Comcast: We’ll slow down your internet if we want to
Electronista.com and other news outlets are reporting today that Comcast has modified its user agreement to allow discretionary traffic throttling to and from its customers.
As a Comcast customer I’m already peeved at the company, which signed me up for a year at $99 a month, and has increased my bill every month nonetheless. I’m up to $130 for my $99 service already, and the year isn’t half over yet. I’m not alone. And yes, I am also experiencing the speed obstacles imposed by Comcast. It’s so bad that my computers become slow and unresponsive because all internet traffic is squeezed through and often deleted by their artificial bottleneck, and so blogging, emailing, and browsing the web become frustratingly futile.
This latest maneuver is especially galling for three reasons:
First, they are on record in the last few weeks promising the FCC they “do not block access to any applications, including BitTorrent,” though the Associated Press and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have proof to the contrary. In particular, AP reporters tried to download a free, uncopyrighted version of the Bible, and detected malignant data sent by Comcast pretending to be a remote computer, and stopping the transfer. The FCC is currently investigating.
Second, while they hide behind the “reasonable network management” excuse, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts announced at 2008 CES that they are rolling out new service to “millions” of customers later this year which will offer speeds of up to 100Mbs, twenty times faster than my current 5Mbs. So, why is Comcast playing the “we’re running out of bandwidth” card when they will soon have it in abundance?
So far, Comcast’s protestations of innocence sound like complete fabrications. Worse, their policy and their use of Sandvine traffic-blocking software is tantamount to eavesdropping, selective censorship, and fraudulent electronic communications (namely, the bogus messages they create and pass off as coming from third-party computers).
Finally, today’s Electronista article quotes a Comcast spokesperson as saying, “this [traffic shaping] is being done to protect users from “spam, viruses, security attacks, network congestion, and other risks and degradations of service.” (The emphasis is mine.) There’s a lot of disinformation in that one sentence. The main point is, Comcast’s invasive measures do not and can not protect me from any of those things except network congestion. And that’s a specious argumentâ€”Comcast isn’t protecting me from those things, Comcast itself is intentionally causing those problems, congesting my network and degrading my paid-for service.
Verizon FIOS, here I come.
Update- The news is spreading fast. I found this blog post by a legit, Linux-sharing Comcast customer great reading. He tried to get a straight answer from Comcast whether they were actively slowing his legal uploads. Hilarity did not ensue.
This news item on Ars Technica has a wealth of background information, including the news that Comcast customers are flooding the FCC with complaints.
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