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Comcast Plans Cable Boxes with Integrated Wi-Fi and Snooping 427

Kaa writes "Short version: Comcast's cable modem/802.11g base station that is made by Linksys has capabilities to 'phone home' to Comcast and tell them how many devices are connected to your WiFi base station, how much bandwidth they are using, etc. It also has the capability to 'disable LAN segments' which, I assume, means they can kick your devices off your home network if they choose to do so. Something tells me this particular device won't make it into my house..."
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Comcast Plans Cable Boxes with Integrated Wi-Fi and Snooping

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  • Smoothwall (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 07, 2004 @03:50PM (#9088201)
    Simple Solution:
    Put a smoothwall box [smoothwall.org] or another router between your home network and the new cable modem (as I'm sure many of us already do). Although the wireless access would be nice to use, 802.11b/g access points are pretty cheap these days.
    • Re:Smoothwall (Score:2, Informative)

      by MandoSKippy ( 708601 )
      Will Comcast allow ports coming in to be opened? I could see them not allowing us to SSH and TS into our home boxes. (I suppose that techincally is against their TOS) I LOVE having remote access to home. It's a wonderful way to browse sites that may or may not be work related without leaving gobs of cookie dough all over the work PC :)
      • Re:Smoothwall (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 07, 2004 @04:03PM (#9088395)
        I just got Speakeasy [speakeasy.net]. It's awesome, although a little pricey. However, you can get static IP's and NO port blocking! Leaving Comcast behind and never looking back.
        • Re:Speakeasy (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Creepy ( 93888 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @05:16PM (#9089217) Journal
          Yeah - I did the same.

          Speakeasy even allows you to sell wi-fi net access to your neighbors [speakeasy.net] and gives you a 50% discount to run it and provide the support. I wonder what they'd do if I paid my neighbor $20 monthly to do this, tho - thus decreasing my net cost from $90 to $65 and giving him access for free :P
      • Re:Smoothwall (Score:3, Interesting)

        by strictnein ( 318940 ) *
        That's a good question. I setup port redirecting on my firewall to access my home systems to avoid problems (people scanning for common open ports and my ISP blocking them). That coupled with dynamic DNS works pretty nice. Of course they could block obscure ports like 39492 (not the one I actually use, wouldn't want to give away my top secret network secrets!), but why would they (other than to be evil)?
        Of course... I don't use their service (TimeWarner owns the cable around my house)... but I have friends
        • Re:Smoothwall (Score:3, Informative)

          by JofCoRe ( 315438 )
          obscure ports like 39492 (not the one I actually use, wouldn't want to give away my top secret network secrets!),

          Using obscure ports doesn't really matter anymore... All I need is a recent version of nmap [insecure.org], and I can find out what services you're running and what ports they are on :)
    • Re:Smoothwall (Score:5, Insightful)

      by justforaday ( 560408 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @04:01PM (#9088359)
      Simple Solution: Put a smoothwall box or another router between your home network and the new cable modem (as I'm sure many of us already do). Although the wireless access would be nice to use, 802.11b/g access points are pretty cheap these days.

      even simpler solution: buy one of the many many many available router/wifi AP combos out there and don't pay the extra charges that comcast wants you to pony up...
      • Re:Smoothwall (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        You are assuming that Comcast will permit another WiFi or router on their network. Where do you think the segment disabling will be used? RTFA para 1.4 stated that the cablehome gateways can be standalone or embeded within the DOCSIS cablemodem. For the standard home user, it will be embedded, since it is a cost issue. then comcast will rule their home LAN.

        I'll post further when I log in, Redundacy does not bother me! But you should Read the PDF linked in the article. the words are not too complex f
        • Re:Smoothwall (Score:5, Informative)

          by Allen Zadr ( 767458 ) * <Allen.ZadrNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday May 07, 2004 @04:52PM (#9088963) Journal
          Er, actually, if you read further down, [specifically, Table 5-6 (page 37)], you will find that most ports and protocols will be entierly uneffected by these technical extensions.

          If you use SMTP, yes, so too will this. Unless you let the CableHome system access the SMTP of your devices, you have nothing to worry about.

          It uses DHCP, well, so does my current Cable-Modem. In fact, all DOCSIS cable-modems can offer DHCP. No surprise there.

          Ping - yep, looks like it will block pings into your network (or answer for you). Nothing every DSL modem doesn't already do.

          TFTP, slightly more worrisome, but a good standard to allow remote updating of devices that they own (and need to manage).

          This is about selling more network devices into your home that the average user won't know how to set up with an old Linux box and a pack of bubble-gum. They will get to sell more stuff, and make more money. Many users will get the benefit of neat network appliances in there home .. that they merely have to pay a separate subscription fee for.

          The network segment shut-down is there to cut-off devices that they own but you are trying to use anyway, but don't want to pay the subscription service for.

          Yes, there is room for abuse, but it's not nearly as bad cutting off all other WiFi. It wouldn't be technically capable of telling a WiFi router apart from an in-home network switch or a NATting Linux box. I suppose the built-in WiFi would block your own WiFi's signal, but that doesn't point to a conspiracy.

      • by AndroidCat ( 229562 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @04:30PM (#9088680) Homepage
        and don't pay the extra charges that comcast wants you to pony up...

        I knew there must be a pony in there somewhere.

      • by 0x0000 ( 140863 ) <zerohex@@@zerohex...com> on Friday May 07, 2004 @05:57PM (#9089588) Homepage
        even simpler solution: buy one of the many many many available router/wifi AP combos out there and don't pay the extra charges that comcast wants you to pony up...

        As an recent victim of the Comcast scam, I feel that I should point out that it is a virtual certainty that Comcast will attempt to cook up some scheme to prohibit use of their network using any equipment that is not "approved" by their MBA-wielding, $1-billion-from-Micro$oft-funded, shit-for-brains, corporate thugz.

        Apparently Comcast has issues with allowing their victims (you know, the ones they pretend are "customers") to actually use the service.

        Heads up, Comcast management: the next time one of your high-school-dropout, red-neck-trailer-trash, gun-fetish, drooling "tech support" MORONS tells me "You can't do that" I may just go fukking POSTAL. You should make your employees aware of this, since they will no doubt rate some hazard pay in their capacity as human shields protecting YOU from .... well, somebody less disgruntled than, ME, since I would never even consider trying to PROTECT MY RIGHTS AS A CONSUMER, especially against huge, honking, big dick corporate like yours, oh mighty Gatekeepers of Broadband Access -- no matter how fukking STUPID, CLASSIST, PREJUDICED, and IGNORANT YOU ARE -- right? eh? So. We understand each other? You a) provision the cable modem I paid you for, and b) you provide the bandwidth I pay you for, and you c) leave me the fuk alone about what devices I can hook to that connection, and I don't have to come all the way over there to straighten it out with you in person .... k?

        I really wish .... oh nevermind.

    • by Allen Zadr ( 767458 ) * <Allen.ZadrNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday May 07, 2004 @04:28PM (#9088669) Journal
      This is not specifically against the top AC post here, but, "Lord, please stop the FUD".

      The new CableModems specific purpose is so that Comcast can sell add-on units that they also control. Think Cable DVR equipment that can also be accessed by your computer (through these protocols). With all far-reaching technologies, including this one, there is a lot of potential for abuse. However, if abuse occurs, a lot of folks will be signing up for DSL or Satellite service (where DSL is not also available).

      Bottom line... this will allow comcast to sell Network Appliances. They make money, $$. If Time Warner were doing this first, I'd be much more prone to believe the "RIAA conspirists". If AT&T (no longer part of ComCast) were still involved, I might be more worried about Vonage devices.

      At the same time, this will enable Comcast to sell their own VoIP (like vonnage) devices for their own telephone service. Basically, home cable-extension appliances are not new, but they are just starting to get popular. This technology will enable that sector to grow.

      As commonly said here... follow the money. I see money in additional in-home networking appliances, like Cable-Radio (delphi style) - - if you don't pay for it, they can cut off that "segment".

      • by clickster ( 669168 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @05:17PM (#9089225)
        Bottom line. If it's on my side of the gateway, they have no right to snoop around. Whether it's determining how many PCs connect to my home network (PC to PC traffic doesn't suck up their bandwidth) or monitoring the traffic on my LAN, it's none of their business. PERIOD. Once the traffic leaves the gateway and starts heading down their cable lines, fine. But whether or not I'm streaming an MPEG, MP3, etc from one PC to another within my home is none of their business. To me that's like having my cable box monitor my DVD player and VCR. Sure they all interconnect, but so what. I don't try to hack into my cable company's billing server because I think they're overbilling me.
        • That's a great viewpoint, but technically wrong.

          By DOCSIS standard, the cable company has to be able to interact directly with your cable modem, and know (to a certain extent) what it's doing. So if the cable modem is your router, your argument can't work. However, assuming your router is on your side of the cable modem, well it's still technically wrong.

          First, if you are running your own Network Address Translation service - then this modem won't be able to see past it anyway. Anything the cable compa

    • Re:Smoothwall (Score:3, Informative)

      by STrinity ( 723872 )
      Exactly. Comcast doesn't make you use their router -- landline or wifi -- so why pay extra when it's cheaper to buy your own.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Friday May 07, 2004 @03:51PM (#9088211)
    Sure, the /. user won't want this in their house...

    But the user who is too dumb to configure WiFi without Comcast's help needs this. This technology could let Comcast's techs lock down any access point who's not running WEP, and see to it that all the devices the customer has are taking their DHCP assignments properly. Of course, anybody reading this will know how to do these administrative tasks on their own, but those who are clueless can have trust Comcast configure their router and firewall to optimal settings.

    If this cuts down the number of worm-vunerable computers on the Internet by letting those who don't know what they're doing hand the controls over to Comcast, I won't complain.
    • Yea, you won't complain until Comcast won't give you service unless you have "compliant" hardware. It's a big potential benefit to Comcast's bottom line, and the "lusers" aren't going to know enough to try and kill it. Do you think they'll give a crap if you want it or not?

    • Umm.. If you trust them enough, sure. What's to stop them from analyzing your work habits/surfing habits, and start pumping specific ads to the devices, or worse?
      I wouldn't let comcast, of all people, to administer my computers. Nor would anyone else want to, no matter how technically-alternatively-enabled.. And there might be (I don't know) some products specifically designed to keep your computers patched properly (no, NOT M$SFT) that one might want to subscribe to separately, with proper disclosures a
      • by DrEldarion ( 114072 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [0791uhcsm]> on Friday May 07, 2004 @04:21PM (#9088589)
        I wouldn't let comcast, of all people, to administer my computers. Nor would anyone else want to, no matter how technically-alternatively-enabled..

        I'm sure you'd be surprised how many "technically-alternatively-enabled" people would jump at the chance to have Comcast administer their computers.

        I'm not saying that it would be in their best interests, but if you're clueless about computers, a well-known company offering to take care of everything for you is something you'd squeal in glee about.

        In fact, I'd imagine that a significant portion of computer-illiterates would give FULL control of their computer to any well-known company (say, MS) if the company put enough marketing spin on it ("Imagine having all your computer problems fixed with one call! We'll even do it all for you, you just sit back and relax!")
      • You you belive that right now YOUR ISP doesn't have the abillity to monitor where you are surfing? Unless you have some very non-standard surfing techniques, they do have, and always will have, that abillity. If they are the "provider" they can watch what they provide.
    • by slickwillie ( 34689 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @04:09PM (#9088468)
      Maybe I don't want one in MY house, but I'd sure like my neighbor to get one.
    • This technology could let Comcast's techs lock down any access point who's not running WEP

      More accurately, it would probably mandate WEP at initial configuration -- Comcast would set it up themselves (probably not even letting the customer have access at all) and instead give the customer a card with their WEP key and instructions on how to set all their wireless devices to use it.

      I certainly won't be using any of these boxes, but I can see where this would be a very good thing for the non-technical

  • Easy fix. (Score:4, Informative)

    by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday May 07, 2004 @03:52PM (#9088222) Homepage Journal
    Simple, just put another firewall between that snoop box and your LAN.
    • by Phronesis ( 175966 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @03:56PM (#9088277)
      It would make lots of sense to install an integraded cable modem/wireless base station and then try to put a firewall between it and all your wireless devices!
    • My thoughts exactly. And already doing here at home when I switched to DSL. (They provided an integrated router/firewall/modem at this ISP, instead of just the modem)

      I didn't like the features of their box, so I just sit behind my router like normal.

    • But, this is a big benefit for Comcast. The instant they find out that you're "circumventing" their neat-o technology, they'll boot your ass right off the network.

      They find people that steal cable... if (when) they start requiring that they be allowed to snoop data on your homenet, they'll find people that cut them off from that too.

      • by grub ( 11606 )

        The instant they find out that you're "circumventing" their neat-o technology

        Hmm.. I don't think that could be considered circumventing anything, really. You're just adding another gateway device... right in front of theirs. :)

        Now, if their EULA says that only their device can act as a NAT device... you never know.
        • Re:Easy fix. (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Cpt_Kirks ( 37296 )
          There is a nice *NEW LAW* going around state houses that makes it illegal to plug anything into a cable companies network without their permission.

          I forget what it's called (probably something like the "Save the Children From Predators Act"), but it has been reported here before. IIRC, it carries big fines, civil penalties and jail time.

          • Re:Easy fix. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Gojira Shipi-Taro ( 465802 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @04:35PM (#9088769) Homepage
            Once we're on my side of the demarcation line (in this case the cable modem) it's not the cable company's network. It's MY network. And none of their damned business.
          • Re:Easy fix. (Score:3, Interesting)

            by anachattak ( 650234 )
            The "SDMCA" (retitled by the MPAA and Cable Cos. as the "Cable Theft Prevention Act" or somesuch) is making the rounds in several states. Until recently, my home state of Tennessee was a battleground state, but the lobbyists finally got their way and pushed a version through the state legislature. Right now, it's sitting on Gov. Bredesen's desk, waiting for his signature.

            I encourage everyone to monitor your own state legislatures and make sure this kind of thing isn't happening behind your back. If it i

  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by danielems ( 694042 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @03:52PM (#9088223)
    Why aren't bandwidth quotas sufficient?
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ciroknight ( 601098 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @04:00PM (#9088347)
      Well in theory this technology could be good if they only charged you for the bandwidth you actually pulled through your modem, but they could do this without their level of snooping.

      My guess is that they just want more control over your modems, making sure that there's no way you can modify the bandwidth you use (uncapping), automatically updating firmware ([[could be good: block certain ports during a virus emergency]]), etc etc etc... but the fact still remains: they could do all of this from their side of the network.

      So really, you have to question what they're going to do with this..
    • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Chazmati ( 214538 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @04:05PM (#9088419)
      It's more profitable to charge $20/mo for each additional PC.

