I will fire up the laptop, be getting 3.2-12 mbps, all of a sudden a fast.com speed test starts of sluggish and ramps up to 120-200 mbps.
Go figure. It happens every time, on multiple occasions, devices, browsers, all using the same internet connection and frequency.
Video bufferring frequently? Start a speedtest, problem (temporarily) solved!
To figure that out, you'd need to do a speed test to the target host, then do another one while simultaneously running Speedtest.
Your Internet speed is also affected by the peering agreements your ISP has, i.e. how "well connected" it is to the ISP of your target host. Speedtest targets (and Fast.com) are pretty well-connected; i.e. they have a lot of peers, so you can get to them in relatively few hops. Many times, they're even run by your ISP, so the number of hops is minimal.
I've noticed there's a big difference in both bandwidth and latency based on the network my requests actually go out on (from my university Internet connection). For some reason, the Univ. of Cal. Network > Commercial ISP > Internet2. (Not sure why Internet2 sucks so much, but it seems really slow for some reason.)
> A Comcast customer who is dissatisfied with Internet speeds set up a Raspberry Pi to automatically tweet at Comcast each time speeds are much lower than advertised.
> "I pay for 150Mbps down and 10Mbps up," Reddit user AlekseyP wrote over the weekend. "The Raspberry Pi runs a series of speed tests every hour and stores the data. Whenever the down[load] speed is below 50Mbps the Pi uses a Twitter API to send an automatic tweet to Comcast listing the speeds. I know some people might say I should not be complaining about 50Mbps down, but when they advertise 150 and I get 10-30 I am unsatisfied."
The status quo lack for user data protection is appalling.
It seems like we have two issues: politicians who don't really understand the technical ramifications around the laws and issues; and politicians who don't really care and just want their funding. It feels like the only way to make them both really get it is to use some form of hacktivism. Would we like a law to prevent robocalling? Then use our technological expertise to robocall all numbers related to these officials non-stop and have the message be "Pass a law to stop robo-calling". Worried about ISPs selling your data? Then use our technological expertise to buy this data from the ISPs and correlate the data and make public all the details of the data about these politicians and those related. Maybe this is nonsense but it seems like the only way to make it real for them.
Convince some industry group to seed it with $20k or so, target a small state where campaign donation amounts are low and bam, you've got your first anti-robocalling law (with teeth) on the books.
Which is precisely why the GDPR's enormous maximum fines are a good thing, in my book. Minor and unintentional violations can be treated with leniency, but a large organization that's repeatedly and deliberately compromising the privacy of millions can wind up paying for it in an actually noticeable manner.
People get the idea that internet is some magic, ephemeral source of endless data transfer. But it's very much a physical thing with limits set by the quality of the lines and the hardware at each end. Improving last-mile connections only push the limit upstream.
I think we can all imagine examples where this would get scummy but using network management to in good-faith give a better experience to everyone isn't really what people should be worried about.
I feel like the ISP throttling debate needs to be taken out of the realm of hackers where the mentality is "being allowed to do X is logically equivalent to being allowed to do X unrestricted for any purpose whatsoever" and into human territory where intent matters.
When an ISP offers “unlimited” usage that does not allow 100% usage all month long, that is exactly what they are attempting to do: take the debate out of the realm of consistency, and into human territory where how someone feels about it is what matters, rather than what was apparently agreed.
Look, I agree with you that the marketing for internet packages desperately needs to be changed from "X Mbps" to "Capped at X Mbps bandwidth" but we're in a technical forum where we all ought to know better.
And any ISP that uses their ability to throttle for a competitive advantage for competing services deserve to be raked over the coals but there are situations where throttling specific services makes everyone better off. The example I always use is throttling HBO traffic when GoT episodes are released -- watchers buffer a little longer but otherwise it's largely imperceptible and then non-GoT traffic isn't crowded out and you can livetweet the episode.
I know that technical people here can do their own traffic shaping and probably don't want their ISP doing it for them but for people who just want working internet it's a huge improvement. Gone are the days of people's internet being slow because someone's hogging all the bandwidth watching YouTube.
But that's very much NOT what is going on these days (in the US at least). Providers advertise a plan at a certain speed with "unlimited" usage. By any reasonable interpretation, that would mean I could use up to that rate of transfer 24/7. If they can't provide that rate of transfer to everyone who purchases it, then they have no business offering it!
And that's not even beginning to touch on any of the issues surrounding net neutrality.
I suspect what happens is that due to competitive pressures (ie advertising a larger number to get more customers) they either oversell the network's capacity or they sell at prices that aren't actually profitable for them in the event that people actually use all of what was sold to them.
