Court sides with Comcast in Net Neutrality appeal

Apr 06, 2010

FCC's authority called into question

Internet Service Provided Comcast can safely return to throttling subscribers' bandwidth as a U.S. appeals court overturned a Federal Communications Commission mandate that required that the company provide service indiscriminately to its users.
The decision itself raises some interesting questions about the FCC's authority and its role in regulating neutrality. According to the U.S. Court of Appeals' 3-0 decision, the FCC has not been expressly given the "untrammeled freedom" by Congress to regulate a provider so directly.

The FCC states that the court doesn't disagree with net neutrality or the equal treatment of subscribers and that the commission is able to pursue other means of regulation. One such immediate fix would involve simply reclassifying ISPs as common carriers, which are subject to more regulation.

That said, the decision does, at least for now, allow ISPs to set bandwidth caps, throttle peer-to-peer file sharing and treat their customers as they see fit. And the decision comes at a time when the FCC is preparing a plan that would both increase the overall speed of broadband and increase the coverage area.

What do you readers think? Is this a minor setback for the FCC? Is it the natural flow of a market-driven service? Or will the overall effect of the ruling go unnoticed? Share your comments below.

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  • ISP throttling

    Throttling based on recent volume is OK as long as this is the only criteria and it is applied to all users equally. It seems a reasonable method to provide better service for a shared resource. Throttling based on what the user is doing or what product or service is being used should not be allowed, IMO. This would make it too easy for an ISP to favor its own services over those of competitors.
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