Comcast Skipping FCC Funfest

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) finally issued its agenda for Thursday's en banc hearing on the subject of "broadband network management practices" at Stanford University, and noticeably absent from the festivities will be representatives from Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Pando Networks Inc.

That's surprising, because the duo recently announced the formation of a "P2P Bill of Rights and Responsibilities" (BRR) program that will seek input from ISPs, peer-to-peer companies, and "industry experts." (See Comcast, Pando Crafting 'P2P Bill of Rights' .)

Comcast was the primary target of a previous FCC hearing at Harvard University in late February, where it was put on the defensive for the way it throttles upstream P2P traffic. The MSO has since announced plans to migrate to a new capacity management system later this year. (See FCC Mulling New Internet Rules and Comcast Caves In to P2P Pressure.)

But were Comcast and Pando invited to appear at Stanford? The answer appears to be yes.

Broadcasting & Cable, citing an announcement from from FCC spokesman Rob Kenny, reported this afternoon that the agency put out an invite to Pando CEO Robert Levitan and Comcast chief technology officer Tony Werner soon after the BRR project was announced. FCC spokesman Clyde Ensslin confirmed in a voice mail message that the agency had invited Comcast and Pando, but both declined.

Levitan told Cable Digital News today that he received an invite from the FCC via the phone yesterday evening but had to pass because he was unable to rearrange his schedule to make Thursday's hearing or send someone else to the other side of the country to represent the New York-based P2P firm.

"I'm at a small company. I don't have a private jet," Levitan said, noting that Pando has just 23 employees. "For a small company like ours, it's an honor to be invited. If they invited me a week or two ago, I probably would have been there."

Comcast said its position on the issue has been covered sufficiently of late, adding that it looks forward to sharing more details about the BRR project as it unfolds, with the FCC and others.

"At this point, the most productive course is to continue our business to business discussions and to pursue the process that was outlined in [Tuesday's] announcement with Pando," a Comcast prepared statement read.

So who will be there when the hearing gets rolling at 3 p.m. Eastern Time tomorrow? As expected, Stanford law professor and network neutrality advocate Lawrence Lessig will be doing the introductions. Others set to appear include Rick Carnes, president of the Songwriters Guild of America; Free Press policy director Ben Scott; Sling Media Inc. CEO Blake Kirkorian; and Jon Peterson, co-director of real-time applications and infrastructure at the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) .

Here's a full list.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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