AT&T: We Don't Reset P2P Connections


AT&T, in comments filed Friday with the Federal Communications Commission, denied it throttles back peer-to-peer traffic using false “reset” commands, as was suggested by an analysis of Internet data by a P2P video distributor.

Vuze, a startup that distributes video files using BitTorrent-based software, this week submitted to the FCC a study finding that the networks of the eight biggest broadband providers—including AT&T—regularly generate commands that slow down file transfers.

“At a minimum, more investigation is required to determine whether these resets are happening in the ordinary course of business or whether they are the kind of throttling practices which target specific applications and/or protocols” to the detriment of P2P users, Vuze said.

But the Vuze report doesn’t take into consideration other network conditions that can reset P2P connections, according to AT&T.

AT&T vice president of Internet and network systems research Charles Kalmanek, in a letter addressed to Vuze CEO Gilles BianRosa, said that peer-to-peer resets can arise from numerous local network events, including outages, attacks, reconfigurations or overall trends in Internet usage.

“AT&T does not use ‘false reset messages’ to manage its network,” Kalmanek said in the letter.

Kalmanek noted that Vuze’s analysis said the test “cannot conclude definitively that any particular network operator is engaging in artificial or false [reset] packet behavior.”

“Given that Vuze itself has recognized these problems…we believe that Vuze should not have published these misleading measurements, nor filed them with the FCC,” he wrote, suggesting that industry forums like the Distributed Computing Industry Association would provide a better means for addressing such questions.

Comcast, unlike AT&T, has acknowledged “delaying” P2P upstream traffic to conserve bandwidth but has pledged to change its management techniques to be “protocol agnostic” by the end of 2008.

The FCC is currently investigating the operator’s bandwidth management practices, which chairman Kevin Martin criticized this week as a “blunt means to reduce peer-to-peer traffic.”