If anyone wasn’t convinced of the need for net neutrality legislation, a story by Declan McCullagh should dispel any objections they might have. It seems that Comcast has been interfering with Bit-Torrent traffic of its subscribers. What’s more it knew that to do so was wrong, and therefore denied it when asked about it.
The standard reposte from the anti-net neutrality camp is that we shouldn’t regulate when the markets will take care of situations such as this. If we had a vibrant market, full of competitors, that probably would be true. But we don’t–the market for high speed internet is a monopoly or a duopoly in many markets, so normal competitive mechanism will not function. For example, a recent article in St. Louis Post Dispatch indicated that, excluding satellite internet access, the best areas in St. Louis had two providers (AT&T and Charter), many had only one (Charter), and quite a few had no high speed access. I think it’s fair to exclude the satellite service because it’s a very different technology, and the price doesn’t make it really compete with AT&T and Comcast.
So if you care about being able to distribute Linux via Bit-torrent, or to distribute information that wouldn’t otherwise have an outlet, press your legislator to enact net neutrality legislation…
For a few months Comcast has been the subject of scattered reports that say it throttles BitTorrent traffic.
TorrentFreak said in August that Comcast was surreptitiously interfering with file transfers by posing as one party and then, essentially, hanging up the phone. But when we contacted Comcast at the time, it flatly denied doing it.
Thanks to tests reported Friday by the Associated Press, however, it’s clear that Comcast is actively interfering with peer-to-peer networks even if relatively small files are being transferred.
The tests involved transferring a copy of the King James Bible through the BitTorrent network on Time Warner Cable, Cablevison, AT&T and two Comcast connections (in Philadelphia, Boston and San Francisco). Only the Comcast-connected computers were affected.
This is significant. The Gutenberg version of the King James Bible is only 4.24MB, which is relatively tiny and indicates that Comcast was singling out even small files.