Cable Industry Likens Itself to Academe in Managing Network Traffic

In an effort to dissuade the Federal Communications Commission from penalizing cable companies for prioritizing peer-to-peer traffic, the cable industry is arguing that colleges do the same thing.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association wrote a letter to the agency, dated Thursday, arguing that it is not “anticompetitive” for their member cable companies to prohibit or limit certain peer-to-peer programs. The agency is probing a complaint that Comcast had been slowing down the exchange of files that used the BitTorrent protocol in violation of the FCC’s network management principles.

“Virtually all of the top national universities, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report, restrict users’ ability to engage in activities that cause excessive congestion,” the industry letter reads.

It goes on to state, “It is hard to argue that this narrowly tailored network management of P2P services by cable operators is not really aimed at congestion and has a more sinister anticompetitive purpose and effect when many colleges and universities have adopted more draconian approaches to address the same problem.”

The letter documents the network traffic policies of 16 elite colleges and universities, including Princeton, Harvard, and Yale Universities.

The technology blog, Ars Techica, argues that the cable industry’s analogy doesn’t quite work. “These schools don’t sell broadband connections to the general public promising hitherto untold levels of orgasmically fast upload and download access—like Big Cable does.” —-Andrea L. Foster

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