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Comcast Says It Isn't Throttling Heavy Internet Users Anymore (cnet.com) 175

Comcast, which has been throttling speeds to slow down heavy internet users since 2008, has had a change of heart. From a report: Comcast has deactivated this "congestion management" system, according to an announcement this week. "As reflected in a June 11, 2018 update to our XFINITY Internet Broadband Disclosures, the congestion management system that was initially deployed in 2008 has been deactivated. As our network technologies and usage of the network continue to evolve, we reserve the right to implement a new congestion management system if necessary in the performance of reasonable network management and in order to maintain a good broadband Internet access service experience for our customers, and will provide updates here as well as other locations if a new system is implemented."

Comcast Says It Isn't Throttling Heavy Internet Users Anymore

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  • Of course not (Score:4, Insightful)

    by camazotz ( 1242344 ) on Thursday June 14, 2018 @10:44AM (#56783166) Homepage
    Why would they throttle high utilization users when doing so means that they don't hit the arbitrary data caps sooner? It is much more profitable now for Comcast to let people reach that 1 TB limit each month so they can start racking up the $10/50GB charges as quickly as possible.
    • Re:Of course not (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AlanBDee ( 2261976 ) on Thursday June 14, 2018 @11:23AM (#56783440)

      Wait, if we want ISPs to be treated like a utility then it's it only fair for them that they meter the connection? How much I pay for electricity changes based on when I use it and how much I use. Don't get me wrong, I despise Comcast and their shenanigans but there is a valid argument for IPSs to charge users who use more bandwidth more for the service. When you criticize Comcast for this then you sound unreasonable while I would rather save the pitchforks for when they start shaking down Netflix again for a "priority" lane.

      • Moderators who aren't upvoting this comment are committing a disservice. This was exactly one those "cake and eat it too" situations...and, like the OP, I DESPISE Comcast/Xfinity.
      • Re:Of course not (Score:4, Insightful)

        by TheRealMindChild ( 743925 ) on Thursday June 14, 2018 @11:44AM (#56783606) Homepage Journal
        Metered utilities like gas and electric have an actual cost for consuming an actual resource. Even if we are arguing that metering internet is reasonable, it isn't at the level they wish to charge.
        • Re:Of course not (Score:4, Insightful)

          by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Thursday June 14, 2018 @11:51AM (#56783656)

          We should be paying per gigabyte and no more than ten times the cost to the ISP.

          So that's like.... $0.00001 per gigabyte for the users?

          • "We should be paying per gigabyte and no more than ten times the cost to the ISP.
            So that's like.... $0.00001 per gigabyte for the users?"

            While that act of moving 1GB of data doesn't consume a lot of resources once the infrastructure is in place, building and maintaining that infrastructure has significant costs. If you really believe they are gouging the world and charging 10000 times more than they should, then I recommend you buy Comcast or whoever's stock and reap the profits with them.

            • There should be a base price for all the infrastructure, employees, etc. Then a data cost at ten times the ISP cost on top of that.

              That could mean a base cost with no data of $10 per month for 25GBps connections, $20 for 50GBps connections, etc.

            • by Anonymous Coward

              My power utility has a connection fee that I pay regardless of how much gas or electricity I use. Presumably, this at a base cost covers my share of maintenance, etc that the utility needs for infrastructure. Anything above and beyond that is metered.

              I would have no problem if Comcast et al treated internet utilities the same way, so long as theyâ(TM)re reasonable about it.

            • > once the infrastructure is in place

              Not really. I've worked for several ISPs, and you're right the incremental cost for bandwidth is in general cheap (but not as cheap as the $0.00001 per gigabyte you mentioned), but there's always peering points that are overloaded that are very expensive or even impossible to upgrade.

              The last peering upgrade I worked with charged $25/month per Mbps. We did that to help customers get to yelp.com.

        • by Logger ( 9214 )

          Actually, we should pay congestion pricing. Internet infrastructure is a fixed cost designed to service a maximum load. Service is great until that load is reach, after which performance falls off a cliff fast. Much in the same way traffic on the freeway goes fast until it all of sudden it doesn't.

