“Would you be OK with the post
office opening your mail, deciding they didn’t want to bother delivering it,
and hiding that fact by sending it back to you stamped ‘address unknown –
return to sender’?” asked Martin in a statement. “Or if they opened letters
mailed to you, decided that because the mail truck is full sometimes, letters
to you could wait, and then hid both that they read your letters and delayed
“Unfortunately, that is exactly what
Comcast was doing with [its] subscribers’ Internet traffic,” he said.
The FCC says that Comcast’s network
practices “contravene” the FCC’s task of protecting the “vibrant and open
nature” of the Internet.
“The Commission concluded that
Comcast’s network management practices discriminate among applications rather
than treating all equally and are inconsistent with the concept of an open and
accessible Internet. Indeed, the Commission noted that Comcast has an
anticompetitive motive to interfere with customers’ use of peer-to-peer
applications,” reads an FCC press release. “The Commission also concluded that
Comcast’s practices are not minimally intrusive, as the company claims, but
rather are invasive and have significant effects … In essence, Comcast opens
its customers’ mail because it wants to deliver mail not based on the address
on the envelope but on the type of letter contained therein.”
The order came despite Comcast’s
stated intent to reform its practices. The company promised last March to end its policy of “data discrimination” sometime before the end of
the year – a timetable that Martin previously questioned on its initial
announcement – as well as also announced collaborations with content-delivery
experts Pando Networks to build a “P2P Bill of Rights”. It is even working
directly with BitTorrent’s inventors to further optimize the protocol.
Comcast’s official response called the FCC “sharply
divided,” but then went on to praise the order’s lack of a fine and enforcement
of Comcast’s “self-imposed deadline.” The press release goes on to state that
the majority of its P2P customers – which represent about 7% of its subscriber
base – are “unaffected” by the company’s network management, and that it
recently “doubled and in many cases tripled” the upload speeds for its
customers at no additional charge.
The FCC order gives Comcast 30 days
to implement its conditions, lest the company face “interim injunctive relief”
should it fail to comply. These conditions compel Comcast to:
Over the past year, Comcast’s
relationship with the FCC could be best characterized as acrimonious; the company
spent much effort to defend its practices, sometimes to seemingly adversarial confrontations. All of this came to a
head shortly after the March announcement, when Martin received a nasty letter from Comcast VP David
Cohen that questioned Martin’s competence in understanding the way Comcast ran
its network: “Your response,” wrote Cohen, “repeated erroneous
characterizations of Comcast’s network management practices … that we have
taken great pains to clarify on multiple occasions.”
Despite its controversy, Comcast
remains the second largest Internet Service Provider in the United States,
trailing DSL rival AT&T by less than a million subscribers.
quote: All that said: I am all for people paying for their bandwidth. If some P2P junkie is going to saturate their connection 24/7 then they should pay more than the average web surfer/mail reader/occasional down-loader. I don't want to subsidizer their media habit.
quote: the concept of an open and accessible Internet
quote: We should be pulling our athletes out of China due to the hotel tapping scandal.
quote: Text“Would you be OK with the post office opening your mail, deciding they didn’t want to bother delivering it, and hiding that fact by sending it back to you stamped ‘address unknown – return to sender’?” asked Martin in a statement. “Or if they opened letters mailed to you, decided that because the mail truck is full sometimes, letters to you could wait, and then hid both that they read your letters and delayed them?”