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Interview with AT&T on BitTorrent Filtering 179

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the please-hammer-don't-hurt-em dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Slyck is running an interview with AT&T's Vice President of Legal Affairs, Jim Cicconi. AT&T discusses the latest in their effort to filter, however one interesting point tends to show they aren't moving anywhere until they discuss this with their customers. "We hear from our customers directly and indirectly. It's a very competitive business, ravenously so. I think our company is very, very sensitive to customer attitude — we have to consider this," Jim Cicconi told Slyck.com."
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Interview with AT&T on BitTorrent Filtering

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  • Hey slick (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Loki_1929 (550940) on Monday January 21, 2008 @01:08PM (#22127918) Journal
    Forget your customers, get your ass down to the local library and get your hands on the text of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act right NOW. You're opening yourself up to upwards of trillions in liability if your filtering doesn't work perfectly 100% of the time. You're also opening yourselves up to massive liability with the federal government (hint: take a quick look at Comcast vis-a-vis Bit Torrent).

    Quit spending all day being a PR monkey and get back to being a lawyer for your company. You're giving bad advice that has the potential to obliterate your employer.

    • Re:Hey slick (Score:5, Insightful)

      by despe666 (802244) on Monday January 21, 2008 @01:48PM (#22128442)
      I'm not worried about them, they'll just buy themselves another custom-made exception in Congress.
    • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Monday January 21, 2008 @03:06PM (#22129374) Journal

      For those who didn't RTFA, here's the relevant quote:

      Were focusing on pirated content over BitTorrent, [not BitTorrent per se.]

      Hey, hint, to anyone who thinks this is a legitimate position: That is like saying you're focusing on stopping pornography, not web traffic per se. It doesn't work that way; even when you know what you want to block by domain (myspace.com), you'll be foiled by high school students (and proxies).

      And that said, most ISPs are having a hard enough time blocking BitTorrent at all, much less trying to filter specific uses. The sooner you give up trying to filter stuff that your users don't want filtered, the sooner you can focus on a long-term solution that will actually work, like upgrading your network.

      On DSL, it bothers me when my housemates use YouTube, and I occasionally try to throttle them, for that reason. When we get 100 mbit fiber, it won't matter.

      • by LordSnooty (853791) on Monday January 21, 2008 @05:08PM (#22130610)

        When we get 100 mbit fiber, it won't matter.
        Hmm, but by then hi-def streaming video will be the norm. The needs of apps always expand to fill the available pipe.
        • I'm sorry, that wasn't clear:

          By "we", I mean my house. It will be within the month, I think.

          And you may be right about the high-def content, but I don't think so. YouTube may allow it at some point, but that's not really their target audience.

          Also, if I throttle someone on 100 mbit back to 99 mbit, it'll be like having my current connection to myself, and they won't notice at all.
        • by Ossifer (703813)
          This is what AT&T is specifically trying to avoid. It's not that their last-mile loops are saturated -- it's that their backbone is. With DSL the backbone starts at the central office, with docsis cable, it starts at the back of your computer. This is probably why AT&T hasn't gone as far as Comcast... yet...
      • ...it bothers me when my housemates use YouTube, and I occasionally try to throttle them

        I think we'd all like to throttle some of the people on Youtube.

    • Your point... AND that it is illegal. Between the two, AT&T should pull its head out of its ass and smell the bacon, RIGHT NOW.
    • by Fordiman (689627)
      Well, I'm not an AT&T customer - I'm on Verizon - but I'll say this: if my pipes start getting filtered, I'm switching to Earthlink, post haste. It's a pain in the ass to switch DSL carriers, but there's no way in hell I'm letting some corporate monkey stick a valve on my pipes that I don't control.

      I pay for 3 MBits. If I feel it's necessary, I will flood that line with as much data as I please. You want to throttle it? Fine, but I'll want a prorated refund for the average difference between allotte
  • EDGE (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Monday January 21, 2008 @01:11PM (#22127972)

    "If someone is using a p2p network on a cell 24/7, it can adversely impact the service of their neighbors. It has the effect of not providing the service paid for. Overwhelming usage is from BitTorrent traffic. No one wants to get to the point [where] we say, "You can't do that."