          The problem with congestion pricing is it's unpredictable, so not user friendly. It surges and subsides. And unlike Uber surge pricing, the ISP can't use higher prices to quickly encourage more capacity, so instea

          • by Agripa ( 139780 )

            The problem with congestion pricing is it's unpredictable, so not user friendly. It surges and subsides. And unlike Uber surge pricing, the ISP can't use higher prices to quickly encourage more capacity, so instead the higher prices would need to discourage use. How would that be communicated to the user? Some kind of window that shows the current price? Awful.

            If only there was some system which would allow a standardized internet protocol to allow users to check the price of the traffic they are sending and receiving.

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        Electricity isn't metered because it's a utility, it's metered because each KWh produced costs money due to fuel consumed.

        ISPs don't have to pay any more for fully utilized connections than they do for idle connections. The only exception is paid transit, but in their volume, it's less than a dollar per Mbps and in many cases they avoid it by peering.

        If they were that worried about uplink costs, they would take netflix up on their offer of colocated caching servers.

        • by lannocc ( 568669 )

          ISPs don't have to pay any more for fully utilized connections than they do for idle connections.

          You are perhaps using a narrow definition of ISP. Fixed wireless operators, for example, may service multiple customers on a single wireless link. Each individual customer has the possibility of reaching the full link speed, but only if all other customers on that link are idle. Thus, service can be sold with an "up to X mbps" specification, but if all customers on that link wanted to reach that speed simultaneously then it would certainly cost the ISP more to implement.

          It seems that many ISP customers are

          • by sjames ( 1099 )

            That's a job for fair queueing. They should also probably quit advertising such that they create the impression that each user gets the full bandwidth all the time. You can't blame the customers for falling for the ISP's fib.

      • But see unlike electricity or natural gas you're not actually 'using anything up' when you use your internet connection, it more or less costs the same for them to operate regardless of 0% being used or 100% being used.
      • Unlike electricity, cost to provide is not closely related to total bits, peak demand, timing of bits, etc. The cost is primarily in the circuit itself, and everything else is largely incidental.

        • by Xenx ( 2211586 )
          I can only imagine that peak demand would very much affect the cost. The circuit will need to be able to handle the load at peak demand, unless the company doesn't care about providing advertised speeds. I get that you can assume the major ISPs don't care about it. I would say that is at least partially correct. They have to provide at least enough bandwidth to keep most people complacent. If you're(average consumer) paying for 100 and only getting 80 you'll likely complain about it, but won't actually do s
      • I might agree to pay them per GB at a fair rate if they can agree to give me the broadband speed I paid for. When I pay for X Mb/s, I expect X Mb/s more often than not, instead most days with Comcast you can expect half or less.

        • This is why you don't believe advertisements or salesmen. I'm sure you're aware that Comcast shares your line with others so your speed depends on how much others are using. I bet you can max that puppy out at 3 in the morning and that would technically fit their definition of "up to xMb/s".

          Shenanigans like that are why I use Centrylink at a meager 20 Mb/s instead of Comcast's promised 250 Mb/s. 20 Mb/s is enough to get most things done and I truly get that speed. At least I have options in my area, we almo

      • by Agripa ( 139780 )

        Wait, if we want ISPs to be treated like a utility then it's it only fair for them that they meter the connection? How much I pay for electricity changes based on when I use it and how much I use. Don't get me wrong, I despise Comcast and their shenanigans but there is a valid argument for IPSs to charge users who use more bandwidth more for the service.

        I hope that do it. Charge based on traffic and watch what happens when someone sends your IP a flood of unsolicited UDP packets. The ISP will not know that and the traffic will never get past your firewall but they will be happy to charge for it.

        It is strange that I never noticed power generating facilities sending me power that I did not want and then charging me for it.

        • Charge based on traffic and watch what happens when someone sends your IP a flood of unsolicited UDP packets. The ISP will not know that and the traffic will never get past your firewall but they will be happy to charge for it.

          It is strange that I never noticed power generating facilities sending me power that I did not want and then charging me for it.

