Comcast's New Network Throttling Now In Place - HotHardware
Comcast's New Network Throttling Now In Place

Comcast's New Network Throttling Now In Place

For the last few months, Comcast has been transitioning how it monitors and throttles broadband traffic. DSLreports.com claims that this transition is now complete for all of Comcast's markets, meaning that Comcast users might see their connection speeds drop if they use too much sustained downstream throughput and they can even potentially lose their service if they exceed Comcast's monthly broadband cap.

Comcast previously received quite a bit of flack for throttling the throughput of users who were downloading certain types of data, such as torrent packets. While torrent traffic can often mean someone is downloading illegal content, that it not always the case--there is a growing amount of legitimate torrent content. Comcast decided to transition from this packet-inspection type of network monitoring to one that is content-agnostic.

 
Screenshot of a beta version of Comcast's bandwidth
 usage meter tool (Credit: DSLreports.com)
The new system, which is now in place, monitors the amount of downstream traffic a user consumes and not what that traffic is actually composed of. The system first monitors the traffic on the cable modem termination system (CMTS) ports. If a particular CMTS port is deemed as "congested," any users on that port who are "identified as a primary reason why" that port is congested will have their traffic priority downgraded, which can potentially impact their throughput. By default, most users have a quality-of-service (QoS) traffic priority of "Priority Best-Effort" (PBE). However, if a user is flagged as causing congestion on a CMTS port, that user's priority changes to "Best-Effort" traffic (BE) for a period of time. DSLreports.com states:

Comcast says that sustained use of 70% of your up or downstream throughput triggers the BE state, at which point you'll find your traffic priority lowered until your usage drops to 50% of your provisioned upstream or downstream bandwidth for "a period of approximately 15 minutes." A throttled Comcast user being placed in a BE state "may or may not result in the user's traffic being delayed or, in extreme cases, dropped before PBE traffic is dropped."

The downside is that if you are downloading a lot of data at a time when many of your neighbors are online, you might see your connection speeds slow down--or even drop out entirely--at least temporarily. The upside is that you can be as much of a bandwidth hog as you want at any given moment as long as the network can handle your traffic and your neighbors. This might act as an incentive for users to perform more of their large downloads during off hours.

But even if you never find your throughput temporarily throttled, you are still not out of the woods if you download and/or upload lots of large files. Don't forget that Comcast also has a monthly cap of 250GB of data--and that 250GB per month is an aggregate of both your downstream and upstream traffic. Users who go over the limit will receive a warning as well as a suggestion to upgrade their service from a residential to a commercial plan. Users who go over the 250GB per month twice in a six month period can have their service terminated. Comcast has promised a bandwidth usage meter tool so that Comcast users can keep track of their usage, but as of yet, the tool has not been released to Comcast customers.
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All these years that the various ISP's have been providing Broadband Service there has not been any significant reduction in pricing nor any substantial improvement in infrastructure. Now they want to start capping downloads. At least the Cell Phone providers are slowly upgrading their networks while keeping the same high prices.

Cable internet providers are going to be the first to cap as they do not want to invest in new video multiplexing/switching technology that allows demand delivery of HD and other content to TV or set top boxes as needed rather than keeping all 300 (Or however many) channels on the fiber at all times. With the increase in HD traffic they are looking to cut corners on the internet side.

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I'm glad to see that they are finally being up front about this. I'm even more glad that I am on FioS though. When I first got my HDTV I thought it had great picture. I was on comcast. The internet was ok. Any download over a few MBs like linux ISOs would go normal speed then slow to a crawl. I guess that is there "Boost"Confused When I switched to FioS my HD picture looks even better. Noticeable from across the room. Granted I have a rather small living room and it's a 42 inch TV. The internet is awesome though. I have no idea how much bandwidth I use and that is not something I wanna worry about. I think they can keep cutting there corners and like kewlncguy said people like verzion that build out and invest will be the winners in the long run.

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Wow, Comcast totally SUCKS. I sure am glad I dont use those losers!

jess

www.web-privacy.pro.tc

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Hey Jim, Stop being such a troll. You only show up here when there is a story on Digg and that URL in your sig is always so conveniently prominent.

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I am so glad I live in an area where Comcast isn't a problem. (by problem I mean a stable and competing company.)

