back to article Feds to probe Comcast's BitTorrent busting

At long last, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will investigate claims that Comcast has put a choke hold on P2P file-sharing traffic. Speaking yesterday at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), FCC chairman Kevin Martin finally acknowledged four-month-old press reports questioning the American ISP's …


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  1. Dazed and Confused

    Reasonable behaviour?

    If they are inserting additional packet's into a customers data stream, with the customers IP address etc... it sounds more like forgery or identity fraud than "reasonable behaviour".

    Since it's possible to be prosecuted on the basis of packets sent from your IP address, if the ISP is adding extra packets and by using your IP address, claiming that YOU sent them. This sounds pretty serious.

  2. Gary McDonald
    Paris Hilton

    This is a surprise??

    Verizon also does this. And they also go so far as to block any and all incoming data requests directed at their DSL users. But don't think it's easy getting them to admit it. Their solution: you have to get a static IP, which they only supply to businesses.

    When the revolution comes, they will be the first against the wall... Right behind the lawyers... And the politicians... And Paris Hilton...

    Ok, I'm sorry about the last one.

    See, I have my coat. And I'm gone.

  3. Chris C

    Still somewhat wrong

    I would respectfully point out that the real issue not really whether or not Comcast is throttling traffic (though this is certainly an issue for a number of people, I would think). The REAL issue is whether or not Comcast is spoofing (forging) packets to make it appear as though they came from another system (the seeding system, in the BitTorrent case). From the AP reports, Comcast does spoof RST packets. This may or may not run afoul of certain laws and regulations (though I doubt anything would be done even if any agency or attorneys decided to do something about it).

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    reasonable disclosure

    If the 'war on terror' has taught us anything, its that 'if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear' - perhaps comcast should bear this in mind when informing us of their policy?

  5. Aubry Thonon

    Bottom line...

    ..whether it's P2P, VOIP, Video conference or whatever, *everyone* is going to have an application they consider "more important" than the one used by others. Whether it be P2P vs VOIP, VOIP vs VidConf, etc...

    So, frankly, who are ComCast to make a unilateral decision as to what is "more important"? And, more importantly, to bring these "rankings" out of the blue, with no warnings and no publicity as to "what gets ranked higher".

    Frankly, as a business practice it stinks. Comcast should have been open about all of this and done it above-board - instead they sneaked it in and tried to cover it up, and then used mealy-mouthed excuses to try to cover their asses. I don't care if an ISP wants to "shape" traffic - I *do* expect them to do it publically and announce it in enough time that I have a reasonable chance to decide to jump ship!

    On this point alone, I'd want to see Comcast management fry.

    Oh, and the Paris Hilton angle? Horizontal, of course!

  6. Bemi Faison
    Thumb Up

    About F@#king time

    In the end, this won't amount to much and Comcast will likely lobby to do this legally in the future (under some pro-america pseudonym). Still, it's nice to see this get some official notice... Where the heck is our American government? Oh... in Iraq.

  7. Lou Gosselin

    ISPs blocking and throttling

    "If they are inserting additional packet's into a customers data stream, with the customers IP address etc... it sounds more like forgery or identity fraud than reasonable behaviour"

    I'm not sure I'd go that far, I'd only go so far as to call it port blocking. It's still a really major headache though.

    All of the cable ISPs I've dealt with (in US) do it.

    Time Warner's Road Runner service was horrible about blocking thousands of incoming ports rather arbitrarily such as the entire 6000-7000 range outright which sucked for VNC, remote X displays and several games (ironically port 80 was open).

    Cable Vision's Optimum Online blocks several incoming as well as outgoing ports, which sometimes makes it difficult to use legitimate services.

    As for throttling, at times I have noticed network bandwidth going down to modem speeds but I've always just attributed them to a "slow internet", although the bandwidth speed tests would show no bottleneck at all. It wouldn't surprise me if it was due to a cap.

    The major ISPs love to throw out "security" as the reasoning for blocking traffic, even if we know better.

