The FCC ordered Comcast to end the practice, and to submit details "of its discriminatory network management practices" to the commission. The FCC said Comcast, the largest cable operator and Internet company, violated the agency's open-access guidelines. The vote was 3-2, with Martin voting against Comcast.
For weeks, FCC chairman Kevin Martin has complained that Comcast was guilty of stopping some of its customers from using the Internet, specifically the peer-to-peer site BitTorrent. For its part, Comcast has said it has the right to regulate traffic, and that it had already pledged to move to a "protocol-agnostic" method of managing network traffic. In response to the vote on Friday, Comcast was considering taking the decision to court, according to reports.
Critics worry that if the FCC takes a more active role in enforcement and possible financial penalties, it could actually slow down Internet traffic--with federal regulators monitoring all Internet providers and deciding how the level of traffic is appropriate.
The FCC did not impose a fine or a sanction. Some legislators don't believe the FCC has the authority because it observes only 'guidelines' of Internet usage, which is not an FCC rule or regulation.
The FCC was alerted to the problem through investigations conducted by the Associated Press and Electronic Frontier Foundation. A complaint was filed to the FCC by lobby groups Public Knowledge and Free Press.