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FCC orders Comcast to cease ‘discriminatory network management’ practices

On Aug. 1, the Federal Communications Commission gave Comcast 30 days to disclose its discriminatory Internet management practices that interfered with customers’ use of peer-to-peer applications, such as BitTorrent, that could be used to share high-quality video, audio and other data files.

The commission imposed the deadline for disclosure and ordered the company to submit a plan by the end of the year telling how it would cease these practices and disclose its replacement practices after finding that Comcast unduly interfered with Internet users’ right to access lawful Internet content and to use the applications of their choice.

After conducting an investigation, the commission determined Comcast had deployed equipment across its network to monitor the content of customer’s Internet connections and selectively block peer-to-peer connections.

The Commission concluded the company’s network management practices discriminate among applications rather than treating all equally and are inconsistent with the concept of an open and accessible Internet. It found Comcast uses a technique know as deep packet inspection to monitor customer connections and then determines how to route some connections based not on their destinations but on their contents.

While the company contended the practices were warranted to combat network congestion, the commission found otherwise. In fact, the FCC noted Comcast has a motive to interfere with such peer-to-peer applications to impede customers from watching high-quality video distributed via peer-to-peer applications that might otherwise compete with the company’s own video-on-demand service.

Following the decision, National Cable & Telecommunications Association president and CEO Kyle McSlarrow issued a statement saying the FCC “has inexplicably elevated the interests of a few bandwidth hogs over everyone else."

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