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I'd Like To Throttle Verizon
July 18, 2014 2:15 PM   Subscribe


 
I just got off the phone with my ISP. I recently moved and when I called to schedule the service move, they couldn't do it for some reason. So they closed my account and created a new one and moved the billing over, bada boom, bada bing. Got my first bill, it was what the CSR said it would be, and paid it last week.

This week I start getting calls from a collections agency telling me that I am in arrears to the ISP to the tune of 200 bucks. So, today, I spent 2.5 hours on the phone with them. Apparently, the CSR that made the changes a month ago flagged the original account and sent it collections that day, instead of waiving the termination fees like they promised. I never even got a bill, just straight to collections.

So, they waived all that, plus the "late" fees and we shall see if the collections stops calling.

It's a huge cockup and a tremendous waste of my time and energy. I'd take my money somewhere else if my options weren't carrier pigeon or a can and string.

So much for the invisible hand of the market.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:25 PM on July 18 [12 favorites]


Maybe if everyone starts using a VPN to get around ISP throttling, the NSA will get behind net neutrality?
posted by pulposus at 2:26 PM on July 18 [9 favorites]


This will work until Verizon starts throttling VPNs, or even more insidiously, starts making you pay for a business account to use one at all.
posted by Vulgar Euphemism at 2:26 PM on July 18 [5 favorites]


What an alluring arm at -9:50...
posted by Drexen at 2:30 PM on July 18


So much for the invisible hand of the market.

Please. The Invisible Hand of the Market is digging around in your pockets for your last few nickles. Everything is working as intended. You don't keep your quarterly reports growing by offering value and service, you know.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:33 PM on July 18 [24 favorites]


Man, that Level 3 blog article linked from this article is pretty damning and doesn't mince words. I'd expect those kinds of peering arrangement specifics to be kept secret.
posted by zsazsa at 2:34 PM on July 18 [5 favorites]




It really seems like there's a lawsuit to be had here. It's like Apple says gee Photoshop sure is running on a lot of Macs, so now Mac processors will lock off 90% of the CPU and RAM to Photoshop unless Adobe coughs up protection money. Is that not grounds for a class action consumer lawsuit? You pay for 100 megabits but you'll only get 10 if we don't like who you're talking to?
posted by crayz at 2:45 PM on July 18 [6 favorites]


Same thing on AT&T.

This net neutrality and throttling hubbub is just a stall anyway. Companies, including my new one out in the country, are moving towards the "data plan" billing. That is, no matter how fast your connection is, you only get Xgb per month. And yes, this is a hard wired connection.

So it doesn't matter to me or anyone on a data plan; once I've watched two or three netflix movies or a bunch of youtubes, I'm near my monthly limit and ready for "extra data" charges for additional GB.
posted by CrowGoat at 2:56 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Help us, Google Fiber, you're our only hope!
posted by Justinian at 3:04 PM on July 18 [6 favorites]


Help us, Google Fiber, you're our only hope!

That will work until they decide to route your entire traffic through your G+ account.

Really there either needs to be real competition (whether from google or some other direction) or effective regulation. I don't need to have four electrical utilities competing for my account in order to have reasonably priced and reliable power, because it is well regulated and managed for long term service, not short term profit.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:17 PM on July 18 [17 favorites]


Really there either needs to be real competition (whether from google or some other direction) or effective regulation.

Guess we can just kick back and relax, then, content in the knowledge that it's already hopeless.
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:46 PM on July 18 [8 favorites]


FWIW, I ran that test on my Verizon FiOS connection and got something like 256kpbs connection speed. That seemed a little wonky -- I stream Netflix to my televisions all the time with no issues -- so I reloaded the page and maxed out the stream at 3+Mbps. That's not to say that Verizon isn't playing games, just to say that watching one person's single test doesn't really tell you much of anything about the overall networking status.
posted by srt19170 at 3:52 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


CrowGoat: "Companies, including my new one out in the country, are moving towards the "data plan" billing. That is, no matter how fast your connection is, you only get Xgb per month. And yes, this is a hard wired connection. "