      The same thinking behind charging you $20/mo for additional cable converter boxes. Remember when TV's weren't cable ready and you needed a box for every TV?
  • Security risks? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pseudochaotic ( 548897 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @03:52PM (#9088232)
    The "disable LAN segments" thing sounds like it could be a security risk. DOS, anyone?
  • by WordODD ( 706788 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @03:52PM (#9088233)
    All this idea does is allow Comcast to suck even more money out of its customers without having to change the amount of money they spend per account.
  • Beyond the pale..... (Score:5, Informative)

    by erick99 ( 743982 ) * <homerun@gmail.com> on Friday May 07, 2004 @03:53PM (#9088235)
    This is beyond the pale. It's like the RIAA in the sense that there is an arrogance about what they can do while selling you a service. Here is the pertinent part of the docment that is labeled "The goals for the CAbleHome Management Portal include:"

    * Enable viewing of LAN IP Device information obtained via the CableHome DHCP Portal (CDP)

    * Enable viewing of the results of LAN IP Device performance monitoring done by the CableHome Test Portal (CTP)

    * Provide the capability to disable LAN segments

    I hope that at some point, we, as users, can vote with our wallets and stop this nonsense. The more we give into this kind of seller-bullying, the more we can expect.

    Happy Trails!


    • The solution is not voting with our wallets, it's voting by legislation (another problem in and of itself). Face it whats the alternative to Cable Modems? We could use phone lines (I would rather thank Dale McBride for his fund raising initiatives), We could use Satellite (because I like having my service disrupted when a cloud looms over head), or we could use DSL (yea well, no.) Unfortunately Comcast is the only cable service provider in my area, or I would have gotten rid of them a long time ago!
    • Since Comcast is a government-regulated monopoly (in theory) one of the only avenues of recourse might be to petition the municipal authority where you live to ban Comcast from using this stuff (espectially the "disable LAN segments" when the next contract negotiations come up.
    • by Brightest Light ( 552357 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @04:08PM (#9088456) Journal
      As many other people have pointed out, this is not something that the average slashdotter is going to want to have. But this is will be a great thing for the clueless. The average person who wants to browse the web and get email, who has no clue about setting up and locking down a proper network will love this. Now all they have to do is plug it in and go, Comcast takes care of the rest. I would rather have comcast controlling the routers/waps of the clueless. Ideally, they'll do things like monitor for abuse and worm traffic, and kick offenders offline until its fixed. This is not something Comcast is forcing on its users, its a service that is going to make things better for the customer as well as for the rest of the internet. From what the article says, its entirely optional. Wouldn't you rather have the networks of the people most likely to get infected with the latest worm/spyware/whatever be monitored by somebody who actually has a clue (as much clue as Comcast has, at least..)? Stop fighting new technology just because you wouldn't use it.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Friday May 07, 2004 @03:53PM (#9088237)
    There's no way that Comcast can require users of their cable Internet services to use cable modems provided by them. The FCC simply doesn't allow that...

    So long you buy your own DOCSIS-compatible modem, you can attach whatever hardware to your network you want.
  • So...? (Score:5, Funny)

    by YanceyAI ( 192279 ) * <yanceyai@yahoo.com> on Friday May 07, 2004 @03:53PM (#9088240)
    If I decide to throw a lan-party, they'll disconnect my buddies remotely, then what? A bunch of pissed-off, masked comcast SWAT guys show up?

    That's just evil. Count me out.

  • by Neil Blender ( 555885 ) <neilblender@gmail.com> on Friday May 07, 2004 @03:53PM (#9088241)
    Unless I am a complete idiot.
  • Unplesant (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MrRuslan ( 767128 )
    But that type of feature could be usefull such as blocking a worm ridded PC from the Internet until it is cleaned and remote assisance and configuration with permision...if your ISP want to spy on you they can if they REALLY want to.this type of stuff has its uses.
  • Continue BOYCOTT (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jrwillis ( 306262 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @03:54PM (#9088248) Homepage
    Between this and them firing all of TechTV's staff, I see NO REASON why any geek worth his salt should use ANY SERVICE offered by this company.
    • Re:Continue BOYCOTT (Score:5, Informative)

      by YanceyAI ( 192279 ) * <yanceyai@yahoo.com> on Friday May 07, 2004 @03:58PM (#9088313)
      They just doubled my connection speed. For free.
    • by Scottaroo ( 461317 )
      Because if my options are a cable modem from Comcast or dial-up, I don't have any real options. Maybe someone will run fiber out here, or put up wireless, but until then, you sometimes have to take what you are given.
    • Re:Continue BOYCOTT (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      ummmm....since they bumped up their download speed here in the Bay area, we are getting 3 Mbit/sec for $19.99 per month (a 3 month promotion). Is that a good enough reason? :-) We have our own wireless G WAP so it's not an issue anyway.
      And I've never seen TechTV, so I could care less about that.
      • by Libertarian_Geek ( 691416 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @04:11PM (#9088482)
        Try to use 3 Mbit/sec for an extended length of time, and see what happens. Chances are, you'll get a nast-gram in the mail saying "You're using too much bandwidth!, 3Mbit/sec is the name of our service, not a description!".
        • I've looked at the issue a *lot*, and it appears the nastygrams really have been in what even I would categorize as extreme cases. NO service would let you soak up 100% of your bandwidth all of the time and not come knocking on your door about setting up a business-class service. Most would just kick you off and cite abuse clauses in the contract. The biggest problem with Comcast's policy is that they don't give specific limits- it's a "we'll send you a letter when someone else on your block complains" poli
    • Comcast is rehiring 80 TechTV members [com.com]. Of course they're not keeping everyone - they don't need double janitors, double cameramen, double everything...

