[funsec] Not so fast, broadband providers tell big users (fwd)

Gadi Evron ge at linuxbox.org
Tue Mar 13 14:31:43 UTC 2007

On funsec we have had a discussion on broadband providers and bandwidth
limitations, pretty much what we rehearsed here.

Michael brought up an interesting case from a decade ago, which speaks of
some litigation issues we did not discuss. It is also
interesting to hear his view as a client on "been there done
that". Interesting reading.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2007 09:55:17 -0400
From: Blanchard_Michael at emc.com
To: ge at linuxbox.org
Cc: funsec at linuxbox.org
Subject: RE: [funsec] Not so fast, broadband providers tell big users

 Way back when, in the late 90's I was a named plaintiff on a class action lawsuit against Hughes DirectPC.  They were doing exactly what was mentioned in the article.  They had this thing called a "fair access policy", that would cut your speed in half if you downloaded too much, then in half again if you kept downloading, then in half again, until your speeds were much less than modem speeds.
   They would never tell you how much was too much, and never tell you when your speed was cut in half.  I run Dumeter so I constantly watch my i-net speeds, then and now, so I knew when it was happening.  If you called customer service, they'd say that everything was ok and they'd have zero knowledge of any speed throttling.  They'd say, "well your dish must not be aligned properly".  Even when I explain to them that I'm an Engineer and used a thousand dollar meter to establish the strongest signal possible, they'd still say that it must be a problem on my end.  Customer service would have zero knowledge (or deny any knowledge) of any bandwidth throttling.

    DirectPC's claim was exactly what the article mentions Comcast is claiming, that .1% of the users make up the majority of usage.  I think DPC said something like 1% of the users took up 30% of the bandwidth.

   Well, I was part of the Windows 95 and Windows 98 beta teams, and was downloading a CD a week from Microsoft.  That was too much downloading, I wound up using just my 28.8k modem most of the time and that would download quicker.  (At that time you used a modem to upload and the satellite dish only for download at advertised speeds of 400kps fast for that time).

   Even after the suit was settled, I don't think they ever fully acknowledged the amount that you had to download that was deemed "too much" and initiated the throttling.  Heck I'd use the latest Netscape install to test my speed, and that initiated the throttling, it was only 75meg if I remember correctly!

   The only one that really got justice was the lawyers...  DPC was ordered to "buy back" the equipment from us, at a loss to us, if we chose to sell it back to them.  I think the lawyers got a couple hundred thousand bucks out of the deal for "legal fees".

   Mike B

Michael P. Blanchard 
Antivirus / Security Engineer, CISSP, GCIH, CCSA-NGX, MCSE
Office of Information Security & Risk Management 
EMC ² Corporation 
4400 Computer Dr. 
Westboro, MA 01580 

-----Original Message-----
From: Gadi Evron [mailto:ge at linuxbox.org] 
Sent: Monday, March 12, 2007 8:29 PM
To: Blanchard, Michael (InfoSec)
Cc: funsec at linuxbox.org
Subject: RE: [funsec] Not so fast, broadband providers tell big users

On Mon, 12 Mar 2007 Blanchard_Michael at emc.com wrote:
>  wow, it's the Hughes DirectPC FAP all over again..... 

That doesn't ring a bell?


"beepbeep it, i leave work, stop reading sec lists and im still hearing
- HD Moore to Gadi Evron on IM, on Gadi's interview on npr, March 2007.

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