    Oh, now I get it. They think that's why EDGE is slow. Kind of cute in a retarded kind of way.

    Do they think EV-DO users aren't using P2P or something? Perhaps if they upgraded the network instead of locking it down, it might work better for them.

    • I really doubt he means cell towers. The word "cell" can refer to a lot of things, and how many people do you know that run BitTorrent over their mobile phone? He probably is talking about local cable internet POP.

      The point about upgrading the network is moot. Every ISP I ever talked to has said that P2P traffic expands to fill the available space. It doesn't matter how much bandwidth you throw at it. You'll always flood your pipes with P2P traffic.

      Anyway, the interview is pretty interesting. I'm trying

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        I think it's easy for ISPs to show people how many GB they have currently used. Just have a web page they can visit that shows them how much they have used for the current billing cycle, along with a nice graph showing how much they have used each day. Also, have an application that runs in the system try that queries their system every hour, or other predefined period in time to show how much they have used. You wouldn't even need to log in, because they could identify you by your IP Address. You would
        • That's a lot of complexity, given that for 95% of users you can guess how much they will use based on statistics. It's only the outliers that mess this up. I mean, sure, people could learn over time by watching graphs of their own usage, but you're still expecting non-technical people to use units that are not even metric, and don't have any obvious real world parallels ...
  • Not even close (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheMeuge (645043) on Monday January 21, 2008 @01:13PM (#22127992)

    We hear from our customers directly and indirectly. It's a very competitive business, ravenously so. I think our company is very, very sensitive to customer attitude -- we have to consider this

    Hearing that hurt my ear. I've been a relatively unwilling AT&T customer 3 times now, due to various mergers and acquisitions, and they've managed to go against the consensus opinions of their customers on every issue that I have encountered, where such a dichotomy existed.

    For instance, I purchased my Blackjack from an authorized Cingular dealer, and received unlimited internet for $19.99 per month. I was really happy with the service. After Cingular became AT&T wireless, I began getting service outages, and now it takes me >2 minutes to connect to the internet, and the connection will time out after 2 minutes of being idle, rendering it almost useless. When I called, I was told that AT&T has different internet plans than Cingular, and my Blackjack could only get the $40/month plans, and they wouldn't help me with my service problems. I am still under contract, but it seems that AT&T isn't interested in their part of the deal.

    It is perfectly clear that as a part of a government-sanctioned mono- or oligopoly, they have no interest at all in their customer's opinions.
    • Re:Not even close (Score:5, Informative)

      by Lumpy (12016) on Monday January 21, 2008 @01:50PM (#22128460) Homepage
      It's your settings, reset your internet settings in the phone to default.

      I did that and now I get no problems with my blackjack. I even get over 740k in metro detroit when I am in 3G land.

      Also, do NOT sign a new contract with them. Stay with the old cingular terms. They will screw you hard if you change, and as long as you are a "old" customer you still fall under the old terms and you are safe from them screwing you on data plan rates.

      I dont care what they promise you, do NOT upgrade your plan or change it in any way until it's really worth your while as your data price will go to the $40.00 a month.
      • by antdude (79039)
        What happens with those contracts that are subject to change? Those are annoying.
    • by DannyO152 (544940)
      Call it dannyo's commentary, companies that rely on customer satisfaction to stay competitive don't have to say it.
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Monday January 21, 2008 @01:16PM (#22128026)
    My suggestion - though I'm not an AT&T customer - is to investigate the possibility of implementing tiered pricing as Time Warner is considering. If the problem with BitTorrent and other P2P apps (from your perspective, anyway) is disproportionate bandwidth usage, why not just charge more from the people using more than their fair share?

