Friday, April 13, 2007

April 13, 2007

Happy Friday the 13th!

I wasn't planning on updating the blog for several days as I have a lot going on these days. I received an alert from google which I simply could not ignore. Just noticed we're now in the New York Times

I really appreciate The New York Times in helping get the word out. The Internet has become very important over the years and simply terminating Internet access after a single phone call isn't reasonable. One correction to the article. Comcast didn't send me a letter warning we were violating their "Acceptable Use Policy".

Had we received such a letter it would have been proof enough we were in contact with Comcast and it wasn't a prank. Degrading Comcasts systems isn't something reasonable people would want to do especially when Comcast (at the time) was the only provider of High Speed Internet (HSI) in my area.

The last part of the article I thought was great.

But Russell Shaw, a blogger at ZDNet, writes that while suspending service might be an overreaction, “these bandwidth hogs are abusing the system.” His idea is to “hit ’em with a surcharge” (blogs.zdnet.com/ip-telephony).

Most HSI providers actually do this and/or provide some system in warning their customers so an informed choice can be made. Heck, my ISP Xmission provides multiple tiers of service. Service up to 500 Gigs consumption for about $250 a month I believe. Sounds reasonable to me. I can't help but wonder why Comcast doesn't go this route. After all, their Abuse department tell's people to reduce usage or upgrade to a Business account which we did try in January 2007.

Here is page 1 and page 2 of our contract with Comcast for a business account.

I did press Comcast's Business CSR however they were unable to give me any additional details. He simply said there is more bandwidth for business accounts but couldn't say how much we were purchasing. Sounds like a broken record huh?

Related articles in the New York Times had a very insightful poll on their page. 55% of the respondents (as of today) said Comcast should either let bandwidth hogs through as everything balances or a surcharge should be added (after 268 responses).

Occasionally I read Broadbandreports.com. An article I read by a fellow poster said he was tired of this subject coming up over and over again. His comments were not flattering to people who fully use the HSI purchased. I've never heard of this problem before with an "unlimited use for a flat monthly fee" residential account, I figured somebody needed to raise the issue.


Update - April 15, 2007

Fox has picked up the story for a quick update here in Utah. Here is the link regarding tonights broadcast. Click to watch tonights video. I really appreciate FOX 13 with being so accommodating and helping get the word out.

The internet is discussed these days as if everyone has High Speed Internet (HSI) available everywhere. Almost like it's a public utility. Everyone has water or roads accessible to their home. It's not often where it's not available. Perhaps the Internet should become a public utility. At least the infrastructure.

34 comments:

Phil said...

The ISPs who are terminating the service of users they call "bandwidth hogs"
claim they have to do it to protect other users.

I don't buy it. Not at all.

There are highly effective "quality of service" (QoS) mechanisms already in the Internet standards. All the ISPs have to do is to
set them up and use them. With a well-tuned QoS scheme, it is
actually quite easy to ensure that each user gets at least his fair share no matter what the other users do. You can always try to send more, and if there's spare capacity, you'll get through. If not, your packets are dropped and no harm is done to anyone else.

QoS even provides a "scavenger class" where users can voluntarily
mark their bulk data so it won't interfere with their own high
priority traffic (e.g., VoIP).

I use QoS on my own network, and now Bit Torrent and VoIP coexist
quite peaceably. Nothing keeps the cable ISPs from implementing
it but laziness and arrogance.

Phil Karn
San Diego

u235sentinel said...

Phil said...

The ISPs who are terminating the service of users they call "bandwidth hogs"
claim they have to do it to protect other users.

I don't buy it. Not at all.

There are highly effective "quality of service" (QoS) mechanisms already in the Internet standards. All the ISPs have to do is to
set them up and use them. With a well-tuned QoS scheme, it is...{snip}


Phil, I brought that to Sara's attention. She works in Comcast's escalation department. I took careful notes of that conversation. She "claimed" they couldn't use QoS on the cable modem however they have it on the node level (a node is a network segment as I understand it).

What bugs me is I thought these cable modems were Docsis compliant. that means they can provide QoS at the cable modem level. If not then Comcast screwed up. We had a new Motorola Cable Modem installed last November. I'm pretty sure it was Docsis 3 compliant. I haven't checked since I no longer have Comcast :-)


QoS even provides a "scavenger class" where users can voluntarily
mark their bulk data so it won't interfere with their own high
priority traffic (e.g., VoIP).


QoS is impressive and provides quite a bit of control. I've used it a little over the years with Linux servers and firewalls. It's not terribly hard to learn or implement.

