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Comcast Changes TOS In Response To Traffic Shaping Firestorm
Begins to cover their posterior in face of FCC investigation...
by Karl Bode 10:04AM Thursday Feb 07 2008
Back in May of 2007 a Broadband Reports user named Robb Topolski first discovered that Comcast was throttling upstream p2p traffic by forging TCP packets. By August our users had already figured out how to get around the practice, and in October the Associated Press published an article that got the nation's attention. The resulting press firestorm (and FCC investigation) has so far resulted in Comcast changing nothing.

Well, that's not entirely true. Topolski e-mailed us this morning to note that Comcast has quietly implemented a new TOS, which includes an extensive section on network management and bandwidth limitations. The new revisions still lack any kind of specifics as to Comcast's monthly service cap, and of course they don't inform users that Comcast forges TCP connections to limit p2p connectivity. The new language is aimed largely at justifying Comcast's actions:
Comcast manages its network with one goal: to deliver the best possible broadband Internet experience to all of its customers. High-speed bandwidth and network resources are not unlimited. Managing the network is essential as Comcast works to promote the use and enjoyment of the Internet by all of its customers. The company uses reasonable network management practices that are consistent with industry standards. Comcast tries to use tools and technologies that are minimally intrusive and, in its independent judgment guided by industry experience, among the best in class. Of course, the company's network management practices will change and evolve along with the uses of the Internet and the challenges and threats on the Internet.
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The primary goal of the TOS revision is to cover Comcast's legal posterior. The policy statement (pdf) that guides the FCC's hand in matters of network neutrality is not law, and is intentionally vague enough to allow providers to get away with anything short of an outright traffic blockade -- provided the traffic shaping can be shown to be "reasonable network management" by ISP lawyers.

While the FCC will likely ultimately find Comcast's practices "reasonable" by Kevin Martin standards, the commission may still fine the provider for not being forthcoming about the precise nature of their traffic shaping. If a network operator has the right to manage their network as they see fit, shouldn't a customer, shopping between -- say Verizon and Comcast -- also have the right to know which carrier interferes with upstream p2p traffic?

113 comments .. click to read

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Glen Burnie, MD

2 recommendations

reply to Rick

Re: IMHO..

said by Rick:

Comcast has always said they use reasonable network management practices and has never said that their service is unlimited.

What they did deny is that they don't block access to any sites. And, they don't.
BUT, they did forge packets which they did deny. Not until they were confronted by the evidence did they admit they did that.

said by Rick:

As for what I do or don't respond to..that is my business.
I believe that my opinion however is shared by the vast majority of comcast users..at least those who's posts I have read. It is the very small..bandwidth hogging..expects everyone else to foot their bill for them..wants everything for nothing crowd..who seems to oppose me however.

And, I guess that's just too bad.
Again, that wasn't the point. The point is you hate seeing these posts. If you hate them so much, why respond to them and add more fuel to the fire. We all know your bias and that is your choosing but these stories about what Comcast is or is not doing have merit especially when they are not forthcoming with truthful information.

You don't have to like it, just accept it.

Keep wise ...with Nite-Owl


1 edit

2 recommendations

reply to Rick
said by Rick:

BBR should STOP promoting their interests
(Finally gets up off the floor from laughing so hard) Ahhh, Its good to see you around again Rick. Nice to see all the comedy writers aren't on strike.

Res Firma Mitescere Nescit
Stepford, CA

4 recommendations

reply to FFH5

Re: What are they thinking?

said by FFH5:

Lawyers always wrote the TOS. Just a byproduct of our sue-happy society and the fact that there are too many law schools pumping out too many lawyers.
Just as there are too many B schools "pumping" out too many MBAs and generating too many marketing morons and white collar CEO criminals.

The Truth? You can't handle the truth

Death Valley, CA

4 recommendations

reply to gatorkram

Re: Sigh...

Not sure it is possible to make everyone happy. Top 1% is not happy that bandwidth is not 100mb, unlimited and free. Bottom 20% don't care about unlimited BW and want it cheaper. Middle of the road think the bandwidth is fine, but are not happy that they are subsidizing the top 1%'s DVD download library.

Can't please them all.
"Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear." - Dinah Craik