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Reuters

FCC Seeks to Punish Comcast in Internet Probe: Report

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WASHINGTON - The head of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said on Thursday he will recommend that Comcast Corp be punished for violating agency principles that guarantee customers open access to the Internet, The Associated Press reported.

Comcast, the second largest U.S. Internet service provider, has been accused of blocking some Web traffic via services such as file-sharing applications like the popular BitTorrent used by consumers to share large media files.

Comcast has "arbitrarily" blocked Internet access, regardless of the level of traffic, and failed to disclose to consumers that it was doing so, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin told the news service.

Comcast has denied it blocks individual traffic and said the use of network management is essential to avoid congestion and impairment of online video applications like Veoh or voice-over-Internet Protocol services like Vonage.

Martin will circulate an order recommending enforcement action against the company on Friday among his fellow commissioners, who will vote on the measure at an open meeting on August 1, the news agency said.

The order follows an FCC investigation prompted by complaints about Comcast by Internet advocacy group Free Press and digital media company Vuze Inc.

Martin's order would require Comcast to stop its practice of blocking; provide details to the commission on the extent and manner in which the practice was been used; and to disclose to consumers details on future plans for managing its network going forward.

At the heart of Comcast's network management issue is the long-running "network neutrality" debate. Net neutrality is the principle of allowing all content that flows over an ISP's network to be treated equally, without any preference.

Comcast officials could not immediately reached for comment.

© 2008 Reuters

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