Comcast flushed its 3 year old net neutrality promise down the memory hole the instant the FCC announced its plan to allow network discrimination


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/11/29/picking-winners.html


#2

I don’t think Comcast is the most odious corporation in America, or at least they have a lot of competition for that honor. Payday lenders, for-profit scam colleges, Big Tobacco, Big Pharma, big banks come to mind. But they are certainly hateable. I am just waiting for a viable internet connection alternative to appear and then I will drop them like a hot potato.


#3

We have FIOS as well as Comcast here, trust me there’s little effective difference. I ping pong back and forth every year or two to take advantage of the intro offers. I find it hard to believe that $80/mo for just Broadband is anywhere near what is actually a cost plus fair profit price. I’d guess $30 is more like it but I have no data.

It’s fascinating that Broadband is the only place where Moore’s Law is banned, we have faster service but it costs 5 times as much as it did 20 years ago.


#4

I’ll give Comcast credit. It takes brass balls the size of boulders to gouge me for broadband, provide crappy customer service and then try to use a modem I bought as a wifi hotspot.


#5

Agreed. The naked rapacity of corporations in general (and American corporations in particular) almost makes one want to call for world-wide revolution. Unfortunately, that hasn’t worked out so well in the past.


#6

Seriously? Wow, that would be tempting to man-in-the-middle.


#7

Okay, here’s something I don’t understand. I have standard home broadband, whatever that is. But a site like Boing Boing must have 100 times the bandwidth to make us all happy, right? (Back in my day, that meant a T1 connection, or maybe several.) Doesn’t a site like this run on a lot more bandwidth? And don’t they pay for it? And isn’t that exactly the same as the evil fast lane?

What part am I not getting?


#8

BoingBoing pays for its fat pipe (or equivalent), same as it’s always been. The difference is that the ISPs can start throttling it at the other end, slowing it down for their victims customers no matter how fat a pipe, if the site doesn’t pay extortion a premium. Or they could sell tiered access, just like the cable TV business.


#9

They want you to pay for it also.


#10

Boing boing pays for a connection from their servers to some exchange point. For simplicity, call that point the Internet.

You pay your ISP for a connection to those same exchange points.

You request a page, it flows over both parts of the connection, through the exchange point.

The change is, your ISP wants to charge a second time for the data to flow from the exchange point to you. Charging Boing boing for them to get to you. You become the product being sold to Boing Boing.

There’s no extra value generated, you already paid for that connection, it’s all profit. If boing boing doesn’t pay, they effectively lose audience. This is why you’ll here it called picking winners. Since only the sites that pay are even options for you to see, the rest are losers.

It also means, you don’t really get “internet access”, you get some subset of the full internet that was able to pay to be both at the internet exchanges AND pay every ISP acting as a gatekeeper.


#11

Well at least they have competition in some places…


#12

Would things like TOR and VPNs be effective countermeasures?


#13

I’d call them work-arounds. I’m sure that they’d be high on the list of things abusive ISPs would try to block.

I see that ISPs like Comcast also still restrict servers even in these Internet of Things days. If you want to adjust your thermostat, you’re forced to connect to the thermostat company’s proprietary site so it can push the changes down.

Technical restrictions
use or run dedicated, stand-alone equipment or servers from the Premises that provide network content or any other services to anyone outside of your Premises local area network (“Premises LAN”), also commonly referred to as public services or servers. Examples of prohibited equipment and servers include, but are not limited to, email, web hosting, file sharing, and proxy services and servers;


#14

Considering Moore’s law applied to integrated circuits and transisitors and hasn’t even held applicable to that field for many years, I think that this is just one of literally countless circumstances where it doesn’t apply. Milk, for example, or numbers of ants, or how much pine needles trees have.

Closer to topic: this is exactly why we can’t trust Comcast or any other megacorp. They don’t have ethics or morals because corporations aren’t ethically or morally guided and never will be, any more than a rhinocerous or a hungry alligator are concerned with morals and ethics. They are profit-seeking machines, and will seek that profit at all costs, as soon as they are large enough to be beyond the control of a single human who (MAY) be morally or ethically guided.

This doesn’t mean that small businesses are always ethical, it just means they can be expected to be such and the owners held accountable. A big business is just a large dumb organism that responds to environmental forces. We should legislate and treat them as such.


#15

Certainly the illusion of competition.


#16

There this old scify movie where that bad guy says I’m altering the deal, pray I don’t alter it any further, maybe some of you saw it. I wonder if someone at Comcast saw it… :thinking:


#17

Short answer, no.

Long answer, it’s more complicated.

Like everything else, it’s all very technical and nuanced and the low level detail all really matter.

Yes, technically, using TOR or a VPN or any other tunneling connection that hides the fact that you’re talking to Netflix by first connecting to something else that then connects to Netflix for you. This will prevent the ISP from knowing that you’re talking to Netflix and they would not be able to apply a “Netflix restriction” on it.

HOWEVER, and this is important, they’ll know you’re connecting to whatever tunneling service and depending on how it’s working know that it’s a tunneling connection and not just something else. The combination of knowing the destination if they care or just that it’s a tunneling connection is enough for them to apply other restrictions. They can simply define that “VPN Service” or “Any tunneling service” is an advanced feature and costs more. They would love to say that using a VPN is a “Business Service” and make you pay the business price instead of the consumer price. Need to work from, that needs a business connection not a consumer one, at twice the price. And clearly there’s no other use for a VPN besides for business (that will be their marketing message).

So, you’ll be paying a “service tax” either way for using what you already paid for just because they can.


#18

Funny, I was under the impression broadband service was provided by computer equipment running on microprocessors like Intel makes (Moore’s company), unlike ants and pine needles.


#19

So is there anything we can do to get around it?


#20

A marked acceleration of schadenfreude made me grumble, “let this happen. We elected the people who did this; we deserve what we get.” (Now that attitude is swinging toward tax reform—calling your senators and filling out petitions are just sysyphistic.)

Okay. All well and good. But when the pain gets too much, what are we actually going to do about this? How are we going to permanently obtain a free and open Internet? We can’t just elect a gaggle of good guys, because the bad guys are just four years away again. What the actual fuck are we supposed to do?!