Comcast: "We Throttle Traffic To Help Other Users; Besides, It's Not Permanent"

Comcast is in heavy PR-spin mode this week following last week’s reports that they spoof customers’ computers to cancel peer-to-peer connections, and have been blocking corporate users from sending large attachments via Lotus Notes (that blockage was “fixed” last week, around the time this story broke). Comcast says that they don’t “block” anything but rather delay requests, and that it’s only done to improve overall performance for their customers.

A senior VP at Comcast said,

“During periods of heavy peer-to-peer congestion, which can degrade the experience for all customers, we use several network management technologies that, when necessary, enable us to delay – not block – some peer-to-peer traffic. However, the peer-to-peer transaction will eventually be completed as requested.”

The AP tests seem to support this claim to some degree: one of their test downloads was able to be resumed 10 minutes after being blocked. The other tests were stopped at the 5-minute-mark, so there’s only one corroborating example.

However, the EFF and Open Internet Coalition are calling bullshit on Comcast’s overall explanation. Peter Eckersley at the EFF says,

“Characterizing that as delaying traffic I think is … a stretch. What they are doing is spoofing traffic or jamming traffic. I think they are trying to create as much confusion about this story as they can because they’ve done something really scurrilous and out of line for an ISP, and I’m sure they’ve been burned by the community’s reaction to it.”

“Comcast Admits Delaying Some Traffic” [Wired]

“Comcast Tries To Sterilize, Decapitate BitTorrent”
(Photo: Getty)