Safe to say that Comcast won’t be inviting anyone from the FCC over for dinner. The two have been squaring off over the past year or so over a variety of Comcast policies. The most recent involves Comcast’s treatment of competing VoIP services over their broadband network. In a letter dated January 18, 2009, the FCC asks Comcast to clarify and provide a “detailed justification for Comcast’s disparate treatment of its own VoIP service as compared to that offered by other VoIP providers on its network.”
The FCC seems to think that Comcast’s new broadband network management processes, which monitors individual broadband users and retards throughput for excessive users, may be anti-competitive towards third party VoIP providers.
This will be an interesting spat to watch. Bandwidth management is an increasing practice among broadband service providers. The implications of any FCC action on Comcast could reach far beyond just them. VoIP is but one competitive application that broadband carriers enable for their own competitors. Video and other entertainment applications that have competitive implications also may be impacted. This FCC ‘clarification’ could be a precursor to more action on the network neutrality issue, with significant implications for telecompetition.