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FCC says no you didn't to Comcast

The FCC and Comcast have been at odds over network management since the FCC issued an enforcement action against Comcast in 2008 for unreasonable network traffic management. The action stemmed form Comcast slowing access to peer-to-peer data sharing sites and lying to the press and consumers about the practice.

The FCC action was a mere slap on the wrist with no significant monetary fine. The actions were limited to the FCC forcing Comcast to be more transparent about its data shaping practices and to provide the FCC with a plan of how it would stop discriminatory practices by the end of 2008, which it submitted on time.

Comcast is still fighting the ruling and has filed a brief with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals claiming that the FCC based its decision for action against Comcast on its Internet Policy Principles, which are not officially commission rules. Comcast argues that since the principles are not official rules they are not enforceable and asks the court to throw out the decision.

The FCC for its part says that it has authority in this instance granted to it by the Communications Act of 1934, the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and because of its authority over cable companies. Comcast isn't appealing the ruling or the sanctions reports PC World – Comcast is challenging the authority of the FCC to examine the issue at all.

Comcast wrote in the filing, "The order is unlawful because it enforced mere policy – not any provision of federal law – against Comcast. The commission's action was procedurally improper and violated bedrock principles of fair notice." Comcast continued, "In short, the FCC erred in enforcing mere policy … and this court can and should dispose of this case on that ground alone."

The FCC on the other hand wrote in its filing, "[FCC] determinations were lawful and reasonable. The brief also said, "Congress created the FCC for cases such as this one."

The FCC also wrote in the statement, "When it [the FCC] approved Comcast's acquisition of another cable system, the commission warned that any interference by Comcast with its customers' access to Internet content and applications would be assessed under the standards of the Internet Policy Statement. Comcast ignored that crystal clear warning. It cannot seriously claim to be surprised by the consequences."

The FCC plans to vote on making the Internet Policy Principles official rules as it looks at net neutrality issues.

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let's play a game
By acejj26 on 10/28/2009 10:04:19 AM , Rating: 5
If Comcast wants to challenge the role of government in their business, I propose the following: the FCC agrees they can't tell Comcast how to run their business; in return, the anti-competitive clause that lets Comcast run a virtual monopoly in municipalities in which it operates is revoked, allowing true competition to take place. I bet if that were the case, Comcast would thank FCC for being so kind to them.

RE: let's play a game
By Spivonious on 10/28/09, Rating: -1
RE: let's play a game
By amanojaku on 10/28/2009 10:41:58 AM , Rating: 3
Yes, and that someone deserves it. I can't believe your anti-government attitude would go so far as to turn a blind eye to Comcast's illegal filtering of data, which would screw you and any other consumer.

RE: let's play a game
By Jacerie on 10/28/2009 11:17:07 AM , Rating: 5
Actually, the government allowed monopolies is the reason we're in this to begin with. If the local markets had been open to competition to begin with, we never would have seen most of the issues we do today.

RE: let's play a game
By Goty on 10/28/2009 11:25:35 AM , Rating: 4
This is a double-edged sword. Government regulation keeps Comcast from enacting practices which you deem unfair, but it's also the government that ensures Comcast has no decent competition and therefore doesn't have to worry about losing customers because of those practices.

RE: let's play a game
By dtm4trix on 10/28/2009 5:22:14 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with you 100%. If the gov didn't get involved you think comcrap wouldn't be charging the crap out of us? Broadband through comcrap is already expensive enough and left unchecked we would still be downloading at 1999 dsl levels (768k) with todays outrageous prices.

