FCC chairman Kevin Martin has finally decided that he’s had it with Comcast’s BitTorrent blocking. As the AP first reported last night, Martin has drafted an order to punish the cable giant for its “arbitrary” interference with its customers’ Internet access. The draft will be sent […]

FCC chairman Kevin Martin has finally decided that he’s had it with Comcast’s BitTorrent blocking. As the AP first reported last night, Martin has drafted an order to punish the cable giant for its “arbitrary” interference with its customers’ Internet access. The draft will be sent to Martin’s fellow commissioners today, and the commission will cast a vote on Aug. 1st. Comcast has denied the accusation, as Stacey is reporting on GigaOM, calling its network management efforts “carefully limited.”

Others obviously disagree. The media reform group Free Press, whose complaint prompted the FCC’s investigation, applauded Martin’s decision, saying that consumers were “poised for victory.” The group also called the development an “historic test” of the FCC’s Net Neutrality guidelines. That’s at least one point on which Free Press and Comcast seem to agree, with the cable giant complaining in its statement that the FCC had “never before provided any guidance on what it means by ‘reasonable network management.’” Apparently this really is history in the making — so let’s take a look back and see how it all came about.

May 2007: First reports about Comcast interfering with BitTorrent appear on DSLReports.com.

August 2007: Articles about Comcast customers that can no longer upload any data via BitTorrent find their way to blogs and mainstream media publications. Comcast issues a denial.

October 2007: The AP tries to distribute a bible through BitTorrent on multiple Comcast accounts and fails, concluding that the ISP “actively interferes with attempts by some of its high-speed Internet subscribers to share files online.” Comcast issues a denial.

Comcast issues an internal talking points memo to its customer service personnel about dealing with the increasing number of consumer inquiries about BitTorrent blocking. The memo is leaked to Consumerist.com.

November 2007: Consumer groups petition the FCC to stop Comcast’s BitTorrent blocking. Comcast denies any interference in a statement to the FCC. A Comcast customer files a lawsuit against the company.

December 2007: BitTorrent-based P2P media platform Vuze.com petitions the FCC as well.

January 2008: The FCC starts its inquiry. Comcast issues a denial.

February 2008: Comcast changes its Terms of Service to include a reference to “reasonable network management technologies”. NewTeeVee reports that other major cable companies like RoadRunner and Cox have similar language in their TOS, essentially allowing them the same type of BitTorrent blocking.

The FCC holds a public hearing about the issue. Comcast pays attendees to “save seats.”

March 2008: Comcast strikes an agreement with BitTorrent Inc. that includes a commitment to switch to protocol-agnostic network management later this year. In the meantime, the company continues to block BitTorrent.

April 2008: Comcast teams up with multiple P2P companies to champion consumers’ rights, continues to block BitTorrent.

May 2008: Sandvine publishes details about new ways of network management championed by Comcast.

July 2008: FCC chairman Kevin Martin proposes to punish Comcast for its continuing BitTorrent interference.

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. Comcast: How We’ve Been Slowing Down BitTorrent « NewTeeVee Saturday, September 20, 2008

    [...] That doesn’t sound to effective, does it? Apparently, it isn’t. The filing also reveals that Comcast is still seeing around 50 percent of its upstream bandwidth consumed by P2P applications. In some areas, file swapping even causes up to two-thirds of all upstream bandwidth. Comcast stated in an earlier filing with the FCC that it was necessary to use these technologies because otherwise 80 percent of the bandwidth would be consumed by 20 percent of its users. Maybe getting that number down to 60-some percent wasn’t really worth all that uproar. [...]

  2. Canadian Content Producers Take a Stand for Net Neutrality Thursday, July 9, 2009

    [...] BitTorrent throttling is very similar to what Comcast tried in the U.S. until it got forced by the FCC to stop interfering with torrent transmissions. However, the [...]

  3. How Much Are Your P2P Packets Worth? To Comcast, $16 or Less Wednesday, December 23, 2009

    [...] Comcast got itself into hot water two years ago when it was found to actively interfere with P2P file transfers, which led to an FCC investigation into its network management practices and raised the ire of consumer watchdog groups. In the summer of 2008, the FCC ordered the cable company to cease its P2P throttling by the end of the year or face an immediate injunction. (Our full recap can be found here.) [...]

  4. The Decade in Online Video, Part 2: Time to Upload Saturday, January 2, 2010

    [...] the site to pay $110 million in damages. However, P2P fans had something to celebrate as well when the FCC ordered Comcast to stop interfering with its customers’ BitTorrent traffic, something the cableco complied [...]

  5. Comcast-NBCU: An Oil Spill Waiting to Happen? Tuesday, July 13, 2010

    [...] participants also referenced Comcast’s past BitTorrent throttling measures as proof that the company is willing to interfere with competitive content distribution methods. [...]

Comments have been disabled for this post