I use QoS on my own network, and now Bit Torrent and VoIP coexist quite peaceably. Nothing keeps the cable ISPs from implementing it but laziness and arrogance.

Phil Karn
San Diego


I wish I knew what the real problem was. I spent countless hours on the phone (as did my wife) speaking with dozens of people. Residential and Business divisions both were unable to help find a resolution.

If you read the early posts on this blog I have posted our conversations with Comcast (I said I take great notes ::grinz::)

The conversations were unbelievable.

Laziness and arrogance? That was my impression too.

Alyson said...

I found your blog today after getting one of these phone calls from Comcast Security Assurance. I appreciate the information!

I tried to get the rep to explain acceptable use to me and of course he refused. We're planning on fighting Comcast every step of the way.

Phil said...

Yes, DOCSIS has its own QoS mechanisms, but I'm mainly familiar with those in IP. The DOCSIS QoS stuff makes it even better, but just the IP QoS stuff by itself could work very well.

Remember that there are two parts to a cable modem: the upstream path and the downstream path. Only the cable company transmits on the downstream path, and they have full control over the ordering, speed and priority of what they send.

On the upstream path, no modem ever transmits without permission. When you send a packet, it sits in the cable modem until it receives a "poll" from the cable company giving it permission to transmit. These polls are of course subject to limits on average and peak speeds.

So again, the excuse that they have to cut you off to protect other users is just totally bogus.

By the way, I am one of the "cast of thousands" who helped develop the Internet over the past two decades or so. I was one of the first people to implement the Internet protocols on personal computers, so I do know this stuff.

u235sentinel said...

Yes, DOCSIS has its own QoS mechanisms, but I'm mainly familiar with those in IP. The DOCSIS QoS stuff makes it even better, but just the IP QoS stuff by itself could work very well.

Yes. I've use QoS with Linux myself. I haven't used it much however it's not something I'm unfamiliar with. It's a good idea.

Remember that there are two parts to a cable modem: the upstream path and the downstream path. Only the cable company transmits on the downstream path, and they have full control over the ordering, speed and priority of what they send.

But they will "claim" they don't control the downstream to your modem. Something sounds really screwy there. Sara said they control the node with QoS but that's it. Whatever. I don't buy it.

{snip}

So again, the excuse that they have to cut you off to protect other users is just totally bogus.

Agreed. But after this experience, I don't have a great opinion of the company. Seems I've finally joined a rather large crowd with the same feelings. At least I'm in good company :D

u235sentinel said...

Alyson said...

I found your blog today after getting one of these phone calls from Comcast Security Assurance. I appreciate the information!


Your welcome. I tried to be a complete as I can. I strongly believe this has gone on for too long. I'm glad I can help.

I tried to get the rep to explain acceptable use to me and of course he refused. We're planning on fighting Comcast every step of the way.

While there are a number of things I strongly recommend you do, be prepared to be kicked off within 30 days. I strongly recommend moving everything especially your email over to gmail or yahoo. Comcast to my knowledge has re-enabled only one lady's account and that was because they provided VoiP for her.

They are her only phone service and after a call to the PUC saying Comcast terminated her 911 service, she was back on in an hour. I doubt many other's have been as fortunate. I haven't heard of any besides her.

Anyway, I strongly recommend filing with the FTC, FCC, your state AG, BBB (they are useless but it's due diligence), local papers and news. I have some links in earlier posts.

Talk to your neighbors. Some of them may have received "The Call" as well. I know a couple now in my neighborhood so I'm not alone :-)

I wish I could give you good news and I hope you have an alternative HSI provider in your area.

Good Luck and keep us posted!

u235sentinel said...

Alyson said...

I found your blog today after getting one of these phone calls from Comcast Security Assurance. I appreciate the information!


Glad I could help. I felt it was important to start the blog and help people understand this is a bigger problem than Comcast is letting on. They say it only affects .01% of their top customers. I have news for Comcast. When they get rid of the .01% guess what?? They still have .01% top customers on their network. It's not like it's a number that will ever disappear, unless they go out of business that is :D

I tried to get the rep to explain acceptable use to me and of course he refused. We're planning on fighting Comcast every step of the way.

File with the FTC, FCC, BBB, AG and talk to neighbors, papers and so on. I recommend you move ASAP all email to gmail or yahoo. Within 30 days your account will likely be terminated.

I know of only one person who had their HSI reenabled. She called the PUC and complained that Comcast terminated her 911 service. They had it back on an hour later :-) That's it. I don't know of any other's to get it back. Hopefully you have another provider in the area.

