Jump to content

ComCast promises to fix their network...by making it worse?


Recommended Posts

ComCast has announced that they would evaluate different forms of network management and change policies by the end of the year. They will change from discriminating against BitTorrent traffic to a more "protocol agnostic" method that they're testing. However it remains to be seen if ComCast completely stops using RST packets against BitTorrent traffic. The FCC has given them till January 1st, 2009 to stop, and they may not even then.

ComCast's offical press releases, straight from their own websites:



Officialy ComCast has announced what they're going to do now...and there's no word of SandVine in it. Not including SandVine in their official statement serves 2 purposes:

1.ComCast appears to be dropping SandVine, since no mention is made.

2.Those that don't know what SandVine is...are best left uninformed.

But given ComCast's recent history, we have NO reason to take any (lies, dammed lies, statistics,) benchmarks, press releases, and political promises made by ComCast at face value. The abscence of evidence straight from ComCast is definitely more marketing ploy than truth:


"Comcast will use equipment from Sandvine, Camiant and a third yet-to-be-determined vendor to temporarily throttle back the speeds of the heaviest Internet users during times of network congestion, the operator disclosed in regulatory filings."

Were this is a false report fed to the press by a ComCast "insider" who wants their 15 minutes of fame, SandVine would be unlikely to tooting their own horn:


"Sandvine, in a statement Monday, said terms of the agreement have not yet been finalized. Based in Waterloo, Canada, Sandvine demonstrated the Fairshare system at The Cable Show '08 in May."

(ComCast's new methods have been called Fairshare.)

It doesn't really make sense for a huge company to just throw away expensive (SandVine) networking hardware, however hated and maligned it might be. If any "use" can be gained for profit, SandVine will continue to be used.

On a plus note, SandVine networking hardware is multipurpose networking hardware -- so it may be used for something other than killing connections by sending them forged RST packets.

But the devil is in the details:

"This hardware will flip a user from the standard "Priority Best-Effort" traffic (PBE) to lower quality of service (QoS) "Best-Effort" traffic (BE) if a particular CMTS port is congested, and if that user has been identified as a primary reason why."

So what happens to a packet that's "Best-Effort" if there's a bandwidth shortage?

In ComCast's own words:

[it] "may or may not result in the user's traffic being delayed or, in extreme cases, dropped before PBE traffic is dropped,"

(Delayed is in bold for emphasis.) ComCast previously described their method for handling BitTorrent traffic...as delaying it. That is, forged RST packets were considered by ComCast as "delaying" BitTorrent traffic.

ComCast will be using the same SandVine networking hardware that is STILL "delaying" BitTorrent traffic. They say user's traffic will be "delayed"...OR in extreme cases dropped. If "delayed" still has the same meaning to ComCast, this means any user-initiated traffic may be block by forged RST packets...and appear to be canceled by the user's own actions rather than by ComCast. This will be done BEFORE the "extreme cases" are reached...so it may be done far more often. Or, like it was done for Bittorrent traffic ALL THE TIME even when the local network was not overloaded, even to customers that were not "bandwidth hogs", and even when the BitTorrent traffic was legal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

ComCast told the FCC that there are on average 275 customers on each 38 megabits/second (DOCSIS 2) download channel. Were the 38mbps bandwidth split equally between 275 customers, that'd be <150 kilobits/second download each -- BADLY failing the MINIMUM criteria of "broadband" as defined to be 256 kilobits/second. It doesn't matter if just 1 channel over another 275 customers have free bandwidth...the first channel of 275 customers cannot borrow some. (DOCSIS 2 cannot channel bond. DOCSIS 3 CAN and possibly share bandwidth across channels...which ComCast is slowly rolling out when they're not "upgrading" the expensive crippling/throttling hardware.)

ComCast has not given enough channels to their internet service to meet 1/40th of the max speeds they're selling. Note: I mean non-SpeedBoost max speeds. It supposedly cuts into their tv channels too much...despite the supposed ~1.6 gbps of "bandwidth savings" they are gaining by removing all analog channels (and converting them into low-quality low-bandwidth digital channels)...and despite the newer CMTS hubs which increase their max frequency from about 800 Mhz to 1 Ghz (thus raising channel availability by ~20%)...and despite making many HD channels "on demand" bandwidth use (only sent when customers request them) rather than always filling their limited channel space.

This isn't JUST a net neutrality issue...it's ComCast intentionally failing their contractual responsibilities in an effort to increase profits -- and using internet-crippling hardware to hide that fact, then blaming customers when things don't work...and then (at first) lying to the press and government about what they're doing!

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...