Wednesday, August 22, 2007

August 22, 2007

Before I begin. I want to say I really appreciate the high interest and all the comments posted over the last few months. Both Pro and Con. I don't mind a dissenting voice. What a terrible place it would be if we all thought and spoke the same. I would like to say that lately I've received a number of dissenting posts with Adult language in it.

I'm uncomfortable with accepting those posts and haven't figure out how to edit them here (I've looked). If you have an opposing opinion please post but without the vulgarity (FU this and so on). I will reject those posts every time and would like to accept it. Even if I don't agree with it. Thanks!


Now on to our program...


I don't know what to make of it. Comcast says nay, and future ex-Comcast subscribers say yea.

Are they messing with bittorrent? I did find this so I'm willing to bet they are doing something as others have also noticed something going on.

Oh and in response to Comcast's cut/paste bandwidth response, I posted my analysis of their numbers in the February 20th post In an attempt to translate their response into English :-)

Their response makes no sense but I digress. I've already kicked that one around so enjoy!


From the Fedora article

If Comcast is allowed to continue cutting off even one protocol we’ve already lost. Voice your opinion. Contact your local office. Complain. Make some noise. Switch providers.

Until then I’ll be getting these two Comcast connections switched to a competitor. It may be a slower internet (in my area) on DSL, but at least its the whole internet.


I'm afraid it won't matter. I believe we've already shown how the company doesn't address consumer issues. It's bizarre but that's reality.

Comcast has been treating its customers so badly that even Clark can’t believe it. Customers are receiving letters from the company, warning them that if they use their high-speed Internet too much the service will be cut off. But Comcast doesn’t tell people what “too much” means.


It seems change only comes with running it through the courts as in this example. Yes, there are many other's but this one I found particularly interesting. I've wondered why our Attorney General doesn't investigate. Maybe someday (or elect a new one).

For those of you without alternatives I strongly encourage you to speak to your local Government. City Council, the Mayor, your Governor. Everybody. And keep speaking until something is done about it. It's your right and privilege as an American.

40 comments:

Jesse Harris said...

I've been seriously evaluating a switch to Xmission's DSL in light of these issues. I haven't personally experienced any issues with torrents so far, but I'm not willing to wait around until it happens.

Phil said...

I will say that, in light of reading this debate, I have decided to never, EVER use Comcast services. What a horrible move on their part.

J said...

I briefly looked over your blog and I have experienced the same thing regarding Comcast saying I downloaded too much. They said I downloaded 200+ GB of data. Of course, I track my bandwidth usage and found that I actually downloaded less than 100GB. When I told them they were wrong, they didn't listen or care and only gave me the usual speech of significantly reducing my usage without specifying the limit. I am somewhat of a heavy user, but not to the point 200+ GB per month. And I find this discouraging since the whole world is now connected via the Internet and new apps and services are always taking advantage of it. VOIP, music, movies (legally, of course), other services, etc being streamed from the Internet to provide a wonderful experience to the user. I can imagine a day when I can easily and seamlessly watch a video of my newborn grandson being streamed from the Internet. I can also imagine Comcast cutting off that video stream and claiming excessive bandwidth usage as well.

Anyways, enough of that tirade. I was investigating on how I could possibly be using so much bandwidth as claimed by Comcast. I track my usage by making SNMP requests to my router to see how much I've downloaded and uploaded. The router is the master connection to the Internet. However, Comcast tracks usage not by what your router says, it tracks it by making SNMP requests to the cable modem to track your bandwidth usage. So when you give them a call, you can request the MAC address of your modem. And they know how much bandwidth you have consumed based on that MAC address. What I suspect might be happening is other people who hack cable modems (and there are quite a bit of hackers out there). What I've found is the hackers who hack their cable modems, use it to sniff the network for valid MAC addresses of cable modems on other Comcast nodes. What I suspect might have happened to us is they sniffed our cable modem MAC addresses and applied those MAC addresses to their hacked cable modems. And voila, while you are using your cable modem on one of Comcast's network nodes, some hacker is using your MAC address on a different node. (Can't use the same MAC address on the same node.) And they're probably downloading to their heart's content racking up large amounts of downloads on your MAC address. Comcast sees the huge bandwidth usage on that MAC address, finds out whose cable modem that MAC address is assigned to, and you, an innocent victim, become labelled as a heavy bandwidth user.

