Comcast Supports The President's Net Neutrality Plan, Except For The Only Part That Does Anything Meaningful

from the I-have-absolutely-zero-credibility dept

Most of the industry’s biggest ISPs have spent the last week either threatening to sue over the President’s surprising support of Title II, or in the case of AT&T, pouting like a child and making empty threats. Most of the biggest ISPs also spent the week insisting that the FCC should simply back away from meaningful consumer protections, leaving such heady tasks to a broken, bickering Congress awash in telecom lobbying cash.

Since then, Comcast’s top lobbyist (sorry, Chief Diversity Officer) David Cohen has come out with a second blog post entitled: “Surprise! We agree With the President’s Principles on Net Neutrality.” In it, Cohen does yeoman’s work trying to pretend that Comcast’s, like, totally on board with what the President is selling:

“While some have been led to believe something else, we support net neutrality. And we?ve been consistent in expressing our strong support for an open Internet ? in statements, speeches, blog posts, filings, and advertising.”

Like that time we ham-fistedly throttled all BitTorrent traffic then lied about it repeatedly, leading to a massive national firestorm of criticism, remember? Good times! Comcast proceeds to insist that gosh — there’s no need for real neutrality protections moving forward because they’re already doing all that great stuff out of the goodness of their giant, altruistic heart:

“What is remarkable is that if you compare the President?s articulation of his vision for net neutrality as set forth in the White House talking points released yesterday afternoon, we are on the record as agreeing with every point:

Free and open Internet. We agree ? and that is our practice.

No blocking. We agree ? and that is our practice.

No throttling. We agree ? and that is our practice.

Increased transparency. We agree ? and that is our practice.

No paid prioritization. We agree ? and that is our practice.”

Yes, remarkable! Except Cohen forgets to mention that the only reason they’re still adhering to the shadow of the FCC’s original rules is because they’re required to do so as a condition of their 2009 acquisition of NBC Universal, a condition they’re promising to expand to get their $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable approved. Again though, those promises and conditions don’t mean much because the FCC’s original net neutrality rules contained oodles of loopholes that ISPs can easily dance over, under and around — just as long as they claim their behavior was for the safety and security of the network.

Comcast’s faux support of real neutrality protections is not “game playing or sophistry on our part” insists Comcast’s Cohen, who’d have you forget that at the same time they’re professing to love “transparency,” they’re working to make sure details governing their controversial interconnection details with Netflix — a form of paid prioritization they’re working to ensure aren’t covered by net neutrality rules — aren’t made available to us plebeians.

After breathlessly claiming the company supports Obama’s plan, Cohen then proceeds to proudly announce that the company doesn’t support the only meaningful part of it:

“There is one important technical legal difference of opinion between the President and Comcast: we do not support reclassification of broadband as a telecommunications service under Title II. Doing so would harm future innovation and investment in broadband and is not necessary to put in place strong and enforceable Open Internet protections. We continue to believe that Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act provides more than ample authority to impose those rules, as the DC Circuit made clear.”

It’s amusing to see an industry whose speeds, service and customer support are so bad claim that if the government simply does its job, all of the wonderful things customers are experiencing will be taken away. Like all of that “investment” Comcast puts into its customer support, resulting in not only the worst satisfaction ratings in telecom, but the worst customer satisfaction ratings across any industry. Carriers are definitely going to need some fresher talking points as the debate heats up the next few months, as “we’ll continue to skimp on investment and quality if meaningful rules get passed” isn’t working very well.

Judging from the rather desperate ISP responses this week to the President’s support of Title II, it’s becoming more and more apparent that ISP executives are terrified that net neutrality and Title II are starting to see the kind of intense, authentic grass roots support we witnessed during SOPA. Equally worrysome for ISP executives is that the partisan divides that have stalled meaningful neutrality rules in the past are starting to fall away, as people of all affiliations begin to realize that the broadband industry is so broken and uncompetitive, that Title II is the only path forward when it comes to protecting consumers from telecom industry shenanigans and skulduggery.

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Comments on “Comcast Supports The President's Net Neutrality Plan, Except For The Only Part That Does Anything Meaningful”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Netflix deal?

No paid prioritization. We agree

Yeah, about that Netflix deal?

