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Policy + charging

Mulling Metered Models

In its 22-page filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) yesterday, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) once again defended its network management practices and attempted to poke holes in various charges from Free Press, including the pressure group's long-standing allegation that the MSO is "blocking" peer-to-peer (P2P) applications.

This, of course, is well traveled ground. The MSO has readily admitted it delays some upstream P2P traffic in periods of congestion, and that the policy amounts to "reasonable" network management. Still, it's now testing a new "protocol agnostic" technique that it hopes to deploy in all systems by the year's end. (See Comcast Caves In to P2P Pressure and Comcast Ready to Test New Traffic Cop.) And, despite all this, the MSO faces the possibility of a wrist-slap from the FCC on Aug. 1, resulting from the agency's probe into Comcast's network management policies. (See FCC's Martin Ready to Penalize Comcast and Martin Not in a 'Fine' Mood.)

And now for something completely different.

Burrowed deep into the filing, a declaration from Mitch Bowling, the SVP and GM of online services and operations for Comcast, provides a bit of a history lesson. Earlier on, he notes, the MSO considered whether metered Internet usage might help Comcast distribute network costs to those who use the network most. At the time, Comcast opted not to pursue that strategy.

That was then. This is now.

"Now, in response to the continued evolution of customer usage patterns, discussions in public policy settings, and other factors, we have reopened the discussion, and are considering whether metered usage is a viable option and compliment to congestion-focused network management," the filing reads.

Bowling's declaration does not mention anything specific about how and when Comcast might give a metered model a try, but recall that DSL Reports caught hold of a rumor in May that the MSO was mulling monthly consumption cap of 250 gigabytes. (See Comcast Caps Coming? )

According to this latest account from Comcast, a complementary consumption-based Internet model remains on the table, but time will tell if the MSO moves forward with this relatively generous bit threshold.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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