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.