RE: let's play a game
By curtisns64 on 11/4/2009 9:48:40 AM , Rating: 2
It seems you are all under the impression that cable companies are the only ones out there who are running a "monopoly." You all think you are doing any good, shopping at one certain store or getting your gas at one specific gas station or eating at your favorite restuarant. They are all connected in some way. All the oil companies are a monopoly if you haven't noticed one main company owns all the smaller companies. Its funny how most of you think that you have a "choice" in where you are spending "your money" when in fact it all goes to one main source in each type of business. Much like Bill Gates has stock in Apple. So when you go and by an Apple saying "I HATE MICROSOFT" well you are just being ignorant. So take all your comments and deal with the fact that you are just fueling the process in everything you do every day

RE: let's play a game
By Ryanman on 10/28/2009 11:32:43 AM , Rating: 4
I think all of you are misunderstanding spivonious.

Would we have this problem if government hadn't given the ISP's monopolies to start out? If there were real competition, would any company get away with doing this kind of stuff?

Of course, now the damage has been done. It's the FCC's job to promote network neutrality since they're already so far embroiled in how these networks function. Bottom line: Government GOT involved, EVERYONE got screwed, and now we're locked into a government supported and regulated system. It's only getting worse from here. The good news is that we can let our senators know that we actually do care about net neutrality, and attempt to salvage the whole situation.

And yes, we wouldn't have quite the infrastructure level that we have today if these monopolies weren't granted. Or, at least that's what the ISP's and the government would have you think. But I'd rather have 2mb/s internet and freedom of choice right now, instead of a throttled 10mb/s connection.

RE: let's play a game
By unableton on 10/28/2009 11:42:05 AM , Rating: 2
Your analysis of monopolies and public goods may be a bit simplistic. Do we really want 10 companies each putting huge amounts of redundant infrastructure in the same neighborhoods? Is that really more economically efficient than having one or two companies provide service and keeping an eye on them? And even if we didn't "allow" a company to establish a monopoly isn't the infrastructure a sufficiently large barrier to entry that it would end up a natural monopoly anyway?

RE: let's play a game
By Reclaimer77 on 10/28/2009 11:44:18 AM , Rating: 3
Do we really want 10 companies each putting huge amounts of redundant infrastructure in the same neighborhoods?

Yes. We do.

I'm not following you here. What, exactly, would be the harm to the consumer by having 10 companies to choose from ? I'm not understanding the problem here. Lower costs ? Better service ? Higher standards ? Choice ?

RE: let's play a game
By murphyslabrat on 10/28/2009 1:15:37 PM , Rating: 2
His point is that it would increase the cost of development, meaning it would be more critical to hit higher-population areas, and the rural people would be screwed.

In actuality, this would increase incentive towards innovation and feature-development. As with any market, where there is a need, someone will eventually come with a product. So, speeds might be driven, but you'd probably see a lot more features related to customer-service and non-quantifiables.

Something that could happen in this case is companies that develop infrastructure and lease it to ISP's, making competition more vanilla, but providing much more of it. This is the whole drive of Free-market/capitalist economies, this is specialization.

RE: let's play a game
By Alexstarfire on 10/28/2009 1:33:51 PM , Rating: 2
Might be, of course that's not saying that each company would necessarily put up their own infrastructure. I'm sure they might in the cities, but not any even in the suburbs. They'd probably end up working out deals with each other to secure rights to use a cable.

Though, without having those kind of choices it's hard to say. Could ask someone from Japan. I know they have a fair amount of choices, IIRC.

RE: let's play a game
By erple2 on 10/30/2009 5:07:44 PM , Rating: 2
this is specialization

Nonsense. Specialization is for insects.

RE: let's play a game
By JediJeb on 10/28/2009 2:02:16 PM , Rating: 2
I think the reduntant infrastructure he mentioned would be having 10 separate cables strung along the poles side by side one for each company.

Along a similar line, I have always wondered how the opening of the utilities in some places works. I only have one power line coming into my area, how could two providers of electricity share it? Or would the second provider have to run its own line, adding to the clutter of lines overhead?

RE: let's play a game
By Spivonious on 10/28/2009 2:18:44 PM , Rating: 3
We have that in PA. As far as I understand it, the company who owns the infrastructure gets paid usage fees from the other companies using it.