I lived in Boston for awhile and we had comcast where I was living. By far and away the worst broadband connection I have ever used. Dropped packets, slow speeds. Now they are metering peoples bandwidth? How is this a good move for the company exactly is what I would like to know.

Sure it "saves" bandwidth for aging network infrastructure... That is a temporary solution for a permanente problem. Data storage has gotten cheap, you can build a raging fast computer these days for under $1000.00, and what does comcast decide to do? Meter the bandwidth, at something which is ridiculously low at that. 250 gigs up and down is a small amount, I move that myself in a month easily, throw in my Two roommates and I am sure that we would easily triple that. What they should be doing is looking to invest into fibre optics, or better network infrastructure and stability. People pay all that money and get nothing back except "less." Comcast customers are paying the same amount as they did before, but now they have a company babysitting their internet connections.

People are paying 40.00 + a month for just their internet, then having the potential of getting it shut off. Whoever is making the decisions at comcast needs to be removed. They don't understand the growth of the industry or the growth of technology. All this does is stifle the web society. It reduced the amount of information that can be transferred and in the long run only serves to reduce the growth of the entire "web".

I hope Time Warner Cable doesn't take a page from Comcast's play book. It will only serve to screw them.

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Unforunately what gets to probably over 80% of their customers is the marketing they see on tv. Why should they invest so much money to please the consumers that actually pay money for the connection. This business needs a lot more competition.

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 Just for fun, I thought I'd calculate what a 250GB/month cap really meant.  Here's what you can do with 250GB:

Send 50 MILLION emails (@ 0.05kb/per email)

Download 62,500 songs (@ 4MB/per song)

Download 125 Movies (SD @ 2 GB/per movie)

Anyone out there really at risk of passing any of those numbers?  If so, please say so here, in public, so we can either find and throttle you for your job as a spammer, or the FCC can find you for copyright infringement.  I can't imagine a single human being passing this cap using 100% legitimate usage.

Also, to the gentleman who said that internet hadn't gotten better or cheaper in years, I would disagree.  In Minneapolis Comcast just doubled everyone's internet speed at no additional charge (from 6mbps standard to 12mbps), and no offers a 50mbps speed.  My understanding is that is set to go nationwide soon.  And while everything else in my life has gotten more expensive, my internet seems to be inflation-proof.

I don't know...Comcast seems to get a lot of flak on these types of boards.  I guess I just don't understand why.  Better that than a flaky DSL...

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sagmag:

 Just for fun, I thought I'd calculate what a 250GB/month cap really meant.  Here's what you can do with 250GB:

Send 50 MILLION emails (@ 0.05kb/per email)

Download 62,500 songs (@ 4MB/per song)

Download 125 Movies (SD @ 2 GB/per movie)

Anyone out there really at risk of passing any of those numbers?  If so, please say so here, in public, so we can either find and throttle you for your job as a spammer, or the FCC can find you for copyright infringement.  I can't imagine a single human being passing this cap using 100% legitimate usage.

Also, to the gentleman who said that internet hadn't gotten better or cheaper in years, I would disagree.  In Minneapolis Comcast just doubled everyone's internet speed at no additional charge (from 6mbps standard to 12mbps), and no offers a 50mbps speed.  My understanding is that is set to go nationwide soon.  And while everything else in my life has gotten more expensive, my internet seems to be inflation-proof.

I don't know...Comcast seems to get a lot of flak on these types of boards.  I guess I just don't understand why.  Better that than a flaky DSL...

Right now my steam folder is 25Gbs. And thats just the games I play. The day windows 7 and Ubuntu 9.04 comes out I will install both on all 4 of my PCs. Say that happens in the same month that right there is 200Gbs if I install my games. Not to mention I install my linux distros in VMware. OpenSuse is a few gbs its self and releasing a few betas in the same month. I keep Twitlive streaming in the background. Or say I get a roku box to top that off. I'm not saying I go over that every month, but in a few years HD video streams will take over games are getting bigger. They should be investing in better service not bringing caps.

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@Sagmag

You seem to have the typical short sighted view of this backed up with a smug satisfaction that it doesn't affect you. The internet is offering more and more content, LEGALLY. ISPs are desperate to charge their customers for delivering this content hence the cap now before you realise what they are going to be taking away from you.

