Comcast & BitTorrent collaborate for network management

Comcast Corporation and BitTorrent, Inc. have joined hands to undertake a collaborative effort with one another and with the broader Internet and ISP community to more effectively address issues associated with rich media content and network capacity management.

While BitTorrent and Comcast are talking directly, they are also in discussions with other parties to help facilitate a broader dialogue and cooperation across industries.

The Comcast and BitTorrent discussions have already produced meaningful results. On the one hand, Comcast announced that it will migrate by year-end 2008 to a capacity management technique that is protocol agnostic. "This means that we will have to rapidly reconfigure our network management systems, but the outcome will be a traffic management technique that is more appropriate for today’s emerging Internet trends. We have been discussing this migration and its effects with leaders in the Internet community for the last several months, and we will refine, adjust, and publish the technique based upon feedback and initial trial results," said Comcast Cable chief technology officer Tony Werner.

In turn, BitTorrent acknowledged the need of ISPs to manage their networks, especially during times of peak congestion. "While we think there were other management techniques that could have been deployed, we understand why Comcast and other ISPs adopted the approach that they did initially. Recognizing that the Web is richer and more bandwidth intensive than it has been historically, we are pleased that Comcast understands these changing traffic patterns and wants to collaborate with us to migrate to techniques that the Internet community will find to be more transparent," said BitTorrent chief technology officer Eric Klinker.

"Earlier this year, Comcast announced its plans for the aggressive deployment of wideband Internet services using the DOCSIS 3.0 standard, which we project will be available in up to 20 per cent of Comcast’s households by the end of this year. Additionally, we plan to more than double the upstream capacity of our residential Internet service in several key markets by year end 2008. We plan to take advantage of multi- carrier technology to further increase upstream capacity for all of our broadband customers in advance of the full DOCSIS 3.0 roll out," said Comcast Cable executive vice president of national engineering and technical operations John Schanz.

BitTorrent and Comcast have also agreed to work with other ISPs, other technology companies, and the Internet Engineering Task Force, to explore and develop a new distribution architecture for the efficient delivery of rich media content. "In the spirit of openness and fostering innovative solutions, BitTorrent will take the first step in enhancing our client applications to optimize them for a new broadband network architecture. Furthermore, we will publish these optimizations in open forums and standard bodies for all application developers to benefit from," said BitTorrent, Inc co-founder and president Ashwin Navin.

Both BitTorrent and Comcast expressed the view that these technical issues can be worked out through private business discussions without the need for government intervention.

"BitTorrent and Comcast can serve consumers best by working together along with the broader ISP and Internet community to jointly develop more efficient networks and applications. This should prove to be a productive partnership that will provide consumers with a better Internet experience," said BitTorrent CEO Doug Walker.

"We appreciate the recent dialogue that we have had with BitTorrent and the progress that we have made in addressing our respective concerns. Working together, we can deliver a truly superior experience to all of our customers," said Comcast Cable president Steve Burke.

Commenting on the Comcast and BitTorrent agreement on network management Motion Picture Association chairman and CEO Dan Glickman said, “The agreement between BitTorrent and Comcast is exactly the kind of industry cooperation that is urgently needed to address the problem of online piracy. Movie and music theft on digital networks creates network congestion and impedes efforts by network operators, technology companies and content providers to deliver new, legal entertainment choices to consumers. The MPAA has worked closely with technology companies and Internet service providers for some time on a range of issues in which we have a shared interest, particularly focusing on the fight to eliminate online copyright theft. By continuing to work together toward solutions we can help ensure the further growth of a legitimate digital consumer content marketplace.”

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