BitTorrent, Vuze, Free Press Back Markey’s Net-Neutrality Bill

Complaints by Vuze, Free Press Prompted FCC Inquiry Into Network-Management Practices
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BitTorrent chief technology officer Eric Klinker and other network neutrality backers Thursday were lining up behind Rep. Ed Markey's (D-Mass.) just-introduced bill that they say would write open-access principles into law.

On a conference call with reporters, Klinker and representatives of Free Press and Vuze called Markey's bill the right legislation at the right time, saying that impeding peer-to-peer file sharing can stifle innovation and is anticompetitive since networks like Comcast’s compete directly with video services, or even single individuals, who use the service.

The call to reporters was in response to filings in a Federal Communications Commission inquiry into network-management practices prompted in part by complaints from Free Press and Vuze.

Comcast was the subject of one of the complaints and much of the call following its explanation to the FCC about its management of BitTorrent P2P traffic.

The company told the FCC its "very limited management of certain P2P protocols" was reasonable network management. It added that access to services like Joost, iChat and Veoh would "likely be impaired" if it did not take limited steps in limited areas at limited times (Comcast put all three instances of "limited" in italic) to manage that traffic.

Comcast likened that management to how "a traffic-ramp control light regulates the entry of additional vehicles onto a freeway during rush hour. One would not claim that the car is ‘blocked’ or ‘prevented’ from entering the freeway. Rather, it is briefly delayed, then permitted onto the freeway in its turn while all other traffic is kept moving as expeditiously as possible.”

Jay Monahan of Vuze, which asked the FCC for clarification on what constitutes "reasonable network management," said Comcast's defense that it was only managing P2P traffic at peak times was not comforting since that is effectively saying, "We are only slowing down content when you want it the most."

He added that rather than a traffic light, the analogy should be to a horse race where Comcast not only owns a horse, but owns the racetrack, and says, 'Don't worry, we will only slow your horse by a few seconds.’ Which horse would you bet on in that race?"

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