Cable modem/CMTS

Zoom, Comcast Settle Cable Modem Spat

Zoom Telephonics has doused the fire it was breathing at Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) over allegations that the MSO's testing requirements for modems sold at retail were unreasonable and flew in the face of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's open Internet policies. (See Zoom Moans About Comcast's Modem Tests .)

Comcast and Zoom jointly filed a request with the FCC Tuesday seeking to dismiss Zoom's complaint.

"Comcast and Zoom believe that the resolution of their dispute benefits both companies and furthers consumer choice in the cable modem marketplace. Comcast and Zoom look forward to working together in the future," the companies said in a joint statement.

That syrupy-sweet ending comes about four months after Zoom had nothing but vitriol for Comcast, claiming that a new set of MSO-instituted Physical and Environmental (P&E) tests stepped over the line and hindered Zoom's ability to sell Docsis cable modems at retail. Those tests addressed issues such as the weight of the device, how it performed in sudden changes in humidity, and the strength of the modem's packaging.

Taking it a step further, Zoom claimed that the tests violate the FCC's Communications Act and its open Internet principles, which prevent ISPs from allowing the attachment of devices if they are found to be causing harm to the network or facilitating theft. The FCC voted in favor of making those principles actual rules in December 2010. Zoom held that the P&E tests only hamstrung its ability to sell Docsis 2.0 and 3.0 modems at stores such as Best Buy and Staples.

Terms of the settlement weren't disclosed, but Zoom originally asked the FCC to enjoin Comcast from requiring modems sold at retail to go through the P&E testing gauntlet before they could be attached to the Comcast network.

Why this matters
The settlement ends a dispute between the nation's largest MSO and one of the few cable modem vendors that even bothers trying to sell Docsis modems at retail.

The vast majority of cable high-speed Internet subs lease products directly from MSOs, but the resolution, at the very least, ensures that Motorola Mobility LLC has some Docsis modem competition to worry about at the retail level.

The settlement also ends another chapter between Comcast and former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, who, as a partner at Patton Boggs, helped Zoom lodge its complaint.

For more
For more about this case and the FCC's network neutrality rules, please check out:

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:10:44 PM
re: Zoom, Comcast Settle Cable Modem Spat

The FCC granted the request by Comcast and Zoom to dismiss the complaint in an order issued today (3/9), so that was fun while it lasted. JB



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