Saturday, March 8, 2008

March 8, 2008

It's been a crazy couple of months. Between the FCC Hearings into Comcast's fake "Network Management" practices and the 2008 Utah Legislative sessions, it's been a crazy roller coaster ride.

I'm sure by now my Representative is tired of hearing from me along with several other Senators and Representatives. They've been hearing what I've had to say along with other's who are interested in an Internet free of MegaCorp manipulation. If we don't tell our politicians what we want then they will go the wrong way in passing crazy bills.

Take for instance Representative Craig Frank and Senator Stephenson's bills on Utopia. While they successfully left committee, they were killed before going to the State Legislature because people called and wrote complaining. Eventually they listened and simply dropped it. Sure there was the risk they would pop up in another bill somewhere.

Which is why many people were involved in searching for anything that might effect it in some way. Now that it's over, it seems we may have dogged a bullet. Time to make good on it by pushing for Network Neutrality and a fiber infrastructure as the NII promised us in 1994. Speaking of which, I thought you all might find this video of interest.

President Bush I understand has suggested we have a broadband strategy and it's working great. I brought this up on a slashdot discussion and it was amazing the arguments (from both sides) that came up. One guy mentioned "It's a very competitive business, ravenously so". The response from another slashdot poster says it all

Yeah, 2.5 options make for a very competitive market. You (or other monopoly) own my phone lines, while my cable monopoly owns my cable lines. High-latency satellite connections, slow-ass dialup (still over the monopoly's lines, BTW), or "unlimited" (5GB cap) cell data plans are the rest of the .5 options.

I think a lot of businesses would be quite happy to have such an absence of competition in their markets.


Even Brian Roberts (CEO of Comcast) once mentioned in an article that they have no competition and don't consider DSL even close to competition. If anyone finds that article please forward it to me. It was I believe in 2005 or 2006 but I can't find it after massive searching.

So can the consumer use the bandwidth he PURCHASED as he pleases? According to the FCC filing from Comcast, you cannot.

The question that many users are probably asking themselves right now is, "But didn't I pay for a certain level of bandwidth? Can't I use it however and whenever I want?" To which Comcast says, simply, "No, you cannot."

The argument here is that "if the most bandwidth-consumptive users are allowed to place whatever burden they wish on the network, whenever they wish, then bandwidth can become insufficient to enable other users... to access all the content, applications, and services that they want at the level of performance they demand and deserve."


From another conversation on slashdot I found this comment of great interest since this guy is in the business of providing Internet Access.

Since I admin a smallish ISP, I can tell you that it's already the next
killer app. We've been monitoring network demographics with NTOP for quite some time.

This past year, we've seen a 10% increase in subscribers and a 60% increse in traffic. That increase is almost entirely http. P2P protocol usage, on the other hand, plateaued last year. It is becoming more and more insignificant.

You can watch 20 episodes of Lost commercial free in "HD" full screen at nbc.com. I watched the Sarah Conner Chronicles [fox.com] (brought to you by Cisco, the irony..) at home last night and monitored my bandwidth consumption, which saturated at around 3Mb. This isn't youtube, the picture is great. It's very impressive, and easy to do. It was a 10 second pluggin install on my Windows machine.

People are rapidly finding this. An informal survey of our CSRs reveals that they are getting increasing volumes of calls where the subject comes up.

Never bet against the Internet, as they say.


And dont forget one of my favorite P2P file sharing sites Vuze.com. Apparently they have major concerns with Comcast's monopoly tactics.

In a conference call, Vuze's general counsel Jay Monahan drew the starkest analogy. What Comcast is really doing, he said, wasn't at all comparable to limiting the number of cars that enter a highway. Instead, it was more like a horse race where the cable company owns one of the horses and the racetrack itself. By slowing down the horse of a competitor like Vuze, even for a few seconds, Comcast makes it harder for that horse to compete. "Which horse would you bet on in a race like that?" asked Monahan.


