Back in November I posted about BitTorrent’s President Ashwin Navin’s appearance at Streaming Media West, hoping he’d address the Comcast blocking question. Being the semi-dedicated blogger I am, I never followed up, aside from a brief news item on the Nov. 18 radioshow.
The answer Navin gave at SM West was that he wasn’t too worried about Comcast interfering with its commercial application, BitTorrent DNA, because it’s a different protocol than the open source protocol. Also, he said BitTorrent would be working directly with ISPs to address any problems. He said what we’ll see is a, “bifurcation, where file sharing traffic will be treated one way, and where commercial P2P traffic will be treated very differently.” You can watch the video of the keynote yourself–fast forward to 35:32 for his answer to the Comcast question.
As I mentioned on the radioshow, my initial evaluation of Navin’s answer was that it was a clear indicator of our worst fears about an internet without network neturality: a two-tiered internet. The conclusion I drew was that BitTorrent would make whatever deals necessary to make sure its commercial clients’ traffic would pass unharmed, while the open source protocol traffic might be blocked or delayed at every turn.
So when I saw that BitTorrent’s CTO, Eric Klinker, was on a press conference call about Net Neutrality last week, I knew I had an opportunity to ask if my interpretation was correct.
To his credit, Klinker did not shy away from my question at all. He reiterated that BitTorrent is working with ISPs to see if there are ways that their protocol can work more efficiently on their networks, and noted that not all ISPs are as hostile as Comcast. Some ISPs have actively sought out collaboration with BitTorrent. I followed up asking if these bandwidth regulating technologies would be shared with the open source side, and Klinker said that is the company’s intention. He acknowledged that BitTorrent is as successful as it is because of its adoption by the open source community, and because of the openness of the internet.
And I must note that the conference call was all about support for Network Neutrality and an open internet. I featured this bit of Q&A on this week’s radioshow, now online.
While I certainly hope that we see Net Neutrality become the law of the land again this year. I do hope that if that isn’t possible that BitTorrent indeed will work to keep the free flow of P2P data going–even data that hasn’t been bought and paid for by BitTorrent’s big media clients.