FCC rules against Comcast P-to-P throttling

A victory for net neutrality advocates

The US Federal Communications Commission has ordered Comcast to stop interfering with peer-to-peer traffic on its broadband network, with officials there saying the cable provider was "invasive" in its network traffic management.

In a victory for net neutrality advocates, the FCC on Friday voted 3-2 to order Comcast to stop slowing P-to-P traffic by the end of the year and to come up with a new network management plan. If Comcast refuses, the company could be subject to an injunction and other regulatory penalties.

Comcast's traffic management, unveiled by press reports in late 2007, was "discriminatory and not narrowly tailored to address Comcast's concern about network congestion," said FCC member Michael Copps. "Today, we choose the open road."

Comcast didn't tell its subscribers that it was slowing BitTorrent and other P-to-P traffic until the press reports. As expected, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, a Republican, joined the commission's two Democrats to approve the order.

"Would you be OK with the post office opening your mail, deciding they didn't want to bother delivering it, and hiding that fact by sending it back to you stamped, 'address unknown -- return to sender?'" Martin said. "Or, if they opened letters mailed to you, decided that because the mail truck is full sometimes, letters to you could wait, and then hid both that they read your letters and delayed them? Unfortunately, that is exactly what Comcast was doing with their subscribers' Internet traffic."

Comcast continued to insist it was taking "carefully limited" network management measures. Four months ago, Comcast set a goal of creating a new network management policy by the end of the year, noted Sena Fitzmaurice, senior director of corporate communications and government affairs.

"We are gratified that the commission did not find any conduct by Comcast that justified a fine and that the deadline established in the order is the same self-imposed deadline that we announced four months ago," Fitzmaurice said. "On the other hand, we are disappointed in the commission's divided conclusion because we believe that our network management choices were reasonable, wholly consistent with industry practices and that we did not block access to Web sites or online applications, including peer-to-peer services."

The FCC order raises "a variety of substantive legal questions," and Comcast is considering all its legal options, she added.

The commission's two other Republicans argued that the FCC is interfering with Comcast's ability to protect its broadband network. Evidence gathered in the case is conflicting, and the decision may cause network gridlock, said FCC member Robert McDowell.

"The fact is the FCC does not know what Comcast did and did not do," he said. "Ironically, today's decision ... may result in slow speeds for 95 per cent of Internet users."

The order opens up the Internet to massive new regulation, McDowell added. Broadband providers may have to ask the FCC for permission to roll out new network management plans, he said.

In 2005, the FCC adopted Internet policy principles telling consumers they have a right to unfettered access to legal Web applications, devices and services of their choice. But those were guidelines, and the FCC lacks the authority to take action against Comcast, McDowell said. "We do not have any rules ... to enforce," he said.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?