And yes, I've submitted my testimony about Comcast to Vuze to present before the FCC. I have uploaded a copy of it to youtube to make it easier for people to find it.

From the huge deluge of articles people have been emailing me I found this article interesting. Especially the discussion about how Comcast goes about forging packets. Something I learned is VERY easy in my SANS 2007 Security training classes in Las Vegas last year.

Daniel Weitzner, Director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Decentralized Information Group summed up bad traffic management with: “Maybe it’s a bit like the old adage about pornography ‘I know it when I see it’. In this case I know what Comcast is doing is in the camp of unreasonable. These are techniques that hackers would use to deny service to any application on the web, very similar in that regard. It might be interesting to hold a panel of security experts to talk about those kind of mechanisms, I’m certainly not one. But, forging data on the internet is probably outside of the realm of reasonable, and any standards body would deem it to be.”


Representative Mackey is pushing through a bill to preserve the Internet from these silly games. I've written him letters and encourage everyone to pitch in. With the crap going on with screening mail in Washington D.C., he recommends (from his web site) everyone write letters to him at his MedFord address.
Medford
5 High Street, Suite 101
Medford, MA 02155
781-396-2900


So I'm still alive and kicking and getting down to business :-)

Seems a report came out suggesting increasing our Internet Infrastructure even a little would make a huge impact on the economy. With all this talk over a recession, perhaps we should say it's high time to start building.

A broadband stimulus package would pump nearly as much money into the U.S. economy as an economic stimulus package recently passed by the U.S. Congress, said Brian Mefford, Connected Nation's CEO. A proposal being considered as part of a farm bill before Congress would allow immediate depreciation for investment in broadband infrastructure and "provide a jolt to the nation's economy in the near term," Mefford said.


Finally I leave you with this article talking about the Class Action lawsuit against Comcast. From the article

"This lawsuit demonstrates that consumers are rightfully outraged over Comcast's secretive bait‑and-switch tactics," said Markham C. Erickson, the Executive Director of the Open Internet Coalition. "The company's behavior already has attracted the attention of the FCC and Congress. Now the courts are involved. If Comcast doesn't change its behavior, the word 'Comcastic' is going to become a synonym for fraud."

14 comments:

John Henry DeJong said...

I commented on one of your earliest posts nearly a year ago, and I just wanted to duck back in tosay thank you, again, and to encourage you to keep up the fight. Between the fraudulent and deceptive throttling/fake packet broadcasting, and the utter refusal of companies like Comcast, Time-Warner, and Embarq to offer any solution (beyond lots of empty talk) to the massive lack of rural broadband options (see mini-rant below), the current state of US broadband infrastructure is a glaring embarrassment for us worldwide.

(Mini-rant: Lack of rural broadband is developing civil rights overtones, now that so much information and education relies on the ability of students to access large volumes of online material. Here in rural NC, where public education nothing to brag about anyway, our kids are being flat-out left behind in the tech revolution. The impact of this deliberate and malicious choice by providers of profit over public interest is a kick in the crotch to the fundamental American notion of equal opportunity. End rant.)

Jered said...

John Henry:

I seriously think that 'The impact of this deliberate and malicious choice by providers of profit over public interest is a kick in the crotch to the fundamental American notion of equal opportunity.' is the true reason why a public company would not invest in the rural areas. The true reasons stem from the high cost of laying infrastructure in a low population area would have a far smaller return on investment then working out into the sub-urban areas outside large metropolitan areas.

I don't want to argue but come one seriously your mini-rant is by far one of the lamest things I have heard in a while. Look public companies want to make money and take Comcast for example (my provider which I hate but use because they are my only choice) they over saturate their current infrastructure and have to resort to P2P blocking - hidden meaning of this is that they are not investing in their backbone in the cities why o why would they lay copper or fiber out to rural areas?