RE: let's play a game
By HrilL on 10/28/2009 5:14:12 PM , Rating: 2
We have that here. Every company using the lines pay a fee to rent them. These companies then put power into the same grid and in theory you are using the company's power you are getting services from but in reality you're just using what even power is in the lines. Like my mom wanted to go with a company that only uses natural or green power sources. be it wind, solar, hydro, or thermal. She didn't care about paying a few cents more since this company had slightly higher prices. But really the power she gets doesn't come from those sources or very little of it does. It really comes from a natural gas, oil, and coal power plants.

RE: let's play a game
By Houdani on 10/28/2009 9:45:43 PM , Rating: 2
What, exactly, would be the harm to the consumer by having 10 companies to choose from?
In general I agree with your point. But with regards to building the infrastructure for this particular topc ... well, here's an example of the Government being a bit too "hands off" with respect to regulating the public right of way.

RE: let's play a game
By Reclaimer77 on 10/29/2009 5:52:45 PM , Rating: 2
I heard something on the radio today that should not surprise me, but it still did.

When you buy a hamburger, before it even hits your mouth, from start to finish has gone through FOUR THOUSAND government regulations. Four thousand folks.

The idea that there is ANY aspect of our lives that isn't regulated enough by the government is absurd. And anyone who believes "deregulation" caused the housing collapse is goddamn idiot. There are over ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND pages of government regulations in the housing and banking industry alone.

RE: let's play a game
By justsomeone on 10/28/2009 1:02:16 PM , Rating: 2
What? Do you actually work for Comcast? Of course we want more companies putting in infrastructure!!! The "economically efficient" part made me throw up in my mouth.

RE: let's play a game
By MrFord on 10/29/2009 2:00:39 PM , Rating: 2
Your analysis of monopolies and public goods may be a bit simplistic. Do we really want 10 companies each putting huge amounts of redundant infrastructure in the same neighborhoods?

If you want a good (eve if it's a stretch) example of something similar, look at railroads. By the beginning of the century, you could end up having 3-4 lines from different railroads going from one place to another following pretty much the same road minus some detours. They ended up with a lot of sub-par route that they ended up not being able to maintain. Fast forward 30 years, the bigger fish ended up swallowing a lot of weaker ones, companies started to rationalize their now redundant network, and they ended up with a lot less infrastructure that were a lot more efficient.
Even if they use shared infrastructure, it doesn't stop companies to compete between each other. Go back 15 years, and a lot of dial-up ISP were competing on the same base landline. The only way to enable competition in the same way would be to have the state/municipality/neutral provider to provide for the basic infrastructure (cable/FTTP) and then let you choose your Internet/TV/Phone. Since the physical installations would be owned by a 3rd party, any provider would have access to it equally. Same as for electricity and water.

RE: let's play a game
By PrezWeezy on 10/28/2009 1:31:31 PM , Rating: 2
Really? I couldn't go start an ISP if I wanted? I can't get the funds together, higher people, buy the equipment and get homes on the internet? I'm pretty sure I could go out and do all of that and Comcast wouldn't be able to do a thing about it. Tell me how they have a monopoly...

RE: let's play a game
By unableton on 10/28/2009 2:26:58 PM , Rating: 2
I'm pretty sure I could go out and do all of that and Comcast wouldn't be able to do a thing about it. Tell me how they have a monopoly...

I'm sure you are correct. But consider that a new company has to make a large investment upfront. The already established provider will control nearly the entire market (of mostly oblivious consumers) and can probably win a price war with a smaller start-up. Also the fact that prices are being driven down by the new firm's entering the market. This is a hard sell to investors, and it is part of the reason ISPs commonly go unchallenged in the market.

RE: let's play a game
By PrezWeezy on 10/28/2009 4:53:40 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with you, but in a legal sense that is not equivilent to a monopoly. It requires that the other company use tactics specifically targeted at keeping you from starting up which constitutes a monopoly. Not just being large and owning the market share.

