FCC to Force ISPs to Reveal P2P Blockage and Real World Bandwidth Speeds

Last night, the FCC held its Comcast-less do-over hearing on net neutrality. While the FCC doesn't appear to be super gung-ho on government-enforced net neutrality, the smoke signals indicate that they're leaning toward forcing ISPs to be completely transparent about their network practices, telling you whether they block BitTorrent and how fast your connection is in real-world conditions, not fantasy-land speeds that only spike when the planets align.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin:

"Application designers need to understand what will and what will not work on the network, and consumers must be fully informed about the exact nature of the service they are purchasing."

"Particularly as broadband providers are trying to provide tiers of service, it's critical to make sure that we are understanding that the broadband network operators are able to deliver the speeds and service that they are selling."

That's not to say they're ruling out net neutrality rules—it's clear that they're not, but it's less likely than some sort of transparency regulation, which looks probable. Interestingly, if they did lay down net neutrality rules, there would be exceptions for apps transmitting illegal content, notably child porn, echoing earlier statements. Of course, the MPAA and RIAA would argue that's exactly what p2p apps, so it's a slippery slope.

Poor Comcast, it really is looking like their whole P2P vaudeville show might not stop the FCC after all. If none of this made any sense to you, check out our quick guide to ISPs and network practices, and what they mean for you. [Reuters]