Martin Slaps Comcast Over Open Access


The FCC has decided that Comcast violated the commission's Internet open-access principles, but FCC Chairman Kevin Martin didn't fine the cable giant.

In a press conference, Martin said that Comcast's network traffic management practices did not simply apply to heavy users of the service, and in fact applied to some lighter users of the targeted technology—like BitTorrent's peer-to-peer file sharing protocol—while leaving heavier users of other protocols unblocked.

Martin likened the lack of fine or other sanctions to the FCC's profanity ruling against Fox, which did not penalize the network but served to establish its enforcement regime.

The chairman said that cable operators could likely be fined if their network-management techniques similarly violate the FCC's principles. But he also said he felt there was no need for network non-discrimination legislation.

The proposed finding against Comcast will require it to stop blocking content, which the company claims it has never done. "Comcast does not block any Internet content, application or service. The commission has never before provided any guidance on what it means by 'reasonable network management,'" said Sena Fitzmaurice, senior director of corporate communications and government affairs.