RE: let's play a game
By Ryanman on 10/30/2009 1:36:27 PM , Rating: 2
So, to answer your earlier question: NO you could not start an ISP if you had the capital and infrastructure. You would have to be approved by, as someone else said, the local government, while all your equipment would have to be approved by the FCC, and all your digging would have to be approved by the government. That's all assuming that your local government didn't sign a contract with the previous ISP giving them, YES, a monopoly.

If extensive red tape and favoritism towards a large company don't constitute as "tactics specifically targeted at preventing you from starting up" I don't know what is. If you think that you can just "start a business", in any industry, it's your worldview that's overly naive and simplistic.

RE: let's play a game
By GaryJohnson on 10/28/2009 4:38:18 PM , Rating: 2
Commonly there are exclusive agreements between cable providers and local government entities that would prevent you from obtaining the easements that are required in order for you to run cables across private and public land.

RE: let's play a game
By Jalek on 10/28/2009 7:51:13 PM , Rating: 2
Most cable commissions are there expressly to regulate a monopoly. When C-band dishes were around, some people tried supplying neighbors like a co-op and were shut down.

There's always dialup, or maybe purchasing some VHF frequencies, you can forget cable.
Even Earthlink can't resell broadband nationwide like they used to.

Dear Comcast
By icanhascpu on 10/28/2009 10:10:55 AM , Rating: 4
Fuck you.

RE: Dear Comcast
By psypher on 10/28/2009 10:40:24 AM , Rating: 3
Please give this man a 6!

On a side note, I swear Comcast is throttling Hulu now... Even off peak, I can't watch a full show without serious stuttering about 10 minutes in. This never used to happen. (Never had a problem with the rig before, no hardware changes, 22mbps connection with 30+ powerboost nonsense)

RE: Dear Comcast
By lagitup on 10/28/2009 11:06:14 AM , Rating: 2
Off peak? I've been unable to stream hulu or youtube in the evenings and on weekends (fortunately, still gives me a 20mb/s) but yesterday midday I streamed southparkstudios and youtube without a problem...

Has anyone been able to get a better deal out of these bastards for their traffic shaping?

RE: Dear Comcast
By tdktank59 on 10/28/2009 11:06:55 AM , Rating: 2
Im having the same issue however im on SureWest (local to Sacramento, CA area)

However its all day long like you said.
I pay for a 25/25 line and even during peak times im getting at least 20/20. So there should be no reason for this.

Of course those #'s are for local speed tests (sacramento to SF) however even to Texas im still getting at least 15/15.

Anyways I don't think its just comcast here or any broadband provider. I think it has something to do with Hulu....
I could be wrong of course...

RE: Dear Comcast
By lagitup on 10/28/2009 11:11:20 AM , Rating: 2
I think it has something to do with Hulu....

Come to think of it I did ask my neighbor (qwest) to take a look and they said it was stuttering for them, too. Youtube, on the other hand, is unquestionably traffic shaped by ccast...

RE: Dear Comcast
By keith524 on 10/28/2009 12:03:50 PM , Rating: 2
i have Verizon DSL, not much better than Comcast...but I can do Hulu in low rez all day. I can do better rez (I won't call 480p high) all day except from about 7:30-9:30

RE: Dear Comcast
By JediJeb on 10/28/2009 2:05:08 PM , Rating: 2
Could be their servers, only so much data can stream out at once.

RE: Dear Comcast
By HrilL on 10/28/2009 1:12:50 PM , Rating: 2
Power boost is a sham. All it does it make speed test site go faster but when you actually do something it never goes that fast. It is their way of hiding how much bandwidth they actually have. When my ISP Cox added power boost my level of service went down when it was supposed to go up. Latencies fluctuate a lot more now and I have to cap uploads and downloads a lower speeds than I used to to be able to have decent latency so I can game at the same time. Nothing good has come from their traffic management.

RE: Dear Comcast
By Alexstarfire on 10/28/2009 1:38:58 PM , Rating: 2
An easy thing to do is just not use a modem that supports it.