Good Luck and keep us posted!!

C-LEVEL TECH said...

I firmly believe that Comcast could implement QoS on their network but guess what would be compromised?? SPEED and they know that and that's why they are taking this route of booting off subscribers rather than fixing what is wrong with their network.
I contacted the NYTIMES repeatedly determined to getting this story told and this is only the beginning. Comcast is a company that I quickly realized that they hate publicity and are quick to send out their pit-bull public relations representatives to try to play down what is happening here.
Where I live Verizon (which is a DSL and now FIOS provider) is steadily rolling out fiber-optic lines throughout Massachusetts and the RI area and in my town of North Attleboro Comcast is fighting against Verizon moving in because they know that they cannot compete once they are here.
I already let my town representatives of what happened to me and I want other choices BESIDES Comcast and they are listening. ever since I posted my video of my experience with Comcast on YOU TUBE, it has alerted people on both sides of the issue.
One one hand I came across the heavy Comcast supporters (which I figured out quickly who signs their paychecks) and on the other hand I came across those like me, got booted off and where not given ANY other choice and NO ANSWERS. I plan on continuing to fight Comcast and speaking out and I encourage anyone who has received "the call" from Comcast, to use the internet to spread the word and warn potential subscribers of what could happen when you cross "the unknown cap" and are given no solution and no real options.

Phil said...

But they will "claim" they don't control the downstream to your modem. Something sounds really screwy there.

Yes, it is screwy. While anybody on the Internet can send traffic to your modem, it all passes through the cable company's equipment, where they can shape, rate limit or even drop it if necessary to protect other users sharing your downstream.

So there's simply no excuse for cutting people off.

Broadband Internet access is becoming as important to our way of life as the telephone (if not more important). It is simply unacceptable for a carrier to arbitrarily cut people off when they violate secret rules. Sooner or later, the government will have to step in and regulate cable and DSL service as a common carrier, something the companies will do anything to prevent. But common carrier regulation is hardly a radical new idea. We first got it back in the days of robber baron railroads. History does have a way of repeating itself, doesn't it?

u235sentinel said...

Phil said...

Broadband Internet access is becoming as important to our way of life as the telephone (if not more important). It is simply unacceptable for a carrier to arbitrarily cut people off when they violate secret rules.


I'm hoping to get that message out to my representative and the legislature. I've been thinking of contacting the Governer and Lt. Governer regarding this practice. The Internet is used frequently here in Utah. As I understand it, we're the most connected of any state in the Union. That should say just how important Internet Access is.

Sooner or later, the government will have to step in and regulate cable and DSL service as a common carrier, {snip}

I'm crossing my fingers on this. If we want to recapture our #1 position as a technology leader then we will need ... you guessed it, technology :D

...something the companies will do anything to prevent. But common carrier regulation is hardly a radical new idea. We first got it back in the days of robber baron railroads. History does have a way of repeating itself, doesn't it?

Sad isnt' it. You would think with all the Education around here people would learn from the mistakes of their fathers.

What was that saying? Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Something like that.

u235sentinel said...

C-LEVEL TECH said...

I firmly believe that Comcast could implement QoS on their network but guess what would be compromised?? SPEED and they know that and that's why they are taking this route of booting off subscribers rather than fixing what is wrong with their network.


True, there would be a hit but I don't think it would be as dreadful as people may think. QoS has been developed over many years and does I think a fine job of managing traffic.


I contacted the NYTIMES repeatedly determined to getting this story told and this is only the beginning.

You did a great service to us all. I really appreciate all your efforts. I have passed the link around and received several responses already. There are many people who are very upset with how badly Comcast mistreated them.


One one hand I came across the heavy Comcast supporters (which I figured out quickly who signs their paychecks) and on the other hand I came across those like me, got booted off and where not given ANY other choice and NO ANSWERS.

I've asked a few of those so call "supporters" if they were in Comcasts employee. They became oddly silent. That or Comcast terminated their HSI as well :-)

I plan on continuing to fight Comcast and speaking out and I encourage anyone who has received "the call" from Comcast, to use the internet to spread the word and warn potential subscribers of what could happen when you cross "the unknown cap" and are given no solution and no real options.

Keep up the great work. I will continue as well. We're pushing for diversity and choice in many area's in this country and the world. Seems only fair we toss HSI into the mix as well.

Phil said...

I firmly believe that Comcast could implement QoS on their network but guess what would be compromised?? SPEED and

There's no reason why implementing QoS should compromise speed. If anything, it will improve speed both generally and for individual users.

