Wednesday, December 08, 2004
Cablevision controls its network
In SMART Letter #95, I write about how Continental Cablevision blocked my Port 25, then magnanimously offered to let me pay $70 a month more to unblock it. Scott Berry writes of another Cablevision experience in the same vein:
I've lately been visiting the Darknet quite a bit. I tried downloading various things using Bittorrent. (Of course, I only download LEGAL material.) Within several days, I noticed a significant degradation.Let's see. Which of FCC Chairman Powell's Four Freedoms does this violate: It significantly limits Scott's Freedom to Access Content, it crimps Scott's Freedom to Use Applications, and it violates Scott's Freedom to Obtain Service Plan Information. Three out of four ain't bad. Boy, it's a good thing these babies are voluntary -- you can see the industry snap to compliance.
After some amount of research, the problem became clear. I had been (gasp) CAPPED. Uplink speeds went from about 800 K to under 100K. Downlink was unaffected except when I was torrenting, in which case it slowed to a crawl. After contacting Cablevision, I got a callback from one of their "security" guys. Comments about using "excessive" bandwidth. Exceeding "limits" on "acceptable" use. Several obligatory questions about whether I was filesharing, what programs was I running, who had access to the computer. I played dumb ("I think I had a virus, now removed, maybe that was sending lots of stuff out"; "perhaps my son was doing something behind my back"; etc.). Eventually they reset my modem. But I'm sure I'm now on their "list". A troublemaker again, in a way not experienced since I was in High School. I feel like such a criminal. :-)
The amazing thing was that despite repeated questioning, they refused to tell me what acceptable limits were, or what constitutes excessive bandwidth. Or in fact what I could do to avoid a repetition in the future. The whole experience was remarkably Orwellian.
What little I gleaned (combined with copious research in chat rooms) revealed a way to avoid the problem. Seems that if I don't upload at TOO great a speed, and not for TOO long at a time, I can avoid the "CAPPER". So now I have written a macro I run each time I use bit torrent--it automatically shuts down the program every 55 minutes, and then restarts it after 10 minutes of "idle" time. Haven't had a problem since, but my fingers remain rigorously crossed.
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