    That is, unless the true motivation here is that you're deep in the pocket of the content cabal and will do anything to get whatever pittance of a kickback they're willing to give.
    • by Belial6 (794905)
      They don't really want to go to tiered. If they do, they would need to stop advertising "Unlimited Internet" for their lowest price.
    • by zappepcs (820751) on Monday January 21, 2008 @01:32PM (#22128260) Journal
      Although there is some sense to what you are suggesting, there is still one problem: Unlimited MEANS unlimited. If you sell users an unlimited plan, it is UNLIMITED. If you sell them that plan then decide that it is only unlimited for certain types of traffic packets, well, that is just not legal. If you buy a car, you have reasonable expectations that it will work on ALL highways. If you buy an unlimited Internet plan, you have reasonable expectations that it will work for all Internet protocol types and traffic.

      If they want to sell a plan that does not permit P2P protocols, fine as long as that is what it says up front. If they want to sell a plan that only allows 10KB per month, no problem (good luck with that btw) and other such things. The trouble is that they sell unlimited plans, and their real problem is that they didn't think anyone would use the unlimited part. You know, customers get tired of trying to connect, so just don't use the service too much, then it's all good.

      Now, if the reason for wanting to filter is ONLY to help the **AA and/or government types to find out things about you, well... burn the witches in hell I say. Better yet, switch services, let the shareholders burn them. I switched, as fast as I could when AT&T merged with Cingular. Do you need a daddy? AT&T wants to be your Ma Bell?

      • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
        Unlimited MEANS unlimited.

        Yes but it's been reasonably well established now that they mean unlimited availability *not* unlimited data.

        That's why some 'unlimited' plans have 'fair use' caps of 10GB, 5GB or less, and the ones that don't mention one have vague legalese about being able to cut you off/throttle you without warning if you 'affect the experience of other users'.

        It is definately not illegal for them to filter bittorrent... it'll be in the contract you signed that they have the right to do exactly
        • It's already in evert broadband contract I've ever agreed to. (Never had DSL though)
          They all say something to the effect of "no servers", which would drastically affect your p2p usage.
      • I switched, as fast as I could when AT&T merged with Cingular.
        Hehe, I dodged a bullet on my cell phone service with that one as well. I was with Cingular, decided they sucked hairy goat balls, and tried switching to AT&T. Of course, AT&T screwed up my order (LNP had just become available here, and they weren't ready for it), so I ended up cancelling and going with Sprint. A couple months later came the headlines that Cingular and AT&T were merging.

      • Your right about the unlimited part, but it also states in their TOS that using bandwidth for illegal downloads, IE pirated music and movies, is not allowed. So when they have 10% of their users using 90% of the bandwidth to illegally download music, movies, and other illegal content they have a right to do something about it and are well within their contract with their users to do so.

        So stick that in your pipe and smoke it.
        • I run Ubuntu and play Wow with my wife. Both use a ton of bandwith once a month when updating. I really dont pirate like some teenagers who downloads gigs and gigs of files a month. Do I need to suffer as a result?

          The wow patch system uses bit torrent. Infact I download ubuntu with bittorent as well with newer releases because their file servers become swamped for weeks when a new release is out.

          What about my kids using cam software to talk to their father? Cable companies already filter any encrypted traff
      • by pcmanjon (735165)
        "If you sell users an unlimited plan, it is UNLIMITED. If you sell them that plan then decide that it is only unlimited for certain types of traffic packets, well, that is just not legal."

        TOTALLY UNTRUE!

        AT&T has an Unlimited MediaNET plan for my PDA Phone. It included unlimited internet access. I started streaming data and other things to my Windows mobile phone -- and they gave me a $82,000 bill. I eventually got out of it, but they tried to charge me per KB after the first 5 gigabytes of usage.

        Tell me
      • As I recall, AT&T reserves the right to change the terms of service with a certain period of advance notice (90 days?). If they want to throttle down current "unlimited" plans to tiered service, they can probably do it as long as they give users the option to cancel service without penalty, and provide sufficient notification as documented in the service agreement.
    • Parent is entirely correct. If AT&T were really concerned about bandwidth hogs, then imposing traffic limits is the way to go (and stop lying to their customers about the "unlimited" nature of their Internet service.

