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back to article Comcast throttles BitTorrent users

It looks like Comcast, America's biggest cable network, has put the squeeze on BitTorrent users. On Friday, the widely-read BitTorrent blog TorrentFreak reported that many Comcast users were unable to "seed" their BitTorrent downloads, which severely slows the exchange of music and video over the popular P2P protocol. Comcast …

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Anonymous Coward

Comcast is in knee deep with their lies

We live in NJ and There are a few of us now that have received letters from comcast stating that we were using the bittorrent protocol to obtain illegal copies and that if we used the bittorrent protocol again we would be breaking the policy agreement with comcast and our account with comcast would be terminated. The letter hangs on our wall of shame at work !! F*** comcast.. How much is the RIAA paying comcast? You know they are beind it. Why else would any internet provider care and waste resources to track and throttle bandwidth?

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Potentially Harmful to Commercial Software

The ironic thing about this is businesses like Blizzard could be hamstrung by this sort of thing.

They don't use bittorrent, but they do use torrent style software to distribute updates and patches. Other development houses are considering the practice, and it would be a more efficient method of delivery for software as opposed to burning media and mailing it.

So unless they are very specific in their throttling, this has the potential to be harmful to commercial software developers.

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Dump 'em

Comcast is over-priced and unreliable. And now, they snoop your data and throttle what they dislike. Go to another carrier.

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Anonymous Coward

Finally

It's about time a decent sized ISP burnt its users with this rot in the US - now we might finally get the BitTorrent protocol updates we so sorely need. Make a variant that uses HTTPS and lets be done with this issue (lest the US choose to hurt their precious e-commerce streams) ...

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Tom
Bronze badge

Looks like the slowskys are now using Comcast!!

ComCast's mascot of DSL (they think it is slow) at http://www.theslowskys.com/home/ might want to go back to their ComCast origins. With things like this, DSL might be the fastest anyway.

Oh, by the way, the DSL guys don't mind P-P or servers. Mighty quick that DSL!!

ComCast is slow anyway (shared resource!).

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dan

what is average?

They must be using my grandmother as the measure for an 'average user' bandwidth usage.. I think she turns on the computer once a week...

Seriously though... I have almost 2GB of data traffic per month through my blackberry with T-Mobile, and they haven't complained one bit... Comcast is a bunch of crybabies...

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Silver badge

Something interesting though

So Comcast is snooping on user connections and blocking P2P ?

Well, if Comcast can do that, can it not detect spam mail senders and, how did they put that already ? Oh yeah, "pro-actively contact the customer via phone to work with them and address the issue".

Oh, right, spam is not RIAA's concern. Silly me, it's just us users who are smothered in it, so why bother ?

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can't people

Just enable transport encryption? I get throttled badly and that seems to sort it out.

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Anonymous Coward

Others may be doing the same

I am on Sky boradband and regularly my bit torrents would fail completely with the message "Firewalled" change the destination port by > 1000 and it bursts into life again for 24 hours. So it would appear that Sky are blocking ports that use high bandwidth, I recently moved and Sky are reporting 512k max speed at the new address while BT are quoting 2mb ... I wonder if they are capping me just because I have a history of using bittorrent? BTW I am paying for the 16mb Down Unlimited Bandwidth (and it is unlimited and for only £10 per month)

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here's where it starts

I feel sorry for you people, I really do.

There are a few games I play over the internet, they are free open source games, and they use the Torrent network to distribute the files, because when you're running something that's free, you save the money where you can.

This is a real shame that ISP's are going to this measure. the minute my ISP starts doing that, I'll go else where, contract or not, because if I'm not getting the service they stated, then the contract is void - right?

/J

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Bronze badge

BitTorrent 6 beta include encrption

The latest Beta of BitTorrent includes support for encrption to evade traffic shaping.

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I mean really, who gives a shit ?

So a few thousand lusers have to wait a bit longer for their pirated music, DVDs, ripped TV shows and donk3y pr0n. Big fucking deal.

And in the future, a few thousand sad fucks who spend all their downtime sodomising elves in WoW will be affected.

My heart fucking bleeds.

Information wants to be expensive. Pay up of piss off. Whining leeches.

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BT

BT have been doing similar for ages, but try getting the swines to admit it.

