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.