      I suspect that AT&T thinks that they won't be sued for deliberately violating their "unlimited" contract by people who are swapping files in violation of copyright. But what about people who are using P2P for entirely legal purposes? One of those could sue AT&T if AT&T decided to
    • Here's what they should do:

      Instead of whining that a single p2p user is affecting other subscribers in a cell, implement a "minimum guaranteed bandwidth" commensurate with their actual available bandwidth. So, if you have a 1 Gbps line going to a group of 1000 customers, offer a 1 Mbps guaranteed minimum, with up to 20 (or whatever) Mbps depending on a network traffic.

      See? That wasn't so hard. Now they can implement QoS such that a heavy user is the first to get bumped down to 1 Mbps when another user wants
    • by boyko.at.netqos (1024767) on Monday January 21, 2008 @02:41PM (#22129062)
      Well, the problem is that charging for the data isn't going to do anything to resolve bandwidth issues. A user downloading a single large file during peak times at high speeds is going to create more of a bandwidth problem than a user downloading multiple large files via BT staggered over a couple of days. It's because data isn't the limited resource - data is unlimited. It's bandwidth - the capacity of the pipe at any particular time which is limited.

      If your neighbor's network is going slower because you're downloading a huge file, that's not a sign of you being a 'bandwidth hog' - it's a sign of improper QoS policies in place. Everybody gets a share of the pipe. If you want a bigger share of that pipe, you can ALREADY pay for more bandwidth, which is the limited resource. Charging for bandwidth AND data is "double dipping [networkper...edaily.com]"

      In my opinion, it's just an excuse to try to maintain the old business models of cable TV (for cable companies) and cellphone/landline (for phone companies) when better alternatives (digital distribution/VoIP) exist.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by petermgreen (876956)
        A user downloading a single large file during peak times at high speeds is going to create more of a bandwidth problem than a user downloading multiple large files via BT staggered over a couple of days
        There are a couple of issues with this:

        The first is that very few people download hundreds of megabytes per day from non P2P sources. Even if they do (for example a video on demand TV series) the content provider is likely to take steps to place the content close to the users (because it reduces thier costs a
        • Good points all, and you've really got me thinking about that last one: "the ISP dare not try and do anything to cache/optimise it because they know that the bulk of the traffic is illegal." I gotta meditate on that.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Jurily (900488)
      There is no such thing as "disproportionate bandwidth usage" in an unlimited plan. They sold it, but they don't want to deliver it.
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Monday January 21, 2008 @01:21PM (#22128098)

    they aren't moving anywhere until they discuss this with their customers.

    If this is true, then it isn't going to happen. What customer is going to say, "Hey, block some of the applications I could otherwise use with this broadband pipe I pay for."

    Even if a customer isn't using it at the moment, they won't be in favor of blocking it since they might want it in the future.

    If this is true, then it will never happen at AT&T, and they were just blowing smoke to appease everyone since they know their filtering solution is impossible anyway. You can't filter what you can't read, and you can't read strongly encrypted packets - end of discussion.

    • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Monday January 21, 2008 @01:28PM (#22128206)
      Even if a customer isn't using it at the moment, they won't be in favor of blocking it since they might want it in the future.

      You're manking the assumption that customers are not stupid and short-sighted. AT&T will promise them a 50% discount for 3 months and they'll sign anything.

      • by megaditto (982598)
        Why would that be short-sighted?

        I for one do not use p2p filesharing, ever. Even a one month discount in return for throttling gnutella and such to say 56 kbps would be fine with me.

        Very likely most home users fall into the same category as me regarding filesharing (i.e. doing some web, news, VoIP, family videos on youtube, some shopping, and church newsletters).

        Note that the 1% of users that know about filesharing are probably the ones using up 50% of the total bandwidth. I don't mind my ISP dropping those
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by edmicman (830206)
          But it doesn't just apply to "illegal" filesharing. More and more downloads are going to be handled via P2P protocols because of the bandwidth crunch that the ISPs have created for themselves. How many HD movie downloads via iTunes would it take to hit 160GB in a month? What about legal downloads of isos or movies via bittorrent? What about Joost streaming TV (or any streaming video technology) that makes use of P2P technologies?

