Print 69 comment(s) - last by joex444.. on Aug 24 at 8:50 AM

ISP unveils changes with its new "fair share" program

Details on the successor to Comcast’s policy of “data discrimination” have emerged, and the majority of its changes will affect the ISP’s most gratuitous users.

Rather than targeting a specific protocol like BitTorrent – a policy that riled up technologists and the FCC, despite its “surgical” precision in managing consumption – Comcast’s new form of network management will kick in when it identifies a single user “disproportionately” consuming network resources, and will move to throttle their connection for a short while.

“If in fact a person is generating enough packets that they're the ones creating that situation, we will manage that consumer for the overall good of all of our consumers,”' said Comcast senior vice president and general manager of online services Matt Bowling.

Comcast says its new “fair share” system of throttling troublesome customers has so far proven to be fairly effective, particularly when the throttling stays in effect for about 10 to 20 minutes.

Once the time limit elapses, speeds revert to normal.

It doesn’t mean a throttled internet experience will be undesirable, however, as Bowling says that users experiencing limited bandwidth will still have an experience on par with “really good” DSL service.

But if a user continues a high level of consumption, “we would have to manage them again.”

It appears that Comcast customers will still enjoy an essentially unlimited bandwidth allotment; however the company says it is mulling over the possibility of charging subscribers a higher price for heavier internet use – but, it “[hasn’t] made any decisions” yet.

Anecdotal reports from users indicate that the new throttling system is already in place in some territories – and that the old policy of “data discrimination” still appears to be in effect as well.

Comcast has made no indication of the kinds of numbers that would trigger a slowdown, nor any specifics regarding the capacity available for throttled users.

Comcast, with its 14.4 million subscribers, fell into hot water last year when internet users and an AP report discovered that the company was screwing with customers’ BitTorrent activities, by essentially cutting them off as soon as a file finished downloading – a potentially toxic condition to the health of the BitTorrent network. Accusations snowballed into an FCC investigation, with both the FCC and Comcast slinging nasty words back and forth for the better part of 2008; the exchange reached its culmination earlier this month, when FCC chairman Kevin Martin officially condemned Comcast for violating the Commissions' tenets of a fair, open internet experience.

Martin also left Comcast an ultimatum, demanding that it disclose its network management practices to the public, and submit a “compliance plan” with details on what it plans to do after it disables its BitTorrent blocking, which is set to happen sometime this year. This announcement appears to satisfy the FCC’s demands.

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By frobizzle on 8/21/2008 9:22:44 AM , Rating: 1
This is complete BS. Comcast does not want to dig into its profits to upgrade their backbone. Much easier to throttle users.
So, here's a hypothetical question to anyone wanting to answer: With these "offenders" throttled, will any of the non-offending users see an improvement in their actual bandwidth? I say no.

By Entropy42 on 8/21/2008 10:10:13 AM , Rating: 4
What incentive would comcast have to throttle offenders if it provided no improvement to any of their other users? They would just be spending money on a technology that creates unused bandwidth.

By SocrPlyr on 8/21/2008 10:22:50 AM , Rating: 2
The issue here has very little to do with comcast's backbone. The issue is the available bandwidth over the cable lines.

By Alexstarfire on 8/21/2008 11:37:25 AM , Rating: 3
That's not really the customer's problem, now is it?

By CloudFire on 8/21/2008 12:34:58 PM , Rating: 3

i paid comcast good money for my 16m line. (66$) a month, and that is a lot more compared to the majority of the population, i expect 16m line speed, for it to work at all times, and unlimited download whenever the hell i want.

all this capping/throttling crap is so stupid.

By kmmatney on 8/21/2008 2:18:39 PM , Rating: 2
I guess it depends on how this effects you. These changes will probably be a big improvement for me, and for most other users. I a change helps 99% of users, then generally its a good thing.

By mikeyD95125 on 8/21/2008 3:17:25 PM , Rating: 5
Exactly. I pay for 16Mbps of unlimited service as advertised. Because Comcast advertises this then they should be able to provide the same level of service to everyone. If they cannot provide the bandwidth I pay for and throttle me then I should get a refund for however much they throttle back my service.

By soloman02 on 8/21/2008 3:32:14 PM , Rating: 3
Lucky you. We pay $65 a month for 4Mbps from Comcast. Comcast loves to rape their customers when they are the only competition in town. Comcast is so damn cheap, they have yet to dig a new trench to put our line in. Currently it is sitting on the forest floor. Whats worse, they used the coax that is meant for INDOOR use (IE it is not as weather resistant).

The reason comcast is doing this is beacuse they are too cheap to upgrade their bandwidth on the lines and substations.

Cheap SOB's...

By Alexstarfire on 8/22/2008 12:58:37 PM , Rating: 2
Might as well silently steal it for personal use then.

By soloman02 on 8/23/2008 1:32:48 PM , Rating: 2
I would, but Lee, NH is really rural. I have 3 neighbors around me. One has 150 acres of land and his house is a good 3 acres away. The other two have houses 1-2 acres away. So the only wireless signals I can pick up are from my router.

By joex444 on 8/24/2008 8:41:01 AM , Rating: 2
Acre has units of area. You can't use it to explain distance to us.

By jimbojimbo on 8/21/2008 2:53:15 PM , Rating: 2
Well, those others will see better speeds until they get capped as well. It's going to be a round robin capping so everybody has slower speeds.

By joex444 on 8/24/2008 8:50:15 AM , Rating: 2
So right now, before this "technology" is implemented, who has been unable to reach the quoted speed from Comcast on a regular basis? First, you need to be using something guaranteed to peak your connection -- a known fast web server, like nVidia's driver download, or usenet.

I've used Comcast's 6Mbps connection in 2 different towns (same state) and never had experienced any slow downs. Not even when I started using Cable (which at the time was AT&T) back in 2001.

I think this fundamentally stems from a perception amongst the uneducated that cable shares the bandwidth with all the neighbors on your node. While true, I think that the neighbors aren't using enough bandwidth or the nodes are small enough that they are infact capable of giving each customer 6Mbps on demand. Why would Comcast then bother with such a thing? Probably to frighten constant downloaders into thinking that they know what they're doing and hope they'll stop. The advantage here is that there is less bandwidth consumption, and thus Comcast's bill for Internet service from their provider is reduced. You didn't actually think backbones had no monthly fee, did you?

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