updated 03:05 pm EDT, Mon March 10, 2008
FCC: Comcast deceptive
Comcast may have already undermined its position in an ongoing government investigation, according to the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Kevin Martin addressed the question in a recent speech at Stanford University Law School, where the subject of Comcast's peer-to-peer sabotage was raised. Martin said he was disturbed that Comcast initially denied throttling peer-to-peer content, only to later claim the practice was standard and necessary.
"A hallmark of what should be seen as a reasonable business practice is certainly whether or not the people engaging in that practice are willing to describe it publicly," says Martin.
Comcast has defended itself by saying that without traffic shaping, a minority of Internet users can hamper the quality of service for the majority, who do not use much peer-to-peer technology. Critics such as politicians and advocacy groups charge that the cableco is violating the FCC's net neutrality policy, which states that companies cannot give preferential treatment to the data passing through their wires -- much as phone companies cannot decide what conversations are important.
The Wall Street Journal observes that in his Stanford speech, Martin refused to say what penalties Comcast could face if found guilty. In the past, however, he has suggested fines as high as $195,000 for every subscriber impacted by illegitimate bandwidth controls.