updated 01:20 pm EST, Mon January 19, 2009
Comcast VoIP scandal
Comcast is not treating VoIP traffic as fairly as the law demands, the FCC alleges. In a letter issued by general counsel Matthew Berry and wireless competition bureau chief Dana Shaffer, the FCC notes that whereas Comcast's Digital Voice VoIP service is unimpeded, third-party VoIP technologies remain subject to supposedly "protocol agnostic" bandwidth throttling. The cable provider has an obligation to explain why the disparity was omitted in earlier filings, according to the letter.
The throttling is nominally aimed at controlling high-intensity traffic such as BitTorrent downloads, and scales down a subscriber's bandwidth for 15 minutes if it proves to be the cause of congestion. It was devised in response to original FCC complaints, accusing the company of breaking net neutrality policies by specifically targeting peer-to-peer traffic.
The issue is of particular concern to taxpayers, as while many VoIP offerings qualify as "information services," placing Digital Voice on a separate layer may technically qualify it as telecommunications, subject to different fees and more stringent regulations.