Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Kevin Martin has determined that Comcast has violated the FCC’s network neutrality principles, and he will ask the full Commission vote to punish the company.
Martin’s determination is the result of a six-month investigation prompted by consumer complaints that Comcast was unjustifiably interfering with peer-to-peer (P2P) traffic, initially from users of BitTorrent. Comcast has said all along, and still maintains, that its actions were in keeping with legal and acceptable network management policy.
Martin never appeared to agree, and yesterday told the Associated Press: “The Commission has adopted a set of principles that protects consumers access to the Internet. We found that Comcast's actions in this instance violated our principles.”
He charged that Comcast had been cutting off P2P traffic even when network traffic was not congested, and that the MSO failed to notify customers of what it was doing.
Martin’s next steps are to draft a proposal for dealing with Comcast and circulate it among the other four members of the Commission. The full Commission could vote on the proposal as early as Aug. 1.
The AP reported that Martin's order would require Comcast to stop its practice of blocking, provide details to the Commission on the extent and manner in which the practice has been used, and disclose to consumers details on future plans for managing its network going forward.
For some months, Comcast has been working directly with BitTorrent and other companies (it announced a collaboration with Vonage this week – story here) to create a fair approach to managing traffic.
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