Comcast and BitTorrent agree to 'collaborate'
Written by Daniel   
Thursday, 27 March 2008 13:05

 It's official: Comcast and BitTorrent are calling a truce.

March 27, 2008 8:57 AM PDT
Posted by Anne Broache
C/Net News 
Update 10:15 a.m. PDT: Comments from Rep. Edward Markey and FCC Chairman Kevin Martin added.

 Ever since the cable giant admitted to disrupting file-sharing traffic based on the BitTorrent protocol, a very public debate has erupted over what constitutes appropriate "network management" by Internet service providers, and with it, a resurgence of calls for Net neutrality rules that would prohibit such practices.

But as companies are wont to do when regulators are breathing down their necks (read: the Federal Communications Commission), the companies announced that they're going to become collaborators. Whether the deal is enough to satisfy policymakers scrutinizing Comcast's behavior, however, remains to be seen, as it's already drawing some measure of skepticism.

The "collaborative effort" doesn't mean that Comcast will give up on managing the way traffic flows through its network.

Rather, Comcast said it will work on reconfiguring its networks so that, by year's end, it manages data in a "protocol agnostic" way. Comcast has confessed to "delaying" uploads to the BitTorrent protocol at peak congestion times, but the new process would apparently involve managing traffic based on how much bandwidth consumers use, rather than what sort of applications they're running.

It's not clear what levels of bandwidth use would trigger such steps. As a Comcast vice president said during a recent FCC hearing about his company's network management practices, the cable operator tells its customers what broadband speeds they can expect, but it doesn't spell out how much bandwidth they're allotted. Instead, it says that subscribers are entitled to use the service in a way that doesn't degrade other subscribers' experiences. (In an interview with's Declan McCullagh on Thursday morning, Comcast Vice President Joe Waz said no "bandwidth caps" are planned and offered some more details on the company's plans.)   [C/Net News...]   [Comments...]

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