Why I will downgrade my broadband.

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Why I will downgrade my broadband.

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:45 am

I want to dump Comcast. Comcast in my area is very fast for most things... However, Netflix stopped working about 2 weeks ago (or so). I cannot stream SD content, let alone the HD content that I want. When I contacted Comcast customer 'service' I was told that "Netflix is unsupported". That's odd, Netflix is part of the internet. Part of the internet is unsupported? I have been streaming HD content as long as Netflix has offered it, and I've been streaming their "dvd quality" content for several years. According to a bandwidth meter on my computer, I currently get get about 0.5Mbps streaming from Netflix. Netflix claims they are set up to stream 3Mbps (or more for "super HD" content), and that they have traced an intermittent connection to Comcast. I reliably get 22Mb/s when accessing services that don't compete with Comcast products.

My alternative is 3Mbps DSL which, obviously, is a lot slower than Comcast's claimed speeds. However, the prime reason I want fast internet is to stream high quality content of my choice. This switch will save me a lot of money ($35/month or more if I can find an intro rate), but I will lose Netflix anyways (saving another $8/month). Maybe in another couple of months somebody in my area will offer me internet service that works for the whole internet. I'll be waiting.

edit: typo
Last edited by SpotTheCat on Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why I will downgrade my broadband.

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:50 am

Netflix puts out more than half of all of the non-SPAM traffic (and one third of all traffic) on the entire North American internet. Netflix pays the ISPs nothing for the traffic load that they create that overtaxes billions of dollars worth of Comcast's network infrastructure.
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Last edited by JustAnEngineer on Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why I will downgrade my broadband.

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:53 am

JustAnEngineer wrote:Netflix puts out more than half of all of the non-SPAM traffic on the entire North American internet. Netflix pays the ISPs nothing for the traffic load that they create that overtaxes billions of dollars worth of Comcast's network infrastructure.

Guess who pays for that traffic? The enduser! We pay to use those services every month.

Why should we be denied the service we're paying the ISP for, for any reason? I don't really understand that logic.
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Re: Why I will downgrade my broadband.

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:00 pm

You pay Netflix $8/month, then you use $500+/month worth of Comcast's bandwidth to stream your HD videos. However, Comcast charges the same fee to all of its customers, whether we use Netflix or not, so the rest of us have to foot the bill for the bandwidth that you and Netflix consume.
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Re: Why I will downgrade my broadband.

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:02 pm

I pay Netflix $8/month for access to their content. I pay Comcast $65/month to connect me to that content. Why should Netflix take some of the $8 I pay them to pay Comcast to do Comcast's job?
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Re: Why I will downgrade my broadband.

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:04 pm

Savyg wrote:Why should we be denied the service we're paying the ISP for, for any reason? I don't really understand that logic.

For networks that are pure transit, there's no reason to degrade Netflix and they don't. Now that Comcast owns NBC they have a vested interest in keeping users' streaming content choices within the corporate network. Comcast was the first and still is the loudest about changing net rules to force Netflix to pay the costs of carriage, simply because they want to keep their users "in-house". This will not end until and unless the 'Net is somehow redefined here in the US as a public utility like the old landline phone network.

And yes, I predict R&P within the next 5 posts.
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Re: Why I will downgrade my broadband.

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:05 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:You pay Netflix $8/month, then you use $500+/month worth of Comcast's bandwidth to stream your HD videos. However, Comcast charges the same fee to all of its customers, whether we use Netflix or not, so the rest of us have to foot the bill for the bandwidth that you and Netflix consume.

If that is true which seems horrendously unlikely, Comcast can put a freakin cap on their users. Otherwise all they're doing is denying a competing service to sell their own crap.
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Re: Why I will downgrade my broadband.

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:06 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:You pay Netflix $8/month, then you use $500+/month worth of Comcast's bandwidth to stream your HD videos. However, Comcast charges the same fee to all of its customers, whether we use Netflix or not, so the rest of us have to foot the bill for the bandwidth that you and Netflix consume.

My highest data usage over the past three months was just over 100GB for October. They don't start capping until 250GB. If it costs $5/GB to run a network I would like to start my own teirs 1, 2, and 3 ISPs.
Savyg wrote:If that is true which seems horrendously unlikely, Comcast can put a freakin cap on their users. Otherwise all they're doing is denying a competing service to sell their own crap.

They do put a cap on. 250GB.
Last edited by SpotTheCat on Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why I will downgrade my broadband.

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:08 pm

Savyg wrote:If that is true which seems horrendously unlikely, Comcast can put a freakin cap on their users. Otherwise all they're doing is denying a competing service to sell their own crap.

Hello?

