Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Comcast Working with BitTorrent

Like me, reading the same post title at OpenLeft, you may have expected encouraging news that Comcast was willing to relax their (illegal?) throttling practices on paying customers. Not as such:

Aside from being politically powerful, cable companies are assholes. When not blocking peer to peer services (and being sued for it), Comcast is working with BitTorrent to promote a tv network it owns.

The subtext here is that Comcast has a really crappy network because it refused to invest in infrastructure, mostly because cable companies are really greedy and can't do anything properly except steal from shareholders and annoy customers.
Comcast cites "network management" and bandwidth concerns as justification for blocking the applications of paying customers, yet plans to use the same "bandwidth hogging" technology to turn a profit?

Ah, integrity.

1 comment:

  1. What Comcast doesn't want anyone to know are the technical details of its little operation. Hybrid fiber coax (HFC), the network type they use, typically crams about 500-2000 users per node. That coax ring has a peak bandwidth around 4Gbps. Once you lop off 20% for network overhead (quite standard), you figure that leaves about 3.2Gbps for phone, data and television programming.

    That sounds like a lot... until you consider that a single uncompressed HD channel needs 80Mbps. We're left with a scant 40 HD channels at a time without compression. This is probably why Comcast compresses the hell out of many channels (has anyone SEEN Comedy Central lately?) and degrades the quality substantially. Even if they manage to get down to 5Mbps per channel, each of those channels has to be broadcast three times: Full HD, Standard HD and standard analog. The cable companies will have to support those standard analog channels until 2012 by FCC mandate.

    Then you start tacking on phone and Internet. VoIP can easily consume 512Kbps to 1Mbps once you start turning various features on. They're trying to push 12Mbps/768Kbps Internet over it too. A household using the phone, the Internet and a single TV station can easily consume 20Mbps or more. At that rate, it would only take about 200 users to saturate the node or from 10-40% depending on how many users are on the network.

    I called the Comcast rep on the limitations of their network at the Woods Cross City Council meeting last month and the best he could do was stammer a weak "I don't know" when I asked how they could do it. I wonder what they'll do in Verizon markets when that 20Mbps symmetrical fiber starts rolling down the pipes.

    (As an aside, some cable companies, like Cox Communications, are trying to get down to 150-200 subscribers per node to increase overall bandwidth. Guess the big boys can't be bothered to actually build a decent network.)

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