Comcast Miffed At Martin BitTorrent Remarks

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Washington – A top Comcast executive is taking exception to points that Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin made in a statement responding to last week’s agreement in which Comcast and BitTorrent agreed to work on ways to alleviate network congestion fostered by massive file sharing applications.

In a March 28 letter, Comcast executive vice president David Cohen told Martin he was “disappointed” and “perplexed” at Martin’s characterization of the agreement in a Martin statement released by the FCC one day earlier.

“It repeated erroneous characterizations of Comcast’s network management practices and disclosure policies that we have taken great pains to clarify on multiple occasions,” Cohen wrote.

As if to emphasize Comcast’s rejection of Martin’s response, Cohen used some version of the phrase “contrary to your statement” three times.

The FCC is investigating whether Comcast blocked file-sharing applications in violation of agency rules. Comcast has repeatedly denied blocking; instead, the company said it delayed uploads at peak times to ensure Web surfing by the vast majority of broadband users went undisturbed.

Despite Comcast’s denials and despite no official findings by the FCC, Martin has repeatedly and publicly accused Comcast of blocking traffic, embracing the rhetoric of Comcast’s accusers. Martin did so again in last week’s statement.

“I am pleased that Comcast has reversed course and agreed that it is not a reasonable network management practice to arbitrarily block certain applications on its network. I also commend the company for admitting publicly that it was engaging in the practice and now engaging in a dialog with BitTorrent,” Martin said.

Cohen took exception to Martin’s assertion that the cable company had pleaded guilty to blocking simply by releasing a statement pledging to work with BitTorrent to ensure that a small minority of peer-to-peer users don’t effectively crash the network.

“Contrary to the insinuation in your statement, Comcast has not now ‘admitted’ anything about Comcast’s network management practices that we previously denied,” Cohen wrote.

E-mails sent Monday afternoon to four FCC spokespersons, plus a fifth one to a senior Martin aide, were not returned.

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