In fact, as part (.PDF) of the documentation sent to the FCC, Comcast now admits it had targeted P2P protocols: Ares, BitTorrent, eDonkey, FastTrack, and Gnutella were chosen after analysys. The company used a Sandvine Policy Traffic Switch 8210 for the throttling:
"The Sandvine equipment has been used (1) to determine when the number of simultaneous unidirectional upload sessions for a particular P2P protocol in a particular geographic area reaches its pre-determined threshold, and (2) when a threshold is reached, to temporarily delay the initiation of any new unidirectional upload sessions for that protocol until the number of simultaneous unidirectional upload sessions drops below that threshold."In Comcast's update to the FCC, it details its new plan. which aligns with earlier Comcast tests we wrote about: Comcast will continue to throttle, but only in times of network congestion, and only high-usage users. By doing so, it avoids (or at least attempts to avoid) the "network neutrality" issues it ran afoul of with regards to the aforementioned P2P throttling (confirmed by AP and others, despite Comcast denials).
Comcast will accomplish this by creating a second lower-priority stream of traffic for recent heavy users. When congestion occurs, Internet speeds will be slowed on that stream.
While this is certainly better than targeting P2P users alone, it follows closely other developments in the area of broadband, and not just by Comcast --- and not in the area of more FIOS rollouts:
- AT&T added throttling to its HSI Terms-of-Service
- Comcast sued the FCC Over "Net Neutrality"
- Comcast announcesd a 250 GB Broadband Cap
If ISPs such as Comcast and AT&T can't keep up now, what of the future?
Finally, in terms of the previously mentioned tests of their new system, according to Comcast, the earlier tests in five cities (Warrenton, VA, Chambersburg, PA, Colorado Springs, CO, Lake View, FL and East Orange, FL) resulted in no customer complaints --- and less than 1% of customers were affected on a typical day.
If in fact these numbers are correct, that's not actually a bad result. One has to wonder, however, if the reason people didn't complain is:
- They were using P2P and didn't want to call attention to that fact
- They weren't home when it happened and didn't notice
The company says it plans to roll the new plan out to its entire network by the end of the year.