Anyways, this what I think happened to us innocent victims. I've read a few pages on some cable modem hacking sites and all of what I have described is all do-able.

How do I prevent myself from having hackers figure out my cable modem's MAC address? I have no idea. This is an inherent limitation of cable modem systems and the old DOCSIS standards that cable companies still use. Everything is shared on the same node. And with a hacked cable modem, you can sniff.

Why do they need the MAC address? Because when you provision your modem for the first time with your service provider, they tie the cable modem's MAC address to what type of config you are to use for your cable modem. i.e. they maintain a list of all MAC addresses and which customer owns what MAC address and what config that MAC address is supposed to load (i.e. some people might get a config file that says you have a max bandwidth of 6Mbps down vs another config that might say 16Mbps down).

Just my 2 cents.
J

sim said...

Your are correct, Comcast has stopped the ability to seed a bittorent in the Memphis TN market. What is next?

sim said...

Your are right Comcast has stopped the ability to seed torrents in the Memphis TN market. I'm sure we are not alone, I only wonder what will be the next protocol that doesn't fit Comcast's version of the "internet".

Donny Phillips said...

History:
Correct me if I am wrong in some points, and fill in the gaps for some others. I am now a comcast user by default. I was a cable earth link subscriber and they are provided kit by time warner. I was uploading videos to google. I noticed that things would start ok and then never complete in the later part of the month. I thought it was the timing, but later realized that I was probably hitting some upload limit. I called around and asked, I believe the folks I talked to were actually oblivious to the concecept. When I was living in Norway, my carrier telnor gave all the upload and download specifications on my service plan. I spoke to many earthlink and time warner folk trying to explain what to look for regarding this issue and they all seemed honestly oblivious to the issue. What opened my eyes to the issue was that when we entered a new month, I was able to upload my videos again. I would imagine that , inaddition to cutting off stuff like bit-torrent, we a fighting a well hid bandwidth limit that someone needs to get the BBB onto or some other consumer group.

Dan said...

u235sentinel,

someone really has to make comcast-sucks.com and make a forum.

welp, here is my situation.

ft.lauderdale fl, comcast.
Linux user and unlicensed anime downloader.
I doubt I end up using over 100gigs at the end of the month.. I mainly just like having remote (ssh) access to my box but even that can be troublesome.

What I'm seeing is random disconnects and I can't seed my anime torrents for more than 20 seconds before the seeding just dies.
If I sit there with azureus (my torrent client) and do a stop go stop go I can make my upload ratio .. but obviously that would get annoying.

I tried using the http port 8080 seeding and changing its port to 8081 and 8082. no dice.
same for using the encrypted connection to the tracker.

I've written a script that is going to be tracerouting and pinging and watching latency as best as it can and notify me if it sees anything over 50% but I don't know how successful this will be.

Would be nice to get some seriously experienced network scripters together for the purpose of getting that proof that comcast IS doing something.

Welp, caged.penguin at yahoo if anyone has a monitoring script or wants to collaborate on getting proof of comcasts games.

Regards,
Dan.

dru_satori said...

We've already lost. Bellsouth / AT&T already protocol filters their consumer DSL customers. SMTP / Port 25 is blocked, and the only SMTP connections allowed from consumer DSL locations are to Bellsouth's own servers.

I learned this after toss Comcast to the curb for their behavior. Turns out the alternatives are also masters of customer disservice.

dizkonekid said...

I wish I had a choice Phil. I have been talking to our complex and looking into providing our own infrastructure, but the laws around it require a hefty bit of attorney fees even before you can put shovel to earth.

Jay said...

I have known about comcast for the last few years as being a rip off company only out for your money. When they took over the cable in colorado I canceled my service that day and went with quest DSL. I will never use comcast for anything, ever. I wish everyone else felt the same but, a long as there are people who only surf and check e-mail comcast will always have customers.

Dalton said...

