Monday, August 25, 2008

Comcast to Slow Web Traffic for Heavy Users

While the FCC ruled that Comcast cannot slow the traffic for individual applications like P2P, they did NOT say that Comcast can't slow down the traffic at all. They simply have to be application neutral.

Here's a passage from ARS Technica on the topic:

The company has until the end of the year to switch to a new throttling system that doesn't discriminate based on protocol, and Comcast is now offering more details about how it will do this. Heavy Comcast Internet users: prepare to be deprioritized.

The announcement wasn't a surprise. They've been talking about this idea since at least the beginning of the year. Further, they have run in market research assessing consumer reaction to the concept in several markets.

And a little more from Ars Technica on how they expect it to work:

While the consumer experience for these users will feel like a slowdown, Comcast stresses that it isn't changing the boot file in the modem. The user's connection to the central office will continue at it normal speeds, but packets sent to and from that user will be treated with a lower priority that could result in delays relative to other users on the network. As the company explains it, the speed of the connection will remain the same, but a customer's ability to access bandwidth will change.

So I get it that heavy users cost the company more, but is anyone besides me doubting the intelligence of a decision to penalize heavy users of a product? And given the very low cost of bandwidth to the ISP, it seems misguided to me.

Thanks for reading, and don't forget to write.

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