Right now, most cable modems "cap" their users to a speed well below the actual channel speed. Most downstream channels run at 38 megabits/sec, but cable modems are typically capped at 5 megabits. Even when nobody else is on the channel, you still can't get more.

This squanders the biggest competitive advantage of cable modems over DSL: their much higher peak speeds. Well designed QoS makes it possible for a user to get very high speeds when the network is lightly loaded, e.g., in the middle of the night, while still ensuring that everyone gets at least their fair share when things get heavily loaded.

I propose three classes of service: a high priority class for VoIP, a standard class for interactive web browsing and email, and a "scavenger class" for bulk transfers and P2P. Users would have an incentive to accurately mark their own traffic so that their bulk traffic wouldn't interfere with their more important stuff. The network would still protect against cheating by automatically downgrading high priority traffic that exceeds a user's fair share.

I've thought about this a lot (it's my job, I'm an engineer), and I can't see any downside at all. With QoS, everybody would always get at least their fair share, there would be no need for secret limits on "unlimited" services, and no need to alienate your customers by cutting off what has become a critical utility for many people.

u235sentinel said...

Phil said...

I firmly believe that Comcast could implement QoS on their network but guess what would be compromised?? SPEED and

There's no reason why implementing QoS should compromise speed. If anything, it will improve speed both generally and for individual users.


Just finished reading some fascinating articles discussing bandwidth issues. I understand we're using less than 2% of capacity from fiber networks however the problems expressed are usually in the "last mile" side of the equation.

Basically copper can only go so fast and the network is only as fast as the slowest link in the chain. That would be the last mile basically.

I'm thinking if fiber to the home was pushed as hard as public roads were in the 20th century, we would see America able to become competitive again in the tech field. I understand we've dropped to 7th place in the world and strongly believe this in large measure is part of the reason why.

Why would QoS not impact traffic even a little? Doesn't QoS perform a packet inspection? With a lot of that happening, wouldn't a network experience some degradation?

I'm not saying it would be significant but there would be some experienced. Thoughts?

I'm not a Network Engineer however I've studied for the CCNA and have a solid understanding of the basics. Thanks for helping me understand :-)

unclewalt said...

Wait, where did the Times say that Comcast sent you a letter? Am I missing something?

u235sentinel said...

unclewalt said...

Wait, where did the Times say that Comcast sent you a letter? Am I missing something?


Perhaps I'm reading more into it than I should. If so I apologize for the confusion.

The first paragraph in their article stated Comcast was sending letters to Customers warning them to limit their bandwidth consumption.

I was hoping to clarify this. If they are sending letters then I never received one. Would have resolved a couple of issues I had at least. I thought it was a prank or some kind of new ID Theft scam.

When Comcast CSR's said I had no bandwidth limits, how the heck was I to know they were not to be taken serious.

They have some serious issues to resolve. I'm hoping now that this has received National exposure, the company will take steps to correct their internal problems and demonstrate by their actions (not their words) that they really care about their customers.

No, I'm not holding my breath but I can dream.

Kempton said...

Good for you to take up the cause. I linked to your entry here and wrote the following in my blog,

"These days, any weak or unacceptable customer services may generate loud and wide negative PR nightmare in no time. In fact, I have been pondering about writing such a post or even creating a blog about one of the Canadian mobile phone providers."

Best of luck and hope the HSI providers like Comcast will learn and change. One can always hope.

Danny said...

I got here today as I just read Ed Foster's blog that referenced yours.

Funny thing is that I have been considering moving from AT&T DLS over to Comcast (my cable provider). But this idea that they won't tell customers what the limit is will keep me away.

I occasionally move big files between my work computer and my home computer. I don't mind living within a prescribed download cap, but I have to know what that cap is and have tools available to monitor it.

danny

u235sentinel said...

Danny said...

I got here today as I just read Ed Foster's blog that referenced yours.

Funny thing is that I have been considering moving from AT&T DLS over to Comcast (my cable provider). But this idea that they won't tell customers what the limit is will keep me away.


Danny, You might be ok but then again you might be in for a big disappointment. My wife and I spent weeks trying to work with Comcast to find a resolution to this. We even upgraded to a business account which was turned on for about 10 minutes I'm told (I have to take their word). They definitely could use some lessons in soft skills.

I've spoken with sales from several ISP's over the last few months to compare. Most provided information on what their limits are. Verizon at first told me "unlimited use ...." which I figured was just like Comcast's response. They didn't tell until recently I understand.

