A study this week by the Measurement Lab, first reported by TorrentFreak, verifies for the first time that Comcast has virtually stopped its throttling practices in the wake of the FCC’s order, which concluded that Philadelphia-based Comcast breached so-called net neutrality rules. A federal appeals court, however, said the FCC overstepped its authority, and the issue is tied up in the courts after the FCC introduced a new net neutrality plan.
Comcast has said it would comply with the FCC order, despite its legal uncertainty, and said it had the right to throttle to manage heavy traffic loads. Comcast says it has moved to a system that throttles heavy users during times of congestion, without picking on any particular application, a kind of network management policy generally accepted by network-neutrality advocates.
The study by the Google-funded lab also shows how disingenuous Comcast was when the FCC ordered it in 2008 to end its throttling practices. Throttling is the slowing or blocking of BitTorrent data, which consumes a large amount of bandwidth and is often associated with pirated movies, music and software.
“We did not block access to websites or online applications, including peer-to-peer services,” Comcast spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice said back in 2008. Six weeks after the order, however, Comcast came clean and disclosed its throttling practices.
According to the study, Comcast throttled 49 percent of all BitTorrent traffic in early 2008. Last year, according to the study’s most recent data, the number dropped to 3 percent.