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Comcast appeals FCC traffic-blocking ruling

Broadband provider challenges ruling that Comcast's throttling of BitTorrent traffic was unlawful.

Comcast is appealing a ruling by the Federal Communications Commission that found the broadband provider had illegally blocked some customers' Web traffic.

The appeal, filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court of Appeals in Washington, challenges the FCC's ruling on August 1 that Comcast's throttling of BitTorrent traffic last year was unlawful--the first time any U.S. broadband provider has ever been found to violate Net neutrality rules. The FCC issued a cease-and-desist order and required the company to disclose to subscribers in the future how it plans to manage traffic.

"We filed this appeal in order to protect our legal rights and to challenge the basis on which the (FCC) found that Comcast violated federal policy in the absence of pre-existing legally enforceable standards or rules," Comcast executive vice president David L. Cohen said in a statement.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said he was "disappointed by Comcast's decision to appeal."

Comcast, the largest cable provider in the U.S., has been under fire for months after it was discovered the company had been slowing down peer-to-peer traffic on its network. Comcast had said that its measures to slow BitTorrent transfers, which it voluntarily ended in March, were necessary to prevent its network from being overrun. At a public hearing in February, Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen said, "Comcast may on a limited basis temporarily delay certain P2P traffic when that traffic has or is projected to have an adverse effect on other customers' use of the service."

Consumer groups were incensed by the tactic, and the FCC investigation ensued over whether Comcast had violated any of its Net neutrality principles.

Since that ruling, Comcast announced plans to reduce Internet service to customers it deems to be using too much bandwidth. To keep service flowing to other customers, Comcast plans to impede Internet speeds to its heaviest users for up to 20 minutes, Mitch Bowling, Comcast's senior vice president and general manager of online services, told Bloomberg in an interview.

The company also announced it would set a data cap of 250GBs per month for its residential customers beginning on October 1.