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FCC Seeks Comments on Comcast

Kim Hart

This afternoon the Federal Communications Commission formally asked for input on Comcast's Internet management policies, specifically regarding how it handles peer-to-peer traffic.

It's the first official step the commission has taken to investigate the cable giant, which has said that it sometimes slows down traffic to file-sharing sites such as BitTorrent so it won't bog down the network for other users. Several public interest groups, including Free Press, Public Knowledge, Media Access Project, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, filed a petition in November asking the FCC to take action against Comcast because "degrading peer-to-peer traffic violates the FCC's Internet policy statement."

The FCC is also seeking comment on a petition filed by Vuze, another file-sharing application, requesting that the agency clarify "reasonable network management."

Last week at the Consumer Electronics Show, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said he'd look into the issue. Today's request for comments starts the clock on the investigation, which could result in the FCC taking an official stance on the issue of network neutrality. The commission has said it supports the concept of barring Internet providers from giving preferential treatment to content on their networks. But it has not yet taken steps to enforce its principals.

Consumers, companies, academics, policy experts and pretty much anyone else can file a comment with the FCC on the issue until February 13. Anyone who wants to respond to those comments then has the rest of the month to reply. It's a long process, but it's a sure sign that the FCC is responding to pressure within the industry to take the issue seriously.

By Kim Hart  |  January 14, 2008; 6:45 PM ET  | Category:  Kim Hart
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Comments

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My emails do not get to Comcast customers
they all get kicked back to me.

Very frustating.

Posted by: Grace A. Adams | January 14, 2008 7:32 PM

I had comcastless indeterminant speed internet for a while and it routinely had DNS problems. I email my boss twice at a 11pm because our site appeared to be down when it was actually problems with my internet connection. I could never use bitorrent and get more than 100k but I could download any other files at much faster speeds when the internet was working. Basically I am much happier with my 350k dsl because it is much more reliable.

Posted by: Greg Lloyd | January 14, 2008 10:25 PM

The "pipe" that is shared by cable users is similar in certain ways to the processor shared by computer operating system (e.g., Windows) users. Operating systems handle the problem by allocating time slices. While preference to a provider's own content should not be legal in a neutral internet, the use of similar "pipe" sharing algorithms based strictly on transmission size should be encouraged to ensure that high volume transmissions do not unduly slow or drown out low volume transmissions.

Posted by: Joe Ward | January 15, 2008 11:03 AM

In the area I live, we can't get anything but dial-up. My connection is usually less than 56k. What really annoys me is that my dial-up ISP is putting the same restrictions on my service as someone with high-speed access. So if *I* torrent a file, my speed mysteriously goes from 48k to 16k. I can understand saying that someone at 12mips is hogging the bandwidth, but how can they say that about someone stuck at a max of 56k?

Kim, do you have a link where folks can submit comments to the FCC?

Posted by: meep | January 15, 2008 10:44 PM

In the area I live, we can't get anything but dial-up. My connection is usually less than 56k. What really annoys me is that my dial-up ISP is putting the same restrictions on my service as someone with high-speed access. So if *I* torrent a file, my speed mysteriously goes from 48k to 16k. I can understand saying that someone at 12mips is hogging the bandwidth, but how can they say that about someone stuck at a max of 56k?

Kim, do you have a link where folks can submit comments to the FCC?

Posted by: meep | January 15, 2008 10:46 PM

In the area I live, we can't get anything but dial-up. My connection is usually less than 56k. What really annoys me is that my dial-up ISP is putting the same restrictions on my service as someone with high-speed access. So if *I* torrent a file, my speed mysteriously goes from 48k to 16k. I can understand saying that someone at 12mips is hogging the bandwidth, but how can they say that about someone stuck at a max of 56k?

Kim, do you have a link where folks can submit comments to the FCC?

Posted by: meep | January 15, 2008 10:49 PM

" file-sharing sites such as BitTorrent "

No such thing. BitTorrent is a protocol. WaPo tech writing has been going down the tubes lately.

Posted by: username | January 16, 2008 9:47 AM

BitTorrent is not a "site", it is a protocol for peer-to-peer file transfer.

Posted by: username | January 16, 2008 10:31 AM

BitTorrent is not a "file-sharing site". You may be writing for a general audience, but basic facts don't need to be changed to "dumb it down."

Posted by: Third Try | January 17, 2008 11:08 AM

Now only if the Fcc would investigate the Satellite broadband company's (wildblue, Huges, Starband...etc. and their use of the un- fair access policy. Which if you don't know, the company has a one per month limit on your downloads (7gb) and uploads (3gb)basic package, and if you exceed your limit of the month, then they limit your speed to dial up speed and still have to pay for the service until next month when it will reset your limit again. Here's something from Dishnetwork offer of satellite internet through wildblue...
http://www.dishnetwork.com/content/our_products/internet_access/high_speed/satellite_internet/index.shtml
...and here's the fair access policy...
http://my.dishmail.net/privacy_s.asp...

Posted by: Wolfseye | January 17, 2008 12:35 PM

Net Neutrality for the win!

BitTorrent is a p2p protocol. It's the sites that track/host files that are being blocked or monitored by the big corporations.

Incidentally, Comcast and Verizon both make the most money and yet they are the ones pushing for premium service fees on technology standards that should cost very little - to be affordable to all.

The internet carries with it a vast amount of knowledge and resources that should be accessible by everyone. There should not be limitations set by any ISP's. It should be up to the owners, administrators, and moderators of those sites to shun users themselves, individually.

Posted by: barcodedmaggot | January 22, 2008 9:47 AM

Mi.

Posted by: Janni | April 28, 2008 10:25 AM

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