33 votes

Comcast starts throttling mobile video, will charge extra for HD streams and full-speed tethering

15 comments

  1. [2]
    Zaid
    Link
    Aaaand it begins. Doesn't seem so bad right now? Let's see in a year what they've done.

    Aaaand it begins. Doesn't seem so bad right now? Let's see in a year what they've done.

    15 votes
  2. [2]
    asdfjackal
    Link
    There is so much wrong with this sentence alone. First, while 480p is technically DVD quality, that format is technically 15 years old, barely a modern spec to base throttling on. Second, not only...

    The short version is that videos will be throttled to 480p (DVD quality) on all Comcast mobile plans unless you pay extra, while Comcast's "unlimited" plan will limit mobile hotspot speeds to 600kbps.

    There is so much wrong with this sentence alone. First, while 480p is technically DVD quality, that format is technically 15 years old, barely a modern spec to base throttling on. Second, not only is that not unlimited, that is far more limited that most wireless hotspots I have used. I can only imagine how bad the unlimited plan must be.

    11 votes
    1. lordpipe
      Link Parent
      It seems absolutely absurd to throttle hotspots. The only way you could do that is by forcing the user to install DRM on their phone... sounds super easy to bypass. An artificial limitation that...

      It seems absolutely absurd to throttle hotspots. The only way you could do that is by forcing the user to install DRM on their phone... sounds super easy to bypass. An artificial limitation that does nothing but suck money out of less knowledgeable users.

      2 votes
  3. [4]
    nkv
    Link
    Would VPN help in this situation?

    Would VPN help in this situation?

    7 votes
    1. Soptik
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I'd say only if you don't have mobile phone from Comcast, in that case, only root and removing Comcast bloatware might save you. Edit: Relevant links: Lineage OS, Nord VPN, Tunnel Bear (VPN)

      I'd say only if you don't have mobile phone from Comcast, in that case, only root and removing Comcast bloatware might save you.

      Edit: Relevant links: Lineage OS, Nord VPN, Tunnel Bear (VPN)

      8 votes
    2. havoc
      Link Parent
      Depends whether the restrictions are selective to data traffic or a general limitation to the available bandwidth based on your tariff. If it's the former, it may be of value to find out what the...

      Depends whether the restrictions are selective to data traffic or a general limitation to the available bandwidth based on your tariff.

      If it's the former, it may be of value to find out what the exact procedure is, so one might even be able to avoid the restrictions without relying on a third party service.

      It seems this is actually Verizon's doing and all the MVNOs (have to?) follow suit, and T-Mobile also has a version of this. So changing the provider may not be a worthwhile option.

      5 votes
    3. Luna
      Link Parent
      If you have "unlimited" data, the first 20 GB is unthrottled, except for traffic that appears to be video. A VPN would theoretically work for the first 20 GB, but after that you get 1.5 Mbps down,...

      If you have "unlimited" data, the first 20 GB is unthrottled, except for traffic that appears to be video. A VPN would theoretically work for the first 20 GB, but after that you get 1.5 Mbps down, 750 kbps up, so the VPN wouldn't help much there. Would it help when tethering (which is 600 kbps, regardless of throttled status and traffic type)? I'm not sure. I know that if you rooted your device you used to be able to get around tether restrictions, but I haven't rooted my past 2 devices so I'm not sure if that's changed since then.

      Basically, you'd be better off switching carriers.

      1 vote
  4. Luna
    Link
    I thought the "the human eye can only see in 720p" argument was limited to console fanboys in YouTube comments, now this BS is being peddled by large corporations. There is a noticeable...

    Carriers argue that many consumers can't tell the difference between 480p and higher quality on smartphone screens

    I thought the "the human eye can only see in 720p" argument was limited to console fanboys in YouTube comments, now this BS is being peddled by large corporations. There is a noticeable difference, especially with text, otherwise Apple would never have pushed retina displays, considering how choosy they are (or used to be) for incorporating new technologies.

    The short version is that videos will be throttled to 480p (DVD quality) on all Comcast mobile plans unless you pay extra

    (Emphasis mine) Honestly, I'm shocked. Not that they would do this to their unlimited customers, but that they would also do this to the customers willing to pay $12/GB. If anything, I'd expect 0 limits for the pay-per-GB customers so they would rack up charges even faster.

    On the 600kbps tethering limit, Comcast told customers, "At this speed, you'll conserve data so that it takes longer to reach the 20GB threshold, but you'll still be able to do many of the online activities you enjoy."

    How disingenuous. They just want to make tethering unbearable by making it even slower than the throttled speeds for non-tethered cell phones (1.5 Mbps down, 750 kbps up). Sadly, there are a lot of people who don't realize just how bad these offerings really are and will gladly bundle it with their current Comcast service (you have to be a customer with them to get the mobile service).

    6 votes
  5. [4]
    HutchinsonianDemon
    Link
    My apartment complex is owned by comcast... so i literally have no choice in the matter.

    My apartment complex is owned by comcast... so i literally have no choice in the matter.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      Soptik
      Link Parent
      I fell bad for America... We, in Europe (at least in my country), have 4 different internet providers for village with 2000 people (and even more in bigger cities). What could technically next...

      I fell bad for America... We, in Europe (at least in my country), have 4 different internet providers for village with 2000 people (and even more in bigger cities). What could technically next president + congress do for this situation? As I'm aware, even lowering the obstacles for becoming ISP (and thus helping Google Fiber) could greatly improve the situation?

      6 votes
      1. Zeerph
        Link Parent
        A new government would have to fundamentally change both how the industry and government currently work. Federal Government no more lobbying from ISP/cable companies Congress took $101 million in...

        What could technically next president + congress do for this situation?

        A new government would have to fundamentally change both how the industry and government currently work.

        I think any one of these would see a large amount of pushback by the telecom industry and since they basically control a large portion of congress (and perhaps the administration) through lobbying it would entail electing an entire cohort of folks not influenced by corporate cash.

        To answer your questions, yes the US federal government has the means to enact change, but not the will.

        2 votes
    2. svenkatesh
      Link Parent
      You understand this article is about Xfinity Mobile, not Comcast home internet, right?

      You understand this article is about Xfinity Mobile, not Comcast home internet, right?

      2 votes
  6. [2]
    nothis
    Link
    I skimmed the article looking for that info but didn't find it: How, exactly, are they determining "HD video"? Is it just for some Comcast-specific video streaming app? Or is this every video...

    I skimmed the article looking for that info but didn't find it: How, exactly, are they determining "HD video"? Is it just for some Comcast-specific video streaming app? Or is this every video streaming, anywhere (youtube, netflix, a random vimeo video viewed in the browser, etc)? Could you even reliably filter out that type of data? Is this such a universal standard?

    1 vote
    1. lordpipe
      Link Parent
      When T-Mobile did a similar thing, but with a zero-rate plan instead, they used heuristics that detect video. First check the host for well-known streaming sites, then for non-HTTPS connections,...

      When T-Mobile did a similar thing, but with a zero-rate plan instead, they used heuristics that detect video. First check the host for well-known streaming sites, then for non-HTTPS connections, check the content type. If the user opts in, rate limit these connections to 1.5 Mbps and take this data usage off their bill.

      For non-well-known HTTPS connections, there's no reasonable way to implement this.

      5 votes