Internet Provider COX to Begin Selectively Throttling Internet Traffic

Paul Lilly

Pretty soon select high speed internet subscribers in Kansas and Arkansas will learn how their ISP got its name. That's because Cox Communications, the third-largest cable ISP in the country, said it will start testing a new method of throttling internet traffic on its high-speed network in the two states, starting in February.

This isn't a bandwidth limit like Comcast and AT&T have implemented. Instead, Cox breaks down internet traffic into two categories -- time sensitive and non-time sensitive -- and when the traffic becomes congested, non time sensitive traffic will take a back seat to higher priority packets.

Not surprisingly, save for the software updates, lower priority traffic will include:

  • File Access (Bulk transfers of data such as FTP
  • Network Storage (Bulk transfers of data for storage
  • P2P (Peer to peer protocols)
  • Software Updates (Managed updates such as operating system updates)
  • Usenet (Newsgroup related)

That's right, the latest security patches and Windows system updates will take a backseat to the following:

  • Web (Web surfing, including web-based email and chat embedded in web pages)
  • VoIP (Voice over IP, telephone calls made over the internet)
  • Email
  • IM (Instant messages, including related voice and webcam traffic)
  • Streaming (Web-based audio and video programs)
  • Games (Online interactive games)
  • Tunneling and Remote Connectivity (VPN-type services for telecommuting)
  • Other (Any service not categorized into another area)

Take solace in knowing that while your unpatched system may be a sitting duck to a new exploit, at least your neighbor's IM conversation won't be interuppted.

Cox claims its new congestion management plan won't serve as replacements for upgrades to the company's network. However, the ISP says "simply adding capacity is not enough." That means that even as Cox continues to upgrade its network infrastructure, don't expect this test to go away.

Read the full plan here , then tell us what you think below.


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