Are other ISPs doing what Comcast does?


In light of the scandal regarding Comcast’s blocking (or “deprioritization”) of certain p2p applications, I thought it might be interesting to investigate the disclosures of other ISPs regarding prioritization. Here is what I found. (It is worth noting that some of this may change very soon in light of Comcast’s troubles.)

Most telecomm and cable companies do not publicly provide much information regarding their prioritization techniques. Time Warner Cable is one of the most forthright companies in this respect. In its Operator Acceptable Use Policy…), the company gives some insight into its approach to prioritization. The policy explains that Time Warner Cable “may use various tools and techniques in order to efficiently manage its networks and to ensure compliance with its Acceptable Use Policy.” Such tools may include “limiting the number of peer-to-peer sessions a user may conduct at one time” and “limiting the aggregate bandwidth available for certain usage protocols such as peer-to-peer and newsgroups.” These statements indicate that Time Warner gives p2p applications low priority relative to other types of data packets.

Other ISPs offer less information. Verizon promises prospective high-speed internet service subscribers “a dedicated connection to the Verizon central office so that you don’t have to share your local access connection with other users”…) Nonetheless, Verizon acknowledges that upstream congestion may hinder connection speed. Verizon also gives the vague explanation that “other factors” may influence connection speed. An analogous set of representations appears in relation to FIOS, Verizon’s fiber optic broadband internet service…). AT&T does not admit to any degree of prioritization. The AT&T website cites only “heavy Internet traffic, the condition of your telephone lines, and the distance of your home to the telephone company’s central switching station” as factors that may affect download speed…)

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