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New Legislation Could Eventually Lead to ISP Throttling Ban 191

Posted by Zonk
from the strange-new-world dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Comcast's response to the FCC may have triggered a new avenue of discussion on the subject of Net Neutrality. Rep. Ed Markey (D — Mass.), who chairs the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, introduced a bill yesterday whose end result could be the penalization of bandwidth throttling to paying customers. 'The bill, tentatively entitled the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008, would not actually declare throttling illegal specifically. Instead, it would call upon the Federal Communications Commission to hold a hearing to determine whether or not throttling is a bad thing, and whether it has the right to take action to stop it.'"
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New Legislation Could Eventually Lead to ISP Throttling Ban

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  • by suso (153703) * on Thursday February 14, 2008 @11:33AM (#22420434) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if this will have any effect on web/application hosting providers who are using traffic shaping to allocate only a certain amount of bandwidth (such as 3Mbit even though they advertise having larger backbones). Or could it be applied to modules like mod_bandwidth where hosting providers cut off your web hosting if you exceed a certain amount?
    • by Qzukk (229616) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @12:03PM (#22420882) Journal
      Well hopefully, they'll say "if you come out and say that you throttle after X gb transferred or throttle throughput at Y mbps, or throttle protocol Z, then we'll allow it." It'll put an end to "unlimited" bandwidth, secret caps, and so on, and force the companies to actually participate in a market without fraud, which is probably the best we can realistically hope for.

      Most likely they'll say "LOL sounds like a FTC issue to us, I don't think we have the right to do anything, take your complaint to..." and then give you directions to the wrong place in true bureaucratic style.
      • by Bert64 (520050) <bertNO@SPAMslashdot.firenzee.com> on Thursday February 14, 2008 @12:18PM (#22421114) Homepage
        Yeah, i have no issues paying for a 1mb connection or whatever, but i do object to paying for an "unlimited" 100mb connection, where the small print declares there is actually a "fair use" limit and doesnt even say what it is.
        Any limit imposed should be clearly defined, and i would gladly pay extra for a true unlimited connection. It should also be mandatory to declare any contention up front too, like "you have an 8mb link to a 800mb backbone, which has up to 200 users so you're connection could drop to 4mb during busy periods". Customers should know exactly what service they're paying for.
        • It should also be mandatory to declare any contention up front too, like "you have an 8mb link to a 800mb backbone, which has up to 200 users so you're connection could drop to 4mb during busy periods".

          Ha ha. If only. How about "you have an 8 MB link to a 1 GB backbone, which has up to 20000 users so you're connection could drop to 50 K during busy periods".
        • by sjames (1099) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @02:20PM (#22423220) Homepage

          Personally, I find it shameful that a new law has to be passed that essentially says "you know those silly old truth in advertising laws? Well just this once, we've decided to actually enforce them once in a while".

          Perhaps I'm just old school or something, but at one time, any network connection would have a committed rate, burstable (or not) and an SLA. What "broadband" provides these days is 0 bps committed rate burstable to 1-6 Mbps and practically no uptime guarantee. What they *advertise* is clearly meant to make the customer believe it's 6Mbps committed with 0 downtime.

          This business of metering transfer rather than rate is for the most part a scam to make the customer think they're getting a lot more than they actually are. 1 Gigabyte of transfer sounds like a lot to people but actually translates to a rate of 3 Kbps (Yes, not even 9600 baud) and skips over discussing factors such as uplinks oversold by a factor of well more than 100 and the various dirty tricks to keep you from actually using the bandwidth you're paying for.

          The ugly part is that because there has been practically no enforcement of truth in advertising, even companies that may WANT to be truthful are forced to either lie or get out of the market. If you advertise LIMITED service, even if the limits are actually higher than the secret limits of the competing "unlimited" service (and no dirty tricks to keep the customer from actually reach the limits) you will go out of business.

          When ISPs say that net neutrality will bring the network down, what they really mean is that they will be forced to actually admit that they've oversold their uplink, the poor performance really IS their network, not some anonymous "out on the net" problem and they won't be able to double dip by charging two parties full price for carrying the very same packet.

