FCC Chair: Comcast should be punished

Remember that thing last year about Comcast throttling P2P traffic, especially torrent traffic?

Well, the FCC doesn’t seem too pleased about that:

The head of the Federal Communications Commission said Thursday that he would recommend that Comcast, the nation’s largest cable company, be punished for violating agency principles that guarantee customers open access to the Internet….

“The commission has adopted a set of principles that protects consumers access to the Internet,” the commission chairman, Kevin J. Martin, told The Associated Press late Thursday. “We found that Comcast’s actions in this instance violated our principles.”

Mr. Martin said Comcast had arbitrarily blocked Internet access, regardless of the level of traffic, and failed to disclose to consumers that it was doing so.

The FCC will vote on August 1st on whether to order Comcast to stop the practice and to give the FCC details details about the whats and hows of the program.  There was no word on what other “penalty” might in included other than telling them to stop doing it, though.

It’s still nice to the FCC slap out any pretense of anti-net neutrality behavior by ISPs.

4 thoughts on “FCC Chair: Comcast should be punished

  1. It’s not a good thing necessarily. This kind of policy may push ISP to outright set bandwidth limits if QoS of this kind is strictly outlawed.

    In general increasing the cost of doing business means that cost is passed to the buyer. Expect more expensive internet access for the same level of service you experience today.

  2. I don’t really (and neither does the FCC) have a problem with general bandwidth restrictions if it’s to maintain a solid service. But that’s not what we’re talking about here.

    The FCC himself noted that this action was taken by Comcast “regardless of the level of traffic.”

    If you need to cap bandwidth at 5GB per day or something to keep the network fast, then do it – but do it all around. Don’t pick and choose what you are and aren’t going to restrict. That’s the whole point behind net neutrality. If it gets to a point where customers feel that whatever cap exists is too restrictive, then hopefully that’s where competition takes over.

    If there are particular users who are abusing your network, then go after those users. Don’t punish everyone who just so happen to be using the same service or protocol the abuser is.

    Once you start picking and choosing things that you’re going to restrict or block, you start down a long and very dark road.

  3. I agree with the jist of what you are saying, but the devil is in the details.

    Just how can FCC fairly investigate and prosecute Comcast (and possible other offenders–Comcast is NOT the only ISP doing this)? What are some legal alternatives for Comcast to do QoS?

    It’s the FCC’s job to regulate this kind of commerce but the internet would be a worse place if we have to rely on them to keep the peace. It’s much better to find an amicable alternative for Comcast.

  4. Well, whether we like it or not, the FCC is where this is going, whether it’s based on their “guidelines” or a law pass by congress, this is where enforcement happens.

    As for the alternative for Comcast, if they’re that worried about straining their network then, like I said, there is more aggressive pursuit of network abuse on their part (they already do this to an extent for very extreme cases) and/or a more strict bandwidth cap (I’m not even sure there is a formal one)

    Other than subsidizing the building of a bigger and faster network for them (not happening), I’m not sure what else the alternative is. It’s they’re network, they can restrict usage of it however they want, just as long as they’re not picking and choosing between content.

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