FCC Chief Finds Comcast Guilty of Network Neutrality Violations

The FCC chief says Comcast is arbitrarily blocking customers' open access to the Internet. Comcast faces sanctions for failing to disclose network management practices for handling P2P applications such as BitTorrent.

Comcast is guilty of blocking consumers' access to the Internet and faces federal sanctions, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said July 10. If Martin's fellow commissioners agree with his verdict, Comcast would become the first major broadband provider judged to be violating the FCC's network neutrality principles.

"The commission has adopted a set of principles that protects consumers' access to the Internet," Martin told the Associated Press. "We found that Comcast's actions in this instance violated our principles."

Martin plans to circulate his findings and recommendations to the FCC commissioners July 11 and hopes for a final vote at the agency's Aug. 1 open meeting. The AP said Martin will order Comcast to stop blocking traffic, disclose to the FCC the full extent of the cable giant's traffic practices and to keep the public informed of its future network management plans.

The nation's largest cable provider's network neutrality woes began late last year when AP testing caught Comcast throttling P2P applications such as BitTorrent during peak network hours. The disclosure prompted Free Press and members of the SavetheInternet.com Coalition to file a network neutrality violation complaint with the FCC.

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

Marvin Ammori, general counsel of Free Press, said, "This is an historic test for whether the law will protect the open Internet. If the commission decisively rules against Comcast, it will be a remarkable victory for organized people over organized money."