AT&T Wireless says P2P use is specifically banned in a users contract

The RIAA isn’t alone in looking at peer-to-peer (P2P) traffic as the scourge of the internet. Many of the largest ISPs in the U.S. are also looking to ways to curtail P2P traffic on their networks. The first things cited by ISPs when they start to look for places to cut traffic or charge more for service is P2P traffic.

AT&T has publically stated that it will ban wireless phone subscribers from using P2P programs and that any subscriber caught using P2P services will be terminated. AT&T made the statement last week in response to a question posed by FCC Republican Robert McDowell.

McDowell asked AT&T about its policy on P2P traffic over its wireless network at an FCC forum in July. Robert Quinn, AT&T senior vice president for regulatory affairs said in the letter to the FCC, "AT&T's terms of service for mobile wireless broadband customers prohibit all uses that may cause extreme network capacity issues, and explicitly identify P2P file sharing applications as such a use."

Quinn did sate in the letter that AT&T does not use network management tools to block the use of P2P applications by its users. Quinn says that AT&T warns its customers in writing that they could be terminated from AT&T Wireless if caught using P2P applications. AT&T uses the same song and dance used by ISPs like Comcast to justify its policy -- a small number of P2P users can degrade network performance for other AT&T network users.

Comcast was one of the first ISPs to make headlines over P2P traffic. Comcast was caught cutting back the connection speed of those using P2P services on its network. Comcast says that it only limited the speed at which P2P users could upload data at peak traffic times. Comcast has squared off against the FCC with claims that the FCC has no authority to tell it how to manage its network. The FCC is expected to vote that Comcast degraded performance for some P2P Internet traffic soon.

Martin has said that the FCC will not seek to impose financial penalties on Comcast over its network management policies.

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