          Meanwhile, all of this sweeping under the rug has prevented market forces from applying downward pressure on the price of real committed bandwidth and forcing a more appropriate balance of price vs. SLA which is why we're supplying 0 SLA home broadband with expensive five nines uplinks rather than several dirt cheap three nines uplinks in spite of TCP/IP being designed to support it.

          The big incumbants do NOT want the market to go that way because it would lower barriers to entry and force them to work harder for their revenue.

          • Man, so well said.

            Mod 2 members should be given the ability to save a mod point or two for posts like these.
          • When ISPs say that net neutrality will bring the network down, what they really mean is that they will be forced to actually admit that they've oversold their uplink, the poor performance really IS their network, not some anonymous "out on the net" problem and they won't be able to double dip by charging two parties full price for carrying the very same packet.

            So true, and look at what these monopolistic pigs are doing with their earnings instead of improving infrastructure:

            "Comcast Corp. saw its shares jum
        • by Z00L00K (682162)
          That's reasonable - and if I'm going for the full speed during low-traffic period like five in the morning, then the ISP shouldn't have much problem with that. What is reasonable is to set up variable priority for different protocols. FTP and HTTP may get a lower priority but only fall into effect if there is other traffic with higher priority like VoIP and there is a problem with the bandwidth.

          But throttling the speed just because they CAN is not the way to go. It's just a way to ask for upset users.

          • by Bert64 (520050)
            That's exactly the kind of shaping my ISP is using...
            P2P traffic has the lowest priority, but i can still max out my line during the night.
            Things like VOIP have the highest priority, so it works even during busy periods...
            SSH etc has a middling priority, which gets reduced if a connection is using a lot of traffic (ie bulk transfers via scp rather than an interactive shell)...
            HTTP also has a middling priority, but it gets reduced for bulk transfers just the same, so the first few mb will go fast, then it sl
      • Well hopefully, they'll say "if you come out and say that you throttle after X gb transferred or throttle throughput at Y mbps, or throttle protocol Z, then we'll allow it." It'll put an end to "unlimited" bandwidth, secret caps, and so on, and force the companies to actually participate in a market without fraud, which is probably the best we can realistically hope for.

        Honesty in this regard would allow more competition from companies who really do offer unlimited usage, since their claims wouldn't be mu

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by severoon (536737)

        Wait...the post you're responding to doesn't really make a point that's relevant to TFA. TFA is about ISPs throttling bandwidth to customers, not servers throttling bandwidth to a particular endpoint. These are totally different things.

        If I'm hosting a server and I throttle the number of requests I'll respond to from a particular IP, (IP range, etc), that's just part of how my app is working. If the end user is paying me for a particular service then these kinds of terms are determined by that agreement

    • by GiMP (10923) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @12:13PM (#22421034)
      You have an interesting question. Although the situations you describe can have a negative impact on customers, some provider throttles make more sense. For instance, SMTP throttling. Some providers are throttling SMTP traffic to limit spam. For some, this is a much better option than the alternatives of blocking it altogether, transparently filtering it, or taking the risk of being unable to remove a spammer before they succeed in sending millions of messages.

      Personally, as the operator of a hosting provider, and as a consumer, I see both sides of the argument. As a customer, I enjoy the opportunity to use VoD, VoIP, etc... but as a provider, I understand the occasional need to apply certain limitations in order to protect the customer and the network.
      • by Bert64 (520050)
        Well, users may also have a legitimate need to send out large numbers of mails. I would allow everything until we receive complaints, and then impose restrictions on the customer until it can be determined what happened. If someone is spamming, they are almost certainly violating the AUP. And most spam blacklists will try to inform an ISP when someone is spamming. If you're ISP is generally run responsibly, then it's not hard to get the addresses de-blacklisted once the spammer has been removed.
        • by jank1887 (815982)
          FYI, please see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spambot [wikipedia.org] and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Botnet [wikipedia.org] Your network would be a prime target for a botnet. By the time the complaints come in, the damage has been done long ago, and the do-er doesn't care about retaliation on the sending computer. They'll just find a different one to abuse next time, because they know each one will send the full payload for each job.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by GiMP (10923)
          The problem I see is that some protocols, such as SMTP, provide little in the way of authentication while consuming very little bandwidth per connection, while having access to increasingly large pipes for decreasingly small amounts of money. My point is, with SMTP messages being so small, I'm not sure it is responsible to give big pipes for SMTP traffic for a low cost. Remember, SMTP comes from a different age than online videos, and there is a big difference between a single user requesting a video onli
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Just Some Guy (3352)

