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FCC rules Comcast throttling illegal

updated 12:50 pm EDT, Fri August 1, 2008

FCC Rules on Comcast

The Federal Communications Commission today formally ruled that Comcast's traffic throttling practices were illegal, setting a precedent for US Internet providers. The decision acts on a recent report of the FCC's plans and requires that the the cable company stop the filtering it has used so far, which uses a Sandvine program that automatically breaks the connection between Comcast users and others running BitTorrent clients and certain peer-to-peer software. The ruling also requires that Comcast disclose how it performs any future throttling, which the provider already plans to do but in a more general form.

The FCC bases its decision largely on a non-binding 2005 statement that high-speed Internet access should be open and widely available, a framework that both the FCC and advocates have said establishes a basis for net neutrality that gives all content the same level of access. By punishing certain forms of file sharing traffic simply through their format, Comcast is violating the principle of that statement, critics charge.

Voting for the ruling resulted in a narrow 3-2 decision that saw significant opposition from FCC chairman Kevin Martin's fellow Republicans in the Commission as well as repeated opposition from Comcast itself. The telecoms firm first denied its throttling practice but has since been forced to acknowledge its existence, now claiming it to be a "reasonable" measure to prevent heavy downloaders from bogging down the rest of the network.

A statement issued by Comcast in the wake of the ruling tries to minimize the perceived impact of throttling, saying that it engages only in "very limited" management of peer-to-peer uploads and says that the "overwhelming majority" of traffic is unaffected. The firm also points to its partnerships with BitTorrent and other companies, though these were formed primarily after Comcast's secret throttling methods were exposed.

Martin has added that Comcast's clear attempt to hide and deny its behavior made the offense especially serious.

While the FCC's move has been criticized for the absence of a financial penalty, it nonetheless sets a precedent that may see similar penalties launched against other American providers that either slow down certain types of traffic or else favor traffic to others, such as a company's own websites. Cox and other providers are suspected as following in Comcast's footsteps.

By Electronista Staff
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  1. George3

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2008


    Big Business & Politics

    "3-2 decision that saw significant opposition from FCC chairman Kevin Martin's fellow Republicans in the Commission as well as repeated opposition from Comcast itself."

    Republicons always looking out for the little guy - NOT.

  1. FastAMX79

    Junior Member

    Joined: Sep 2000



    How much will they (Comcast)pay in fees for being found guilty?

    Oh wait... they won't. So what's the point of this? If Comcast isn't found accountable, what will stop them from doing it again? How will they be punished?

    To me it seems like a big puppet show...

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001


    republicans and fees

    Kevin Martin himself is a republican, so don't bundle them all into the same hat.

    As for fines, they're being forced to inform their customers of what they're doing.

    But it's hard to justify fining them for something that was, at worst, against some vague non-binding resolution.

  1. horvatic

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2002



    EXCELLENT! One for the consumers finally!
    If we pay for service, we should get the service we paid for as promised. If Comcast was able to continue throttling then all the internet providers could promise you the moon and yet only give you dial up speeds or a little higher. It would be like a car dealer selling you what looks like a ferrari yet it would only go as fast a a Yugo. To me that sounds like Fraud so I'm glad they found Comcast in violation so none of the other service providers get any funny ideas.

  1. zaghahzag

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Aug 2006


    hey comcast:

    you suck.

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