Comcast Facing FCC Penalty Over P2P Practices

    July 11, 2008
    WebProNews Staff

By engaging in traffic shaping to slow down heavy users of its Internet service, Comcast may be on the brink of receiving a penalty from the Federal Communications Commission.

Comcast sits in a lonely place when it comes to the discussion over net neutrality. The cable company’s ISP service used network controls to hinder the operation of rapid file transfer services like BitTorrent, as was discovered last year.

The practice looks like it will dunk Comcast into hot water with the FCC. Comcast critic Free Press complained to the FCC about Comcast’s work, which the FCC appears ready to agree Comcast ran afoul of open access rules.

“The FCC now appears ready to take action on behalf of consumers,” Free Press general counsel Marvin Ammori said in a statement. “This is an historic test for whether the law will protect the open Internet. If the commission decisively rules against Comcast, it will be a remarkable victory for organized people over organized money.”

Any preliminary celebrating should be tempered with a dose of reality. As the Bits Blog claimed, ISPs use network management tools as Comcast does, with Comcast being unfortunate enough to get caught in a public fashion.

An FCC penalty may bring about a less desirable result than net neutrality advocates necessarily wanted, according to Bits. Comcast and other broadband providers could choose to implement billing based on usage rather than the unlimited access plans being offered today.

Such pricing hasn’t been common for consumers for years, and unlimited access likely spurred greater usage of the Internet, leading to its growth and creation of valuable services. One might even consider an FCC sanction that sends providers into usage billing schemes ends up being a convenient excuse for Comcast and others to jettison unlimited access plans en masse.