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Cox Communications Managment Might 'Delay' the Newsgroups
January 28, 2009
Thomas Mennecke
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Whenever we read about an ISP throttling P2P or BitTorrent, there's nothing new there. ISPs have been managing P2P networks for years. Of course the highest profile case of this was with Comcast, who was caught 'delaying' BitTorrent uploads. Comcast has since been forced to adopt a 'protocol agnostic' approach to network management by the FCC. Cox Communications, however, seems to be taking P2P networking, and in a strange twist, usenet newsgroups, straight on in their new bandwidth policy.

When we look at Comcast's old bandwidth policy, it was directly targeted against upstream bandwidth. That's because there are fewer resources dedicated towards such bandwidth, and it's more expensive to operate. Now, clog that with BitTorrent, VoiP, and regular web traffic, there's a certain degree of validity to Comcast's claim - but clearly taking a Gatling Gun to BitTorrent wasn't the solution.

So now Cox Communications, the 2nd or 3rd largest ISP depending on who you ask, will introduce their own delaying tactics in the war against spiraling bandwidth. Those lucky enough to live in Cox's Arkansas or Kasas, and use BitTorrent, P2P or newsgroup technology will be the test market for this new program.

"In February, Cox will begin testing a new method of managing traffic on our high-speed Internet network in our Kansas and Arkansas markets. During the occasional times the network is congested, this new technology automatically ensures that all time-sensitive Internet traffic – such as web pages, voice calls, streaming videos and gaming – moves without delay. Less time-sensitive traffic, such as file uploads, peer-to-peer and Usenet newsgroups, may be delayed momentarily – but only when the local network is congested. Our goal is to ensure that customers continue to experience the consistently fast, reliable Internet service they’ve come to expect from Cox."

Although there is an appeal pending between Comcast and the FCC, the general policy regarding bandwidth management has become 'protocol agnostic'. Cox appears to be clearly prioritizing certain types of traffic over P2P traffic - a move that might draw consumer rights groups in for round 2 of the network neutrality wars.

What's interesting about this move is that the newsgroups are included in their management policy. The newsgroups have been able to slip by and under the radar thanks to their once relative small size compared to P2P and BitTorrent technology. This has changed dramatically over the years, thanks to simplified technology and growth via word of mouth. However, the newsgroups are a download-only technology (as far as the end user is concerned), and should face less bandwidth scrutiny than the BitTorrent protocol – but we’ll know for sure soon enough.

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
Newsgroups/Usenet :: Other

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