I sent off an email a while back asking why it was going to take approx. 10 days to download a 700Mb ISO via bit torrent. the response I got was something along the lines of "clear your cache and delete your cookies and all will be fine"

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@Steve

I like your style Steve.

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@ "Steve"

HAH! I know who you are - Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast, lurking on the forums.

And no, your haircut is *not* "cute".

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Law

@Jason Rivers

You would think the world would agree... but normally they hide conditions and blurry "fair use" policies.... I had the same problem using newsgroups with PlusNet about 2 years ago... after many useless phonecalls to equally useless people I eventually just paid to leave since they wanted to keep me locked in for a further 6 months.... I wasn't happy and will never use them again.

If you ISP takes the piss - leave. It's the only message. The problem is people put up with it... few complain and even fewer fight - it needs to change.

Personally - I use encrypted newsgroups on Be... even if they did spy on me, they can't see what I'm downloading anyway... the way it SHOULD be! :)

Imagine having BT listening in to every call you make... and eventually blocking certain words because "the majority of phone users do not exceed 4 uses of this word a month".... there would be an outcry! lol

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I mean really, who gives a shit ?

Top marks to Steve's comments; whatever you think of Comcast (i've got no idea what they're like) they have every right to restrict protocols that everyone knows are mainly used of illigitimate purposes. Anyone that's been awake for the last five years knows P2P is often used for the theft of copyrighted materials on a vast scale. That isn't even a RIAA or MPAA conspiracy, it's just a fact, I've done it myself. Where I used to work we forbid .RAR files not because the format is intrinsically untrustworthy but because it's so abused to archive cracks, warez and other shit we'd really not rather have. There's a culture of people wanting everything for free, like the man said, pay up or piss off.

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Anonymous Coward

Well use another ISP...

Could be that Comcast have decided that if they lose the 10% of users who use 90% of the bandwidth then the rest will have a far better service... The 10% might think its unfair, but some of us in the 90% feel that if they are using most of our ISPs bandwidth for bit torrent then they are effectively freeloading off the rest of us...

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Re: I mean really, who gives a shit ?

Thank you Steve for your brilliant and uninformed opinion. I regularly use torrent files when getting Linux software (a lot faster than the HTTP downloads) and a lot of live CDs have torrents now.

God I love people who stereotype gamers. You're like Hillary Clinton, "I don't understand it so it must be bad!" approach. I agree that playing WoW isn't the best way to spend your time, but many would say the same thing about me and DnD.

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Anonymous Coward

Give me a fucken break!

You guys are fucken stealin! and you are complaining. Give me a break. 98% of people that use Bittorrent are ones sharing copyrighted material such as music and movies. Who works for free. No one does. i don't think Comcast is blocking anything it is just the way bittorrent is designed.

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Impossible Service Providers

The main problem of course is that *all* ISPs have developed the habit of selling a maximum transfer rate as the headline figure, when their infrastructure simply can not cope with even a fraction of all their subscribers using that rate simultaneously.

Is there any chance of an honest ISP that would actually come out and state a sustainable guaranteed rate (even if it's 256kbps down/64kbps up?), with no services blocked, alongside the maximum headline figure which is subject to traffic management (possibly only at peak times)?

Or would such an effort die on its arse in the cut-throat competitive world of Internet service provision?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: I mean really, who gives a shit ?

I think Steve's point is still valid; like all things it's never fair to penalise the legitimate users but with BitTorrent they're far outnumbered by those downloading DVDs, warez, music and porn (I'm not singling out porn, but even porn has a copyright). Why don't we just stop deceiving and deluding ourselves and just admit that the whole point of something like BitTorrent is to bootleg stuff?

I agree HTTP is hardly ideal for big downloads but whatever happened to FTP? At the end of the day BitTorrent has turned into one big shit-pipe that is a byword for breaking the law. If you eliminated all the illegal BitTorrent traffic what you'd be left with would hardly be worth noticing.

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Anonymous Coward

Heads in sand

Its typical that Comcast would send all of thier effort throttling paying customers for using the system for what its designed to do instead of looking at the massive amount malware/adware/spamware related traffic that clogs the system. I am a Comcast customer and I check my router firewall logs regularly and they are filled with port scans and pushes from China and God knows where else trying to shove WORMS and Adware garbage at my IP. Then there is all the traffic from all the machines hooked to the system that have been wormed, rootkitted and are bonafied members of the Bot Army proper. I dare anyone to put a unpatched Windows machine on a Comcast public IP. Can you say "Hacked in 30 seconds?" All Comcast ever does is throw more bandwidth at the problem and then stick their heads in the sand and think all is good.

