CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – United States Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin said on Monday that he is "ready, willing and able" to prevent broadband providers from unreasonably interfering with subscribers' access to Internet content, according to Reuters.
Martin issued his comments at the start of a day-long FCC hearing focusing on charges that some broadband providers—such as telecommunications and cable companies—have been improperly blocking or hindering some content.
The issue of "network neutrality" is a source of conflict between open-Internet advocates and some service providers such as Comcast Corp, which holds that the companies must take reasonable steps to manage traffic on their networks.
While Martin agreed that broadband network operators have a need to manage the data flowing over their networks, he noted that "does not mean that they can arbitrarily block access to particular applications or services."
Monday's hearing, which included testimony from executives from Comcast and Verizon, is an attempt to determine just what network management techniques are reasonable.
According to Reuters, Martin advocated "transparency" in regard to the way providers manage their networks, and in the prices and services they supply.
The issue has attracted the attention of lawmakers in Congress, who are currently considering a net-neutrality bill that was introduced last week.
In comments filed with the FCC, Comcast explained that it uses what it calls "reasonable measures" to manage traffic on the company's network, as some of its customers overwhelm the system by using file-sharing applications like BitTorrent.
Comcast, the second-largest U.S. Internet service provider with more than 13 million subscribers, claimed that network management is necessary to avoid congestion and impairment of some applications. The company denied that it blocks content, applications or discriminates among providers.