I'm a unix based developer, I use a ton of bandwidth. This may not include bittorrent seeding but I do use more than an average user. I have 3 boxes running Fedora Core 4 in my room, and another 3 in the house alone all running comcast. I do believe we use alot of bandwidth in the home. Due to my servers running apache and software based on PERL I am sending and recieving data 24/7. I do believe I have NEVER had my internet shut off due to bandwidth usage. I'm not one to judge but were your bittorrent seeds based on adult content and/or illegal content? Comcast and even the government have the authority to hit the button.

We recently made the change back to comcast digital cable and comcast even upgrading our broadband speed from 4 to 6mb/s. I agree that the comcast technical support people are complete morons without any computer knowledge or even a degree of somesort but thats not reason to boycott comcast.

Wes said...

I previously had comcast, and noticed torrents speeds were slowed, and uploads speeds where 'compressed' (even to FTPs). I recently switch to DSL because of this.

Jason said...

Funny that you mention getting a new attorney general. He just resigned: http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/08/27/gonzales/index.html

Sticks & Stones said...

I just learned about your blog via CNET today. I have had my fair share of comcast problems in the past as has my twin brother. I used to live in Tallahassee FL where i was paying for high speed internet access. I used to run speed tests on a daily basis as my internet was very sluggish for a high speed service.

I learned through these tests that my service was half that of a 28kpbs connection. Half the speed of dialup. I complained to comcast and printed out my speedtest results, as well as weblink and the number for Comcast support and put it in my neighbors mailboxes so they would know and they could also complain.

Eventually the problem was fixed, it took roughly 5 months of constant complaining and a call to the BBB. I recieved only 2 free months of service for my time and effort but given that I was a college student I didn't see the point raising the stakes in court.

My brother had similar issues in Miami FL, his internet was extremely slow and his digital cable looked worse (static) then his local broadcast - over the air reception on his second TV. He complained but never took it as far as I did.

The only solution is to allow multiple broadband providers into each market. Without competition pricing and service are there to gouge the consumer. If there was any form of competition besides 1 DSL & 1 cable internet provider there would definitely be price discounts as well as better service.

It's a shame that lobbyists can influence and blind our political institution to this degree hindering the consumers.

Keith said...

I have experience with National ISPs. You will not get anywhere with your attempt to find "justice". The system is inherently indifferent to individuals who have complaints regarding the service they have received. The problem is numbers of course - for example, I guess Comcast has about 7 million Internet subscribers and still growing - this basically identifies your insignificance. The other thing is that your usage may affect other customers - (that 99.9%) most of whom are not complaining and happily paying their monthly bill. Cable networks have always been structured in this way. As a residential customer, your ISP guarantees only one thing really : a monthly charge for your service - no matter what service you receive. Regarding the packet filtering or shaping issue, again, you have no recourse. The ISPs try very hard to prevent problems and control their network traffic for security reasons; there will likely be no public discussion surrounding this issue. Virii,bots,Email Worms etc. have caused so much trouble in the past that constant vigilance is the only way and ISPs have the buy-in of that 99.9% again. What about your own particular situation? I do not have familiarity with all the particulars of your problem, but the general rule is that while things are still activated on any system, you need to reasonably and thoroughly explore the details with your service provider. Have them offer solutions to the problem, ask them to prevent left-hand vs right-hand errors by documenting every discussion. Speak to the same Supervisor every time you call if possible. Have you done every thing you can at home to secure your home network? I can tell you that wherever there are Wireless home networks there are more unsecured than secured ones. Most people just don't know or care about such things. I wish you good luck and good service. Be aware that in any tech/customer service department, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

martouf said...

i dumped Comcast because of random outages and poor quality signal .. and i was a basic-plus cable customer. i didn't expect much and they weren't delivering.

meanwhile, the financial news wires are all a-buzz on how Comcast shares will jump because they have record cash reserves.

yes: *cash*. money received and not spent. not spent on payroll. not spent on infrastructure. whopping big pile o'gold just sittin' there.

think about that, will ya?

JTRockville said...