      All the blind "OMFG THEY'RE KILLING TECHTV!!!111" nonsense has been the inspiration of my new sig.

  • by Jaeger- ( 63372 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @03:54PM (#9088252)
    router @ compusa [compusa.com]

    cheapest i've seen considering there's no rebates involved...

    2.4GHz 11Mbps Wireless Router with 4 Port Switch, 802.11b
    Manufacturer: FMI
    Mfg Part #: WE711APR
    Product Number: 295106
    Original Price: $89.99 (79% Off)
    Regular Price: $69.88
    Internet Special: $18.99

    • I have one of these. It's pretty shitty. No support for static IP addresses. Best I've had so far is a Netgear MR314, but I was foolish enough to loan that one to my brother and haven't gotten it back yet. The Netgear was pretty basic, but it at least seemed somewhat stable.

      Also, the FMI/CompUSA branded model has shit support. And any change to the firmware settings requires a restart. ANY change.
  • problemo senor (Score:3, Interesting)

    by unformed ( 225214 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @03:54PM (#9088260)
    This has the capability to 'disable LAN segments'.

    Something tells me there's going to be a new worm out once someone finds a hole in this router.
    • Re:problemo senor (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mr.Spaz ( 468833 )
      This sounds reasonable, especially if Comcast fails to secure their monitoring/command system properly.

      I propose it be named "Dinker," for the word used to describe machines dropping off the system. You know: "Dink, there goes one. Dink, there goes another." The bandwidth effects of such a virus would probably be minimal, but the impact on Comcast's helpdesk would be phenomenal.

      Systems like this used to enforce multi-system pricing schemes are a complete farce designed to stick it to the customer with eno
  • by saberworks ( 267163 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @03:55PM (#9088268)
    Don't only blame Comcast. If LinkSys is doing this in one device, what about others?
    • If LinkSys is doing this in one device, what about others?

      In their defense, they're a company, and this is going to make them money. So... oh well.

      And of course, it was Cisco, not Linksys that recently admitted it had a backdoor in some of its products.

      Now, if only I could remember who Linksysis owned by...
  • by siberian ( 14177 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @03:55PM (#9088273)
    Their goal is to sell these expensive "home office" packages.

    The way it works now is that they make it difficult to get a device online, you have to use their software to register the service.

    I forget the details but I had to do some trickery for each machine on my network to get the cable modem to route traffic to them via my router. Occasionally devices 'unregister' and I have to run the comcast software again and pretend like I am a one system home.

    I'm ditching comcast, my local ISP has fixed wireless now and I'm gonna go with the little guy and I've already picked up DirectTV AND I'll save $30 a month. Seeya comcast.
  • by AviLazar ( 741826 )
    While this could have beneficial effects, (i.e. Comcast offering better tech support...though from past experience I HIGHLY doubt this.. "Yes we need you to unplug your computer 10 times, do the hokey pokey and turn yourself around."), I can also see the major disadvantages (monitoring my computer, having access to my computer, etc.) While I could prevent this with a firewall (and frankly I hate installing a firewall when I have my nice router firewall) most people just do not know what the deal is with co
  • Call 1-800-Comcast and tell them that you won't be buying this garbage and are less happy with Comcast for even thinking of using this kind of big-brotherish technology on their own paying customers. If a lot of people call in to complain, they may think twice about rolling this out. For awhile, at least.
  • by dnahelix ( 598670 ) <slashdotispieceofshit@shithome.com> on Friday May 07, 2004 @03:57PM (#9088296)
    When I signed up for COMCAST broadband I was told I could have up to 5 computers connected (using a server assigned DHCP address on each machine)
    Well, last week I got a letter from COMCAST telling me that they have determined I have more than on machine connected to my cable modem and that if I don't respond by June-something they will terminate any other IP addresses beyond one. Although, for and extra $9.99 a month, I can have up to 4 extra (5 total) IP address.
    I think those sons-of-bitches are pulling a scam and have bait-and-switched me. I was very up-front with the rep when I signed up and told him I needed to have 5 computers connected and would that be a problem... "No, of course not," I was told, "You can connect up to 5 computers, we just don't support and LAN/ethernet-hub problems you might have."
    • Nah, it's just a case that something that was a free service is about to become a $9.99 a month service. Either pay the fee for real IP space, or set yourself up a NAT server. An off-the-shelf $50 consumer router will do the job as a DHCP and NAT server just fine...
    • Umm, It's pretty clear on their website that if you want more than one external IP then you have to pay more money. Just buy a firewall/router with NAT and poof... you can have as many computers on your home network as you want. And if you get a deacent router it will have port forwrding in case you are running any servers on your boxes.
    • I think there may have been miscommunication there. They probably don't care (also, can't and won't know) if you have your own broadband router eating only one of their IP's and using NAT to serve numerous computers. But from what you say above it seems that you're eating 5 of their ips and they want you to pay for each one. It sounds like their sales people should have made the clear instead of using the simple answer of "sure, that's fine."
    • Man, I wish my comcast was that nice. Last time I checked, my local Comcast office was still charging $10 per additional IP. Naturally all of my boxes are behind a NAT box since there is no way I want to pay Comcast an additional $10 a month for a fileserver that is only available on the LAN anyway.
    • by Geoffreyerffoeg ( 729040 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @04:41PM (#9088841)
      You missed something. There's an important difference.

