Friday, October 19, 2007

Comcast Blocks Some Internet Traffic

Comcast is blocking peer-to-peer sharing by blocking uploads. In practice this means some files never complete. I am a light user of this technology and I had noticed some minor zipped files that never completed a month ago. The practice is disturbing because it blocks this by mimicking your computer saying "I'm done now" and there appears to be no way around this. The files I was attempting to download were not copyrighted I believe but some geeky stuff I was curious about. I have even forgotten what they were now. After a few days I just deleted the task attempts to complete.
The practice of managing the flow of Internet data is known as "traffic shaping," and is already widespread among Internet service providers. It usually involves slowing down some forms of traffic, like file-sharing, while giving others priority. Other ISPs have attempted to block some file-sharing application by so-called "port filtering," but that method is easily circumvented and now largely ineffective.

Comcast's approach to traffic shaping is different because of the drastic effect it has on one type of traffic _ in some cases blocking it rather than slowing it down _ and the method used, which is difficult to circumvent and involves the company falsifying network traffic.

The "Net Neutrality" debate erupted in 2005, when AT&T Inc. suggested it would like to charge some Web companies more for preferential treatment of their traffic. Consumer advocates and Web heavyweights like Google Inc. and Amazon Inc. cried foul, saying it's a bedrock principle of the Internet that all traffic be treated equally.

To get its acquisition of BellSouth Corp. approved by the Federal Communications Commission, AT&T agreed in late 2006 not to implement such plans or prioritize traffic based on its origin for two and a half years. However, it did not make any commitments not to prioritize traffic based on its type, which is what Comcast is doing.

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