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FCC Penalty For Comcast? Fuggedaboutit

No fine for interfering with open access

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That possible sanction for Comcast’s admitted use of traffic shaping software to interfere with customer broadband accounts when using peer to peer software apparently evaporated after further review.

It looked like the Federal Communications Commission planned to put some teeth into the concept of net neutrality. Comcast’s potential penalty became a hot topic.

FCC chairman Kevin Martin suggested some punishment for Comcast, along with a side order of ‘quit blocking traffic’ as the Bits Blog noted. That was Thursday afternoon.

24 hours makes a difference in politics, and by Friday afternoon Martin sang a much different tune. Dow Jones said the FCC chairman had no plans to seek a fine against Comcast.

Instead, Comcast will be asked to stop its interference with P2P technologies like BitTorrent, and to advise the FCC if they are still managing traffic to the detriment of certain protocols.

Other FCC commissioners need to agree to this proposal, one that Comcast vowed to fight if that happened. That possibility motivated Martin to jettison the idea of a fine.

The main point of the whole Comcast issue may not be about network traffic control, but ultimately about billing. Time Warner Cable began testing metered Internet access in Beaumont, Texas, and if they find it cuts down on the usage of their network by their heaviest consumers, we won’t be surprised to see it spread quickly to other parts of the US, and other providers.

But faster speeds like those enjoyed in places like Korea and Japan? Nobody seems to be discussing better capacity or swifter service, just more rigid, video-killing control over broadband, and a return to watching a meter while using the Internet.

FCC Penalty For Comcast? Fuggedaboutit
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