Comcast to cooperate in FCC Web traffic probe

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Comcast Corp said on Wednesday that it would cooperate with an investigation by U.S. regulators into how it manages some Internet traffic on its network, but again denied it had interfered with file-sharing services.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts speaks at his keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada January 8, 2008. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin said on Tuesday that the agency would investigate claims by consumer groups that cable operator Comcast has blocked file-sharing services such as BitTorrent.

“Comcast does not, has not, and will not block any Web sites or online applications, including peer-to-peer services,” David Cohen, a Comcast executive vice president, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Consumers use services like BitTorrent to share large digital media, such as TV shows and movies.

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

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“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,” Cohen said.

Since Comcast is the second-largest high-speed Internet provider in the United States, with 11 million customers, any move by the company to favor or block certain types of content moving over its network would be viewed as flouting “net neutrality.”

Net neutrality is the principle of allowing all content that flows over an Internet service provider’s network to be treated equally, without any preference.

Although it is not law, it is supported by a wide range of pressure groups and businesses concerned that ISPs will start charging to prioritize the delivery of users’ content.

Comcast shares were up 5 cents at $16.67 in morning Nasdaq trade.

Reporting by Yinka Adegoke and Robert MacMillan; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn