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)
- 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.