Comcast Wins Court Battle v. FCC

The DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the FCC’s mandate that Comcast deregulate the use of Bittorrent on its network was unjustified.


In 2007  subscribers to Comcast’s high-speed Internet service found that Comcast was regulating their use Bittorent (P2P). Two non-profit advocacy organizations, Free Press and Public Knowledge, filed a complaint with the FCC challenging Comcast’s actions.

The FCC told Comcast to manage network traffic without discriminating against peer-to-peer communications networks such as Bittorrent.

Comcast complied with the order, but filed an appeal contending that the FCC had failed to justify exercising jurisdiction over its network management practices.


DC Court Judge David Tatel wrote:

“In this case we must decide whether the Federal Communications Commission has authority to regulate an Internet service provider’s network management practices.”

Judge Tatel further stated that even the FCC acknowledged it had no “express statutory authority” to require Comcast to deregulate it’s use of Bittorrent (P2P) on their broadband cable network.

“The Commission may exercise this “ancillary” authority only if it demonstrates that its action—here barring Comcast from interfering with its customers’ use of peer-to-peer networking applications—is “reasonably ancillary to the . . . effective performance of its statutorily mandated responsibilities.”

The FCC failed to show that the regulation was “reasonably ancillary” to the FCC’s authority.

The DC court granted Comcast’s petition for review and vacated the challenged FCC order.

Full Court Decision:

Comcast v. FCC Decision (PDF)

Leave a Comment:

Dan Karas says April 12, 2010

I personally agree with the DC court. I believe less FCC regulation of Internet service providers is a good thing. Newer and faster technology advances will increasingly provide more consumer options for obtaining high speed Internet access. Informed consumers and free market competition will force broadband ISP’s to offer better services for competitive prices least they lose the customer to the competition that does.

Willie says June 30, 2013

When you Pay for an internet service at a certain speed, then you as a customer own that much bandwith to do as you want every month as long as your bill is paid. In reality what happened was not ‘DeRegulation’ . The court ruled that your internet service provider now has the right to tell you how much internet service you can use for any particular thing. In other words your service provider can Regulate your service as they please and raise your rate at any time they feel you are using more bandwith for any certain application.
They gave your internet service provider the right to cap your bandwidth when using Bittorrent or P2P applications. In plain english….. They said you no longer have that right.
The FCC was trying to protect the right of consumers of internet service. You just lost another right to big business.

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