Martin: Expect Comcast Broadband Ruling Before July

Posted on March 9, 2008 - 7:59am.

from: MultiChannel News

Martin: Expect Comcast Broadband Ruling Before July
Resolution Of Peer-To-Peer Complaints To Set “Important Precedent”
By Ted Hearn -- Multichannel News, 3/7/2008 1:19:00 PM

Washington – Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin, speaking at Stanford Law School on Friday, said he’s hoping the agency rules by June 30 on a complaint filed against Comcast over its broadband management practices.

The FCC is probing allegations that Comcast is discriminating against BitTorrent file-sharing users. The complaints alleged blocking, but Comcast said it only delayed packets to avoid network congestion at peak times, a step it called a reasonable network management practice consistent with non-binding FCC policy since 2005.

At a Feb. 25 FCC-sanctioned event at Harvard Law School -- where the speakers and panels were heavily skewed against Comcast -- Martin indicated several times that Comcast had violated the agency’s August 2005 consumer-centric Internet policy principles.

On Friday, Martin said resolution of the Comcast complaint would set “an important precedent going forward.”

He noted that the agency moved swiftly against phone company Madison River, which was accused of blocking consumer access to VoIP services.

Martin added that “two of the more troubling aspects” of the Comcast matter was that in his view Comcast at first denied the allegations, though he didn't specify the nature of the allegations or the denials.

He said he was also troubled by allegations that Comcast altered certain user information in packets to effect a delay in peer-to-peer transmissions.

Martin also contrasted the Comcast dispute with another that involved Verizon Wireless, which refused to issue a text messaging short code to the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL).

He said that while Verizon admitted to a mistake which it vowed not repeat, Comcast continues to argue that its network management practices are appropriate.

Martin’s public pronouncements on the Comcast complaint -- coupled with his multiyear campaign to barrage Comcast and other cable operators with regulations – strongly suggest a negative outcome for Comcast.

Less clear is which law or regulation Martin will invoke to brand Comcast an Internet outlaw.

When the FCC released its four-point Internet policy statement in August 2005 -- a document which excluded an explicit non-discrimination requirement -- Martin issued a statement saying that “policy statements do not establish rules nor are they enforceable documents.”

( categories: Comcast | FCC )