Currently suspended, raised from 250 GB to 300 GB, but it's still out there. It's amazing how much bandwidth a teenager with a love for old Doctor Who can suck up in the 2 1/2 hours between her coming home from school and parental arrival. And yes, I've used the tools within Netflix to crank data rate down to the minimum.
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Re: Why I will downgrade my broadband.

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:11 pm

Captain Ned wrote:Hello?

Currently suspended, raised from 250 GB to 300 GB, but it's still out there. It's amazing how much bandwidth a teenager with a love for old Doctor Who can suck up in the 2 1/2 hours between her coming home from school and parental arrival. And yes, I've used the tools within Netflix to crank data rate down to the minimum.

Fair enough. I've never had to use Comcast.

Also never had a cap. My ISPs have fortunately never felt compelled to demand people not use their service.
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Re: Why I will downgrade my broadband.

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:31 pm

I never ran into bandwidth issues with Comcast. Perhaps, it is because I'm not a rapid Netflix junkie that needs to stream everything in sight. I also suspect it is because my locality has serious competition in the form of Verzion's FIOS (Landlord doesn't allow me to install it and I'm blocks away from local Verizon CO :( ). Comcast put in the infrastructure to handle 20Mbps+ connection for hundreds of users at primetime hours. The same cannot said for countless other regions and localities where Comcast is pretty much the only player in town and have little economic incentive to upgrade the aging infrastructure to handle larger loads.
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Re: Why I will downgrade my broadband.

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:44 pm

SpotTheCat wrote:My alternative is 3Mbps DSL which, obviously, is a lot slower than Comcast's claimed speeds. However, the prime reason I want fast internet is to stream high quality content of my choice. This switch will save me a lot of money ($35/month or more if I can find an intro rate), but I will lose Netflix anyways (saving another $8/month). Maybe in another couple of months somebody in my area will offer me internet service that works for the whole internet. I'll be waiting.


One warning here. It will work just fine for Netflix, though you may not get the highest HD quality settings. You, however, will not be able to do much else when a stream is playing. I have a 5M/768k DSL link and while I can surf while someone is streaming a show, doing anything work related, VNC, interactive shell, etc, is very painful.

Your problem is one of the reasons I pay for business class service even though its a residential location. No port blocking, no rules against running servers, no throttling or caps. Unfortunately it costs more.

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Re: Why I will downgrade my broadband.

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:57 pm

Krogoth wrote:The same cannot said for countless other regions and localities where Comcast is pretty much the only player in town and have little economic incentive to upgrade the aging infrastructure to handle larger loads.

On the plus side, whitespace broadband might be coming within a few years. I don't actually expect much, but it could bring a bit of balance to the force.
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Re: Why I will downgrade my broadband.

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 1:17 pm

I think the big change isn't going to be from whitespace, but the crumbling television model. The fact that Netflix accounts for so much bandwidth should be a signal that ISPs should be getting on that train and supporting the services that people want instead of giving life to channels that don't pull their own weight when it comes to viewership. The two alternatives are royalties paid to by Netflix to IPSs for their share of the load or Net Neutrality laws preventing Comcast from selectively restricting content. The latter would probably be a good idea overall, IMO, and can work with other changes.

By the way, part of the issue could be solved by shutting down a lot of television channels. Part of Comcast's traffic includes those channels. It's all data, as far as the network is concerned, it's just delivered a bit differently since "internet" implies and requires user control. This is part of the reason people like Comcast got into telephone communications as well. Voice has been digitized since the 50s, IIRC.
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Re: Why I will downgrade my broadband.

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 1:23 pm

I'm also on Comcast and the throttling nonsense is real. I consistently pull down 28-30mbit down and 5-6mbit up using speedtest.net but 720p Youtube videos buffer and stutter constantly when I actually want to use it. Tether my PS3 to my phone on Verizon LTE during the same time period and the same video loads no sweat AND it's better quaility (of course that'll burn through my 4GB of shared data so I only did it as a test). Not feeling sorry for Comcast here. I'm in the middle of a promotional period for a bundle that I don't even fully use with an ETF attached (but hey, the big bundle is cheaper than getting just the stuff I want), and as soon as that's done we're switching. I don't need 30mbit, I just want service that actually works on the sites I want to use.

If Netflix gave me a little more control over what playback quality is used, I think we'd all be happier.
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Re: Why I will downgrade my broadband.

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 1:25 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:You pay Netflix $8/month, then you use $500+/month worth of Comcast's bandwidth to stream your HD videos. However, Comcast charges the same fee to all of its customers, whether we use Netflix or not, so the rest of us have to foot the bill for the bandwidth that you and Netflix consume.

