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Summary:

Listening to the FCC hearing today, which was called in response to Comcast throttling BitTorrent traffic on its network, it seemed like Chairman Kevin Martin may be rethinking his laissez-faire stance on Network Neutrality. Martin said that network management practices should be “open and transparent” to […]

Listening to the FCC hearing today, which was called in response to Comcast throttling BitTorrent traffic on its network, it seemed like Chairman Kevin Martin may be rethinking his laissez-faire stance on Network Neutrality. Martin said that network management practices should be “open and transparent” to the end user and that the FCC would be “willing and able” to intercede in cases of abuse.

Comcast CEO Executive VP David Cohen, who argued that the company wasn’t blocking anyone’s content, but was merely trying to manage its network during times of peak traffic, didn’t come off too well. In the wake of the event, it seems that some form of Net Neutrality legislation or regulation to halt discrimination (to use the terms bandied about during the hearing) would be in the future for ISPs. Whether it goes as far as an Internet Bill of Rights that gives users the “unalienable right to liberty on the Internet,” as proposed by Democratic Commissioner Jay Alderstein, or some form of case-by-case adjudication of discrimination claims, as offered by Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps, is uncertain.

Given the anticompetitive nature of Comcast throttling traffic from a potential video competitor, Martin — who in the past has been loathe to go beyond the FCC’s current policy pushing open networks — and other Republican lawmakers seemed galvanized to act. Indeed, an attack on the free markets might be too much for the FCC to ignore.

  1. FCC Unimpressed by Comcast’s “Network Managment” « NewTeeVee Monday, February 25, 2008

    [...] FCC Unimpressed by Comcast’s “Network Managment” Listening to the FCC hearing today, which was called in response to Comcast throttling BitTorrent traffic on its network, it seemed like Chairman Kevin Martin may be rethinking his laissez-faire stance on Network Neutrality. Martin said that network management practices should be “open and transparent” to the end user and that the FCC would be “willing and able” to intercede in cases of abuse. Read more on GigaOM. [...]

  2. I hope this gets worked out soon and that it all falls in favor of the little guys so that we all have a chance to keep chasing our dreams.

  3. The fact that even the republicans are worried is a good sign, though action speaks louder than words, so we’ll see.

    Also, for the record, the Democratic commissioner you refer to is Jon Adelstein http://www.fcc.gov/commissioners/adelstein/ not Jay Alderstein.

  4. Here’s the problem: Comcast takes the same approach to public debate that it has to Internet access: that it can wield substantial political and market power to shut out debate and shut up people. For too long, communications policymaking has been rigged against us. We need to send a wakeup call to phone and cable giants and their powerful lobbyists that they will no longer set the agenda. Check out this new video we just released: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYGtNmmb2y0

    The purpose of the Internet is to give power over information to everyone. The role of our elected leaders is to protect our basic right to communicate from those who want to take it away from us. Whether it’s on the Internet or at public hearings we must stand up for everyone’s right to connect.

  5. FCC Tries Again on Network Managment – GigaOM Wednesday, March 19, 2008

    [...] management hearings to be held on the Stanford campus on April 17. A do-over of the hearings that were held last month at Harvard, perhaps? That gathering was driven, at least in part, by Comcast throttling BitTorrent traffic. [...]

  6. Internet. » Blog Archive » FCC Tries Again on Network Managment Thursday, March 20, 2008

    [...] management hearings to be held on the Stanford campus on April 17. A do-over of the hearings that were held last month at Harvard, perhaps? That gathering was driven, at least in part, by Comcast throttling BitTorrent traffic. [...]

  7. Comcast to BitTorrent: Let’s Be Friends « NewTeeVee Thursday, March 27, 2008

    [...] format works more smoothly over Comcast’s network. The cable company has been embroiled in a public controversy over its policy of throttling BitTorrent files as a means of shaping its network [...]

  8. SPIN CITY: Comcast, BitTorrent Non-Deal – GigaOM Thursday, March 27, 2008

    [...] adviser, Tony Werner. It’s actually a bit of a non-deal and a way for Comcast to save face after its P2P traffic management gaffe. Chris Albrecht over on NewTeeVee sees this as a “let’s be friends” move. To me [...]

  9. FCC at Stanford: No BitTorrent? « Sidecut Reports Wednesday, April 16, 2008

    [...] now, but it seems like a huge missed opportunity since BT is sort-of responsible for the whole Comcast-blocking mess in the first place. (But then the two firms are BFF now, right? [...]

  10. Lessig Lectures the FCC on the Need for Neutrality – GigaOM Thursday, April 17, 2008

    [...] Though invited by FCC chairman Kevin Martin, all the major Internet service providers — AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner Cable, among others — declined to participate in Thursday’s open meeting. Comcast, which waded into a debacle on several levels at the last such open meeting at Harvard, was slammed by several panelists Thursday, including by Robb Topolski, who is credited as being one of the first to detect Comcast’s disputed P2P blocking activities. [...]

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