ISPs have been throttling BitTorrent traffic for years now, but only recently has this turned into a political issue. In a huge victory for BitTorrent users, the FCC has now announced that it will order Comcast to stop interfering with BitTorrent traffic.
Almost a year ago we first reported that Comcast was actively disconnecting BitTorrent seeds. Now, after numerous debates and false promises from Comcast, the FCC has ruled that Comcast’s BitTorrent interference is unacceptable, and orders the company to stop doing so.
Kevin Martin, FCC chairman told AP that Comcast’s BitTorrent throttling is “arbitrary”, and that the company had violated the principles of the Federal Communications Commission. Martin said that Comcast slows down BitTorrent users independent of the amount of traffic they use, and that the company failed to communicate their network management practices to their consumers.
Indeed, a recent study by the Max Planck Institute showed that the company had misinformed the FCC and their users. Comcast has always argued that BitTorrent upstream traffic was only blocked during periods of heavy network traffic, this turns out to be a lie, as the study showed that they blocked BitTorrent upstream traffic 24/7.
The FCC has announced that it will take appropriate action against Comcast, and the ISP will be ordered to stop interfering with BitTorrent traffic. Comcast has said before that it will invest in its network capacity and stop slowing down the traffic of their users, but these were all false promises.
Marvin Ammori, general counsel of Free Press who filed the complaint with the FCC is delighted with this outcome, and said in a response: “Nine months ago, Comcast was exposed for blocking free choice on the Internet. At every turn, Comcast has denied blocking, lied to the public and tried to avoid being held accountable. We have presented an open and shut case that Comcast broke the law.”
“The FCC now appears ready to take action on behalf of consumers. This is an historic test for whether the law will protect the open Internet. If the commission decisively rules against Comcast, it will be a remarkable victory for organized people over organized money,” Ammori added.
It is to be expected that – if the pipes are really congested – Comcast and other ISPs will have to step away from the all-you-can-eat plans they have been offering for years, now that people are actually using bandwidth they signed up for.