Comcast changes Terms of Service to allow traffic throttling

“Months after third parties were able to demonstrate that Comcast was throttling some BitTorrent (and Lotus Notes, since fixed) traffic, the cable giant has quietly changed its terms of service. Comcast updated the ToS on January 25—the first update in two years, according to company spokesperson Charlie Douglas—to more explicitly spell out its policies on traffic management,” Eric Bangeman reports for Ars technica.

“According to Section III of the revised ToS, Comcast ‘uses reasonable network management practices that are consistent with industry standards,'” Bangeman reports.

“Not long after Comcast’s traffic management practices came to light, the company was hit with a class-action lawsuit by a disgruntled subscriber. Online video provider Vuze complained to the FCC, and the Commission officially opened its investigation of the cable company in mid-January,” Bangeman reports.

“Since the investigation began, the FCC has been bombarded with comments from angry users. ‘If you so much as open a BitTorrent client on a computer on the Comcast network, your entire connection drops to almost a crawl,’ says one comment,” Bangeman reports.

“Comcast has denied throttling BitTorrent traffic, saying that the ISP just “delays” or “postpones” it on occasion,” Bangeman reports.

Full article here.

49 Comments

  1. ISP’s have been drooling at the RIAA/MPAA model of ‘pay per use’ for a long time. They’re just now figuring out ways to implement it—keep watch for more of the same to pop up from more providers.

  2. You know if ISPs do a little traffic “shaping” during peak hours in order to keep the internet “snappy”, I think that’s fair. I mean, do torrents really need to be running at top speed during those hours?

  3. If they’re going to throttle back a fast connection, they shouldn’t be allowed to advertise the highest speed.

    Their ads need to show the lowest or average speed and not the burst ones they’re so keen to point out.

  4. Agreed. I have no sympathy for people using torrents to download commercial content. They are draining the resources for the rest of us. On the positive side, it is forcing ISPs and network operators to keep improving their networks to keep up with the demand. Not that traffic shaping is an improvement, though.

  5. They throttle more than BT traffic. My connection almost always drops when I use my phone (through Vonage). I’ve always seen this and the many other problems associated with their service as the definition for “Comcastic.”

  6. It’s more than a “little” traffic shaping – I am not a big Bittorrent user, but I’ve been looking at Linux distros lately, and it’s unbelievable what happens to the Comcrap connection – everything does slow to a literal crawl, and the highest I’ve seen bit rate on any download is 55 kb/s – even with a nice swarm, it usually peaks at 45 kb/s. And, though I have a 4 Mb/s Comcrapstic connection, downloading one torrent at that 40-50 kb/s makes web pages load incredibly slowly – hard to even explain, it’s so bad, plus the Vonage VOIP is unuseable.

    So I download overnight only. What used to take a matter of minutes to download now takes all night.

    I am torn, though– we have two business-class Comcrap modems at work, and they freakin’ fly on regular downloads – only tried a torrent once (was afraid of getting in trouble), but it had the same speed effect: the normally 20 Mb/s download goes to a putt putt putt.

    Comcrap be damned!

    P.S. iChat video is terrible through Comcast even when it’s the only thing running. They mess with that, too. Running it through my neighbor’s much slower Qwest DSL works much better.

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