      You are using multiple IP addresses. This means you're using a hub, not a router. Multiple IPs are commonly extra priced.

      You want to use multiple devices with NAT. Buy a proper router and plug it in, then plug your devices into there. They'll all use the same IP, and Comcast will be happy.

      The only mistake on their part is not stating that multiple computers must share one IP.
  • I'd not use this sort of thing... I own my own cable modem (Surfboard 5100), and sitting behind that is a Cisco Pix 501 firewall.

    One thing I can say for Adelphia, is that I've seen no evidence of them using "secret" caps, etc, disconnecting users, etc, except for serious abuse (uncapping, running servers that degrade the network, etc).

    That, and they give us 3000/256 for $40 a month ;)
  • I'm out. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Schezar ( 249629 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @03:59PM (#9088319) Homepage Journal
    I'm done with consumer/residential broadband. Blocked ports, slow connections, poor customer service, arbitrary limitations on use... It's just not worth it anymore. I've dealt with dead lines and clueless techs for too long.

    Instead, I'm springing for commercial/business class service. The support is better, the speeds are higher, and the service is usually excellent (since businesses won't put up with the same garbage residential users will).

    Consider this: a cable modem usually costs about $40-$50 a month for residential service including a single IP address and bandwidth caps. I can get 1536k x 256k commercial DSL for about $80 a month that includes web hosting, DNS, and 5 IP addresses. The extra $40 is not much, and you can offset that by selling access to your neighbor if you're so inclined (perfectly ok with most providers).

    The above costs about as much as most people pay for a cable modem and cable TV, and quite frankly, I've found that lots of bandwidth is far more entertaining than lots of TV stations.

    I'd list some companies that offer comparable service plans, but I don't want to look like an astroturfer. Hit Google and you'll find lots of nice options (as long as you live somewhere civilized ^_~)

    • Re:I'm out. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Minwee ( 522556 ) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Friday May 07, 2004 @04:12PM (#9088498) Homepage
      "I'm so angry at my ISP that I'm going to give them even more money so maybe they will provide the kind of service I was supposed to be getting in the first place."

      I think you're their kind of customer. How much more will you cough up when they start screwing with your "business class" service?

    • Re:I'm out. (Score:3, Informative)

      Have a look at Speakeasy [speakeasy.net]. Their resedential service is excellent. No blocked ports, a TOS which allows and frankly, even encourages the running of servers, a TOS which definitely encourages sharing of your circuit via WiFi with anyone you please (in fact they will even help you bill your "customers" for this if you want), and friendly, informed, and accesible service reps.
  • by AtariAmarok ( 451306 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @03:59PM (#9088327)
    This must explain the Comcast version of the "Big Brother" show. I was wondering why it always showed my own living room.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Friday May 07, 2004 @04:03PM (#9088383)
    From the press release...
    Users who sign up for the service can receive a Linksys wireless gateway, along with network adapters for connecting up to five computers, professional installation, multiple levels of security, and increased downstream speed of up to 4Mbps.

    Comcast's current peak downstream bandwidth for most customers is 3 Mbps. So, so far Comcast is actually offering to tweak upwards the bandwidth of people who pay for this service.

    Of course, I've rarely found a website (other than my own) that actually feeds me data at a speed that's anywhere near 3 Mbps, so that extra space within 3 to 4 Mbps is rarely going to be used. Still, if you are somebody who frequenly maxes out the downstream on a Comcast modem, this might be of interest to you.
  • Why does technology have to be driven by the lowest common denominator?

    People don't want to learn, read, or do. I get emails asking 'Why does this happen?' when the answer is *one click* away, marked by a big button named, of all things, "HELP". Let's see. You went to the trouble of clicking on my email address, filling in a subject (sometimes), and asking a question that is answered already?

    sigh. That said, for the 'I need handholding while you wipe my ass for me' crowd will certainly form no opinio

    • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Have Blue ( 616 )
      Because becoming an expert in this field is a full-time job. That's why IT is a profession. You're not an expert electrician or carpenter or bricklayer or plumber (and even if you are one of those, I doubt you're 2 or 3 of them) and you still live in a modern house. Why do you call in contractors to modify that house when it's only a matter of buying some lumber and pounding nails into the right places?
  • by AtariAmarok ( 451306 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @04:04PM (#9088398)

    US Robitics cable modems burst into flame upon connection.