To get back to the original analogy:
> Example - your water supplier doesn't make a big deal if you use more water because you have a swimming pool but you ISP does and I find that very weird.
In reality, your water supplier generally doesn't oversell their capacity - utilities go to great lengths to be able to meet peak demand. Charging more to, or placing time restrictions on, certain classes of customers who consume large quantities is a key part of that strategy. They also (typically) charge per gallon, which would be equivalent to charging per Gigabyte or whatever, but the rates are very reasonable. This is in addition to charging a low, again reasonable, fixed fee for your connection to their "network".
Your water utility also doesn't charge a different rate depending on whether you're using the kitchen vs bathroom sink (net neutrality), and most certainly doesn't attempt to collect and then sell such data to third parties!
tl;dr - ISPs in the US often engage in false advertising, resulting in outrage when promises aren't met. If they behaved more like actual utilities, we likely wouldn't have these issues.
Okay so the advertising changes to be from "X speed" to "best effort capped at X speed" -- nothing about internet service actually changes -- you're probably still mad. I feel like in a technical forum we should know better that such guarantees are impossible on any shared medium, not just oversubscribed ones.
> Charging more to, or placing time restrictions on, certain classes of customers who consume large quantities is a key part of that strategy.
You mean like how large ISPs want to throttle and charge video services more?
> water utility also doesn't charge a different rate depending on whether you're using the kitchen vs bathroom
Your water utility might not but your electric company does in certain areas buy putting special meters on your large appliances. It's typically done for a discount to incentivize running them off-peak but the idea is the same.
> doesn't attempt to collect and then sell such data to third parties
Careful with that assumption, that's exactly what the smart meters are for that are currently being rolled out.
Nonsense! My ISP could most certainly sell me a guaranteed minimum speed on their portion of the network at all times of day! In fact, this is precisely how commercial provisioning often works.
Obviously they can't control what happens once traffic leaves their network, but that was never the issue and no one is complaining about that (at least that I'm aware).
They might also offer higher off peak speeds, or charge per unit of data (like water and electric utilities), offer lower off peak pricing, or whatever. That's largely orthogonal to the current issue of rampant false advertising though.
> > Charging more to, or placing time restrictions on, certain classes of customers who consume large quantities is a key part of that strategy.
> You mean like how large ISPs want to throttle and charge video services more?
No, that would be analogous to the electric utility charging you more if you're using the TV vs the dishwasher. I'm not aware of any that do this, and to head off any counter examples I most definitely do not think that such practices should EVER be legal.
Discriminating against customers based on aggregate usage, rate of usage, usage versus time of day, or similar, is completely different than discriminating based on what is done with the service. The first is reasonable, and the second ought to be illegal in all cases as far as I'm concerned.
> It's typically done for a discount... Careful with that assumption, that's exactly what the smart meters are for ...
And I don't think such smart meter usage should be legal - as with this Maine law, it should NEVER be legal to incentivize data collection and sale via promotional offers.
I feel like this is stretching the definition of 'could' a bit, it's not like the residential arm of most ISPs are equipped to just flip a switch and give you a dedicated connection but yes, it is technically possible. It's also ludicrously expensive, a 100M dedicated point-to-point connection in my area costs about $1k/mo. and you have to foot the bill to dig the trenches and get the wire to your building. Should be noted that this doesn't include the costs to access the wider internet.
My point still stands though, minimum bandwidth guarantees aren't really possible on shared systems.
I'm more than happy to make ISPs change their wording but when it comes to residential internet "X Mbps" has never not meant "Best Effort capped at X Mbps." Regardless, changing how ISPs advertise themselves suddenly won't change the reality of this class of internet. Among this group of people that already know how it works and don't need the pamphlet the advertising doesn't really matter -- it's not like it will suddenly cause ISPs to change how their network is run.
> No, that would be analogous to the electric utility charging you more if you're using the TV vs the dishwasher.
I feel like the mistake here is making it sound like the person who's consuming the video content is the only party that matters. Presumably you're okay with your water company charging more for industrial use. But here's the thing, the factory is only using all that water because consumers want to buy the products made at the factory. And by charging more to the factory they're essentially charging more to consumers for using water for that specific purpose.
A good analogy for video content would be PCB manufacturing (especially since it uses a lot of water). In this case consumers are buying their made-to-order boards on-demand and their purchase directly triggers the water usage required. Yet the PCB manufacturer (and you by proxy) are still charged the industrial rate.
The same with video content, just because you as a consumer request the video doesn't make the company delivering it not a different class of customer, a high-volume bulk-sender.
