updated 06:45 am EDT, Fri July 11, 2008
FCC to Punish Comcast
Federal Communications Commission chair Kevin Martin on Thursday said he would advise his organization to punish Comcast for violating existing net neutrality guidelines with its traffic throttling practiced against BitTorrent and certain peer-to-peer services. The government official has explained to the press that Comcast's method, which effectively severed some connections between Comcast users and others running the same software, has been 'arbitrary;' every user has been throttled regardless of their actual impact to the cable provider's network, Martin says.
The FCC head also states that Comcast hasn't notified users of its practices. Comcast itself has immediately responded to Martin's claims by again denying that it blocks whole services or content, although it does acknowledge that it takes what are claimed as "reasonable" steps to balance traffic on its network.
Martin is expected to submit the formal recommendation today and will see it through an FCC vote on August 1st that determines whether the agency as a whole takes action.
Internet providers beyond Comcast have come under pressure from activist groups and government officials for overly broad restrictions on their users, many of which are argued as unfairly limiting new technologies or punishing carriers attached to the same network. Fellow American cable provider Cox has been accused of similar tactics as Comcast, while Bell Canada is currently facing government scrutiny for throttling service for outside Internet providers without their knowledge or permission.