Comcast, Pando Crafting 'P2P Bill of Rights'

Just a couple of days ahead of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's second public meeting on the testy subject of broadband network management practices, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Pando Networks Inc. announced they are spearheading a "P2P Bill of Rights and Responsibilities" (BRR) program. (See Comcast, Pando Propose 'Bill'.)

As proposed, the BRR would apply to peer-to-peer users as well as Internet service providers. Comcast and Pando, a P2P content delivery specialist based in New York, said they will collaborate with "industry experts" and other ISPs and P2P firms to develop the BRR framework and best practices for peer-to-peer apps and services.

"The purpose would be to clarify what choices and controls consumers should have when using P2P applications as well as what processes and practices ISPs should use to manage P2P applications running on their networks," the companies said in a joint announcement Tuesday.

As one cited example, Pando and Comcast said consumers should have the right to control their own PC resources when using P2P applications.

Comcast chief technology officer noted that the MSO and Pando hope to get others involved this spring and publish the BRR "later this year."

The moves comes after Comcast has been under fire, including a probe by the FCC and formal complaints by Vuze Inc. and Free Press, for the way it manages upstream P2P traffic. Critics have called on the MSO to provide more transparency into how it treats Internet traffic. (See Comcast Defends P2P Management .) In response to this intense pressure, Comcast announced plans last month to migrate to a "protocol agnostic" capacity management system by year-end. (See Comcast Caves In to P2P Pressure.) But the MSO and partners such as BitTorrent Inc. have not yet disclosed any technical details about how the system might work or specifically how it will differ from the way Comcast is managing Internet traffic now.

Also of recent note, Comcast participated in a P4P field test involving Pando and several other major broadband ISPs, claiming that such collaborations demonstrate the MSO's commitment to allowing the Internet to evolve without regulatory intervention. (See Comcast: Feds Not Needed Here .) Today, Comcast also said it will conduct a test of the "Pando Network Aware" P2P platform on the MSO's fiber optic network. The MSO, Pando, and the P4P Working Group plan to publish the results, believing the data will help other ISPs understand how P2P apps can be optimized for different types of broadband networks.

It didn’t take long for Free Press to give Tuesday's announcement both barrels.

"Consumers cannot trust Comcast or any other phone and cable company with the future of the Internet," said Free Press general counsel Marvin Ammori, in a press release. "Slick press releases by a dishonest would-be gatekeeper do nothing to protect consumers. The need for Net Neutrality remains urgent. The FCC should do its job to uphold the existing bill of rights for consumers and should do it quickly." (See Free Press Blasts Comcast.)

Predictably, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) hailed the Comcast-Pando announcement, and encouraged others in the broadband industry to participate in the development of the BRR.

It shows "further evidence that private sector collaboration, not government intervention, is the most appropriate way to address complicated technological issues," said NCTA president and CEO Kyle McSlarrow, in a prepared statement.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 3:43:19 PM
re: Comcast, Pando Crafting 'P2P Bill of Rights' We have seen this "open" gimmick before with MSFT and NOVL. A big monopoly co-opts a no-name "open" vendor to look like they are having some sort of open strategy. Their operations and APIs, however, remain as opaque as ever. With monopoly power, even at the neighborhood level, the controlling vendor cannot be trusted.
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