It's hilarious to see people in Seattle complain about Comcast and then hold up Wave Broadband as some sort of savior, especially now that Wave owns CondoInternet (a provider of 100Mbps/1Gbps service to high-end residential units in "select buildings" in privileged Seattle/Bellevue enclaves*). Wave, here in the "dodgy end" of Seattle (the Central District), pulls that same quota transfer crap. Their reasoning is even straight out of an MBA's final dissertation:
That’s why we actively manage our networks, and continuously expand to add even more resources when needed. By allocating bandwidth to each internet service account, and assessing a nominal fee for usage beyond that amount, we can optimize our resources accordingly.
Sure, I can use CenturyLink, except that I can't because their copper is too poor in this area to cough up any kind of stable speeds. It's Wave or bust.

*The existence of CondoInternet is always heralded as some cure-all. "Of course Seattle has good broadband, just sign up with Condo!" Sure, if I wanted to pay $2,000/month just for a bedroom. I, sarcastically, can't wait until CondoInternet has 300GB transfer caps on their 100Mbps service, just like the rest of us with Wave...
posted by fireoyster at 3:52 PM on July 18


Maybe if everyone starts using a VPN to get around ISP throttling, the NSA will get behind net neutrality?

No.

I mean, probably not.

The thing is, these are the same telcos that happily comply with national security letters, allow the NSA to put secret rooms in their buildings (looking at you, ATT), and generally fall in line when asked/told to by the NSA.

While you hear the tech companies (google, facebook, etc) bitch about the NSA, it's worth noting that these companies can loose international business - consumers have a choice if they want to use various internet services. With cable companies/telcos, the consumer is pretty much trapped (okay, they can go to the other internet provider, if they are lucky enough to have two choices).

So, no, I don't think the NSA will go to war with the telco's... Why turn an ally into an enemy.

What you may see is the NSA/intelligence community talking about how VPN's enable terrorism, drug dealing, and pedophelia, and we must protect the children and the country by making VPNs illegal.

I'd say that's a more likely course of behind-the-scenes lobbying by the intelligence community to outlaw international VPN service (see China for an example of what this may look like).
posted by el io at 4:06 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


Netflix will happily give any ISP a caching server that will take the vast majority of the load off the long-distance links ... but major national ISPs won't take them up on that offer. It seems these companies would rather spend huge amounts of extra money just so they have an excuse to throttle Netflix.

This is going to get resolved, somehow. Either local governments will get smart about who they give cable and phone concessions to, or someone with a lot of money will build a parallel network. But it could take a decade or more. Remember how long we suffered with absurdly restrictive and overpriced cell phone contracts?
posted by miyabo at 4:20 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


I just tried it and got 560kbps direct from Verizon and 4300kbps(!) through my VPN. Which seems odd, given that 3Mbps is supposed to be the max.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:24 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


The Level 3 blog post that prompted Nederkoorn's test is the real smoking gun here. Level 3 kind of is the Internet in the US, in that they're one of the biggest providers of network bandwidth for other Internet companies. ISPs, Datacenters, large companies like Google and Amazon, they all buy network access from Level 3. For them to come out directly and say "Verizon's Netflix access is slow because of this specific place they refuse to upgrade capacity" is incredibly damning.

It's also a little bit understandable. Verizon's view is that those upgrades are an expense and that Netflix should bear some of the cost of that expense. I think this view is wrong, and Level 3's characterization of the added expense is doubly damning. But it does explain where Verizon is coming from.

San Francisco is a bit lucky in that we have at least a little broadband competition. In addition to AT&T DSL we have Sonic.net DSL. And in addition to Comcast cable we have Astound cable. Sonic.net has been awesome to me for years and takes a strong stance in favor of net neutrality. I just got an Astound line installed at home (hello, 100Mbps) and am grateful I could go somewhere other than Comcast, the devil's ISP.
posted by Nelson at 4:30 PM on July 18 [7 favorites]


Got a trial of VyperVPN just to see if my ISP was throttling (Charter Communications in CT). I actually get better speeds without the VPN, so I guess playing with the Little Guys has its advantages.
posted by jpolchlopek at 4:42 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure the test was valid, he should have wiped his browser cache before the second attempt.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:43 PM on July 18


Verizon's view is that those upgrades are an expense and that Netflix should bear some of the cost of that expense.

