October 25, 2007
Comcast Claims No P2P Blocks
Comcast says that it does not block P2P traffic. The furor arose earlier this week when reports from the AP indicated that Comcast does block some P2P traffic. The AP tested BitTorrent transmissions by attempting to send a 4 megabyte copy of the King James Bible through Comcast nodes. Test software showed that Comcast allegedly (love that word) forged reset packets that told the two ends of the transmission that the other canceled the send or receive. Comcast admitted that it "manages" the network, but doesn't stop traffic, including BitTorrent traffic. It may slow traffic down to give customers a "good" Internet experience (assuming one doesn't use BitTorrent a lot, otherwise it would likely not be a "good" Internet experience), but not stop it.
Cue the lawsuits. It's just a matter of time. Many ISPs are tight lipped about how they manage traffic. Comcast is no exception. Imagine having to disclose this information as part of the discovery phase of a lawsuit (trade secrets aside), or as part of a Congressional investigation. Net neutrality advocates will seize this as an example of why the there should be regulation. And who knows, this may spill over to the other major ISPs. This story isn't going away for a while.
Verizon Settles With NY AG Over Bandwidth Claims
Verizon settled a deceptive marketing investigation brought by the the New York Attorney General's Office. Verizon marketed it's wireless Internet access as "unlimited." Apparently the user agreement provided bandwidth limits which were enforced. 13,000 subscribers found this out the hard way and lost their service because they used too much of it. The New York AG said that the user agreement was too obscure compared to the marketing. Verizon will reimburse customers, pay $150,000 penalties and fees to the state, and change their advertising practices. Verizon will probably drop the "unlimited" part of the message. After all, how can you advertise "just enough" bandwidth or else?
Google Brings IMAP to Gmail
Google's online mail service now supports IMAP. Most people who log into the service simply won't care one way or the other. But those who check Gmail from a variety of devices such as the iPhone or other mobile devices will care a lot. IMAP lets them synchronize their mailboxes across all devices.
More here from Information Week.
October 24, 2007
Verizon Drops Auction Appeal
Verizon has dropped its appeal of the open access rules for the upcoming FCC spectrum auction. CNET has the story.
FTC To Keep Do Not Call Registry Active
The Federal Trade Commission today announced that it will not remove any telephone numbers from the National Do Not Call Registry for telemarketers, based on the five-year registration period, pending final Congressional or agency action regarding whether to make registration permanent.
October 22, 2007
Comcast Net Traffic Limits Go Beyond P2P
Comcast seems to have a problem with network traffic. It doesn't like some of it, and for whatever reasons, the company won't say why. The problem surfaces when individuals notices that BitTorrent traffic running from Comcast nodes was failing. Tests by the Associated Press showed that reset packets were forged by Comcast, essentially disrupting the traffic. Ars Technica is reporting that the disruption extends to applications such as Lotus Notes when large email attachments are involved. A large file doesn't always signal a copyright violation, but again, Comcast has not come forward with an explanation of its network management principles.
This raises the specter of net neutrality issues coming back to haunt the telecommunications debate. Policy makers have said that net neutrality regulations are premature because there was no evidence that traffic was being manipulated. It's one thing to prioritize traffic to serve company sponsored services. It's another to degrade traffic which was the focus of the last go round on this. The suggestion in the news reports is that this degradation is deliberate on the part of Comcast. Should further details verify this, one wonders if Comcast will lose customers as a consequence. It can't look good for the company. If the federal government decides this situation is not worth action, customers can decide for themselves if they are satisfied with their cable and Internet services. In fact, this may be good for net neutrality advocates. Imagine ads that say "We don't censor." The market may actually push companies into this stance as a competitive measure, at least until they all do it.