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Comcast, BitTorrent Collaborate File-Sharing Services

Comcast, BitTorrent Collaborate File-Sharing Services

US cable operator Comcast Corp said on Thursday it would change the way it manages its network and cooperate with critics to resolve their allegations that the company unreasonably interferes with some Internet file-sharing services.

Comcast said it will begin to collaborate with its customers and file-sharing service BitTorrent Inc to work out a growing dispute over how far Internet service providers should be allowed to throttle their traffic on networks.

The company, which has 13 million broadband subscribers, said it had agreed to adopt a new technique for managing capacity on its network by the end of 2008. It said the new practices would be “protocol agnostic.”

“This means that we will have to rapidly reconfigure our network management systems, but the outcome will be a traffic management technique that is more appropriate for today’s emerging Internet trends,” Comcast Chief Technology Officer Tony Werner said.

The dispute over so-called “network neutrality” pits open-Internet advocates against some service providers such as Comcast, which say they need to eventually take reasonable steps to manage traffic on their networks.

The Federal Communications Commission is looking into complaints from consumer groups that Comcast has blocked some file-sharing services, such as BitTorrent, that distribute TV shows and movies. The growing issue also has attracted scrutiny from lawmakers in Congress.

Comcast has denied impairing some applications and reiterated that it merely manages its network for the good of all users.

In a joint statement issued with Comcast on Thursday, BitTorrent conceded that Internet service providers need to take some steps to manage their broadband networks.