Print 120 comment(s) - last by FoSTeX.. on Nov 18 at 3:24 AM

Comcast's recent practices of throttling P2P traffic has finally attracted a class action lawsuit from a frustrated customer

Comcast's bandwidth limitting and peer-to-peer traffic sabatoging traffic finally caught up with the company. A class-action lawsuit has been filed (PDF) by residents in the state of California against Comcast.

Jon Hart, the plaintiff, claims Comcast Corporation committed a breach of contract by violating Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, the Business and Professions Code section 17200 and 17500 and the Consumer Legal Remedies Act by practicing the management of P2P-based traffic including throttling bandwidth and "transmitting unauthorized hidden messages to the computers of customers who utilize such applications."

The class-action includes "all persons in California who purchased the Service [Comcast broadband Internet] between November 13, 2003 and the present and used or attempted to use peer-to-peer or online file sharing applications and/or Lotus Notes."

The plaintiff represents all persons who have used P2P and file sharing applications, but there is no mention of exceptions where copyright infringement/piracy is involved.

Hart's submission seeks contract damages for compensation of the impeded service, but does not specify an amount.

Recently, many other ISPs such as Canadian-based Bell Sympatico confessed to using traffic management to restrict access to accounts based on the type of application or protocols they are using.  However, Comcast is still the first company to get hit with a lawsuit for such practices.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Let's hope.
By mindless1 on 11/15/2007 4:59:44 PM , Rating: 4
Let's hope Comcast pays out quite a lot, to serve as a warning to other ISPs. I'm not a Comcast customer but still wouldn't mind having to pay a slight bit more for service, to have precedence set which discourages ISPs from any kind of traffic throttling, because eventually it would effect more people (traffic) than only those using P2P or Lotus Notes. Otherwise, ISPs have too great an incentive to prioritize their pay-per services to the detriment of their periodic internet service customers.

RE: Let's hope.
By clovell on 11/15/07, Rating: 0
RE: Let's hope.
By Christopher1 on 11/15/2007 6:22:44 PM , Rating: 1
Wrong. That argument has been debunked by many people who have teenage kids doing Bittorrent and by myself and my parents, who are able to get through to the internet quite fine while I am BitTorrenting.

RE: Let's hope.
By Parhel on 11/15/07, Rating: 0
RE: Let's hope.
By BeastieBoy on 11/16/2007 5:46:47 AM , Rating: 3
Yeah. Dial-up sucks.

RE: Let's hope.
By GreenEnvt on 11/16/2007 8:36:45 AM , Rating: 1
Last weekend I was downloading 3 Linux ISO's, getting about 300KB/s, and was still getting a sub 20ms ping while playing Team Fortess 2.

This is on a Cogeco (Canadian cable company in southern Ontario) cable connection, 10mbit down.

I do cap my upload rate to 15KB/s though.

RE: Let's hope.
By Parhel on 11/16/2007 9:56:54 AM , Rating: 3
I was exaggerating, but I'll bet it takes me over a minute to just load Google if I have BT running. I'm using Comcast, so maybe that's the issue, but I have the 6Mbps second service. I never reach over 100KBps on BT either.

RE: Let's hope.
By schwinn8 on 11/16/2007 1:53:41 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe your router can't handle the load? Most consumer-level routers really have problems with P2P. You need a pretty high end one to keep up with BT. I know my older SMC router wouldn't take it, and would simply lose its mind after a while on BT, requiring a power cycle on the router.

Even my new Netgear WPNT834 router, which was rated pretty well for P2P (see ) and still will choke if I overdo it. The key is, you need to throttle your own connection down a bit, so that you don't piss off your router.

Besides which, YOUR BT usage should not have this much of an effect on the internet service in your area... unless they are simply under-serving you, in which case, we are back to the same original problem - it's not that P2P is "bad"... but that the cablecos are just not upgrading their service fast enough.

