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Broadband internet providers limit traffic - is 'net neutrality' threatened?

August 4, 2009

A Canadian provider of internet traffic controls, Sandvine, said roughly 90 percent of its broadband internet provider customers use application-specific traffic management policies, including most of its customers in the United States.

The company reported that broadband internet companies are actively managing traffic to consumers based on the type of traffic in a filing with Canada's telecommunications regulator.

Broadband internet companies have faced consumer complaints in the past over plans to limit internet usage by imposing bandwidth usage caps. Time Warner earlier this year dropped a plan to impose caps after consumers spoke out against it.

Comcast, which was reprimanded by the Federal Communications Commission last year for attempting to throttle users of file-swapping P2P sites, has changed its acceptable use policy to 250 GB/month, which is enough to download 62,500 songs or upload 25,000 digital photos.

Legislation proposed in Congress last week would require that ISPs deliver access service in clear, uniform and nondiscriminatory ways. Yet the bill, submitted by Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts, would not prohibit ISP from "engaging in reasonable network management."

So, consumers, broadband providers and policymakers have to figure out - what is reasonable network management?

Sandvine CEO Dave Caputo said last month that some limitation of internet use to manage congestion is necessary to keep the internet working properly for all.

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