Comcast Stands By Its Internet Filtering

    February 13, 2008

Comcast has admitted that it intentionally slows down some traffic on its network, including music and movie downloads.

The company said in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission that slowing the transfer of music or video between subscribers sharing files is necessary to manage traffic flow over its network.


Comcast maintains that it should be allowed to direct traffic so networks don’t become blocked. Consumer groups and some Internet companies oppose such practices and say networks should not be allowed to block or slow user’s access to the Web.

The Comcast FCC filing is in response to petitions filed by the consumer group Free Press and video provider Vuze, who claim that the company is abusing its control over its network to block video competition. Because of those petitions the FCC began an investigation of Comcast’s network practices. The investigation is ongoing and Comcast said it has not received any specific recommendations based on the complaints.

Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on telecommunications and the Internet plans to introduce a bill for an Internet policy that would not allow network operators to unreasonably interfere with user’s right to access and use content over broadband networks.

"Our goal is to ensure that the next generation of Internet innovators will have the same opportunity, the same unfettered access to Internet content, services and applications that fostered the developers of Yahoo, Netscape and Google," Markey said

Comcast said network controls are necessary and that it uses "temporary delays" of video, music and other files shared between computers using BitTorrent. It compared its practices to a traffic-ramp control light that manages the entry of more vehicles onto a freeway during rush hour. "One would not claim that the car is ‘blocked’ or ‘prevented from entering the freeway; rather it is briefly delayed," the company’s statement said.

BitTorrent said Comcast should increase its bandwidth on its networks and upgrade its systems instead of restricting how customers use its service.