    If they won't change, I think the only solution will be to use random ports with encryption for everything.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They all do it

    The only way to not experience it...move to Japan, or some other similar place with lightning fast speeds for the entire country. The Japanese who come here must think they are back in the dark ages.

  9. Trix

    Reasonable network *management*?

    Don't make me laugh. Those wankers at Comcast allow thousands of spam messages a day to try and hammer my mail servers. Since their networks are transmitting all this spam, _and_ whatever payload is contained in it, their notions of "network management" is screwed. If they dropped all that spam traffic (we're based in Australia for god's sake, how many other networks are they spamming?), they'd probably have the bandwidth to allow torrenting for the entire Western world.

    Same goes for Verizon, and Roadrunner. In other words, 3 of the largest US ISPs appear in our top-five spam networks. Network managment my arse.

  10. Jeff Dickey

    They ARE back in the Dark Ages

    The Japanese or other folk who get marooned in the US and have to use what is euphemistically called "high-speed Internet access".

    High-speed access in the Free World is generally 10 Mbit/second or higher (my router currently reports 13996 Kbit/second, which is about average for the service I have here in Singapore). I can get 100 Mbit/second for about US$60 (rather than the US$~35 I'm paying now) but this is fine for what I use it for. My understanding from my Korean friends is that 1 Gb/second is being rolled out to home customers now.

    And the Japanese? When I lived there almost ten years ago, 10 Mbit wasn't uncommon; my understanding is that they're now approximately neck-and-neck with the Koreans. The only country I've been to lately that's as self-righteously primitive as the US has been Malaysia, where 4 Mbit is the brand-new "woohoo!" high speed - with 128 Kbit/sec upload. Don't even bother trying to do videoconferencing.

    One of these millenia the US will catch up to where the rest of the world is now.... probably about the time 100 Gbit optical becomes pervasive out here.

  11. Liam O'Flaherty
    Thumb Down

    Stupid Western ISPs need to watch the Jap's 4 inspiration

    This stinks, I believe this is happening due to the infrastructure simply not being anle to cope with all the traffic and ISPs not wanting to invest in lines to carry more data; my Virgin 4MB line is throttled to ONE MB instead of the 2MB advertised on their "traffic management" webpage and they send you round in circles between customer services and tech support who both say you need to contact each other to resolve the issue...which doesn't occur.

    I would LOVE to be in the far east to get some sort of decent internet speed but I'll not have that chance for many years at which point I'll hopefully not need to bother!

  12. Anonymous Coward

    To spoof or not to spoof.

    For the arguments on "forging" where does one draw the line between spoofing and transparent caching? It's the same thing.

    "Thou shalt not spoof packets" is a bad rule.

    Obviously comcast does not seem to be transparently caching - at least for bittorrent, but a cache also spoofs - yet we accept it every day because the spoofing benefits us.

    Let comcast do what they want. Nobody forces you to use comcast. Nobody has a "right" to use all the networks between points A and B. To claim such a right is patently stupid and violates the whole concept of private property rights of the owners of all networks involved.

  13. Futaihikage
    Thumb Down

    Comcast needs to burn!

    Comcast like ALL the rest of the US ISP's are plodding along on the technology scene like it stopped evolving back around the time the ATAPI interface was introduced into the PC standard. Why is DSL still around? Why is there only ONE major fiber optical ISP in the US?

    Comcast didn't increase their network capacity properly and their network is suffering for it. But, Comcast will say its NOT their fault, its the fault of those utilitizing the "unlimited" feature of their UNLIMITED internet package. P2P applications are part of that unlimited internet use. To go throwing bad packets into the mix or doing network "management" is just bad business. Customers shouldn't be punished because their Company providing the service isn't up to snuff.

  14. JC

    Still surprised

    I'm still surprised at how seldom anyone mentions Comcast's conflict of interests.

    Comcast wants you to pay for their ISP service, but not actually use it. ESPECIALLY they do not want you to P2P multimedia content because they want you away from your computer at your cable TV set paying for Comcast premium and On-Demand offerings.

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