I do get over 10Mbps, seem to average about 1.5MB/s, when we aren't supposed to be getting that high. And this is only like a 1GB file mind you. Not some lame speed test. On a speed test I could easily break 25Mbps, which I know is pure crap.

I don't see what it has to do with latency though. Care to explain?

RE: Dear Comcast
By HrilL on 10/28/2009 5:03:02 PM , Rating: 2
The reason it has to do with latency is that. When you're downloading a file with power boost going (power boost works on one connection at a time) It uses more than your allotted bandwidth and thus other packets have to wait before they'll be sent or received and this creates high latency while these packets must wait for their to be open capacity in order for them to get through. So if I download something with power boost and someone else is gaming their ping jumps to 400ms or so while the download is going.

I suppose I could fix this by telling my router I only have 10Mb/s connection and not letting it use the extra bandwidth power boost gives me. I should try this I guess when i get back home and see what happens. I could also do my own QoS once I cap my bandwidth and give different protocols high priority and or limit their bandwidth consumption.

RE: Dear Comcast
By dubyadubya on 10/28/2009 5:21:16 PM , Rating: 2
You got that right. The name should be speed cut as that is what they are actually doing. "Now with Speed Cut" Nope it would never sell so lets turn it inside out and call it speed boost!

RE: Dear Comcast
By curtisns64 on 11/4/2009 10:10:53 AM , Rating: 2
LOL, powerboost has no say on what you download. I think Ignorance is the biggest word in these discussions

RE: Dear Comcast
By curtisns64 on 11/4/2009 9:50:52 AM , Rating: 2
get a better computer

RE: Dear Comcast
By UsernameX on 10/29/2009 6:11:47 PM , Rating: 2
I work for the company and my bandwidth definitely gets throttled. It's ridiculous!! Downloading LEGAL torrents from piratebay or even the latest Windows 7 Educational Home Premium from digitalriver, my internet cuts out and then I'm forced to restart the modem. It's extremely frustrating. While the FCC told them not to do it... they are definitely discriminating still...

Comcast Competition
By CableGirl on 10/28/2009 12:38:39 PM , Rating: 2
What is the anti-competition clause stated above? I am prett positive this goes against everything the FCC has set in place. What about Dish, Direct and now U-verse? I highly doubt that this where the problem stems. Unethical behavior is where the problem stems from. There are no clauses that create monopolies.

RE: Comcast Competition
By gamerk2 on 10/28/2009 1:01:32 PM , Rating: 2
Basically, certain fields (Insurance, ISP's, the NFL) are excempt from the Sherman/Clayton Anti-Trust acts, allowing them to act as monopolies. The idea being that allowing consolidation of infrastructure would lead to lowered prices (LOL :D)

RE: Comcast Competition
By Spivonious on 10/28/2009 2:24:27 PM , Rating: 2
Dish, Direct, and U-Verse (?) aren't cable companies.

Under current regulations there can be only one cable provider and only one local telephone provider in an area. In my area this is Comcast and Verizon. Other areas have Time Warner and Verizon. But it is against the law for me to get Time Warner. Hence, Comcast runs their prices as high as they can get away with. I can't switch to satellite because I'd be unable to get Philadelphia sports (and that's because of a loophole)

RE: Comcast Competition
By rdawise on 10/28/2009 10:20:50 PM , Rating: 2
You CAN'T switch...or you don't want to switch.

If you get tired of your cable providers high price, you can switch to satellite.

RE: Comcast Competition
By curtisns64 on 11/4/2009 10:13:13 AM , Rating: 2
Ohh boo hoo, crying because of the prices and then you can't switch to dish because of the sports. HA thats funny

Private ISP doing the same thing
By CZroe on 10/29/2009 3:46:01 AM , Rating: 2
I know of a private cable co that does the same thing. Their techs aren't explicitly told what is going on but they ARE told to play dumb if they do know. In fact, they are specifically instructed to say that there is NO traffic-shaping when there most certainly is.

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