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RCN Settles Over P2P Throttling
E-mail to customers 'vigorously' denies any wrong doing
by Karl Bode 06:15PM Monday Apr 19 2010
While Comcast has traditionally gotten all the press for their treatment (some might say bludgeoning) of P2P traffic, there have been other ISPs that have managed to fly under the radar for their actions. Despite doing essentially the exact same packet forgery as Comcast -- Cox Communications avoided a run in with the FCC and the media -- in part because they simply didn't lie about doing it. Some carriers avoided scrutiny because their customers simply never noticed or the carrier never said anything.

With that in mind, RCN is sending out e-mails to their customers informing them that the company has settled a class action lawsuit against the carrier for impeding user P2P traffic. The plaintiff in the case (Sabrina Chin v. RCN Corporation) accused RCN of "delaying or blocking" broadband subscriber traffic, which of course sounds precisely like what Comcast was accused of doing (using forged user TCP reset packets to disrupt P2P communications). The e-mail informs RCN users that the settlement still needs court approval and that RCN "vigorously denies" any wrong doing despite agreeing to settle. From the e-mail:
In this lawsuit, the plaintiff claims that RCN Corporation ("RCN”"), without the knowledge or awareness of RCN broadband Internet subscribers, intentionally interfered with the subscribers' ability to use the Internet by delaying or blocking their Internet use and transmissions. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that RCN engaged in certain Internet network management practices ("Network Management Practices") which hindered or barred RCN broadband Internet subscribers’ ability to engage in peer-to-peer ("P2P") transmissions through the use of P2P programs and protocols. Plaintiff further claims that these alleged practices materially and adversely affected RCN broadband Internet subscribers. RCN vigorously denies plaintiff’s allegations.
The settlement e-mail also informs users that as part of the settlement, RCN has agreed to "cease and desist" all network management practices which specifically affect P2P Internet traffic for a period of eighteen months. This all means two things: RCN can't block your P2P traffic until November of this year, and those of you who were RCN subscribers between August 19, 2003 and July 31, 2009 will probably have a dollar or two coming your way.

topics flat nest 
My views are my own.

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Just becuase any party involved agrees to settle out of court doesn't mean they are admitting to doing anything wrong.

ANYONE here should know, by now, that court cases are often looked at as an expense. Sometimes its easier and cheaper to settle out of court than it is to go through the entire process.

Settling out of court is not an admission of guilt or wrong-doing.

Courts often want interested parties to handle things outside of court rather than use the courts to deal with complaints. However, I also find it funny how Government Motors, I mean, General Motors (okay, simply put, the government) got upset with Toyota claiming they covered things up by settling cases with out court trials.

Court is like a poker game... you take calculated risks to save as much of your money as you can.

Tavistock NJ

Re: Settlements...

And the costs of maintaining outside legal counsel for a protracted legal battle can easily be more expensive than actually just settling.
Are you happy with your rep in Washington, DC?

LOL. Has any company that's settled ever admitted to wrong-doing?

Karl Bode
News Guy

Re: Settlements...

No. And you also don't settle if the case is entirely unfounded.
My views are my own.

Re: Settlements...

said by Karl Bode:

No. And you also don't settle if the case is entirely unfounded.
While this IS true, the problem is that in many cases brought up like this, and even if they are unfounded cases, it can still cost a LOT of money to fight them even if just over principle. Take the Comcast 16 Million dollar case... depending on what the class is charging them with the complaint, it can certainly cost upwards to millions to defend, depending. And, depending on the courts, the jury, etc. these days, even unfounded, they can still wind up losing.. its hard to say.

However, largely unfounded cases are often dismissed with a summary judgment and are rarely ever fought in a court room.

Attorneys are often dirty and play games the same as politicians which is often why settlements are often part of the cost of doing business. I'm just surprised they're not written into the general operating budget by default.



something smells fishy

This settlement is bullshoot.

I agree w/ the comment that companies don't settle entirely unfounded suits. I looked at the actual settlement agreement, and the agreement itself actually admits that RCN had "net management practices" and "P2P net management practices" that they stopped in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Of course they "vigorously deny" all wrongdoing (every settlement says that), but why do they then admit later in the agreement that they did in fact have those practices? The answer shows how bullshoot this settlement really is.

The answer seems evident from other parts of the document. In the agreement, RCN agrees to cease its network management practices for 18 months. Logically, it can only cease such practices if it was undertaking them in the first place. Thus, you have to imply from this that RCN was once secretly throttling down its service.

The settlement is BS because RCN actually admits wrongdoing, yet how are their customers compensated? By being told to stop acting bad for 18 months! After 18 months, it's a-ok for RCN to go back to their shady ways, in fact the agreement actually condones it! wtf!

As if that wasn't bad enough, under the agreement the 18 month clock begins running when RCN claims it stopped undertaking the practice in 2008 for non-P2P traffic and in May 2009 for P2P traffic. The clock on non-P2P traffic has already run, so RCN is free to go back to doing that as soon as this settlement is entered next month! The 18 month ban on network management for P2P traffic will expire in November of this year.

Aside from this brief cessation in network management for P2P, the consumers get absolutely nothing in the settlement- nothing to compensate for the alleged 7 YEARS that RCN was doing this! For 7 years of shady behavior, RCN has to stop until November. Something is wrong with that.

The final piece in this shady puzzle: the attorneys for the consumers -- our supposed "champions" -- are awarded over *$500,000* in fees for obtaining this wonderful result for the consumers. In short, if you like me are an RCN customer, you are getting a 6 month reprieve from RCN shadiness and our lawyers are getting half a mil. Tell me there's not something wrong with that.

Sorry for the long post, but it had to be said. Take a look at the agreement posted here:



any out-of-work lawyers out there...?

who want to

exclude volunteers from the class

file a class of their own

get awards of $3k each to the volunteers and

half a mill for themselves from RCN?


as Mr. Pink as they come
Phoenix, AZ

Guess whos going to be getting

A new line item on their bills.
P2P Compliance fee. . . . . . . . . $0.44