On Friday morning, Comcast asked a US court to strike down a 2008 Federal Communications Commission order to stop blocking subscribers' heavy use of its services, saying that the FCC had exceeded its authority. On Friday afternoon, during a casual interview at the Consumer Electronics Show, the response from the FCC chairman was …
Most of Comcast's "privately owned" network which is supposedly not subject to FCC authority is running under public sidewalks, along public frontages, etc. The government absolutely has the authority to regulate it.
Me, I'd say this is a DOJ issue. Comcast is guilty of anti-competitve practices, racketeering, massive consumer fraud, and too many other crimes to count. Treat this as a criminal matter. Break up the company, send some people to jail.
Trying to use the FCC to regulate this matter is like asking a mugger politely to stop mugging you, or at least do it more gently.
Re: FCC's authority
Its either one set of uniform rules, administrated by the FCC or one of its federal brethren. Or we could turn regulatory authority back over to every local government issuing a permit for Comcast to maintain plant in its right of way.
The latter approach leads to rules that vary every few miles as you drive from town to town. Each mayor has a brother-in-law that wants public access channels for his local theater group. Comcast, you choose.
One rule to bind them
Read: More government control and interference.
All of this is very silly really. Those who spout this stuff about freedom of the internets (lol) are very idealistic. On the one hand we have the ISP's claiming they just want to be like the postal service a bunch of carriers with no obligation to censor etc (Talk Talk et al). On the other they want to squash bandwidth on P2P and would do so aggressively in order to offer 'value added' services like streaming movies through various partners for a fee.
On top of that you have these quangos imposing a set of rules on the 'carriers' and governments and lobbyists sticking their noses into their businesses.
In the end the only people to lose out in any of this is the consumer who gets shafted on privacy, reliability, cost and the ability to use their internet connection unfettered.
comcast was NOT throttling. They were inserting falsified RST (reset) packets on the wire forcing connections closed, while lying and saying they were "delaying' traffic or even claiming they were doing nothing at all. They were targetting specific protocols (bittorrent, and accidentally vpn) instead of targetting heavy usage. These were the FCCs complaints, they are NOT telling anyone they can't throttle based on usage.
Lotus Notes too!
you forgot lotus notes... I'm not sure what notes users did to earn comcast's ire, but our tech support guys didn't like it 'round here. (we host a lot of lotus)
Seems like everyone here has the right idea
Such a shame that businesses like Comcast (disney) can even find ways of recruiting people out of the masses to speak against net neutrality and such. No two ways about it, in the states we are run by big business. always have been, always shall be. It is nice to know that there is still enough competition to keep them all on their toes. I have a feeling Mountain View will continue to give Comcast something to worry about. As evil as every one fears google will someday become, I for one am happy there is someone challenging the old order.
Packet Numbers vs. Numbers of Packets
I think the thing that we need cleared-up with regards to the Net Neutrality discussion is that a distinction needs to be made between protocols (i.e., content) and bandwidth (i.e., speed).
I have no problems with ISPs setting up a "tiered access" model, where the money you pay determines the max bandwidth accessible to your cable or DSL modem.
In other words, it should be well within an ISP's right to charge for Internet access according to some speed/bandwidth schedule, like:
-- $xx/month for 1.5Mbps down/384Kbps up
-- $yy/month for 3.0Mbps down/512Kbps up
-- $zz/month for 15Mbps down/768Kbps up
However, I **do not** believe that an ISP should be able to throttle my bandwidth, or move me into another access tier, based upon the content (i.e., type of packet) entering or exiting the cable/DSL modem at my business or residence.
I subscribe to an ISP because they are, ostensibly, an Internet Service Provider. They are to provide me with access to "The Internet" (caps intentional) as a whole, not "the ISP's version of the Internet." I pay them to pass packets I send upstream, and to pass packets I receive downstream.
They should not have the right to inspect the packets, determine their type, and then charge me based upon the structure, content, or source/destination of the packets, because at the bit-for-bit level, all packets are the same. To do otherwise is a gross invasion of privacy (and in some countries, runs afoul of wiretap laws - although the there is currently some "fuzziness" in the US regarding this particular point).
No competition => Regulation
Unfortunately there's nearly no competition in the broadband market. In most places you cannot choose between several providers.
If customers could choose, they would gravitate towards open networks, but unfortunately they cannot. It's not an open market.
Now Comcast has a simple problem. They are providing internet via "broadband" cable. This is, unfortunately a technological dead-end, as all users need to share their bandwidth. So unlike DSL providers where they only need to rent another pair of fibers from the DSLAM, the cable network needs to be upgraded by beeing split into smaller networks. This is _really_ expensive.
Trouble is the ownership of the infrastructure. If the Infrastructure was like the air then no one owns it and everyone could uses it as they see fit (air-pollution regulations notwithstanding), but this is not the case.
Lets hope there's common sense
The whole point of there being a watchdog on an industry is to slap down those members of the industry that behave badly. So Comcast were bad, the got caught shafting their customers and they were told to stop it. Now they want to say the people that regulate them have no authority to do that? Sounds like someone's throwing their toys out of their pram because they got their hand's caught in the cookie jar :)
Bottom line: Comcen was stupid enough to sell "unlimited" access without first checking if their infrastructure could deal with it. Now they are crying to the government that people are using the product they bought.
Now, if the contract originally stated something about usage, that's be another matter altogether (note that I stated *originally* - changing the contract because you realise you've been stupid is showing you're even more stupid).
I myself am on an "unlimited" contract here in Oz. All I can download, 24/7. The flip-side? I agree to a 512/128 line, which still gives me a theoretical 160Gb/month. Admittedly, I generally only do ~90Gb (more or less, depending on when new shows are being released in Japan) a month.
So, frankly, I have no tears to shed for incompetent managers such as those at Comcen, who tried to attract as many customers as possible offering "unlimited high-speed" contracts and are now realising the mess they've made for themselves.