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FCC hearing Monday on ISPs' network management practices open to public

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 25 Feb 2008 0:56 User comments (5)

FCC hearing Monday on ISPs' network management practices open to public If you'd like a ringside seat to a FCC hearing on ISP network management and happen to be in the Boston area on Monday you're in luck. There's a hearing scheduled for 11:00 in the morning at Harvard Law School. It's open to the public and will be attended by all of the FCC commissioners.
Assuming you haven't spent the last several months on the International Space Station you're probably aware that Comcast, the largest U.S. cable provider, is being investigated for interfering with certain traffic, primarily BitTorrent related, from customers' computers. Although they claim the "network management" that's causing the problems with BitTorrent is compliant with FCC regulations and that they have nothing to hide, it's difficult to reconcile that with their public comments prior to the FCC investigation, in which they were clearly avoiding the issue entirely. In fact until the FCC got involved no Comcast representative was willing to even confirm what had been proven by both the Associated Press and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

The issue of network management is at the heart of Monday's hearing. Specifically, the commissioners are looking for answers about what is or isn't "reasonable," which is how Comcast describes their practice of forging reset packets to fool customers' computers into thinking a BitTorrent connection has ended by the computer at the other end.

Although tomorrow's hearing may not get commissioners any closer to deciding where to draw the line between reasonable and unreasonable network management, it's certainly another step towards having an honest debate about what ISPs are doing wrong (and right) when it comes to handling and selling connection speeds. While Comcast says P2P applications are an unreasonable strain on existing infrastructure, many consumers would counter with complaints that broadband internet providers, especially cable companies, are at fault for advertising connection speeds they can't guarantee on a consistent basis.

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5 user comments

125.2.2008 3:06

First Post!

And I don't think it is the ISP's business what it's users download. We don't live in CHINA!

225.2.2008 9:32

Glad to see some of this is being addressed, even if it is slow. Oh.. and congratulations on the first post....

325.2.2008 14:43

Third Post!

Like the post above said, it's a little slow to be addressed, but it's nice to see action is being taken against comcast. Maybe this will force them to be more honest, or just honest, and maybe this will pan out to get other ISPs to raise their quality of service.

425.2.2008 15:35

In reality if Comcast was doing what they said they were doing than they were doing what is right by the customer. So much traffic goes through P2P that when it hits peak hours a lot of other users want to use the net as well. Comcast was using network trafficing to allow active users to have bandwidth while the passive P2P users are scaled back for a few hours.

So based on that (which is what they said) they made the best decision available to them. However, I am glad this is going through the judicial system because the whole issue of net neutrality needs to be addressed. If we want net neutrality as legislation then we need to put it in stone now before it becomes and issue and some ISP like Comcast really does abuse their power.

If this goes against comcast don't think it's a free lunch for bit torrent users. Plan on new "data specific" packages to be out following the hearing and those that use massive amounts of data or bandwidth will pay more. Comcast can do that if they want due to a lack of viable high speed options in many of the areas Comcast operates. Don't even say DSL, because if that is an option for you then you really don't care about tapping fast net speeds. For many, cable is variable speeds at best, but it is also the best MB speed per dollar.

519.4.2008 19:16

Why do i get the feeling that this is going to be one of those long never ending court battles that no one wins at the end except the lawyers.

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