I don't object to very limited, neutral, and above all good faith traffic shaping taking place in order to mitigate sudden spikes in usage that would otherwise cause problems for the network. I also wouldn't object to peak (ie time of day) or usage (ie quantity) based pricing, a practice already engaged in by the vast majority of public utilities.
I do object to any sort of throttling targeted at specific applications, protocols, or use cases. Utility services need to be neutral, and to the extent possible blind. They deliver a service and nothing more.
Directly related, I also object to the collection and sale of usage data. I don't want any of my utilities collecting unnecessary usage data or selling information about me.
I also object to false advertising. The fact that it's currently the status quo only serves to illustrate a systemic failure of the current regulatory system.
> I feel like the mistake here is making it sound like the person who's consuming the video content is the only party that matters.
... yes? That wasn't a mistake. I purchase bandwidth from them. To the extent physically possible, it is absolutely none of their business how I use the bandwidth that I purchased.
> Presumably you're okay with your water company charging more for industrial use.
> The same with video content, just because you as a consumer request the video doesn't make the company delivering it not a different class of customer, a high-volume bulk-sender.
Actually my understanding is that utilities often charge less for industrial use, albeit with other more complicated conditions attached to the service. Water or electric utilities having special contracts for particularly high volume customers isn't an issue, but charging residential customers different rates depending on whether they were taking a shower or doing the dishes wouldn't be acceptable. Equivalently, on the commercial side of things charging office buildings different rates based on whether they were hosting insurance agents or software developers wouldn't be reasonable.
Relating this to our ISP analogy, isn't it roughly equivalent to peering agreements and other commercial provisioning options that currently exist (versus residential subscriptions)?
Rereading the comment chain, it seems a misunderstanding occurred between us earlier. I wasn't claiming (and never meant to imply) that commercial and residential customers need to be given the exact same contract terms. I only objected to discrimination based on how the provided service is used. Charging a residential customer different rates (or providing different speeds, or etc) based on the content or source of their streaming or downloading isn't okay. Equivalently, discriminating against commercial entities based on what their business does with the bandwidth they purchase isn't okay.
Also claiming that this infringes on ISP free speech? Like Citizens United, applying ideas of personhood to cooperations is just gross.
I'm with the Chamber of Commerce in that the bill doesn't go far enough. Why should giving away our privacy be a prerequisite for doing anything online?
Rather than cynically dismiss this, imagine a less shitty world for a moment and imagine how we get there.
But I need to use an ISP to get online at all. They are the gatekeepers and they should be uninteresting.
As a practical matter, it might make a lot of sense to start with ISPs, though, because you get more bang for the buck there if you don't think you would be able to pass some kind of all encompassing data harvesting regulation.
If we aren't going to consider data harvesting to be an inherently harmful business model, it still makes some sense to regulate it in the case of ISPs because ISPs are internet infrastructure. If ISPs are data harvesting, it means that you cannot use the internet without being subjected to data harvesting. Furthermore, your ISP has a lot more information on you than most sites you visit will have.
If ISPs cannot data harvest, than at least I've got a chance to avoid it on the net. Sure, it may be hard, and I may have to avoid the most popular services like Twitter, Google, Facebook, and the like, but at least it is theoretically possible.
There's no bang for your buck because, AFAIK, no ISP in the U.S. is harvesting and selling user data.
>If we aren't going to consider data harvesting to be an inherently harmful business model, it still makes some sense to regulate it in the case of ISPs because ISPs are internet infrastructure. If ISPs are data harvesting, it means that you cannot use the internet without being subjected to data harvesting. Furthermore, your ISP has a lot more information on you than most sites you visit will have.
ISPs are a smaller part of the internet infrastructure than Chrome or Windows or Android or iOS are. They are also more easily replaced.
If we are considering data harvesting a legitimate business model then ISPs jumping into that game is good for consumers. That market is effectively a duopoly between Google and Facebook. Adding in ISPs should send more value to the consumer and/or lower ad costs.
I'm spending about $1,000 a year between my ISP and cell company. I'd be fine with them selling my browsing data in exchange for a discount. Google and Facebook know pretty much everything I do on the internet already. What's the difference if Comcast gets added to that party? At least I get some more cash in my pocket. And since ISPs are regional it's probably better overall for the internet if they get the ad cash instead of global oligarchs like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft.
How are you going to avoid your ISP? Might as well decide not to purchase electricity from the local utility...
>How are you going to avoid your ISP? Might as well decide not to purchase electricity from the local utility...
