The Comcast vs. the World struggle continues. Today Comcast challenged last month’s decision by the Federal Communications Commission regarding the company’s blocking of certain traffic, such as large video files. The legal appeal, made in Washington, D.C., could lead to a precedent setting decision regarding Internet regulation.
In August, the FCC found that Comcast was violating the feds policy that guarantees “unfettered access to the Internet” after tests by the Associated Press and others revealed that large file-sharing transmissions were being routinely aborted, including high-quality videos that could be direct competition to the cable company’s offerings. Comcast said it was just delaying the transmissions, not blocking them completely. (Uh huh.)
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Complaints by consumer advocacy groups, including Free Press, prompted the initial FCC investigation. Now groups in New York, California and Pennsylvania have joined in and filed appeals of their own, hoping to force Comcast to change its management practices.
As a result of the FCC action, Comcast recently announced its usage limit for residential Internet users, 250 gigabytes per month. That’s a relatively large amount if consumers are just using e-mails or downloading standard definition videos, but a small amount if it’s being used for high-definition videos.
What does this mean for Average-Joe Houston Consumer? Not much, at least not yet. For now 250 gigabytes should serve the normal residential consumer just fine. But with rapid changes in computing and the increase in high-definition content available on the Internet, 250 gigabytes could be minuscule in a couple of years. Comcast’s appeal could still be making its way through the courts by then, leaving consumers with fewer choices and nothing near “unlimited access” to the Internet while waiting for a decision.
— Olivia Flores Alvarez