      Whatever happened to "quality of service"? I see no ethical problems with detecting torrents and running them at a lower priority, for example, so that they're still perfectly usable but don't overwhelm more interactive activities like web browsing. Everyone seems to be so into imposing quotas when there seem to be more customer-friendly and provider-friendly solutions.

      • except those friendlier solutions are also more versatile, so they can't torpedo competing services by using a shotgun throttling technique.
      • by adolf (21054)
        The problem is that the ISPs in question have a profit motive in not being fair about it.

        There's currently nothing to restrict Comcast (used as an example, as they're the current whipping boy) from throttling, say, all media downloads, except for those originating at their own premium servers.

        Or, more pointedly, there's nothing to prevent them from throttling (or QoSing into the backwater) everything from every source except those who have paid to not> be throttled, in a way reminiscent only of old-schoo
  • net neutrality (Score:3, Interesting)

    by yincrash (854885) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @11:36AM (#22420482)
    looks like some senators might actually be listening to their constituents
    • Re:net neutrality (Score:5, Interesting)

      by yincrash (854885) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @11:38AM (#22420514)
      also, isn't this a dangerous game that comcast is playing? if you're saying you're taking responsibility for throttling based on content, are you responsible if you know specifically illegal content is flowing through your pipes?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by eln (21727)
        I think you are, but I'm sure the telcos will have the laws changed to suit them. In my mind, once you start paying attention to the content going over the line in ANY way, you lose your common carrier status and all of the immunities that go with it. Of course, I'm not a billion dollar corporation with lots of powerful lobbyists in Washington, so my opinion on the matter doesn't mean anything.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Shakrai (717556) *

          but I'm sure the telcos will have the laws changed to suit them

          I wasn't aware that Comcast was a telco.

          • by Mr.Ned (79679)
            They sell packages for cable, internet, and landline/voice; if selling telephone service doesn't make them a telephone company, what does?
            • They don't sell voice, Comcast Voice Services* sells voice, Comcast Television Services sells television and Comcast Internet Services sells internet access. They break it up like that so regulations effecting one don't apply to the others.

              * I don't know what the actual names are and they all are DBA Comcast.
        • by techpawn (969834)

          once you start paying attention to the content going over the line in ANY way, you lose your common carrier status
          I made the same mistake. Comcast is a cable provider and therefore not a common carrier. Someone here corrected me on that.
          • by eln (21727)
            Doh, you're right. For some reason I made the erroneous connection in my mind that ISP == common carrier, which of course is not right. Guess I should stop sniffing all that glue.
          • by mdmkolbe (944892)
            I get that ISPs are not common carriers, but could someone explain why they are not and how they avoid being liable for illegal content send over their wires?
            • by techpawn (969834)
              I'm kind of fuzzy on that myself, but it's all in what they're transporting as a private carrier. An ISP list this as a private carrier just transmits bits of data. A bit for porn is identical for a bit for this message. It's when you start to filter to see the difference in the bit that a private carrier can then say "I do not want to carry this!" Like how hazardous containers must be labeled to be shipped legally. But, are the boats shipping people in crates liable for trafficking if they didn't know the
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by bagboy (630125)
          Most telcos run an ISP with a non-regulated sub-division which are not subject to "common-carrier" rules.
        • by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Thursday February 14, 2008 @12:24PM (#22421222) Journal
          I am not a billion dollar corporation with lots of powerful lobbyists in Washington
          IANABDCWLOPLIW?

