Comcast Wins Appeal of FCC’s Net Neutrality Ruling

  • 07 Apr 2010 11:08 AM
    Message # 321576
    Deleted user
    Comcast Wins Appeal of FCC’s Net Neutrality Ruling

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled unanimously Tuesday that the Federal Communications Commission doesn’t have the authority to regulate Comcast Corp.’s Internet service regarding net neutrality.

    The ruling came in a case brought by the Philadelphia cable-television, Internet, phone and media giant against the FCC. Comcast challenged a 2008 FCC ruling that Comcast should not be allowed to prevent its Internet customers from using a file-sharing protocol called BitTorrent to exchange large files, such as digital movies, with each other.

    Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA,CMCSK) has since voluntarily stopped the practice of blocking file transfers among BitTorrent users, but it and other Internet Service Providers maintain they have to be allowed to manage traffic on their networks so that a small number of people exchanging mammoth amounts of data don’t slow the networks’ responsiveness to average users.

    The FCC, consumer groups and some companies that provide services over the Internet say network operators should treat all data on their networks equally, a principle commonly referred to as “net neutrality.”

    Allowing ISPs to discriminate in how they treat data would allow them to do such things as make some Web sites load more slowly than others, block access to some Web sites completely and stop their customers from using a variety of applications, including Internet phone service, according to net neutrality proponents.

    Comcast was “gratified” by the court’s decision, but its primary goal in seeking to have the FCC order vacated was “to clear [its] name and reputation,” said Sena Fitzmaurice, the company’s vice president for government communications, in an e-mail.

    “Comcast remains committed to the FCC’s existing open Internet principles, and we will continue to work constructively with this FCC as it determines how best to increase broadband adoption and preserve an open and vibrant Internet,” Fitzmaurice said.

    The FCC said in a statement that although the court invalidated its approach to preserving an open Internet, the court neither disagreed with the importance of keeping the Internet open nor closed the door to other methods of doing so.

    Free Press, a Washington nonprofit that defines its mission as working to reform the media, said the decision leaves the FCC unable to protect Internet users and unable to implement the National Broadband Plan it recently unveiled.

    The FCC needs to re-establish its authority to regulate the Internet “and do what is necessary to protect customers and promote competition,” S. Derek Turner, Free Press’ research director, said in an e-mail.




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