Comcast Tells FCC It Doesn't Have Authority To Interfere With "Traffic Shaping"

Comcast is now claiming that the FCC “has no legal power to stop the cable giant from engaging in what it calls ‘network management practices’ (critics call it peer-to-peer traffic blocking),” reports Ars Technica. In an amazing display of spin, Comcast writes that letting the marketplace “maximize consumer welfare” has been “enormously successful” as proven by the “Comcast customer experience”—seriously, we’re not making up these phrases. On a less humorous note, the filing in which Comcast makes these claims also seems to imply that it will sue the FCC if it tries to enforce any changes on how Comcast blocks P2P traffic.

The three main points of Comcast’s argument, which Ars Technica covers in greater detail, are:

1. “Congress has not given the FCC authority to act on this matter”

2. “The FCC’s Internet Policy Statement does not give the agency the authority to deal with the issue”

3. “Regulating Comcast’s ISP policies may violate the Administrative Procedures Act (APA)”

The article concludes that this may just be “legal saber rattling” on Comcast’s part—but that it might also be “a warning to the FCC to expect a lawsuit following any action against ISP P2P blocking. FCC Chair Martin says he hopes to finish his investigation of Comcast by late June. “

“Comcast: FCC lacks any authority to act on P2P blocking” [Ars Technica]
(Photo: Monty Python)

Comments

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  1. forgottenpassword says:

    I TRUELY Hope that comcast gets the worst company of the year award.

  2. B says:

    Well, the FCC only has jurisdiction of over the air transmissions, like broadcast radio and television, no private networks like cable. This is why you can see nipples on HBO but not on broadcast television. The internet is on wires, not over the air, but once it leaves Comcast’s pipes and hits the internet backbone, I’m not sure who owns that.

  3. edrift101 says:

    Perfect image for the story!

  4. Scalvo2 says:

    So Comcast gets worst company of the year and after that? Nothing happens?

  5. cde says:

    You don’t frighten us, Comcast! Go and boil your bottoms, sons of a silly person. I blow my nose at you, so-called Common Carrier, you and all your silly English kaniggets. Thppppt!

  6. @edrift101: I second that…. now can we take a giant wooden trojan rabbit out to the FCC and Comcast and launch some farm game at them?

  7. CharlieSeattle says:

    Comcast has to get local franchises from county or city officials, they have to renew those. So if enough consumers complain to the local authorities they could be risky local franchises. Because like it or not, they can’t run wires across right of ways without this permission.

  8. Smitherd says:

    Damn stupid Comcast. Don’t they realize that you can’t shake a big finger at the government and say “You can’t touch me!”?

    Legal or not, the government doesn’t take kindly to such things and I wouldn’t be one bit surprised to see Comcast mysteriously dismantled one morning.

  9. adamsummers says:

    @forgottenpassword: I was gunning for Microsoft to win that award, but I really have to agree with you.

  10. mac-phisto says:

    ahh, comcast. trying hard for that golden dookie, aren’t we?

    now go away or i will taunt you a second time-a.

  11. drjayphd says:

    @cde: (farts in Comcast’s general direction)

  12. qwickone says:

    @Smitherd: I wouldnt go so far as to say dismantled, but I’m inclined to agree with you.

  13. azntg says:

    If Comcast’s challenge passes, how about we hold a consumer’s challenge: Comcast has no legal authority to collect payments for services not rendered as agreed.

    Hey, it’s only fair, y’know?

  14. cde says:

    Now that that’s out of my system, sure, congress hasn’t given them that power, YET. Plus, sure, the FCC can’t regulate them, but they can remove common carrier status, so they can legally strongarm them into self regulation.

  15. llcooljabe says:

    well then, it’s time for congress to sew up all possible loopholes

  16. Darren W. says:

    You all are going to want to kill me for saying this, but I really think Comcast has the right to do whatever they want with their network within their contractual obligation to their customers. This shouldn’t involve the FCC. perhaps a class action suit from the customers would be in order, depending, of course, on whether Comcast bothered to put a clause as to just how much of they internet they’ll be providing connectivity to. The obvious solution is for Verizon to start advertising that their network is unfiltered. Yay free market!

  17. AD8BC says:

    @B: Good point. Sure, there may be a need for a little government oversight but the FCC was truly designed to regulate and license the radio spectrum. And they have done that poorly ever since they removed communications engineers from the FCC management and replaced them with politicians.

  18. sleze69 says:

    @AD8BC: Yeah, I am still wondering why the FCC is involved in censorship and net neutrality. I thought they were created to do things like this bidding war on the 700MHZ radio spectrum.

  19. B says:

    @Darren W.: Comcast isn’t an entirely private network, though. They are providing a connection for their customers to the internet.

  20. j03m0mma says:

    Well just wait till FCC get Congress to change the laws so the FCC has authority over matters such as this. You don’t piss off the people that enforce the rules when their brothers write the rules.

  21. IrisMR says:

    I hope Comcast customers drop out of their disgusting company, even if it means no net.

  22. B says:

    @j03m0mma: Fortunately for Comcast, they and their telcom buddies have lobbyists who donate lots of money to Congress to keep that from happening.

  23. Hamm Beerger says:

    @B: That’s got nothing to do with it. Besides, the Internet is nothing more than a conglomeration of private networks.

  24. TonyTriple says:

    @B:
    ..but the FCC still has power to regulate interstate communications (wire, satellite, cable). This definitely includes companies like Comcast.

    If the FCC really wanted to get nasty, they could give in to the pressure to make ISPs like common carriers! I’m sure AT&T et al would LOVE that. That’s what they wanted for years!

  25. warf0x0r says:

    I’d love for a comcast rep to read this:

    Everywhere I go and all the people I talk to have agreed that the “Comcast” experience is akin to the following:

    -Lackluster
    -Less than average
    -Underwhelming

    I could use other words but the simple fact of the matter is that Comcastic is synonymous with nothing special. As a current customer, if something better came along I’d leave them in a heart beat. I feel no loyalty or respect for them.

  26. aka_bigred says:

    I so hope comcast wins worst company of 2008!

  27. oakie says:

    @Darren W.: i agree, kind of.

    my only issue is if i want to snub Comcast, i have to go without cable tv as the current climate allows for cable operators to monopolize geographic areas. the disbanding of cable operators did nothing to improve the customer experience as we still get fleeced… we can only choose a provider by moving to another state.

  28. Techno Viking says:

    Dear Comcast internet users. Please leave this company. If all the online users cancel their subscriptions with Comcast internet service for like 3 months, Comcast will loose more than 20 million and that will be enough for them to understand. So just leave this company it’s so simple. You are the fuel and Comcast is the fire. Hit them where it hurts which is their fat money pockets. I have no pity for you at all. You must be dumb Americans if you can’t figure this out on your own. If you have no choice and there is only one internet company in your area then stay but those who have a choice leave the retarded company. One they see thousands of canceled subscriptions in one week, they will realize their mistakes and will do anything to get you back so that they continue get their pockets full.

  29. consumerd says:

    @forgottenpassword:

    I TRUELY Hope that comcast gets the worst company of the year award.

    Naa, I am sure at&t will come out on top. Comcast could block every bit of torrent, p2p, and even FTP traffic tomorrow and they would still pull it out. Because they are not that monopolistic company at&t!

  30. Geekybiker says:

    @Darren W.: That might be okay if there were other realistic options for most people. However that isnt’ the case alot of places. Comcast has a monopoly. Once most people have the choice of 5-6 viable broadband operators then they can screw with their network all they want. IMHO the FCC has every right to regulate them as long as cable companies maintain monopolies in and market.

  31. consumerd says:

    @Techno Viking:

    easier said than done.

  32. outamyhead says:

    Comcast has grown too big for it’s boots, they now think they can sue a supervisory body that makes the regulations of Communications, and waveband usage?

    Technically it falls under the FCC as it is a form of waveband usage on the phone network (that’s what cable broadband is after all).

  33. spamtasticus says:

    I am just wating for an alternative to Comcast to switch over. As soon as I have an option besides Comcast and ATT I will jump.

  34. trujunglist says:

    I would give up internet access if they did choose to throttle/block traffic of any kind and I had a subscription to Comcast. If Time Warner decides to implement a similar system and/or brings their tiered access thing to San Diego, then I will definitely not be paying. Since I doubt the politicians would end up doing anything with all those hands already stuffing their back pockets, I’d have to vote with my dollar and buy weed or beer or something to amuse myself instead.

  35. spamtasticus says:

    @outamyhead:

    Hate to point this out, but comcast runs on it’s own network and not on the phone network. I hate their guts but they built their network with out any government subsidies. ATT and Verizon etc on the other hand run on the national phone network that was built with our tax dollars subsidizing them.

