Posted by: Olga Kharif on August 1, 2008
Today, the Federal Communications Commission ruled that Comcast was out of line in fiddling with peer-to-peer traffic. Comcast got a slap on the wrist for previously slowing down applications like movie downloads.
This ruling is not the end — just the beginning of the so-called net neutrality debate about whether network providers have the right to manage Web traffic. The decision is likely to open a whole new can of worms. An op ed in the Wall Street Journal argues that the FCC is setting a dangerous precedent of the government trying to regulate the Internet. The author questions whether the agency has the authority to do so. And many analysts believe that Comcast will probe this same question in court.
If the courts throw out the FCC decision, Congress may need to get involved in the net neutrality debate, writes analyst Blair Levin, a former FCC chief of staff. “If the FCC were found to have erred in not establishing clear rules, it could spur a future FCC to adopt rules that cable (and the telcos) would find far more troubling than today’s order,” according to Levin’s Aug. 1 note. In other words, cable companies and telcos are in for more uncertain times ahead.