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Comcast Finally Launches DNS Redirection
An additional revenue stream thanks to your butterfingers...
by Karl Bode 12:59PM Thursday Jul 09 2009
Over the last few years most ISPs have implemented DNS redirection services, which deliver customers to an ad-laden search portal instead of a 404 when they mistype URLs. The services have been traditional despised by 'Net purists who rely on a clean net connection, particularly early on when ISPs weren't offering a functional opt-out option. While ISPs enjoy painting the services as ultra-helpful consumer-centered affairs, their primary purpose is to deliver a new revenue stream to ISPs driven by your crappy typing skills.

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Over at the Comcast blog, the carrier says they're joining the fun, launching a new "domain helper service" as a trial in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington. Comcast says the service is designed to "get where they want to go online even faster and easier than before." Luckily for those who don't like this stuff, they'll offer an opt-out ability:
We also understand that sometimes customers want to surf their own way, without the assistance of services like Domain Helper, so we offer an easy way to opt-out right on the Domain Helper search page. This is a feature we feel is a best practice and is a key part of a white paper we submitted to the Internet Engineering Task Force, an open international community of experts concerned with the evolution, architecture and operation of the Internet, for comment and review.
Those users who switched to OpenDNS long ago during Comcast DNS outages shouldn't notice a thing, and Comcast won't prevent third-party DNS use. Apparently aware that this is a touchy subject among some more technical users (you'll recall DSLExtreme was forced to back off such a service after complaints), a Comcast representative has stopped by our forums to talk about the service in a little more detail, noting which customers are opted in or out by default.

The rep also notes that when Comcast looked around at other implementations of DNS redirection services, they saw a lot of inconsistencies in how they were implemented and the user opt-out process (no kidding). To that end, Comcast says they've filed this IETF draft to help solidify best practices for the implementation of DNS redirection services. It seems like only yesterday Earthlink was deriding the dislike of such services as the folly of "ISP geeks."

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Yarmouth Port, MA

2 recommendations

We are the net purists here...

I expect that reaction from DSLReports readers is going to be nearly universally bad. My guess is that the other 99.8% of Comcastdom won't care.

Although I hate the idea, I appreciate the thoughtfulness in this particular implementation and in getting the conversation into the IETF. Great job, guys.
Robb Topolski -= funchords.com =- District of Columbia -- KJ7RL
Evil does seek to maintain power by suppressing the truth, or by misleading the innocent. --Spock and McCoy stardate 5029.5

All noise, no signal.
Jamestown, NC

2 recommendations

reply to jlivingood

Re: If you statically-configured our DNS IPs, you are OPTED OUT

said by jlivingood:

Important to also take note of this, since some readers may have statically-configured our DNS IPs.

Since a number of our expert customers have statically-configured the IP addresses of our DNS servers, we have added this DNS redirect functionality to NEW DNS IP addresses. As a result, customers who have statically-configured their DNS IP addresses to our DNS servers are by default OPTED-OUT.
I'm not in a Comcast area, but as a technology professional, please accept my kudos for publicly announcing this, making it easy to opt out, and taking the effort to file an IETF draft to standardize this.