          Capping bandwidths and throttling users is very shortsighted - it's only go
        • Firstly, they went for the mentally ill, I wasn't mentally ill so I remained silent

          Secondly, they went for the homosexuals, I wasn't homo sexual so I remained silent

          Thirdly, they went for the jews, I wasn't jewish so I remained silent

          Lastly, they came for me and nobody spoke in my defense
        • by afidel (530433)
          Hope you never takeup WoW, patches are distributed through bittorrent =) 500MB patches at modem speed would really suck!
    • by n6kuy (172098) on Monday January 21, 2008 @01:33PM (#22128284)
      Obviously you misunderstood what they mean by "discuss this with their customers".

      Discuss, as in, "Oh, by the way, we're changing the terms of your service."
    • by TechForensics (944258) on Monday January 21, 2008 @01:48PM (#22128436) Homepage Journal
      You've never seen poll questions, have you? It all depends on how the question is phrased:

      1) Should we (AT&T) slow down some kinds of uses you can make of your unlimited pipe; or

      2) Should we throttle the bandwidth hogs who decrease the bandwidth available to YOU.

      That's what leading questions are all about...

      • 3. Upgrade the network to support the new uses, and get out of the business of spying on people.

        Maybe that option is too realistic or perhaps creating proxy servers that avoid att's network.

  • by dattaway (3088) on Monday January 21, 2008 @01:22PM (#22128112) Homepage Journal
    Many people on the dd-wrt forums would love to know how to do it. Its been tried on the L7 layer, but clients get around that in seconds.
    • I suspect they must think its possible. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for them to divulge their methodology. They might consider it a key competitive advantage> Plus, divulging it would give those who would seek to avoid the filter some ideas on how to avoid it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Artefacto (1207766)
      I'm not sure how they do it, but my ISP (netcabo, Portugal) is able to throttle bittorrent traffic even when the most strict encryption options are selected. They must be using good techniques to recognise bittorrent traffic in particular, because they're not able to throttle the encrypted protocols used by eMule. The method is so agressive that when it's in "throttle mode" other protocols may also be affected. It's also not mere passive throttling, they actually send false RST packages to your peers, so
      • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
        Have you considered that your ISP isn't throttling?

        Bittorrent's normal behaviour is to switch between clients.. many of them are on slow connections that dropout constantly anyway. It's also generally slow, because trackers measure upload/download and only allocate the faster links to those with a good upload - which penalises DSL users over other users for example.

        If you want to see the effect of this try it on a decent leased line.. you'll see the speed start off really slow..1k/sec then slowly build unt
    • by realmolo (574068)
      Oh, it works. A WRT54G with DD-WRT probably can't handle it, but if you buy a Packeteer or even a Fortigate unit, they can definitely identify P2P traffic and block it.

      However...

      If the packets are encrypted, then all bets are off. There's no way to inspect encrypted packets. At least, not easily. The only way I can imagine it could be done is to have the "filtering device" actually have special versions various P2P clients installed, and then continuously make connections, and then BLOCK the connections tha
      • by dattaway (3088)
        Yes, the L7 filtering of the dd-wrt does work but only for a minute. But once that is enabled, the clients quickly hop into port 443 and back to 7881. So I block 7881 and then they roll to 7880 using encryption. Blocking 443 seems to stop it also, as they have accounts they can't get into and start another transfer. I filter, because home VoIP and P2P don't play together well and I like having family over.
    • by tylernt (581794)
      So... why not use QoS to prioritize packets based on IP or MAC addresses? Simply count the number of bytes sent/received by each, and the IPs/MACs with the biggest counts go to the bottom of the list. Then you don't care what port or protocol they're using, the light users are (almost*) unaffected by heavy users. I believe iptables already lets you count the number of packets (if not bytes) processed by a rule, so all you need is a bash script in a cron job.

      * Obviously throttling incoming traffic is a litt
  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Monday January 21, 2008 @01:27PM (#22128170)
    ...in a story where an AT&T executive is asserting it "listens" to its customers, and no wisecracks about NSA wiretapping?

