Charter Hires Leading Net Neutrality Advocate To Write Its Net Neutrality Commitments, Promises To Go Further Than FCC Rules

from the who-are-you-and-what-have-you-done-with-the-cable-company? dept

By and large, the mega-ISP version of net neutrality has unsurprisingly been a far cry from the consumer and small business definition of net neutrality. At the moment, most ISPs argue that net neutrality only means they won’t throttle or outright block competing content. It’s this vague, incomplete definition (in that it doesn’t cover issues like usage caps, interconnection or zero rating) the incumbent carriers have used when they’ve told regulators they “promise to adhere to net neutrality” if the latest merger-du-jour is allowed to go through. That’s why, when Comcast promised it would adhere to “net neutrality” if it was allowed to buy NBC (and more recently Time Warner Cable), it meant — to use a highly-scientific term — jack shit.

So it’s interesting to see Charter Communications — which is trying to gobble up Time Warner Cable after Comcast’s failed merger attempt — suddenly promising to adhere to real net neutrality to get their deal done. The company is apparently dedicated enough to the idea that they’ve hired leading net neutrality and consumer advocate Marvin Ammori to help hash out a meaningful commitment that would appeal to a more consumer-focused FCC. Ammori, if you’re unaware, was basically the key player in making sure the FCC passed good rules instead of the original terrible rules.

According to a piece by Ammori over at Wired, he actually wound up writing Charter’s commitment:

“Charter hired me?which, to be honest, took some humility on its part since I have helped lead public campaigns against cable companies like Charter?to advise it in crafting its commitment to network neutrality. After our negotiation, I can say Charter is offering the strongest network neutrality commitments ever offered?in any merger or, to my knowledge, in any nation. In fact, in the end, I personally wrote the commitments.”

That in and of itself is pretty impressive; I’ve covered the broadband industry for the better part of a lifetime, and the vast, vast majority of ISP merger conditions are promises that are utterly, mind-bendingly meaningless. They’re almost always fluff and nonsense, political show ponies written by ISP lawyers to sound good to the clueless, even if they accomplish less than nothing. So for a cable company to bring on board a fierce neutrality critic to pen their commitment to neutrality is unprecedented. What’s more, while the FCC has so far turned a blind eye to more clever types of neutrality violations (like usage caps and zero rating, pretty much ground zero of the current neutrality debate), Marvin managed to get those included in Charter’s commitment as well:

“Since zero rating favors some sites over others based on the broadband provider?s preferences (not the users?), my allies and I urged the FCC to ban zero rating in all forms, but the FCC didn?t go that far. Charter necessarily will. In fact, it will commit to no data cap at all?and no usage-based billing?therefore it will be unable to exempt any applications from those practices.”

That Charter — a company that’s flirted with usage caps on and off for years — has agreed to avoid not only zero rating but usage caps entirely is a pretty big deal. Most cable operators are aggressively eyeing usage caps to jack up consumer broadband bills, well aware that inevitably users will chose to cut the TV and cable VoIP cord in exchange for over the top data services. Though only catch here, as Ammori notes, is that the restrictions only apply to Charter for a three year span, after which (especially if the FCC’s neutrality rules are killed by the courts) all gloves are off and the fight begins anew. It’s also important to remember that while Charter’s busy making these promises, it’s actively engaged in suing the FCC to destroy the net neutrality rules as a member in the NCTA.

Still, that Charter’s willing to go this far is night and day from Comcast’s merger approach, which was to dazzle everyone with an endless parade of utter bullshit and hope that nobody was smart enough to see truth, buried as it was under a junk yard of meaningless promises.

Filed Under: , , , , , , ,
Companies: charter communications, time warner cable

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Charter Hires Leading Net Neutrality Advocate To Write Its Net Neutrality Commitments, Promises To Go Further Than FCC Rules”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
11 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

Words are nice, but ultimately meaningless

Actions are what really matters.

They can say whatever they want and it doesn’t cost them a thing. They can promise no caps, no throttling, and that every customer will get a free Ferrari, but that doesn’t mean anything if they never follow through.

Cable companies are great at making promises, especially when it comes time to knock out some competition via merger, but when it comes to following up on those promises, more often than not they fail spectacularly, so while this ‘commitment’ may sound nice on paper, as the saying goes, “I’ll believe it when I see it”.

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

Same story coming up

Even though Comcast broke its last set of merger promises worse than a Faberge egg crushed by a steamroller, the government will say, “Oh, so long as you make promises, go ahead with your thing then.” [Stage instruction: hand waving dismissively]

Then, maybe in another ten years, the government will notice these new promises were broken worse than a Faberge egg under a pile driver, and threaten to fine Comcast for a dollar…and, boy, will that ever teach Comcast a lesson!

