Comcast does 180 on P2P blocking

By PatB
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

I have written here a few times that Comcast was justified in using traffic shaping to protect equal access among all of their customers.  Because of the aggressiveness of the bittorrent P2P protocol, neighbors on the shared pipe could have experienced slowdowns.  To fix this, Comcast was sending resets on some of the connections to inhibit the full speed of file sharing applications.

But now they have declared that they will reengineer their network to better provide full access and a network neutral position.  So why did they change their minds?  Because of competition.  Verizon worked with P2P vendor Pando to speed up their network’s handling of Bittorrent traffic.  So now Comcast is doing the same.

From the AP here:

Comcast Corp., an Internet service provider under investigation for hampering online file-sharing by its subscribers, announced Thursday an about-face in its stance and said it will treat all types of Internet traffic equally.

Comcast has said that its practices were necessary to keep file-sharing traffic from overwhelming local cable lines, where neighbors share capacity with one another. On Thursday, Comcast said that by the end of the year, it will move to a system that manages capacity without favoring one type of traffic over another.

“This means that we will have to rapidly reconfigure our network management systems, but the outcome will be a traffic management technique that is more appropriate for today’s emerging Internet trends,” Tony Werner, Comcast’s chief technology officer, said in a statement.

Comcast now says it is in talks with BitTorrent Inc., the company founded by the creator of the protocol, to come up with better ways to transport large files over the Internet. The companies said they want to work out these issues privately, without the need for government intervention.

For its part, BitTorrent acknowledged that service providers have to manage their networks somehow, especially during peak times.

“While we think there were other management techniques that could have been deployed, we understand why Comcast and other ISPs adopted the approach that they did initially,” Eric Klinker, BitTorrent’s chief technology officer, said in a statement.

Verizon Communications Inc. two weeks ago announced the results of a collaboration project with Pando Networks, another file-sharing company. By sharing information with Pando, Verizon was able to speed up file-sharing downloads for its subscribers while reducing the strain on its own network.

Note that Comcast did not bow to customer pressure or to the hysterical outrage in the community over net neutrality.  They are simply responding to the natural demands of the market.  When a great competitor like Verizon proves that they can have their P2P cake and eat it too, Comcast would naturally have to follow.  And I think this shows who are the real leaders in this market space.

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