Net Neutrality Not Needed: New BitTorrent Version Throttles Itself

TorrentFreak reports that a new “network-aware” version of the BitTorrent protocol is being beta-tested. The new client, µTorrent 2.0 or µTP, will be able to regulate its own bandwidth usage (“throttle” itself) to avoid interference with other applications. According to a BitTorrent spokes person, the network-friendly redesign will slow uploads if congestion is detected on a network, but should leave download speeds unaffected in most cases.

The new client also has a feature that will enable users to stop all downloads if they approach a certain gigabyte limit (allowing users whose ISPs impose monthly bandwidth caps to avoid expensive overage charges). BitTorrent creator Bram Cohen made the following statement in a 2007 interview with TorrentFreak:

“ISPs have to invest in making their networks better and faster rather than stifling applications which consumers use and love. That’s just bad marketing and customer service, especially given the competition which exists in the broadband industry and consumer focus on network neutrality.”

Mr. Cohen’s statement, taken along with his actions, serves as a clarion voice of reason in a debate full of utter insanity. The Net Neutrality Debate of 2009 has thus far been rife with doublespeak, corporate giants taking potshots at each other, and über-elite technophiles and their sanctimonious ideas of what Americans ought to want, (as well as a few tangentially relevant arguments on behalf of women and minorities). BitTorrent has instead chosen to take the proactive path and work with the ISPs to solve the problem of congested networks and provide a better experience for its users. Net Neutrality advocates should note that no government bureaucrat forced them to make any changes. Instead, BitTorrent is leading by example, doing what the other content and network companies ought to be doing. A system that promotes voluntary cooperation between companies is vastly preferable to an inflexible government regulatory regime.