Sandvine Goes Agnostic

Sandvine gear is currently being used by Comcast to throttle or block BitTorrent traffic.

Sandvine, which produces traffic-shaping hardware and software for broadband providers, said May 19 it will now offer a range of policy options for ISPs, including an application-agnostic approach. According to a number of reports, Sandvine gear is currently being used by Comcast to throttle or block BitTorrent traffic.

Sandvine said its new FairShare program is designed to work with the company's traffic optimization solutions to allow broadband providers to shape traffic without specifically discriminating against particular applications like BitTorrent, the popular peer to peer program widely used to download video content.

"Sandvine FairShare incorporates more decision factors and more policy options that enable broadband providers to ensure fair allocation of network resources and optimize network efficiency," Don Bowman, Sandvine's chief technology officer, said in a statement. "FairShare's approach is unique because it can implement both application-aware and application-agnostic network management strategies."

According to Sandvine, FairShare automatically responds in real time to changing network environments and subscriber usage patterns. It collects subscriber usage metrics from various sources and analyzes the data according to configurable parameters. Based on the results, FairShare modifies policies to balance available bandwidth and resources among subscribers.

"FairShare takes into account the three key dimensions of traffic-speed, latency and jitter-to ensure the reliable delivery of the broadest range of applications with the highest level of overall subscriber satisfaction, especially during periods of heavy usage," Bowman said.

Comcast has been under attack for almost a year for throttling BitTorrent traffic in violation of the Federal Communications Commission's network neutrality principles, which prohibit discriminating against specific applications in handling network traffic. The FCC is currently investigating the charges against Comcast.

The cable giant and BitTorrent announced March 27 that they were working to address issues associated with rich media content and network capacity management. Comcast said by the end of the year it would migrate to a capacity management technique that is protocol-agnostic. Earlier in 2008, Comcast announced its plans for the deployment of wideband Internet services using the DOCSIS 3.0 standard, which will be available for up to 20 percent of Comcast's customers by the end of 2008.

In addition, Comcast said April 16 it is working with Pando Networks, a two-year startup with backing from Intel, to produce data to help Comcast "migrate to a protocol-agnostic network management technique by the end of this year."