Update below: This is one of those vague non-deals that make the execs involved look good in press. Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA), which has been in in the middle of controversy about slowing down some P2P apps to supposedly manage its bandwidth capacity, has now done a deal with the commercial company BitTorrent (not to be confused with the free open-source software by the same name). The two will “collaborate on ways to run BitTorrent’s technology more smoothly on Comcast’s broadband network, and allow Comcast to transport video files more effectively over its own network in the future,” this WSJ story says.
As part of the deal, rather than slow traffic by certain types of applications — such as file-sharing software or companies like BitTorrent and Vuze– Comcast will slow traffic for those users who consume the most bandwidth, the company said. The new policy would come into effect by later this year. BitTorrent will also work to optimize its software to run more effectively over Comcast’s network.
Meanwhile, BT (NYSE: BT) rival Vuze is now giving its users a tool to help figure out if their ISP is interfering with their traffic. The plug-in into its Azureus software, looks for “reset packets,” the tool Comcast uses to break off some connections with computers trying to download files from Comcast subscribers, Vuze said Wednesday.
Updated: Ashwin Navin, president of BitTorrent, wrote to me with some specific details of the deal, which does make it a more substantial deal than WSJ makes it sound:
“1. Network management will be protocol agnostic & disclosed to consumers… and there will be no more connection resets.
2. Network architecture will be optimized for media delivery
a. Comcast is increasing capacity overall and particularly for upstream traffic (good for p2p)
b. Bittorrent is developing new client features to optimize for ISP networks (eg, cache discovery protocol)
c. Comcast/Bittorrent will jointly investigate a new network architecture for the benefit of our users (servers in the comcast network which will accelerate file transfer rather than impede it)
3. Openness: We will publish our findings and optimizations in open forums for the benefit of other ISPs and application developers… including our open source Bittorrent implementation.”
Disclaimer: Our investor Greycroft is also an investor in Vuze.