  36. magic8ball says:

    All together now: “That’s Comcastic.”

  37. Aphex242 says:

    Great pic. lol

  38. scoosdad says:

    The three main points of Comcast’s argument are:

    1. “Congress has not given the FCC authority to act on this matter”

    2. “The FCC’s Internet Policy Statement does not give the agency the authority to deal with the issue”

    3. “Regulating Comcast’s ISP policies may violate the Administrative Procedures Act (APA)”

    Simple way around this:

    1. A thoroughly pissed-off Congress votes to give the FCC the authority to act.

    2. The FCC holds a quick meeting, and votes to change its Internet Policy Statement.

    3. Whatever the APA is, the body responsible for it votes to allow the FCC to regulate internet traffic shaping by anyone holding a franchise for cable TV services.

    4. Profit!

    …..naaah!

  39. TonyTriple says:

    @scoosdad:
    2. The FCC holds a quick meeting, and votes to change its Internet Policy Statement.

    They can’t do that. They have to send out a notice of proposed rulemaking, thus giving all parties and second parties tha have a stake in the outcome, a chance (30 days..i think) to have their say.

    Other ISPs (honest or otherwise) and telco lobbist attact dogs would definitely have a dog in this fight.

  40. JustAGuy2 says:

    href=”#c4778967″>Techno Viking:

    “Comcast will loose more than 20 million…You must be dumb Americans”

    Oh, the joys of irony.

  41. nequam says:

    @Techno Viking: Um, yeah. Comcast is the only company from which I can get cable internet service. That is in fact the plight of most Comcast customers.

    BTW, before you call people dumb, learn the difference between “lose” and “loose.”

  42. Eliamias says:

    All you need to do is remove the monopolies. Once Comcast starts hemorrhaging customers, then we can all just sit back and laugh.

  43. goodkitty says:

    That’s crazy. That’s like someone telling off a cop saying they don’t have jurisdiction and to get lost. Whether you’re technically right or not, in the end, they’re going to ‘get you’ anyway.

  44. soulman901 says:

    Ummm, Wikipedia anyone?
    [en.wikipedia.org]
    I’m pretty sure that the line The Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) develops policy concerning wireline telecommunications. The Wireline Competition Bureau’s main objective is to promote growth and economical investments in wireline technology infrastructure, development, markets, and services gives Kevin Bacon the right to sucker punch Comcast in the Gut.

  45. skilled1 says:

    better shape up comcast, paying 100$ a month for basic cable, and cable internet affords me the rights to use either how i see fit, as long as i do not break any federal / state / local laws.

    eff you comcast. you will be losing my buisiness if you continue this douchebaggery.

  46. skilled1 says:

    @Techno Viking:
    Dear Retard,

    Adressing Americans as morons, because they do not have access to another Cable internet company, shows how stupid you are sir.

    PS, way to be origional with a name taken from a lame meme. grow up, douche.

  47. Cap'n Jack says:

    @warf0x0r: Agree 100% with this comment. The problem is, DSL sucks in my area, and fiber-optic hasn’t gotten here yet. I’ve been waiting for YEARS for a better high-speed provider (not DSL) to come to town, but it hasn’t happened yet. But, you can bet the moment that happens, I’m dumping Comcast like a psycho girlfriend.

  48. kbarrett says:

    Comcast may have it’s own network … but the Internet “belongs” to DARPA.

    All of Comcast’s IP addresse ranges could just be pointed at goatse.cz at the root DNS, dontcha know?

  49. atrusredtalon says:

    Wait a sec, didn’t Comcast say that they weren’t blocking p2p traffic just a while back?

  50. skilled1 says:

    @atrusredtalon:

    yeah, now they are saying ‘we aren’t but if we were, we could do whatever we want’

  51. cerbie says:

    @atrusredtalon: well, they weren’t, if you want to look at it that way, sort of, but not really?

    We need to accept that internet access is an economically necessarily utility, and start having it regulated as such, not letting the ‘market’ decide–which is quite like a dictatorship with elections. You can vote, and you only get to vote one way, so you mus be happy with how you voted.

  52. m0unds says:

    Comcast should be able to shape their network any way they see fit. So long as people are abusing BT and P2P applications, Comcast are well within their rights to do whatever the hell they want to prevent their service from getting any worse for users who don’t consume inordinate quantities of bandwidth. People just need to wake the fuck up and stop making this whole thing a network neutrality issue when it’s not.