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FCC Finally Issues Comcast Throttling Order
For whatever it's worth...
by Karl Bode 01:05PM Wednesday Aug 20 2008 Tipped by FFH5 See Profile
While the FCC actually voted on and approved their "sanction" of Comcast three weeks ago for throttling P2P traffic and lying about it, the vote was curiously on an order that hadn't been fully written yet. Today the full 67 page order was released on the FCC website, and demands that within 30 days of the release of the order, Comcast must:
Disclose the details of their unreasonable network management practices, submit a compliance plan describing how it intends to stop these unreasonable management practices by the end of the year, and disclose to both the Commission and the public the details of the network management practices that it intends to deploy following termination of its current practices.
While a lot has been made of the FCC's investigation and Comcast's shift to a "protocol agnostic" network management system, the FCC order doesn't actually punish Comcast, doesn't request they do anything they didn't plan to do voluntarily, and might not even be enforceable in court anyway. In fact, Comcast continues to use forged packets to throttle upstream P2P traffic and will continue to do so until the end of the year.

At that time, as insiders have informed me, the company is considering implementing a clear 250GB cap, increased DMCA enforcement, and the throttling of high-consumption users back to "above DSL speeds". Comcast has told me their goal is to make these new network management processes "as transparent as possible." What will trigger the throttling hasn't been determined yet because Comcast is still testing the system in several markets.

While the FCC's order has no teeth, creates no new guidelines, and may be overturned in court, consumer advocates remain confident they've won a major battle. "With today’s Order, the FCC acted to protect the rights of Internet users and set the precedent that unreasonable, discriminatory behavior like Comcast’s will not be tolerated," says Gig Sohn of Public Knowledge. "It agreed with public interest advocates and technical experts that Comcast’s conduct violated FCC principles and was not reasonable network management."

Now we wait to see if Comcast adheres to the letter of the order or begins fighting the FCC's authority. If the former, Comcast needs to disclose additional detail on their current and future network management practices within the next few weeks. What happens if they don't? Probably nothing.

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