updated 03:30 pm EDT, Thu September 4, 2008
Comcast Sues FCC
Cable Internet provider Comcast on Thursday sued the US Federal Communications Commission to try and block the government body's net neutrality order, which requires that the company avoid discriminating against particular types of Internet traffic when managing its network. Comcast executive VP David Cohen describes the suit as an attempt to challenge what he claims is an "absence of pre-existing legally enforceable standards" that would require Comcast to obey the FCC's ruling.
The FCC in 2005 issued a decree that specifically recommended an open Internet but which at the time was not immediately legally binding. In recent months, the FCC has increasingly turned to the decree as a guiding principle and drew from it in its decision to require open access for the winning bidders in a particular section of the 700MHz wireless spectrum auction, which is set to determine the future of American mobile data.
The complaint is unspecific about how Comcast will contest the order but is believed to stem from the provider's insistence that its previous management method, which throttled and broke connections for BitTorrent and some peer-to-peer traffic, was "reasonable." Critics have charged that the method unfairly punished legitimate businesses by slowing or even halting the delivery of media and software, such as for Vuze's video platform.
FCC officials have declined to comment so far on the case, though the organization is known to have some legal grounding in Comcast's past behavior. The cable service is known to have deliberately misled the public by at first denying the existence of its anti-BitTorrent filtering, only admitting the existence of the technique when third party investigations made the practice clear.
The company is also so far choosing to comply with the FCC's decision regardless of the trial and has announced a 250GB universal cap that at present doesn't exempt any traffic, including that for the company's own services.