    Come on, people, you disappoint me! ;-)
    • Actually... (Score:5, Funny)

      by The Amazing Fish Boy (863897) on Monday January 21, 2008 @02:05PM (#22128632) Homepage Journal
      I posted one, but my ISP filtered the post.
    • by rhizome (115711)
      ...in a story where an AT&T executive is asserting it "listens" to its customers, and no wisecracks about NSA wiretapping?

      This is because the interview is predicated on not listening. The "interviewer" on Slyck's side did not ask any of the obvious followup questions that would have addressed most of the highly-rated comments here. It wasn't an interview, it was a "give us your spin" questionnaire.
  • No fuckin way! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by superash (1045796) on Monday January 21, 2008 @01:27PM (#22128176)
    If someone is using a p2p network on a cell 24/7, it can adversely impact the service of their neighbors. It has the effect of not providing the service paid for.

    WHAT?? Was it written in the ISP subscription forms that you are not supposed to use p2p? And if I use p2p network and the whole cell is affected then its fuckin time you upgraded the b/w of the cell!!!

    It's like saying, "You are using a Microwave and a fridge, your neighbor cannot switch on the lights....so, you need to switch off your fridge". pah!
    • by rhizome (115711)
      > It has the effect of not providing the service paid for.

      WHAT?? Was it written in the ISP subscription forms that you are not supposed to use p2p?


      Not only that, but it'll be news to a lot of people that their residential connection has an SLA.
    • In most of the cases, yes.

      There is usually a clause disallowing you from running a "server", and that's half of what peer to peer is.
  • by zifn4b (1040588) on Monday January 21, 2008 @01:29PM (#22128218)

    "We've [internally] tested several systems, and we're going to see if there's a way to identify pirated content on the network. That asks the question of what to do if we develop such as technology. The actual deployment raises a lot of questions, [such as the impact on] customer rights and government policy. We wouldn't proceed without answers to those questions."
    Hmm... maybe they could use something similar to this [faqs.org].
  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Monday January 21, 2008 @01:30PM (#22128246) Journal
    So, when it happens, all our troubles with bandwidth will be forgotten...

    Or, will all this data processing power be squandered on downloading videos of the shaved pudendum of one Britney Spears?

    RS

  • Competition? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by webmaster404 (1148909) on Monday January 21, 2008 @01:32PM (#22128274)
    It's a very competitive business

    Oh I am sure there is loads of competition in the ISP business dominated by 4 businesses, that must be a ton of competition with Verizon, Time-Warner and Comcast all charging sky high rates for ISP service. Really, there's almost no competition in the ISP field there's the big 4 and some local ISPs and that is about it. Thats about the same as MS saying that the OS business is very competitive with only 1 major universal competitor which is Linux (Yes there is OS-X but it doesn't run on standard computers)
    • Re:Competition? (Score:4, Informative)

      by rhizome (115711) on Monday January 21, 2008 @02:38PM (#22129016) Homepage Journal
      that must be a ton of competition with Verizon, Time-Warner and Comcast all charging sky high rates for ISP service.

      This is what has been termed The Big Lie [wikipedia.org], which if you sidestep the Godwinian implications allows AT&T to assert its barely bearable level of competition like Microsoft does with its own form of stiff competition. What they're competing against is "lack of complete domination," which is retarded in the broadest sense and an impossible Utopia in the specific.
    • by Yetihehe (971185)
      So tell me, why there are no more ISP? Maybe it's hard to compete with those prices? What stops you from making your own ISP and starting to provide internet for your customers? I think they would be really happy to at last get those $20/mo 100mbit pipes.
      • by Yetihehe (971185)
        If anyone wonders if I'm trolling, I would really know what stops people from making own ISP. If it's too costly, then why do you think they have too high prices?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by pavera (320634)
          The answer is phone services have a huge barrier to entry. You need somewhere in the neighborhood of 5-10 billion dollars to provide service (IE infrastructure, fiber, routers, etc) to all the homes in a single medium sized state. Multiply that by 50, and you need 250-500 billion dollars in capital to do the whole country.

