Time Warner accused of violating net neutrality

A San Diego company has filed a complaint against Time Warner Cable alleging that the company is violating the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) new net neutrality rules, The Washington Post reported on Monday night.

It appears to be the first official complaint filed under the new rules, which went into effect earlier this month after a raucous debate at the FCC and on Capitol Hill.

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In the complaint, Commercial Network Services (CNS) argues that Time Warner Cable is unfairly charging it money to carry traffic from webcams that CNS operates in San Diego.

The company claims that the rates violate the net neutrality order’s ban on paid prioritization — or allowing websites to pay for faster delivery to broadband customers. It says it is entitled to a “settlement-free” peering deal with Time Warner Cable so it can connect to the networks at certain points without paying the fees.

"This behavior on a public Internet exchange directly degrades BIAS consumer quality of service by unnecessarily increasing latency and virtually eliminating the possibility that they will be able to enjoy the broadband quality access to the Internet that they are paying for unless the edge-provider has agreed to a 'commercial transit arrangement’ and paid TWC its ransom,” the company said in its complaint.

Time Warner defended its policies.

“TWC’s interconnection practices are not only ‘just and reasonable’ as required by the FCC, but consistent with the practices of all major ISPs and well-established industry standards,” the company said.

“We are confident that the FCC will reject any complaint that is premised on the notion that every edge provider around the globe is entitled to enter into a settlement-free peering arrangement.”

It is not clear whether CNS has a strong case against the broadband giant. Observers have pointed out that the specifics of the case are different from the claims that could be brought by major Internet backbone providers like Cogent and Level 3 Communications. It is also possible the FCC could say that the net neutrality rules don’t apply to the parts of the network the complaint concerns.

The FCC declined to comment on the complaint.

The case will be closely watched because it's the first chance for the FCC to make a ruling based on the new rules, which reclassified the Internet as a utility to bring broadband under heavier regulatory oversight.