    • by snl2587 (1177409)
      By throwing the whole thing to the dogs of the FCC? Try again...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Or "We're doing something. Really we are. There's a blue-ribbon commission to sit on their hands... i mean investigate the situation. We expect results when you've forgotten the issue... i mean soon."
    • by Firehed (942385)

      The bill, tentatively entitled the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008, would not actually declare throttling illegal specifically. Instead, it would call upon the Federal Communications Commission to hold a hearing to determine whether or not throttling is a bad thing, and whether it has the right to take action to stop it.

      Hardly. Draw up a bill with a fancy new name (suggesting to me there's something irrelevant that we don't want passed stuck in there as well) that will only accomplish forcing the

    • by TheMeuge (645043)
      It's a vote on a chance to vote to do something about this problem... not a vote to actually do anything useful. This law is just one more notch on the senator's legislative re-election portfolio. As in: "look, I am for net neutrality, I even co-authored a law!". In the meantime, the law gets stuck in committee, or even if it comes to a vote, and even if it passes, and even if it gets signed by the president, the matter of fact is that all that has happened is that it the question got kicked to the FCC, whi
    • looks like some senators might actually be listening to their constituents

      Possibly. The question for me is... why did this come up in the middle of a wider net neutrality debate? Granted, the two are (vaguely) related -- in the way that bike theft statistics are related to the number of bikes you can fit on a road, perhaps.

      However, it sounds to me like they're trying to bribe netizens into giving up long-term goals like net neutrality in exchange for getting a relatively small gripe-of-the-moment issue re

  • either no changes and an ISP will continue to do business as normal, forced equality (no shaping) and your Internet access pricing will double or triple, forced equality (no shaping) and ISPs will move to a base-rate plus metered billing solution, based an $/meg/gig (although some already do this) where the cost goes up exponentially.
    • The cost doesn't have to go up exponentially. In fact, it could drop as a sort of "bulk pricing".

      Either way, I'd much rather have the option to pay for it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Charcharodon (611187)
      Internet bandwidth is not a scarce resource, the price will not double or tripple. Just like everything else these days companies are trying to come up with ways to justify price increases while decreasing what they deliver. They want to sell you "unlimited" bandwidth even though they want to either block what you can send or put a cap in the name of "fair use". Conservation pushes are a crock whether they be for electricity or internet bandwidth, they are about maximizing profit with no new input on the
  • Which is worse? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Archangel Michael (180766) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @11:38AM (#22420518) Journal
    While I hate Comcast's man in the middle "throttling" of internet packets (Bittorrent), I'm very concerned with the government getting involved. It almost feels like Alien vs Predator, "Who ever wins, we lose" scenario. Because the government will screw it up worse than it is now.

    • by plague3106 (71849)
      Well, totally free markets aren't always good either. Breaking up Bell was one of the best things, as was the other trust busting decades before.

      I think the solution here is for each community to own and run the lines, then let companies lease access to them.
      • by sm62704 (957197)
        When a company has a monopoly there is no free market.
        • by plague3106 (71849)
          Right, but a company in a free market can end up a monopoly. Capitalism allows it, some might even say promotes it. So a totally free market isn't the answer, because part of a free market leads to monopolies.
          • by sm62704 (957197)
            I won't argue that at all, and question the "free market capitalists". If I, as a human being, sopposedly free, must live my life under totally artificial restraints on what I can and can't do that have no bearing on anyone but myself (I'm thinking reefer here), then why shouldn't a corporation be regulated in such a way that the common good is helped?

            Why should I be regulated but not Comcast?
    • Re:Which is worse? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gad_zuki! (70830) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @12:14PM (#22421046)
      Well, I think the outcome is predictable (not that i think this bill has a chance of passing)

      1. Comcast will just move to a tiered plan. Expect chronic users to pay 100-200 dollars and month and people metering their usage to they dont hit the limit. Casual downloaders will pay the current price.

      2. Any shaping will lead to potential lawsuits. Suddenly your VOIP wont work as well because bitorrent has the same priority as VoIP. Whoops!

      3. Lots of lawsuits. Did your webhost or email provider "shape" your packets in any way?

      4. QoS dies because everyone legal department decides its too much of a risk to continue to use.
      • by sjames (1099)

        1. Comcast will just move to a tiered plan. Expect chronic users to pay 100-200 dollars and month and people metering their usage to they dont hit the limit. Casual downloaders will pay the current price.

