After investigations by the Associated Press and the Electronic Frontier Foundation led them to believe Comcast was blocking traffic from peer-to-peer websites like Bittorrent, the cable TV company said yesterday that it did not block or monitor traffic, but did delay some P2P traffic because the increasing amount of P2P traffic tends to drag on overall access rates to its shared bandwidth network.
To paraphrase a different analogy, bandwidth is like sausage: You may want to eat it, but no one wants to see how it gets made. Managing networks is very difficult business, and it should surprise no one network operators need to resort to creative methods to maintain reliability guarantees and bandwidth availability pledges. P2P traffic thus far has been characterized by a handful of people using a disproportionately large amount of bandwidth, and I wouldn't be surprised if more service providers than just Comcast were creatively routing it in some way.
Meanwhile, the greatest debate of the broadband era is upon us, and it has nothing to do with a domestic spying program: It's "block" vs "delay." It sounds like a semantics argument, and almost as silly as the great "pick" vs "scratch" debate that occurred in the closing moments of the last century, but the distinction could mean quite a lot if the Net neutrality movement begins to gather steam again.
- Read this story in The New York Times
- Comcast has been dogged by throttling accusations