How Comcast Silently Blocks your Internet traffic
I am a Comcast subscriber and for much of the time I've had this blog, I have hosted it on my computer connected to the Internet via Comcast. I was shocked to learn about the following Comcast traffic-management scheme thanks to the article at http://machinist.salon.com/blog/2007/10/19/comcast/.
Bless the Associated Press for unearthing, through careful and diligent investigation, Comcast's shameful, hidden Internet traffic-management scheme.
Comcast, the AP determined, actively manages data on its network by using software to essentially masquerade as its subscribers' machines. When non-Comcast Internet subscribers request files from your Comcast-connected machine -- as happens in peer-to-peer file-sharing applications -- Comcast's technology steps in and tells the non-Comcast subscriber you're not available.
This is a difficult story to explain, but it's quite important. For years, consumer advocates have been demanding that Congress and/or the Federal Communications Commission impose "network neutrality" regulations that would force broadband providers (like Comcast) to treat all data on a network equally. Lawmakers have so far failed to do so.
Broadband providers, meanwhile, insist that they do treat all traffic equally, but they reserve the right to use certain technologies to "manage" data on their network. The Comcast plan suggests that broadband providers mean something very broad by "traffic management" -- including, it appears, purposefully stepping into your network sessions to shut them down.
Read the full story here. It is worth reading.
I also want to share the closing paragraph from the original article here:
OK, so what can we do about this?
It'd be wonderful if the solution was to simply stop subscribing to Comcast. If that would make you feel better, by all means, cancel your subscription.
But know this: Other broadband vendors have not distinguished themselves on the issue of network neutrality. In general, major broadband companies say they should be free to manage traffic on their networks, and it's impossible to tell how expansively they understand that "management" role.
If Comcast is saving money by adopting such methods, you can bet others are already doing so, or soon will. It would be shocking if Comcast were the only one.
But there is an obvious solution. It has been obvious for some time. We need a law!
Providers should be proscribed from interrupting customers' connections or, at the very least, from doing so secretly -- if they're going to disrupt your traffic in any way, they should be forced to tell you how.
Broadband companies have long argued that network neutrality regulations are unnecessary. The Comcast scheme pretty definitively proves otherwise.