A very critical court battle was decided Tuesday. At risk was the ability for internet providers to handle traffic at their discretion. Basically, the FCC wanted to regulate how a private provider would treat traffic on its own network. A network, by the way, that they paid billions of dollars to build.
Comcast, a broadband provider, wanted to be able to treat bittorrent traffic in a different way than it might treat other traffic. And the FCC said “No way”. When Comcast refused to acquiesce, the FCC took them to court.
At the heart of the matter is the fact that Comcast wants to be able to protect its users and customers from the abusive behavior of a few. Bittorrent is a service that allows the download of massive massive amounts of data. Think HD movies. When one or a few users in a neighborhood does this, the network suffers from over utilization and the whole community suffers. Comcast wants to manage this problem by throttling back on the amount of data that can be sent at once through bittorrent.
Notice that Comcast does NOT want to block access to bittorrent. Further, Comcast doesn’t wanna charge MORE to access bittorrent. And last, Comcast is NOT looking to prioritize its own version of bittorrent over the bittorrent download. It only wants to say that bittorrent traffic can not exceed a certain threshold in the network such that other users will have access to normal services; web serfing, email and gaming services for example.
And on Tuesday, a Federal court ruled against the FCC:
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the FCC lacks authority to require broadband providers to give equal treatment to all Internet traffic flowing over their networks.
Tuesday’s unanimous ruling by the three-judge panel was a setback for the FCC because it questioned the agency’s authority to regulate broadband. That could cause problems beyond the FCC’s effort to adopt official net neutrality regulations.
This is very good news for consumers. Had the Federal courts ruled in favor of the FCC, Internet providers would be unable to manage their networks in such a way as to allow its customers to access their services.