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Comcast: We've Already Certified Zoom Cable Modems

Two of Zoom Telephonics’ DOCSIS modems currently available at retail have been certified by Comcast for use on its network, including one certified just a few months ago, the MSO said in responding to a complaint from the manufacturer alleging onerous testing procedures (see Zoom Complaint Targets Comcast Modem Cert Process).

That’s according to a Dec. 22 Comcast filing with the FCC, made publicly available last Thursday, in which the operator said Zoom simply wanted Comcast to give its stamp of approval to the gear without undergoing physical and environmental (P&E) testing now required for retail devices.

In its original Nov. 29 complaint, Zoom said Comcast’s P&E testing requirements were an “unreasonable, irrelevant, time-consuming and costly regime” for certifying cable modems and raised the specter of Comcast abusing its position as the No. 1 cable operator in the U.S. by violating the FCC’s “open Internet” principles.

The cable company responded that “Comcast is within its rights to ensure that the DOCSIS device, which directly interacts with the network, is not harmful either to the network or to consumers, and does not otherwise impair the service,” and said Zoom refused the MSO’s offer to let it conduct P&E testing in Zoom’s own labs.

All told, Comcast claims it has certified more than 100 DOCSIS devices in the last 10 years and says more than 22% of the cable modems connected to its network were bought at retail. A list of cable modems approved for Comcast high-speed Internet service is available here: http://mydeviceinfo.comcast.net.

Comcast also disputed Zoom’s assertion that the P&E test requirement violates the FCC’s rules for navigation device rules because DOCSIS devices “are not subject to the navigation device rules,” and maintained the procedures were consistent with the agency’s open Internet principles.

On Dec. 7, Comcast formally filed a motion with the FCC to dismiss Zoom’s complaint, saying the vendor’s complaint “suffers from a core procedural flaw” because Zoom didn’t fully disclose all the correspondence with the MSO that purportedly demonstrated Comcast’s good-faith efforts to resolve the dispute.

Zoom issued a Jan. 3, 2011, rebuttal charging that Comcast “is unable to point to even a single instance where a Zoom modem has caused harm to Comcast’s network, injured any individual, or facilitated theft of service” and argued that Comcast has failed to show why the P&E tests are necessary.

Comcast previously pointed out that former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin — notorious in his antipathy to cable in general and Comcast in particular — is one of the lead attorneys with the law firm Patton Boggs, which is representing Zoom in the matter.