Cox to Test New Bandwidth CopCox to Test New Bandwidth Cop
In the wake of earlier scrutiny, Cox confirms it will start testing a new bandwidth management system next month
January 28, 2009
In the wake of criticisms about the way it has historically handled peer-to-peer (P2P) traffic, Cox Communications Inc. plans to start testing a new Internet traffic management system next month in Kansas and Arkansas.
Cox told Cable Digital News earlier this month that it had teams "evaluating a new technology, which is being lab and field tested." More recently, the MSO dropped details about those efforts onto a policy page.
The MSO will start testing the new congestion management system in February.
Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has gotten the most scrutiny for its bandwidth management system that throttled some P2P traffic, resulting in a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) probe and subsequent order that mandated the MSO move off the system by the end of 2008. But a study from the Max Planck Institute released last May hit Cox and StarHub of Singapore with similar allegations. Cox has acknowledged that its past bandwidth management policies were based on "traffic prioritization and protocol filtering." (See Study Alleges a Cox Block on P2P Traffic.)
Cox officials did not immediately respond to an inquiry Tuesday evening, but the company told the Associated Press that it started to evaluate its old bandwidth management system after the FCC hit Comcast with the order.
Comcast, by the way, is not out of the regulatory woods yet. The FCC has also launched a probe to find out whether the MSO is discriminating against competitive VoIP service providers that ride on top of its high-speed network. (See Comcast Faces VoIP Probe .)
As Cox describes it, the new bandwidth cop it's testing shares traits with the "protocol agnostic" system Comcast implemented last year. Comcast's system slows down customer connections temporarily during periods of high congestion. (See Comcast Goes 'Protocol Agnostic' Everywhere .)
Cox notes on its policy page that its system will delay only certain types of Internet traffic when its broadband pipes experience clogging, though most users likely "won't notice any effect at all":
During the occasional times the network is congested, this new technology automatically ensures that all time-sensitive Internet traffic – such as web pages, voice calls, streaming videos and gaming – moves without delay. Less time-sensitive traffic, such as file uploads, peer-to-peer and Usenet newsgroups, may be delayed momentarily – but only when the local network is congested.
Cox notes that traffic "resumes its normal flow" once network congestion is mitigated.
The table below further describes which types of Internet traffic Cox qualifies as "time sensitive" and "non-time sensitive." Table 1: What's Sensitive?
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