Multichannel News has reported that FCC Chairman Kevin Martin made an exceptionally clueless remark about Comcast today:
Martin added that â€œtwo of the more troubling aspectsâ€ of the Comcast matter was that in his view Comcast at first denied the allegations, though he didn’t specify the nature of the allegations or the denials.
He said he was also troubled by allegations that Comcast altered certain user information in packets to effect a delay in peer-to-peer transmissions.
The first remark is spot-on, as Comcast clearly hurt itself by denying it was shaping traffic, but the second remark is clueless. Martin confuses the RST bit in the TCP header with “user information” when in fact it’s nothing of the kind. As RFC 3168 says, it’s a control bit:
There exist some middleboxes (firewalls, load balancers, or intrusion detection systems) in the Internet that either drop a TCP SYN packet configured to negotiate ECN, or respond with a RST. This document specifies procedures that TCP implementations may use to provide robust connectivity even in the presence of such equipment. – p. 4
I understand that Martin is a political creature and not an engineer, but is it too much to ask the head of the FCC to understand the difference between “user information” and network control?
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, this guy needs to get over his blind hatred of cable companies. I don’t care if the cable guy ran over his dog, he needs to bring a little balance to his job.