FCC Commissioners, Comcast Trade Views In "Packet Discrimination" Hearings
After today's FCC hearings on Internet "traffic-shaping," it sure sounds that that FCC chair Kevin Martin isn't sounding as tolerant of those types of bandwidth management practices as some free marketers thought he would be.
Referring to the practice often decried as "packet discrimination," Martin said, They must be conducted in an open and transparent way. “While networks may have reasonable practices, they obviously cannot operate without taking some reasonable steps but that does not mean they can arbitrarily block access to certain services.”
Commonly viewed as more pro-regulatory than Martin, fellow FCC Commissioner Michael Copps came down even harder today on the practice- which Comcast has admitted to and defended today as necessary tools to avoid network chokepoints.
“The time has come for a specific enforceable principle of nondiscrimination at the F.C.C.,” Copps said. “Our job is to figure out where you draw the line between unreasonable discrimination and reasonable network management.”
Not surprisingly, though, Comcast's testimony clearly reflected a diamatrically opposed view on the traffic shaping issue.
“Independent research has shown that it takes as few as 15 active BitTorrent users uploading content in a particular geographic area to create congestion sufficient to degrade the experience of the hundreds of other users in that area,” Comcast executive vice-president David L. Cohen said in written testimony.“Bandwidth-intensive activities not only degrade other less-intense uses, but also significantly interfere with thousands of Internet companies’ businesses.”
“Far from managing our network in a discriminatory way to benefit our own offerings — other than managing our network to make our high-speed Internet service faster and better — our limited network management practices ensure that everyone else’s applications and services, even those that may compete with our services and use P2P protocols, work,” Cohen added.
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