Ron

Seattle WA

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@Various

@A. Merkin

No, I'm not Brian Roberts, and my haircut so *is* cute :-)

@Mark McGuire

Sorry, which part of my incisive analysis did you imagine means that I don't understand Gamers ? I see you didn't take issue with the piracy or donk3y pr0n.

Frankly I don't really give a toss what people do with their spare time (and the more saddos who are ensconced in WoW or SL, the less of them there are in the pub stinking the place up with their nervous sweat), but I'm not going to lose any sleep if your next WoW update takes an hour to download instead of ten minutes. If you can't hold your wad for that long, that's your problem.

As it happens, I to have occasional need to shift huge amounts of data over my connection, Microsoft SDKs and betas, linux distros and the like. The point being that it *is* occasional. If my bandwidth is contended by a bunch of one handed typists downloading the latest Paris Hilton shagfest and Natalie Portman nip-slip vids all the livelong day (or some gimpy fanboy who feels the need to audition every single linux distro in the world and doesn't know how to use incremental update facilities or FTP properly), I think I have the right to be pissed off, and so does my ISP. In fact I *demand* that they do something about it. That's what I pay them for.

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Progress

ComKast is Kool; Back in May they demo'ed a 150-Mbps Cable modem. One of the demos was downloading a "30-second, 300-megabyte television commercial". (WTF? a 45-MINUTE TV show is only 360 MB!)

If Comcast rolls out these new modems, you could sign up for "Unlited Internet", download full-tilt for 3 hours and then be banned for breaking the double-secret usage limit, All on the same day!

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Shorter 'Steve'

"I'm more important than you."

-fred

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Responsibility

To all in that “90%” who feel bittorrent users are stealing from you: This is simply a reality for shared bandwidth type services such as cable internet. I am not saying they are right to use up all the bandwidth, only that it’s a reality that there will always be at least one person using more than their fair share. If you want a guarantee of bandwidth then you should purchase an account with a dedicated bandwidth service provider such as DSL or wireless broadband.

To that “10%” who are purportedly using up all the bandwidth: If you have a shared type service then it is your responsibility to make sure you do not use more than you should. Most torrent applications have built in capping utilities to keep it from using up all of the available bandwidth. Ask your ISP what would be an acceptable sustained transfer rate at which you can cap your torrent application. If you don’t want to take the trouble to set your own limits then you should probably look at dropping your shared bandwidth service and picking up a dedicated service instead. It will likely cost a little more but the fact is you are already using more bandwidth than what you paid for.

To shared bandwidth service providers: Your service needs to very clearly state that it is shared bandwidth. Competitive environment is absolutely not justification for lying (flat out or by omission) in your advertising or contracts. You also need to have a very clear statistics system that divides the bandwidth by the number of users in that lump and tells a user what percentage of the bandwidth they are using in relation to the bandwidth that has been allocated to them.

To dedicated bandwidth service providers: If I purchase 10 megabits per second of unlimited dedicated bandwidth (meaning no limits other than the bandwidth cap) then that bandwidth is mine to use as I see fit. It is the ISP’s responsibility to make sure that it can supply the bandwidth it has sold to me. Period. You also have no say in how I choose to use my bandwidth. If I choose to leave a torrent running all day every day and pushing my connection right up against my account cap all month long then that is my choice. I am not using anyone else’s bandwidth so I can do whatever I want with it. If you are unable to supply the bandwidth you have advertised then you need to change your advertising to reflect a level you are capable of providing. Setting an unspecified monthly bandwidth limit is not acceptable for you under any circumstance.

There has been a rash of ISPs selling more bandwidth than they can actually supply and using tactics such as unspecified monthly limits to try and cover it up. These companies need to be avoided with the vigor normally reserved for roadkill.

If your ISP is throttling your usage then check into the type of service you have and take appropriate measures.

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Just VPN Out

Why deal with all this nonsense when you can just use an anonymous personal VPN service like https://vpnout.com ? All your data will be encrypted and it will look just like regular HTTPS traffic.

