Comcast to test new way to manage
By PETER SVENSSON,
AP Technology Writer
Comcast Corp., under fire for the way it treats subscriber Internet traffic, will start tests this week to see if it can avoid traffic jams by targeting neighborhood bandwidth hogs rather than file-sharing programs.
The tests will be conducted in Chambersburg, Pa., and Warrenton, Va., starting Thursday, and later this summer in Colorado Springs, Colo., a Comcast spokesman said Tuesday.
The Federal Communications Commission is looking into complaints that the company, which has 14.1 million Internet subscribers, is blocking or delaying some forms of file-sharing traffic. Consumer advocates and legal scholars say the practice amounts to Comcast deciding what works and what doesn't on the Internet.
Comcast has said the practice was necessary to keep the file-sharing traffic of a minority of users from overwhelming and slowing more conventional uses of the Internet, like Web surfing and e-mail.
All the same, Comcast said in March that by the end of the year, it would switch to a method of traffic management that doesn't target specific applications. The tests in the three markets this summer will help it settle on the specific method to use. The tests will run for a month each.
A small minority of Internet users in the test markets who use large amounts of bandwidth for long periods may find their traffic slowed down during periods of congestion, Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas said.
"The approach will focus on individual users, regardless of what they're doing with their bandwidth," Douglas said.
Comcast enveloped its past traffic management practices in secrecy, for fear that users would circumvent them. It described its methods only in the most general terms until user reports and an investigation by The Associated Press drew the attention of regulators.
This time, the company is posting notices on its Web site about the trials and e-mailing customers in the affected areas. The goal is also to "fully, transparently" describe to customers the management technique that is eventually adopted nationwide by the end of the year, Douglas said.
On the Net:
Comcast to test new way to manage Internet jams - Yahoo! News
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