Comcast to throttle some customers' Web speeds

Broadband provider plans to reduce Internet speeds to its heaviest users for up to 20 minutes during periods of congestion, according to interview with Bloomberg.

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Comcast reportedly plans to reduce Internet service to customers it deems to be using too much bandwidth, a move that comes on the heels of federal regulators ruling that the Internet service provider violated the law by throttling BitTorrent transfers.

To keep service flowing to other customers, Comcast plans to impede Internet speeds to its heaviest users for up to 20 minutes, Mitch Bowling, Comcast's senior vice president and general manager of online services, told Bloomberg in an interview Tuesday.

Instead of focusing on specific applications that may be hogging traffic, Comcast plans to determine "in nearly real time" whether a heavy user is causing congestion, Bowling said.

"If in fact a person is generating enough packets that they're the ones creating that situation, we will manage that consumer for the overall good of all of our consumers,'' Bowling said.

The move follows the Federal Communications Commission's ruling on August 1 that Comcast's throttling of BitTorrent traffic last year was unlawful--the first time any U.S. broadband provider has ever been found to violate Net neutrality rules. (The FCC released the text of that ruling Wednesday.) The FCC issued a cease-and-desist order and required the company to disclose to subscribers in the future how it plans to manage traffic.

Comcast, the largest cable provider in the U.S., has been under fire for months after it was discovered the company had been slowing down peer-to-peer traffic on its network. Comcast had said that its measures to slow BitTorrent transfers, which it voluntarily ended in March, were necessary to prevent its network from being overrun. At a public hearing in February, Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen said, "Comcast may on a limited basis temporarily delay certain P2P traffic when that traffic has or is projected to have an adverse effect on other customers' use of the service."

Consumer groups were incensed by the tactic, and the FCC investigation ensued over whether Comcast had violated any of its Net neutrality principles.