If they want to sell me 3Mbps service, I should be able to get that, whenever I want. That's how DSL works - they throttle your connection at the DSL Modem. There's no real reason they can't do this on cablemodems too... but they don't do it because the hardware doesn't support it, and they are oversubscribing for the regions. Either way, this does not mean they have the right to throttle my programs, just because they can't provide quality service.

For that matter, tell me how much I can throttle down to.. or what my limit is... they don't even want to do that.

RE: Let's hope.
By Parhel on 11/16/2007 2:58:35 PM , Rating: 2
Until I brought it up, I just thought everyone had similar performance under BitTorrent. I'm glad I asked, even if it got me a negative rating on my post (which I don't understand.) I hadn't considered that my routing might be a factor in determining my speeds. Thanks for the tip! I'll see if I can't borrow my dad's router to test how it affects the speed.

RE: Let's hope.
By smitty3268 on 11/16/2007 8:56:38 PM , Rating: 2
What I found was that the upload speed you give BT really affects your browsing performance, much more than the download speed. When you try to go to google, every time you receive a packet you have to respond that it's been received, and if BT is maxing out your upload bandwidth it gets into a vicious loop or retransmitting the page over and over again.

If you set that to some really low value and you're still having problems, looking at the router is a good next step.

RE: Let's hope.
By clovell on 11/16/2007 10:47:22 AM , Rating: 2
Then your hub isn't being saturated.

RE: Let's hope.
By InsaneGain on 11/16/2007 12:35:37 PM , Rating: 2
I pay for a premium cable internet connection with a 10 mbps down and 1 mbps up rate, and every single evening at about 8:00 pm, my latency to the local router goes from about 8 ms to 80 ms, and stays that way until 12:00 am. So if I connect to any game servers, that 80 ms adds to all the other latencies in between and gives me pings of about 120-140 ms. Obviously this is due to a saturated local router. I called my provider about it and they sent a tech guy to make sure my modem was working properly, and that is all they are going to do about it. They said that my download bandwidth is within an acceptable range.

RE: Let's hope.
By The0ne on 11/15/2007 6:32:46 PM , Rating: 2
It seems you want to make the point that they can market their service as "unliited" and yet give your crappy, limited services. They could simply just market the truth and you, the guy you are replying to and I could be happy and not feel so cheated. Remember, I was with Cox before I moved and was throttle to a low 10gig/month despite me having their $60 12Mbit/5Mbit service. This was an actual conversation I had with the IT tech guy on the phone when I called in to check. I use it to play games and occasional download larger files...linux builds, etc. Bit Does this seem fair to you?

I don't mind them throttling or limiting the bandwidth if there's a need but don't around boosting and selling what you aren't capable of doing. Of course this is unrealistic as marketing is always full of BS.

RE: Let's hope.
By clovell on 11/16/07, Rating: 0
RE: Let's hope.
By mindless1 on 11/15/2007 8:34:13 PM , Rating: 2
I wrote that I'm NOT a Comcast customer and guess what? No throttling and here is a post I made!

You write about cable broadband being shared bandwidth but guess what? So is the entire internet, the cable company has more internal available bandwidth that most legs you remotely connect to! The cable company is usually not the bottleneck, unless they actively try to be.

RE: Let's hope.
By clovell on 11/16/2007 10:53:42 AM , Rating: 1
When I say shared, I mean as opposed to a DSL or T1 line that has a dedidated amount of bandwidth. I agree that the cable company has a lot of bandwidth in a lot of places - I have 6Meg cable that often bursts to 20Meg and I don't often see saturation on my hub.

All the same, it happens - maybe not to you or me, but to somebody.

RE: Let's hope.
By rcc on 11/16/2007 2:45:40 PM , Rating: 2
I've had DSL and cable (at different times)in many locations, some houses, some large apartment complexes(which should be worst case for cable). To date I have never run into an instance where DSL worked better than cable, despite the sharing "potential" for restriction.

