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Network-Management Filings from Comcast, Free Press

It was a case of dueling network-management filings Tuesday as Comcast and Free Press both filed documents with the Federal Communications Commission.

Free Press, which complained about Comcast's network-management practices, said in a letter to the commission that the FCC, in granting Comcast’s and Time Warner Cable's divvying up of Adelphia Communications’ systems, gave the company explicit notice that the FCC has jurisdiction over complaints about blocking or degrading Internet content or applications, and that the FCC had even "invited" Free Press to file a complaint if it ever had evidence of such conduct.

Free Press said Comcast effectively waived its arguments that the FCC didn't have jurisdiction by not seeking reconsideration of the Adelphia decision in the intervening two years.

A Comcast spokeswoman was not available for comment, but the company has questioned whether the FCC's nondiscrimination principles are enforceable since FCC chairman Kevin Martin once said they were guidelines rather than enforceable rules.

Martin has since said that the guidelines are enforceable through individual actions on complaints, like the one he is proposing against Comcast stemming from a complaint by Free Press and BitTorrent that Comcast blocked peer-to-peer traffic using BitTorrent.

On that subject, Comcast filed its own letter to the FCC taking issue with Free Press' criticisms of its network-management practices.

Comcast told the agency its network-management practices are not discriminatory, they target relatively few customers, and all customers are informed that the network is managed for "the benefit of all."

To illustrate the size of the customer pool subject to its management of P2P uploads, Comcast said only 6%-7% use P2P applications and fewer than 10% of its P2P-upload customers are subject to that "targeted" network management.

Comcast also argued that its network-management techniques are used by other Internet-service providers to "enable, not hinder, the high-quality user experience."

Martin scheduled a vote at the FCC’s Aug. 1 open meeting on the proposed finding against Comcast. He is not proposing any fines or sanctions.