Update 7:57 AM PDT: Comcast and BitTorrent have made it official, announcing that they are working together "and with the broader Internet and ISP community" to address issues of rich media and network management. One specific result of the talks: Comcast says that, by the end of 2008, it will have adopted a "capacity management technique that is protocol agnostic."
Are Comcast and BitTorrent secretly an old married couple, prone to bickering over their peccadilloes and never quite comfortable together in public, but still joined tightly by an abiding sense of union and shared purpose?
So it would seem. The Wall Street Journal on Thursday reports a deal in the works between the cable provider and the file-sharing company that would have the pair collaborating on ways to make their technologies more compatible. Comcast, of course, has been on the hot seat in recent weeks over its practice of stymieing the peer-to-peer traffic of BitTorrent users.
Top executives at the two companies told the newspaper that Comcast will look for better ways to manage peak traffic on its network, slowing things down for those users who consume the most bandwidth, rather than by types of applications, such as BitTorrent. The new policy, which would also factor in additional data capacity, could take effect by the end of the year--if lab tests show it to be feasible.
The talks are also aimed at helping Comcast shore up video traffic on its network.
Public disputes aside, collaboration between the companies is nothing new, as CNET News.com's Marguerite Reardon reported recently. Her Q&A earlier this month with BitTorrent CEO Doug Walker, "BitTorrent to Comcast: Let's be friends," offers a wealth of detail and insight about the relationship, Comcast's issues with Internet video, and potential solutions.
"We have reached out to them. Actually, Tony Werner, who is the CTO of Comcast, is an adviser to BitTorrent," Walker told News.com. "And very few people know that."
Walker goes on: "We are continuing to have a dialogue. I am hopeful that we are going to be able to work together in the future as this whole thing works itself out and takes its natural course. If there is anyway we can help Comcast make its network more efficient, we'd like to be a part of that solution."
And that's in spite of the fact that the Q&A starts out with Walker saying that Comcast had unfairly singled out BitTorrent.