back to article Net watchdog goes pig-sticking on Comcast

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has amped up the crusade against P2P-throttling ISPs. This morning, the plucky internet "watchdog" published a new report on the BitTorrent bagging exploits of American ISP Comcast, but it's also released a detailed account of the tests it ran on Comcast traffic, so net users across the …


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  1. Ash

    Packets that haven't arrived

    Do they do a Royal Mail version?

    Gloves and scalves included on that one, I think.

  2. Nick Reid

    Can't say I really support them with this

    All the BitTorrent users I know really take the piss out of the amount of data they download (mostly US TV shows and pirated films). I have to admit that I actually support ISPs that throttle these guys. Maybe not a popular opinion here but I do think its only fair if other peoples' internet experience is suffering because of it.

  3. Chris Cooper


    TNT (lost disks'r'us) version, surely?

  4. Fenwar

    Tackling the wrong problem.

    Comcast may be acting like scumbags, but it *is* their bandwidth. The legal challenge should extend to forcing them to tell customers explicitly what they will do to bittorrent traffic, in their Ts & Cs. Customers who want to use bittorrent should vote with their feet, and encourage others to do so.

    Insisting that you should be allowed to use a particular protocol without restriction is completely missing the point of net neutrality. We want the net to provide a good service for all. Some protocols currently use so much bandwidth that this is impossible on the current infrastructure. It is better to block those protocols than let them drown the other traffic.*

    ISTM that net neutrality the way the EFF see it would mean that in a couple of years' time all the available bandwidth will be devoured by video on demand services and the aforementioned torrents/p2p bulk transfer protocol du jour. Everything else will suffer as a result and time-critical applications are pretty much screwed.

    (* yes there are better ways of doing it than blocking - traffic shaping, throttling etc are all perfickly doable. And yes it would be better still to improve the infrastructure to support everything that everyone wants to do. But who's going to pay for that?)

  5. Anonymous Coward

    It's the under-handedness though.

    This is not throttling in it's normal sense. They are examining the packets and then killing the connection without telling their customers what they are doing. It's censorship.

    I can accept that it's Comcasts network and they can do what they like, but to subtly interfere with customer's connections without explanation is not really playing the game.

  6. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

    I agree with Fenwar ...

    The problem isn't that traffic is being shaped, but in this case it's being totally f***ed about with - AND the ISPs are at best hiding what they are doing, and at worst simply lying about it.

    My ISP (Plusnet) shapes traffic, but it is open about how and why it does it - including having a page on why there is no such thing (in the consumer market) as 'unlimited'. Others simply dodge the question or claim to be doing nothing.

    The obvious answer is that ISPs should be made to state both the CIT (Committed Information Rate, ie the MINIMUM rate you are guaranteed) and the details of what traffic control/shaping/blocking they use. Lets get this out in the open and have consumers able to choose supplier based on features and real data rates - instead of the ISPs competing on who can be the cheapest version of 'free' !

  7. Shakje

    Since when did ISPs have full reign over their bandwidth?

    Yes it's technically theirs, but it's paid for by their users. If you provide a service to users they should be able to do what they want with it. If they use it more than you can cope with you obviously should have thought of your capabilities better instead of resorting to throttling. If you can't support a certain amount of traffic, then why sell a service that allows people to download their limits faster? It's not that difficult to predict how much bandwidth you're really going to use is it? So perhaps the solution is to stop them selling things they can't control.

  8. Chris C

    re: Vote with their feet?

    You want Comcast's customers to "vote with their feet"? How so? By going back to dial-up? What many people don't realize is that this "competition" the world thinks we have is a complete myth. The only competition for high-speed (non-dial-up) internet access is your cable company (Comcast, Cox, Charter, etc) or your phone company (Verizon, AT&T, Qwest), with the possible exception of the satellite companies (HughesNet) who (because of speed and capacity limitations) aren't really an option for many people.

    Cable company: cable internet.

    Phone company: DSL, fiber, DS-x (T-x) such as DS-1, DS-3, etc.

    And with the way web designers design their sites now, you *NEED* high-speed internet. Otherwise you'll be spending 60 seconds or more waiting for each page to load.

  9. Peter

    Why offer unlimited volume at all?

    It worries me to see so many people argue against BitTorrent because its users download so much more than everyone else.

    This is the wrong argument. We should instead argue for internet users paying for what they actually use. There is no god-given right to "unlimited" plans, and, indeed, such plans do not actually exist.

    In Australia, every plan is explicitly limited, and you simply buy the bandwidth and volume you want. Some plans charge for excess volume; some throttle to 64kbps. Some charge for uploads; some don't.

    It's entirely rational, and most people know what they are buying.

    BitTorrent costs money: let the users pay.

  10. Aubry Thonon

    @Nick Reid

    "All the BitTorrent users I know really take the piss out of the amount of data they download (mostly US TV shows and pirated films). I have to admit that I actually support ISPs that throttle these guys. Maybe not a popular opinion here but I do think its only fair if other peoples' internet experience is suffering because of it"

    Sorry Nick, can't agree with you on this one... if I pay for 512Kbs of bandwidth (which I do, I see no reason to pay for more) then by rights the ISP *must give me* what they set out in their contract to provide. You can't charge someone for 512Kbps (in my case) and then turn around and say "but you're not allowed to use all of it".

    It's like licensing a car, then being told there are restrictions as to when you can drive it. Or renting a phone line for a flat monthly fee and being told you can't use it between hours X and Y. Or that you talk too much on the phone. It's stupid.

    Bottom line, if the ISP want to limit the amount of downloads, or shape them, or restrict the protocols that can be used on their network (it *is* theirs, I do not deny it) then they should do it *before* the contract is signed, in *simple* terms (ie "P2P filesharing is limited to..."). This ridiculous attempt to enforce it *afterwards* using mealy-worded loopholes tells me that they they over-rented their capacity and are now having to back-pedal on the amount of bandwidth they gave away to they paying public. (in other words, the bean counters probably did not listen to the techs when they were told about the maximum capacity of the network).

    To lease a line rated at speed X and then complain when people actually *use* that speed is stupid - they should have done their research first. To throttle the usage so that people *can't* use that speed is, IMHO, criminal. But then again IMNAL, just someone who believes he should get what he paid for, regardless of what it is.

  11. Brian Miller

    Want better? Want to pay for it, too?

    Last month I priced T1 to my house, since its in a commercial district. Well, for basic T1 service I would pay $300-$400 per month, and that's 1.5 megabits per second. After that I would pay for my service usage.

    How many out there would like unlimited bandwidth but pay per Mb of data?

    I bet the majority of you would scream like stuck pigs at the thought of $200+ monthly bill for the data traffic.

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