Not saying it doesn't happen, but even where I've seen prime time congestion, cable has still been faster than DSL in my locations.

RE: Let's hope.
By opterondo on 11/15/2007 9:05:41 PM , Rating: 5
Were are not talking about "throttling" here. We are talking about traffic management at the protocol level which is more akin to sabotage. ie. crap up only BT traffic, crap up only Vonage traffic, etc.

RE: Let's hope.
By goku on 11/15/2007 11:30:09 PM , Rating: 3
yeah, it's called being "oversold". If comcast can't provide the bandwidth, maybe they shouldn't be selling the lines with that much bandwidth in the first place. If comcast can't handle a neighborhood with 50 people on 8Mb+ each concurrently then maybe they should either upgrade their network or simply not guarantee 8Mb+ and guarantee what ever they can per person. Overselling your lines is plain old stupid when it comes to internet access and comcast nor any other ISP should be doing this.

RE: Let's hope.
By techyguy on 11/16/2007 3:44:24 AM , Rating: 2
Comcast overselling bandwidth? While some people might have slow connections. Where I live Comcast advertises speeds of up to 1.5 MBs. I have actually gotten up to 2 MBs a few times. When the Crysis Demo came out, the main link enabled 800 KB to 1.1 MB download speed.

On probably 5 things I have ever downloaded by torrent. I have gotten 50 - 350 KBs, on the torrent alone. It is really no big deal for me. I just let it run in the background while doing other things.

I know people that leave on their computer 24/7, constantly downloading torrents using Comcast service. It doesn't matter if those people have all the speed in the world. They are never satisfied and have lists of hundreds of albums/movies/games waiting to be downloaded.

I am glad that Comcast lowers torrent speed. I'v seen people bash in their computers, because it is too slow. Do we really need more temporaraly insane people in this world?

RE: Let's hope.
By aharris on 11/16/2007 10:20:19 AM , Rating: 2
They cap connection speeds when you sign up for a reason. This cap should be more than enough of a limit to keep their entire network browsing at decent speeds. No throttling of any type of traffic (aside from viral/malware) should be necessary.

RE: Let's hope.
By Grast on 11/15/2007 6:42:34 PM , Rating: 2

I will respond to you as well. Every ISP that operates in the U.S. has the right to throttle, manipulate, and reorder traffic on specified network. Just because your provider is doing so, does not mean they do not have the right. Please find and read your terms and agreements. Its kinda like a contract of what services the provider is required to offer. Since it is a contract, whether you read it or not, it still applied. Here is snippet from Comcast's terms and agreements.

************************************************* ******

You shall ensure that your use of the Service does not restrict, inhibit, interfere with, or degrade any other user's use of the Service, nor represent (in the sole judgment of Comcast) an overly large burden on the network. In addition, you shall ensure that your use of the Service does not restrict, inhibit, interfere with, disrupt, degrade, or impede Comcast's ability to deliver and provide the Service and monitor the Service, backbone, network nodes, and/or other network services.

Note: Comcast reserves the right to immediately terminate the Service and the Subscriber Agreement if you engage in any of the prohibited activities listed in this AUP or if you use the Comcast Equipment or Service in a way which is contrary to any Comcast policies or any of Comcast's suppliers' policies. You must strictly adhere to any policy set forth by another service provider accessed through the Service.

Subject to applicable law, we have the right to change our Services, Comcast Equipment and rates or charges, at any time with or without notice. We also may rearrange, delete, add to or otherwise change programming or features or offerings contained in the Services, including but not limited to, content, functionality, hours of availability, customer equipment requirements, speed and upstream and downstream rate limitations. If we do give you notice, it may be provided on your monthly bill, as a bill insert, in a newspaper or other communication permitted under applicable law. If you find a change in the Service(s) unacceptable, you have the right to cancel your Service(s). However, if you continue to receive Service(s) after the change, this will constitute your acceptance of the change. Please take the time to read any notices of changes to the Service(s). We are not liable for failure to deliver any programming, services, features or offerings except as provided in Section 11e.

