[RTC List] FCC set to uphold Net Neutrality rules
sean at accesshumboldt.net
Fri Jul 11 12:19:15 PDT 2008
Hey Folks -
I'm spending the week in DC, visiting the Hill and friends at the FCC.
So... from the balmy swamps along the banks of the Potomac - here below is today's headline and spin from NN advocates.
P.O. Box 157, Eureka, CA 95502
e: sean at accesshumboldt.net
"Local Voices Through Community Media"
UPDATE 1-U.S. regulator backs network complaint against Comcast
Fri Jul 11, 2008 3:50pm BST
(Adds background, comment from Comcast, consumer group)
By Peter Kaplan
WASHINGTON, July 11 (Reuters) - The head of the U.S. Federal
Communications Commission is recommending that the agency sanction
Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O: Quote, Profile, Research) for unreasonably
restricting Internet users who share movies and other material, a
spokesman for the agency said on Friday.
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin will circulate a proposal among the agency's
five commissioners that would uphold a complaint alleging that Comcast
violated the FCC's open-Internet principles by improperly blocking
peer-to-peer traffic on its network.
Martin will schedule a vote on the matter for the commission's next open
meeting on Aug. 1, the agency spokesman said.
Comcast's spokeswoman, Sena Fitzmaurice, issued a statement saying the
company does not block any content or application on its network.
"The carefully limited measures that Comcast takes to manage traffic on
its broadband network are a reasonable part of Comcast's strategy to
ensure a high-quality, reliable Internet experience for all Comcast
High-Speed Internet customers and are used by many other ISPs around the
world," Fitzmaurice said.
"Comcast's customer service agreements and policies have always informed
Comcast customers that broadband capacity is not unlimited, and that the
network is managed for the benefit of all customers," Fitzmaurice said
in her statement.
Martin's proposal got a warm welcome from consumer groups who have
complained about the way Comcast manages its network.
"Whether blocking traffic or collecting data without customers'
knowledge, ISPs must know that they cannot impose themselves between
consumers and consumers' online activities," said Gigi Sohn, president
of the non-profit group Public Knowledge.
Sohn said Congress should pass legislation to ban similar conduct by
network operators "while preserving the rights of Internet users and
companies that do business on the Internet."
The Comcast case is at the center of a debate that pits open-Internet
advocates who favor "network neutrality" against some Internet service
providers (ISPs) who say they need to take reasonable steps to manage
ever-growing traffic on their networks for the good of all users.
Consumer groups complained that Comcast violated those principles by
unreasonably hindering some file-sharing services, such as BitTorrent,
that distribute TV shows and movies.
Comcast has said its network management practices are reasonable choice
and has argued that the FCC does not have the authority to enforce its
The company and other cable industry officials have argued that
operators need to be allowed to manage their networks as they see fit to
alleviate congestion and combat illegal file-sharing. (Editing by Gerald
E. McCormick, Phil Berlowitz)
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And here's the spin from Free Press:
Subject: An Imminent Victory for 'Net Neutrality' Advocates
July 11, 2008, 12:53 am
An Imminent Victory for 'Net Neutrality' Advocates By Vindu Goel
When Comcast admitted last fall that it was blocking - or slowing down,
as the company preferred to call it - certain file transfers by
customers, a lot of people complained that the company was unfairly
discriminating against heavy Internet users.
Now it seems that the Federal Communications Commission is poised to
The Associated Press reported late Thursday that the F.C.C.'s chairman,
Kevin J. Martin, has concluded that Comcast improperly blocked some file
transfers. Mr. Martin told the A.P. he would recommend that the
commission punish Comcast, and order it to stop the blocking, tell the
commission how and how often it blocked file transfers and disclose to
consumers its future plans for managing its network.
Such an action would be the first time that regulators have slapped an
Internet provider for violating F.C.C. open-access rules. Those rules
are designed to prevent providers from favoring some services over
others - for example, by accelerating the transfer of video from their
own movie service or slowing down transfers from competitors.
That will surely please "net neutrality" advocates like Free Press,
which brought the original complaint. The group issued a statement
Thursday night saying: "The F.C.C. now appears ready to take action on
behalf of consumers. 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
Comcast's blocking efforts ignited a wildfire of criticism last fall,
after the A.P. tested Comcast's network and reported that the cable
company was manipulating Internet protocols to intermittently block file
transfers made by customers using a popular program called BitTorrent.
Comcast, the nation's largest cable provider, admitted that it was
slowing down certain traffic but claimed it was legitimately managing
its network so that a few bandwidth hogs didn't bog things down for
Still, in response to critics, the company decided to work with
BitTorrent and experiment with other traffic-management techniques to
handle the loads on its network.
The dirty little secret of the Internet industry is that all the
providers use software tools to manage their network traffic. Comcast
got caught and may have been more aggressive than some rivals, but it's
certainly not alone.
Mr. Martin's proposed ruling in favor of openness could actually end up
hurting Internet users if it accelerates the nascent moves by the
industry to charge customers based on how much data they use instead of
offering essentially unlimited data for a flat fee.
From: Megan Tady, Campaign Coordinator
Free Press: www.freepress.net
413.585.1533 ext. 216
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