Advanced Television

BitTorrent, Comcast co-op on OTT speeds

March 28, 2008

The companies are in talks to collaborate on ways to run BitTorrent’s technology more smoothly on Comcast’s broadband network, and allow Comcast to transport video files more effectively over its own network in the future, says Tony Warner, Comcast’s chief technology officer.

Comcast and BitTorrent have been at odds since the cable operator said it was delaying traffic from BitTorrent at peak times. Legislators and some advocacy groups argued that Comcast’s efforts were anticompetitive, but the current rapprochement will attempt to defuse this issue. As part of the agreement, Comcast pledges to experiment with ways to more effectively manage traffic on its network at peak times, said Ashwin Navin, the president of BitTorrent.

Rather than slow traffic by certain types of applications Comcast will slow traffic for those users who consume the most bandwidth, said Comcast’s Warner. Comcast hopes to be able to switch to a new policy based on this model as soon as the end of the year, he added. The company’s push to add additional data capacity to its network also will play a role, he said. Comcast will start with lab tests to determine if the model is feasible.

Comcast said BitTorrent file-sharing software accounts for 50 per cent of Internet traffic and has been downloaded 170 million times. The cable operator said it must have the means to slow the delivery of some traffic on its network in order to provide adequate service to its overall customer base.

BitTorrent will also work to optimize its software to run more effectively over Comcast’s network, said Navin. BitTorrent plans to publish its findings in technology forums so that other application developers looking to work with Comcast can benefit.

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