Comcast plans to lay down law on P2P
The company said it would lead an industry effort to put together a code on how peer to peer applications should work and how internet service providers could manage their use. P2P protocols are usually employed for file sharing or on-demand video services.
Comcast said the code would cover "what choices and controls consumers should have when using P2P applications as well as what processes and practices ISPs should use to manage P2P applications running on their networks".
Alongside this, the company will carry out tests on P2P use with Pando, a network management firm which also distributes its own peer to peer application. The pair will "measure things like performance, speed, distance and geography as well as the bandwidth consumption impact to the ISP".
They will publish the results "so other ISPs can benefit from understanding how P2P applications might be optimised", they said yesterday.
In February the Federal Communications Commission investigated Comcast for delaying uploads of peer to peer traffic on the BitTorrent file sharing protocol. Growth in traffic has fuelled ISPs moves towards such "traffic shaping". That in turn has sparked a debate about net neutrality - the principle that ISPs should not interfere with content delivery.
In the UK, the BBC's outgoing technology director, Ashley Highfield, has warned ISPs off limiting access to its on-demand video, while Virgin Media CEO Neil Berkett has gone as far as suggesting content providers should pay for faster delivery to its customers.
Comcast chief technology officer Tony Werner, making the announcement yesterday, said creating the "Bill" was "in the best interest of everyone involved – ISPs, P2P companies and consumers".
"We hope to get other industry experts, ISPs and P2P companies together this spring and publish the ‘P2P Bill of Rights and Responsibilities’ later this year," he said. "By having this framework in place, we will help P2P companies, ISPs and content owners find common ground to support consumers who want to use P2P applications to deliver legal content."