You can avoid any particular ISP as well. You have to use an ISP, but you also have to use an OS and a Browser. And the companies that dominate the OS and Browser markets are actually recording and selling your data.
I take it you aren't from the US? When I said "Might as well decide not to purchase electricity from the local utility...", I wasn't embellishing.
> the companies that dominate the OS and Browser markets are actually recording and selling your data
But again, at least theoretically you can avoid them. For example, you can use Firefox (or hypothetically even Konqueror) and Linux (or FreeBSD, etc). Similar to avoiding Google though, this might not be feasible in practice.
I am. And like most other people in the US I have cable option, DSL option, several cell providers, and a couple satellite options. So, yes you are embellishing when you say "Might as well decide not to purchase electricity from the local utility..."
>But again, at least theoretically you can avoid them.
I can theoretically avoid Comcast way easier. To avoid Windows, I'd have to quit my job because I use Windows only software. Chrome to Firefox is easier than getting rid of Windows, but would be worse than going from cable to DSL. And besides, Firefox spies on their users as well (or at least tried to at one point).
According to the FCC and many lobbyists, sure. That doesn't match what I see reported in the media though, and it certainly hasn't been my personal experience.
I have only once had what I considered to be a real choice, but that required living in a major city. Even then, the choice was between overpaying (imo) for 50/50 versus paying even more for 25/5, which is hardly comparable.
> I can theoretically avoid Comcast way easier.
Perhaps if it's only Comcast that's doing it. But if all the major companies are doing it, it won't be realistic to avoid them all - you have to buy from someone. The (approximate) equivalent to FOSS here would be a community mesh network, and I don't think anyone is arguing that those are viable.
Government is a lot of incremental progress, not a big bang from zero to perfection. Attempts to bundle too much scope into one unit of work is a frequent compliant towards government.
Also apparently this new law is modeled on a federal law against ISPs harvesting data that the Trump administration struck down. So this is maybe not so much a bold step forwards against data harvesting as a refusal to be dragged backwards.
Why start with the only sector that isn't routinely harvesting and selling user data?
If they aren't doing anything wrong with the data, then what's the issue? They won't have to change any business practices.
If we could push through net neutrality, this wouldn't be an issue.
This law prevents absolutely nothing...
They sell ip address, websites visited, and home address?
You can buy advertising profiles (or access to them) but this not really useful for things that are not directly advertising as it is super aggregated. In general the ISP data is less valuable since so much of the web has moved to using SSL.
I don't know much about how this has changed over the last couple of years but maybe someone else can chime in.
I'm in Wisconsin, and man do I wish we would be in the news for anything other than something our social cancer of a former governor did. :(
Last week I was watching some comedians on a cable show. Trying to avoid late night comedians because we're always the butt of jokes over there. In any case, it's on in the background and I'm sort of paying attention enough to follow. All of a sudden I hear, "Wisconsin!" Followed by the comedy club's audience laughing.
And I'm thinking to myself, "Man? Did a b-list comedian just tell a joke that featured 'Wisconsin' as not only the butt of the joke, but the punchline too?"
A new low.
Oh well, like my neighbor said this weekend, "There's always Florida!" So at least we're not at the bottom.
>"The bill does not allow ranked-choice voting to be used for general and special elections for the offices of Governor, State Senator, or State Representative unless there is an amendment to the Constitution of Maine, Article IV, Part First, Section 5, Article IV, Part Second, Sections 4 and 5 and Article V, Part First, Section 3 that authorizes the Legislature, by proper enactment, to determine the method by which the Governor and members of the State Senate and House of Representatives are elected is ratified."
It's like we've got a bunch of TODOs spread all over our legislation.
I didn't much care for him as a governor at the time, but I saw John Baldacci speak around the time I graduated and he spoke of Maine's chief export: U-Hauls, carrying the state's best and brightest away. I've thought about moving back, because there are parts of Maine I miss...but it's neither economically nor politically stable and Maine misses out by that a lot more than I do.
They don't flee it. They suck it up and move elsewhere for money. The high paying jobs are in the big cities, like Boston. Most of them (all the ones I know who live in MA) want to move back and really don't like the culture here but that's basically impossible do to once you've built a professional network and started to raise a family.
I graduated from UMaine. It was a morbid and forgone conclusion that we would all be moving to the Boston area if we wanted to make big bucks in our field. It was about the money, nothing else. People will put up with a lot of shit to make a buck.
>but it's neither economically nor politically stable
Politically stable? What the heck is that supposed to mean?
