Comcast, Pando Networks Work on ‘P2P Bill of Rights and Responsibilities’

Cable Operator, Peer-to-Peer Sharing-Application Provider Team Up on Network Management

Saying it is the next step in its effort to find a solution to network-management issues associated with file-sharing applications, Comcast said Tuesday that it is working with peer-to-peer sharing-application provider Pando Networks on a "P2P Bill of Rights and Responsibilities."

Comcast said the two parties will work with other stakeholders and experts to come up with a framework of best practices.

The FCC said it wanted to hear more. A spokesman said Tuesday executives from Comcast and Pando had been invited to a Thursday field hearing at Stanford University on network neutality.

That Comcast announcement follows one by the cable company March 27 that it was working with P2P company BitTorrent on ways to better deal with bit-rich content, including pledging to make whatever network-management steps it took "protocol-agnostic." One of the complaints about its network management was that it targeted BitTorrent protocols.

Comcast said Tuesday that Pando would test PSP technology on its fiber optic network, adding that it would use the data to help it migrate to that protocol-agnostic management regime, as well as make the data available to others. "The arrangement is yet another example of how these technical issues can be worked out through private business discussions and without the need for government intervention," Comcast said.

BitTorrent and others complained to the Federal Communications Commission about Comcast's network-management techniques for the bandwidth-heavy file-sharing system, which Comcast said were necessary to provide a quality Internet experience for all of its customers.

The cable operator said both companies thought they could come up with a solution without the need for government intervention. The BitTorrent announcement was hailed by opponents of mandatory network-neutrality regulations or legislation but panned by activists unconvinced that this took care of the perceived problem.

While Comcast said it would look for ways to adjust its network management, BitTorrent also agreed to try to make its applications work better.

“We’re looking forward to more information on the proposal,” said Marvin Amorri, general counsel of Free Press, one of the groups that complained to the FCC about Comcast’s network management/content blocking.” I find it surprising that Comcast and this small company think they should determine what the rights and responsibilities are for all P2P users.”

“Establishing a specific and clearly defined P2P Bill of Rights is an interesting idea with potentially important implications for all Internet users," said FCC spokesman Robert Kenny. "In order to learn more about this newly announced joint effort, we have invited Robert Levitan, CEO of Pando Networks, and Tony Werner, Comcast’s Chief Technology Officer, or their representatives to participate in the Commission’s En Banc hearing on broadband network management practices this Thursday at Stanford University. 

"We look forward to more fully understanding the goals, scope and time frame of this industry effort.”