Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Government The Internet News Your Rights Online

What Will Come of the FCC Comcast Hearing 86

Posted by kdawson
from the rhymes-with-bombast dept.
The FCC held its hearing on network neutrality and Comcast today at Harvard. One commentator not afraid to predict what will come of it is O'Reilly's Andy Orem, who writes: "The mere announcement of an FCC hearing on 'broadband network management practices' was a notch in the gun of network neutrality advocates. Yet to a large extent, the panelists and speakers were like petitioners who are denied access to the king and can only bring their complaints to the gardeners who decorate the paths outside his gate. What we'll end up getting is a formal endorsement of non-discrimination as a policy that Internet providers must follow, leading to continual FCC review of current practices by telecom and cable companies."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

What Will Come of the FCC Comcast Hearing

Comments Filter:
  • You're like all the developers I work with in cube land. Sometimes the truth we can implement in the real world is not the same truth that exists in your mind. This is *ok*. It doesn't mean we have failed. It just means we are making progress. And progress is good, no?
    • And progress is good, no?

      Not according to the Telecoms. Apparently we're perfect just as we are, and have no need of your "progress" and infrastructure repairs/replacements.
  • I need ammo!
    • Is that u, George?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ILuvRamen (1026668)
      I was gonna mention that too. It doesn't make sense. You fire guns and put notches in belts, right? I've never heard of a notch in a gun. Anyway, nothing's going to come out of this except maybe the FCC banning Comcast employees from using steroids.
  • Looks like Comcast is pleading the Fizith
    • by Kryptonian Jor-El (970056) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @01:09AM (#22555184)
      Basically.

      Look, Comcast is just being pissy because they dont want to put in new lines. End of story. In my area (as with MANY others) cable companies are bought out all the time. Comcast bought Adelphia, who had bought GE Communications probably 5 years before that. Comcast KNOWS that if it puts the money into upgrading its capacity, it will bankrupt, and some new, fancy cable company will come in, but its newly installed lines for pennies on the dollar, and take over. Problem solved for 5 years.

      I don't care for Verizon personally, but they're doing the right stuff with this FiOS. They're laying down fresh fiber to eventually replace their old copper lines. The interwebz aren't getting any smaller, so this is the way all ISPs will have to go sooner or later (without some miracle in wireless tech).

      Furthermore, I am paying for an unlimited service. Thats what its called and advertised as, unlimited. Well, fucking with my speeds and sending fake reset packets, well, that seems like a limit to me, doesn't it?

      I envy you people that CAN bitch about other sucky ISPs, because Comcast is the only one I'll ever be able to bitch about here.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by calebt3 (1098475)
        Have you checked if Speakeasy DSL [speakeasy.net] is available in your area? Their Terms of Service [speakeasy.net] seem somewhat sane:

        If you utilize any of your Speakeasy services in a manner which consumes excessive bandwidth or affects Speakeasy's core equipment, overall network performance, or other users' services, Speakeasy may require that you cease or alter these activities.

        So there is the possibility that they will ask you to throttle your own speed during the day or something. Not likely, I know, but another paragraph gives some hope:

        Speakeasy believes in the right of the individual to publish information they feel is important to the world via the Internet. Unlike many ISP's, Speakeasy allows customers to run servers (web, mail, etc.) over their Internet connections, use hubs, and share networks in multiple locations. Any service that causes a disruption in the network integrity of Speakeasy or its vendors, whether directly or indirectly, is strictly prohibited and could result in termination of service. This may include but is not limited to: IRC servers, adult-content servers, bots, webpages hosted on any Speakeasy servers, servers connected to a Speakeasy provided Internet connection, or shared networks. Speakeasy reserves the right to modify or terminate services at our sole discretion.

        There is one other restriction:

        Speakeasy respects the intellectual property rights granted under the US copyright laws and the interests of subscribers and content providers on the Internet. You may not store material on, or transmit material over, Speakeasy, Inc.'s information systems or servers in any manner that infringes the intellectual property rights of any entity or individual. All notices received by Speakeasy indicating any activity suspected to infringe upon third party intellectual property rights will be re-routed to the primary account holder on file, accompanied by a request to verify and possibly cease and desist. Speakeasy Inc.'s policy of service suspension or termination of members deemed to infringing the intellectual property rights of a third party is in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA") as well as US copyright law.

        So no seeding illegal content. But legal content (Vuze, for example) would seem to be acceptable.

