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FCC Extends Net Neutrality Reply Comment Period

WASHINGTON: The FCC today adopted an order extending the reply comment period for it’s Net Neutrality proposal. Reply comments originally due March 5 are now due April 26. The extension comes a day after a federal court determined the FCC did not have the authority to impose the spirit of Network Neutrality. The case involved the FCC telling Comcast it couldn’t block or inhibit traffic on its broadband service. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled against the FCC on the grounds it had no such authority.

Network Neutrality contends that broadband providers like Comcast should not be able to limit or control the amount of bandwidth used by a site or a particular user. The cable operator was caught doing so with BitTorrent users trading hefty files, and the FCC ordered it to stop. Comcast took the commission to court and won this latest round.

The FCC went after Comcast more on arcanum than hard and fast rules. The commission’s Network Neutrality position consists of voluntary parameters established in 2004, when broadband providers tried to block Internet voice service competitors. The crux of the FCC’s position is that “network operators cannot prevent users from accessing the lawful Internet content, applications, and services of their choice, nor can they prohibit users from attaching non-harmful devices to the network.”

The FCC proposed codifying voluntary Network Neutrality rules last October, as it prepared the National Broadband Plan. Reply comments on that proposal--Dockets No. 09-191 and 07-52, are now due April 26. -- Deborah D. McAdams

April 6, 2010:
Comcast Strikes a Blow Against Net Neutrality
A federal court today said the FCC did not have the authority to regulate network management.