Policy + charging

Vuze Chirps at Cox

If someone called you "non-time sensitive," would you take it personally? Evidently, Vuze Inc. would.

It didn't take long for a company in the peer-to-peer (P2P) video camp to take umbrage with a new bandwidth management system Cox Communications Inc. is starting to test this month.

Vuze, which came out against Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and its earlier throttling of P2P apps, is a bit troubled about Cox's pilot program, which classifies some applications as "time sensitive" and others as "non-time sensitive." Things in the latter category could be subjected to temporary delays when the local network is congested.

Cox hasn't provided much technical detail about this trial system yet, but the intention is that slowed-down applications would return to normal speeds once the clogs are cleared up.

Cox has plunked P2P protocols (along with file access, network storage, software updates, and Usenet) in the non-time-sensitive category. Video streaming is one of the applications falling under the time-sensitive umbrella. (See Cox to Test New Bandwidth Cop .)

Because of these classifications, Vuze believes its P2P approach is viewed as a "second-class citizen," at least in the eyes of the system Cox is testing in Kansas and Arkansas.

"We take that personally, and think you should too," Vuze general counsel Jay Monahan wrote to readers of the company's blog. "While Cox may consider our content and business to be unimportant or of lower priority, all of the content we deliver through the Vuze HD Network is delivered using our Bittorrent protocol-based technology... Our 10 million users who access over a petabyte of Vuze HD Network content every month care about 'delay' of their content."

Vuze is likewise worried that its progressive download option will be "relegated to the back of the bus," while streaming from YouTube Inc. and Hulu LLC gets higher priority status. Vuze acknowledges that the system Cox is testing won't automatically delay content, "but it's unclear what the criterion will be for making the determinations of the nature and the extent of any delay," Monahan notes, later urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) "to subject this practice to close scrutiny."

The FCC has made no formal inquiry into the traffic management system Cox is testing. The MSO has announced no firm plans to extend testing beyond the systems in Arkansas and Kansas, but could deploy the system more broadly if the initial pilot work goes well.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

mr zippy 12/5/2012 | 4:12:37 PM
re: Vuze Chirps at Cox What a load of codswallop!
Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:12:36 PM
re: Vuze Chirps at Cox Now that we're starting to see some different approaches, I'm sure we're heading to a debate about which one is the most "fair" -- one that treats all protocols and apps equally (and delaying all of them equally in states of congestion) versus one that classifies them (and delays them) based on their latency requirements when the lines get clogged. Jeff.
Michael Harris 12/5/2012 | 4:12:31 PM
re: Vuze Chirps at Cox
So P2P is sensitive to very sub-second delays, like VoIP and Video are.

It depends. P2P is an architechture, rather than an app. So, for example, "P2P"-based Skype video calling would be sensitive to sub-second delays. Bittorrent file downloads, not so much.
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