Net Neutrality: Comcast Defends Itself, Congress Considers New Bill

CNET News, CNET News

Jake Widman

February 13, 2008

2 Min Read
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On Tuesday, Comcast explained to the FCC just what its peer-to-peer traffic management involves, while today Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Charles "Chip" Pickering (R-Miss.) introduced their Internet Freedom Preservation Act in Congress.Comcast has been under fire in recent months for its practice of restricting traffic on its network, particularly BitTorrent and other P2P file-sharing activity. Several advocacy groups have asked the FCC to rule that Comcast's actions violate the agency's broadband policies. Comcast has now argued back that it delays only peer-to-peer uploads, and then only during peak periods, and then only when it really has to. In the company's filing with the FCC yesterday, it explained that:

"Comcast's network management practices (1) only affect the protocols that have a demonstrated history of generating excessive burdens on the network; (2) only manage those protocols during periods of heavy network traffic; (3) only manage uploads; (4) only manage uploads when the customer is not simultaneously downloading (i.e., when the customer's computer is most likely unattended) ("unidirectional sessions" or "unidirectional uploads"); and (5) only delay those protocols until such time as usage drops below an established threshold of simultaneous unidirectional sessions."

Comcast's entire 80-page filing can be downloaded (PDF) here.

Meanwhile, in Congress, Reps. Markey and Pickering have revived the idea of a Net neutrality law, which would demand that Comcast and other ISPs refrain from "unreasonable discriminatory favoritism" in what content they allowed to pass through their networks freely. Rep. Markey failed to get a net neutrality bill passed two years ago, at which time it was opposed by Rep. Pickering. The new bill (PDF here) does not specify any requirements or penalties, merely suggests neutrality as a stated policy. Apparently that change was enough to satisfy Rep. Pickering's objections.CNET News, CNET News

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