Martin Tees Up Comcast P2P Vote


Washington -- The Federal Communications Commission, in an effort led by chairman Kevin Martin, is planning a vote Aug. 1 to find that Comcast Corp. secretly degraded certain Internet traffic in violation of FCC policy.

The FCC issued a press release Friday evening confirming that the Comcast vote is scheduled for next Friday at 10 a.m.. Martin, who has been warring with cable for more than three years on a number of fronts, told reporters on July 11 that Comcast had, in his view, violated the agency's net neutrality principles adopted August 2005.

On the day the principles were adopted, Martin said in a prepared statement that they were not rules and not enforceable. Martin said he would not seek to impose financial penalties on Comcast.

When the FCC releases its meeting agenda, it usually signals that the chairman has the votes to pass listed items. It's more than likely FCC Democrats Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein will join Martin to supply the three votes to prevail, assuming FCC Republicans Deborah Taylor Tate and Robert McDowell refuse to support Martin.

Comcast has been accused of blocking peer-to-peer files sharing traffic, but the company has denied that charge, claiming it only slowed P2P traffic during peak times to prevent network congestion for the vast majority of its high-speed data users.

Martin wants the FCC to order Comcast to cease targeting P2P traffic, as well as comply with reporting requirements to help the agency verify compliance.

On Saturday, Comcast said through a spokesman: “It is always hard to respond to rumors, however, 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. We do not believe the record supports any other conclusion.”

Comcast said it has recently reported in filings that:

-- Only 6-7% of Comcast subscribers use P2P in a typical week.

-- On a typical day, an estimated 9 billion P2P TCP flows traverse Comcast’s network.

-- Comcast only manages P2P traffic in the upload direction.

-- Half to as much as 2/3 of the upstream traffic on our network is P2P.

-- Even for the most heavily used P2P protocols, 90% of flows are unaffected by network management.

-- Even in areas with heavy P2P usage when network management is occurring (so less than 10% of flows on the network overall), uploaders complete a P2P upload in less than 1 min in 80% of cases.