Andy Tiller says:

Zero rating - can someone explain why it violates net neutrality?

I get the concept: “…zero rating favors some sites over others based on the broadband provider’s preferences (not the users’)”. OK, but so what? How is this against the interests of the end user? Should we ban 1-800 phone numbers as well?

I also understand the argument that in the long term the sites which can afford to sponsor their own data traffic might win out over smaller sites which can’t afford to do so, which therefore reduces competition. But isn’t that just business? Should we prevent those bigger sites from advertising as well, because they can get an unfair competitive advantage from having larger advertising budgets?

I genuinely want to know if there is a real argument against zero rating, rather than just a whole load of negative sentiment against big corporates whom we all love to hate…

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...
Older Stuff
09:37 British Telecom Wants Netflix To Pay A Tax Simply Because Squid Game Is Popular (32)
04:55 Axios Parrots A Lot Of Dumb, Debunked Nonsense About Net Neutrality (54)
10:50 NY AG Proves Broadband Industry Funded Phony Public Support For Attack On Net Neutrality (10)
06:24 The GOP Is Using Veterans As Props To Demonize Net Neutrality (22)
06:03 Telecom Using Veterans As Props To Demonize California's New Net Neutrality Law (12)
09:32 AT&T Whines That California Net Neutrality Rules Are Forcing It To Behave (11)
06:23 The New York Times (Falsely) Informs Its 7 Million Readers Net Neutrality Is 'Pointless' (51)
15:34 Facebook's Australian News Ban Did Demonstrate The Evil Of Zero Rating (18)
04:58 'Net Neutrality Hurt Internet Infrastructure Investment' Is The Bad Faith Lie That Simply Won't Die (11)
05:48 Dumb New GOP Talking Point: If You Restore Net Neutrality, You HAVE To Kill Section 230. Just Because! (66)
06:31 DOJ Drops Ridiculous Trump-Era Lawsuit Against California For Passing Net Neutrality Rules (13)
06:27 The Wall Street Journal Kisses Big Telecom's Ass In Whiny Screed About 'Big Tech' (13)
10:45 New Interim FCC Boss Jessica Rosenworcel Will Likely Restore Net Neutrality, Just Not Yet (5)
15:30 Small Idaho ISP 'Punishes' Twitter And Facebook's 'Censorship' ... By Blocking Access To Them Entirely (81)
05:29 A Few Reminders Before The Tired Net Neutrality Debate Is Rekindled (13)
06:22 U.S. Broadband Speeds Jumped 90% in 2020. But No, It Had Nothing To Do With Killing Net Neutrality. (12)
12:10 FCC Ignores The Courts, Finalizes Facts-Optional Repeal Of Net Neutrality (19)
10:46 It's Opposite Day At The FCC: Rejects All Its Own Legal Arguments Against Net Neutrality To Claim It Can Be The Internet Speech Police (13)
12:05 Blatant Hypocrite Ajit Pai Decides To Move Forward With Bogus, Unconstitutional Rulemaking On Section 230 (178)
06:49 FCC's Pai Puts Final Bullet In Net Neutrality Ahead Of Potential Demotion (25)
06:31 The EU Makes It Clear That 'Zero Rating' Violates Net Neutrality (6)
06:22 DOJ Continues Its Quest To Kill Net Neutrality (And Consumer Protection In General) In California (11)
11:08 Hypocritical AT&T Makes A Mockery Of Itself; Says 230 Should Be Reformed For Real Net Neutrality (28)
06:20 Trump, Big Telecom Continue Quest To Ban States From Protecting Broadband Consumers (19)
06:11 Senators Wyden And Markey Make It Clear AT&T Is Violating Net Neutrality (13)
06:31 Net Neutrali-what? AT&T's New Streaming Service Won't Count Against Its Broadband Caps. But Netflix Will. (25)
06:23 Telecom's Latest Dumb Claim: The Internet Only Works During A Pandemic Because We Killed Net Neutrality (49)
13:36 Ex-FCC Staffer Says FCC Authority Given Up In Net Neutrality Repeal Sure Would Prove Handy In A Crisis (13)
06:27 Clarence Thomas Regrets Brand X Decision That Paved Way For The Net Neutrality Wars (11)
06:17 The FCC To Field More Comments On Net Neutrality. Maybe They'll Stop Identity Theft And Fraud This Time? (79)
More arrow