There is no way it is costing Comcast anywhere near $500/month to provide that bandwidth. You can get a completely uncapped, unthrottled "business class" connection from them for under $100/month (I actually know someone who has done this, and he's quite happy with it). I also have a VPS that I'm paying $30/month for, which includes 3 *terabytes* of bandwidth. Bandwidth has gotten cheap. Comcast is being greedy WRT the Netflix issue and trying to kill off a competitor, now that they are in the content business themselves.
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Re: Why I will downgrade my broadband.

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 1:36 pm

derFunkenstein wrote:If Netflix gave me a little more control over what playback quality is used, I think we'd all be happier.

They do. Go to your account settings and there are four (on my account) options: low, med, high (3Mbps), and auto.
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Re: Why I will downgrade my broadband.

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 1:51 pm

Whether it costs Comcast that much to provide bandwidth or not, Netflix users consume many times the amount of bandwidth consumed by an average user. How is it fair for you to use 20 or 40 times as much data as the average user and then ask all of the rest of us to foot the bill when Comcast has to raise rates to generate revenue to maintain and upgrade the network (and make some profit, too)?
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Re: Why I will downgrade my broadband.

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 2:08 pm

If its such a problem then lower the usage caps, fix your broken policy before blaming services and your own users for using what you alotted them - that's hardly 'fair' to customers. Neither is throttling a competing service until it is unusable.
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Re: Why I will downgrade my broadband.

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 2:09 pm

Edited ...

If Comcast has issues with how much they charge for a service they have, they should raise the price not shape the traffic, but of course they are shaping the traffic because they have competing service and THAT is what's illegal. They claim that's not what they are doing of course.
Last edited by keltor on Sat Jan 04, 2014 2:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why I will downgrade my broadband.

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 2:38 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:Whether it costs Comcast that much to provide bandwidth or not, Netflix users consume many times the amount of bandwidth consumed by an average user. How is it fair for you to use 20 or 40 times as much data as the average user and then ask all of the rest of us to foot the bill when Comcast has to raise rates to generate revenue to maintain and upgrade the network (and make some profit, too)?

It is a bit disingenuous of Comcast to imply that this is all about bandwidth costs when the main reason is to drive more people to their own services by "breaking" their competitors' services. People are still using the same amount of bandwidth at the local level whether they stream from Netflix, Comcast, Hulu, or whatever; and bandwidth out "in the cloud" is cheap (as I've already pointed out I currently get 3TB of bandwidth on a VPS hosting package that only costs me $30/month).

I have no problem with them enforcing quotas, or with implementing a multi-tier structure where you can pay more per month to have your quota raised, or less if you have modest bandwidth needs. If this was really about fairly apportioning costs across their own user base that would be the sensible approach. Instead they've chosen to engage in anti-competitive behavior, under cover of the excuse "if we don't do this our network will collapse".

Artificially throttling service depending on what the other endpoint is sucks. You're paying them to provide you with a connection to the Internet. As long as you stay under the bandwidth cap for the plan you've paid for and aren't doing anything illegal, they shouldn't give a damn where that traffic is coming from (or going to).
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Re: Why I will downgrade my broadband.

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 3:03 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:Whether it costs Comcast that much to provide bandwidth or not, Netflix users consume many times the amount of bandwidth consumed by an average user. How is it fair for you to use 20 or 40 times as much data as the average user and then ask all of the rest of us to foot the bill when Comcast has to raise rates to generate revenue to maintain and upgrade the network (and make some profit, too)?

You're basically making the argument for tiered service structures, no?

If Comcast's backend costs were so high that it was crashing their service model, then other, smaller competitors would have a worse version of the same problem, and the market prices would rise accordingly. Whatever troubles Netflix is offering to Comcast's support infrastructure, these are obviously nowhere near as difficult as the problems it offers to Comcast's competing content provision business.
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Re: Why I will downgrade my broadband.

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 3:05 pm

Is there a quick and easy way to check Netflix throughput? I've been noticing somewhat poor Netflix performance as well, and that's with a 55Mb connection. Either the Netflix servers are badly taxed, or there's some throttling going on with me as well.
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Re: Why I will downgrade my broadband.

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 3:30 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:Whether it costs Comcast that much to provide bandwidth or not, Netflix users consume many times the amount of bandwidth consumed by an average user. How is it fair for you to use 20 or 40 times as much data as the average user and then ask all of the rest of us to foot the bill when Comcast has to raise rates to generate revenue to maintain and upgrade the network (and make some profit, too)?

