2008-07-29 01:44:46 GMT 2008-07-29 09:44:46 (Beijing Time) SINA.com
BEIJING, July 29 (Xinhuanet) -- Regulators at the Federal Communications Commission are planning to meet on Friday and declare that Comcast violated Net neutrality principles when throttling BitTorrent traffic on its network.
The U.S. largest cable provider FCC will rule that communications giant Comcast violated federal policy by throttling network performance of the BitTorrent file sharing protocol, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
This would become the U.S. government's first Net neutrality-related ruling.
Comcast claimed it throttled traffic to prevent its network from being bogged down by heavy users of the file-sharing protocol. While BitTorrent is regularly used for legitimate purposes -- Kojima Productions' Metal Gear Online (PS3) employs the service to distribute patch updates -- it is often utilized to share movies, music, and other copyrighted data.
Comcast is expected to challenge the decision, which also requires the company to make its practices explicit to its customers. If successfully upheld, the ruling would set a precedent restricting communications companies such as Comcast from selectively limiting data speeds for particular services.
No fine was given as part of the ruling, which requires Comcast to stop blocking or slowing internet traffic and make its practices clearer to its customers. Comcast had already reduced the traffic shaping following widespread criticism, and promised to introduce a new capacity management system by the year's end.
"We continue to assert that our network-management practices were reasonable, wholly consistent with industry practices and that we did not block access to Web sites or online applications, including peer-to-peer services," said Comcast spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice.
Comcast is currently exploring other means of managing the disproportionate network usage of a small number of its customers. In May, it was revealed that the company is evaluating a new bandwidth cap for subscribers that would see additional fees charged for every 10GB transferred over a 250GB monthly cap.