Comcast, Pando Networks Not Attending FCC’s En Banc Hearing

Stanford University Network-Neutrality Field Hearing Set for Thursday

The Federal Communications Commission released its agenda for Thursday’s network-neutrality field hearing at Stanford University in California and it did not include representatives from either Comcast or peer-to-peer company Pando Networks.

After the two companies announced Tuesday that they were teaming up to create a “P2P Bill of Rights and Responsibilities,” the FCC quickly invited Pando CEO Robert Levitan and Comcast chief technology officer Tony Werner to head out to California for the hearing.

“Establishing a specific and clearly defined P2P Bill of Rights is an interesting idea with potentially important implications for all Internet users," FCC spokesman Rob Kenny said in announcing the invitation. "In order to learn more about this newly announced joint effort, we have invited Robert Levitan, CEO of Pando Networks, and Tony Werner, Comcast’s chief technology officer, or their representatives to participate in the commission’s en banc hearing on broadband-network-management practices this Thursday at Stanford University. We look forward to more fully understanding the goals, scope and time frame of this industry effort.”

Levitan said he was unable to rearrange his schedule to make the hearing -- Pando is based in New York -- or send a representative, adding that he had been in contact with the FCC and expressed his interest in being helpful. He told the commission he would be glad to participate in the next hearing, but he pointed out that his was a small company with 23 employees and he had prior engagements he could not break to fly across the country on such short notice.

Comcast's response was essentially, "Been there, done that," although it, too, said it would be glad to brief the FCC when it has something more to talk about.

"Comcast has already appeared before the commission on network-management issues and has made extensive filings at the FCC both on our past and current practices, as well as our recent announcements," the company said in a statement. "We felt issues specific to us were well covered at the first hearing and the focus of this event should be broader than any individual company’s issues.”

The cable operator continued, “Comcast has made a number of announcements relating to discussions and agreements that it is holding and has reached with numerous Internet companies, including our announcement with Pando. At this point, the most productive course is to continue our business-to-business discussions and to pursue the process that was outlined in our announcement with Pando. We will look forward to briefing the commission and other interested parties as we make reportable progress.”