News.com's Declan McCullagh has an interview with Joe Waz, Comcast's SVP for external affairs (head PR honcho), about the surprising news that the cable company is talking to BitTorrent about ways to work together to fix the problem of P2P apps sucking up everyone's bandwidth. (Photo by Declan) The outlines of the deal, according to a joint press release:
Comcast announced that it will migrate by year-end 2008 to a capacity management technique that is protocol agnostic. “This means that we will have to rapidly reconfigure our network management systems, but the outcome will be a traffic management technique that is more appropriate for today’s emerging Internet trends ... ,"said Tony Werner, Comcast Cable’s Chief Technology Officer.In the interview with Waz, the executive describes the shift as moving to a scheme that is more fair for all users, while still reserving the right to tamp down usage at peak times. The problem, Waz sez, was:
In turn, BitTorrent acknowledged the need of ISPs to manage their networks, especially during times of peak congestion. “Recognizing that the Web is richer and more bandwidth intensive than it has been historically, we are pleased that Comcast understands these changing traffic patterns and wants to collaborate with us to migrate to techniques that the Internet community will find to be more transparent,” said Eric Klinker, BitTorrent’s Chief Technology Officer.
We limited our involvement to unidirectional uploads. If you were simultaneously uploading and downloading, your transfers weren't affected. VoIP users were benefiting (for instance). That was not consistent with the sense of the broader Internet community about how network management should be conducted.Not suprisingly, Waz states, "You can never build your way out of this problem." Does that suggest that the eventual upgrade to DOCSIS 3.0 is still waaay off? Here's a snippet of an article from almost a year ago:
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts stated three months ago that the cable giant had "plenty of capacity" for the next 6-12 months. The next step, of course, is to upgrade the network to DOCSIS 3.0; Roberts has stated 2007 is the targeted year for the upgrades to begin, though significant deployment realistically probably won't happen until 2008.
The devil's in the detail of course:
Does this mean behavioral profiling, and by that I mean tracking what a customer does over many months and if they're a high-bandwidth user in the past, you'll throttle them first during the next peak period?
Waz: It won't be personally identifiable type of information. We'll have more to say about that. When we implement, we'll provide a thorough (disclosure).
So there will be nothing that says, "If you used a lot of bandwidth before, you get targeted more quickly next time based on previous bandwidth usage."
Waz: There should be nothing that goes in that direction.