p2pnet news view Freedom | P2P:- Canadians are waiting to learn if the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) will finally order order Bell Canada to comply with the demands of 55 smaller ISPs and its own customers to halt its traffic throttling practices.
Across the border the Federal Communications Commission gave Comcast, Bell’s opposite number, 30 days to explain exactly how it organises its own P2P throttling activities.
Comcast has filed its response.
Now it’s going after people instead of protocols.
And it’ll be using systems supplied by Canadian DPI (deep packet inspection) enthusiasts Sandvine to do so.
‘Reasonable network management practices’
Both companies claim they’ve been compelled to shackle customer accounts because of a small number of people who use P2P file sharing applications.
“Comcast is committed to providing the best online experience possible for all of its customers,” it says with a straight face on its Comcast.net Network Management Policy site, also stating:
“The company uses reasonable network management practices that are consistent with industry standards. Managing the network is essential as Comcast works to promote the use and enjoyment of the Internet by all its customers.”
The problem is/was, as with Bell Canada, users, the people who keep corporate shareholders happy, were the last to know —- and even then they only found out because a handful of customers didn’t believe the corporate BS and did some digging.
Bell and Comcast were consequently caught with their pants around their respective ankles.
They used every spin in the book to make it look like they imposed so-called bandwidth management technologies because they had to: that the actions of a small number of their own users were responsible.
They may have gotten away with it two or three years ago, but sadly for both giant corporations, each the largest ISP in its own country, tech-savvy customers do their own thinking and research, using the Net to pass their findings on to other people around the world.
The result was a huge and ongoing outcry of public outrage on both sides of the border which is forcing companies to finally recognize they’re dealing with intelligent, and highly vocal, people, not compliant consumer cash cows who’ll put up with anything and everything without a murmur.
The new Comcast approach will be “protocol-agnostic,” it says in Comcast Corporation network management transition compliance plan.
It’ll, “focus on managing the traffic of those individuals who are using the most bandwidth at times when network congestion threatens to degrade subscribers’ broadband experience and who are contributing disproportionately to such congestion at those points in time,” it says
And the company is already running trials, as users in Chambersburg, Pennsylvanian; Warrenton, Virginia; Lake City and East Orange, Florida; and, Colorado Springs, Colorado, will know since they’ve been chosen as the test beds.
“If Comcast management deems it necessary to conduct additional trials, they will be announced on Comcast’s Network Management Policy page,” it states.
Comcast says it’s aiming to have its new congestion management scheme up and running by December 31, 2008, and Ars Technica’s Nate Anderson and Eric Bangeman believe it’s a, “huge step forward from the previous system that relied on falsified TCP reset packets to interrupt P2P uploads. The company plans on rolling it out … despite its lawsuit against the FCC over the ruling that forced this new approach.”
Their post explains it like this »»»
Comcast’s new technique is based on a simple premise: during periods of congestion, heavy users of bandwidth on a local node ought to see speed reductions before light users. To make that happen, the system tracks each customer’s uploads and downloads separately using software from Sandvine that runs on Linux servers (Comcast stresses to us that this is not deep packet inspection software, but basic “shallow inspection” code that simply counts packets.)
When any port (think neighborhood node) on the Cable Modem Termination System (CMTS) in the local cable company office enters a “near congestion” state, the system looks up the heaviest users of bandwidth during the preceding few minutes. Those users then have their traffic tagged as “Best Effort” rather than the default “Priority Best Effort.” At this point, nothing happens to anyone’s traffic.
When congestion actually occurs, the Priority Best Effort users should see no slowdown in their connections; all traffic will go through ahead of the Best Effort traffic. Best Effort folks may not notice any slowdown, either. They are not speed-limited, but they do go to the back of the quality of service (QoS) line. At this point, if traffic does in fact fill the pipe, users in the Best Effort category will experience delays in their connections, though their traffic will still be sent on whenever possible.
A CMTS has separate upload and download ports, and the new management system is port-specific. If congestion only appears on the upload link, no one’s download links will be affected. In addition, when the system begins to tag users as Best Effort, it only considers their traffic on the specific port being managed; heavy downloaders won’t be tagged if it is only the upload link that starts to have problems.
