By Associated Press Writer
updated 9/21/2008 11:25:26 AM ET 2008-09-21T15:25:26

Comcast Corp. said its new method of managing Internet traffic may sometimes result in slower Web surfing for subscribers who use their cable modem the most, yet the company has not received a single customer complaint in trial runs in five areas.

The new system is set to replace the current one, which drew a sanction from the Federal Communications Commission, for all Comcast subscribers by the end of the year.

In a filing Friday with the FCC, the cable company said the new system kicks in only when Internet traffic in the area approaches congestion. It then identifies which customer accounts are using the greatest amounts of bandwidth and slows down their Internet traffic until the traffic jam eases.

"Customers will still be able to do anything they want to online, and many activities will be unaffected, but they could experience things like: longer times to download or upload files, surfing the Web may seem somewhat slower, or playing games online may seem somewhat sluggish," the company said.

In a precedent-setting ruling, Comcast was ordered by the FCC in August to institute a new traffic management system, and provide details on its workings by Friday.

Under its older system, still in place for the majority of subscribers, Comcast blocks or delays some forms of Internet file-sharing to prevent traffic jams. In its August ruling, a divided FCC sided with consumer groups who had complained that in discriminating against certain forms of traffic, the system violated the FCC's guidelines on the openness of the Internet and the unwritten principle of "Net neutrality."

Months before the FCC's order, Comcast responded to the investigation by saying it would institute a new management system that treats different traffic types equally by the end of the year.

The trials show that less than 1 percent of customers have their traffic slowed on a typical day, Comcast said.

"Comcast did not receive a single customer complaint that could be traced to this new congestion management practice, despite having publicized the trials and notifying customers involved in the trials via e-mail," it said.

While complying with the FCC's ruling, Comcast has also challenged it in a federal appeals court, saying it was legally inappropriate and unjustified.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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