Free Press Concerned with Cox's New Internet Practices

Contact Info: 
Jen Howard, Free Press, (202) 265-1490

WASHINGTON -- Cox Communications, the nation's third-largest cable company, today announced that in February it will begin testing new network management practices that degrade traffic the company deems not "time sensitive."

Last summer, the Federal Communications Commission confirmed, in a landmark ruling against Comcast, that it is illegal for Internet service providers to block or impede access to lawful online content. Months of investigation confirmed that Comcast was blocking legal peer-to-peer file-sharing, and the company was ordered to stop and to fully disclose every detail of both old and new network management practices to the FCC. Research by the Max Planck Institute in Germany last May indicated that Cox was engaging in a similar practice.

Cox's Web site says that its new network management technique "automatically ensures that all time-sensitive Internet traffic -- such as web pages, voice calls, streaming videos and gaming -- moves without delay. Less time-sensitive traffic, such as file uploads, peer-to-peer and Usenet newsgroups, may be delayed momentarily -- but only when the local network is congested."

Ben Scott, policy director of Free Press, issued the following statement:

"The lesson we learned from the Comcast case is that we must be skeptical of any practice that comes between users and the Internet.

"The information provided by Cox gives little indication about how its new practices will impact Internet users, or if they comply with the FCC's Internet Policy Statement. Cox customers will certainly want to know more about how the company is interfering with their Internet traffic and what criteria it uses to discriminate.

"As a general rule, we're concerned about any cable or phone company picking winners and losers online. These kinds of practices cut against the fundamental neutrality of the open Internet. We urge the FCC to subject this practice to close scrutiny and call on Cox to provide its customers with more technical details about exactly what it's doing."

Read about Cox's new practices: http://www.cox.com/policy/congestionmanagement/

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