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Cable/Video

Comcast: Feds Not Needed Here

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is using politically correct wording, but it clearly wants the government to butt out of its broadband policy and technology decisions.

The MSO, already facing a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) probe into its network management practices, said a recent P4P field test involving several other broadband service providers demonstrates that Internet services are developing and growing without regulatory intervention.

Comcast vice president Kathryn Zachem, in an ex parte filing dated April 9 and posted on the FCC electronic docket today, noted that the announcement "provides further proof that policymakers have been right to rely on marketplace forces, rather than government regulation, to govern the evolution of Internet services."

P4P is billed as a more localized and efficient type of P2P protocol. By keeping routing and data transfers more localized, P4P promises to reduce backbone traffic and lower operation costs. (See Pando Releases P4P Results.)

On Tuesday, Pando Networks Inc. published results of a P4P field test, showing that delivery speeds rose as much as 235 percent on U.S. cable networks, and up to 898 percent across "international broadband networks."

The tests, which involved more than 1 million consumers, tapped into into networks operated by a wide range of participants, including AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), BCE Inc. (Bell Canada) (NYSE/Toronto: BCE), Bezeq, The Israel Telecommunications Corp. Ltd. (OTC: BZQIF), BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), Comcast, Cox Communications Inc. , Orange, SaskTel , Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF), Telecom Italia (TIM) , Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX), Tiscali SpA , and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ).

For the test, Pando supplied its "Network Aware" platform to route data "internally" across broadband networks rather than grabbing information from external sources, which tend to put more strain on high-speed broadband networks.

The collaboration with Pando "reflects Comcast's commitment to a continuing dialogue with other participants in the Internet marketplace to ensure that all of us can continue to deliver ever-improving services to consumers," Zachem noted.

Comcast has already succumbed to public pressure about how it's been throttling some P2P upstream traffic. After defending the practice in February, Comcast later announced a collaboration with P2P giant BitTorrent Inc. and others, with the goal of migrating to a new capacity management system by the end of the year. (See Comcast Caves In to P2P Pressure and FCC Chair to Comcast: Set a Date.)

Since then, it has also had to fend off claims by University of Colorado researchers that the MSO was traffic-shaping more than P2P. The school later retracted its findings. (See University Study Takes Comcast to Task and Back to the Drawing Board .)

Despite a cordial note in the docket, it doesn't appear that the FCC plans to take the heat off Comcast anytime soon. A full agenda hasn't been released, but the agency's second public en banc hearing on broadband network management practices is set for April 17 at Stanford University. The first one took place at Harvard University in late February. (See FCC Mulling New Internet Rules .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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