Feeds

Comcast admits it can do the impossible

'We will stop busting BitTorrents'

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

The Cover-up

Martin has also said there's another matter that deserves a bit more scrutiny. For many months, Comcast denied it was busting BitTorrents, and even now, the company stops somewhere short of telling the whole story.

In late 2006 and early 2007, an independent researcher named Robb Topolski first noticed that Comcast was clipping at least some of his peer-to-peer uploads. By May 2007, his tests showed that the ISP was preventing users from "seeding" BitTorrents and other P2P files. When one machine downloads a file and promptly attempts to upload that file to another machine, in certain cases, Comcast sends out a duped "reset flag" that breaks this peer-to-peer connection.

"I retested this every few weeks," Topolski says. "Each time, Gnutella was totally blocked. eDonkey was 75 per cent blocked. And BitTorrent was 40 per cent blocked." In other words, Comcast was sending reset flags to 40 per cent of his established BitTorrent connections.

Several months later, in August, Topolski's tests were trumpeted by the P2P-obsessed blog TorrentFreak, and when The Register phoned Comcast, the company flatly denied the practice.

Then, in November, The Associated Press published tests that confirmed Toploski's findings. At this point, Comcast told us that it was "managing" BitTorrent traffic rather than "blocking" it. But in clipping BitTorrent connections with reset flags, the company is indeed blocking BitTorrent traffic.

After The AP's story hit, several members of the SaveTheInternet coalition formally asked the FCC to investigate Comcast's behavior and the FCC said OK. By January, with a letter to the FCC, Comcast told the world a bit more about its "management" techniques. But it appears the company was still hiding at least a portion of the truth.

Comcast says it only "manages" BitTorrent uploads "during periods of heavy network traffic" and "when the customer is not simultaneously downloading." But independent tests tell a different story.

Topolski says that Comcast is blocking 40 per cent of his uploads at all times of the day. "Middle of the day. Late at night. Weekends. Weekdays. The results are always the same," he says.

His tests also show that uploads are blocked while he's still downloading. "Comcast starts interfering as soon as any of your downloads switches to an upload mode," he explains. "It doesn't wait until all your downloads are done." So if you've just finished downloading File A, Comcast may prevent it from being uploaded - even if File B is still downloading.

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Next page: The Defense

More from The Register

next story
Trying to sell your house? It'd better have KILLER mobile coverage
More NB than transport links to next-gen buyers - study
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?
They can take our lives, but they'll never take our SPECTRUM
NBN Co adds apartments to FTTP rollout
Commercial trial locations to go live in September
Samsung Z Tizen OS mobe is post-phoned – this time for good?
Russian launch for Sammy's non-droid knocked back
Speak your brains on SIGNAL-FREE mobile comms
Readers chat to the pair who flog the tech
prev story

Whitepapers

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?