The NY Times is reporting that the FCC has found that Comcast’s aggresive blocking of BitTorrent traffic has violated the FCC’s open access rules. What the penalty will be will not be known until August once the full board has met.
This ruling sets a fantastic precedent, while every ISP shapes traffic to some extent if they are too aggresive or indiscreet with their actions the FCC will step up and penalise them. Comcast is of course not saying they will stop packet shaping altogether but rather that they will instead experiment with other packet shaping techniques.
This ruling does not ban any packet shaping of Internet traffic, in fact it acknowledges that traffic shaping is a valid action for ISPs to take. What it means is that ISPs must detail the techniques they use. ISPs must also show that the shaping is designed to improve traffic flow without targetting any specific group, sites or protocols. Good news on balance I would say.