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Hi, I'm Comcast and I'd Like to Delay You
March 13, 2008
Thomas Mennecke
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What's worse than trying to download a large file that's stuck at 50 kb/sec? How about a delayed upload? Downloading can be a frustrating sport, but so can uploading. For most people, their upload speed is considerably slower than the download speed, otherwise known as asymmetrical bandwidth. This is typical of most cable connections, where shared bandwidth places a limit on most customers.

DSL (Digital Subscriber Line, or, Digitally Slowed Lineage) often times doesn't suffer from the same upload cap, allowing many ISPs to offer symmetrical bandwidth. The problem however, is that a good cable provider offers upload speeds equal to DSL speeds. So while customer "a" might congratulate himself on his nifty 2.5 Megabit symmetrical DSL line, cable customer "b" with 10 megabits down and 2.5 up is left to wonder what the overwhelming advantage is.

Regardless, bandwidth is precious to just about everyone concerned in the file-sharing debate. Customers can't get enough, and ISPs can't provide enough of it. So it comes as little surprise that just about everyone who participates on BitTorrent and is unfortunate enough to be using Comcast is uniformly pissed off with their "delaying" tactics. Now, mind you Comcast isn't blocking BitTorrent - at least not immediately. Rather, Comcast is intercepting BitTorrent packets, and temporarily disconnecting the uploading client. Anyone who considers their bandwidth and time precious is nothing less than furious over this development.

ISPs have defended themselves by saying this equates to reasonable network management. However, does the lack of transparency equate with reason as well? The public consensus so far appears to be an overwhelming "NO!", and the FCC appears inclined to agree. According to statements provided by FCC chairman Kevin Martin, he isn't very impressed with Comcast's lack of truthiness on the matter either.

The MPAA has decided to get into the mix as well, talking mad smack against net neutrality. Despite a banner year in terms of revenue, MPAA chairman Dan Glickman recently spoke out against net neutrality, instead calling it "Government regulation."

"Government regulation of the Internet would be a terrible reversal of American innovation policy. As I mentioned before, our economy just lost all of these jobs. And, the immediate future does not look terribly bright on the job front. It’s our information economy that will create new jobs and new opportunities for the future."

NBC isn't a fan of net neutrality either, nor do they like P2P very much. But as P2P Blog's Janko Roettgers points out, NBC is about to roll out a dumpload of programming via the Pando P2P platform. It appears NBC is trying to have its cake and eat it too, as it would seem that supporting Pando's P2P technology is incompatible with supporting Comcast's stance on net neutrality. But why not take both sides and see where the chips fall in the end?

Vuze, the developers behind Azureus, made an interesting point about Comcast and net neutrality. They state that it's not so much a fight against piracy, rather it's a move intended to snuff out the competition. God only knows what technology Comcast intends to use to deliver their entertainment content, but it won't be BitTorrent. With BitTorrent’s highly efficient distribution mechanism and massive userbase already in place, just about anyone who wishes to get into the digital entertainment field has a nearly insurmountable task ahead of them.


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BitTorrent :: BitTorrent Community

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