COMCAST maybe able to legitimately claim that they have the best damn VOIP service. In fact measurably better than Vonage. And best of all, they have an endorsement from the FCC certifying that claim.
Well, it’s not *exactly* an endorsement.
Outgoing FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has written to COMCAST asking why they are degrading rival service Internet phone services, like Vonage and Verizon’s Voicewing. The cable MSO’s network management policy says any user who consumes 70% of their allocated bandwidth for a 15 minute period during peak hours are likely to have “choppy” phone service. Unless they subscribe to COMCAST’s VOIP which is exempted from that policy.
Web site Twine quotes the FCC letter:
We request that Comcast explain why its omitted from its filings with the Commission the distinct effects that Comcast’s new network management technique has on Comcast’s VoIP offering versus those of its competitors. We also ask that you 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. In particular, please explain how Comcast Digital Voice is “facilities-based,” how Comcast Digital Voice uses Comcast’s broadband facilities, and, in particular, whether (and if so, how) Comcast Digital Voice affects network congestion in a different manner than other VoIP services.
COMCAST, which seems intent on capturing cable’s Big Brother award, was fined by the FCC last fall for interfering with peer-to-peer download sites. The Register notes that COMCAST lawyers will want to moderate their bluster — because any claim that their IP service uses distinct transmission services makes they liable for fees paid by telecom carriers.
The Obama administration is on the record as favoring network neutrality. It will be interesting to see if the Julius Genachowski, who is rumored to be next FCC chairman, picks up the gauntlet and follows up on Martin’s letter. COMCAST is required to respond to the FCC by January 30th.