Joseph S. Enoch of ConsumerAffairs.com wrote a good article regarding Comcast's super-secret bandwidth limits:

http://consumeraffairs.com/news04/2007/08/comcast_ban.html?imw=Y

In the past, Comcast has specifically targeted VPN users, heavy users, and now bittorrent users. Who will be next? Given Comcast's propensity to punish subscribers any way they can, I doubt I'll ever consider them to be a serious network service provider.

Hendrek said...

Just another data point here. I had a program with a bug that caused it to download vast amounts of data (TVTonic. The worst part for me was that my warning came on the 5th of the month so it already had 5 days of downloading, then it took some time to track it down and fix it, but Comcast only looks at the total for the month instead of behavior trends over the month to see if anything changed.

And the abuse guys say it's a cut and dry policy, no explanations, no appeal.

Marc said...

Thanks for bringing this issue to the forefront. The big cable companies need to learn that they work for their customers, not the other way around.

Mat said...

Comcast is more interested in not getting sued. What should be illegal is their "fuzzy" agreement. If they can't provide what you've done wrong, they're not providing the service they promise, and that's anti-consumer. It's a cable company, and that doesn't surprise anyone, but someone in government needs to be our advocate in this.

Have you filed a complaint with the FCC?

Mat said...

On another issue, you may want to try post verification. At least weed out your spam that way...

YutakaFrog said...

Did you see that you made it onto Slashdot?

http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/08/27/0040220&from=rss

Congratulations!

As for myself, I live in an apartment near the U where my only option for anything faster than 3 Kbps is Comcast. I wish I had other options, but for now, none. I'm just waiting for something that I can switch to that doesn't drop me in the middle of an online game every 10 minutes...

starkat said...

They continually screw with my connection -they've gone so far as to kill my upload, and claim it's an overage of downstream traffic directly to my IP that's causing it... and then refuse to troubleshoot. I'm certain it's them, especially since after I encrypt all of my outgoing traffic the problem disappeared.

mdvalenz said...

When I had comcast they sent me the letter threatening to cancel my service if I didn't stop using so much bandwidth. When I called they couldn't tell me how much I used, or what the limit was, and they said they never heard of such a limit. So we switched to SBC. Slower speeds, but no phantom limit or packet filtering.

Mike Malter said...

Just as an FYI. As a business owner of an IT Technology Consulting company, I declined to go with Comcast because of our concern over an invisible requirement policy.

We were looking for a backup/parallel Internet connection so that if something happened to our primary vendor, we would have a backup. When I queried the Comcast sales representative about their policy of terminating users for consuming bandwidth that they will not make public, the rep was clearly uncomfortable with the topic and very vague and misleading.

As a result of the less than transparent policy, we elected to pass on Comcast. We would have used them if they were clear and honest about their policies. My reaction to them was colored by an article I read about censorship in China. Visiting journalists were told that they needed to be careful of what they wrote, and when they asked for guidelines, they were told not to worry about guidelines, when they crossed the line, they would let them know.

In my opinion, this is an ominous and passive aggressive threat that is calculated to use a persons fear to regulate their conduct, and for a number of reasons I very much disagree with this approach.

When Comcast sheds the behavior used by the repressive and thuggish regime now running China and becomes more honest and transparent in their dealings with their customers, we would be willing to reconsider doing business with them.

jakethegamer said...

Interesting what is happening to you as it has not happened to me. Now before you think that I am supporting Comcast, (I am not) I am simply stating that they have not attempted to cut off my bandwidth yet.

As far as bandwidth goes, I have been pushing over 200 gb a month for 2 years now by running a Shoutcast DNAS from one PC, BitTorrent from another, and a MP3 Database for myself at work from yet another database. My bandwidth is seriously taken up and never have I been contacted while I see others including family cut off.

I am sure my time will come to switch to DSL, but a question remains, why are some seemingly exempt while others enforced.

Jonathan F. said...

I've wondered why our Attorney General doesn't investigate. Maybe someday (or elect a new one).

Interesting you should say that. I just read a CNN news story today that the current Attorney General announced his resignation effective September 17. I wonder who the new one will be, and if he will be interesting!

u235sentinel said...

Mat said...

