Monday, March 24, 2008

Net Nutrality and Me

There has been a lot of discussion on the IP mailing list about Comcast allegedly improperly throttling back some user accounts who have been using bit torrent and peer to peer technologies to transfer large or multiple files. Comcast denies they are doing that but critics are not convinced.

Up until this week, I was taking a neutral stance on the issue, but something happened to me personally to tip the scales.

I've had intermittent problems with FTP over the year, but usually it's something that resolves itself in a few hours or over night, but this week was different. All of a sudden it was if I had turned on a water hose and then someone put their foot on it. A packet would go out and then my connection would be at a stand still. Eventually another packet would go and on it went. The net result was either a failed upload or an upload that made me year for the good old days of two hundred baud acoustic couplers.

I endured this for three days thinking it would clear up. Finally, I called tech support. Unfortunately they didn't have any appointments for six more days. I made my appointment. I waited a few more hours and then called again to see if perhaps there was a cancellation and I could get an earlier service call.

This time I explained that I was creating a course for a major university and my tutorial files had to get uploaded. Lo and behold, I was in luck. The very next day, there was not just one opening. I had my choice of visits, 9-11, 11-1, 1-3, or 3-5. Gee, what an amazing coincidence.

I chose the 9-11 slot. As I sit here writing, it is 10:00 and I have yet to see a tech. I am willing to bet that I will not see one today. Do you know why? It's because amazingly, my FTP speed is now at over 1 Mbps.

So what happened? Well here's one possibility. The tutorials I was uploaded were created with software that adds mp3 files for each slide. As a result, in a period of a few days, I had uploaded hundreds of mp3 files that were incorporated into the tutorials. Could it be that these mp3 files tripped some sort of alarm that resulted in my account being throttled? Could it be that when I called and explained that I was not some teeny-bopper pirating music that they took the foot off the garden hose? I have no way of knowing, but it is certainly a coincidence.

I'll watch for a repair man. If he comes, we'll chat and I'll add a follow up to this entry. Anyone want to make book on whether there is a follow up?

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