Level 3-Comcast dispute could end up in wary FCC's lap

Having failed to resolve whether their relationship is based on peering or traffic management, Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) and Level 3 Communications (Nasdaq: LVLT) have taken their case--and their opinions--to the FCC.

Level 3 thinks it's a violation of net neutrality--although that system has yet to be officially adopted--and claims that Comcast is unfairly restricting its Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX)-heavy video traffic for competitive reasons. Comcast says it's a case of fairness: Level 3 is sending more traffic than it receives back, thereby creating a peering imbalance.

So far neither side has officially taken the matter to the FCC. It could be only a matter of time, however, before Level 3 feels the need to push the FCC for an answer to the question of where the dispute is centered: on the backbone or at the last mile.

"If the company does, will the agency take it on?" asked an arstechnica analysis. "And if the FCC does, how will it research, deliberate and answer that ... question?"

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