Comcast Sues FCC over Network Neutrality Ruling

Comcast claims the Federal Communications Commission exceeded its authority in an Aug. 1 ruling finding the cable giant violated FCC network neutrality principles by throttling peer-to-peer traffic from BitTorrent. Comcast renews its contention that throttling network P2P traffic is acceptable under the FCC's reasonable network traffic management rules.

Comcast has fired the next shot in its ongoing battle with the Federal Communications Commission over the management of the cable giant's broadband network, asking a federal court to overturn the FCC's Aug. 1 decision that Comcast violated the FCC's network neutrality principles.

The FCC ruled that Comcast violated the agency's Internet policy when it throttled peer-to-peer traffic by BitTorrent. The agency also found that Comcast misled consumers when it did not properly disclose its P2P policy. In a three to two vote, the FCC ordered Comcast to stop blocking traffic, disclose to the FCC the full extent of the cable giant's traffic practices and keep the public informed of its future network management plans.

Comcast contends that its practices are reasonable under FCC network management rules and that even if the FCC found Comcast in violation the agency has no authority to enforce its network neutrality principles.

"We filed this appeal in order to protect our legal rights and to challenge the basis on which the Commission found that Comcast violated federal policy in the absence of pre-existing legally enforceable standards or rules," Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen said in a statement.

Despite the notice to appeal filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, Cohen said Comcast would continue to abide by the FCC decision.

"Although we are seeking review and reversal of the Commission's network management order in federal court, we intend to comply fully with the requirements established in that order," Cohen said. "We are compelled to appeal because we strongly believe that, in this particular case, the Commission's action was legally inappropriate and its findings were not justified by the record."

Comcast's network neutrality woes began in fall of 2007 when the Associated Press found Comcast was secretly blocking or throttling P2P traffic during peak network hours. Following the AP report, Free Press and Public Knowledge filed a complaint with the FCC, beginning the first test case of the FCC's authority to enforce its network neutrality principles.

"Comcast's appeal is predictable-the cable giant has a long history of appealing any decision it doesn't like," Ben Scott, Free Press' policy director, said in a statement. "Presented with an open-and-shut case that Comcast was secretly blocking Internet traffic, the FCC took action on behalf of Internet users everywhere. All the FCC required was for Comcast to disclose the details of its secret blocking and tell the FCC how it will end this harmful practice."

Scott also said the FCC acted well within its legal authority to protect the open Internet, either by adopting rules or acting on complaints.

Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge, added in a statement, "We expected Comcast would appeal the Commission's order. The company opposed it every step of the way, even as they failed to disclose their throttling of Internet traffic. We believe the Commission will prevail and the rights of Internet users will be protected."