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March 27, 2008

Comcast and BitTorrent Work Out a Deal on Net Management

Comcast and BitTorrent have decided to work things out for themselves.  Their corporate personas have probably decided that a pending decision from the FCC on Comcast's network management practices would not be in anyone's interest.  The FCC had said a while back that network management by ISPs was ok, but never defined the practice.  The fact that the Commission took up the complaints about Comcast must have been unnerving to the industry that prefers no regulation.

Out of this, Comcast will only manage traffic in a protocol-neutral manner, and BitTorrent acknowledges that Comcast (and presumably other ISPs) have the right to manage their network traffic.  Comcast also agrees to make the details of its management transparent to consumers, something that FCC Chairman Kevin Martin stressed in statements in the hearings.  Network neutrality advocates are disappointed because Comcast and competitors are not locked into regulations defining what they can and can't do.  Given that the present make-up of the Commission is heavy into deregulation, a deal such as this may be better than what may have come out of an order.  Maybe not. 

The whole brouhaha (ha-ha-ha, added emphasis courtesy of the Firesign Theatre) may yet come again when one of the biggies steps out of line and someone like the AP catches the ISP in the act.  By then there may be a populist Democrat in the White House and the outcome may be a bit different.  Maybe not.

CNN sums it up nicely.

March 27, 2008 | Permalink


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