      • Furthermore, I am paying for an unlimited service. Thats what its called and advertised as, unlimited. Well, fucking with my speeds and sending fake reset packets, well, that seems like a limit to me, doesn't it?

        The Advertisement when I signed up said "Unlimited use for a flat monthly fee" not unlimited access. So when Concast terminated my families Internet on January 19, 2007 I was livid! They said we used it too much and were not provided service for 12 months. And NOW the company wants us back as a c
      • They're ripping out the copper (regulated) to put in (unregulated) fiber, so they can build a network like the cable company and do whatever the hell they feel like, not unlike Comcast.
        • They can remove the copper lines from your home IF you're getting the "total package" and you sign off of the form giving them permission to do so. I'm not a fan of fine print, but I've seen the contract personally (at least the copy the service tech brought to my house) and it was pretty clear what they were going to do even before the tech brought it up. I opted out and still have my copper.
  • Ars brings the Audio (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dr. Eggman (932300) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @12:40AM (#22555052)
    Ars Technica's article included MP3 Audio [arstechnica.com] clippings of the hearing.
  • Comcast sucks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Izabael_DaJinn (1231856) * <slashdot@nOsPAM.izabael.com> on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @12:44AM (#22555062) Homepage Journal
    Andy Oram links to his older article [lxer.com] (which he says is still relevant) where he blames the current situation on other things as well:

    1 ) Bell telephone companies.

    2) Congress

    3) dot-com commerce sites.

    4) Internet2

    5) "And finally, I'm mad at the public for taking the lazy route and accepting the cheapest form of half-crippled Internet access instead of a high-capacity bidirectional connection that could make us full Internet citizens. Let's not blame the telcos--or at least not stop with them. No one in a position to care has cared enough."

    I don't know. I myself can see all those as part of the big problem, of course, but I'd rather just point my finger at guys like this:

    Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen: "I don't think we're restraining the customers from using the service in accordance with the way we're selling [sticking] it to them."

    • by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @12:51AM (#22555102) Journal
      I'm not sure who Andy Oram is other than a blogger for Oreily, but his blaming of the dot com ecoms and the internet 2 are incredibly lame. He might as well have blamed Atilla the Hun, for all the relevance.
    • Re:Comcast sucks (Score:5, Insightful)

      by steelfood (895457) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @01:20AM (#22555252)
      5) "And finally, I'm mad at the public for taking the lazy route and accepting the cheapest form of half-crippled Internet access instead of a high-capacity bidirectional connection that could make us full Internet citizens. Let's not blame the telcos--or at least not stop with them. No one in a position to care has cared enough."

      As long as the majority of the American public has access to Youtube and Myspace (and now Facebook), they're largely happy campers, apathetic to every other aspect of the internet, especially the technical ones or the ones that require any amount of thought. It's just like television; as long as there's American Idol and Lost, everybody's happy. Nobody cares about matters of substance like what's being reported on the major news outlets.
    • by jc42 (318812)
      5) "And finally, I'm mad at the public for taking the lazy route and accepting the cheapest form of half-crippled Internet access instead of a high-capacity bidirectional connection that could make us full Internet citizens. Let's not blame the telcos--or at least not stop with them. No one in a position to care has cared enough."

      We should probably note (and point out to the participants in the hearing) that in most of the US, the customers are in no position to care, because they aren't permitted any choic
  • I'm actually for network neutrality: I think ISPs shouldn't try to manage traffic based on content or destination.

    But if they can't cap BitTorrent, they have to cap volume, and I expect that's what's going to happen.
    • Re:it's simple (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Smordnys s'regrepsA (1160895) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @12:59AM (#22555140) Journal
      ...or option 3, they can charge based off of usage (hopefully with a peek/off-peek difference for pricing)

      ...or option 4, they can reinvest their massive profits into bulking up their infrastructure so they don't have to worry about volume.
      • by calebt3 (1098475)
        The downside to option 4 is that the problem keeps coming back every 10 years or so.
      • by nguy (1207026)
        ...or option 3, they can charge based off of usage (hopefully with a peek/off-peek difference for pricing)

        Yes; that's basically what "volume caps" mean: a monthly subscription rate for some base volume, plus the ability to purchase more.

        ...or option 4, they can reinvest their massive profits into bulking up their infrastructure so they don't have to worry about volume.

