Friday, July 11, 2008

FCC to recommend penalties against Comcast for certain blocking practices related to P2P

In the past, on this blog I’ve reported news stories criticizing Comcast and perhaps other telecommunications providers for shutting off customers with wildly “excessive” use. Now, the head of the Federal Communications Commission has indicated that he will suggest that Comcast be fined for blocking users who excessively use certain kinds of P2P software. There are reports that Comcast has blocked certain kinds of traffic (probably related to BitTorrent) regardless of volume. This violates the “spirit” of network neutrality. A Comcast spokesperson stated that Comcast only regulates customer traffic to an extent necessary to prevent one customer or a small number of customers from interfering with the usage of everyone else.

The FCC had issued a policy statement for broadband providers in September 2005, PDF link here. It says that broadband networks must be “widely deployed, open, affordable and accessible to all consumers.”

The AP story dated July 11 is by John Dunbar, link here. It was reprinted on p D2 (Business) of the July 11 Washington Post.

The story suggests that Comcast has not been penalizing users for watching movies from legitimate movie download websites, subscription or free, like Netflix or Logoonline (which offers many shorts for free, legally, paid for by feeder ads). I found it cumbersone, but recently watched “Escape from Suburbia” after Netflix forced an upgrade of my Windows Media Player. However, in a few markets, several telecommunications companies are testing metering for use over certain maximums.

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