Cox Hops On Data Discrimination Bandwagon

Oh great, this again? The awful aftertaste from Comcast's data meddling still hasn't completely vanished, and now we're being hit with yet another cable company attempting to grab hold of customer Internet traffic.

As the battle over net neutrality rages on in Washington, Cox Communications has opened the flood gates for criticism by announcing that it will soon be "trying out a new way to keep its subscribers' Internet traffic from jamming up." Which, after being stripped of sugarcoating, translates to "giving priority to certain kinds of Internet traffic." Beginning on February 9th in certain (unlucky) sections of Kansas and Arkansas, Cox will "give priority to Internet traffic it judges to be time sensitive, like web pages, streaming video and online games; file downloads, software updates and other non-time sensitive data may be slowed if there is congestion on the local network."

Granted, this doesn't necessarily mean that your completely legal peer-to-peer (P2P) transfers will be slowed to a crawl while your neighbor looks up dinner recipes, but if push comes to shove (and bandwidth becomes an issue), your Internet doings will be relegated to a lower tier of importance. The issue, obviously, is that your monthly Internet bill won't fluctuate with the level of service you're getting, not to mention that it's Cox making the decision on what's urgent and what can wait.

After the FCC and hordes of net neutrality proponents had their way with Comcast, said company decided to abandon its selective throttling and institute a generic, all-encompassing data management system that didn't discriminate. Cox spokesman David Grabert noted that his company began to evaluate its own system after the FCC order came down on Comcast. Still, he didn't hesitate to add that Cox's "new technique is based on the time sensitive nature of the Internet traffic itself, and [Cox] believes it will lead to a smoother Internet experience with fewer delays." Fewer delays for people using the Internet via Cox's preferred methods, he means.

As for expansion, Cox Communications is hoping to deploy the technology to every last one of its Internet subscribers later in the year if trials prove successful in Kansas and Arkansas, though it should be mentioned that business users won't be affected by the filtering. Get ready for the fireworks, folks -- this one should get a whole lot more interesting before it comes to a close.
Tags:  Internet, FCC, Cox, Traffic