Comcast owns up to BitTorrent hampering

On Monday, news broke out that Comcast was restricting peer-to-peer file sharing on protocols like BitTorrent, eDonkey, and Gnutella. Some Internet service providers simply slow down peer-to-peer traffic, but Comcast was said to block outgoing P2P traffic altogether. When asked by the Associated Press, the company denied any such filtering was taking place. "Comcast does not block access to any applications, including BitTorrent," the company said, although it took care to mention that it "uses sophisticated methods to keep Net connections running smoothly."

However, after making headlines with the move, Comcast has owned up to "delaying" peer-to-peer traffic. To be specific, the AP quotes the service provider as saying it "may block initial connection attempts between two computers," although it "eventually lets the traffic through if the computers keep trying."

"During periods of heavy peer-to-peer congestion, which can degrade the experience for all customers, we use several network management technologies that, when necessary, enable us to delay — not block — some peer-to-peer traffic. However, the peer-to-peer transaction will eventually be completed as requested," [Comcast Online Services Senior VP Mitch Bowling] said.

The AP says its testing is consistent with Bowling’s explanation. "In one case, a BitTorrent file transfer was squelched, apparently by messages generated by Comcast, only to start 10 minutes later. Other tests were called off after around 5 minutes, while the transfers were still stifled," the news agency explains.

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