Comcast opens up negotiations with BitTorrent on bandwidth

In a surprise announcement, the BitTorrent and Comcast will partner to address issues of network management and architecture, as well as content distribution.

BitTorrent could be described as the bane of the cable industry's existence when it comes to high-speed Internet services.

Users of the file-sharing service routinely consume a large percentage of the available bandwidth, and Comcast has throttled some connections. Approximately half of the Internet traffic through its network is BitTorrent transfers, it claims.

Talks are ongoing and the two sides say there have already been amenable results. By the end of this year, Comcast will migrate to a capacity management system that its protocol agnostic. This is essentially the closest the cable operator has ever come to publicly admitting it targeted the P2P format.

At the same time, BitTorrent says it also agreed with Comcast on the need to limit the bandwidth of some users during peak times, although it also said that it believed the cable operator and others could have used other options.

"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," BitTorrent CTO Eric Klinker said.

Comcast and BitTorrent plan to open up their work in the media delivery sector so that other providers can benefit from their work. BitTorrent also plans to maximize its software to make better use of Comcast and others' networks.

Both urged the government to stay out of the discussions, and expressed confidence that they will be able to work out any differences on their own.

FCC commissioner Robert McDowell seemed to agree. "Government mandates cannot possibly contemplate the myriad complexities and nuances of the Internet marketplace," he said in a statement . The private sector is the best forum to resolve such disputes."

McDowell said that the agreement negated any need for the government to step in on the matter.

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