Comcast and fallout control

October 27th, 2007

Comcast has bent over backward to deny that they're filtering and "shaping" internet traffic. When that didn't fly, they fell back on semantics:

Additionally, Comcast does not "throttle" bandwidth (limit throughput on the network). Comcast also is not traffic shaping or packet shaping. We have a responsibility to manage our network to ensure that our customers have the best broadband experience possible. That means we use the latest technologies to manage our network to provide a quality experience for all Comcast subscribers.

So, they're just "managing" the network. That explains why I can't get Bittorrent to upload anything. I can download just fine, but uploading is cut off completely. There's only one way to do that, and it involves monitoring traffic over customer's connections.

Though it's hardly the Zapruder film, an internal Comcast memo is circulating that tells their customer service reps how to react to questions about their practices of selective service:

If a customer contacts us to inquire about this, please use the following talking points:

We respect our customers' privacy and we don't monitor specific customer activities on the Internet or track individual online behavior, such as which websites they visit. Therefore, we do not know whether any individual user is visiting BitTorrent or any other site.

Semantics again, Bittorrent isn't a site, it's a service. So, technically, they're telling the truth. Of course, that doesn't explain why things like Lotus Notes are unable to send data, either.

Are you working with Sandvine as these reports claim?

Respond: We rarely disclose our vendors or our processes for operating our network both for competitive reasons and to protect against network abuse. Please do not deviate from the responses above.

Of course, Sandvine's already acknowledged Comcast as one of their top-tier customers.

The one bright spot in this is that Congress is now taking a close look at the matter. Although I detest the idea of even more Federal regulation in our lives, it'll be good to have practices like this dragged out into the light. Comcast is a service provider, not a gatekeeper, nanny or Pravda.


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