    Local FBI agents walking down the street now greet you by first name.

    "they can kick your devices off your home network" means that your toaster, radio, blanket, and vacuum [einhorn-film.at] have left home never to return.

    Reality TV shows feature different rooms in your house.

  • by frankie ( 91710 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @04:04PM (#9088408) Journal
    Comcast gets away with huge amounts of anti-consumer crap because they're the only game in town for most of the USA. And they got that status by openly paying bribes (euphemistically called fees) to state & local telecom regulators. In return, Comcast (or TCI or whoever in your area) gets a guaranteed monopoly on each region's cable service.

    This has got to stop.

    I'm sure someone here will post about one of the lucky few localities with cable competition. The prices are lower, the house calls are faster, etc. And I seriously doubt they would get away with spying on their customers' home networks.

  • Make the access wireless ONLY. No RJ45 jack on the box at ALL. Cable goes into the unit - put in by the installer, and you are DONE.

    Make users use a certificate to associate to the wireless SSID. The installer issues them a machine certificate, perhaps through some sort of software they install. Now, you have the user by the balls. We've already read about DRM in hardware, and how some music won't play without the hardware. How about Linux users not being welcome on cable providers networks AT ALL? Even
    • it wont' happen (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kardar ( 636122 )
      It won't happen. That's just wrong. Everyone hates Comcast; that's what's going on.

      Please remember that there are people who use Comcast on a daily basis and by targeting Comcast with these nonsensical imaginary worst-case scenarios that everyone does, the end-users of Comcast are being taregeted as well.

      So while you may not like Comcast, you should respect that many people who use Comcast don't have a choice in the matter ATM.

      Linux is OK. Home networking is OK. If you go to Comcast's home page, and if y
    • Damn, was a ll set to moderate, but just had to comment.

      This is even more of a reason to support community owned infrastructures such as UTOPIA in Utah, and the iProvo network in Provo. Utah can and is wrong on so many social issues, but this one they actually got right. So much so that Comcast and Qwest are lobbying HEAVLY to prevent such a network from going into place. They (Comcast and Qwest) have succeeded in scaring away Salt Lake City from the initative, an I suspect many more. >br>
      I may d
  • This is only the first step. Once it is complete, they can easily integrate the modem and Rot13 "encryption" so the DMCA can prevent you illegals from stealing the signal by "breaking" their security.

    At that point they control the entire access node. Want to get streaming audio? Sure, just $1.99/month and we will open that port for you...Gaming ports? Sure, $2.99 and they are yours...

    Your choice will be that or DSL. The question them becomes when will DSL make the same "offer?"

    Most families will thi
  • by kardar ( 636122 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @04:06PM (#9088428)
    If there is one thing to be learned from Comcast, it's that they have an IMMENSE subscriber base. Outrage is commonplace. But it's also important to not let it consume you. It seems like over at Comcast, there are like "too many chefs in the kitchen" sometimes. Every now and then, one of these chefs will do something that is extremely unpopular. It takes a little while, and then things fall back into place the way they should.

    In any case, Comcast does eventually get the message, but you may have to speak somewhat louder or go down to the office yourself, or write the "right person" a letter, describing your problem.

    So while you, as an individual, may have to, at some point, stand up and assert your rights in the face of an immense company such as Comcast, the important thing is to do it with conviction, to not panic, and to maintain a level-headed approach to the whole situation.

    There is nothing worse than being constantly dragged into these massive online bitching sessions that explore every possible worst-case scenario from every possible angle.

    The most important thing to do with Comcast is to remain calm, and chill out, while trying to stay informed. This, unfortunately, is a serious challenge, because the information that you need to know is usually buried in a veritable hastack of hatred and negative emotions. It's unfortunate, really.

    Eventually, when there are options, other options, for those folks who don't live within the necessary distance from the CO, or, when Comcast learns that many very technically knowledgable users don't have a choice when it comes to broadband access (whichever comes first), then these problems are going to go away, for good. The sooner the better.

    I think Comcast has come a long way towards making things more friendly for alternative OS's and do-it-yourself home networking, and I have a feeling that these two things will be around to stay. That's just my feeling.

  • I've got one now. (Score:5, Informative)

    by bl1st3r ( 464353 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @04:13PM (#9088519) Homepage Journal
    Comcast on the whole is not that bad. They actually had a knowledgable tech out here to help get shit set up. The problem exists at the corporate level where policy is made. They have stuff set up upstream to make it so that only Windows and Mac machines can use their service. The tech here got them to disable that for me.

    I currently have the Wireless Gateway that they are discussing and while I don't know about the stuff they claim it can do, I do know a little about it's use. == NAT range used. == Router admin interface == Router tech summary interface

    Both those interfaces == HTTP. Both interfaces use the same password by default.
    User: comcast
    Pass: 1234

    That's the default. They also recommend at install time that you don't change that.

