DCIA Takes Reins of P2P Project

The Distributed Computing Industry Association (DCIA) has kicked off a peer-to-peer (P2P) Best Practices initiative that it says will supersede the P2P Bill of Rights and Responsibilities (BRR) effort that Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Pando Networks Inc. introduced in mid-April.

The DCIA-led project aims to start up where the BRR project left off, and "broaden the scope of this endeavor," as a statement reads. (See DCIA Takes P2P Reins and Comcast, Pando Crafting 'P2P Bill of Rights' .)

"It was an excellent idea suggested by Pando and Comcast. We met with them and discussed the concept and the potential of it," DCIA CEO Marty Lafferty told Cable Digital News. "The [Comcast-Pando] concept is the basis of the work that is now proceeding. We are moving ahead."

Comcast and Pando unveiled the BRR project after the cable MSO had been under fire for throttling P2P traffic, and just in front of a second public en banc hearing on the topic of Net neutrality headed up by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) , which is investigating Comcast's network management practices. (See Net Neutrality Gets Its Hearing.)

Comcast has pledged that it will migrate to a "protocol-agnostic" platform by year's end but has yet to publish any details about it. Meanwhile, the "fair use" scheme introduced by Camiant Inc. on Monday offers a glimpse into how cable operators might manage bandwidth consumption down the road. (See Comcast Caves In to P2P Pressure and Camiant Intros 'Fair Use' Bandwidth System.)

Recruitment mode
Lafferty acknowledges that the new project is in the early stages, but the DCIA is actively seeking participation from ISPs, P2P companies, and studios and other content providers.

Comcast is already on board, and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) are backing the new P2P Best Practices project, Lafferty says. He adds that other MSOs are interested as well.

From the P2P world, Pando and Kontiki have also agreed to join the DCIA-led venture. According to Lafferty, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) also have expressed interest and are conducting internal discussions about which member companies could participate directly.

Lafferty says the DCIA will remain in heavy "recruitment mode" between now and a working group meeting slated for May 20 in New York, in line with the Streaming Media East show.

The goal, he says, is to have a working group formed by June and to finish a document outlining P2P best practices "well before the end of the year."

The DCIA also expects to seek involvement from consumer advocacy groups, including Free Press and Public Knowledge.

The DCIA noted that the newly launched P2P Best Practices project differs from its P4P Working Group, in that the latter is centered not on business, but on the technology for optimizing P2P traffic across ISP networks.

Comcast's new role
So whatever happened to the BRR project?

Comcast disputes characterizations that it's "abandoned" BRR. Although the DCIA is taking the reins of the newly named project and broadening its scope, the original concept of bringing together a coalition of ISPs and P2P companies hasn't changed, the MSO argues.

"DCIA is a great forum to lead the initiative," says Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas. "We fully support the DCIA's effort…and look forward to what the next steps are."

"Comcast absolutely did not abandon the P2P Bill of Rights," Lafferty insists.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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