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Comcast Blocks Data, Collects Cash

Washington Post: Comcast Defends Role As Internet Traffic Cop. Comcast said yesterday that it purposely slows down some traffic on its network, including some music and movie downloads, an admission that sparked more controversy in the debate over how much control network operators should have over the Internet.

The admission, after lying to the public about the practice, is useful in that it frames a debate we need to have right away. If the phone-cable duopoly can get away with this — deciding what bits get delivered, at what speed and in what order — they will have control of the Internet in ways that will make current “media consolidation” seem tame.

Meanwhile, rather than investing in new infrastructure to make these control-freak practices moot, Comcast is paying shareholders a new dividend and buying back $7 billion of its stock. This speaks volumes about a company that enjoys its oligopolist status and sees no serious need to invest for the future.

3 Comments on “Comcast Blocks Data, Collects Cash”

  1. #1 Seth Finkelstein
    on Feb 14th, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    [ I’m not even going to bother trying 🙁 ]

  2. #2 Dan Gillmor
    on Feb 14th, 2008 at 6:57 pm


  3. #3 Jon Garfunkel
    on Feb 14th, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    Duopoly? Hence Verizon is supplying fiber-to-the-premise… that’s competition.

    I defer to an expert on matters of network engineering. Richard Bennett cites Jim Martin of Clemson University in his FCC response:

    “The web response time statistic increased from a value of 0.25 seconds when no BitTorrent users were active to 0.65 seconds when 15 BitTorrent users were active. This suggests that 15 BitTorrent users can cause a drop in performance by a factor of 2.5. When the number of BitTorrent users exceeds 30 performance degrades beyond the 1 second metric threshold.”

    When an ISP deliberately interferes with speech because of its political content, ping me (and Seth). That’ll be news.

    I use Speakeasy DSL which is extremely permissive of hosting servers and the like (cable Internet, because of the particulars of its network architecture, must be more restrictive). So I had a look at their AUP just now:

    “If you utilize any of your Speakeasy services in a manner which consumes excessive bandwidth or affects Speakeasy’s core equipment, overall network performance, or other users’ services, Speakeasy may require that you cease or alter these activities.”

    no free lunch…

    [posting from an extremely bandwidth-congested Marriot Courtyard hotel room in beautiful Plano, Texas.]