        There is no way they can keep up. For example, if everybody could actually run 100Mbps in/out of their homes for $30/month, you'd see mass
      • by msromike (926441) *
        The Comcast chart does not look like a company making massive profits.

        http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?s=CMCSA&t=5y [yahoo.com]
    • All it does is get the high-volume users to be more active at the beginning of their billing cycle, which will STILL impact 'the network'. It will just impact it for a shorter period of time. And if billing cycles are staggered, there will always be some BitTorrent users sucking up gobs of bandwidth, causing trouble, you know their drill.

      Volume caps are a lie. The sad truth is that Comcast is acting as if they can't actually deliver what they say they can - all the Internet you can ask for. The truth is
  • by bconway (63464) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @12:47AM (#22555074) Homepage
    Network Neutrality refers to ISPs double dipping on charging/extorting fees for both users paying for their connections and web sites paying for prioritization of traffic according to origination and destination. It does not refer to protocol-based QoS. It does not mean a flat, unmanaged, unQoS-ed Internet. By repeatedly and deliberately misusing this phrase, its importance is being weakened.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tuki (613364)
      Also stop misusing "Network Management"! What they are dong is traffic shaping, which I would say is a Network Engineering function, not that of Network Management.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Wesley Felter (138342)
      Did you invent the term? Why is your definition correct and all others wrong?
    • Prof. Timothy Wu, the man who DID first coin the term "Network Neutrality" testified at the hearing, and he seemed perfectly satisfied that discriminating against users' BitTorrent uploads is a fine example of a Network Neutrality violation.

      In your example, the incentive is MONEY gained by charging content providers extra fees for carriage and then giving their traffic preferential treatment.

      However, in the Comcast example, the incentive is MONEY saved by eliminating BitTorrent traffic and then putting off
  • I disagree (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CSMatt (1175471) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @12:51AM (#22555100)
    I think Comcast will get a slap on the wrist, and throttling will resume. That's how the government has been operating for the past 7 years. Why should I expect them to change now?
    • Nothing. Both money and time will be wasted on the hearings, but no changes will occur. Network shaping will persist, because the ISP's don't want to spend the money to upgrade their infrastructure.... unless they can get the government to pay for it, and then charge the end users more money for it.
    • by djupedal (584558)
      "...Why should I expect them to change now?

      Not now...but soon enough - try sometime after the Bush administration hears a flushing sound.
      • by calebt3 (1098475)
        What makes you think a Democrat will change things?
      • Re:I disagree (Score:4, Interesting)

        by kiddailey (165202) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @02:16AM (#22555556) Homepage
        Please.

        Yes, Bush has been a disappointment, but you're kidding yourself if you think his exit will have any measurable effect on policy.

        I can think of a few hundred other people (congress and even the people that continue to vote these shills into office) to blame for lack of positive change along with the president, and they're not all related to the administration. In fact, last I looked, the Democrats controlled congress. If they really wanted to, change could have been long since happening.

        As long as the money stays in Washington and we have career politicians, things will remain the same.
        • by Dusty00 (1106595)

          Yes, Bush has been a disappointment, but you're kidding yourself if you think his exit will have any measurable effect on policy.

          Then by proxy we can say his presence hasn't had any measurable effect on policy.

          You're quite right that a chance in the White House isn't suddenly going to turn us from a cesspool of corruption to the shining beacon of justice and morality that we pretend to be, but this is the most corrupt administration we've had in at least a century. Not only has the Bush Administration s

          • by kiddailey (165202)

            Then by proxy we can say his presence hasn't had any measurable effect on policy.

            Yes.

            Regardless of who had gotten elected (unless they were a constitutionalist of some measure) essentially the same policies and plans would have been put into place - the net effect being immeasurable. Both parties have an vested interest in eroding civil liberties and freedom in the name of the nanny state.

            You're quite right that a chance in the White House isn't suddenly going to turn us from a cesspool of corruption to th

  • Juliet Sierra (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Taelron (1046946) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @12:52AM (#22555106)
    Thats the FCC will do, Jack ... The majority of their hearings either come up unresolved or contrary to the public good. Business intrests win out more often then Joe citizen under the current administration... Though unlikely to change much even after administrations change... Once the damage is done it takes years, sometimes decades before things are set back right.
    • by jc42 (318812)
      Once the damage is done it takes years, sometimes decades before things are set back right.