Bandwidth, Data Storage and Other limitations Use of the Comcast network infrastructure in a manner that (i) exceeds the then current bandwidth, data storage or other limitations on the Comcast High-Speed Internet service or (ii) puts an excessive burden on the limitations of the network. Examples include: Using the Comcast network to run a Web-hosting server or any other commercial enterprise.

The end argument is this: If you do not like the terms, then do not get Internet service from Comcast or any other provider. An alternate is to actually PAY for the service which you think is deserved. It is called a BUSINESS Class service contract. However, you will pay more than 40 buck for it.


RE: Let's hope.
By ryedizzel on 11/15/2007 7:14:19 PM , Rating: 3
I was downloading legitimate music from Microsoft Zune over Comcast and all of the sudden my song downloads slowed to a crawl. And this happened at 2am during a weekday, so I know it wasn’t the Zune servers being oversaturated. This really pissed me off so I called Comcast to complain and of course the idiot tech on the phone denied any kind of throttling. I felt like I was complaining to a brick wall so I'm glad someone is starting a class action lawsuit in hopes to get result. Maybe I'll jump in on it...

RE: Let's hope.
By clovell on 11/16/2007 10:55:40 AM , Rating: 1
2 am on a weekday for such a site would be a great time for server maintenance - take a couple offline at a time...

RE: Let's hope.
By totallycool on 11/16/2007 11:19:45 AM , Rating: 2
I am not sure, but zune downloads wouldnt be thru torrents, again not sure of it. So it seems highly improbable that this had anything to do with torrent throttling.

RE: Let's hope.
By mindless1 on 11/15/2007 8:42:23 PM , Rating: 4
They can write what they like and it still doesn't matter!

Customers are paying for a bandwidth based account! That throttling invalidates the primary advertised term of the service and no fine print changes this.

The bottom line is this:
If comcast takes money from a customer for their bandwidth advertised service, they are out of their right to actively prevent the customer from having the bandwidth paid for. Yes a customer can go elsewhere for internet service but they get what they paid for during the period they're with Comcast.

Let come cast stop advertising the bandwidth numbers they do if they can't maintain good service at those rates or near enough to be acceptible. THEY are the ones who chose to make a claim and then chose to invalidate it selectively.

Business class service involves programming of the cable modem for a different rate, NOT whether you get your traffic throttled or delayed because of their filtering when you pay more for this account. You are just wrong on most counts.

RE: Let's hope.
By s12033722 on 11/16/2007 3:22:02 PM , Rating: 2
You are incorrect in your basic premise. What Comcast is selling you is not a cetain amount of bandwidth for an unlimited amount of data. They are saying that they will provide up to that amount of bandwidth for an unlimited amount of TIME . Furthermore, all of their consumer contracts are "best efforts" contacts which state that they will try to give you that much bandwidth but are not obligated to do so. If you want to actually have that much bandwidth guaranteed, you have to go to a business class account which will cost far more since you are actually paying for that full bandwidth all the time regardless of whether you use it.

The basic problem is people don't understand what they are buying.

RE: Let's hope.
By mindless1 on 11/16/2007 10:51:38 PM , Rating: 2
You just made my point when you wrote "they will try to give you that much bandwidth but are not obligated to do so." They are trying to NOT give you that bandwidth for select uses, taking deliberate measures before the bandwidth is used up. For example if you were streaming video instead of P2P, you would suddenly find it came through faster it is not a "try" to provide enough bandwidth issue.

Don't you understand the concepts in this suit??

RE: Let's hope.
By opterondo on 11/15/2007 9:08:27 PM , Rating: 5
Subject to applicable law, .."

Throttling is one thing, sabotaging a particular protocol is another (Vonage, BT, Notes, etc.)

The end argument is this: Comcast may have broken the law.