Level 3:
Maybe they can’t afford a new port card because they’ve run out – even though these cards are very cheap, just a few thousand dollars for each 10 Gbps card which could support 5,000 streams or more. If that’s the case, we’ll buy one for them. Maybe they can’t afford the small piece of cable between our two ports. If that’s the case, we’ll provide it. Heck, we’ll even install it.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:43 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


Yeah I think Level 3 is being a bit disingenuous about the full cost of Verizon upgrading that capacity everywhere. But like I said, it's a damning thing Level 3 is saying.

I'm also being too fair to Verizon when I try to take their side and say it's about Verizon's attempt to share some of the traffic costs. Verizon also sells TV and movies and is in direct competition with Netflix. A prevailing theory is that Verizon really just wants to hamstring Netflix's competition by exploiting their monopoly power over Internet access.
posted by Nelson at 4:52 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


I just switched to FiOS this week to get away from Comcast, the only other provider in this area. Netflix is definitely worse than before, and I haven't tried the VPN yet, but the Netflix example video shows that I'm only getting about 500kbps, even though all the speed testing tools show my connection rates around 30Mbps.

Sometimes, you can't win.
posted by KGMoney at 4:57 PM on July 18


On the other hand, Netflix just suggested I look at a one hundred two page EULA before watching Netflix, so ... fuck you to all the corporations involved.
posted by adipocere at 5:01 PM on July 18 [5 favorites]


el io: "What you may see is the NSA/intelligence community talking about how VPN's enable terrorism, drug dealing, and pedophelia, and we must protect the children and the country by making VPNs illegal."

Business use of VPNs means this isn't going to happen.
posted by Mitheral at 5:31 PM on July 18


This will work until Verizon starts throttling VPNs, or even more insidiously, starts making you pay for a business account to use one at all.

What Mitheral said. Plus you can tunnel a VPN through something else, like an SSL or SSH connection which prevents the packet inspection from even detecting it as a VPN. All of which just adds overhead and wastes bandwidth, which only further underscores the perversity of all this.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:37 PM on July 18


FIOS in NYC here. Just tried this test exactly as he did it (VyperVPN, Washington DC Proxy from NYC). I even happen to have the same router.

I got full speed, no throttling with or without the VPN, so while Verizon may be hammering SOME Netflix streams, it's not hammering mine -- on a Friday night in prime viewing time. Just a data point.

Having said that, I've been meaning to get a VPN in place for a bunch of reasons, and this finally got me off my butt to do it, along with instructions on how to make it work with my wireless router -- so thanks for that!
posted by The Bellman at 5:44 PM on July 18


America, land of rentierism. Everywhere else in the world they're building out capacity; whereas all our corporate free enterprise spirit is going into figuring out how to increase the take on what's already there. Which makes the internet is pretty much the same as all our other infrastructure now. That sure didn't take long.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:46 PM on July 18 [12 favorites]


My utopian hope is that we can bypass all these stupid ISPs by using meshnets.
posted by bhnyc at 5:48 PM on July 18


BTW, the reason all these cheap VPN services are around is because of MPAA/RIAA lawyers suing bittorrent pirates. To avoid the lawyers, you route your bittorrent traffic through a VPN to hide your IP address. That's why PIA and many other popular VPNs advertise that they keep no logs (so a court can't compel them to identify customers).

I think it's pretty funny that Netflix subscribers are being forced to use the same privacy services as the pirates.
posted by ryanrs at 5:58 PM on July 18 [5 favorites]


I'm curious to see if this concept starts spreading to other cities: Comcast’s worst nightmare: How Tennessee could save America’s Internet
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:04 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Greg Ace: Don't worry, our elected officials will save us from the threat of cheap fast internet. From your link:
Once again abandoning the business lobby’s typical call for less government intervention, telecom firms have successfully pushed 20 states to pass laws limiting the reach of community-owned utilities like EPB.
posted by el io at 6:12 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]




From that link:

THE BALLER HERBST LAW GROUP
A PROFESSIONAL CORPORATION
...
www.baller.com

posted by evidenceofabsence at 6:19 PM on July 18 [5 favorites]


So the bandwidth meter on the test video appears to be a function of the browser silverlight client. Smart TVs just show the video with no text overlay. This is probably the case with things like Roku and AppleTV as well. So I'll have to fire up a copy of a windows VM because I'm about as likely to install silverlight on a machine I actually use as to inject hyena urine into my carotid artery.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:33 PM on July 18


I'm about as likely to install silverlight on a machine I actually use as to inject hyena urine into my carotid artery.

