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Comcast Makes Deal With BitTorrent But Underlying Issues Remain

NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Internet service provider Comcast has announced it has reached a deal with file-sharing company BitTorrent Inc. to ensure that the popular file sharing client will work on Comcast's networks.

Comcast drew much public criticism following revelations last year that they were intentionally slowing torrent traffic for BitTorrent users on its network. The firm has apparently backed away from this position.

"Rather than slow traffic by certain types of applications — such as file-sharing software or companies like BitTorrent — Comcast will slow traffic for those users who consume the most bandwidth." Tony Werner, Comcast's CTO told the Wall Street Journal.

BitTorrent is a popular application that allows users to share files such as media and music over the Internet and is just one of a growing number of peer-to-peer file sharing programs available on the 'net.

While Comcast's agreement is only with BitTorrent at present, the bandwidth throttling scheme would impact other types of applications, such as streamed music and movies as well. Furthermore, it touches on a Net Neutrality, a contentious political issue that is currently under discussion. Proponents of net neutrality maintain that the Internet should be equal access for all, while telecom companies generally favor being able to provide preferential network access to specific clients. Comcast's concession in this may be an attempt to keep the debate from becoming too contentious and complicating their efforts with lawmakers.

Still, it appears to be a victory for net neutrality proponents. "An agnostic approach is huge for the Internet, for innovation and Silicon Valley," Eric Klinker, chief technology officer of BitTorrent told the SF Chronicle "There are a lot of businesses booming in this corridor that fundamentally depend on this principle."

And its not just American firms that are turning towards this kind of bandwidth-based approach. Canadian telecom giant Rogers Communication has announced plans to make the 'net more expensive to consumers who consume bandwidth by streaming movies and music.

The company plans to implement tiered service with bandwidth usage limits and customers who exceed their monthly allotment will be hit with additional fees of up to $5 a gigabyte, capping at $25 dollars a month

"The reality of the Internet is that people are using the Internet more and doing more online," Phil Hartling, vice-president of consumer services for Rogers Cable told the Globe-Mail. "This is simply about customers' ability to exceed their usage allowance and pay for additional usage."

This announcement hasn't gone over as well as Rogers may have hoped and it has since attracted some political attention, mostly notably from opposition MP Charlie Angus, NDP spokesman for copyright and digital issues, who said that "[we] can't sit idly by while Bell and other telecommunications giants are allowed to arbitrarily rewire the Internet."

If this is rhetoric or if it will actually bear on Rogers Communication's plans or similar initiatives in the works at Bell Canada remains to be seen but it is certain that this will become an increasingly common subject as content delivery models continue to be influenced by technology. – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers