Responding to claims that Comcast, the nation’s largest cable operator, blocks or otherwise interferes with certain peer-to-peer (P2P) and similar applications used by subscribers on its Internet network, the FCC requested comment Monday on a declaratory ruling that would address whether Comcast’s actions violate the FCC’s policy statement on net neutrality and whether those actions constitute “reasonable network management” that the FCC would deem as permissible. The FCC’s probe responds to a petition, filed last November by Free Press and the Media Access Project, that accuses Comcast of “secretly degrading innovative protocols used for transporting and sharing large files.” Last October, the Associated Press released the results of an investigation that faulted Comcast for hindering web traffic generated by subscribers that use BitTorrent, a popular P2P file-sharing program. Both petitioners have asked the FCC to hold Comcast liable for fines of $195,000 for every affected subscriber. In a separate request, Vuze, Inc., a video service distributor that relies on the BitTorrent system to deliver its content, has asked the FCC to clarify the term “reasonable network management” in determining how much power Comcast and other Internet service providers should have in controlling web-based traffic. Comments on the petitions are due on February 13, and the deadline for replies is February 28. Comcast—which is required to submit its response by January 25—has denied the allegations but admits to “delaying” the delivery of certain Internet traffic in the interest of improving service for most subscribers. Asserting that, “our practices are in accordance with the FCC’s policy statement on the Internet where the Commission clearly recognized that reasonable network management is necessary for the good of all consumers,” Comcast said, “we look forward to responding to the FCC inquiries."