I occasionally move big files between my work computer and my home computer. I don't mind living within a prescribed download cap, but I have to know what that cap is and have tools available to monitor it.

danny


I did that a few times. Sharing a few large videos I created from family photos with my Mother in November and December. I've wondered if this is why Comcast thinks we were using their service for a business. Because of those large uploads. Oh well. Their mistake.

I don't have a good opinion of the company and I'll keep warning people of what "might" happen. There doesn't seem to be any way of reasoning with these people. I've even offered to throttle my usage. Who knows what their real reasons are.

If you do move to Comcast I strongly recommend exercising extreme caution.

André said...

I've also been reading your blog with great interest, although in live in Germany.

I'm a bit suprised by the data load you guys can transfer over the net, 100GB and upwards? I lived in multiple countries in Euroland and have never seend numbers like that for home usage. Over here it's usually 50Gb tops and usually around 20GB.

We also have lots of companies advertising unlimited access, etc... but if you read the Terms of License, there is almost always a very thin line mentioning a "fair usage policy" of xxGB a month.

I've personally never had a problem with any company, and I can transfer from 2Gb a month to up to 40GB.
The way I see it, if your node or telephone exchange is designed to provide internet access to 300 people and there are only 50, they don't care how much you use. But if, on the other hand, it is nearing capacity and you are pushing it, you'll then receive a nice email/letter mentioning that "fair usage policy" and be asked to reduce to an xxGB amount per month.

In any case, I have never seen nor heard of people to get disconnected with one single warning. There are usually multiple attempts on the company's side to talk to you. What you are describing in your blog, I find that totally unacceptable.

I have heard from a collegue working at a cable ISP, that if a person is downloading too much, say on a 8MB line and using torrents (or something like that), they can just throttle the bandwidth down. If you contact them they'll explain it to you, otherwise they will contact you, should you keep it up :)

In Portugal, local Telekom (1 of 2 ISP providers in the country) even makes a distinction of national and international traffic. For example, cheapest package gives you 2MB with 1Gb international and 5GB national data. If you want no limits, you'll have to go for the most expensive one, which is also a 16MB ADSL line and costs about 60€a month. If you cross any of those limits, you will be charged xx€ / 100MB used (10€ in my dad's case).

Also a word of caution, a certain cable provider we had also had online counters, but the data on them was inaccurate, actually very inaccurate. I had months, where I was on vacation and only checked mails, and the counters showed nearly 1GB of transfer, which was totally impossible. I wouldn't count them as 100% reliable. Try to get a program on your PC that monitors incoming/outgoing traffic. I have NetMeter and it works very well. It has graphs and shows you daily/weekly/monthly reports, projections based on your usage, etc... It starts up with Windows (in case you use it) and I find it great.

I check your blog almost daily (also one of the few sites that aren't blocked at work hehe ) and wish you all the best in your quest.

Good Luck

André

Dyson said...

Hey, great story! I must live by you...so I'm looking into xMission too. I haven't been screwed by Comcast yet, but I support the cause. By the way, did you really read somewhere that xMission offered 500 gbs transfer/month for ~$250? Their website says the highest package is 100 gbs transfer/month for $22/month.
Thanks for the clarification!

u235sentinel said...

André said...

I've also been reading your blog with great interest, although in live in Germany.

I'm a bit surprised by the data load you guys can transfer over the net, 100GB and upwards? I lived in multiple countries in Euroland and have never seend numbers like that for home usage. Over here it's usually 50Gb tops and usually around 20GB.


I have some family in Portugal and the UK. They have a 100 Meg pipe to their home and some use over 100 Gigs in a month easily. I've been asking a lot of questions :-)

What do you typically do online? Any Internet TV or Radio? Movie downloads perhaps from services such as Walmart or Amazon? Just curious. I still need to post our list of activities online. Maybe I will in a few more days after things settle down around here.


I've personally never had a problem with any company, and I can transfer from 2Gb a month to up to 40GB.
The way I see it, if your node or telephone exchange is designed to provide internet access to 300 people and there are only 50, they don't care how much you use. But if, on the other hand, it is nearing capacity and you are pushing it, you'll then receive a nice email/letter mentioning that "fair usage policy" and be asked to reduce to an xxGB amount per month.


That would be nice. I've suggested this in conversations with Comcast but unfortunately they don't seem to care. My current ISP Xmission tells me they would send an email if there was a problem. As I understand it, going over your monthly allotment deducts that amount from the next month's limit. Perhaps Comcast should consider following the leader :D

BTW, this is the first time I've had to deal with something like this. I've had bad customer service but nothing like this.