          That's an interesting theory but there are plenty of ISP services now that have data caps and it's not happening. So while it could happen I'm not sure it would as long as those data caps are large enough to cause the sending party so much bandwidth it's not worth it.

          • by Agripa ( 139780 )

            Charge based on traffic and watch what happens when someone sends your IP a flood of unsolicited UDP packets. The ISP will not know that and the traffic will never get past your firewall but they will be happy to charge for it.

            It is strange that I never noticed power generating facilities sending me power that I did not want and then charging me for it.

            That's an interesting theory but there are plenty of ISP services now that have data caps and it's not happening. So while it could happen I'm not sure it would as long as those data caps are large enough to cause the sending party so much bandwidth it's not worth it.

            It *has* happened. ISP customers receive unsolicited traffic all the time and ISPs are happy to charge them for it. I have watched it. And it will only get worse in the future as more ISPs meter traffic.

    • by tkotz ( 3646593 )

      This is sort of the real key to getting better internet in an open market. On one side you need competition, but on the other side you have to charge for use. If the ISPs get paid more if you use more it becomes in their best interest to make sure you have as much throughput available to you as possible. Other utilities are very interested in making sure you have all the supply you want, the more you take the more they get. It even encourages the ISP to improve throughput in places where there isn't compet

      • by Xenx ( 2211586 )
        $0.30/GB? Are you insane? Based on Comcast's 1TB limit, you're talking $300/mo. That slightly edges out what Comcast is charging for 2000Mbps internet in my area. For a more normal speed package, you're looking at 3-5x the current monthly rates. Now, again this is based off of the limits Comcast feels it should put on your internet. My roommate and I are gamers so periodic downloads on Steam, and stream a fair bit as well. We average around 450-600GB a month. We're not heavy users. At $0.30/GB you're looki
    • yeah but in the meantime other users suffer a low bw when heavy users pump a lot of juice
  • Do you believe anything a large corporation states?

    If you do - dream on!
    • Nope. Especially Comcast/Xfinity and Verizon.
      Not only that, since the last "increase" in Comcast's bandwidth - I'm now at 250Mb/s, up from 200 Mb/s; oddly connections to the Internet from any wifi (sorry, "xFi" now) device is intermittently lousy. It almost seems like throttling but seems to be more application specific.
      All ethernet connections are fine, and wifi to wifi looks good, but with Wifi to Internet, something is broken. Reboots of the Xfinity/Netgear cable modem/router/AP have not addressed th

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Thursday June 14, 2018 @10:53AM (#56783204)
    we know the ISPs are jerking us around. We know they've got plenty of bandwidth since they'll cheerfully sell it to you for a premium. We also know they're sitting on billions of dollars of cash; much of which was given to them as tax cuts and subsidies for the express purpose of building out their network so they didn't have to do crap like bandwidth caps. This is /., a tech community, so we all know these as facts because half of us our network engineers and the other half are programmers and scientists of one kind or another

    Why the heck don't we just elect the kinds of politicians who will force Comcast to do what we want them to do? We never do. Every year we go to the polls and elect the same batch of anti-consumer clowns. At a certain point we're being complicit in the whole thing.
    • by Sperbels ( 1008585 ) on Thursday June 14, 2018 @11:01AM (#56783276)
      I think the answer is pretty clear: Because politicians don't do what we want them to do.

      If you have a good solution, I'll subscribe to your newsletter.
      • And by law, in the USA, politicians don't have to do what you want them to do.

      • Bernie Sanders does. Liz Warren Does. Al Franklin did until the Dems kicked him to the curb over a minor scandal (mostly so that Kamala Harris could clear him from the 2020 presidential field, thanks Kamala).
        • Democrats are currently their own worst enemy, they're devouring themselves. Republicans have thrown away all human decency and sanity. I hate them both.
      • by Agripa ( 139780 )

        I think the answer is pretty clear: Because politicians don't do what we want them to do.

        Why would they? Politicians do not represent voters.

    • by ArhcAngel ( 247594 ) on Thursday June 14, 2018 @11:11AM (#56783364)

      Why the heck don't we just elect the kinds of politicians who will force Comcast to do what we want them to do?

