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October 22, 2007

Comcast Net Traffic Limits Go Beyond P2P

Comcast seems to have a problem with network traffic.  It doesn't like some of it, and for whatever reasons, the company won't say why.  The problem surfaces when individuals notices that BitTorrent traffic running from Comcast nodes was failing.  Tests by the Associated Press showed that reset packets were forged by Comcast, essentially disrupting the traffic.  Ars Technica is reporting that the disruption extends to applications such as Lotus Notes when large email attachments are involved.  A large file doesn't always signal a copyright violation, but again, Comcast has not come forward with an explanation of its network management principles.

This raises the specter of net neutrality issues coming back to haunt the telecommunications debate.  Policy makers have said that net neutrality regulations are premature because there was no evidence that traffic was being manipulated.  It's one thing to prioritize traffic to serve company sponsored services.  It's another to degrade traffic which was the focus of the last go round on this.  The suggestion in the news reports is that this degradation is deliberate on the part of Comcast.  Should further details verify this, one wonders if Comcast will lose customers as a consequence.  It can't look good for the company.  If the federal government decides this situation is not worth action, customers can decide for themselves if they are satisfied with their cable and Internet services.  In fact, this may be good for net neutrality advocates.  Imagine ads that say "We don't censor."  The market may actually push companies into this stance as a competitive measure, at least until they all do it.

October 22, 2007 | Permalink


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