Comcast's P2P Conversion: I'll Believe It When I See Results

Is Comcast serious about making nice with the “peer to peer” technology crowd? That would seem to be the case given the deal announced yesterday with BitTorrent Inc., in which the cable giant agreed to stop throttling the performance of heavy P2P users during peak times, and instead pledged to invest in the bandwidth and technologies to be able to handle that traffic. Says BitTorrent CEO Ashwin Navin: “It’s a great day for us. A lot of good can come out of this.” I think that may well be true—somewhere down the line. For now, it’s pretty clear that this conversion is more about solving a nasty PR problem, than in truly working with P2P providers to better handle the rising tide of online video traffic. Clearly, Comcast needs to calm down critics—including at the FCC—who’ve had a field day since the Associated Press revealed last Fall that Comcast was throttling the bandwidth to heavy P2P users during peak times. And BitTorrent was the most convenient partner through which to make such a move. “Comcast has been caught with its hand in the cookie jar, and they’re trying to quickly close the book on the issue,” says Gilles BianRosa, CEO of P2P rival Vuze Inc., which filed a complaint with the FCC last year seeking new rules on how ISPs can manage traffic over their networks. “Just putting out a press release doesn’t push the envelope too much.” Om Malik was similarly suspicious. And FCC chairman Kevin Martin says he’s watching to make sure words are followed by action. More after the break:

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