Comcast Working With BitTorrent
Taking a less heavy-handed approach than the outright blocking of BitTorrent traffic, Comcast announced the company has begun negotiating ways for simultaneous existence. The announcement comes at a time when Comcast desperately needs to diffuse public, regulatory, and legislative concerns about Network Neutrality.
There’s also the Time Warner WiMax deal to think about.
The talks between Comcast and BitTorrent seek to find a way to collaborate on ways to make BitTorrent run more smoothly on Comcast’s network, and ways improve video transfer in general.
The agreement is about as meaningful as Verizon’s and AT&T’s pledges to be kinda-sorta more open last autumn, which appeared to be more about diffusing public concern in advance of the 700MHz spectrum auction, especially in the wake of the carrier-locked iPhone. Comcast’s agreement is merely a pledge to experiment with traffic management techniques.
For example, instead of slowing speeds for certain types of applications, Comcast may slow speeds for certain types of customers. In this case that could include customers who use the most bandwidth, which also on the surface doesn’t seem to jive with legislation that would mirror phone company requirements that callers are connected without hesitation. One has to wonder too if, like Time Warner, Comcast will have to eliminate "unlimited" access and return to metered pricing.
FreePress, the organization behind SaveTheInternet.com, seems at once proud of the public pressure leading to the announcement and unimpressed with the details. “This deal is the direct result of public pressure — and the threat of FCC action — against Comcast," said Marvin Ammori, general counsel of Free Press. "We can’t just take their word that the Internet is now in safe hands. This doesn’t change the urgent need for the FCC to take action.
“The issue of Net Neutrality is bigger than Comcast and BitTorrent. This agreement does nothing to protect the many other peer-to-peer companies from blocking – nor does it protect future innovative applications and services. Finally, it does nothing to prevent other phone and cable companies from blocking. Innovators should not have to negotiate side deals with phone and cable companies to operate without discrimination.”