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FCC to Investigate Comcast's Internet Blocking

The FCC has announced that it will investigate Comcast's practice of limiting its customer's access to certain Web sites and services. The case could be a test of the agency's commitment to Net neutrality and have implications for small businesses trying to compete with big ones on the Web.It was discovered last year that Comcast was interfering with its customers' use of certain peer-to-peer file sharing sites, a practice critics called "blocking" traffic, while Comcast prefers the term "managing" traffic. Speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin announced that the agency would investigate to make sure that no consumer was "blocked," without however defining exactly what "blocked" means.

The case is of interest to small businesses because of its implications for the FCC's commitment to Net neutrality. In principle, the agency supports the idea that broadband providers should not favor traffic from some users (such as big businesses) over others (such as small businesses). Comcast, while saying it welcomes the FCC investigation, also claims that its practices falls within the FCC's allowance of "reasonable network management." The outcome of this investigation could determine just how far "reasonable management" extends and how much confidence SMBs can have that size doesn't matter when it comes to the Net.The Register, PC World