Comcast and BitTorrent will work together to make peer-to-peer file downloads work more efficiently, the companies said today. Good news for BitTorrent? Sure. Will it get the FCC off Comcast’s back? Maybe. Good news for Comcast customers? Nope.
Why’s that? Because instead of just slowing down BitTorrent file transfers, Comcast says that by the end of the year, it will start slowing down all file transfers for subscribers who use a lot of bandwidth. We don’t know how they will define “a lot,” but as Internet-based video services that use a lot of bandwidth grow in popularity — like Hulu, Apple’s (AAPL) iTunes movie rental service, Netflix’s (NFLX) streaming movies, etc. — rabid Web video watchers could get hosed.
The move comes as Comcast (CMCSA) has been busted for interfering with some of its subscribers’ P2P file transfers, and as BitTorrent tries to shed its image as a tool for software pirates and become a legitimate content distribution company. One point to remember: BitTorrent the private company is distinct from BitTorrent the open source platform. The former can’t do anything about the way people use the latter, so deals struck between Comcast and BitTorrent may have limited impact, anyway.
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