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Comcast's Kinder, Gentler Network Management

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After getting lambasted on blogs and dragged before the FCC for its former network management practices, which included surreptitiously throttling P2P video traffic, Comcast this week will make good on its announced plans to change the way it keeps its tubes from clogging.

Instead of throttling specific applications, the cable giant will throttle heavy users. According to the company’s FAQs it will “focus its management efforts on those individuals who are using a disproportionate amount of Internet resources for a specific period of time and are contributing to congestion that degrades the online experience for other users.”

Trials begin tomorrow in Chambersburg, Pa., and Warrenton, Va., followed later this summer by one in Colorado Springs, Colo. ‘Trials’ is the operative word here. This punish-the-evildoer strategy is clearly a better marketing position for Comcast with both its users and the FCC, but it’s also wrong.

Heavy user’s aren’t necessarily criminals operating illegal filesharing rings or managing botnets; they very well may be people like you and I. Given the rise in all kinds of content (video) and services (VoIP) delivered via the Internet, it’s only a matter of time before we all become heavy users. The solution is to upgrade the tubes — not to watch ever-increasing loads of data to trickle through them or cap usage altogether.

6 Responses to “Comcast's Kinder, Gentler Network Management”

  1. broadband_fan


    This is exactly their plan. Service providers wouldn’t mind if all the bandwidth hogs went over to the competition to use up their capacity.

    I’m all for consumption based billing. Similar to electric utility billing.

    Many folk may not realize that flat rates force low bandwiddth users to subsidize higher users of bandwidth.

  2. If I remember correctly, Comcast is talking about throttling at 250 GB a month.

    While that is a lot of bandwidth, people like me will get hit hard. I don’t do the P2P thing but I do run an office out of my home and run a couple high bandwidth businesses through my system.

    Thankfully I’ve got an open infrastructure fiber optic network through my neighborhood so I don’t have to worry about crummy Comcast or Time Warner tactics.

    Even though this is a big deal, it isn’t as big of a deal as this $3 MILLION DOLLAR bill Comcast sent this consumer: