Comcast Enacts New Bandwidth-Throttling Policy

Bob Preston
PHILADELPHIA — Internet service provider Comcast continues its struggle against high-bandwidth Internet users with a new tactic. Now they're going after only the busiest users lately.

Comcast has been searching for a way to throttle the bandwidth on heavy Internet users for the past year or so. Their original plan targeted the users of a single application, BitTorrent, and was received so poorly that the FCC told Comcast to knock it off or else.

Their next move was to enact an overall bandwidth cap: 250 GB. Other ISPs followed suits with comparable bandwidth caps, but the target was the same: heavy Internet users who chewed up a lot of bandwidth and generally slowed things down for everyone else.

Now Comcast has unveiled what they hope will be a definitive method for throttling heavy Internet users while remaining "agnostic," that is, while not unduly penalizing any one group of users.

The new bandwidth monitoring system divides Comcast's Internet service into a fast and slow lane. If a user exceeds a given bandwidth threshold, they'll be moved to the slow lane for 15 minutes. Comcast will only enable this throttling during what the company calls a "near congestion state" — presumably a very busy time.

The terminology is more complicated, and Comcast doesn't describe the two kinds of service as "fast" and "slow" lanes, instead opting for the more diplomatic "Priority Best-Effort" service and "Best-Effort" service.

Playboy webmaster Brett Gilliat, aka Vendzilla, told XBIZ that Comcast might want to fix other problems with their service first.

"I've had them for a carrier and they never really did very good keeping up the speed as it was," he said. "At 6 p.m. every night, it seemed to get bogged down from too many users on one line."