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FCC's Comcast Ruling Opens a Can of Worms

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.

Reader Comments


August 4, 2008 11:46 AM

The bandwidth pigs will rue the day they invited the government to regulate the Internet. Not only will they have to pay more, but soon there will be persistent calls for deep packet inspection to block illegal video traffic, and maybe even some intrusive and cumbersome identity verification process to allow access to pornography. It will be a Big Brother nightmare for the pigs. Be careful what you wish for!


August 4, 2008 12:27 PM

If you research the actual problem, Comcast was not simply slowing down traffic; they were actively distrupting the traffic and the technique used was impersonating the one of the computers involved in the transfer of data. This clearly goes way beyond simply network bandwidth management and cannot be allowed.

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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