      Because someone like that would never run for election. And if they did the reigning political forces would crucify him by any means necessary. You can see it right now. Trump isn't technically a Democrat OR a Republican and he's certainly no politician. Both parties have been doing everything in their power to either oust him or bring him under their control. The reason it hasn't worked is he doesn't care about his political clout only about getting what he wants. Who wants to put themselves and their family through that kind of heartache?

      • show up to your primary. There's tons of pro-consumer candidates. There's an entire party of them trying to take the Democrats over from within called 'Justice Democrats'. They keep losing in the big primaries because folks vote for the pro-corporate establishment candidate.
        • show up to your primary.

          Primaries are partisan. I don't belong to a party and more and more people are leaving both the major political parties.

          They keep losing in the big primaries because folks vote for the pro-corporate establishment candidate.

          So you answered your own question. People keep voting for the same insanity over and over!

          I think the answer is pretty clear: Because politicians don't do what we want them to do.

          Bernie Sanders does. Liz Warren Does. Al Franklin (sp) did until the Dems kicked him to the curb over a minor scandal (mostly so that Kamala Harris could clear him from the 2020 presidential field, thanks Kamala).

          NO! None of these people even remotely stand for anything a sane person would want. I would hate to see any of these people in office as they are certifiable idiots. And you proved my entire point by pointing out what happened to Franken. He was ousted by something he did over a decade ago! You didn't

      • Trump isn't technically a Democrat OR a Republican

        Huh? He absolutely is a Republican. And the rank and file of the party agrees - to the tune of a 90% approval rating among people who identify as Republicans [gallup.com].

    • There are some, just not many. https://www.briannawu2018.com/ [briannawu2018.com]

      I think as times goes on we'll see more.

      • I'd mod this funny if I could.
      • I have nothing against the woman personally, and admire her strength in the fights she's been fighting thus far, but she's one of the trio that GamerGate was targeting, which unfortunately many on Slashdot were heavily supportive of.

        Reportedly the IRA (the Russian trolling outfit, not the Irish terrorists) was one of the groups stoking the GamerGame movement, so some may have soured on it, but regardless I don't think Wu will get much support here.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Force Comcast to do what you want them to do?

      Fucking slavers. Seriously. You think government is some fucking hammer you can use to bludgeon your enemies and reward your friends.

      You don't deserve to live in freedom because you hate everyone who gets in your way. You don't want to pay your fair share, you want someone else to do it for you. You don't want to do the hard work necessary for a free society, you want the nanny state to take care of you cradle to grave no matter how much they abuse someone els

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      We know they've got plenty of bandwidth since they'll cheerfully sell it to you for a premium.

      It looks to me like the Mercedes dealerships have plenty of cars, too, does that mean they should give them away?

      I don't want to defend Comcast, but you're making a bad argument. Just because there is more of good available at a higher price doesn't mean they need to increase the quantity they provide at a lower price.

      I don't know if there was much if any "need" for Comcast's congestion management system. I have seen many businesses pay for top tier Comcast Business speeds and simply not be able to move b

      • and on /. in 2018 I shouldn't have to explain that. It's a false dichotomy and you can't be dense enough to really believe that. You're being disingenuous.

        If I have to put a sound bite to it though: We didn't pay Mercedes billions in cash subsidies and tax breaks to give cars away. If we did I'd be pretty pissed I couldn't walk into a dealership and get my free car.
        • We didn't pay Comcast billions in subsidies and tax breaks to give away free internet. We paid them to expand broadband to more smaller towns, and expand fiber in cities. Be mad at them for not doing that -- and be mad at your government for not supporting competition -- but don't be mad at Comcast for charging market rates for internet.

      • Except bandwidth is closer to roads than cars. The incremental cost to a packet is (almost) zero, but the infrastructure is very expensive. On the other hand, the total infrastructure costs per car made are quite low compared to other costs.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Why the heck don't we just elect the kinds of politicians who will force Comcast to do what we want them to do?

      Maybe because we don't believe in a dictatorship. Or, most of us, anyway. Apparently you do. Disgusting.