Comcast and Netflix Reach Deal on Service” by Edward Wyatt and Noam Cohen, New York Times, Feb. 23, 2014

Comcast, the country’s largest cable and broadband provider, and Netflix, the giant television and movie streaming service, announced an agreement Sunday in which Netflix will pay Comcast for faster and more reliable access to Comcast’s subscribers. . . .

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Netflix deal?

… the New York Times must be lying because…


The New York Times must be lying because reasons. Obviously.

There exist people in Kansas who honestly believe that.

I guess the real question must be whether those people out on the Great Plains remember the struggle against the railroads. ‘Cause if they only remember Rural Electrifation, then I s’pose their agin’ it now.

limbodog (profile) says:


Can we just come out and say that big unethical companies being against regulations of their unethical behavior is not really news?

Kinda like how interviewing the mother of a violent criminal will always result in a teary “he was a good boy!”

Or how partisan politicians will always say that anything their opponents do is dangerous and radical?

Can we just stop calling it news?

Anonymous Coward says:

Every single thing that I have read recently that comes out of cohen’s mouth is a falsehood, misdirection or outright untruth.

Why can’t they ever just say

– No fast lanes we agree but Netflix is a special case.

– No throttling well we have done that in the past but we won’t anymore.

– Free and open internet we agree so we will upgrade our boarder routers to accomodate the traffic our customers are asking for.

Why do they just spew bullshit and blatently lie. Everyone knows they are lieing they aren’t tricking anyone with half a brain.

Anonymous Coward says:

The real problem is the defining of net-neutrality. To Techdirt readers/writers it means something different then what the media and telcos are presenting.

I have seen numerous media sources and telcos stating that they want a free and open Internet but that net-neutrality destroys that because of government regulation. While the opposite is true that by regulating them so that telcos are fair to consumers and do as they have promised then we can have that open and free internet

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“The real problem is the defining of net-neutrality. To Techdirt readers/writers it means something different then what the media and telcos are presenting.”

Kinda. The problem isn’t really the definition of net neutrality itself — that’s actually very well-defined. The problem is the telcos (and, by extension,the media) keep lying about and misrepresenting what net neutrality means.

I think one of the traps that net neutrality proponents keep falling into is that they fail to call the liars out when they do this goalpost-shifting. Instead of continuing the “debate”, we need to stop and point out the deception.

It’s hard to argue a point when you let your opponent get away with redefining the words you’re using.

Anonymous Coward says:

If Comcast et al. were truly neutral and in a competitive market...

If Comcast et al. were truly neutral and in a competitive market, then they would be strident supporters of Net Neutrality for the same reason that taxi companies favour regulations which just happen to hurt Uber/Lyft: a regulation that tells you to do something you were already doing doesn’t hurt you, but it may inconvenience your competitor. Net Neutrality would prevent these hypothetical competitors from using these wonderful new business models that the telcos keep threatening to invent to undercut Comcast. Of course, since Comcast has no effective competitors, Net Neutrality doesn’t protect them from competitors, and since they aren’t actually neutral, it would inconvenience Comcast to have those regulations in force.

edinjapan (profile) says:

We don't need the telcos or cable companies

Anyone with some skills can do an endrun around the big players by building their own ISP. Currently in the US it’s illegal(you guys are so fucked up) but, in other countries-like Japan, it’s quite legal.

Obviously, I’m not going to do this. Softbank is supplying me with 40 MBPS service for a very low price. Their competitors-OCN, ODN, Tokyo Metallica, SoNet and NTT Data keep sending me flyers, phoning me up and threatening me with better service, lower prices and cheap presents like iphone 6’s, iPads or other gimmicks-if only I would switch to their service.

Rudyard Holmbast says:

I love how this site’s authors seem to believe that, since Obama has come out in support of “net neutrality”, no one can now oppose it in good faith. There have been multiple posts on this site along the lines of “since the President now supports it, what legitimate objections can one have any longer”, as if the support of our, how shall I put this, less-than-competent president is some sort of trump card that should bring this debate to an end.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“no one can now oppose it in good faith”

OK, so instead of being a partisan tool with nothing but attacks on Obama in 2 posts, how about we hear it:

What is the logical, good faith argument against net neutrality?

I certainly haven’t heard one in the decade this has been debated so far that didn’t depend on lying about the definition of the term. I’m certainly not hearing one now that morons are falling over themselves to oppose it because Obama said it’s good. The man’s right on this subject, no matter what you think of him in general.

Your turn: answer the question.

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