Again a PUBLIC company can choose how to invest their money if you don't like it don't use them or invest in them. but to say the choice to not invest is a malicious choice I guess you are not aware of how a company works: THEY ARE THERE TO MAKE FRIGGING MONEY THAT IS IT. If you wanted a ISP to be a charity then start a non-for-profit ISP up.

soldier_girl said...

Received my Comcast Cable Bill, and after seeing a Rate Increase I finally just said, "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH ALREADY!" I read everything thoroughly and knew what my rights were and then I called to DOWNGRADE for free. The Comcast Representative was trying to pleasantly pressure me to either change my mind or to UPGRADE... I'm tired of paying so much for so little!" This DOWNGRADE IS FREE OF CHARGE." ...YOU DON'T HAVE TO TAKE IT ANYMORE! It is time for the people to let their voices be heard and to take action against ALL THESE MONEY AND POWER HUNGRY ORGANIZATIONS! NOW IS THE TIME FOR YOU AND ALL TO TAKE ACTION! Send your message, by hitting them where it will hurt the most! DOWNGRADE OR DISCONTINUE NOW! By the time February 2009 comes, they will be ready to listen to and work for the people!

Rise Up And Let Your Voices Be Heard!

Bill McGonigle said...

As long as Comcast is trying to manage 'free', we're doomed, because 'free' doesn't exist. Under a fair, metered, service scheme, everybody would win. Until then, Comcast is incentivized to fight its customers, and, as is quite apparent, everybody loses.

Bill McGonigle said...

@jered: You're right, except Comcast (et. al.) is usually granted a government monopoly. I agree that competition is superior to regulation, but as it is the government is excluded the free market. Perhaps additional regulation is a poor patch, but until they fix the monopoly problem it's not sensible to treat enforced monopolies as being purely subject to free-market pressures.

John Henry DeJong said...

@jered:

If companies were still struggling to provide service in populated areas;

if companies were still faced with the prices they were facing in the early-mid 90's for getting service installed;

if companies were still faced with the same technical restrictions they were faced with ten years ago;

if companies weren't raking in tens of billions of dollars in profits that go straight to executive bonuses;

Then I might give your criticism some consideration.

But none of those things are true. Countries like England, Ireland, Germany, France, Japan, Australia all have rural areas too, but their broadband penetration is far, far higher than it is here. Not only that, it's better quality.

Your silliness about 'public companies wanting to make money' loses all validity when you understand that they're making money. Billions and billions of dollars' worth of money, and rather than investing that back into infrastructure improvements, they're putting it into executive pockets, oftentimes while not even paying their regular employees a reasonable rate.

I'm sick of hearing this crap about how 'oh, it's not cost effective.' Horsepuckey. I've been begging for broadband to my home for so long *my fees alone* would have paid for the wiring by now. It's not some fiscal necessity. No company is going to face bankruptcy because they've untertaken to wire more than five miles outside small towns. It's GREED, period, and whatever excuse for it there may have once been is long, long gone.

You can make all the excuses you want. Rural schools and students are already being heavily impacted by their inability to access the same information that most anyone else takes for granted, and it's only going to get worse.

Jered said...

@John Henry DeJong

I bet to differ, I come from a rural community and at no way did I suffer from the lack of internet. I come from a place where even getting a decent radio signal is hard, we have a flashing stop light and that is it.

Kids can learn just fine without huge broadband ideas.

Comcast does make tons of money but it is because their investments are in HIGH YIELD locations and not out to s few places.

Look other places have broadband out to rural places refer to but one things is a bit different there those countries are tiny when comparing to the US. The other thing is most of those have subsidized tele's to bring broadband to the masses.

John you need to calm down quite blaming others for your situation or others situations and learn to over come.

When in this great Earth did we stop fighting for ourselves and start bitching about things we can over come.

In most cases the tech revolution has hurt our society more then helped. TV, Internet is ruining children's youth...

Last how is the internet better then books? For on books are better regulated on FACTS and the internet is just a crap shoot. 30% of wiki so called facts are wrong. Internet only helps education for up to date NEWS that is it and for that get a NEWSPAPER all the other ideas can be passed through well established BOOKS.