        It's better to have the option to cut back or pay more than to get cut off for "abuse" with no viable alternative.

        2. Any shaping will lead to potential lawsuits. Suddenly your VOIP wont work as well because bitorrent has the same priority as VoIP. Whoops!

        And then someone who is willing to provide

    • I completely agree with you as well. I'd much rather be free to choose an ISP that doesn't throttle their bandwidth, and if it ends up that there aren't any left, well then that's a business opportunity for me. But if the government outlaws it, they taken away a choice and forced something on someone (like they're always very good at doing).
      • by AK Marc (707885)
        I completely agree with you as well. I'd much rather be free to choose an ISP that doesn't throttle their bandwidth, and if it ends up that there aren't any left, well then that's a business opportunity for me.

        Then you can do what they did, claim no limit, give no limit for a short time, then defraud your customers by adding in an undefined limit and lying about it. That's not fraud, that's good business, right? After all, if they get tired of your fraud, they can always just go somewhere else with prom
  • 'The bill, tentatively entitled the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008, would not actually declare throttling illegal specifically. Instead, it would call upon the Federal Communications Commission to hold a hearing to determine whether or not throttling is a bad thing, and whether it has the right to take action to stop it.'"

    So they're asking a government agency whether or not it has authority over something (how said authority will be used is a separate matter, of course). Gee, I wonder what the

  • This is wrong. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by halivar (535827) <bfelger&gmail,com> on Thursday February 14, 2008 @11:43AM (#22420582) Homepage
    I believe ISP's throttling bandwidth is wrong, but the answer is for consumers to punish them in the marketplace, not for government to regulate the internet. It will set a horrible precedent (IMHO).
    • Re:This is wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by slapyslapslap (995769) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @11:46AM (#22420634)
      But how much choice do consumers really have? Most can only chose from one or two providers. Hard to punish them in the marketplace with those realities.
      • Yes my choices are comcast, AT&T DSL or Dial-up. When Dail-up was the only choice, my line would only connect at a max of 33 Kbs and 28.3 was the norm so DSL probably wouldn't work very well over those lines.
    • Mod parent up.

      The answer for every little squabble is NOT to introduce new legislation. If Comcast continues to punish customers, it is the opportunity for other ISPs to step in. Let the free market punish them back.

      Unless it is a case of a monopoly that has spun out of control, the free market is a better solution than government intervention.
      • You said it. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Thursday February 14, 2008 @11:59AM (#22420824) Journal

        Unless it is a case of a monopoly that has spun out of control, the free market is a better solution than government intervention.

        And yes, it is a monopoly which has spun out of control. Or rather, an oligopoly.

        How many ISPs do you have to choose from? Unless I go dialup, I've got exactly three. Fortunately, one of them claims to believe in net neutrality, and they're the one offering fiber, but that's extremely unusual. Unless you're prepared to move to where I live (a small town in Iowa), chances are, your only real option to "let the market decide" or to "vote with your dollars" is to decide that you don't really need this Internet thing anyway.

        • How many ISPs do you have to choose from? Unless I go dialup, I've got exactly three.

          Ditto. And all three are so cross pollinated with former staff from the others they might as well be the same company.

          In my area, the principle provider is AT&T (formerly, Bellsouth). Late in the '90's, the cable company MediaOne was bought by Comcast, which was later bought by AT&T, then re-spun off again as Comcast. A lot of the AT&T management moved to the newly re-structured Comcast. EarthLink's curr

    • Re:This is wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Billly Gates (198444) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @11:49AM (#22420668) Journal
      The problem is lack of competition thanks to the deregulation of the last decade or so that was supposed to enable more FIOS and DSL service paid for by our tax dollars.

      Instead the telecoms said thank you and blocked competitors. Remember the amount of ISP's you could chose from back in the 90's compared to today? My point exactly.

      You have 2 ISP's. DSL or cable and both throttle your traffic.

      So what are you supposed to do?
    • Re:This is wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tridus (79566) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @11:50AM (#22420696) Homepage
      I can't wait until my options are cable monopoly throttling, or phone monopoly throttling.