RE: Let's hope.
By Grast on 11/16/2007 11:48:38 AM , Rating: 2
I will agree that is one issue where Comcast may have broken the law. MAY HAVE. Comcast does not have sabotage a protocol to throttle or manupulate traffic. The TCP/IP stack was designed with retry capability. As such, many traffic shaping devices use the inherent retry functions of the TCP stack to cause packets either to be held, reset, or dropped. This type of activity is not sabotage but normal networkk capability.


RE: Let's hope.
By Parhel on 11/15/2007 9:23:17 PM , Rating: 2
It doesn't matter what's in a contract if the contract breaks the law. The law always supercedes a contract.

I don't pretend to know a whole lot about the laws binding ISPs, but I would assume that if it were as clear cut as you are making it out to be then this lawsuit wouldn't exist.

RE: Let's hope.
By Pjotr on 11/16/2007 7:18:55 AM , Rating: 2
My ISP does not have this in their contract, I have 100/10 MBit/s and when I FTP linux distros, DC++ or bittorrent, I get about 90+ MBit/s any time of day. I assume all my neighbours do so too. I've never had any lower speeds as long as the feeds at the other end can handle it.

Now, should they limit traffic, they would not give me what they sell. If your ISP says they can limit traffic in the contract, you've signed it. Cancel it and get another ISP. But if they never stated it in their contract with you, sue them. You're paying for a product you're not getting. Even if it's cause you share bandwidth with your neighbours. That's not your problem, it's theirs to fulfill the contract with you!

RE: Let's hope.
By djkrypplephite on 11/16/2007 9:08:02 AM , Rating: 1
The point here is that they're selling you a hybrid, but you're only really getting 10 mpg. Offering a 12 MBps line is supposed to mean that you're getting a 12 MBps line, and you're not with comcast. That's the point. Not whether or not they have the right to change their traffic, but that they're telling you essentially that you have unlimited access, when they base their predictions on a 'typical home user" focus group that doesn't do shit online, yet they still essentially advertise it the same way.

People are already paying for the service, and they were mislead into believing they would be allowed essentially unlimited use.

RE: Let's hope.
By Alexstarfire on 11/16/2007 2:32:11 AM , Rating: 2
Well, this is all great and everything, but apparently it only covers those in California who started service within the last 4 years. Not only am I not located in Georgia, but we've had their service for more than 4 years. I'm not sure if they would change their policies in all states if they didn't have to.

I'm all for having contracts and such, but I believe that the person needs to physically be told what the contract includes, but probably not word for word, as well as having to sign a written contract. No one ever reads the damn things because they are usually pages long and have like 5 or more sections to it.

After reading the parts of the contract that were posted I feel that we shouldn't even be using them period. It basically gives them control to do what they want, when they want to. It doesn't even say that they have to provide proof, or even give you a general number. The words "excessive burden", "overly large burden", and "degrade" aren't defined at all. "Degrade" is actually the worst of them considering that daily internet activities could slow the service. Does that count as degradation of service?

It also states that they don't even have to provide notice of any changes. How in the hell is that legal? They also said that if they do give you notice it doesn't even have to be sent straight to you. Apparently putting it in the newspaper counts as providing notice. I'm not sure how that works out considering not everyone gets a paper. Hell, I'm sure even the ones that do don't already read it. That's just F'ed up in my opinion.

"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation
Related Articles

Most Popular ArticlesSmartphone Screen Protectors – What To Look For
September 21, 2016, 9:33 AM
UN Meeting to Tackle Antimicrobial Resistance
September 21, 2016, 9:52 AM
Walmart may get "Robot Shopping Carts?"
September 17, 2016, 6:01 AM
5 Cases for iPhone 7 and 7 iPhone Plus
September 18, 2016, 10:08 AM
Update: Problem-Free Galaxy Note7s CPSC Approved
September 22, 2016, 5:30 AM

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki