Will Comcast's Own Words Kill Its Lawsuit Against The FCC?

from the seems-pretty-damning dept

Last year, when the FCC was busy slapping Comcast's wrist for its traffic shaping policies, Comcast pointed out that it wasn't clear the FCC had the authority to do so. I tend to agree, actually. It's not at all clear that the FCC really has a mandate to tell private network operators what they can do with their network -- though, if that argument gets anywhere, it seems likely that a net neutrality-friendly Congress will quickly adjust and add it to the FCC's mandate. However, what was odd was that Comcast waited over a year before finally going to court over this issue. To be honest, I can't see what Comcast "wins" here, even if it wins the case. Congress would likely change the FCC's mandate. Separately, the FTC actually might have a stronger case here, as the real problem wasn't necessarily the traffic shaping, but Comcast's refusal to tell users about it, effectively providing false advertising to customers. That's an FTC issue.

But a much bigger problem for Comcast may be the fact that the company has had no problem actively promoting the FCC's supposed "mandate" over them when it suits them. In a separate lawsuit over the very same traffic shaping, Comcast tried to get out of the lawsuit by claiming it was an issue covered by the FCC:
This issue "i.e., the reasonableness of a broadband provider's network management practices" has, however, been firmly placed within the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC"), an administrative agency whose authority to regulate internet broadband access companies' services is well-established.
You have to imagine that this quote from Comcast will be prominently displayed by the FCC in response to Comcast's latest action.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Jim, Aug 18th, 2009 @ 3:04pm

    Once again, more corporate double-speak. The real question is, which scenario would better suit them in the end. I suspect money will still talk, however, and the customer will still lose out.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    teknosapien (profile), Aug 18th, 2009 @ 4:12pm

    That would be like saying

    that your telco can only direct your calls to commercial/emergency entities it deemed appropriate because it didn't like how others conducted business, Or hadn't paid for routing to their number. Mark my words this is the beginning of a ride on a slippery slope that I certainly don't want to take.

    How long before they squeeze out companies like Vonage just because they can degrade network performance for that particular vendor that is in direct competition with comcast voice service?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Skeptical Cynic (profile), Aug 18th, 2009 @ 4:28pm

    Monopolies are never good for the consumer.

    Monopolies are never going to the best thing for the consumer.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 18th, 2009 @ 5:09pm

    Unless

    I'm the one that owns the monopoly.. Then it's good for all..

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Trigeia Twins, Aug 18th, 2009 @ 6:01pm

    Too Much Control

    What is America if you are not able to participate in all business. Every business and product should have an equal opportunity to be all they can be ! =)

    Was reading another article about the FCC giving the opportunity for the average person to have a voice. Sounds kinda cool http://www.trigeia.com/article.php?id=69378

    @trigeia

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Frosty840, Aug 19th, 2009 @ 12:15am

    Hey, Mike, for the benefit of those outside the US and not absolutely familiar with US government entities, could you try to do the customary thing and explicitly label the first uses of acronyms?

    I ask, not because I can't take a guess at which "FCC" you mean, but because at the end of the first paragraph you switch to "FTC" for a couple of references, and heck, for all I know, that's a typo, and not a deliberate reference to the Federal Trade Commission. Again, I'm not intimately familiar with the US systems, so I'm not absolutely sure.

    Pulling the string "FTC" up to Firefox's tabs bar brings up a window for "feedthechildren.com", and an "I'm feeling lucky" search for FTC brings up the website of someone who's probably paid an awful lot of money for that to be the case. I point this out because there are people even more clueless than me on the internet...

    At least, I hope there are...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 19th, 2009 @ 12:30am

    Re:

    Hey, Mike, for the benefit of those outside the US and not absolutely familiar with US government entities, could you try to do the customary thing and explicitly label the first uses of acronyms?

    Hey, sorry. We usually avoid that on acronyms we assume are well known, because after a certain point it just gets annoying.

    But...

    FCC: Federal Communications Commission. Deals with spectrum allocation, other federally regulated communications services.

    FTC: Federal Trade Commission. Deals with, among other things, business regulations, such as truth-in-advertising and consumer protections.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Tim, Aug 19th, 2009 @ 6:30am

    Is it really a private network though?

    I understand what you're saying but considering that a lot of the telco's were practically handed the networks from public ownership, funded in part by public funds, given access to public research e.g. ARPANET and CERN with TCP/IP etc etc if it wasn't for all that public money used to build the core technologies of these early networks or the actual networks themselves these companies wouldn't be able to make all this money. Couldn't it be argued that because of the very history of the internet and it's founding that the FCC does have such a mandate?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Aug 19th, 2009 @ 6:41am

    Re: Lazy Wendy's milkshake

    Quite a rant when you can google FTC US or gov and get your response. So...lazy...too...dumb...to...search...properly. I applaud Mike for helping you. I would have only berated your inability to use your mind grapes. Wait...I just did that!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    chris (profile), Aug 19th, 2009 @ 6:50am

    Re: Is it really a private network though?

    Couldn't it be argued that because of the very history of the internet and it's founding that the FCC does have such a mandate?

    this is america hippie and in the good ol' US of A we believe in profits above all else. big. corporate. profits.

    so no, comcast doesn't have to support your commie notion of "competition" or your gay liberal first amendment rights and they sure as hell don't have to do what the FCC says just because they were built on government money.

    son, these are corporate profits we are talking about here. corporate profits are the kind of stuff this great nation of ours was built on and that our forefathers fought for and died to protect.

    all that hippie nonsense will affect comcast's god given right to profit handsomely by stomping out their competition and using their monopoly status to offer less and less while charging more and more.

    so get a haircut, get a job, and stop all this commie BS about the FCC. once you have some profits of your own you'll understand how important it is to protect them. the end always justifies the means when it comes to protecting those sweet delicious profits.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    zellamayzao, Aug 19th, 2009 @ 7:10am

    Re: Re: Is it really a private network though?

    haha wow you got me cracking up with that post.

    But unfortunately it is mostly true. Big companies will do whatever they can (legal or otherwise) to protect what they think they are entitled to.

    In the Delaware area comcast has, in the last 6-8 months, moved 5 channels from the basic cable line-up into the digital spectrum and raised the price 5 dollars a month.

    Soooo for 5 less channels its cost us 5 more bucks? where is the logic and equivalent price association?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    chris (profile), Aug 19th, 2009 @ 7:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Is it really a private network though?

    Soooo for 5 less channels its cost us 5 more bucks? where is the logic and equivalent price association?

    there are two basic rules in the telco and cable co industry:

    1) rates always go up
    2) rates never permanently go down

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    zellamayzao, Aug 19th, 2009 @ 8:07am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Is it really a private network though?

    That is completely true.

    I just hate how it technology has made it cheaper for them to manage, service and repair their infrastructure and yet prices dont reflect that. I know I know thats how they increase their profit margin, Im just venting out loud I guess

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    overflow, Aug 21st, 2009 @ 3:45am

    Re: Re: Lazy Wendy's milkshake

    If you want to berate, shouldnt you be hanging out at Foxnews.com?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    John Mc (profile), Aug 21st, 2009 @ 9:27am

    When is cable not cable

    So when does 'cable' become a utility and not a private company?? What happens when city government makes the internet provider the only game in town?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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