To the guy on Sky broadband: If they're blocking ports that use high bandwidth you'll benefit from VPNOut considerably... It runs on any port you want. So if Sky starts blocking, say, 5000 you could switch it over to 443 and be back in business in an instant.

-Riskable

http://riskable.com

"If you're going to pay anyway

You might as well do it the right way."

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Anonymous Coward

Shared Bandwidth

I love these people who porport "shared cable bandwidth" who are stuck in the past as a problem that plauged cable services. It doesnt matter to me if the internet pipe is shared with my neighbor on the line, or at the headend for cable, or in the local switch and the CO for DSL (I mean do you really THINK you have one solid peice of copper back to the Central Office? Around here it usually rides some form of fiber aggregated to the CO) ... either way you share bandwidth with your fellow person in the end, it doesnt matter what technology you use, either DSL or Cable. Its true cable CAN have capacity issues at the neighborhood level, however this is largley, with a very few exceptions, a thing of the past, and with DOCSIS 3, should be a thing of the past. And wireless broadband as a "dedicated" connection? Most wireless installations are based on WiFi or 900 Mhz "non line of sight" (i love how you see yagi antennas pointed directly at the tower for "non line of sight" equipment though" Wavelan devices. Please read how the technology works. Basically you have a pipe ... several megabits wide that is shared by all radios attached to the access point (the little box located on the tower you connect too) Once again .. you are sharing with your neigbor, and an oversaturated link will bring the entire wireless network down to a crawl. This is easy enough to test by simply setting up a test computer and saturating the connection, and firing up another computer and start the same download. They both end up sharing the avaiable bandwidth. The only way it is considered "dedicated" is if you are the only one on it! The only "dedicated" high speed line costs several hundred dollars a month in this area. Its called .... T-x. I mean have you ever thought what it costs to provide "dedicated" services. Providers routienly pay in this part of the country 2-400 dollars per megabit of speed on the line that everyone shares in the end. For the customer who is paying 30 dollars / month yet using what costs the provider much more than that, who could blame them for packet shaping, DSL or Cable or otherwise. Thousands, upon hunderds of thousands spent on making sure you have the capacity and speed, only to have 10 percent of your users make it slow for the 90 percent. For you to use, say your 4 or 6 megabit connection like it was "dedicated" would require you to pay your local Telco or Cable company 8-1600 dollars in this area. The fact is -- the only way you can advertise insanely speedy connections, is if you share the bandwidth among all your customers, doesnt matter if it is at the central office or local fiber node. Its all shared in the end. Oh ... and the MPAA and RIAA have their lawyers send out nice letters to providers first asking you to turn off the offending account, and on subsequent visits, they want their information to be used in a lawsuit. They dont "pay" anyone to throttle P2P services, service providers simply do it as a means to recoup loss of revenue and quality of service for the entire network as a whole. Yes .. as the above poster says ... Responsiblity is key .. on everyones part.

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@Fred Fnord

Yup, I think you're definitely getting to the heart of my argument there. My requirement to be able to use the bandwidth I'm paying for in a reasonable manner *is* more important than the ability of some greedy pissants to continually stuff their "Fuck the RIAA" sticker clad hard drives with bootleg media.

Much, much more important.

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Anonymous Coward

pissant

Is that French? I like it.

Je suis un pissant. Je vais allez a la pissoir avec mez torrents.

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Anonymous Coward

If you aren't using 100% of your bandwidth at all times, you are hurting the environment

If you look at this from a carbon footprint point of view, the only way to minimize your carbon footprint is to use 100% of your bandwidth at all times. Why? Well, your bill pays mostly for the infrastructure of laying cables and powering routers. Now your cable company spent a lot of energy building this infrastructure. It's there costing energy whether you use it or not. Not using 100% is like filling your giant SUV with gas, and leaving it running in Park and not going anywhere. Whether you are downloading or not you should be seeding torrents, assisting bandwidth sharing for Skype or a P2P streaming TV service, etc. Otherwise you are hurting the environment.

Also just a nod to this quote: [ISPs have the] right to restrict protocols that everyone knows are mainly used of illigitimate purposes

Actually, it isn't the ISP's right. They really should not be responsible for enforcing laws (or trying to decide legality.) That's the police's job. If it was ISP's right to enforce the law, then I should be able to shoot drug dealers and in general vigilantism is not legal here.

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