FCC Seeks Comments on Comcast
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.
January 14, 2008; 6:45 PM ET
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