José Ribamar Smolka Ramos
Artigos e Mensagens

ComUnidade WirelessBrasil

Agosto 2008               Índice Geral


Duas notícias: Net neutrality e bandwidth throttling

----- Original Message -----
From: J.R.Smolka
To: WirelessBR
Sent: Tuesday, August 05, 2008 11:04 PM
Subject: [] Duas notícias: Net neutrality e bandwidth throttling

Novamente repassando notícias...

A primeira refere-se ao posicionamento da FCC (a Anatel dos EUA) com relação às práticas de bandwidth throttling da Comcast. Para quem servir a carapuça...

A segunda é uma ferramenta liberada pela EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) para que o usuário teste sua conexão e verifique se a sua operadora está (ou não) fazendo bandwidth throttling.

Boa leitura (e download :-) )

J. R. Smolka

FCC to telcos via Comcast: “No more rate-throttling”. Score one for net neutrality advocates
by Doug Allen, Tues. August 5, 2008

Declaring the largest domestic MSO’s network traffic management scheme — and specifically its deep-packet inspection technology — to be “invasive,” the FCC gave Comcast till the end of the year to comply and implement a new network management system that does not discriminate against particular traffic types or applications through rate-throttling or slowing transmission.

Comcast had been under suspicion of throttling P2P traffic, and the application Bit Torrent in particular, since late 2007, when Associated Press reports of Comcast’s rate-throttling first appeared, although independent reports from broadband user watchgroups such as go back further. After the AP story hit, consumer rights groups Public Knowledge and Free Press, as well as online video distributor Vuze, went to the FCC for regulatory guidance.

Comcast’s offense, the FCC holds, is twofold: first, controlling broadband rate access in a “discriminatory” fashion “not narrowly tailored to address Comcast’s concern about network congestion.” In fact, throttling appears to have been used regardless of the current network congestion level, indicating Comcast was targeting applications on the basis of content, not network impact. A study on Comcast’s traffic levels by the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems in Germany found that Comcast slowed BitTorrent traffic during off-peak traffic hours, in addition to those high-usage times when the network carried peak or near-peak traffic loads.

Compounding the first sin was the MSO’s practice of hiding their P2P throttling policy from users, and suggesting that any delay in transmission lay in with the customer’s end at the modem.

According to Dana Shaffer, chief of the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau, specific examples of throttled sessions include movie trailer open-source software downloads, as well as updating online game clients.

The legal basis for the decision is taken from Internet policy principles, adopted by the FCC in 2005, which stipulate that customers have the right to unimpaired access to legal Web services, applications, and devices. This principle has no judicial legal standing, however: that is, the FCC has no legal mechanism to enforce what are, in effect, industry guidelines. Though Comcast disputes the FCC’s right to regulate its network management, the FCC asserts that it has broad authority to regulate broadband networks per se, and defends last Friday’s decision on the grounds that it’s ruling narrowly addresses one provider’s specific actions. Comcast appears to be evaluating its legal options, and could well look to appeal the verdict.

The FCC order gives Comcast 30 days to offer up the details on the inner workings of its “discriminatory network practices” to the FCC, and to tender a “compliance plan” that covers the MSO’s plans to renounce throttling for an open, application-agnostic network management platform to take effect by end of this year. For its part, Comcast has already said it would move to such a platform of its own volition, in the same time-frame, as per an announcement made four months ago. It’s not clear what penalties Comcast would face if they fail to comply, except for, as FCC officials stated, “injunctive relief…and further enforcement action.”

For now, net neutrality advocates are claiming victory, expecting the Comcast decision to set a precedent that other potential application-throttling telcos will have to respect in the future, even if the current precedent is based on a narrow, plaintiff-specific ruling. On the other side of the fence, MSO lobbyists look ready to fight the FCC on this one, contending that such decisions unfairly favor heavy-bandwidth power users over other, lighter capacity, consumers.

EFF introduces Switzerland...the program
Posted by Seth Rosenblatt, August 4, 2008 6:37 PM PDT

Electronic Frontier Foundation has released an open-source, cross-platform program designed to track your packets and determine if your ISP is throttling your connection to torrents, VoIP, and other legal, high-bandwidth consuming communications. Called "Switzerland" and licensed under the GPL, it's very much in an alpha state and is only a command-line tool at the moment. Also, you're going to have to compile it yourself--that's not the most challenging task, but this isn't a simple self-extracting app.

According to the EFF, Switzerland works by spotting IP packets that have been forged or modified between clients, informing you of the change, and providing you copies of the modified packets. "The software uses a semi-P2P, server-and-many-clients architecture. Whenever the clients send packets to each other, the server will attempt to determine if any of them were dropped, forged, or modified," says the Switzerland Web site.

As far as usage goes, the EFF says that Switzerland is compatible with NAT firewalls, although some NAT firewalls may have to be disabled to test the ISP in front of it, because of the modifications that some firewalls make to packets.

I do wonder at the logic of the name, though. Referencing the "neutral" country is cute, but what's going to happen when somebody tries to find the program through a search engine? Googling "Switzerland" returns 234 million results, give or take.

Anyway, Switzerland is not the first packet-testing program around. What is special about it, though, is that unlike, for example, the plug-in for the Vuze/Azureus torrent client, Switzerland isn't tied to any host program. The open-source license, combined with the backing of a visible group like the EFF and the building awareness in both politicians and the general public of what Net Neutrality is about, could have serious ramifications for combating false promises of Net Neutrality from ISPs like Comcast.



ComUnidade WirelessBrasil                     BLOCO