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FCC to Examine Network-Management Practices

As promised, the Federal Communications Commission is looking into complaints and questions about network-management practices.

The FCC Monday sought comment on whether or not to rule that "the practice by broadband-service providers of degrading peer-to-peer [Internet] traffic" violates an FCC policy statement on network nondiscrimination.

Free Press and others had asked the commission to issue a declaratory ruling to that effect in the wake of questions about Comcast's network-management practices. Comcast has said that it does not block P2P services and will cooperate with the commission. But it has also said that it does need to manage its network to provide a quality experience for all of its customers.

The commission also asked for comment on complaints by Free Press and Public Knowledge about Verizon Communications’ management of text messaging and a petition by Vuze for a clarification of what constitutes "reasonable network management."

After the FCC ruled that the Internet-access service provided by phone and cable and wireless networks is not subject to the same mandatory access provisions as phone service, it also issued nondiscrimination principles but allowed room for "reasonable network management."

Proponents of network-neutrality rules said there needs to be a law or rule mandating such neutrality. FCC chairman Kevin Martin has said that the agency already has the authority to act against violators of its principles.

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.