Comcast: Challenged Network Management Techniques Have Ended

Company says it's switching to an application-agnostic method that would not raise the same issues
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Comcast has officially informed the FCC that it has ended the network management techniques the FCC said ran afoul of its open access principles, and replaced them with ones that will pass muster.

That came in a letter to the FCC Monday from Kathryn Zachem, VP, regulatory and state legislative affairs, for Comcast. "Comcast will continue to refine and optimize these congestion management practices to deliver the best possible broadband experience for out customers," Zachem told the FCC.

The letter was part of Comcast's plan of compliance

with the FCC's Aug. 20 finding that the company's broadband-network-management practices were arbitrary and capricious

. The FCC told Comcast it must replace that management system by year's end with one acceptable to the FCC.

Comcast took the commission to court over the decision but said it would comply with its terms. The cable operator challenged the legal underpinning of the decision, as well as the findings that Comcast was in violation, which it said "were not justified by the record."

The FCC's order was in response to complaints by Free Press that Comcast was interfering with its customers’ use of peer-to-peer applications, notably BitTorrent, as well as its request for a declaratory ruling on just what constituted reasonable network management.

The FCC concluded that Comcast had a competitive reason to slow BitTorrent uploads since it is trying to grow its own online-video business and BitTorrent represented "a competitive threat" to cable.

Comcast argued that it was simply trying to keep bandwidth hogs from impeding network traffic for other users, but the FCC countered that it was not necessarily targeting high periods of traffic or congestion -- a point Comcast ultimately conceded, the FCC said.

Comcast has since said it was switching to an application-agnostic method that would not raise the same issues. Comcast

outlined that new method to the FCC in September filing outlining its compliance regime.

Comcast said that new technique would give all Internet users their "fair share" of bandwidth while being protocol-agnostic, which means that it does not target the specific protocols [like Bittorrent] that place a "disproportionate burden on network resources," but instead whatever protocol is using the most bandwidth at times of network congestion.

A spokesman for Public Knowledge, one of the groups that had complained about Comcast's network management, said the group was "pleased with the development and hope Comcast will respect the concept of the open Internet."

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