August last year we reported – based on findings from network expert Robb Topolski – that Comcast actively disconnected BitTorrent users. Comcast initially denied our allegations, even though we had proof to back up these claims, and they continued to do so for months. Now, a year later, there is no doubt that Comcast offered a degraded service to BitTorrent users, and they now face a nationwide class action lawsuit (doc).
“Comcast surreptitiously installed receiver packets to keep people from using file-sharing programs when it promised it wouldn’t,” Alyson Foster, an associate at the law firm Gilbert Randolph alleges. “Of course the competition is fierce in telecommunications, but they were trying to get an unfair leg up.”
Robb Topolski, who is now the plaintiff in the nationwide class action lawsuit against Comcast, told TorrentFreak at the time: “We have had two Comcast techs confirm Sandvine in use, but neither confirmed or denied its connection with the RST interference. For me, seeding is possible. I can reach my upload speed limit, but there sure is a lot of interference. Since your article came out, I too have received many reports of seeding being impossible. I’m not sure if it’s regional, or what!”
These reports however, were soon picked up by the mainstream press, and eventually led to an investigation by the FCC. Two weeks ago, the FCC announced that it will order Comcast to stop interfering with BitTorrent traffic. FCC chairman 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.
It is now up to the federal court to decide if Comcast’s BitTorrent users deserve to be compensated, and whether the company need to stop their misleading advertisements. Foster said the amount of the damages has yet to be estimated, but the alleged damages are expected to exceed $5 million.