SPIN CITY: Comcast, BitTorrent Non-Deal

spin_city_-_title.jpg Updated: BitTorrent Inc. and Comcast announced a new deal today, thanks to a helping hand provided by Comcast CTO and BitTorrent adviser, Tony Werner. It’s actually a bit of a non-deal and a way for Comcast to save face after its P2P traffic management gaffe. Chris Albrecht over on NewTeeVee sees this as a “let’s be friends” move. To me it seems more like the marriage of Michael Jackson to Elvis Presley’s daughter.

The press release basically says nothing and gives me a headache. How about using plain English, saying, “Sorry folks, we traffic managed and were heavy-handed about it, but we have learned our lesson and will be transparent in the future“? And it still fails to answer the question of why Comcast meddled with the traffic to begin with. If it was serious about P2P and leveraging it for smart distribution, it could have been proactive. This release is simply a reaction to what amounts to the company getting its hand caught in the proverbial cookie jar.

Furthermore, I have my doubts about the relevance of BitTorrent Inc. In the press release, President Ashwin Navin says:

In the spirit of openness and fostering innovative solutions, BitTorrent will take the first step in enhancing our client applications to optimize them for a new broadband network architecture. Furthermore, we will publish these optimizations in open forums and standard bodies for all application developers to benefit from.

How many people actually use BitTorrent’s client? Not many. In order for this partnership to have even a modicum of impact, Comcast needs to bring folks like Vuze and other P2P players into the fold. Otherwise, it’s nothing more than a press release full of spin.

Couple of interesting takes on this ever evolving story:

* Janko Roettgers: Bittorrent flip-flopping on net neutrality regulation.
* Aaron Huslage: Comcast Hijacks Bandwidth Management
* FCC Chariman Kevin Martin: I am concerned, though, that Comcast has not made clear when they will stop this discriminatory practice. It appears this practice will continue throughout the country until the end of the year and in some markets, even longer. While it may take time to implement its preferred new traffic management technique, it is not at all obvious why Comcast couldn’t stop its current practice of arbitrarily blocking its broadband customers from using certain applications. Comcast should provide its broadband customers as well as the Commission with a commitment of a date certain by when it will stop this practice.