      There are some problems the Government actually is capable of solving better then the market. The market in this case dictates that throttling is good for the bottom line, and ending net neutrality is even better for the bottom line.
      • by aaarrrgggh (9205)
        I read the WSJ version of the article, and it was actually much more supportive of some regulation than I would have expected. Unfortunately, they still don't catch on to the fact that all these sanctioned monopolies are stifling the market and preventing true competition.

        I'm not necessarily for government controlled (last-mile) infrastructure, but the government needs to at least mandate competition-- maybe force unbundling of competitive services for cable and DSL/FTTH and just give us the pipe, er... tu
    • by plague3106 (71849)
      Except Comcast is a monopoly, in many cases the ONLY choice, so the market can't decide. The solution is either they accept regulate and continue being a monopoly, or they are broken up so that a neutral party controls the lines to allow fair competition.
      • by halivar (535827)
        It's a government-imposed monopoly. Comcast wouldn't be the only game in town if it weren't for government intervention. Such intervention created this problem; it can't fix it by doing more of the same.
        • by plague3106 (71849)
          Monopolies do pop up without government help. Your logic is flawed too; why couldn't further regulation fix the problem? All that needs to be done is the FCC says "you can't raise rates and you can't throttle traffic." Done.
          • by halivar (535827)
            They do, but that isn't the case here. These monopolies did not spontaneously generate from natural market forces: they were imposed on the market by the government. This same government has proven, time and time again, that they do not help the market; they hinder it.

            The ideas Adam Smith put forth in The Wealth of Nations with regards to unregulated capitalism actually work, as they built not only our country, but the wealth of the western world. Das Kapital doesn't have the same track record.
    • Re:This is wrong. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Firehed (942385) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @12:10PM (#22420976) Homepage
      Yeah. I'll show them by switching to... shit, they're the only option.

      If there was competition in the marketplace, I'd agree with you. But alas, I don't even have the option between DSL and cable, let alone FTTH. I get a choice between Charter Communications cable and dial-up (most likely long-distance), which isn't exactly a competing service.

      Granted I live in a pretty small town, but that doesn't change the fact that my options are cable and no connectivity. I don't even get enough cell signal at home to have EDGE be my only source of web access, as painful as that option would be were it an option.
    • The problem, in my opinion anyway, isn't bandwidth throttling per say. It's *selective* throttling of certain protocols. That's tantamount to censorship.

      What they should do, providing they don't actually have enough capacity to guarantee the bandwidths they sell, is clearly specify a minimum guaranteed bandwidth (in absence of equipment failure) and a percentage of time that the rated bandwidth is typically available. E.g. "10 Mbps connection (min 2Mbps, full 10Mbps available 90% of the time)". It would b

    • by tppublic (899574)
      I also believe throttling is wrong, but that doesn't mean your answer works. I have no non-satellite, non-dialup alternative. (in other words, no high speed alternative)

      If you don't want the government to become involved, then you need to get federal laws changed so individuals (not just an attorney general) have the legal standing to bring anti-trust cases against companies.

  • by marzipanic (1147531) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @11:44AM (#22420602) Journal
    ... and even then depends on the company.

    We have had the same ISP for years and never had any trouble, we pay for the fastest broadband available which is £40 per month. It changed hands (I will not repeat the name) and now we are throttled, but it is called an AUP. We do not download that much and many "name not mentioned" ISP customers have had exactly the same problem!

    They even got found out!

    My point is, they are making a public show when they are (or will) do it anyway... just with a nicer name than "throttling", Acceptable Use Policy is much nicer sounding, it really fools us Brits!
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by badfish99 (826052)
      Why wouldn't you name the company? Are you afraid they will sue you for telling us that they have an AUP? Or do you think that it would be good for us to have to google to find out which company changed hands recently and charges £40?
  • FCC ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by l2718 (514756) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @11:47AM (#22420636)

    First, giving the FCC more discretionary authority is not a good thing to do. They are very receptive to lobbying (broadcast flag, mandatory DRM ...) and industry corruption (employees that leave directly to cushy jobs in the industry they were supposedly regulating just recently). Secondly, I'm not sure where the Federal interest is in regulating businesses -- that the internet as a whole is international?