{snip}

It's a cable company, and that doesn't surprise anyone, but someone in government needs to be our advocate in this.


I agree. I've written letters to Senators, Representatives and other's. It's across the board. They seem to 'think' we're protected by existing laws. Funny. I haven't met any ex-Comcast customers who feel protected. This is why I'm asking everyone to write letters to the Government. Write to everybody. The problem isn't getting better by ignoring it and other countries are laughing at us. We used to be in the top 10 for broadband. Those were the days...

Have you filed a complaint with the FCC?

They called me and mentioned they don't regulate that part of cable companies. Telephone and Cable TV yes, but Internet? Nope.

So I filed with the FTC but that's going to take a lot of time I hear.

u235sentinel said...

JTRockville said...

{snip}
In the past, Comcast has specifically targeted VPN users, heavy users, and now bittorrent users. Who will be next? Given Comcast's propensity to punish subscribers any way they can, I doubt I'll ever consider them to be a serious network service provider.


Guess that's three strikes for me. I fit into all three categories. That explains the strong arm tactics they have taken with me and many other's.

u235sentinel said...

Dalton said...

{snip}

We recently made the change back to comcast digital cable and comcast even upgrading our broadband speed from 4 to 6mb/s. I agree that the comcast technical support people are complete morons without any computer knowledge or even a degree of somesort but thats not reason to boycott comcast.


I agree. I have never advocated boycotting Comcast however I am telling people we need a free market to prevent this sort of abuse from happening. Where there is a monopoly (or duopoly) you find this sort of stuff happening.

There is a reason we have laws against the abuse of Monopoly power. It wasn't considered good for the Country to restrict the free market. It still isn't.

u235sentinel said...

Donny Phillips said...

{snip}
I would imagine that , inaddition to cutting off stuff like bit-torrent, we a fighting a well hid bandwidth limit that someone needs to get the BBB onto or some other consumer group.


The BBB is without teeth. The last communication said they didn't know what they could do for me and other's being abused. I've contacted other groups such as Bill Gephart, Clark Howard and other's. All said the same thing. Time to get in touch with our city Government.

Oh and did I mention the Mayor today emailed me stating there were no plans to join Utopia. So we maintain the status quo. Government sanctioned monopolies.

I'm calling him shortly. We need to have a talk. If there is a problem I'd love to know why the concern with going that route.

I understand it's not perfect, but we do have potholes in our public roads. I don't see anyone advocating we should get rid of them :-)

Muzz said...

I too had recieved a call from Comcast regarding my internet usage. The called and said the usual about shutting me down. When asked how much is too much the would not reply. After a few more debates with Comcast personel they still refused to tell me. I offered to show them how to setup policing on there hardware for them (in jest) and volunteered to setup some policing limits on my local cisco router, but they would not tell me what limits to use. It appears they want to keep thier customers in constant fear of being shutdown as a policy of bandwidth policing which is a very sad modus operandi. Comcast really needs to re-evaluate thier customer service because it has been found severly lacking.

u235sentinel said...

jakethegamer said...

Interesting what is happening to you as it has not happened to me. Now before you think that I am supporting Comcast, (I am not) I am simply stating that they have not attempted to cut off my bandwidth yet.


From what I'm hearing, their Abuse department is seriously understaffed. I'd apply for the position but I don't have the right/wrong attitude... depending which side of the fence you're on.

As far as bandwidth goes, I have been pushing over 200 gb a month for 2 years now by running a Shoutcast DNAS from one PC, BitTorrent from another, and a MP3 Database for myself at work from yet another database. My bandwidth is seriously taken up and never have I been contacted while I see others including family cut off.

I'm pretty sure you're on their list. They simply don't have the staff to make all the calls. It would explain why you get a machine instead of a Hooman (said with a Ferengi voice).

I am sure my time will come to switch to DSL, but a question remains, why are some seemingly exempt while others enforced.

As I understand it, it all depends whether they have invested in your area or not. But that's second hand (unverified) information. Who knows what the real answer is.

Just make sure you don't hit them with IPTV and Internet Radio. Then you are simply a bad investment which is probably what happened to me. Rather than pay for Comcast more advanced services, I was running stuff like skype, IPTV and so on.

