updated 05:15 pm EDT, Wed June 4, 2008
Comcast starts local tests
Comcast's latest attempt to curb bandwidth bandits will see the Internet and cable TV provider perform local tests to help it decide which method of traffic management it should undertake. The company announced on Tuesday it will be conducting one month-long tests in local neighborhoods, starting tomorrow in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and Warrenton, Virginia, with another test planned in Colorado Springs, Colorado, later on this summer.
In the past, the company limited speeds (throttled) or otherwise inconvenienced customers that used file sharing programs, a practice which attracted the FCC's attention. More recently, the practice was stopped, and the company announced it would develop a new system that would focus on individuals rather than formats. Comcast defended the moves by saying users who download hundreds of gigabytes from torrent sites and other file sharing programs slow down the majority of other, more casual subscribers who simply surf the Internet and use e-mail.
In the test areas, heavy bandwidth users may notice slowdowns in their connection speeds, Comcast warns, though all subscribers in the areas will be notified of the test by email. Unlike in the past, where the company's efforts were kept secret, Comcast promises a "full" and "transparent" notification of the web traffic management method that will be adopted nationwide by year's end.