Cox to experiment with prioritisation

January 29, 2009 // 12:51 p.m.

Tags: #bittorrent #blocking #broadband #cox #cox-communications #ellacoya #fcc #filtering #p2p #peer-to-peer #us #usenet

Cox Communications – believed by many to be the second largest blocker of P2P Internet traffic in the US – is planning to implement a new method of managing its bandwidth congestion problems.

According to BetaNews, the company is looking in to methods for limiting the impact peer-to-peer file sharing traffic has on real-time communication protocols – which may spell the end for its outright blocking policy, and more joy for its customers. The move will also come as a pleasurable surprise to the Federal Communications Commission, which sanctioned the company last year for injecting packets into P2P datastreams that resulted in the connection being dropped – without telling its customers that it was doing so.

In a statement to the Associated Press, spokesman David Grabert hopes that the new filtering system, “based on the time-sensitive nature of the Internet traffic itself,” will “lead to a smoother Internet experience with fewer delays.

The new system prioritises traffic according to protocol, rather than blocking certain protocols outright even in times of spare capacity. Packets which require a more-or-less immediate response, including web traffic, voice chat, video streaming, and gaming, will get a higher priority than less time-critical traffic such as file uploading, peer-to-peer file transfers, and Usenet groups.

The company is quick to assure customers that the new system – which covers more protocols than the old system – will only “momentarily” delay the traffic, and then “only when the local network is congested.

The new system will undergo trials in Arkansas and Kansas, to be followed by a rollout to all four million customers across the US if successful – except business customers, who get to continue to enjoy an unmolested Internet feed for there extra dollars.

Whether the new prioritisation system will please both sides of its userbase – the P2Pers who just want to snag the latest releases as fast as possible, and the normal web users who just want their YouTube videos to play back smoothly – remains to be seen, but it certainly has a better chance than outright – and secret – blocking.

Any Cox users here hoping to see P2P transfers become an option again, or are you worried that your real-time traffic will suffer under the new scheme? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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