updated 09:55 am EST, Wed January 9, 2008
Comcast FCC Investigation
Comcast is under investigation and could be subject to fines over its tactics of throttling BitTorrent traffic on its cable Internet service, the Federal Communications Commission has revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show. FCC chair Kevin Martin acknowledged that it was looking into complaints from advocacy groups and lawyers, both of which accuse Comcast of violating basic principles of network neutrality by preferring certain data types over others. If found to be violating FCC rules, the cable provider could face fines as high as $195,000 for every affected subscriber, Martin claims.
The Internet provider has typically denied any blocking attempts despite an Associated Press investigation proving the contrary. Comcast at first claimed no interference whatsoever but later admitted that it was "delaying" BitTorrent and a handful of peer-to-peer services using the Gnutella network. The technique is said to involve software from SandVine that severs the link between peers if certain transfer conditions are met, reducing the number of peers available in a BitTorrent transfer and blocking some Gnutella transfers outright.
A date has not been set for when the FCC hopes to complete its investigation, though Comcast says that it 'looks forward' to responding to any requests from the FCC to cooperate with the investigation.