Comcast and other ISPs are trying to sell the illusion that bandwidth is some scarce resource like gold and overuse will deplete it. Sadly many people are happy to believe it and open their wallets to ask how to buy more. Fact is if nobody on the planet downloads anything at 00:00 tonight, at 00:01 there isn't going to be twice the amount of bandwidth available.

Bandwidth caps do nothing to increase subscriber quality because that is more dependent on the number of subscribers the ISP has on a single line. What caps do is scare people into not using the service they pay for so that the ISP can take up more lines.

As the first poster said, this is just a move to cut corners at the expense of customers rather that pay for a network that can sustain growth. Good luck using your 12mb or 50mb connection, must make a huge difference having that speed to download emails or 4mb music files 1 second sooner. I mean, whatever your do, don't use that fast connection to shorten the time to download large files.

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Just for fun, I registered this account to flame sagmag.

Seriously dude, you have

A) No idea how the internet works if you did the math straight like that. For TCP connections, which is what downloading is, you have quite a bit of overhead. The overhead can be anywhere from 10% (low) to 90% (obviously high). The average is around 25%. Google TCP overhead if you don't believe me. That means that 25% of your total bandwidth is useless data to you; but it's being counted anyway. This isn't counting ack packets, or if you try to upload anything.

B) Which brings me to the point of up traffic. Notice the 250gb total is an aggregate of both up and down traffic? Although ack traffic is piddly compared to 250gb, uploading anything, videos to youtube, or for those of us that back up sensitive data off-site using anything like getdropbox.com or, even sending large photos over gmail, those megs add up. I'm not going to run any numbers, cause really all this pales in comparison to the down traffic, but it's definitely there.

C) Eh, hello 21st century. It's called HD, and Netflix, among other places, are streaming it in abundance. The new service from Netlflix takes at least 6mb/s to stream at a minimum. So let's see...

6mb*1024 = 6144kb / 8 (bits in a byte) = 768 kB/s (roughly) for a streaming video. That's over half a meg a second. How many movies you think it would take, just using raw numbers and not accounting for reply overhead, would you have to watch to use up your 250gb? Quite a bit, in fact (94 hours of video). Can that be easily done? Hell yes it can. But that's if Netflix was the only thing you did.

Even downloading games is now commonplace, (2-10gb a game), as well as VoIP, like I said before offsite backups (I use over 30gb/month upload just on this alone, which can be easily done when the same file is being uploaded over and over with different iterations).

Then add into the mix youtube, pandora (streaming music anyone?), grabbing HD or even SD movies/series off iTunes (um, an HD tv series, one season, can be over 25gb in itself?), music, and you are easily over the cap.

All without downloading a single illegal movie!

And dude, this assuming you are the only person in the household. Add teenagers into the mix, and goodbye bandwidth. Seriously, you think using up 250gb/month is hard?

You still using Netscape Navigator?

I understand this doesn't represent Joe the Plumber, but the only thing keeping him from being like this are the ISPs, not his lack of legal activities.

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@sagmag

Trent Reznor just released 3 full HD recordings of Nine Inch Nails shows on BitTorrent...for free! These files weigh in at over 400GB - and they are completely legal. Under Comcast's bandwidth restrictions, you would have to span the downloads over 2 months, not to mention seeding. So, please log out of AOL and hang up your modem, your mom needs to use the phone.

Welcome to 2009. The Internet is here. And we need more bandwidth.

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Just for fun, I registered this account to salute JohnnyFive, both on the name reference and on the post. It's incredibly annoying to have people take no initiative to find out how things work and then post something like that, revealing their lack of knowledge to everyone.

Johnny Five is alive.

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Wow...250 GB...I'm envious, I currently have a 60GB/month cap. As far as I know, the highest possible cap for the average individual in my area (Ottawa, Ontario) is 90GB/month.  I've got Roger's Cable...they actual provide a bandwith metering service as well, showing day-to-day and monthly usage.  However, I used to be stuck with 4kbps dialup, so I'm still not used to loading a lot of stuff...and I won't complain too much.

By the way, what's the average monthly cost for 250GB/month?  I'm just curious what you have to pay in the U.S.

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