The FCC and lawmakers are probing how broadband providers manage their networks and how this affects Internet access.
Comcast says it uses "reasonable measures" when it slows down the traffic to sites such as BitTorrent to ease congestion. This is discrimination but it makes sense from a network management standpoint. If traffic becomes a problem, then addressing the largest bandwidth consumers is the fastest way to provide fast access to the largest number of users.
But is BitTorrent the biggest aggregate bandwidth hog? If you collect all of the traffic to the web's most popular sites at any time -- MySpace, Google, MSN, etc. -- they would surpass the traffic to BitTorrent. However, slowing down access to all of those sites may be more complicated than to a single site, and it would be to the detriment of a larger number of users.
The real questions is -- should web traffic that requires higher bandwidth to any user from any site or peer-to-peer application -- not just BitTorrent -- be managed so that the maximum number of users can have unfettered access. Any net neutrality regulation or law should address this fundamental question. The legal transfer of large media files -- which will increase as movie and music downloads via iTunes, Movielink, etc. increase in popularity. Companies that offer these types of service should not be penalized by slowing performance to their customers as they become more successful. Every service that requires more bandwidth to deliver its product to its customers should be treated equally.
Peer-to-peer file sharing exists to limit the overall bandwidth and increase network performance. Any regulation similarly shouldn't discriminate against peer-to-peer.
Also, content providers continue to discriminate in providing "free" content depending on ISP relationships. ESPN, for example, has free streams of content, but only through preferred ISPs. This practice is used to leverage relationships with ISPs, but are not to the benefit of users.