Comcast sparks US net neutrality row

US internet network operator Level 3 has accused cable firm Comcast of introducing charges for carrying internet movies and other traffic.

Level 3...

US internet network operator Level 3 has accused cable firm Comcast of introducing charges for carrying internet movies and other traffic.

Level 3 said Comcast is in effect "putting up a toll booth" on its broadband networks so that it can set the price for online content that competes with its own services.

The fresh row over alleged discrimination in the way Comcast handles video traffic on the internet comes as US regulators prepare to issue net neutrality rules aimed at preventing internet service providers from favouring selective content online, according to the Financial Times.

Comcast said the fees were justified as there has been a doubling in the amount of traffic it was being asked to handle on behalf of Level 3, which meant it was being asked to carry five times as much traffic for Level 3 as it sent in the other direction.

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is expected to issue net neutrality rules before the end of the year that seek to prevent the sort of discrimination of which Level 3 has accused Comcast. The action has been prompted partly by a court ruling in April that upheld Comcast's right to restrict access to BitTorrent, a service often used to carry pirated movies.

The FCC postponed its monthly meeting by a week to 21 December, in a move believed to be aimed at giving the agency more time to consider whether it would take on net neutrality, according to Reuters.

An agenda for the FCC meeting is expected to be issued today that could make it clear whether the FCC will propose net neutrality rules this year.

Net neutrality rules would determine whether high-speed internet providers should be allowed to block or slow information or charge websites for a "fast lane".

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