Comcast quietly ends its controversial ‘congestion management system’

Comcast Center headquarters in Philadelphia. Image: Comcast
In its policy revision, the operator was careful to include language suggesting it could reenact the system. (Comcast)

Serving as a lighting rod that once helped fuel the net neutrality movement, Comcast’s controversial “congestion management solution” is no more.

The operator quietly revealed on a message board that it is no longer supporting the network management system, first launched in 2008, which throttled the download speeds of subscribers using excessive amounts of bandwidth back to DSL-like levels. (DSLReports first noticed the change and has been reporting on this drama since it broke a decade ago.)

Not so coincidentally, Comcast made the change on June 11, as the FCC’s rollback of Title II internet regulations was taking effect. Comcast has pledged that it won’t block, throttle or practice paid prioritization of internet traffic—even if there doesn’t appear to be legislation on the books anymore saying it can’t do these things.

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In its policy revision, the operator was careful to include language suggesting it could reenact the system.

“As our network technologies and usage of the network continue to evolve, we reserve the right to implement a new congestion management system if necessary in the performance of reasonable network management and in order to maintain a good broadband internet access service experience for our customers, and will provide updates here as well as other locations if a new system is implemented,” Comcast explained.

Comcast established the “protocol-agnostic” congestion management system in collaboration with the FCC and technology vendors including Sandvine after it received criticism for throttling the traffic of peer-to-peer platforms like BitTorrent, and subsequently not being transparent about that. 

In fact, as DSLReports noted, it was the way Comcast handled this issue that has, in many ways, framed the modern net neutrality debate.