Monday, November 12, 2007

November 12, 2007

The last month or so there has been great debate about what Comcast is doing with Peer to Peer. As I don't use their service I haven't spent much time investigating them however other's have. It's been heavily discussed on Slashdot several times and the Consumerist. All very insightful.

There has even been talk about a lawsuit against the company. This should prove interesting. I'll be watching this with great interest. Especially since In my opinion the company is deceptive in what they are really doing. Yeah I know. Strong words there but I'm not an idiot. I know what an RST packet does. If Comcast wants to spin a story, they should hire a PR department that can spin a better story to those who understand tech. As I understand it, it breaks the RFC and is considered harmful.

In a TCP Packet, RST packets basically close a network connection. One gentleman emailed me the following during a conversation.

RST packets do not slow things down. RESET is an abrupt termination that can be done. This requests an immediate termination of the session and can be initiated by either of the hosts talking. Once a RESET has been received and acted on, there is no subsequent communication by either side either to acknowledge the
RESET or to close the other side of the connection.

I'm not a network engineer but I do have some exposure to how things work. Sounds about right. So rather than slow things down, it basically stops the communication by impersonating the other side.

So the company first denies it was doing anything goofy with torrents, then it said they are slowing things down, now they are defending it saying people who excessively use their network need to be managed. Great company you got there guys. I understand the need to manage network traffic however they need to define the terms of the contract far better before something like this will work. I'm not the only one who has this opinion btw. From the link I read comments such as this

imanogre... When choosing an ISP, most consumers can only base their choice on what the corporation tells you. I have no problem with comcast choosing how to run their network how they see fit, but to lie to their consumers about their product... that in my book is akin to fraudulent business practices.

or this

Simba7... It's my internet. If I pay $$$ for their fastest connection, I better get that speed no matter what I do with it.

Some people are even saying that Comcast is no longer an ISP as we currently define it. 92% of the readers who responded to his poll stated they don't believe Comcast is an ISP either. Very insightful.

Joe sent the following article which suggests this is a symptom of a far larger problem.

There’s an interesting situation that ISPs face — a lot of their consumers who have a broadband want to use their broadband connections in a variety of ways. People are also participating in media distribution in ways that they haven’t in the past … and most importantly they’re also sharing content — they’re acting as distributors. The way the networks have been implemented are in direct conflict with all of those trends and ISPs are going to face some scaling problems as applications evolve that tax those connections. So what you see between BitTorrent and Comcast is actually a symptom of a larger problem.

I've heard some argue that media distribution is the same thing as running a server so Comcast has the right to manage as they see fit. Granting Comcast a monopoly with rules that are poorly defined or not defined at all makes no sense. It's been months since I've looked at the Comcast TOS/AUP. At the time I didn't see anything that even hinted p2p would be a problem.

So now the FCC may be getting involved. Seems there are complaints being filed (yes, I filed one too) left and right over this. Speaking of which, I didn't realize that Comcast was blocking Lotus Notes traffic also. Why on earth would they do that??? So much for their PR statement about not blocking access to web sites or applications.

One more note. I simply had to share this with everyone. From Slashdot -- Enjoy!

When Google calls Comcast (Score:5, Funny)
by sherriw (794536) {snip}
*Comcast phone ringing at head office*

Comcast Secretary: Hello, thank you for calling Com-

Google Big Cheese: This is Google Inc. calling, I want to talk to whoever's in charge. Now.

Comcast Secretary: I don't know who you think you are but-

Google: Go visit right now.

*secretary visits, google recognizes the comcast head office IP range and serves up a pdf of a lawsuit document (Comcast as defendant) instead of the google homepage*

Secretary: Oh my, one moment please I'll transfer you.

Comcast Big Boss: What? I'm busy lining my socks with money and throwing darts at customer photos.

Google: This is Google Inc. You know why I'm calling.

Comcast: *stutters* y-yes, but we have the right to do whatever we need to, to ensure that our networks....

Google: Seriously?

Comcast: Seriously what?

Google: Seriously, you want to mess with us? Are you sure?

Comcast: *Long pause, and painful griding noises of "thinking"* Well... I think you overestimate how powerful you a-

Google: You have a lot to lose 'my friend'. You have 823 employees using Gmail. 138 office locations on Google Maps, 2,345 website pages indexed by the google search engine that recieve a collective 546 thousand search hits per day from Google Search. You currently rank first for the search term "cable internet" and nearly all your press releases are picked up by Google News. Do I need to go on?

Comcast: *speechless silence* ... Uh, um, I- I'll talk to our engineers about getting this straighted up right away... sir.

Google: That's right. And be quick about it. *snaps fingers*

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