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Users outraged last October when they discovered Comcast messing with their P2P

The FCC announced a formal investigation into Comcast’s controversial practice of “data discrimination” in response to a flood of complaints from consumers and Internet groups.

Last October, users discovered that Comcast employed a novel implementation of traffic shaping against its subscribers, which impersonated subscribers' machines in order to trick their P2P software into disconnecting. While this form of traffic shaping met Comcast’s objectives – to control the massive bandwidth sink that results from illegal P2P use – it also affected legitimate P2P users, as well as unrelated services, like the network features in Lotus Notes.

User suspicion eventually culminated into an investigation by the Associated Press, of which the results were released last October. Shortly afterwards, testing at the Electronic Frontier Foundation reached a similar conclusion, and as a result released the “Test Your ISP” project – allowing users to see for themselves whether or not their ISPs implemented similar practices.

At the heart of the matter is whether or not Comcast’s “data discrimination” is permissible under the FCC’s guidelines of “reasonable network management,” and whether or not the practice is a violation of the current rules on network neutrality and service availability. Speaking Tuesday at CES in Vegas, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin told consumers that the FCC will “investigate” the matter in order “make sure that no consumer is … blocked.”

“The question is going to arise: Are they reasonable network practices?” said Martin. “When they have reasonable network practices, they should disclose those and make those public.”

Comcast’s PR team was caught off-guard by the initial turn of events in October, as even after the practice was outed by the Associated Press, Comcast continued to deny any kind of manipulation. However, facing the wrath of an increasingly angry Internet mob, Comcast’s tune quickly changed to a coy comparison of its actions with that of a busy signal, like one hears over landline telephones.

Complicating an already messy situation, a California man filed a class-action lawsuit against Comcast last November. In it, plaintiff Jon Hart accused Comcast of breach of contract, as well as violating the Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, the Business and Professions Code, and the Legal Remedies act by throttling bandwidth and “transmitting unauthorized hidden messages” to subscribers’ offending software.

“Comcast plans to work with the Commission in its desire to bring more transparency for consumers,” said Comcast executive VP David L. Cohen. “We do disclose in our terms of use our right to manage our network for the benefit of all customers.”

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RE: Retarded much?
By Gholam on 1/9/2008 7:32:17 AM , Rating: 2
Over here in Israel, I pay approximately $20/month to the phone company and $25/month to ISP, for a 5mbps down/500kbps up ADSL connection. From what I understand, US prices are similar, which, combined with overall higher cost of living in USA, makes it even cheaper on your end. For comparison, back in '95, a 14.4kbps dialup connection cost me approximately 60 cents per hour to the ISP, and significantly more to the phone company - that was expensive. Compuserve, Prodigy and other pre-Internet networks charged several dollars per hour - that was EXPENSIVE. Nowadays, broadband is cheap. High quality broadband is another matter - my office pays approximately $500/month for a 2mbps ATM segment, with 50% guaranteed bandwidth, but that's business service we're talking about.

RE: Retarded much?
By euclidean on 1/9/2008 8:17:26 AM , Rating: 2
Actually we look more like paying $40/mo for just a phone, and if we get DSL your looking at about the same price for a 5mb/784kb connection. If you look at a cable connection of 6mb/1m your looking to pay ~60/mo. Though that's AT&T or Charter communications here in Michigan, US. :\

RE: Retarded much?
By Bioniccrackmonk on 1/9/2008 9:23:30 AM , Rating: 2
Comcast high speed internet here in FL is 60 a month if you dont have their cable package, or 45 a month if you do.

RE: Retarded much?
By marvdmartian on 1/9/2008 9:59:35 AM , Rating: 2
Currently I pay $65/month for landline phone (with unlimited long distance) and $47/month for 6Mbps cable modem.

The sad part is that, while my cable modem is set up for 6Mbps download, I seldom see anything close to that in reality. Not sure if there's throttling going on (TW cable) or if it's just the places I'm downloading from can't handle that sort of bandwidth.

RE: Retarded much?
By SpaceRanger on 1/9/2008 10:57:07 AM , Rating: 2
at 6Mbps, you should be seeing a max transfer of 600-700KBps, with an average in the 300-400's. Your mileage may vary depending on what site you're downloading from of course.

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