Comcast to FCC: Ow! My Wrist!
To Comcast, throttling or degrading the performance of file-sharing services is a necessary traffic-management technique. To the Federal Communications Commission it’s a violation of the agency’s network-neutrality principles. On Friday, three of the FCC’s five commissioners voted in favor of punishing Comcast for that violation. “I continue to believe that is imperative that all consumers have unfettered access to the Internet,” FCC chairman Kevin Martin said in a statement. “I am pleased that a majority has agreed that the Commission both has the authority to and, in fact, will stop broadband service providers when they block or interfere with subscribers’ access.”
And just how does the FCC propose to do this?
Rather than sanctioning the company, the FCC will require Comcast (CMCSA) to stop interfering with Internet traffic on its network, explain to the Commission how it has blocked such traffic in the past and publicly disclose how it plans to manage its network in the future. “We would tell Comcast that they have to stop engaging in that practice,” Martin said earlier this month. “They have to disclose to the commission where they are engaging in that practice.”
The proposal will be put to a final vote Aug. 1. If it’s approved it could set a precedent that will undoubtedly inspire other Internet service providers to rethink their “traffic management” practices as Comcast has.