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Cohen: Clear Internet Rules Would Be Better Than Confusion

Comcast executive vice president took to the blogosphere to say that Comcast's opposition to the Federal Communications Commission's BitTorrent order is not a fight about network neutrality.

Cohen wrote in a posting on that the company still questions whether network neutrality rules are needed, and it supports "trying to make clear what the rules of the road are moving forward," a point Comcast Chairman Brian Roberts made last week. Implicit in that point is the one Comcast has been making in court: that there was no posted speed limit sign or clear rules of the road when the FCC pulled Comcast over.

Cohen's and Roberts' comments came in the wake of the Jan. 8 oral argument in the BitTorrent case. In that case, Comcast argued that the FCC was wrong to adjudicate a complaint based on a policy statement rather than established law, and did not give Comcast sufficient notice or guidance on what kind of network management was out of bounds. The FCC rules that Comcast's management/blocking of BitTorrent's peer-to-peer file-transfer technology violated its open internet principles. It adoted those principles after reclassifying Internet access as an information service no longer subject to the mandatory access rules that apply to phone service.

Comcast and others this week will be weighing in on the FCC's effort to codify those rules, which Comcast says would at least be better than "the confusion of having the FCC try to enforce an unenforceable and vague "policy statement."

John Eggerton
John Eggerton

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.