January 15, 2008 / 6:29 AM / 12 years ago

Comcast gets US FCC notice on blocking Web traffic

(Adds separate complaint over text-messaging)

NEW YORK, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) said it received two notices of inquiry on Monday from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which is investigating claims that the cable operator blocks certain Web traffic and applications moving across its network.

The FCC is seeking comment in response to complaints by Vuze Inc and Washington advocacy group Free Press.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin told reporters on Jan. 9 the agency would investigate claims Comcast has blocked file-sharing services such as as BitTorrent, which are used to distribute large digital media files such as TV shows and movies.

Comcast, the largest U.S. cable television operator and the second largest high speed Internet provider with more than 11 million subscribers, has repeatedly refuted allegations it blocks certain Internet traffic or applications.

The company said it used bandwidth technology on its network that can slow the delivery of files, but it would not block them outright.

“We believe our practices are in accordance with the FCC’s policy statement on the Internet where the Commission clearly recognized that reasonable network management is necessary for the good of all customers,” Comcast said in a statement.

Vuze, a digital media platform company, has asked the FCC to clarify what constitutes “reasonable network management” by broadband network operators and to establish this does not permit network operators to block, degrade or discriminate against lawful Internet applications.

The FCC also sought public comment on a separate complaint claiming that wireless carriers were blocking “controversial” text messages.

The complaint over text-messaging stemmed mostly from an incident last year in which Verizon Wireless denied a request from an abortion rights group to set up a text-messaging system for its subscribers.

Verizon Wireless, a venture of Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) and Vodafone Group Plc (VOD.L), later reversed itself and allowed the text-messaging system.

Verizon Wireless issued a statement on Monday saying, “This is what the FCC does: (it) investigates complaints. In the end the FCC will find that we acted correctly in how we dealt with our short-code advertising platform.”

(Reporting by Yinka Adegoke; Editing by Andre Grenon, Richard Chang)

((e-mail:yinka.adegoke@reuters.com Reuters Messaging: Yinka.adegoke.reuters.com@reuters.net +1 646 223 6081))

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