          Then, you have to convince/bribe/cajoul the politicians in each state/city to give you rights of way so you can lay your fiber. This is going to cost another 5-10 billion dollars countr
        • First infrastructure. The cables are expensive, not to mention the hours it would take just to get a neighborhood linked to it. Secondly, deals with different housing units, apartments or dorms are sometimes one cable/phone/internet provider only making it nearly impossible to run your ISP to them. Thirdly bandwidth its cheap to add when you have the infrastructure down but until then, its quite expensive. If your an established company that got grants from the government to help add your phone service, its
      • What is currently inhibiting competition is the last mile problem. To give high bandwidth service, you have to have a high bandwidth connection to the premise. Currently the options for that connection are:

        1) DSL over phone lines, which are monopoly owned by the phone company

        2) Cable internet, which require the cable conneciton, which are monopoly owned by the cable companies

        3) FiOS, which is monopoly owned by the phone companies

        Any competitor has to provide new infrastructure to a very large number of co
      • What stops you from making your own ISP and starting to provide internet for your customers?
        In short, the lack of copper wires not owned by the telephone or cable company to everyone's homes.
    • Wtf? OFX runs *better* than Linux, on all 64 bits x86s.
      • I wasn't saying anything about OSX's quality. I was merely stating that I can't go put OSX on my normal PC and expect it to work right, while I can put Linux/Windows on there and it will work. I was referring too how there are very very few OSes that have significant marketshare that will run on existing hardware.
        • I had understood you. I was typing that (and am typing this) on a fairly normal x86, where I've installed Leopard in under 30 minutes. The only thing that didn't work out of the box was the Ethernet card, and there's a -relatively easy to find- driver.

          My point is, you actually can install OSX on a normal PC and expect it to work. How's that for a desktop Unix that already has all the Necessary Apps (i.e. MS Office including Outlook, even if it's called Entourage, and the full Adobe Suite.)

          I'm amazed that St
  • by mozkill (58658)
    you can believe what this guy is saying in the interview. they dont actually consider "what the customer thinks" . the only thing that really matters is how they can get enough leverage to raise fees. they will figure out how to do it eventually and bit torrent users will lose out. its only a matter of time. one thing is for sure, you cant expect the AT&T spokesman to come out and say the truth, which is that " profits matter more than the customers".
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LaughingCoder (914424)

      profits matter more than the customers
      Except that AT&T also knows that without customers there can be no profit. So in that case, customers are all that matters. Hmmm, what we have here is a genuine conundrum. Maybe it's not quite as simplistic as you suggest. Maybe they really are considering their customers - even if it's for all the "wrong" reasons like making a profit and staying in business, rather than just "doing the right thing".
  • I had AT&T's service (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jewfro_Macabbi (1000217) on Monday January 21, 2008 @02:02PM (#22128596) Homepage
    Now I've dropped them like a bad habit. Seriously - their service sucks. Those commercials you see advertising their "broadband" network where the guys in a pond with a laptop surfing at high speeds. Yeah - my ass. I'm happy with my new Alltel service. Now I can download at the speeds faster than AT&T's total connection... The first month I used AT&T's mobile broadband - I received a $5000 dollar bill. I called them - WTF? They explained that though they had added unlimited net access to my account - they'd forgotten to take of the per MB charge - but they will fix it. The next month - a $15000 dollar bill - and the same rigamarole. Next month - a $34,000 dollar bill. At this point they disconnected my service for non-payment. I'll admit that lasted all of thirty seconds after calling them. It took 5 months for them to correct my bill.
  • "We've [internally] tested several systems, and we're going to see if there's a way to identify pirated content on the network. That asks the question of what to do if we develop such as technology. The actual deployment raises a lot of questions, [such as the impact on] customer rights and government policy. We wouldn't proceed without answers to those questions."

