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Congressman snaps at FCC’s Comcast slap

Fri, 08/01/2008 - 8:35am
Brian Santo

The political pushback on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision to reprimand Comcast for its peer-to-peer (P2P) management techniques began before the FCC issued its final verdict.

As FCC Chairman Kevin Martin had signaled, the FCC voted 3-2 to demand that Comcast cease blocking traffic by the end of the year.

Given that Comcast had already said it would do so – months ago – Martin’s maneuver serves only two purposes: public relations and asserting the FCC’s authority to make such a ruling.

House Minority Leader John Boehner sent a letter to Martin, in which Boehner questioned not only the wisdom of having the FCC getting involved in what is essentially an engineering matter, but also whether the FCC has the authority to take action against an Internet Service Provider (ISP) in such a matter.

Boehner’s position is in line with that of Martin’s fellow FCC Commissioner Robert M. McDowell, who in a recent editorial published in the Washington Post (read it here) took Martin to task for interfering in an engineering issue that is already being resolved through joint action between the principles in the original complaint – Comcast and BitTorrent, among others.

McDowell and fellow Republican FCC appointee Deborah Tate were the two commissioners to vote against chastising Comcast.

Martin insists that the FCC does have the authority necessary for today’s decision, deriving from the FCC’s own 2005 policy on network neutrality.

Comcast is expected to challenge the FCC order in court, arguing – as Boehner has – that the FCC doesn't have the legal authority for its maneuver.

The company noted that it is already trialing non-blocking techniques in five markets, and is providing information on these trials and on its network management practices on its Web site here.

More Broadband Direct:

• Congressman snaps at FCC's Comcast slap

• Cablevision exceeds 2M VoIP lines

• BigBand Networks' Q2 revenues down 21%

• Entone secures $14.5M in venture funding

• Veraz cuts one-third of staff, reorganizes

• IIA creates 2 new initiatives for universal broadband

• Nielsen Mobile, Mediamark team up on audience targeting tool

• Broadband Briefs for 8/01/08

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