Comcast invests in P2P provider GridNetworks, despite torrent delaying

Comcast, an ISP already suspected by many of either blocking or throttling BitTorrent's P2P technology, today announced it has made an investment of an unspecified amount in GridNetworks, another P2P provider.

In a statement released today, Tony Werner, Comcast's CTO, said the company plans to work with GridNetworks to "improve the efficiency of P2P on ISP networks."

Just last week, however, a study by Germany researchers pinpointed Comcast and Cox as the leading culprits of BitTorrent blocking in the US.

The study by the German-based Max Planck Institute for Software Systems looked only at hosts whose torrent transfers to the institute's servers were blocked, as opposed to throttled or rate-limited.

But Werner implied today that Comcast views GridNetworks' technology as belonging in a more broadband- and DRM (digital rights management)-oriented category than BitTorrent's, which has sometimes been accused of use in pirating films and music over the Internet.

"We are interested in the application of P2P concepts in a manner that puts the quality of the consumer experience first, and enables lawful distribution of copyrighted content," according to Werner's canned statement.

In FCC hearings, Comcast has defended itself against insinuations of torrent blocking by insisting that the ISP does not block any Web site, application, or protocol.

But David L. Cohen, Comcast's executive VP, has admitted to a "limited form of network management," in which requests for BitTorrent file uploads are "delayed" but not "blocked."

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