STUDY: Cox Communications Also Throttling BitTorrent

Even interferes with BitTorrent traffic during mornings and weekends that are not usually “peak congestion” hours, meaning is probably more about permanently reclaiming bandwidth than simple network traffic management.

The Max Planck Institute for Software Systems recently released a study showing that another ISP, Cox Communications, routinely blocks or throttles BitTorrent traffic as part of its overall network traffic management plan. Even worse, it does so 24 hours a day 7 days a week and not just during periods of “peak congestion” in order to free up bandwidth as the company has claimed.

The study is based on the results of more than 8,000 users from around the world who used its online tool between March 18th and May 15th of this year to test whether their BitTorrent traffic is being manipulated.

What’s also very interesting, perhaps even slightly disturbing, is that results also show that all the BitTorrent traffic interference encountered by users occurred in the US as shown below.

Notice the US here on the left……..and Europe to the right.

I guess Europeans are liberal in more ways than one.

What’s really damaging about the study is that the results show that Cox interferes with BitTorrent traffic not just during during “peak congestion” hours, but also during mornings and weekends when traffic is typically less heavy. This means that its BitTorrent throttling is probably more about reclaiming bandwidth on a permanent basis rather than just during “peak congestion” periods.

As a customer of Cox Communications I took the online test to see for myself if I’m being throttled each time I download something from BitTorrent Inc... The results did indeed confirm the Max Planck Institute’s conclusions as well as my own long running suspicions. It also makes the $56 bucks I pay each month for the “Premier” service, and all it’s apparent 12Mbps DL and 1Mbps UL connection speed chicanery, seem pretty pointless if not wasteful spending.

With Comcast already in the hot seat with customers, congressman, and network neutrality advocates, it’s startling to discover that Cox is doing the same thing and yet managing to somehow avoid a similar backlash. It really reraises the issue of network neutrality and why it’s so important that we guarantee that ISPs are merely connections to the Internet and not GATEKEEPERS!

Why? Because all the nonsense about “network traffic management” and bandwidth conservation during peak congestion is still secondary to the fact that people have limited choices when it comes to broadband Internet connections. The govt has given ISPs de facto market monopolies throughout the US, and so many don’t have the luxury of “voting with their feet” and choosing one that best suits their needs. If an ISP decides to throttle your BitTorrent traffic, or any other kind for that matter, people like myself simply have no alternatives (smack yourself if you mention dial-up). Cox is the only ISP offering broadband in my area. I have nowhere else to go.

When it comes down to it, the Internet is now the backbone of our society and our very culture. If businesses are allowed to determine what takes place on the Internet then it is in some regards throttling our society and culture as well.