      Or, as in the case of telephones, it can take a century or more. Here in the US, the telephone monopolies were allowed to exclude "foreign" devices until -- when was it, the 1980s or so? When the FCC finally relented and allowed users to attach non-phone-company equipment, there was the huge explosion of new and useful devices. A lot of this development could have happened many decades earlier, but the phone compan
  • By slowing down music and movie sharing, they're slowing down terrorism. They're patriots!
  • by webword (82711) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @01:00AM (#22555146) Homepage
    "The whole debate an extension of the years-old tussle over whether Net neutrality regulations, which would prohibit network operators from prioritizing traffic as they wish, are necessary to safeguard the Internet's historically open architecture."

    Not perfect, but at least the article gets the core idea mostly right. Usually, it gets totally butchered, you know?
  • 1. FCC will formally issue a statement that comcast engages in traffic shaping.
    2. Such traffic shaping and blocking of torrents have not financially harmed anyone so far. (this is why you geeks should file a complaint with FCC stating a specified amount of money. No need to prove it.).
    3. Such behavior by comcast is not prohibited by law. (FCC forgets that there is no law that forces me to smile and call every cop an officer, although i have to do).
    4. FCC declines to decide either way (much like the supreme
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      6. Comcast, AT&T, verizon continue aggressive bittorrent blocking. Qwest refuses to do that and continues its old policy of allowing all.

      Verizon doesn't block BitTorrent, they won't even send you so much a letter for downloading over 1 tb.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Yet. What Comcast has been doing is cheap, and nasty: they're not traffic throttling, they're traffic poisoning by forging RST packets. I doubt Verizon's staff want to start down that road, but they're in a better fiscal position to do real traffic monitoring, and with their new fiber infrastructure, they'd better do something to shape it or the kids with the external Terabyte hard drives sharing warez and movie collections and trying to mirror PirateBay are going to flood their most critical connections.

        In
        • they're in a better fiscal position to do real traffic monitoring, and with their new fiber infrastructure, they'd better do something to shape it or the kids with the external Terabyte hard drives sharing warez and movie collections and trying to mirror PirateBay are going to flood their most critical connections.

          Verizon's PON network is much easier to upgrade to support demand, than it is for Comcast to upgrade their current infrastructure. Verizon had been using BPON when they first started the FIOS roll
    • An Update:
      Kevin Martin, the republican heading the FCC is quoted:

      But at the end of the event, which, all told, lasted nearly six hours, Martin told reporters he still hadn't made up his mind about whether Comcast had done anything more than "reasonable" network management

      http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9878330-7.html?tag=nefd.pulse/ [news.com]
      Does it prove my earlier point?
      Although the FCC declared in 2005 that customers have the right to use the content, lawful applications, and devices they wish on the networks they use, i don't think Martin would allow that.

  • Much like the sprawl of many major metropolitan areas that weren't carefully thought and planned out decades in advance, I fear that the FCC's involvement in the greater issue of Net Neutrality, and in the more immediate issue of Comcast and it's ilk playing favorites when it comes to how it's customers choose to utilize their paid-in-advance bandwidth, is too little and too late. The big telecoms have had those decades to build up mass and velocity, and the FCC just doesn't have the delta-v to control thei
  • Nothing. Absolutely nothing.



    .....in our favor, at least.

  • Poll (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DavidD_CA (750156) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @01:22AM (#22555262) Homepage
    I'm curious what the /. community thinks... what if a company such as Comcast were to offer two plans:
    1. $30/mo - The internet as we know it today without any preference to content providers, advertising, etc
    2. 2) $15/mo - An internet where some content providers get preference, subsidizing the lower monthly bill.

    3. If companies offered a choice would we still care?

      Or are we worried that all providers will go the way of #2 and the price of #1 will inflate as supply dwindles?
    • what if a company such as Comcast were to offer two plans:
      this is comcast, the same company advertising UNLIMITED use when it is very clearly not anything of the kind. There will be no such thing as option 1, only option 2 at #1's cost. Why would they lower their rates when they have a monopoly in many areas with the willingness and ability to shape, drop and/or outright abuse for their own purposes any data that you attempt to receive?
    • I'm curious what the /. community thinks... what if a company such as Comcast were to offer two plans:

      1. $30/mo - The internet as we know it today without any preference to content providers, advertising, etc
      2. 2) $15/mo - An internet where some content providers get preference, subsidizing the lower monthly bill.

      3. If companies offered a choice would we still care?

        Or are we worried that all providers will go the way of #2 and the price of #1 will inflate as supply dwindles?

      Ummmmm they'd just then increase the rates $5 about every 3 months until the internet as we know it was $45 and the non-neutral internet was $30.

