FCC Uses Comcast as Example to Keep Internet Open

By July 15, 2008

The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has ruled that Comcast [CCS], the nation’s largest cable company, is in violation of the agency’s policy regarding unrestricted access to the Internet because of their move to block peer-to-peer file-sharing. FCC chairman Kevin Martin concluded that Comcast is in violation of the four principles the agency created in 2005 to regulate Internet usage, namely one that states broadband Internet access should be widely available and open to all consumers at a reasonable price. At the outset of the implementation of these Internet regulations, Comcast openly questioned whether the FCC has the authority to regulate the Internet in such a manner. Consequently, the country’s largest cable provider opted to arbitrarily block file-sharing applications such as BitTorrent, an online program that enables users to share large files and software including television


Such a move, the FCC claims, violates the agency’s policy on enabling users to access the Internet content of their choice because the blockages were during peak and non-peak traffic hours, even though Comcast claims it only significantly slowed the traffic to such applications during peak hours.

Such an argument would place Comcast delicately within the boundaries of the FCC Internet policies, but Martin’s ruling states the company arbitrarily blocked access to such applications regardless of traffic.

Although Martin did not recommend a fine against Comcast, he did lay out a punishment that will serve as a precedent in Internet regulations.

According to Msnbc, Martin has told Comcast to cease all such Internet regulating and disclose where it has used such measures in the past. In addition, the company will outline the Internet regulations they will implement by the end of the year.

This is a move that will set the bar for online regulations for all communications companies, encouraging an open Internet even among file-sharers.

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