    • Actually they don't have 'plenty of bandwidth', they over-sell it assuming people won't all be using it all the time. That's why they advertise it as 'speeds up to n-Mb/s' instead of a static number, if lots of people are using it at the same time it gets bogged down, they know this, but they over-sell anyway because $$$.
  • They are going to change the system to add throttling capabilities based on traffic type now that net neutrality has been repealed.
  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Thursday June 14, 2018 @10:56AM (#56783224) Journal
    Comcast throttles both sides of the equation. They claim that they did not, then it was discovered that they did, so they had to admit it. Now, they are claiming that they will not throttle. OK. BUT at some point, a lot of traffic will be slowing down their cable. They will then use this as an excuse for why they need to throttle supply side.

    What is needed is to get competition going. Remove the monopoly. Likewise, allow Google and others easy access to public ways.
    Finally, at a federal level, require that all local govs be allowed to put in communications utilities if the local citizens vote it in. IOW, state gov can not override the local gov choices to have this.

    As long as we have gov sponsored monopolies,and esp without proper regulations on performance AND pricing, then we will always be screwed. So, allow competition to take hold and considering the importance of communication between citizens and gov, I would suggest that local gov have a real need to install the fiber, esp last mile, and then allow competition for managing it along with providing services over it.
    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      Or we could just let the market sort it ot, right?

    • You want to remove the monopoly that Comcast and AT&T already have? Take away their ownership of the Last Mile infrastructure and lease bandwidth on it to whoever wants to pay for it, but exclude NO ONE.
      • both ATT and Comcast bring in Twisted Pair and Cable. BIG mistake. Fiber is what matters.
        • What makes you think they care what 'matters' to a bunch of neckbearded tech geeks? They only care what makes them the most profit. They already have shit installed they'll squeeze every last cent they can out of it and they know the Joe Average and his family don't understand the difference and will pay anyway. You don't seem to understand that marketing has little if anything to do with common sense or decency, it's all about the money.
    • Internet has too high a mark up and it's too expensive to get started. I've read Comcast pays as little as $9/mo to keep a customer going on high speed and charges $70. They can do that because they were basically handed the infrastructure for free and get ongoing subsidies and tax cuts to pay for it. Politically you're not going to remove those. They'll just buy out the politicians. Money is speech after all.

      Anyone who tries to compete with Comcast will get shoot down when Comcast drops their pants. We
      • hey, I have said over and over we need to kill monopolies. I also have seen that town, city, and even county gov can run the fiber and then have another company manage the utility. To me, that is a fast way to get fiber moving.
  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Thursday June 14, 2018 @10:59AM (#56783262)

    Recently after the Removing Net Neutrality decision was made (Before it went into law) Spectrum bumped its speed from 60mbs to 100mbs. And now after the law went into effect Comcast is stopping its throttling.

    I feel like these companies realize how much we are afraid of ending Net Neutrality, so they are compensating (at the moment) to show how much better life is with out it. ( like how an authoritarian dictator after getting in power, can use his power to force the trains to run on time, to show the public how much life is better with him in power ). Making the public more comfortable about the process only to turn the screws on them slowly later on, when their power has been solidified.

    • they're getting ready to implement harsh bandwidth caps. They want you used to consuming large amounts of bandwidth when they do.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Net Neutrality is gone bitches!

    We're turning off the old throttling shit because that wasn't making us money.

    Just wait until you see the NEW throttling system.

    I guarantee you that every shareholder will absolutely love it.

  • Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Thursday June 14, 2018 @11:08AM (#56783332)

    Thanks to the lack of Net Neutrality, we're encouraging everyone to use the Internet a bunch right now. Keep using Netflix/AmazonPrime, and strengthen our bargaining position with them. And don't worry about us, internet usage that doesn't strengthen our bargaining position (e.g. peer-to-peer networks or torrents) are about to go away entirely.

  • Forcing people to self throttle or give Comcast a huge profit. Just hope you don't have to reformat your computer and download a few games or you get close to the 1TB limit rather quickly. Sure it's probably enough for one person, but if you have 2 kids who watch videos and download games for their PC or consoles then you run up against the limit every month.
    • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
      I have 6 kids. Between them, my wife, and myself I average 400 GB of internet. I've never exceeded 750 and that included dumping about 300GB to a backup server.
      • I have 6 kids. Between them, my wife, and myself I average 400 GB of internet.