Bill McGonigle said...

> 30% of wiki
so called facts are wrong.

cite? Or is this one of the 30%?

Here's a cite for you, but it's from a little-known journal called 'Nature'.

Search Engine Optimization said...

Aside from the complex physical connections that make up its infrastructure, the Internet is facilitated by bi- or multi-lateral commercial contracts (e.g., peering agreements), and by technical specifications or protocols that describe how to exchange data over the network. Indeed, the Internet is essentially defined by its interconnections and routing policies.

As of December 30, 2007, 1.319 billion people use the Internet according to Internet World Stats. Writing in the Harvard International Review, philosopher N.J. Slabbert, a writer on policy issues for the Washington, D.C.–based Urban Land Institute, has asserted that the Internet is fast becoming a basic feature of global civilization, so that what has traditionally been called "civil society" is now becoming identical with information technology society as defined by Internet use. - web design company, web designer, web design india

Boba Fett said...

Just thought I'd send you this little link:

http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6551708.htm.html

Apparently Comcast thinks they can buy us off with the idea of a "Bill of Rights."

Check Slashdot for more peoples views about the Comcast insanity.

Alex said...

WOW COMCAST JUST DISSED ME!!!!
THIS IS CUSTOMER 8798100180365295 AND I CANT WAIT TO SHOW EVERY ONE HOW COMCAST TREATS ITS CUSTOMERS!!!


I have been having a problem for like 6 months with Comcast and my Vonage phone. I have been a customer of Comcast for about 4-5 years and with Vonage about the 4 years. At first it was just some loss of sound and lately it actually drops my Internet connection!! It reboots my cable modem! Im typing this as fast as I can because I am scared that if the phone rings I will drop again!!!

I have called Comcast about this problem plenty of times and I always get the same crappy service from these people. I used to LOVE comcast because I do every thing online and they have the best speeds around where I live, but this love affair is OVER!!! The first chance I get to leave this company I will!!! I didnt even mention Vonage, but they knew.

GET THIS... I had to go to the Comcast Chat Support to explain this again because I cant make a phone call!... Sadly the same outcome, but this time I saved the conversation!! These fools contradict themselves and when I tried to explain further, they just DITCHED ME!!! NEVER GOT A CHANCE TO EXPLAIN MYSELF FURTHER AFTER I WAS TRANSFERRED OR ESCALATED!! WOW THIS SHOWS YOU HOW LITTLE THEY CARE ABOUT THEIR CUSTOMERS!!!!

Problem: My internet line drops every time I try to use my VOIP Phone. (NOT COMCAST VOIP). I need this resolved ASAP, Please.
End Session
user Alex_ has entered room

alex>
My internet line drops every time I try to use my VOIP Phone. (NOT COMCAST VOIP). I need this resolved ASAP, Please.

analyst Mary.25337 has entered room

Mary.25337>
Hello Alex_, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Mary.25337. Please give me one moment to review your information.

Mary.25337>
I will be more than happy to assist you today.


Mary.25337>
For account identification can you please verify the last 4 digits of Social Security Number (SSN) that is listed on the account?

Alex_>
XXXX

Mary.25337>
Thank you, Alex.

Alex_>
Hello

Alex_>
Thanks for helping me out.

Mary.25337>
I understand that you are having issues on Internet when using the phone. May I ask when did this start to happen?

Mary.25337>
You are welcome.

Alex_>
about 6 months ago, but only recently has it started dropping totally

Alex_>
it has i mean

Mary.25337>
Thank you for that information.

Alex_>
The reason this is upsetting is that this is my only means of communication.

Alex_>
Police, Fire...

Alex_>
I have a sickly child in the house and I depend in this phone

Mary.25337>
I completely understand you Alex. I would also be wanting this issue to be resolved myself.

Alex_>
Thank U

Mary.25337>
Have you tried to unplug the modem and the phone line for 45 minutes and then plug them back in?