    I think that's fishy as hell so that was the first thing I changed. Luckily the tech here on site was competant enough to ask me what WEP key I wanted to use and let me pick whatever phrase I wanted. That showed intelligence.

    On the whole, I have no complaints with them. If they fuck with my service, maybe I'll have problems. But Charter (local competition) isn't much better.
    • I have been using Comcast cable modems in Brick NJ for 3 years. Before that, I used Charter in Monroe Michigan for 2 years, then before that it was Comast in North Plainfield NJ for 4+ years.

      Guess what, never had a single issue with Linux. In fact, I have noticed an amazing increase in performance by using Linux as my gateway. Typically, some cable providers will install client side software which will slow down connections and cap them at certain times. I am not sure if this is very common anymore, bu
  • by kevlar ( 13509 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @04:16PM (#9088540)
    This may not be such a bad thing for the stupid user who does not secure their network and is sending a gazillion emails per minute via their back-doored machine.

    Comcast and other cable companies have already tried the "pay per computer, not necessarily per modem" billing concept and have failed miserably. What they are realizing now (or should be realizing!) is that they need more granular control over the machines on their networks. So if that means granting them the capability to disable offending machines, then so be it.

    Regardless, there are dozens of ways to circumvent this altogether if they get out of hand with it. If they manage to keep Joe P Dumbass from spreading virii and spam, have it it.
  • From someone inside (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 07, 2004 @04:41PM (#9088843)
    Disclaimer: I am a Comcast employee. I am not trying to defend this product/standard/company, but will clarify a few things.

    The cablehome pro standard shown in the article show what it can do, but not what Comcast is actually doing. What is currently implemented does not intrude in the ways suggested. Comcast employees can view basic information like current DHCP leases, # of WLAN clients and router config (parental settings, etc) The cablehome standard implementation is currently very limited, only in certain areas at this time.

    I also want to say that I disagree with many Comcast policies, but we don't care what is connected to the gateway unit. The gateway is set in the firmware to only give 5 DHCP leases. If one wants more devices they need to set it staticly, but non-Comcast installed devices are not supported anyway.

    Also keep in mind who this product is marketed to - the average family lacking the technical ability to configure their own wireless network.
  • by Not_Wiggins ( 686627 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @04:54PM (#9088989) Journal
    Because Comcast is saying they'll monitor/control your use of the WAP, does that mean they'll take responsibility if someone parks outside my house, cracks my WEP, and starts up a file-sharing service that gets the RIAA more pissed than hornets?

    At least, that's the cover story I'd give when they came knocking on my door. ;)
  • Boycott Comcast! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Orion Blastar ( 457579 ) <orionblastar&gmail,com> on Friday May 07, 2004 @05:16PM (#9089223) Homepage Journal
    This is the final straw, Comcast has dared too much. They are evil and must be stopped! Boycott them for this atrocity.

    The next step would be them installing Spyware/Adware on your system to track what web sites you visit and create more pop-ups.

    I have a DSL router shared between several systems. My ISP is paid for my bandwidth, if I happen to choose to share that bandwidth between my several systems, they do not have a right to restrict my access as I was promised "Unlimited Access" via DSL by their marketing department.
  • From the inside. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 07, 2004 @05:20PM (#9089263)
    I'm currently doing a project for a contractor that works for Comcast. I also do trouble calls for them on occasion when they get really stumped by a customer's computer, but I'm expensive so they usually send 5 or 6 of their techs before they call me. (Mac DHCP issues, LSP problems, INF overloads...)

    I can say with authority that these devices suck. They have custom firmware with the vast majority of the normal Linksys functionality stripped out. The end user isn't even supposed to be able to access the web interface. (The login is comcast/1234 if anybody needs it...) About the only good thing is that they come with WEP enabled with no key by default, so if the install technician (who usually knows only slightly more than the end user) forgets to go in and set a WEP key, no wireless clients can connect. I'm not even sure it's possible to disable WEP on them... I know it's not through the normal technician 'install' interface, but there is an avanced WEP screen I haven't played with too much.

    Comcast wants to charge something to the effect of $20 for the network + $10 per additional computer monthly, depending on your region. They want the install technicians to call in the MAC of each connected device, which are stored in the space in Comcast's system where additional outlet information usually goes. I am not sure whether this actually does anything. One of Comcast's lead technicians explained to me that the first time they went out (3 of them) to try to get one of these devices installed, they spent 6 hours working on it, only to discover that the problem was they hadn't called in the MAC addresses. Contrast that with my own experience, having installed 4 of these (showing the contractor's techs how to do it), all of which have worked just fine wireless without calling in the MACs. I don't know if that's a permanent solution though, in each case the customer took my recommendation that they get a normal cable modem and buy their own router to save money, so we removed all 4 of the ones I installed within a day or two. (Obviously I won't be telling you exactly who I am, someone at Comcast might be reading this...)

    Anyways, if they've got some grand scheme to restrict access to approved and payed-for devices, it looks to me like it's not working yet...

Trap full -- please empty.