FCC chmn Kevin Martin said Fri he won’t seek to fine Comcast for "blocking" certain Internet traffic such as P2P file-sharing apps, but he does want the agency to rule that related network management practices by the MSO violate the FCC’s net neutrality tenets. Martin seeks an Aug 1 commission vote on his recommendation to order Comcast to cease the practices "within a reasonable timeframe," and to divulge the areas in which they have been implemented. Martin’s comments to reporters came after he met earlier Fri with Comcast to address the issue, and followed months of complaints, hearings and inspections concerning the MSO’s slowing of bandwidth-intensive Web content, which Comcast has said is sometimes necessary in order to maintain an efficient network for all of its broadband subs. "The carefully limited measures that Comcast takes to manage traffic…are used by many other ISPs around the world," said a Comcast rep. "Comcast customers know that broadband capacity is not unlimited." Questions remain regarding the FCC’s power to enforce its net neutrality tenets. The Comcast rep said Comcast believes the commission "has never before provided any guidance on what it means by ‘reasonable network management’." In May, House Telecom Subcmte chmn Ed Markey (D-MA) proposed a bill that would develop guidelines covering germane network management issues such as file blocking and ensure that the FCC may police the online space. Stifel Nicolaus expects agreement of Comcast’s fault by the FCC majority, and foresees a "tricky" court challenge from the MSO. If Comcast "torpedoes the FCC’s basis under the law or its principles, that could spark net neutrality legislation or explicit rules," wrote analyst Blair Levin.

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