Monday, July 28, 2008

FCC rules against Comcast for blocking file sharing

You can read the details here. What's interesting is Comcast is getting knocked for blocking P2P traffic but there is no mention of the collateral damage they caused. Comcast's language is also highly conflicted.

From the WSJ article linked above:

The company has acknowledged it slowed some traffic, but said it was necessary to prevent a few heavy users from overburdening its network.

"We continue to assert that our network-management practices were reasonable, wholly consistent with industry practices and that we did not block access to Web sites or online applications, including peer-to-peer services," said Sena Fitzmaurice, a Comcast spokeswoman.

And from an AP article in October 2007 (as excerpted by Ed Brill since the original article is no longer online):
Comcast has repeatedly denied blocking any Internet application, including "peer-to-peer" file-sharing programs like BitTorrent, which the AP used in its nationwide tests.

On Tuesday, Mitch Bowling, senior vice president of Comcast Online Services, added a nuance to that statement, saying that while Comcast may block initial connection attempts between two computers, it eventually lets the traffic through if the computers keep trying. ...

However, users also reported Comcast blocking some transfers of e-mails with large attachments through an application that is fully in the legal sphere: Lotus Notes, an IBM Corp. program used in corporate settings.

Kevin Kanarski, a network engineer for a major law firm, noticed the disruption in August and eventually traced the problem to Comcast. But he got the cold shoulder from the company's customer support department.

On Tuesday, Bowling acknowledged the problem, saying it was unintentional and due to a software bug that has been fixed. Kanarski said transfers started working again last week.

So they acknowledge they slowed some traffic, but they claim they didn't block anything. Yet they also admit to blocking. Except they don't do that. But sometimes they do. That's a heaping helping of WTF?! Danny Lawrence sums it up well in comments on Ed's site:
Comcast was summarily killing the connection at both ends, and they call that a "delay"? I think Mr Bowling's statement should be enshrined in the annals of corporate doublespeak.

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