Policy + charging

Comcast Goes 'Protocol Agnostic' Everywhere

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) made good on its pledge to migrate its entire footprint to a new "protocol agnostic" platform by the end of 2008 -- so says a new blog post on the MSO's "Network Management Policy" Website.

"Effective December 31, 2008, we have completed this transition, which is now part of our daily business operations for managing congestion on our network," the posting noted. "The approach is designed to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that all of our high-speed Internet customers have fair and equal access to the Internet and to bandwidth resources."

Comcast also confirmed it had wrapped up the deployment in a letter sent to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Monday, Jan. 5.

This online map tracks the deployment progress Comcast made last year as it transitioned from its legacy bandwidth management system to the new protocol agnostic version. The new system, which employs the PacketCable Multimedia (PCMM) architecture, Internet Protocol Detail Record (IPDR) servers, and "Congestion Management Fairshare" servers from Sandvine Inc. , doesn't single out peer-to-peer (P2P) applications, but could slow down some customer traffic temporarily if they are found to be gobbling up an exorbitant amount of capacity. (See Comcast Details Net Management Moves .)

As a refresher, Comcast pledged to migrate to the new system by the end of 2008 after the MSO came under fire amid claims that its legacy system discriminated against peer-to-peer applications. The FCC, in a 3-2 vote, later ordered Comcast to cease the use of its existing bandwidth management system by the end of 2008 -- a move that was already well underway. (See FCC Throttles Comcast, FCC Details Comcast Order , and FCC Puts Comcast on the Clock .)

Heading deeper into 2009, Comcast watchers will be glancing at the company's Network Management Policy site for a heads up on when the MSO will commercially roll out a meter that tracks their monthly Internet consumption. Last October, Comcast applied a monthly 250-gigabyte threshold to keep excessive users in check. (See Comcast Draws the Line at 250GB.)

Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas says the meter is presently undergoing employee beta trials. Comcast will offer it to the masses "when that [trial] is completed and the meter is working to our satisfaction," he added, but couldn't give a specific launch date.

In the meantime, Comcast is suggesting that customers use the meter embedded in the McAfee Inc. (NYSE: MFE) security suite or tap one of several bandwidth meters available on the Web from third-parties.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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