I've been learning a great deal from the experience and I'm trying to help other's find the information they are searching for. Basically why I started this blog.

I'm stunned how many times I hear someone else has their HSI terminated. I believe there are more of us out there than Comcast is willing to admit. I've spoken either on the phone or via email with dozens over the last few months.

Try to get a program on your PC that monitors incoming/outgoing traffic. I have NetMeter and it works very well. It has graphs and shows you daily/weekly/monthly reports, projections based on your usage, etc... It starts up with Windows (in case you use it) and I find it great.

I'm using MRTG and vnstat on my linux firewall now. Since this debacle with Comcast, I've implemented the same tools I use at work (I've built Network monitoring tools for years).

I understand most people use Windows these days (duh ::grinz::). There are some nice tools out there including some firewalls I understand which keep track of traffic. I'm encouraging everyone to use these tools to keep track of their usage especially if their ISP doesn't give them the tools they need to make an informed choice.

I check your blog almost daily (also one of the few sites that aren't blocked at work hehe ) and wish you all the best in your quest.

I truly appreciate everyone's support. Only with people banding together and demanding to be treated fairly will unfair business practices disappear. That or the company will when enough people get upset enough.

Keep checking. I'm not even close to the end of my activities.

The best is yet to come :-)

u235sentinel said...

Hey, great story! I must live by you...so I'm looking into xMission too. I haven't been screwed by Comcast yet, but I support the cause.

I'm in West Jordan Utah. Yeah, I had Xmission before Comcast. We were running with ISDN with (2) 64k channels. We had great experiences with Xmission for nearly 4 years. Then Comcast came by. It's too bad we couldn't use the Cable and still use Xmission. So we switched.

After nearly 4 years with Comcast we're back with Xmission. I'm glad DSL is here in our area. I've heard the stories about Qwest DSL sucking but after 1 1/2 months I honestly don't know what they are talking about. Perhaps it's either the area or simply the ISP they selected. So far I've had a great experience with Qwest DSL / Xmission and have no complaints.

BTW, to order I simply called Xmission and told them we wanted to upgrade to DSL. They took care of everything. When the DSL modem arrived I was online under 3 minutes. Didn't require a tech to come by. It really was a no brainer.

By the way, did you really read somewhere that xMission offered 500 gbs transfer/month for ~$250? Their website says the highest package is 100 gbs transfer/month for $22/month.
Thanks for the clarification!


I've searched their web site and checked my emails. I know I saw something showing Utopia fiber prices from Xmission with 5 tiers of service. Tier 5 was 500 Gigs a month for about $250. I'll poke around. Heck, I just might give Xmission sales a call tomorrow just to make sure I not mistaken.

BTW, the $22 a month is their mega DSL package which offers 100 Gigs a month. The tier pricing was for Utopia fiber.

André said...

Well, I've never seen any internet access advertised going faster than 24MB (but am not saying there isn't :). I knew some people in the UK that had 100MB to their homes, but that was due to a local company testing HSI and limited to that area of town.
In Portugal, Telekom (PT) has the monopoly on infrastructure and internet access. There is only one other company. 7 years ago, I knew of at least another 6, but they all had to close up, because Telekom drove the rent on their lines so high up that it wasn't profitable anymore.

"What do you typically do online? Any Internet TV or Radio? Movie downloads perhaps from services such as Walmart or Amazon?"

lol didn't figure out how to use the tags, so quotes go in " "

Well, since I finished college I only use the PC for gaming. I play WoW online and also use Teamspeak when needed; being in germany and feeling nostalgic about home, I watch portuguese news online, and those have an average length of 45min, no idea how much MB that is, as I stream it; I pretty much always have some portuguese radio streaming music, even while playing; I also use a lot of Skype and Messenger for voice and video with family and friends, as most of them are all out of the country; I do the occasional work from home (I do server/network support and use VPN and TS to log in, though I have no idea how much bandwidth that uses up); I use web albums to share my pictures with friends and family, sometimes use a local ftp server/client for it as well. I also do some downloads, but am no saint at it, if you know what I mean...

"understand most people use Windows these days (duh ::grinz::)"
I don't want to start a Linux/Windows discussion :) Only reason I have Windows is, as stupid as it is, I've always had it. It always did what I needed it to do and I very very seldom have problems with it. I never used Linux, so far, and since I almost only use the PC for gaming, Windows fits my needs. I'm pretty much put off, when I think about getting Linux, getting into a whole new world, learning a new OS from scratch... Maybe when my company provides a mandatory training...

u235sentinel said...

