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FCC, itself being investigated, to look into Comcast flap

Wed, 01/09/2008 - 8:48am
Brian Santo

Following accusations late last year that Comcast has been interfering with BitTorrent traffic, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced it will investigate complaints.

At the same time, the FCC itself will be investigated. The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee wants to determine if the agency has been fair, open, efficient and transparent as it formulates regulations. Even some FCC commissioners have complained that the FCC has not been fair in some of its processes.

As for the FCC investigating Comcast, FCC chairman Kevin Martin was reported as telling an audience at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) yesterday, “Sure, we're going to investigate and make sure that no consumer is going to be blocked.”

In the normal course of traffic management, Comcast does in fact cut off BitTorrent sessions when its network becomes congested (as do other operators). The expectation is that the BitTorrent application will do what it is designed to do, which is re-establish a connection later. As a practical matter, Comcast and other MSOs are doing what they say they are doing: delaying BitTorrent traffic.

Comcast has been accused by a number of organizations for violating network neutrality. Though the FCC supports network neutrality in principle, it acknowledges that traffic management is necessary.

Comcast’s official response, issued by EVP David L. Cohen, is, “We look forward to responding to any FCC inquiries regarding our broadband network management.”

Meanwhile, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell and the Committee’s ranking Republican, Joe Barton, have asked Martin to save all electronic records and personal e-mails related to FCC work. The investigation would also "address a growing number of allegations received by the committee" that relate to management practices, their letter said.

Martin has been accused of giving insufficient public notice in preparation of some measures and of delaying the sharing of details on draft agenda items with other commissioners. He also challenged Congress by ignoring requests to delay making a decision on media ownership rules.

More Broadband Direct:

• Convergence tops CES agenda, Martin continues cable assault

• FCC, itself being investigated; to look into Comcast flap 

• SeaChange inks VOD agreement with Top 5 cable op 

• Verizon starting to deploy G-PON 

• Tech Emmys handed out 

• AT&T predicts slower sales on consumer side 

• NCTA’s CableTechTalk blog discusses broadband technology market 

• Companies plan to build national mobile TV distribution system 

• Broadband Briefs for 1/09/08 

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