Skip to main content

Comcast Wants to Craft P2P Bill of Rights

Comcast Wants to Craft P2P Bill of Rights

Giant U.S. cable operator Comcast is currently being investigated by the FCC for interfering with peer-to-peering traffic from its subscribers, but recently said it will stop blocking P2P traffic in favor of other traffic-management techniques. Now, the company is partnering with Pando Networks in an effort to develop a "P2P Bill of Rights and Responsibilities," a document which would try to define both consumer options and network operators’ best practices for managing P2P applications on their networks, as serve as a standard for the industry.

"Working together, Comcast and Pando can help lead the discussion about what consumers should expect in terms of a ‘P2P Bill of Rights and Responsibilities’ for P2P users and ISPs," said Comcast CTO Tony Werner, in a statement. "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."

Peer-to-peer file sharing applications like BitTorrent are often used to distribute and download illegal copies of music, movies, and other digital content, but increasingly the technology is being leveraged to distribute legitimate digital content, including Hollywood movies. Comcast and Pando say they want to get the major players to sit down this spring, and have the so-called Bill of Rights ironed out later in 2008.

The move is striking Comcast’s critics as little more than a PR move designed to deflect attention from the company’s current and past behavior. "Comcast has thumbed its nose at the existing consumer bill of rights—the FCC’s Internet policy statement guaranteeing access to all online content and services," wrote Free Press’ general counsel Marvin Ammori, who authored the FCC complaint against Comcast, in a statement. "Now facing unprecedented public, government, and media scrutiny, Comcast is desperately trying to change the subject with a few over-hyped side conversations."

Indeed, Comcast’s "P2P Bill of Rights" is likely an effort to establish to the FCC that the broadband industry is capable of regulating itself, and doesn’t need additional federal rules and oversight from the FCC. Communications companies have generally regarded any sort of federal oversight as burdensome and an inhibition on their ability to develop new services and revenue models.

Comcast also announced it will be testing Pando’s Network Aware P2P technology to identify ways to better manage traffic; previously, Comcast announced a partnership with BitTorrent to help manage P2P traffic on its network. Pando has previously partnered with Verizon to improve P2P performance; unlike traditional P2P software applications, Pando’s solution focuses on distributing large fies between small groups, and enabling downloads of large data blocks from major content providers.

Editors' Recommendations