    This is really a contract issue. If their TOS promise "unlimited bandwidth" then they should provide that. If the TOS say "we connect you to the internet" they should not be able to block random ports. And sending fake packets is already a computer crime (at least, if I sent fake packets to Comcast servers I would probably be charged with attempted DOS or something). So I would support a "contact terms mean what they mean" law -- not giving the FCC more discretion to help the industry to screw the customers.

    • Re:FCC ? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by spiritraveller (641174) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @12:07PM (#22420940)

      Secondly, I'm not sure where the Federal interest is in regulating businesses -- that the internet as a whole is international?
      Internet access is a facility of interstate commerce comparable to your telephone line. It is possible to have a single-state communication over the internet, but it's very unlikely. Even if you send an email to your neighbor, it will probably end up going through servers in other states.

      This is really a contract issue. If their TOS promise "unlimited bandwidth" then they should provide that. If the TOS say "we connect you to the internet" they should not be able to block random ports. And sending fake packets is already a computer crime (at least, if I sent fake packets to Comcast servers I would probably be charged with attempted DOS or something). So I would support a "contact terms mean what they mean" law -- not giving the FCC more discretion to help the industry to screw the customers.
      In most places, broadband providers have either a monopoly or a duopoly. The nature of the service is that they use easements over public and private property (telephone and cable lines) to provide a service where there is little if any competition. And don't forget, the internet is an interstate/international system that relies on standards. If the Federal government can't enforce standards, who will? The states? The UN? No. As much as we rightfully fear Congress-critters writing legislation to govern the internet, the fact is that it affects all of us now (even them), to the point that things like sending false connection reset signals is something that Congress (or with its authorization, the FCC) should be allowed to regulate.

      If you just say that it has to be in the contract, then Comcast will change the contract in the next billing cycle. Because they have a monopoly/duopoly, the market cannot correct it.

      If the FCC does the wrong thing, Congress can overrule them. But if you leave it to Comcast to change its contract, that's exactly what it will do, and we will be screwed.
    • Interstate commerce clause. It's in the Constitution of the United States.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by c (8461)
      > So I would support a "contact terms mean what they mean" law

      I think it's pretty well established that when you're dealing with abusive monopolies, contracts mean "bend over, spread cheeks" for the average consumer. I don't think you want that made into a law.

      c.
  • Not even the firehose listed. Well, here's [slashdot.org] a related story and it's still on the front page.
  • Colleges as ISPs? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by _bug_ (112702)
    So given the broad definition of ISP that's been used in other areas of law it would seem colleges and universities would fall under this throttling ban as well.

    That's going to really suck.

    File sharing eats a very large majority of bandwidth for many colleges and without some form of throttling access to resources for other purposes (e.g. college business, student research, and incoming traffic to college resources like websites and distributed computing services) would be seriously hindered.

    If Comcast is h
    • File sharing eats a very large majority of bandwidth for many colleges and without some form of throttling access to resources for other purposes (e.g. college business, student research, and incoming traffic to college resources like websites and distributed computing services) would be seriously hindered.

      I'm not against making it metered, and as I understand it, neither is this bill. The bill is mostly just asking the FCC to take a look at the situation...

      So tell the students: "You have x gigs of bandwi

  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @12:01PM (#22420852)
    Comcast wants to kill off P2P because it is competition for VoD. Follow the money.
  • hmm (Score:2, Informative)

    by vtscott (1089271)
    I was particularly interested in this comcast comment from the article:

    Importantly, in managing its network, Comcast does not block any content, application, or service; discriminate among providers; or otherwise violate any aspect of the principles set forth in the [FCC's] Internet Policy Statement.

