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CNS Hits TWC Again Over Network Neutrality

WASHINGTON — Barry Bahrami, CEO of network and edge-services provider Commercial Network Services, has filed a new network-neutrality complaint against Time Warner Cable with the Federal Communications Commission.

It’s the latest twist in an informal peering complaint filed with the agency earlier this year.

Bahrami filed an interconnection (peering) complaint in June after the FCC brought peering into the net-neutrality enforcement regime under Title II of the Communications Act, though subject to a case-by-case review of complaints, rather than under the agency’s bright-line rules.

CNS is a network services and Web content company with a handful of San Diego Web cams. It asserted in its first complaints that TWC was “opting to use more-congested traffic routes rather than pay for interconnections,” unnecessarily increasing latency and congestion between the consumer and the edge provider, thus failing to fulfill obligations to its Internet subscribers.

TWC countered that its interconnection policy is a just and reasonable standard industry practice, and said it’s confident the FCC would reject any complaint based on the idea that “every edge provider around the globe is entitled to enter into a settlement-free peering arrangement.”

Bahrami has taken a new tack, filing a complaint as a TWC subscriber and claiming the MSO is violating all the bright-line rules against throttling, paid prioritization, unreasonable interference, as well as the transparency rule, citing the paid peering policy as the culprit in all those violations.

CNS signaled the change in tactics last month, amending and expanding its initial complaint to include the bright-line rules and suggesting the Internet general conduct standard had also been violated. The FCC explicitly said in its Open Internet order that it was not applying the bright-line rules to traffic exchanges, TWC pointed out in response to the change in tactics.

“CNS now appears to suggest that because its CEO, Barry Bahrami, is a TWC broadband subscriber in his personal capacity, that should somehow render open Internet rules applicable to CNS’s complaint about TWC’s peering policy,” Time Warner Cable told the FCC in response. “But it makes no difference who files the complaint or the capacity in which they do so; the Commission’s Order makes clear that the subject matter of CNS’s complaint (Internet traffic exchange) is outside the scope of the rules …”

Even if the FCC were to find open peering necessary, TWC said, that would require proposing and voting on new rules, not establishing via a complaint.

The new complaint comes only days before the FCC is scheduled to provide its opening court defense Sept. 14 of its decision to reclassify broadband, including interconnections, under Title II common-carrier regulations.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.