Comcast has been throtteling BitTorrent transfers. This is going to make legitimate seeding of torrent downloads virtually impossible, and it is the result of a community of illegal downloads has been built up around this.

My opinion of BitTorrent sharing specifically is somewhat irrelavent in this case because Comcast has demonstrated similar throtteling techniques before. A few years ago we decided to subscribe to Packet8 and all was good with our new service until Comcast introduced “Digital Voice”, at which point our VoIP service with Packet8 suddenly experienced significant network communication errors. Eventually, the service became unusable and we were forced to cancel our contract after only 6 months.

Interestingly enough, whatever subterfuge Comcast executed against our Packet8 service has actually diminished our interest in any kind of VoIP service. As it turns out, others in our region had a similar experience and were also eventually driven off third-party VoIP services as a result of diminishing quality. Perhaps there was a rush of people adopting VoIP before our infrastructure was able to support this kind of service? That seems unlikely given that bandwidth is easily clocked at 6 Mbps and video streaming sites continue to function without issue. This kind of network configuration should provide ample bandwidth to support a phone conversation.

Clearly the greater concern here is what kind of control Comcast might continue to exercise on the users of their network. While it is acceptable to limit or otherwise restrict network traffic, the customers should be made aware of these changes. This is the equivalent of a channel lineup change – imagine if Comcast decides to remove NBC from our plan without giving us reasonable notification.

When network changes take place, the consumer must be given options to either terminate existing contracts or upgrade a subscription to another high-speed networking option that will continue to include a service that was already being used. There is no reason for Comcast to be making these changes in secret, if there is something that I will not be able to do over the Internet using the Comcast service then they should apprise me of that restriction.

Categories: Technology