Policy + charging

Comcast Strikes Back

In a much expected move, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is appealing a recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) order that forces the MSO to stop its discriminatory treatment of peer-to-peer traffic by year's end.

Comcast is asking the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to reverse the order, claiming the FCC based its decision in "the absence of pre-existing legally enforceable standards or rules." Comcast is also trying to release itself from an order that it believes would "codify" what the operator has already agreed to do voluntarily -- migrate to a "protocol agnostic" network management system by year's end. (See Comcast Caves In to P2P Pressure and Comcast Ready to Test New Traffic Cop.)

Separately, the Media Access Project has filed three petitions on behalf of Vuze Inc. , the Consumers Union, and PennPIRG that seek an immediate injunction against Comcast.

"We are compelled to appeal [the FCC order] 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," said Comcast EVP David Cohen, in a statement.

In a divisive 3-2 vote, the FCC adopted the order on Aug. 1 and published the details on Aug. 22, holding that the MSO's network management practices violated the Commission's Internet Policy Statement.

The Commission ordered the MSO to stop its "discriminatory network management practices" by the end of this year. It also gave Comcast 30 days to disclose its network management practices to the Commission, submit a compliance plan, and inform customers and the FCC how its new policies will replace the existing ones. If Comcast doesn’t comply, something very bad and vague will occur. (See FCC Throttles Comcast and FCC Puts Comcast on the Clock .)

Although Comcast is trying to reverse the order in federal court, "we intend to comply fully with the requirements established in that order, which essentially codify the voluntary commitments that we have already announced, and to continue to act in accord with the Commission’s Internet Policy Statement," Cohen added.

The FCC did not have an immediate comment.

But, as expected, Free Press did. The group, which lodged its original complaint against Comcast last November, argued that the FCC order falls "well within its authority to protect the open Internet."

"Comcast's appeal is predictable – the cable giant has a long history of appealing any decision it doesn't like," Free Press policy director Ben Scott said, in a statement.

But that route hasn't always produced success for Comcast. In May, a U.S. appeals court upheld an FCC decision that denied Comcast from obtaining a special waiver for some low-end set-tops with integrated security. (See Comcast Denied Set-Top Waiver (Again) and Comcast Takes CableCARD Battle to Court .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

stanhubbard 12/5/2012 | 3:33:03 PM
re: Comcast Strikes Back This is an interesting legal case regarding the extent of regulatory power and whether the FCC abused its authority. While three out of five Commissioners ruled against Comcast, it is worth checking out the dissenting opinion of Commissioner Robert McDowell, who questioned the government's exercise of authority and took the majority to task for micro-managing network traffic management issue. His opinion is at the following link:

liampender 12/5/2012 | 3:32:28 PM
re: Comcast Strikes Back Commissioner Robert McDowell understanding of the subtleties of traffic management is refreshing. Comcast has a good chance of winning on appeal.
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