Insiders Say Comcast Will Get FCC Censure

Dennis Faas's picture

It appears increasingly likely that Comcast will face a formal rebuke from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over its 'throttling' policy in which Internet access was deliberately slowed for those using peer-to-peer download services.

The FCC won't announce any decision until its monthly meeting on Friday, but Reuters reports five of the nine commissioners have already agreed to uphold a complaint of throttling. (Source:

That won't come as a major surprise, since FCC chairman Kevin Martin had already announced he considered Comcast's actions wrong and that he'd be asking fellow commissioners to back a knuckle-rapping.

The case centres on Comcast slowing down file-sharing traffic at peak Internet usage times. The cable firm argues this was necessary in order to avoid the system's clogging. Critics retort that this violates the principle of "net neutrality," which governs FCC policies and states that Internet carriers can't discriminate between different types of Internet use (other than blocking illegal material).

If Comcast decides to appeal the judgment, they'll almost certainly point to a 2005 statement by the FCC which said firms could impose "reasonable network management" to avoid overall slowdowns. Whether Comcast's throttling was reasonable is something only a court could decide.

It seems almost certain the FCC won't impose a fine. That would have been legally problematic as Comcast could have argued it was the proposed rebuke itself that established the throttling was unlawful. Therefore, it would be wrong to fine them for actions that took place before the ruling.

Whatever Comcast's response, this week's ruling will be significant. By upholding the complaint, the FCC will be changing its net neutrality policy from a guideline to a legally-binding rule. There will then be some serious questions about how valid such a rule is, considering it didn't go through the formal legislative process. (Source:

Rate this article: 
No votes yet