Yeah, the republicans with their backwards social policy can take the legislature or governor if they the dems try to push dumb stuff people don't actually want. That's a feature not a bug. It means both parties actually have a reason to pander to the voters (i.e. do what voter want them to, stupid or not). Democracy requires competition. No, Maine isn't a one party state and I assure you you do not want it to be. The party distinction is a more malleable and relative one at the state level (i.e. a rural Idaho democrat may as well be a NYC republican). One party states are very good stifling any progress not condoned by powers that be of the established party only. It's all bread and circuses with the occasional consenting to progress at the last minute when it looks like they might actually be challenged. Trust me, you do not want that. That is bad for democracy.
There's a reason this law was passed in Maine and not MA or CA.
Maine's as economically stable as any other state that doesn't have an industry that basically prints money (and in reality those industries tend to only float a region, not a whole state, e.g. finance dollars are not helping Buffalo much, but that's not really important for this discussion).
Most of the jobs are seasonal and pretty much all of them directly or indirectly depend on money from greater Boston area. This applies to me as well.
From my perspective the resentment stemming from a northern way of life and values changed by influx of bostonians is understandable.
Most folks moving up from Massachusetts generally don't appreciate that.
The people I know fled and don't regret doing so. Dueling anecdotes. Whee!
Like, for real: I grew up there, I graduated from UMaine, and among plenty of other reasons, one that is sufficiently disqualifying by itself is that there are LGBT people in my life and the people who vote for literally-drunk-at-campaign-events Paul LePage can't be trusted to not be at minimum shitty and at maximum violent towards them. To say nothing of everything else.
This has been the case for my entire life. It goes like clockwork; Massachusetts people retire, sell their massively overpriced homes, move up to Maine into some little town, and then immediately begin taking over town governments and fire departments and whatever other local institutions there are, piss off the local people, stir up a bunch of drama, and start introducing all the things that they hated about Methuen or Worcester.
Mills has already spent all the money and more that LePage saved, and jumpstarted the importation of refuges and asylum seekers again to the degree that Portland is busting at the seams, all in under a year. There are more than enough people already in Maine that are still living out of dirt-floor houses and scrabbling along for survival.
Now I live in Florida. I like the beaches here, but I do miss the mountains sometimes.
This one is, arguably, true.
> jumpstarted the importation of refuges and asylum seekers again to the degree that Portland is busting at the seams, all in under a year
This is racist pablum.
Actually born inside a government funded research project, to be more specific.
> Is your ISP pissing you off? Deal with it.
Any thoughts on how? I have two options in my area, both of which are miserably slow and overpriced.
> Letting the government take over the internet 'for protection' is like making a pact with the Devil. It will NOT end well for you.
How is this bill letting the government “take over the Internet?” That’s like saying a government bill that bans dumping toxic materials into rivers is “letting the government take over” rivers.
ISPs are “free” to run their businesses as they like; they just can’t sell my personal data without asking me first.
- the internet started as defense technology commissioned by the government (you have that right), which was then taken up by universities and then everyone else and developed and grown into what we know now. And yes, it was wild: no government rulings, no taxing, no policing.
- Your ISP is bothering you and you don't have other options? Better get used to it, because once the government starts regulating them, less and less companies will want to go into the ISP business (large ISP companies already have expensive lobbyists in Washington, don't tell me you thought these government regulations are made 100% for your benefit).
- last time I checked, it was The Government who was dumping toxic waste in the rivers <https://nyti.ms/2KdqoWL>. Anyway, the government took over the rivers long ago. Try to go fishing to your nearest river or lake without a permit, see what happens.
- I have bad news. Almost everyone is selling your personal data. Your bank, your credit card company, that place you take your car for service, that charity you donate to... you name it. Don't think your ISP won't do it because someone passed a law, they will always find a way to work around that law. You have to defend yourself, there's always VPN for instance. Just don't be so innocent as to think that because they passed a law now every little thing is going to be alright.
How could you possibly "deal" with having only one ISP available in your area, for instance? There's literally no margin for the user.
>The internet was born wild and grew up wild, and its great and becoming better
It grew up to become effectively chained and governed by a handful of giant corporations; let's be real here. While I'm not exactly the biggest proponent of state meddling in general terms, I'm all for protecting individuals from harmful practices.
Laws like this are more dangerous than draconian internet legislation or companies doing un-ethical internet things.
These laws make people feel good and feel they've made progress when in reality they've done nothing - the illusion of progress to make one feel good is more damning than doing what these laws were explicitly intended to "prevent".
OK grandpa, demonstrate you know what the law does and maybe you'll earn a response on the merits. This is just empty nonsense. Who are you quoting?