    Yes, because they were so concerned with privacy when they let the government monitor communications [wikipedia.org] across their network without court author

  • by Damocles the Elder (1133333) on Monday January 21, 2008 @02:07PM (#22128652)
    ..the same way we did opinion polls and studies to show us that our customers wanted to be wiretapped! Honestly. Everyone was emailing us, phoning us, saying that they wanted to be monitored. And who are we to deny our customers?
  • by AlgorithMan (937244) on Monday January 21, 2008 @02:14PM (#22128732) Homepage
    The day that P2P Traffic gets filtered will be the day when anonymous P2P will finally catch on...
    then - when everyone can download everything without any fear of being caught - the CD sales will finally become THAT bad, that the music industry MUST start thinking about making better offers OR die... anyhow the result will be that all these crazy lawsuit-waves and the evil legislation lobbying will FINALLY come to an end
  • I think our company is very, very sensitive to customer attitude

    Would be nice if that sensitivity would trickle down to the customer service phone reps, one of which answered "yes" when I asked "so it's company policy to charge customers for services they don't receive?"
  • "We hear from our customers directly and indirectly... I think our company is very, very sensitive to customer attitude -- we have to consider this," Jim Cicconi told Slyck.com"

    They hear from their customers by tapping their phone lines without a warrant. What better way to stay in tune with customer attitudes by recording them directly and without their knowledge?
  • I LOL'd (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stinerman (812158) <nathan@stine.gmail@com> on Monday January 21, 2008 @02:51PM (#22129184) Homepage

    It's a very competitive business, ravenously so

    Yeah, 2.5 options make for a very competitive market. You (or other monopoly) own my phone lines, while my cable monopoly owns my cable lines. High-latency satellite connections, slow-ass dialup (still over the monopoly's lines, BTW), or "unlimited" (5GB cap) cell data plans are the rest of the .5 options.

    I think a lot of businesses would be quite happy to have such an absence of competition in their markets.
  • by wakim1618 (579135) on Monday January 21, 2008 @02:53PM (#22129220)
    There are several advantages to treating bankwidth like any other utility. Yes, your monthly charges will vary. So does your electricity bill and gas bill. But at the same time, this will provide pressure from consumers for software companies to declare how often their software calls home and how much bandwidth their application uses. In turn, this provides impetus for Congress to pass legislation whereby stealth phoning home will be illegal. Yeah, this last bit is probably wishful thinking. On the other hand, if you are uploading/downloading tons of stuff on p2p, then the costs of providing service to you probably exceeds what you are paying. Nevertheless, there is a large incentive for segmenting market between casual and heavy users.
    • by Reziac (43301) *
      Phonehome-ware can probably dodge that bullet by getting the minimum reporting threshold set at an ordinary non-P2P-user's monthly usage, say 5GB. Even the most verbose phonehome-ware isn't going to come anywhere near that, so would be exempt.

  • Sure thing, customers are important. Whatever, dude. I guess you're gonna claim NSA is a more important customer than your other customers, next, eh?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mozkill (58658)
      i totally agree. the first thing I noticed when reading this was the lie that "they care about what the customer thinks." . we all know they only care about profits and methods of getting leverage to raise fees.
  • I still think the best "solution" to reducing the impact of bittorrent, is to cause bt to become obsolete, by deploying more http caches (*). When downloading a large and popular file (e.g. a WoW update), that file should usually be coming from fairly nearby disk (possibly in the same neighborhood), thereby minimizing the impact on the overall network.

    By attacking bt's reliability prior to deploying caches, they are going to encourage users to use encryption to improve the reliability, instead of using be

  • Such as downloading Linux distros and free and open source software.

    Some musicians, such as Michael David Crawford [geometricvisions.com] release their music in free OGG format with an open source license that allows it to be spread by BitTorrent.

    Not only that but Joost [joost.com] and Miro [getmiro.com] are video players that use P2P and BitTorrent to share videos that are also released into the public domain, open source, and free licenses.

    Like I said there are 100% legal reasons for using BitTorrent and P2P filesharing networks. This will hurt the free and open source market more than it cuts down on piracy. It is like giving commercial licenses a free pass and filtering or blocking the free and open source licenses. Some people write articles and howtos via Legal Torrents to promote their web sites in a free or open source license, as well as help out the community.

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