I'm sure that must have annoyed somebody. Just a theory.

Todd said...

You think forging packets is bad, ever since Comcrap took over in Houston i went from having a 5504kbps down/385kbps up line to a 1100kbps down/350kbps up line. They cut my downstream 1/5th and tried telling me it's because of them improving the network and it should only take 2 weeks. Here i am writing 3 months later to call them liars and that I'm canceling now that they announced a price hike due in October that equates to me forking over $8 more a month for an internet line 1/5th of my original speed with Time Warner. I hope IPTV runs them into the ground, AT&T Uverse here i come...

Stenar said...

I wish I lived in Murray and could get fiber. Every time I start to download a torrent file, the rest of my internet comes to a crawl... webpages load slower than dialup. I close my torrent program and suddenly my web speeds jump back up. I hate Comcrap.

will said...

lets start a nationwide campain agaist comcast let everyone know you can get cable pc and stream for free and hook it up to your tv i will type my horror story tomorrow the closer to holloween the better email me at jonjorrell@yahoo.com

LX said...

I lost more than 50 channels since comcast came. This is the most greedy company I ever had business with. One old lady even hammered computer and equipment in Camcast's customer service center.

One way to make our voice heard is EVERYNE who is still a subscriber calls Comcast AT LEAST once PER DAY for as LONG as needed, making complains, demanding speak to the supervisor, all the way to the highest level, keeping waiting if asked. Tell them you are going to do this EVERYDAY. We need to show them we, the customers, are the god.

LX said...

EVERYONE calls Comcast EVERYDAY for as lond as the issue is not resolved in customer's favor.

u235sentinel said...

LX said...

I lost more than 50 channels since comcast came. This is the most greedy company I ever had business with. One old lady even hammered computer and equipment in Camcast's customer service center.

One way to make our voice heard is EVERYNE who is still a subscriber calls Comcast AT LEAST once PER DAY for as LONG as needed, making complains, demanding speak to the supervisor, all the way to the highest level, keeping waiting if asked. Tell them you are going to do this EVERYDAY. We need to show them we, the customers, are the god.


I understand what you are saying however IMO I believe it will do little good except get a call from Comcast asking you to stop before they file a restraining order. It could be construed as harassment.

I spent the first three weeks working with over 40 people in Comcast and believe me, they have NO motivation to help whatsoever. With the exception of the salesman, nobody is empowered to do anything on behalf of the customer. And since Comcast has a Monopoly is many areas, and a few politicians in their pockets, what to do?

Raising awareness is one. Thus this blog. You could also work towards replacing these politicians who "think" they are doing good things by keeping Concast in business at OUR expense I might add.

I spent all last Thursday speaking with them and was amazed how many believed we should have a telecommunications infrastructure to empower the free market. As it stands, Comcast is cherry picking IMO. Otherwise why terminate people's Internet accounts?

So, I'm now speaking with the opposition to the incumbents. Several have mentioned the same concerns I've been hearing however they have expressed an interest in learning more which is far more than the incumbents have done.

Your local politicians should also be notified. Write letters to everyone. If enough people start making a lot of noise about this, it will force them to finally get off their hands and do something productive.

I'm writing letters to several other's in state and federal government.

It's nice having a grassroots organization working to bring Utopia. So I have more people to point at and say "Here you go... it's something people want".

Jamison said...

Comcast terminated my service as of the 18th of october for "excessive bandwidth". I was given the warning on the previous month of service to "tone down" my usage, without any knowledge of how much to bring down. According to their records i was about 200 gig less than the previous month. I pay extra for the 8mbit service. It was four frustrating calls with no resolution. No "we will forward your emails" or "upgrade to the business package..." nothing, just sorry you will have to look for another provider or wait 12 months. But they did offer to tell me (only on this second call) that if i was on the business package i would have been ok. I tried to convince them to upgrade me, but their only answer was that it was too late. They would never give me to a supervisor as i requested. Also, they would never tell how much bandwidth you are allowed on an unlimited package. Their response is that it is unlimited access and not unlimited bandwidth. I live in the Chattanooga, TN area.