Study: All Major Broadband Providers Disrupt P2P

The eight biggest Internet service providers in the U.S.—which collectively serve more than 54 million broadband users—all “artificially interrupt” peer-to-peer traffic to some extent, according to a study by P2P video distributor Vuze.

The study, released April 18, found that AT&T, Cablevision Systems, Charter Communications, Comcast, Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable, Qwest Communications International and Verizon Communications regularly send false commands, designed to slow down file transfers, to BitTorrent-based peer-to-peer software.

Comcast has borne the brunt of attention on this issue, with the Federal Communications Commission currently investigating the operator for its practice of selectively blocking P2P transmissions that traverse its network.

But according to Vuze, the practice is used by every major provider. “We believe that there is sufficient data to suggest that network management practices that ‘throttle’ Internet traffic are widespread,” the company said in its report.

Vuze’s software uses the BitTorrent-developed peer-to-peer protocol to distribute promotional and ad-supported video files over the Internet from more than 100 content partners. Formerly known as Azureus, the company claims its application has been downloaded at least 20 million times.

Vuze said it collected the data—representing more than 1 million hours of Internet connectivity—between Jan. 1 and April 13 from 8,000 users worldwide who voluntarily agreed to share the data for the purposes of analysis.

Between 10% and 24% of all P2P connection attempts on networks operated by the eight largest U.S. broadband providers were “reset,” causing the software to wait before attempting to initiate another connection, according to Vuze’s analysis of data generated from ISP network segments with at least 20 unique users.

“At a minimum, more investigation is required to determine whether these resets are happening in the ordinary course of business or whether they are the kind of throttling practices which target specific applications and/or protocols” to the detriment of P2P users, Vuze said.

In addition to the eight biggest U.S. providers, Vuze found that Canadian service providers Bell Canada, Rogers Cable Communications, Shaw Communications and Cogeco also disrupted P2P traffic, along with ISPs in Europe and elsewhere.

In November Vuze filed a petition with the FCC, urging the agency to implement rules that would prevent Comcast and other Internet service providers from "interfering" with P2P traffic.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Vuze has raised $34 million in funding, from investors including New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Redpoint Ventures, Greycroft Partners, BV Capital and CNET chairman Jarl Mohn.