    "[..]the most abusive users [...]"

    since when is USING a flat rate abuse? Goddammit, sell your bandwidth as "10GB per month" and shut up.
  • by RichPowers ( 998637 ) on Friday June 06, 2008 @08:06PM (#23689399)
    This is problematic because the largest US ISPs are also big media companies.

    Ideally, an ISP would be like a utility company. Pay a metered rate and the ISP moves data in the quickest and most efficient way possible. The ISP shouldn't care if broadband connections are used for streaming TV shows and movies. But many ISPs do care because they own TV networks and movie studios which are threatened by streaming media.

    Look at Time Warner's plan to charge customers $1/GB if they exceed the monthly limit of 40 GB. Would you be surprised if Time Warner opens its own online store to sell movies and TV shows, one where downloads aren't counted against the monthly bandwidth limit? You think Apple or Netflix would appreciate that? And given the pitiful state of broadband competitiveness in the US, many consumers would be stuck with Time Warner...that or dial-up.

    Just some of the many dangers of media consolidation.
    • Would you be surprised if Time Warner opens its own online store to sell movies and TV shows, one where downloads aren't counted against the monthly bandwidth limit?
      Ever heard of On-Demand? Pay-per-view?
  • (This is ALL supposition.)

    It isn't video specifially so much as any service that proves that "unlimited" internet service doesn't mean what they've been insinuating it means for years.

    Look at it like this: When the cable companies sell their service to the public, the only thing they can say that users can latch into is that it's Faster Than X, where X is a transfer speed offered by a competitor or, in areas where there isn't much competition, X is a perception of slowness in general. That, or reliab

    • . . . start creating some competition. I know, I know, it's definitely an uphill battle trying to gain traction against incumbent monopolies/duopolies who would love to protect the status quo, but, the best way to ensure network neutrality is to start an ISP, then you can guarantee network neutrality. Also, the best way to make sure there is sufficient bandwidth, again, is to start your own ISP (granted, anywhere you have to peer to other networks is a place for the other networks to hose you, but, hopefull
  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Friday June 06, 2008 @08:20PM (#23689521) Journal

    It seems like YouTube is getting throttled a lot lately. To be fair though, I haven't checked for the deadly RST packet. Shouldn't be too hard. I just need to set Wireshark to filter everything but RST packets. Of course, that won't really let me know that it was Comcast that sent it. I'd say that a RST followed by the next packet in the expected sequence would be a giveaway, since the TCB at YouTube's server wouldn't send the next packet in sequence if it had sent the RST. Of course, if what Comcast is using to do this is stateful and smart, it'll block that next packet too. So. There is no way to tell, barring YouTube actually logging instances of having sent the RST itself, and letting us access that log. Feel free to point out any flaws in this analysis. I just typed it out in 5 minutes.

    The bottom line though, is that YouTube is choppy lately.

    It'd be nice if Adobe fixed flash so that it would double the buffering time whenever it got stuck. In other words, if it waits 5 seconds to buffer and then gets stuck again, it should wait 10 seconds the next time before trying to resume the stream. If it gets stuck again, it should wait 20 seconds. And so on, until, if necessary, it buffers the entire vid before playing.

    Of course Adobe is not the underlying problem; but they could be more robust given the current environment.

    • Youtube is choppy on my 3Mb/s connection at home (not at work.) So I have multiple tabs open. One tab had a Youtube video paused & buffering while the other has completed the download and is playing the video.

      I do this with some of the other video sites too. Pause it, let it buffer enough to not worry about the stuttering.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by benwaggoner ( 513209 )
      But YouTube is only like 315 Kbps per Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youtube#Video_format [wikipedia.org]. Are there any suggestions that bitrate is being throttled down THAT much? Also, it's progressive download via http, not any kind of streaming protocol.

      Ah, 300 Kbps H.263 + mono 22 KHz MP3. Just like web video I was making a decade ago :).
  • "Did you,sir, or did you not sell us unlimited bandwidth"
  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan ( 730745 ) on Friday June 06, 2008 @09:22PM (#23689959)
    You're not a broadband provider!

    If you cant deliver the pipe... get out of the broadband industry because the demand for bandwidth is ONLY going to increase. It will NEVER decrease. We are a technological society, with more and more people using the internet everyday. The applications on the net are only going to increase the demand for bandwidth and speed.

    Comcast, if you think you're having bandwith problems now... wait until 2011. Get off your ass and build for it, today. Stop punishing your customers, you have plenty of money as a business to provide the services that are demanded by your customers. AND YES... they are obviously demanded by your customers because the demand is too much for your network.

    FIX IT.

    How can a broadband provider see an increase in demand for bandwidth, and simply say... we're not going to increase our capacity? The demand is there because it is what is required by todays users.

    You're not a broadband provider if you can not provide broadband. Comcast, you're a failure.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by /dev/trash ( 182850 )
      As long as joe sixpack can see some hot collge thing shake her ass on screen for 45 seconds, nothing will change.
  • Comcast is awful (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 1310nm ( 687270 )
    I am amazed on a regular basis by just how hostile Comcast is toward it's customers. Hopefully my cable provider doesn't start doing this crap too.
  • Give me what I'm paying for, you bastards.
  • This is kind of like the console vs. PC gaming war. The various corporate interests that are over charging and over spending for game development and then bilking the consumer want PC gaming to go away, or at least play a distant second fiddle to console gaming. In truth though, the PC is a far superior platform for gaming, and the development costs and competition would make for MUCH cheaper games if everyone wasn't so sold on the console wars.

    It's the exact same thing here: You can get about half of wh
    • Then you could have all the shows, games, music, and books that you want, for free

      You could have all the old shows, games, music and books you wanted. The supply of new ones would be somewhat limited unless you came up with a new system of patronage to get them produced.

      "What's that, one geek will buy the box set and torrent it to everyone else?"
      "Yup, that's right."
      "I guess the production budget is $20 then... we'll have to pass on Tricia Helfer and just Handicam your mom in a pair of spandex shorts"
      "Naah, my mom eats more than $10 worth of Doritos a day"
      "Shoot, just cut the costume budget and shoot her naked then."

      • Although I like the humor in your post, I believe I mentioned product placement directly in the parent post. Further: I don't feel that the ginormous budget of most of the hollywood tripe IS necessary. I've seen more excellent independent films that were produced for less than a million than I have giant summer blockbusters by spielberg or lucas. Most of the giant summer blockbusters SUCK.

        So, though I outlined one possible solution, I also feel that losing crap like Spiderman 3 with it's budget of 9 tri
  • Well Duh! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TRRosen ( 720617 ) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @05:00AM (#23691991)
    Anwser just one question. Why don't we hear about this stuff from companies offering DSL? It seems its ONLY THE CABLE companies that see any need to limit or throttle traffic.

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