Martin, Comcast at Odds Over Network-Neutrality Principles

Federal Communications Commission Chairman, Cable Operator Spar Over Whether Agency’s Rules Are Enforceable

Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin and Comcast had a definite difference of opinion Tuesday over whether the FCC has the power to enforce its four principles of Internet access, which were issued in a policy statement.

In comments in the FCC's inquiry into what constitutes "reasonable network management," Comcast quoted Martin as saying that the policy statement "does not establish rules, nor are they enforceable."

But in a statement sent out by the chairman after a Senate hearing on network management, the chairman said the lack of enforceable rules directly tied to the principles did not mean that they were not enforceable through other means.

“As I testified today, I do not believe we need specific rules and regulations to protect consumers’ interests embodied in these principles," he said. "Since first asked in September 2006, I have consistently stated that the four principles are enforceable through the complaint process and adjudications.”

He continued, “Specifically, I stated that ‘the commission has continued to monitor the marketplace, has been vigilant about it, has tried to continue to make sure that we are enforcing the net-neutrality principles to make sure that consumers aren’t having access blocked.’ Moreover, regardless of my personal view, the entire commission expressly stated that these principles are enforceable through the complaint process in April of 2007.”