JAE, bandwidth isn't electricity or natural gas. The marginal cost of someone using "20 or 40 times as much data as the average user" is very low. Netflix's share of the bandwidth is at the core of the decision, but it really comes down to how much bandwidth Comcast can provide to a group of people. If the backbone of their network is saturated with data, then everyone's quality will go down, or certain users might see complete failures.

Now this can be remedied with improvements to the infrastructure, but that's expensive, and Comcast can discourage such heavy usage by capping the user's data instead. As JBI pointed out, Comcast can also discourage use of Netflix in favor of their own service using this method.

EDIT: number of users is how the engineers figure out how to service networks for phone calls as well. Land line telephone networks were set up to handle a high percentage of total users making calls during peak hours (they might still be, but I assume that most telephone companies just package calls as VOIP anyway). Cell phone systems are set up to handle a maximum number of phone calls within a particular cell by providing enough channels for users. When the population in the cell grows too large, they shrink the size of the cell and set up new cells around it. That way, the population is effectively decreased.

Internet systems are very similar as you take up bandwidth on the network whenever you're online. If you fire up Netflix, your share of that bandwidth increases, and the same is true if you upload a video. This is why companies sell higher speeds at higher prices, as your instantaneous speed is always capped. So again, they could solve the problem by improving the network to handle more peak users...
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Re: Why I will downgrade my broadband.

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 3:57 pm

The Egg wrote:Is there a quick and easy way to check Netflix throughput? I've been noticing somewhat poor Netflix performance as well, and that's with a 55Mb connection. Either the Netflix servers are badly taxed, or there's some throttling going on with me as well.


I don't know of anyway to check Netflix throughput, however I do know that some of the issues people see are on the Netflix end. Which streaming server you get connected to can have a big impact on how things go. Not to the extent SpotTheCat is seeing, but if you happen to hit a server that is overloaded or has an overload on some network hop between you an it, you will see streaming interruptions and/or downgrade of quality if you have the rate set to auto. The server will vary from stream to stream too.

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Re: Why I will downgrade my broadband.

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 5:13 pm

SpotTheCat wrote:However, Netflix stopped working about 2 weeks ago (or so). I cannot stream SD content, let alone the HD content that I want. When I contacted Comcast customer 'service' I was told that "Netflix is unsupported".


That's crazy! This needs to go on dslreports so that if other customers are having such a problem with such a ridiculous non-response it'll get more publicity.

If Comcast is really breaking netflix or deliberately ignoring it as part of some policy, there needs to be some pushback. And if they're just being idiotic or lazy in your case this kind of thing will still whip up an uproar and hopefully get your problem resolved.
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Re: Why I will downgrade my broadband.

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 6:00 pm

So they don't care if you download 100GB worth of shows you like from bit torrent. But they don't want you to use that 100GB on Netflix.

This is a power play to hurt Netflix' bottom line. Thing is, they lose a customer, and in your case, Netflix will actually make more profit from you if you stream in SD instead of HD from now on.

Idiots. I dumped cable as soon as my 2 years of slavery were up, and that was before I had even watched 1 second of anything on Netflix. Even if NF went away tomorrow, I wouldn't get cable TV again, ever.
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Re: Why I will downgrade my broadband.

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 6:13 pm

This is beginning to sound like "write your congressman" territory. Comcast deserves to get called out on this in the most embarrassingly public way possible. And JustAnEngineer should probably recalibrate his expectations of how current home users actually use the internet - it's a rare person I run into who doesn't have some kind of basic Netflix streaming package in this day and age, even if it's just being used with a Blu-ray player with streaming video support.
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Re: Why I will downgrade my broadband.

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 8:47 pm

Concupiscence wrote:This is beginning to sound like "write your congressman" territory. Comcast deserves to get called out on this in the most embarrassingly public way possible. And JustAnEngineer should probably recalibrate his expectations of how current home users actually use the internet - it's a rare person I run into who doesn't have some kind of basic Netflix streaming package in this day and age, even if it's just being used with a Blu-ray player with streaming video support.

It's called Net Neutrality. It basically requires ISPs to provide equal access to all content instead of favoring their own services or doing their own censorship.

It gets very R&P very quickly, but just know that it is "write you Congressman" territory and this is the issue to write about.
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Re: Why I will downgrade my broadband.

Postposted on Sat Jan 04, 2014 9:25 pm

Yes, the situation sucks. I know of several people who have made the exact same choice to go with "slower" last mile DSL based service that has great upstream connectivity to the Netflix CDN and as a result has a better Netflix experience.

However, you do have a work around available. If you get a VPN (or set up a vpn on a VPS) that you get to via a different route than you would take to the Netflix CDN, you can route your Netflix traffic through the VPN and get a much better experience. Granted, you should not have to do this, but it gives you another option.
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