BitTorrent Stands Up for Net Neutrality

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In a late submission to the Canadian network management hearings of the CRTC, BitTorrent Inc. debunked some P2P myths and asked the committee to decide in favor of a neutral net. ISPs should look for other methods to deal with network congestion rather than discriminating against BitTorrent users, they say.

bittorrentIgnited by the Comcast fiasco in the US, the concept of net neutrality has been brought into the mainstream. ISPs are rarely transparent when it comes to their throttling, capping and other interfering behaviors, but in Canada they had to come clean due to a CRTC investigation.

The Canadian Radio, Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is currently looking into the traffic management practices of Canadian ISPs. Several hearings were held to examine the Internet traffic management practices being used, and check that they are in accordance with the Telecommunications Act.

Although not invited to the hearings itself, BitTorrent Inc. filed a late submission (pdf) to the CRTC this week, standing up for Net Neutrality.

“The hearings have clearly exposed some highly discriminatory traffic management targeting the BitTorrent protocol, which is no surprise to our users in Canada,” Simon Morris, BitTorrent’s VP of Product Management told TorrentFreak. “We really hope the regulators will act in the interests of citizens, innovation and free speech, rather than in the narrow interests of monopolies,” he added.

Last year, the company was also actively involved in FCC’s investigation into Comcast’s BitTorrent traffic shaping. Not only are such network management practices a direct threat to BitTorrent’s business model, it also hurts individual users and other businesses.

“Economically, P2P enables a very cost effective means to reach an audience. Fewer computers to buy or provision means that media distribution is no longer the domain of those with deep pockets. P2P allows small Canadian companies, as well as individuals, to distribute their works through the Internet to a global audience at relatively little cost,” BitTorrent writes in its filing to the CRTC.

One other group of victims are independent artists, who publish their work on BitTorrent in increasing numbers. In the hearings the CRTC was already told that blocking or restricting BitTorrent traffic could mean that independent filmmakers are unable to publish their work.

But large companies are in the same boat. “P2P is not just the domain of the independent artists, even major media companies are coming to the realization that P2P technology provides a faster, more efficient, more reliable way to distribute mass media,” BitTorrent writes.

In their filing BitTorrent Inc. mentions CNN’s P2P powered stream of Obama’s inauguration as one example how P2P can benefit large companies. Canadian public TV broadcaster CBC also got a mention, as they used Mininova’s services to distribute

If ISPs have to manage their networks, they shouldn’t target any specific applications or transfer protocols. Discriminating against BitTorrent would hamper innovation and potentially impair freedom of expression, the company told the CRTC.

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