You're missing out dude, I'm rolling hard on giggle juice right now and I am fucking FLYING!
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:43 PM on July 18 [10 favorites]


So I'll have to fire up a copy of a windows VM because I'm about as likely to install silverlight on a machine I actually use as to inject hyena urine into my carotid artery.

"Are your teens injecting hyena urine into their carotid arteries? Some experts say, it's more likely than you think! We'll take a look at the dangerous new trend emerging online that has one public health expert very concerned." [SOT: "They think it's cool because they saw it on their favorite blog, but they just, they don't know the long-term damage they're doing."] "More on this controversy, and your weekend forecast, tonight at ten."
posted by jason_steakums at 6:45 PM on July 18


I don't need to have four electrical utilities competing for my account in order to have reasonably priced and reliable power, because it is well regulated and managed for long term service, not short term profit.

I remember when our utilities were like this. Sweet, bygone days of memory...
posted by Kevin Street at 6:59 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


I'm on an independent in Toronto called TekSavvy (through Rogers' lines) and I get 3000 kbps at full HD resolution consistently.

I tried with only Silverlight checked or with preference to HTML5 video checked and got the same speed.
posted by juiceCake at 7:06 PM on July 18


,.,,,,I never even got a bill, just straight to collections.

So, they waived all that, plus the "late" fees and we shall see if the collections stops calling.


Shame that class action lawsuits are harder to do against corporations. I would love to see them get fined 10k for every customer they autmatically send to collections.

This kind of stuff destroys people's lives. Collections->bad credit->increased interest rates->no credit->no job (since jobs can now hire/fire based on creditworthyness!)->no credit -> street.

RAGE
posted by lalochezia at 7:11 PM on July 18 [4 favorites]


Maybe they can’t afford a new port card because they’ve run out – even though these cards are very cheap, just a few thousand dollars for each 10 Gbps card which could support 5,000 streams or more.

The Bush II Administration called - they want their 10-gig card prices back. You can buy a 10-gig switch for under a grand these days. Which kind of re-enforces the point.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:13 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Well let's be honest these typically aren't regular switches but internet routers from Cisco and Juniper who typically mark up their 10, 40 and 100 gig interfaces a lot. That being said even the cost of a big ass Juniper MX960 fully loaded is chump change for these providers.

They would just prefer to not have to upgrade their network at all and increase their profit margin a ton oh and force Verizon subscribers to something like Redbox Online.
posted by vuron at 7:20 PM on July 18


George_Spiggott, Rokus show the bitrate on the screen for the test stream.
posted by NortonDC at 8:30 PM on July 18


Yeah, I note it does on the iPad as well. I wouldn't use it to test for ISP throttling because I'm pretty sure the iOS Netflix app itself is rate-limiting the iPad (1st gen in my case) to 1750 kbps.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:49 PM on July 18


I got that 4300kbps rate with the Netflix app on an iPad Air.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:24 PM on July 18


The important thing is that if you watch long enough disc delivery/moonwalking guy does Marullus' speech from Julius Caesar Act 1 Scene 1.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:16 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


I find it interesting to note that here in socialist hellhole Norway I can choose from half-a-dozen providers of broadband, and I live outside a relatively small town. Nationwide, in a nation of five million, there are a couple of dozen operators in total.
posted by Harald74 at 2:36 AM on July 20


I wish i lived in a socialist hellhole.

I live in a pseudo-socialist hellhole* where decent broadband is impossible and the government is doing it's best to privatise everything.


*an actual hellhole
posted by Homemade Interossiter at 7:03 AM on July 20


Just switched over to Comcast from Verizon. Can confirm Netflix videos load instantly now instead of a several minute wait.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:18 PM on August 4


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