FCC Head: Comcast Actions 'Troubling'

FCC Head: Comcast Actions ‘Troubling'

Agency ‘ready, willing and able' to address controversy, chairman says.


By Sherri L. Shaulis


PALO ALTO, Calif. - The head of the Federal Communications Commission told a Stanford University audience last week that the agency is "ready, willing and able" to take action on the controversy surrounding Comcast's interference with peer-to-peer applications.


FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, addressing an audience at Stanford University Law School on Friday, said he found Comcast's decision to slow down broadband access for people using P2P services "troubling."


"These issues are not only important on the domestic side, in terms of entrepreneurship and potential innovation that occurs in the United States," he said, "but that they also send an important message from the international perspective, in terms of the message that we've been sending out that the Internet should be an important tool for democracy and empowering individual users on a going-forth basis."


The meeting followed others the FCC hosted earlier this year to discuss Comcast's interference with the P2P applications. At last week's meeting, Martin said ISPs need to disclose the practice but in some cases haven't.


"I think that one of the most troubling aspects of the complaint in front of us is that, at first, the network operator [Comcast] denied that they were engaged in this kind of a practice publicly," Martin said. "And, indeed, the manner in which they were engaging in this practice had actually altered the return address effectively of the bits that they were inserting. [They] reset bits so it looked like it was coming from someone else."


During the spring hearings, Comcast Vice President David Cohen did not deny this charge, but he insisted that Comcast only briefly delays P2P uploads during periods of high usage.


The FCC's public-comment proceeding on how to handle the Comcast-BitTorrent controversy formally closed on Feb. 28. The FCC has not said when it would comment or rule on the hearings.