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Despite enjoying monopolies across much of the country, ISPs continue to look for new ways to increase their profits. One promising candidate is throttling certain kinds of traffic to cut the cost of bandwidth on "unlimited connections". A U.S. federal court has ruled that the FCC is powerless to stop ISPs from throttling.  (Source: CFC Oklahoma)
Uncontent with mere monopolies or duopolies, ISPs hope to use throttling, "speed lanes" to further increase profits

Is net neutrality dead?  The idea of protecting against the creation of internet "speed lanes" and discrimination against specific types of traffic -- such as P2P connections -- certainly still has powerful supporters, like Google.  However, the movement has been dealt several recent legal defeats which may in effect make it possible for the government to enforce net neutrality, leaving ISPs free to steam-roll the movement.

A D.C. federal Court of Appeals has overturned Federal Communications Commission sanctions against Comcast stemming from 2007 throttling of P2P traffic.  The court was highly critical of the FCC, grilling its lawyer.  It said the sanctions were "aspirational, not operational" and pointed out that the FCC couldn't identify a "specific statute" Comcast violated.  The judge commented that the FCC "can't get an unbridled, roving commission to go about doing good."

The FCC is likely to appeal the ruling.  They also are looking to give net neutrality a legal backbone.  FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has been one of the movement's most outspoken advocates and is currently working with Congress to craft legislation that would make protections against data discrimination the law of the land in the United States.  President Barack Obama included net neutrality in his 2008 campaign platform and he's pushing Congress to complete legislation on the issue.  Obama's 2008 presidential race rival Sen. John McCain is one of the biggest opponents of net neutrality.

Such legislation, though, may still neglect to protect certain kinds of traffic such as P2P connections.  ISPs complain that these connections are frequently used to commit copyright infringement.  More importantly to them, they take up a lot of bandwidth.  The public opposes metered connections, so many ISPs want to throttle P2P traffic as a more subtle means of keeping bandwidth on "unlimited" connections to a minimum.  This could increase their profits greatly, if rolled out across their entire network.

ISPs may be pressed harder by new competition, though.  The FCC has announced a plan to offer speedy 100 Mbps national broadband, to 100 million American homes.  The plan, basically a jumbo version of municipal internet efforts, would increase competition in theory.  Currently ISPs enjoy a monopoly or duopoly on services across much of the country, and consumers have been forced to endure higher prices.



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Not the best method of solving a problem
By Jeff7181 on 4/7/2010 11:51:22 AM , Rating: -1
I don't like Comcast's method of throttling. They should throttle a subscriber ONLY after the monthly bandwidth cap has been met.

A pretty common rule in IT is that you don't solve an HR problem with technology. In other words, if an employee is looking at porn when they should be working you don't just block the porn sites they're visiting, HR should have a discussion with them.

This is what Comcast is doing. There are people using Comcast's service to illegally share files and I think it's safe to say that if you're hitting 250 GB/month, you're either doing something illegal or your needs exceed what a residential service offers.




By Chemical Chris on 4/7/2010 1:30:18 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
if you're hitting 250 GB/month, you're either doing something illegal or your needs exceed what a residential service offers

Actually, 250GB/month isn't unreasonable. Thats about 10 blu-ray discs (with compression, you could get about 10GB/movie, so 25 movies/month). But theres not that many movies you say, at least not sustainably. Well, yes, but there are TV shows. Most households watch lots of TV. I personally watch about 6 new, unique hours of TV media a week. At 5GB/hour for high def, that 120GB/month. I also have a roommate. I also download games occasionally.

Granted, not all of my usage is "legal", there are (or should be) legal sources for this. So, it is quite possible to consume >100GB month for a home user.
I know this is not indicative of everyone, but I only use internet, no cable, phone, etc. This is the direction the world is heading in, I would say.

In short, grandma may use 1GB/month, but I go through much, much more.

ChemC


RE: Not the best method of solving a problem
By Drag0nFire on 4/7/2010 3:44:36 PM , Rating: 3
I don't know where you're getting legal HD streams, but Netflix might make a good case study. Netflix HD streams have a use a 3.8mbit stream (for the highest resolution available).

http://blog.netflix.com/2008/11/encoding-for-strea...

This means that a 2 hour movie would use at most 3GB. At 1.5GB/hr, you could easily watch 150 hours (or 6 full days) of HD video and have plenty of bandwidth left over for other uses. If your usage exceeds this, maybe you should consider other options (I have FIOS).

I'm not saying I agree with a bandwidth cap, particularly if advertised as unlimited. But I do think it would be difficult for a user to legally exceed 250GB/month in most scenarios.


By Yawgm0th on 4/7/2010 5:00:05 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'm not saying I agree with a bandwidth cap, particularly if advertised as unlimited. But I do think it would be difficult for a user to legally exceed 250GB/month in most scenarios.
I have a lot of difficulty exceeding even 150GB regardless of the legality of the content. Even with my unlimited USENET access, I'd really have to go out of my way to do it.

Whoops, I broke the first rule.


By ClownPuncher on 4/7/2010 1:33:31 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
This is what Comcast is doing. There are people using Comcast's service to illegally share files and I think it's safe to say that if you're hitting 250 GB/month, you're either doing something illegal or your needs exceed what a residential service offers.


Or you have more than one person living in a home. With Hulu and Netflix Streaming, getting to that 250gb cap is easier than you think (for those of us that don't watch TV, but stream everything from their PC). This is 2010, people use teh intarwebs now.


RE: Not the best method of solving a problem
By Keeir on 4/7/2010 3:00:34 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I think it's safe to say that if you're hitting 250 GB/month, you're either doing something illegal or your needs exceed what a residential service offers.


In my area, Comcast's new "basic" internet is 15 Mbps. 250 GB/Month is just 37 hours of full rated speed. Thats pretty shoddy "unlimited" cap.

Now, I think caps can be fair... but given that the average person watches ~2.5 hours of television or more per day... I think a cap less than 500 GB/Month is unreasonable. (2.5 x 30 x 15 Mbps)


By Yawgm0th on 4/7/2010 5:31:20 PM , Rating: 2
I really hate this, because I think there should not be caps at all, but I don't see 250GiB monthly as unreasonable. This is enough for any of the following:
-25 1080p 120-minutes films
-200 720p ~43-minute TV episodes (hour minus commercials)
-Virtually every Linux distribution worth using... twice
-Every version of every iteration of Windows XP, Server 2003, Vista, Server 2008, and 7, including SBS, R2, x64, x86, IA-64, Standard & Enterprise & Datacenter, etc.
-More porn than you can possibly imagine
-More Youtube videos than a person has hours in the day to watch
-Anywhere from 30 to 366 games, given sizes ranging from a full CD to a full dual-layer DVD.

Keep in mind I'm giving some examples of not-necessarily legal usage. I could see myself approaching the limit with a feasible, but unlikely combination of the above. I can't even imagine a person doing it with entirely "legitimate" needs.

Supreme nitpickary: It would be about 39.7 hours (are you using decimal GBs instead of binary GiBs? Comcast doesn't manufacture storage devices.)


RE: Not the best method of solving a problem
By keith524 on 4/7/2010 3:09:17 PM , Rating: 2
I'm okay with throttling I just think they should be required to advertised based on the slowest throttled connection. So if they throttle P2P to 50kb/s their advertisement would be get Comcast High Speed Internet at 50kb/s (can be up to 6mb/s if not using P2P).


By Camikazi on 4/7/2010 8:30:47 PM , Rating: 2
You are asking them to tell the complete truth while advertising :P you can't expect them to tell the customers the complete truth, then they might lose the customers.


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