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FCC chairman hints at action against Comcast

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 11 Mar 2008 1:29 User comments (14)

FCC chairman hints at action against Comcast Although nothing official has been decided, while speaking at a the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society last week FCC chairman Kevin Martin indicated he's troubled by Comcast's decision to manage their network by targetting a particular application (BitTorrent), and particularly by their clear attempts to hide what they were doing.
He said "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."

However, some are questioning whether the FCC has any actual authority over the matter. While both sides have cited the agency's official Net Neutrality priniciples, the fact is the language in the document being referenced are fairly vague, and make no mention of any consequences for violating the principles listed. In fact, the document ends by stating " we are not adopting rules in this policy statement. The principles we adopt are subject to reasonable network management."

That line is, in fact, exactly what Comcast executives say their practice of altering BitTorrent traffic amounts to - reasonable network management. Regardless of whether the FCC agrees with their assessment, there may be little they can do about it beyond requiring detailed disclosure of their practices to customers.

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14 user comments

111.3.2008 4:40
nobrainer
Inactive

Good net nutrality is essential, its a shame that in the UK companies are already legally allowed to throttle internet connections to death with no consequences due to TOC containing the phrase:

"we manage the traffic on these products so that intensive activities such as such as file downloads, peer-to-peer (P2P) and Usenet traffic do not swamp the network and slow down time-sensitive traffic, such as web browsing, email, gaming and Internet phone calls"


ppl need to be aware of anti-consumer ISP's in the uk.

Bad ISP's that utilise heavy traffic shaping, Avoid: Eclipse Internet, Tiscali, Pipex.

Great Video explaining why we need net neutrality, with comments from Sir Tim Berners Lee, inventor of the internet. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JP_3WnJ42kw

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 11 Mar 2008 @ 4:40

211.3.2008 4:51

"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."

That really is straight from a Business Ethics coursebook.

311.3.2008 9:43

Sure, I can understand why Comcast is speed throttling, bandwidth shaping, whatever you want to call it, with P2P applications.

What I don't understand it why they would outright lie about it and try and hide it from their customers. Oh that's right, it's because they knew people would be up in arms about it and hurt their bottom line.

411.3.2008 11:00

What I don't understand in all of this is that ISP offer different rates for different speeds, right?

What do they think people are doing when they purchase the fastest speeds? Just browsing the net and checking email? Nope, they are dling and watching/listening to streaming content which constantly sucks up bandwidth.

Comcast just wants more money and to give you less constant bandwidth. If they get away with this, it might not just stop at P2P applications. They might say "too many people are watching youtube or streaming video/music and we need to limit that too." That doesn't sound like good net neutrality to me.

511.3.2008 11:19
varnull
Inactive

It is all a complete con trick.. Theft by deception, regardless of how they label it.

Look at it like this..

You pay for a certain speed and they make lame excuses and use traffic shaping so you do not get the speed you have paid for. That is their problem, if they cannot supply the full bandwidth to all their customers at ALL TIMES they have oversold what they have, and are penalising the paying customers for only trying to use what they have paid for.

If you go to a shop and buy a measured amount of a product you get what you have paid for, or the authorities will take action. You don't buy "up to" a gallon of gas.you don't buy "up to" a pint of beer. Every country has agreed weights and measures laws.. internet bandwidth is no different in essence, it's just they would like you to think it is.

I'm watching this fiasco with great interest as I have been in discussion with the UK weights and measures people about this very issue.

611.3.2008 14:03

this is bad for 2 reasons, many smaller software developers (freeware and paid) rely on torrents as a method for there customers to download legitimate software (so that they don't have to dedicate a server and bandwidth of there own) torrent are not the problem its what people are using it for, just because they cant control what people download is no reason to cut my bandwidth, personalty when ever i need software i buy it and support the developers, but i can understand that some people might not want to spend money, but cutting my bandwidth is no excuse for the governments incompidence when it comes to policing the internet i am a gamer and if they start throttling my bandwidth as may as well drop my isp and go back to dsl or even back to dial up for $10 a month, as my $30 a month (8mb/s average) cable connection will no longer be of any use to me with out the speed and bandwidth that was promised to me by my isp when i signed up.

i have a friend that moved out of his former isps area (which is my current isp) and got comcast, he hates it and cant wait for fios to come to his area.

711.3.2008 17:35

Hell yeah!
Go FCC!
KILL THEM!

812.3.2008 8:34

Quote:
If you go to a shop and buy a measured amount of a product you get what you have paid for, or the authorities will take action. You don't buy "up to" a gallon of gas.you don't buy "up to" a pint of beer. Every country has agreed weights and measures laws.. internet bandwidth is no different in essence, it's just they would like you to think it is.

Well said Varnull, well said.

Quote:
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
As stated already, this is basic business 101. If you or your business can talk about it publically, (like where the meat for your taco bell taco comes from) then it's probably not a good thing.

'Traffic Shaping' is an extremely nice way to put it. 'Reasonable network management' is a joke considering they won't address the question in any sort of definitive manner.

I too will be following this with great interest. I redefined the nature of my association with Comcast a couple of years ago for poor service and all around not getting what i was paying for. I'll enjoy watching this, as will others, i'm sure.

914.3.2008 7:20

I wouldn't expect any more from those slippery used car salesmen that have weaseled their way to the top in Comcast. Had they proclaimed them selves the saviors of the American way by crushing those evil P2P users trying to reduce our standard of living they would have gotten a medal! Now they will need to back pedal. Remember this is the company that most users hate their guts to the point of raiding their customer service center and smashing their computers with hammers. I am just waiting for their encore! It is nice to know there are companies that allow even the stupidest person to feel not so stupid in comparison.

1014.3.2008 21:43

Comcast advertises that they have the fastest broadband internet service but they throttle their connections. I hope the FCC fines the hell out of Comca$t and other companies (Such as AT&T) for such practices.

1114.3.2008 22:04

where is spitzer when we need him to check comcast ,at&t & the rest of those crooked companies

1214.3.2008 22:56

Originally posted by jemaric:
where is spitzer when we need him to check comcast ,at&t & the rest of those crooked companies
He's busy with his mistress Kristen.

1315.3.2008 11:51

AT&T does not use bandwidth shaping.

1415.3.2008 22:59

almost all networks use bandwidth shaping when its required. comcast is being singled out because they totaly blocked out one type of connection, they didnt simply throttle it.

at least its refreshing that the fcc is on the publics side of the issue.

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