Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Comcast has filed its appeal of an FCC decision issued last August that censured the cable company for blocking P2P files, arguing that the commission doesn’t have the authority to impose the broadband principles that define network neutrality in the U.S. absent a federal law or a full public hearing to make those principles binding as regulatory policy. Indeed, Comcast’s appeal will test the FCC’s ability to enforce network neutrality without either of those things.

Comcast’s intent to appeal the FCC’s ruling was announced last September, but initial briefs, which it filed July 27, are just now hitting the courts. Comcast initially got into trouble in October 2007, after an Associated Press investigation revealed the company was forging packets that would cause BitTorrent connections of some users to drop and failing to inform them of the practice — a serious net neutrality no-no.

After multiple hearings and the filing of more than 6,500 public comments, the FCC in August of 2008 gave Comcast a stern talking-to and ordered it to change its network management practice, but stopped short of issuing a fine. It also declined to make a formal rule regarding this sort of action, saying instead that it will continue to examine net neutrality issues on a case-by-case basis. So as per the FCC’s order, Comcast implemented a type of network management plan that temporarily slows connections for heavy bandwidth users when the network gets crowded. The management affects uploads and downloads and is protocol-agnostic.

A Comcast spokeswoman said today that regardless of the success of Comcast’s appeal, its network management procedures will stay the same.

I guess we will get to see which side the “new” FCC will take in disputes like this. Though the wheels of government turn as slowly as ever.

  1. Glenn E. says:

    The FCC does have the right to regulate the internet traffic, because they’re suppose to represent the people’s interests. Not the telecoms. It shouldn’t be any different than how they regulate the radio and Tv airwaves, and Cable and satellite transmissions. The service providers shouldn’t be allowed to cook up their own transmission protocols, to suit their bottom lines. All internet traffic should adhere to a limited standard, approved by a committee of engineers. Not by telecom board members.

    And what about the damn DMCA? Shouldn’t that apply to packets as well? Comcast has violated the originating packet’s integrity, by changing them into their own packets in their servers. Or substituting bogus ones to the packet stream. Maybe its customers should pay them with bogus dollars. Bet they’ll run to the government to stop that!! This DMCA seems to only be applied to the media owned by the wealthiest copyright license holders. And not to the most numerous, the taxpayers. Telecoms should be forbidden from meddling with internet transmission protocols, just to suit their profits. Or what the hell use is the FCC, if no standards are enforced?!! We need another “for the richest bastards” department of US Government, like we need a hole in the head. And we don’t need that!

  2. Glenn E. says:

    Something else the FCC should do, is force the Telecoms to offer 6 month plans that don’t stick customers with higher rates, just because it’s a shorter period. And then we could drop a provider like Comcast, the moment we hear they’re doing nasty stuff like this. And move to another provider that isn’t (as far as we know). That way, Comcast would get more of an incentive NOT to screw its customers. But as long as it can lock everyone into these one and two year plans. They won’t have any incentive to act decent.

  3. skillsss says:

    Comcast Censoring Conservative Voices?

    The American Public and the FCC need to keep an eye on ISPs. Comcast has been censoring conservative message board posters in my opinion. Because dominant ISP Comcast is a gateway to the internet, they control many eyeballs. Comcast’s systematic censoring of conservative opinions on their News & Current Events message boards needs to cease and desist. If Comcast gets tax breaks from local government, then they have a civic, ethical, moral and perhaps legal obligation to provide fair and balanced moderation of their message boards. This type of social engineering is an outrage. Please get involved. Silence is consent. Post a conservative response to a News or Current Events thread here and see for yourself.

    This is America…Not CHINA