Alex_>
Yes, in fact I have had it off the entire night.

Alex_>
I turned in on in the morning.

Alex_>
went to work

Mary.25337>
Alright. Are you using Comcast phone also or just the internet?

Alex_>
the only service I have with Comcast is HSI. My phone is with another Company.

Alex_>
The reason I dont call this in is because the line drops

Mary.25337>
I see. If you will be detaching the internet, does the telephone work?

Alex_>
I dont understand.

Alex_>
If I what?

Mary.25337>
I mean, if you will temporarily unplug the modem, does the telephone work?

Alex_>
No.

Alex_>
its a voip phone

Alex_>
it only works with the internet

Mary.25337>
Yes, I understand that. I am just verifying that I got every information correct.

Alex_>


Mary.25337>
Is the phone connected right now?

Alex_>
Yes...

Alex_>
if you call it will ring

Alex_>
but if I answer it drops

Alex_>
If I dial a phone #, it drops

Alex_>
I could replicate the problem if you like, but our session will drop I assume

Mary.25337>
I have checked the connection status of your internet and the performance of your modem and it shows here that it is in perfect condition.

Alex_>
No its, not.

Alex_>
I can prove it.

Mary.25337>
I would suggest that you contact the supplier of the phone because the problem must be coming from the unit you have.

Alex_>
No, thats not it.

Alex_>
let me explain what I have done.

Alex_>
to test that

Mary.25337>
Sure. I appreciate that, Alex.

Alex_>
I have replaced my phone router twice! I have replaced my wireless router once and I have changed all the cat5 on my home network

Alex_>
I am a Network Administrator; I do this for a living.

Alex_>
My Pc doesnt have to be on and the line drops.

Alex_>
there is no congestion on my network

Alex_>
I have 2 pc's and they are never on at the same time since I am the one that uses them

Alex_>
but they both have access to the web.

Alex_>
If you like I can try to make a phone call as you watch the cable modem

Alex_>
you will see it drop

Alex_>
Also, my phone device is a client of my wireless router, it doesnt connect to comcast directly

Alex_>
so therefore it cant bring down the modem

Alex_>
this is Comcast's problem

Mary.25337>
Okay, Alex. As far as I can understand the issue, the internet account part is doing good. You can access web sites and everything as you said. The problem only occurs with VOIP using the Comcast internet.

Alex_>
Yes thats right, but that shouldnt matter that it is a VOIP phone.

Mary.25337>
I have limited resources for that issue right now, so I will be escalating this chat to the Comcast Digital Voice representative to better assist you with that issue.

Mary.25337>
Would you like me to transfer this chat now, Alex?

Alex_>
I cant speak on the phone how would I talk to them?

Mary.25337>
You may reach Comcast at 1800-266-2278. A representative will be very happy to assist you.

Mary.25337>
Is there anything else I can help you with?

Alex_>
I CANT TALK ON THE PHONE!

Mary.25337>
That's why I am offering you for me to transfer this chat to another agent whose expertise is with Digital Voice/ Phone.

Mary.25337>
Would you like me to transfer this chat now?

Alex_>
so it will be over chat?

Mary.25337>
Yes, Alex.

Alex_>
Ok then please transfer me. I will blogg this conversation with your company.

Mary.25337>
For you to avoid typing all the details you had gave me earlier, you may just give the next agent the time to read those messages before you proceed to another aspect.

Mary.25337>
These will all be passed on to the next agent.

Mary.25337>
Would there be anything else you want to ask?

Alex_>
Ok. No.

Mary.25337>
Please standby while the agent receives your information. Thank you for choosing Comcast and have a great day.

Alex_>
You Too.

Mary.25337>
Please wait, while the problem is escalated to another analyst

analyst Mark has entered room

Mark>
Thanks for your patience. I will be with you as soon as possible.

analyst Mary.25337 has left room

Mark>
Are you using vonage for phone service?

Alex_>
Yes, Sir.

Alex_>
Why?