I'm pretty much put off, when I think about getting Linux, getting into a whole new world, learning a new OS from scratch... Maybe when my company provides a mandatory training...

I understand. People usually stick with what they are comfortable with and usually don't look elsewhere unless there is something there to motivate them. Would is freak you out to know I have an MCSE :-) Seriously.

I got into Linux because I wanted to learn more about HP-UX and Solaris Unix. It's close in many ways. I still have the RedHat 4.1 CD I purchased :-)

If you ever decide to check it out, it's really not all that hard or different. I recommend either Ubuntu or OpenSuse. I like both for the desktop. Suse and Redhat for the server or BSD, but that's another argument :-)

J.Brooks said...

The "Security Officer" from Comcast explained to me that the reason I had my modem "blocked" was for Residential Bandwidth Abuse. He then asked me if I watched streaming video, or downloaded songs, or movies from the news-groups and I replied "Why yes, doesn't everyone? After all you are providing this service. You boosted the download speed so my mp3’s and photos download faster"

I then asked him "For the $60.00 Dollars a month I pay to use your service what do you consider to be a proper amount?" His reply to me was most confounding, he couldn't tell me a bandwidth total, but I would have to drasticly limit my-self in the future, with no more warnings from Comcast. If I cross the SECRET bandwidth amount I will be shut down for a year, NO IFS, ANDS, OR BUTS, WITH NO RECOURSE.

He then stated that Comcast guaranteed unlimited access to the Internet, not unlimited usage, also I should get a broadband monitor to track my usage so I would not cross the SECRET bandwidth amount again.

If Comcast feels that they are being VIOLATED maybe they should implament a teired Bandwidth system. The more bandwidth you use the more you pay.

I feel VIOLATED, having been with Comcast for years, paying my bills on time. I just don’t care for the “Heavy Handed” attitude of “this is the way it’s going to be, or ELSE.”

P.S. If you hear of a Class Action lawsuit about this let me know…. Where do I sign?

Thank you,
J.Brooks

Brad said...

What a nightmare! I have to tell you.. i had comcast for 2 years, and it was one of the worst experiences of my life. I live in seattle, and it was basically 2 years of my life, and hundreds upon hundreds of dollars i'll never get back. Sadly, Comcast has to be one of the absolute worst companies ive ever encountered.

André said...

"Would is freak you out to know I have an MCSE :-) Seriously."

Not really, I have a few Microsoft Certifications myself. My MCSE teacher in the UK was a Linux fan. In class all about MS, in the pub all about Linux :)
Our company will implement some Linux systems, when the new data centre is ready. Maybe I'll get a chance to look into it then.

u235sentinel said...

J.Brooks said...
I then asked him "For the $60.00 Dollars a month I pay to use your service what do you consider to be a proper amount?" His reply to me was most confounding, he couldn't tell me a bandwidth total, but I would have to drasticly limit my-self in the future, with no more warnings from Comcast. If I cross the SECRET bandwidth amount I will be shut down for a year, NO IFS, ANDS, OR BUTS, WITH NO RECOURSE.


That's the thing that's bizzare. We have no idea what we were paying for all these years. The company expects it's customers to guess what they had purchased. If this happened with any other company providing a product there would be a lawsuit.

P.S. If you hear of a Class Action lawsuit about this let me know…. Where do I sign?

This may happen then again, maybe not. If I hear of anything going on there I'll post it for everyone to jump on to.

In the mean time, I'm encouraging everyone to push for competition in their respective areas. Contact your local leaders and encourage them to bring FioS to your area. It will accomplish more than people realize :D

Catmoves said...

I can't understand why you all are upset with poor, little Comcast. After all, their own ads keep telling us "Comcast Cares", Admittedly, they don't say what Comcast Cares ABOUT, just that they care.
My own experience is different than yours, however. Having seen their quarterly and yearly financial reports, I wrote to them asking for a discount for senior, handicapped users. I got a letter from a woman (supposedly) telling me how sorry she was and how she couldn't even get a discount for her own mother who was on a fixed income. Sob. Eight months later I wrote them again (with a different email addy) and guess what? I got the same letter, from the same woman. How about that for coincidence?

CortnyCox said...