    • by MobyDisk (75490)
      IMHO, the choice would be dangerous because it allows the rich to perform a subtle mind-control on the poor. Let me explain:

      Part of the problem with network neutrality isn't just that it is not fair. It is that the people who are on the non-neutral internet get a biased view of the world around them. Suppose for a moment that the only news you could see is Fox News. Or if the only online music store you could access was iTunes. That would be a very scary world because people's political and social view
    • by grcumb (781340)

      I'm curious what the /. community thinks... what if a company such as Comcast were to offer two plans:

      1. $30/mo - The internet as we know it today without any preference to content providers, advertising, etc
      2. 2) $15/mo - An internet where some content providers get preference, subsidizing the lower monthly bill.

      If companies offered a choice would we still care?

      Effectively, it would be no choice at all. It would, in fact, be disastrous.

      The effects described in George Akerlof's 1970 paper, The Market for 'Lemons' [wikipedia.org] come into play in such a scenario. In a nutshell, the paper states that certain markets (like used cars) favour the sale of 'lemons' over quality. The reason is that it's easier to simply wax and buff a lemon (and trust the buyer's ignorance) than it is to do the right thing and service it properly before re-selling.

      The reason this approach works is

  • Remember...the Internet interprets a restriction as an outage and routes around it.

    Even if it is FTTC.
  • This is why I'm fighting for Network Neutrality. With it the company can't decide who get's to do what on the lines. We paid for them and it's legal content. So why can't we do what ever we want? It's our dollar

    Rather than allow people like me to use the lines we paid for, they are also terminating people's accounts.

    What a BS company
  • TorrentFreak had a nice blog post [torrentfreak.com] summarizing various expert opinions expressed in the hearings.

  • I had comcast for cable and they sucked. When it worked, the speed was great but I had to reboot the modem every day. Dealing with tech support, that had a standard response when I tell them that I run Linux, "We don't support Linux." So every time, I had to ask for a supervisor to have them explain, I was not asking them for Linux support, but support on their failed connectivity. I had technicians here 6 times before they realized they had a problem at their headend.

    Then add in the issue of their false pa
  • I'm a comcast customer. Maybe not for long though. I can't even load google today.
    I literally can't load www.google.com in my browser. I also can't load a few other sites, tpb included.

    I don't pay for comcast's shit services like their homepage, or their "chill" games useless turd. I certainly don't give a crap about their new mobile portal.
    To those of us who want Internet access, we want Internet access.

    We want fast, unfiltered, unfettered access to the Internet. That was what I thought I was getting.
    • by ArhcAngel (247594)
      I happen to play a lot of games and download Linux distros and video and applications a plenty. I need the bandwidth.

      Here are the things I "NEED"
      1) food
      2) more food
      3) mountain dew (occasionally water)
      4) a roof to protect my computer from the rain

      I passionately hate what these companies are doing and am just as frustrated as the next guy but trivializing real needs by emphasizing wants/desires to need level should be avoided. If you truly need the bandwidth are you willing to pay more for it? Most ISPs set
  • by rastoboy29 (807168) * on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @03:14AM (#22555828) Homepage
    WTF is a notch in a gun?  Is that a good or a bad thing?
    • You don't notch the metal parts of the firearm, you notch the stock (typically wood) with a 3-4mm cut. One Notch per kill. I wouldn't do it for dove hunting or anything like that, but typically for larger game like whitetail deer you would put a notch in your stock when you take one down.

    • by DarkOx (621550)
      Notch is a gun is perfectly normal, many long guns ie, a rifle or a shotgun have wooden butts even contemporary ones. Many hunters will carve a small notch there when they take a prize.
  • What if the electric companies managed your power usage? Imagine if they could determine that you ran the AC too much or ran the hot water heater too warm and could restrict the power those devices could use. Geez things would not work as expected and if you didn't know any better you would think something is wrong with the devices.

    What if the power companies let customers opt in to a system that would turn off certain devices during peak usage? OMGWTFSANDWICH power companies already do this. In my area
  • by BCW2 (168187)
    The only thing that will come from this is a bribe! Duh!
  • If p2p traffic like bittorrent really is cloggin their pipes, why don't they just start charging for it?

    Media, legal or not, is friggin HUGE. Even a second of video in ANY format is going to take up a good chunk of space. So charging to carry it would bring in a crapload of service charges.

    So let Comcast switch to a per-megabyte policy, and then they can rake in some BIG DOUGH.

    Why aren't they?

    Comcast's meddling makes no sense from a profit making point of view...they're passing up a major source of revenu

When all else fails, read the instructions.

Working...