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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 Grast on 11/15/2007 6:42:34 PM , Rating: 2
Mindless,

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.

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

http://www.comcast.net/terms/use.jsp

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.

http://www.comcast.net/terms/subscriber.jsp

4. CHANGES TO SERVICES
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.

http://www.comcast.net/terms/abuse.jsp

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.

later..


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
"4. CHANGES TO SERVICES
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.

Later..


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.


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