Says the Comcast Corporation network management transition compliance plan, continuing from the sections quoted earlier »»»
Comcast expects to meet the following benchmarks in our transition to the new protocol-agnostic congestion management practices:
a. October 15, 2008. Comcast will have completed installation of the PacketCable Multimedia and Internet Protocol Detail Record servers, and will have begun installation of the Congestion Management Fairshare servers. These servers, and other hardware used for the new congestion management practices, are described in detail in Attachment B.
b. November 15, 2008. Comcast will have begun commercial (i.e., not trial) “cutovers” to the new congestion management practices on a market-by-market basis.
Once the equipment is in place in a particular area, this involves Comcast installing a software update to our customers’ cable modems in that area, launching the software for the new protocol-agnostic congestion management practices in that area, and disabling the current congestion management techniques in that area.
c. December 31, 2008. Comcast will have completed the deployment of all hardware and software needed to implement our new congestion management practices, and will have completed the “cut-overs” to the new, protocol-agnostic congestion management practices. We will also have discontinued the protocol-specific congestion management practices throughout our network.
d. January 5, 2009. Comcast will report to the FCC that we have discontinued our protocol-specific congestion management practices throughout our network, and that we have completed transitioning to the new congestion management practices.
4. Information Sharing. Comcast will take the following steps to provide timely information to our customers about the transition to our new congestion management practices. We intend for our disclosures to be clear, concise, and useful to the average consumer.
a. Congestion Management Trials. Comcast already provides information about the trials of our new congestion management practices on our Network Management Policy page. Information about any additional trials will be posted there.
b. Revision of Acceptable Use Policy. Comcast will take the following two steps with regard to revising our Acceptable Use Policy (“AUP”).
i. Comcast will revise our AUP to explain that our network congestion management practices may include temporarily lowering the priority of traffic
for users who are the top contributors to current network congestion. This new AUP will be published on October 1, 2008.
ii. By January 1, 2009, Comcast will publish an amended AUP to reflect the discontinuation of the current protocol-specific congestion management practices, as well as any other necessary and appropriate updates.
c. Customer Disclosures. Comcast will take the following steps to inform our customers of the new congestion management practices.
i. Attachment B, detailing Comcast’s planned network management practices, as filed with the Commission on September 19, 2008, will be posted by midnight on that date to Comcast’s Network Management Policy web page.
ii. Comcast will, by midnight on September 19, 2008, provide new Frequently Asked Questions that explain these developments clearly, and will continue to
post on our Network Management Policy web page updated information about the new congestion management practices.
iii. At least two weeks prior to the first commercial (i.e., not trial) deployment of the new congestion management practices, Comcast will send e-mail notifications to the primary Comcast.net e-mail address associated with each customer regarding the new congestion management practices, informing them of the AUP revisions, and directing them to Comcast’s Network Management Policy page for FAQs and other information. These developments will be further publicized through announcements at http://www.comcast.net.
d. Customer Support. Comcast will also answer customer questions on our Customer Support Forums page, located at http://forums.comcast.net/, which is available to all Comcast HSI customers. A link from the Network Management Policy page to the Customer Support Forums will also be provided.
5. Management Responsibility. The transition to these new practices and the discontinuation of the old practices is a high-priority effort. The project is being led and overseen at a senior executive level. The actual engineering and operations work is a joint project of the Office of the Chief Technology Officer and National Engineering & Technical Operations. In addition, regular customer communications and messaging are overseen by the company’s Online Services business unit representatives.
6. Employee Training. Educational materials about the new protocol-agnostic practices are being developed for broad distribution throughout the relevant business units in Comcast.
All affected employees in those business units will receive appropriate training about Comcast’s transition to the new protocol-agnostic congestion management practices.
Detailed technical customer inquiries about the new practices will be directed to the representatives in the Online Services business unit who will be trained to deal with such questions.
7. FCC Notification of Material Changes. Comcast will make supplementary filings with the Commission as necessary to keep the FCC (and the public) informed of any material changes in our plans before.
UPDATE – September 21
Click here for New Comcast plan has ‘disconnect user option
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