FCC Looking into Comcast

    January 10, 2008

Back in November, we mentioned how Free Press and other groups wanted ISP/cable company Comcast brought before the FCC for the way the company imitated users on BitTorrent to terminate downloads. And now, the FCC will be looking into it—at least according to Chairman Kevin Martin, speaking at CES.

There have been a number of concerns raised with Comcast’s practice, from the fact that they imitate users to end downloads prematurely to their unwritten policy (or at least undisclosed) of prohibiting users from exceeding an undisclosed download volume. In the AP’s tests, their attempts to download a copy of the King James Bible using BitTorrent and a Comcast connection were thwarted. (Incidentally, being nearly 400 years old, the KJV is squarely within the public domain.)

Comcast has defending the practice thus far, stating that slowing or even stopping these downloads is necessary to keep its network running smoothly for all its users. The FCC does have an exception in its regulations for reasonable traffic management, which Comcast says they are employing.

According to reports from Reuters, Comcast will comply with the FCC’s investigation, although a statement released today said that “Comcast does not, has not, and will not block any Web sites or online applications, including peer-to-peer services.”

Martin’s statements to the AP sound encouraging:

“Sure, we’re going to investigate and make sure that no consumer is going to be blocked.”

“The question is going to arise: Are they reasonable network practices? When they have reasonable network practices, they should disclose those and make those public.”

Personally, I’m just hoping my Comcast Internet will let me hit ‘publish’ on this article ;) .