        Cool story.
        Tell me more about your Internet use once you have 8 people streaming 4k video.

      • Maybe your kids don't purchase games then or watch videos because a single game can be 100 GB. A couple hours a day of streaming video racks up of ton of usage as well and if you are watching 4K video you can use it all up in a week.
        • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
          I will admit that the xbox eats GB's of data when we leave it on. PC games use much less, and yes I do torrenting as well.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Let's fix the headline.

    Comcast Says It Isn't Throttling Heavy Internet Users Anymore

    to

    Comcast Will Throttle All Users Now

    Because what stops them? Nothing.

  • RIP net neutrality (Score:4, Insightful)

    by linuxwrangler ( 582055 ) on Thursday June 14, 2018 @11:11AM (#56783368)

    Since the net neutrality laws expired, the only piece of this to pay attention to is "...we reserve the right to implement a new congestion management system..."

    Who will the new data-hogs be? Netflix? Youtube?

    • Windows 10 updates.

      • by xlsior ( 524145 )
        Windows updates are defaulted to a distributed p2p method now, so they'll have a hard time trying to bill MS for it. Most people won't be downloading them straight from Microsoft, but from your grandma's Pc instead.
        • Most people won't be downloading them straight from Microsoft, but from your grandma's Pc instead.

          If you think p2p is going to survive this, you're sorely mistaken.

  • You know their subscriber base has done nothing but increased in the past decade, yet they no longer need to throttle folks.
    This can only mean one of two things:

    1) They didn't need to throttle back then either, regardless of the excuse they used.
    or
    2) They've spent the money to upgrade their network to handle the increased traffic ( LOL )

    • 2) They've spent the money to upgrade their network to handle the increased traffic ( LOL )

      While it's very clever to say that ISPs never spend money, do you seriously believe that they've absorbed the massive changes to bandwidth consumption over the last ten years (including the rise of streaming video) without serious upgrades to their network? I can't find a good source for historical per-user average bandwidth usage, but I have no doubt that it has skyrocketed.

  • by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Thursday June 14, 2018 @11:23AM (#56783450)
    Policy Change: Increase Profit/Decrease Usability => Lawyer => Public Relations => We're making things better for Users!

    Just like every other large company.

  • Now that Net Neutrality is no more, why bother to throttle the many many customers directly, when they can first extort money from the major sources of the data, and have those companies up their rates of your service. That way Comcasts great PR machine can indirectly extract more money from your wallet while simultaneously putting the blame on the data-service provider, not themselves. The customer will have no idea why they are paying more for the same services, and no recourse for getting that fee lower

    • Oh well. The more they tighten their grip, the more people will slip through their fingers. I will just resort to more piracy then. It works better than the big companies do anyway.
  • Of course what Comcast didn't say was "Well, we're not throttling them any LESS either".

  • They're throttling people who hit their 1tb data cap which they identify as "heavy internet users".

    How is this functionally different from throttling people at a consistent basis depending on content they're transferring?

    They're basically impeding user services, just in different ways, but still there's tangible impact.
  • Sat down after a couple beers to play World of Warships [worldofwarships.com]. Comcast's fucking router/switch/whatever (69.241.116.206) on their border to Level 3 to the WoWs game server has 70% packet loss right now rendering it unplayable.

    Their support is completely utterly useless as always. I've played this game every day for over a year and never had this issue. I find it highly suspicious this happens 3 days after a NN repeal goes in to effect... Like many games, they use torrents to distribute patches, I'm wondering if t

    • by waspleg ( 316038 )

      Oh, and I forgot to mention, Comcast and others can SAY they're not going to throttle but it doesn't fucking matter because they know there's nothing you can fucking do anyway since in many areas they're they only choice.

  • I asked about that when I signed up, they said they didn't do it. So, just like when I asked if there were data caps, the answer was a lie. Awesome.

    At least I don't have them anymore.

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