Blog Post

Did Comcast Just Admit to Vonage Traffic-shaping?

I received an emailed press release from Comcast this morning about their plans to work with Vonage to address “the reasonable network management of Internet services” that left me a tad confused. Comcast had already admitted to massaging P2P traffic, sparking an online uproar that resulted in the company backing down and announcing plans to use different kinds of network management techniques. (They massaged P2P traffic by either delaying or blocking P2P packets outright, which caused BitTorrent-type services to degrade.)

In an attempt to uncover the real reason behind the release, I called a Comcast spokeswoman and asked her if this was an exclusive deal with Vonage, and if any money was changing hands. She said that the agreement doesn’t preclude others from working with Comcast, that in fact it’s working with a variety of companies and groups. And no, there is no money changing hands.

Still, the press release kept nagging at me. And it wasn’t until I read Cynthia Brumfield’s post (Welcome back, Cynthia, from your blog vacation) that I realized Comcast might have unknowingly admitted to messing with Vonage’s VoIP traffic.

What’s interesting and surprising is that Vonage is not based on P2P technology, unlike Skype and other competitive VoIP providers. So this effort by Comcast, which extends to a seemingly unrelated “over-the-top” technology seems, well, out of the blue. Has Vonage had problems with Comcast causing problems for its customers, problems that stemmed not from the same kind of packet reset technology that spurred the initial controversy?

Well I don’t know about recently, but some two years ago a lot people complained about Vonage’s service quality on Comcast. Comcast, of course, denied that it was blocking Vonage traffic.

That was then. However, the fact that the two companies are announcing a new working relationship has me wondering if Comcast was messing with Vonage’s calls all along — you know, as part of its “network management.”

6 Responses to “Did Comcast Just Admit to Vonage Traffic-shaping?”

  1. I’ve been experiencing increasing problems with calling to South America. On Saturday evening (1-10-09) myself, my wife and my wife’s daughter all attempted NUMEROUS times over the course of about 30 minutes to reach a landline in Bogota to no avail. I’ve contacted a customer service manager in my market and she’s looking in to it. The party we were attempting to reach was finally contacted on Sunday (not with Vonage riding a Comcast connection) and told us that they knew we were trying to reach them but the call simply would not connect. The phone would ring, they would pick it up and it was silent on both ends.
    I don’t know what’s going on but I’m beginning to think that a lawsuit against both Comcast and Vonage would be the best way to get things sorted out. E-mail me if you’re an attorney who can process the paperwork.

  2. Trying to connect VoIP phone for teleworker user of a private company. VoIP PBX located in the office and connected over dedicated T1 line to the Internet. Purchased 16M/2M Comcast Internet service for that user. No problems with anything but voice. G.729 codec reporting stable 50% packet loss with consistent jitter no more then 5ms BOTH ways. Whole bunch of other people using the same service at the same time without any issues. I don’t beleave that connection capable of passing Megabits per second of FTP traffic has any problems to send AND receive 32kbps of RTP traffic. Comcast is sending “a technician” to check connection…

  3. For what little it’s worth (sample set = 1), I’ve been using Vonage as a home office line on my Comcast broadband connection in MD for about 3 years, and it’s been rock solid.

  4. ComCast would be happy if you used a string and two tin cans, as long as you buy their new and improved “Crap In A Can”, twice, and the new and improved “Emperor Luxury String” (As used in hospitals) as long as you’re not expecting they to honor any SLAs.

    Between them and MaBell (or the demon spawn from their forced divorce who try to throttle traffic by throttling YOU,) it doesn’t matter who your dealing with in this country.

    They’re rapidly reaching par with some Soviet-style post office who think if you’re in that much of a hurry to get some message across, you must be stealing SOMETHING.

    Like the pre-Mandela South African cop who shot that country’s Olympic athlete who was training for the Marathon because it didn’t occur to him that a black man who was running wasn’t running away from some crime.