Due to a network disruption, the message "Why?" has not been sent. Please try again.

Alex_>
Why? May I ask?

Mark>
Ok. You need to first power cycle the comcast cable modem, then power cycle your vonage box.

Mark>
In order to power cycle the modem you'll need to shut down your computer, then unplug the power to your modem for 60 seconds.

Turn your computer back on, then plug the power back into the modem once the computer is fully loaded.

Then you're going to want to wait for the cable light to go solid green as well with the power.

If you are still having issues after you've tried this, please feel free to come back into chat, and we'll continue from there.

Alex_>
I have done that so many times I cant even count!

Mark>
Are you using a wireless router?

Alex_>
Im sorry, could you see my last conversation with the other rep I was chatting with?

Alex_>
Yes I use one.

Alex_>
A Linksys WRT110

Mark>
Unforetunately I cannot see the last conversation. You need to power cycle in sequence: modem, then router, then vonage box. If you are still having problems you may need to contact vonage. I regret any inconvenience. Is there anything else I can help you with, Alex?

Alex_>
Ok I have it if you like. I copied it so I can blogg this conversation with Comcast, because I knew you guys would pretend not to know what the problem is

Alex_>
I have been having this problem for 6 months

Alex_>
I have replaced every device on my home network

Alex_>
I just bought a new computer!

Mark>
Analyst has closed chat and left the room

analyst Mark has left room

THIS IS COMCAST FOLKS!!! READ IT!! SEE THEM FOR WHAT THEY ARE!!!!

Victim said...

Just found your article about comsucks (comcast). Ive been a reluctant customer with them for 5 years now as they are the only fast pony (as in phony) in town.

I play 1st person shooter games online. COD, COD2, etc..

Since the middle of last year I have noticed what looks like poor connections. At first I thought it was because I am in a 1500 unit apartment complex, which naturaly drops my signal strenth a little bit.. But I found out its not that at all. The problem started when comcast starting creating fake packets to willfully interfere with p2p programs like limewire and that other file sharing program.

Well, now nearly a year later, its getting worse. And I pay top dollar for this crap.

Your article hit it dead on target. There is NO competition, when the competition is betwen 2 monopolies.

Im in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where comcast reigns as king cable. Yet just 3 miles away is the Charter internet call center. I cannot get charter cable, unless I move 15 miles out of town. If charter were allowed to use the same cable as comcast, you would see some serious competion. And the prices drop and maybe service improve..

BOTH comcast and Charter are rated as the two worst cable internet providers of the 15 shown in the Consumers Report magazine article that rated all internet providers, grouping them into catagories of T1, T2, fiber optic, then cable providers, then dial up providers.

Comcast's practice of tellign you you are close to being cut off, but will not tell you what the cut off limit is, to me is a criminal act, and yes, a class action suit is definatly needed.

65 for cable internet, where they willfully interfere is NOT the contract I signed up for.

ireviewnetflix.com said...

I just saw this in the Sacramento Bee, a day after I receive a phone call warning me my bandwidth was too high. So they're going to increase speeds, but penalize me because I'm supposedly downloading too much?

---

Comcast will double the Internet speeds in its high-tier residential package at the end of the month.

On June 30, Internet speeds increase to 16 mbps for downloads and 2 mbps for uploads for customers of Comcast's Performance Plus high-speed service. The boost will let customers download a 700- megabyte movie in less than six minutes, officials said.

Currently, area customers can download files at 8 mbps and upload at 1 mbps. The free upgrade will benefit Comcast's customers in Davis, Placerville, Roseville and Sacramento.

ireviewnetflix.com said...

I just got off the phone with Hughes Net (satellite internet) and I like their plan. While their speeds are SIGNIFICANTLY slower than cable (1.5 mpbs for their ProPlus plan) the sales associate told me that when you reach the limit of 425 MB per 24/hours, you speed slows until the end of the day and then goes back up to allow for another 425 MB day. I wish Comcast would do something like this.