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FCC to bar Comcast from traffic filtering

updated 03:50 pm EDT, Mon July 28, 2008

FCC to Bar Comcast Filters

The US Federal Communications Commission is said today to be preparing a ruling that would find Comcast violating rules for filtering traffic on its cable Internet service. While the regulatory body's chairman Kevin Martin has already said the ruling won't involve fines, the decision will reportedly ban Comcast from its current practices, which specifically throttle all BitTorrent traffic and certain peer-to-peer services in an attempt to minimize the price to Comcast for supporting the data.

The telecoms company has already said it would move to a format-independent filter and publicly share information regarding how it filters traffic, but is still believed to be preparing a court case opposing the FCC's ruling as it believes it maintains the right to manage its network as it sees fit. The company claims that its format-specific filtering has been "reasonable" despite repeatedly denying the existence of the tactic until it was revealed by media investigations. It also argues that the filtering doesn't block access, although the particular method involves severing connections between Comcast subscribers and other hosts on the affected services.

A formal unveiling of the ruling is due this Friday and should set a precedent for other providers. Cox Communications is also believed to be using the same filtering method and would be forced to halt its operations, while Time Warner Cable has remained neutral but instituted a metered service trial in a small area that would discourage frequent use by charging overage fees past a certain cap.

Critics have charged that the methods used by Comcast, Cox, and Time Warner are damaging innovation and freedom of choice on the Internet. The Comcast and Cox methods are described as unfairly punishing companies that try to deliver legitimate material, while Time Warner's method discourages the use of Internet video services such as iTunes or YouTube by charging these users extra for downloading or streaming bandwidth-heavy videos.

By Electronista Staff
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  1. devospice

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2000


    yeah, but

    my concern here is where the FCC is getting their jurisdiction to oversee a private communications company that operates via cables. The next step is for the FCC to decide they have jurisdiction over the entire internet and decide it needs to be cleaned up to the standards of broadcast television.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001


    yeah, but

    since Comcast doesn't recognize the FCC as having any power over their internet service, they'll just ignore the order anyway.

    And, devospice, some would argue that, by itself, Comcast is an indecent company and uttering the word itself is a vulgarity. But that's neither here nor there.

  1. robttwo

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 2005


    yeah butt

    Private companies are regulated when they are in a position to be a monopoly. A lot of places are still only serviced by one ISP -- and they are "overseen" so they dont take advantage of that by gouging, etc. If everyone had choices regarding this, it would not be a problem -- except when the b******* lie about what they are and arent doing, like Comcast has done.

    And Comcast may not "recognize" the FCC has control over their internet providing, but the FCC could say to them they can no longer use their cables to provide anything but TV signals.


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