    So, they don't block any content? That doesn't seem consistent with their terms of service [comcast.net] (interesting parts bolded by me):

    Comcast reserves the right to refuse to transmit or post, and to remove or block,

  • It would seem truth in advertising should take care of this, if enforced correctly. I would rather like to see Congress set in motion what it needs to, to get high speed internet nationally and available in most areas. We are lagging far behind Japan - even Verizon Fios is much slower.
  • Recall how one or both of the houses influenced against the injunction against RIM because so many of them were Blackberry users? This really shows one of their weaknesses... that they are pretty much just like us in that they care most about the things that affect them most and that they aren't TRULY interested in the greater good or any legally recognized form of justice or the processes of justice.

    So when a politician or the child of a politician can't get his warez, mp3z or moviez due to something Comc
  • From the FCC's website:

    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent United States government agency, directly responsible to Congress. The FCC was established by the Communications Act of 1934 and is charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable. The FCC's jurisdiction covers the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. possessions.

    From the FTC's website:

    The FTC deals with issues that touch the economic life of every
  • by BigRedFish (676427) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @12:28PM (#22421268)
    When I buy a quart of milk, the jug contains a quart of milk. If I try to pour out this quart of milk all at once, it does not slow to a trickle after the first half-pint and then announce that I've reached my daily pouring limit because the dairy doesn't have the cows, feed, and trucks required to actually produce the whole quart it sold me. Not if everyone who bought milk wants to drink it at the same time.

    Whatever law covers that situation with my quart of milk not being a whole quart, can also quite well handle the situation where I buy 1.5Mb/second bandwidth, and then the second doesn't actually contain all 1.5Mbits, because the company doesn't actually have the infrastructure it's selling access to. ISPs already throttle, that's why they have different speed tiers for us to buy, same as milk is offered by the pint, quart, half-gallon, or gallon.

    What we're really talking about here, is that the ISPs are lying about how much milk is in the jug. If our 1.5Mb pipes have to drop to 384K when everyone downloads at the same time, then we have 384K pipes, and they should be labeled and priced as such. Throttling based on content is just a way to legitimize weights-and-measures fraud.
    • "weights-and-measures fraud"

      Bravo! That's exactly what this nonsense is. Well said.
    • by AK Marc (707885)
      What we're really talking about here, is that the ISPs are lying about how much milk is in the jug. If our 1.5Mb pipes have to drop to 384K when everyone downloads at the same time, then we have 384K pipes, and they should be labeled and priced as such. Throttling based on content is just a way to legitimize weights-and-measures fraud.

      I have no problem with that. It's called "shared bandwidth." If you want "dedicated bandwidth" then you pay a different price (and sometimes it required buying T1s to an i
  • One by one, standard router configuration commands are getting attacked as undemocratic. The "consumer advocates" wanted to argue that if you're somehow connected to my router, I should be prevented from configuring my router as I see fit!

    First, the net-neutrality folks attacked the policy-map command and the whole idea if Differentiated Services (i.e., IETF DiffServe). policy-map lets you configure prioritization or other special treatment of packets. [cisco.com]

    Now they're attacking the rate-limit and traffic-sh [cisco.com]

    • Don't I own my own router? Why should I be forced to forward packets that I don't want to forward? Why should I be forced to prioritize or not prioritize if I don't want to?
      You should be forced to forward packets you don't want to forward because we're PAYING you to forward them, asshole.
  • As a user of comcast who is willing to equitably share the service, you might best understand a different perception of heavy downloaders from this story and the picture accompaning it.

    http://people.monstersandcritics.com/bizarre/news/article_1384370.php/Louisiana_fat_people_banned_from_All_You_Can_Eat_Buffet [monstersandcritics.com]
  • But throttling any lower than the advertised max should be ruled illegal; the only valid reason for a Comcast customer's download speed to be less than 4Mb [or 3, or 8, depending on locale -- advertised bandwidth] is that the remote server is not able to upload that fast. Comcast has made that representation, repeatedly and should be held to it, legally. But that is a trifling offense compared to the following.

    Last month, the Commission tasked its Wireline Competition Bureau to seek comments on allegations by P2P provider Vuze that Comcast's throttling practice -- intended to curb high-bandwidth file sharing that Comcast believes to typically be unlicensed -- is actually cutting into its legitimate business.

    What Comcast does or does not believe about traffic based on generalizations is completely irre

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