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App-Rising.com covers the development and adoption of broadband applications, the deployment of and need for broadband networks, and the demands placed on policy to adapt to the revolutionary opportunities made possible by the Internet.

App-Rising.com is written by Geoff Daily, a DC-based technology journalist, broadband activist, marketing consultant, and Internet entrepreneur.

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March 31, 2008 9:28 AM

Comcast's Two-Pronged P2P Response

Comcast has recently come out with an aggressive push back against accusations of any misconduct in its treatment of P2P traffic on its network.

First, the good news. They've announced a new relationship with BitTorrent through which they claim to be developing protocol-agnostic traffic management tools and investing in increasing the capacity of their network so that it's not as threatened by the bandwidth demands of P2P applications.

While many are wary that the significance of this announcement is more smoke than substance, I have to at least applaud the effort to reach across the aisle.

We're going to get NOWHERE if network operators and applications developers can't open a productive dialog about how to make things better for everyone. If those two sides work together, the possibilities of what we can accomplish are limitless. If they continue to be adversarial, then we're likely to be very limited in what gets done for a long, long time.

The other new angle to this story is that Comcast is now claiming the even if the FCC decides that Comcast was wrong in what they did that the FCC doesn't have the power to enforce any of its rulings in these matters.

Have to admit, while this approach isn't surprising in the slightest, I find it more than a little confusing. Wasn't a key argument for net neutrality proponents that there needed to be legislation in order to grant power to the FCC or other agency to enforce rules like this?

So doesn't that mean that Comcast basically just made their argument for them, that legislation is needed in order to give some agency the power to enforce the principles of an open Internet?

Maybe it's just me but this seems like a silly approach. If I were them I'd just say, "Hey, look, we're changing our policies because of pressure from consumers, which proves the market's working, so back off."

Not what it seems like they did say, which was, "Yeah we're managing traffic. So what? They're our networks and besides, it's not like there's anything you can do about it."

I just can't see how picking a fight helps them any.

That said, I'm hopeful that the announcement of their new relationship with BitTorrent is an honest attempt by them to find a better way to protect the vulnerability of their networks.


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