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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.


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RE: Let's hope.
By clovell on 11/15/2007 5:10:21 PM , Rating: 0
Listen. If there were no throttling at all, there would be times where you would not even be able to post on DT because your neighbor's teenage kids are sharing [insert filetype here] with the rest of the world and sucking all the bbandwidth.

Cable broadband connections are not dedicated lines - they are shared among customers within a geographic area.


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
Right..
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 http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/content/view/25840/... ) 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 torrent...no. 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.


"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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