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Cox to try coaxing the Internet into submission

Cox Communications plans to implement a testing period of bandwidth management plan to fight congested Internet traffic.

Our friend at Cox is about to get selectively friendly toward Internet content. Dong Ngo/CBS Interactive

Net neutrality fans, grab your chairs; I have some rocking news.

Cox Communications, the third-largest cable Internet provider in the U.S., announced Tuesday that starting February, it will begin testing a new method of managing traffic on its high-speed Internet network in Kansas and Arkansas.

This means during the times the network is congested the company will--to put it bluntly--discriminate between Internet content and regulate the bandwidth accordingly.

The company divides Internet traffic into two categories: time-sensitive and nontime-sensitive, with the former taking the priority during the congested hours.

Here's the company's break-down of these two categories:

The time sensitive category includes:

  • Web (Web surfing, including web-based e-mail and chat embedded in Web pages)
  • VoIP (Voice over IP, telephone calls made over the Internet)
  • E-mail
  • IM (Instant messages, including related voice and Webcam traffic)
  • Streaming (Web-based audio and video programs)
  • Games (Online interactive games)
  • Tunneling & Remote Connectivity (VPN-type services for telecommuting)
  • Other (Any service not categorized into another area)

The nontime-sensitive category includes:

  • File Access (Bulk transfers of data such as FTP)
  • Network Storage (Bulk transfers of data for storage)
  • P2P (Peer to peer protocols)
  • Software Updates (Managed updates, such as operating system updates)
  • Usenet (Newsgroup related)

Cox says the new congestion management plan only kicks in when congestion levels reach a certain high. It also insists the company will ensure that its customers continue to have a good online experience.

Personally, I don't really mind this, because I live in California and games are categorized as time-sensitive. For those who are more concerned, you can learn more about Cox's congestion management plan here.