Comcast shaping Internet traffic: Will the Deaf start to suffer?

It’s been proved by now (after an initial denial by the cable company) that Comcast engages in the practice of shaping Internet traffic.

In San Diego, I was blessed to have outstanding cable Internet service with Time Warner.  It was not until I moved here to the DC area when I finally started to see firsthand the terrible reputation of Internet service provided by Comcast.  As a paying customer, I expect in return for my dollars, an Internet connection that I can use for whatever purposes that I need it for.  The way I see it as being advertised, Comcast provides me with a pipeline to the Internet. Even if it’s not a fast connection at a paltry 384kbps upload speed, I expect to be able to access any services with my connection without any further restrictions.

Comcast obviously has not been able to keep up with the demands of their customers and/or are pinching pennies.  Instead of spending the money to expand their assets and resources to accompany the growing traffic needs of their customers, they are going the other way by restricting what the customers can do with their Internet connection.

At the moment, they are blocking filesharing applications because they claim that these applications put too much stress on their network.  I find this laughable because Time Warner has never had this problem and they are a cable company as well.  Comcast should not be taking a course of action that will turn off their customers, but instead try to improve the overall experience by growing to accompany the changing needs of all of their customers.

What makes me very nervous now is that since Comcast has shown their willingness to block certain applications based upon the reason that a lot of bandwidth is being consumed, what is stopping them from expanding their list of blocked applications?  By blocking a certain class of traffic, Comcast has gone down a slippery slope.

Many in the Deaf community rely on Video Phones and Video Relay Services daily to take care of their business and other life needs.  Guess what?  These Video Phones consume a lot of bandwidth as well!!  What will Comcast think or do if they see customers using these applications for one or two hours worth of video traffic daily?  Will they start to block this kind of traffic as well?  By the actions they took in the filesharing scenario, they could react in the same way and start to block the traffic for these video phone calls by the Deaf.

Normally, this would not concern me as much IF there was competition for Internet access in my area.  Comcast has a monopoly in my area.  I don’t have the option of choosing another company with a more flexible Internet policy for their customers.  I would be basically out of luck and this worries me greatly.

I hate the concept that there is a company that is attempting to control what I can or cannot do on the Internet, especially when it could have a critical impact on my life as a Deaf person.

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  • http://www.dfulmer.net/daveynin daveynin

    Caught ya!

    filesharing = P2P.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/jarednevans/ Jared Evans

    I wanted to keep the technical level of this blog post lower so that more people would understand what I’m talking about.

    In any case, I’m referring to Bittorrent and other P2P applications that are used for sharing files.

    The basic premise of my post remains the same regardless of the type of traffic I’m talking about: The fact that the the lives of Deaf customers could be disrupted if video calls were blocked by Comcast.

  • Noelle

    If this happens, then you have legal ground to stand on in the sense that it is illegal to block relay calls or refuse to accept them. If Comcast blocks your internet service due to excessive bandwidth being used by your VRS relay service, then you have the right to sue them. Actually if they try to do this to a deaf person, and a lawsuit is successful, then Comcast and other internet providers will not be able to do this to the rest of the American population (hearing), and it’s possible network neutrality will be preserved if a deaf person is successful with a lawsuit.

    But that requires a case to happen, and we’ll have to wait for Stupid Comcast to do this to a deaf customer to keep network neutrality safe.

  • J.J. Puorro

    Are you sure that it has to do with consuming bandwidth?

    I heard that some ISP’s do not want to allow P2P because this is how child pornography is distributed on the Internet.

    Now, I do not know this for a fact, but it is what someone told me???

  • DeafSpook

    Where have you been? You’re not in California anymore. Just hook up with Verizon. You have this much going on about you so you should afford Verizon DSL or cutting-edge FiOS! If you own your business entity and have a Tax ID you can ask for Verizon business. Many use it and aren’t disappointed. I used Comcast before they screwed over this many people. Verizon help comes same day even on weekends and Sunday. If money is an issue go back to California or make ends meet with sacrifice. Regardless, keep up the good blogging you do!

  • Jean Boutcher

    Everybody in my neighbourhood at Cleveland Park (two blocks north of the National Zoo) has a love-hate relationship with Comcast. They dropped Comcast like a hot potato! Not only about the slowness of the DSL after five months but also about the rip-off on the billing statement.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/jarednevans/ Jared Evans

    I’ve had bad experience with several DSL companies so I’m not eager to try out another DSL company. My experience with cable internet is that it works very well and almost never has down-time.

    I did check out the speedy Verizon FiOS but unfortunately due to a local dispute, Verizon can’t bring FiOS into the Rockville area yet. I’m really hoping that this will change soon then I’ll definitely be the first person in line.

  • http://www.xanga.com/dianrez Dianrez

    Having just glady dropped Frontier high speed DSL in the Rochester NY area in order to go to Roadrunner by Time Warner cable, I can’t say if any other DSL services are better.

    My experience is that DSL, even at the more expensive high speed rate, was inconsistent, frequently slow, and resulted in freezing videophone pictures after the first minute or so.

    Once in a while the videophone will be satisfactory and conversations could continue for half an hour, however; the lack of dependability of access was a major turnoff.

    Not to mention the slowness of refresh rates on the computer…forget file sharing, two years under contract to DSL service was the pits. Now that it is over this month, I am looking forward to dependability and freedom of use all of the time.

  • Brance Long

    Hi,
    I faced this same issues when I was working with few clients who want to purchase or refi thier homes. I had a hard time to keep VRS online thru Comcast service. I would like to take the action about it.
    Can anyone out there who can help me how to “document all the activities that Comcast used” so I can go ahead and file a lawsuit against them in indianapolis, IN
    Thanks!
    Brance

  • Brance Long

    sorry My mail address is brancelong@yahoo.com

    we can stop this before we suffer….

  • Jean Boutcher

    I hear that Verizon FiOS is much more satisfactory than my regular Verizon High Speed DSL in my area (north Connecticut Ave. NW)

  • Kimberley Cook

    Hey I have the same issues as( dianrez) The comcast company refused to replace me a new modem because it is still problem with bandwidth it cause freezing through my vp I am unhappy with Comcast.. It is not fair ..Ive been done through the comcast technican who stopped my place in a few times but it is still frustrated Sighs ~~

  • http://blog.deafread.com/sandmanssandbox/ Mr. Sandman

    This is just another example of why government deregulation is not a good thing. Monopolies do not lend themselves to innovation, free trade, accountability, and other important factors.

    It’s also a factor in why the proposed telecom amnesty worries me. Accountability is necessary to keep everyone as honest as possible.

  • http://blog.grantlairdjr.com Grant Laird Jr

    Jared,

    I feel your pain – I’ve been stuck with Cable Company (@HOME, ATTBI, COMCAST and TWC) for almost 12 years with no other options till FIOS finally installed in my area last month. Watch my experience regarding Cable and FIOS at my vlog.

    http://grantlairdjr.com/wp/2007/10/31/cable-and-fios/

    Probably next best alternative is go with EVDO with Rev. A and set it up with your router. It can be done these days.

    gwlj

  • Jake Bunce

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