We were just terminated by Comcast. Same story: last month we received a confusing phone call asking questions about our internal home network, firewall, router and wireless. We put it down to a telemarketer or phisher. We never received any written notification even now that we have been banned. We have no idea if our high usage is the result of a problem or just legitimate usage. We belong to Netflix and in addition to mailing movies you can also legally and legitimately download movies, which we did. We filed a complaint with the FCC noting that as a regulated Internet provider, Comcast should be required to:

1. Provide written notice on Comcast letterhead of any potential service issues such that a consumer understands that the issue is legitimate. This notice should also provide links to tools, or information on steps to take to address the situation so that a consumer understands what the problem is and how to monitor and correct it once it is brought to their attention.
2. Specify a monthly maximum bandwidth utilization which can not be exceeded so that there is a clear quantifiable level to measure and remain below.
3. Provide tools or a method for a consumer to monitor their bandwidth utilization to know where they stand on usage.
4. Provide a final warning in writing with a projected termination date if the bandwidth utilization is not reduced.

If I were Comcast I would work with customers to resolve the high-bandwidth. Perhaps they could tell us of tools or techniques that could identify an errant home computer that is being used as a zombie or other problem that is consuming bandwidth; instead with no written warning we have been banned for a year.

u235sentinel said...

CortnyCox said...

We were just terminated by Comcast. Same story: last month we received a confusing phone call asking questions about our internal home network, firewall, router and wireless. We put it down to a telemarketer or phisher. We never received any written notification even now that we have been banned. We have no idea if our high usage is the result of a problem or just legitimate usage.


I'm sorry to hear of this. IMHO the company seems to be out of control. They are a money making machine and claim to "care" about their customers. I don't buy it for a second. They have a really weird way of showing it.

Those I've personally spoken with and have been monitoring their traffic have told me time and again the numbers quoted to them of their usage were not accurate. Some have shared with me their numbers. It's very perplexing.

{snip}

... as a regulated Internet provider, Comcast should be required to:

1. Provide written notice on Comcast letterhead of any potential service issues {snip}


Right there. That's basically my biggest issue with the company next to their invisible "acceptable use limits". You have to be a mind reader to know Customer Service isn't the right group to be speaking with. The Abuse department should be renamed to Customer Service and get rid of their answering machine. Maybe hire a receptionist even. But I digress.

The other items are already done by HSI competitors. I'm amazed Comcast hasn't figured it out yet. With as much money as they have made in 2006, you would think they would have hired somebody to help them move forward in some positive way.

I know Comcast is VERY aware of this blog and our stand. It wouldn't hurt for them to spend some time and understand what their customers are saying. Certainly could only improve their bottom line.

If I were Comcast I would work with customers to resolve the high-bandwidth. Perhaps they could tell us of tools or techniques that could identify an errant home computer that is being used as a zombie or other problem that is consuming bandwidth; instead with no written warning we have been banned for a year.

I think banning people for a year is simply a response to their inability to implement those tools which is very disappointing. I've heard various stories why this is the case. I can't validate any of them but it is interesting. In my research I've learned this problem has been going on for many years.

I'm hoping this blog helps give people some ideas of what they can do but most importantly to know you are not alone!

u235sentinel said...

One further note.

I've been studying WW II these last few years. History is sort of a minor hobby of mine. I came across this quote which I feel is fitting for this discussion about Comcast and their policies. Enjoy!

"However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results."
-- Winston Churchill

Jamie said...

Well I received a call from the quite robotic and totally unreasonable Comcast gent here about 3 weeks ago. I figured I was indeed using a large amount of bandwidth as I need to transfer a 9gb database file back and forth with my company quite often. I asked all the standard questions. "What's the limit?", "If I drop to 300gb / month am I safe?", etc.. He just kept saying over and over he needed to see a "significant and comprehensive reduction in my usage " over the next 30 days or I'd lose my service for 12 months. Out of curiosity I asked if it was just my broadband I'd lose, and he was quick to mention it would be all of my Comcast services including Cable TV. I signed up for Qwest Premier DSL today. No matter what side of this argument you are on, whether you think people pulling 500+ gb per month are hogs abusing the system or not. Comcast should be REQUIRED to state what limit there is on usage. PERIOD. I've never been treated so harshly by another corporation in my life. I even contacted the 'business' division and was told first off that there was no such limitations on the business class service, but then 3 days later (thankfully before I sent in my application for the $150/mo. service) I got a phone call saying that the same verbiage was in the business class services also. Screw 'em.

Jamie said...

As a side note to my previous comment, on the same network for the last 18 calendar months I have doing the same amount of transferring. The only difference? Comcast recently took over running my local area from Time Warner Cable. So obviously my usage wasn't causing too much of an impact.