Comcast Spent Millions Repealing Net Neutrality, Now Wants You To Believe It Won't Take Full, Brutal Advantage

from the one-born-every-minute dept

Despite the nation’s biggest ISP and cable company having spent millions of dollars and lobbying man hours on repealing broadband privacy rules and soon net neutrality protections, executives at the least-liked company in America hope you’re dumb enough to believe they won’t be taking full advantage.

Comcast has spent months now falsely claiming that it will still adhere to “net neutrality” once the FCC’s rules are gutted by Ajit Pai. But the company’s pet definition of net neutrality is so narrow as to be effectively meaningless. For example, last week as the FCC was trying to hide its obvious handout to telecom duopolies behind the cranberry and stuffing, Comcast issued a tweet again insisting that you can trust them to be on their best behavior despite the fact there will soon be no meaningful rules holding their feet to the fire:

Comcast would have you ignore the fact that net neutrality violations are just a symptom of a lack of competition in the broadband market. They’d also like you to ignore that there’s a myriad of ways that ISPs like Comcast have taken advantage of this lack of competition to engage in even worse anti-competitive behavior, with “throttling” and “blocking” just being a small subsection. For example, a lack of competition lets Comcast impose arbitrary and unnecessary usage caps and overage fees, then exempt its own content from those caps while penalizing direct competitors like Netflix.

Comcast also hopes you’ve forgotten this debate began, in part, when Comcast decided to throttle the upstream traffic of all BitTorrent users on the Comcast network without telling anybody, then lied about it repeatedly. Similarly, Comcast hopes you don’t realize that as people grew wise to ham-fisted throttling and blocking, ISPs began abusing net neutrality in other, more “creative” ways — like intentionally letting peering points congest in order to drive up costs for transit and content operators who foolishly wanted their traffic to reach consumers unimpeded (aka “double dipping,” or less generously: extortion).

There’s a reason Comcast and other large ISPs are happily promising not to throttle or outright “block” websites: large ISPs now know it’s hard to get away with either now that the public and press are more savvy to what they’ve been up to. They know that blatantly throttling or blocking a website completely would generate a tidal wave of negative PR.

That’s why they’ve long-since moved on to more creative technical abuses of limited competition they can hide behind half-baked techno-babble and semantics, whether that’s usage caps and zero rating, charging you more money for privacy, or strangling innovation via their lucrative cable box hardware monopoly.

Anybody that honestly believes that uncompetitive duopolies won’t take full, brutal advantage of limited competition and incompetent/corrupt regulators is ignoring history and fooling themselves. Fortunately, most people seem to understand that when it comes to not abusing a lack of competition, large, incumbent telecom providers are the very last companies in America you should trust:

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Comments on “Comcast Spent Millions Repealing Net Neutrality, Now Wants You To Believe It Won't Take Full, Brutal Advantage”

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Anonymous Coward says:

It’s amusing to see them spin this bull when many people have reported YouTube being severely throttled even on 100/20 connections (like me) to the point that not being able to even watch videos at 480p. It just shows how cowardly and pathetic Comcast is regarding their position. They just can’t admit it can they?

JoeCool (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Exactly! I have CenturyLink DSL, and they’ve been screwing with youtube for at least the last few years. It got to the point that I don’t try to watch youtube live, I download the video and watch it after the download is complete – it’s the only way I can watch youtube with constant interruptions and whatnot.

David says:

Well, of course they promise to play nice.

That was the whole point. So that next time they are caught with pants down, they can say “well, don’t make a fuss. It’s not like there is a law against it.”

I mean, that’s how net neutrality came about in the first place: “ok, then let’s make a law against it.”

Now what are you going to do?

Anonymous Coward says:

You've long argued for cities making "public-private" partnerships...

to fund network infrastructure with tax money, which is outright fascism not capitalism.

You didn’t object, for instance, that Google “bought” existing city internet structure costing millions for $1, and hasn’t kept promises to build more.

So WHY do you object to Comcast “partnering” on national scale?

Techdirt also argues that “internet corporations” especially Google and Facebook must have special privileges in law to shield them from the liability that publishing on paper would bring…

So WHY do you advocate fascism at times, then rail at it other times?

Your view of fascism done right is to favor or oppose with regard to how benefits Google.

Do you even recall “Don’t be evil”? Corporations HIDE their intent until get entrenched.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: You've long argued for cities making "public-private" partnerships...

I get it… someone uses your own BS logic back at you and you get all bent over it?

This is why I say the Rs and Ds deserve each other.

Two BSers BSing about a bunch of BS they know nothing about.

serves you BS suckkas right!

Joseph Ratliff (profile) says:

Re: You've long argued for cities making "public-private" partnerships...

“So WHY do you advocate fascism at times, then rail at it other times?”

Your dichotomies presented are false in so many ways it’s not funny.

There aren’t “sides” … and this isn’t some “battle.” Google is evil in ways, and “not evil” in others. Comcast is the same.

So it’s not about what “Techdirt is advocating” as it is how to present one of the most complex arguments in our technological history.

Almost no one likes the idea of “more Government regulation” … but that is necessary to keep ISP companies from going “full oligarchy.”

Google made promises it hasn’t kept, because people fell for the argument they were making.

Comcast et. al (remember, there are other ISP’s) is trying to do the same, and some people are falling for the argument they are making as it pertains to Net Neutrality.

Some people (like Ajit Pai) are “bought” into the idea in more than one way.

But as simplistic as I’m trying to make it, this is a big complex mess of politics, policy, money, Internet, infrastructure, capitalism, etc…

Un-tying that mess (which the Big Co.’s and their lobbies create) is what Techdirt does fairly well.

It might appear they “go one way” then “go the other” to you, but expand your dichotomies from “favor or oppose” to “How does this one thing affect the 50 other things?” and “How do those 50 other things affect each other?”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: You've long argued for cities making "public-private" partnerships...

fund network infrastructure with tax money, which is outright fascism not capitalism.

No more than funding public road infrastructure with tax money. Private companies build it, private companies use it, and it works reasonably well. It’s not pure capitalism but I rarely see politicians arguing against it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: You've long argued for cities making "public-private" partnerships...

“which is outright fascism “

Perhaps you misunderstand what the term fascism describes?

“Google and Facebook must have special privileges”

You must be referring to section 230 – idk, but I thought it applied to everyone – so why do you say it is only for a few corporations? I must be missing something here.

An Onymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: You've long argued for cities making "public-private" partnerships...

Techdirt also argues that “internet corporations” especially Google and Facebook must have special privileges in law to shield them from the liability that publishing on paper would bring…

> So WHY do you advocate fascism at times, then rail at it other times?

I can’t tell whether you seriously believe what you wrote or you’re just trolling.

Nobody is arguing that Google and Facebook be shielded from liability for publishing their own content. Nobody is arguing that individual users of those services be shielded from liability. What we’re arguing is that Google and Facebook should not be held liable for the drivel that you publish on their platforms because it’s not possible for Google and Facebook to “police” your drivel at internet scale.

The internet is nothing like a newspaper. Stop trying to equate the two. It’s disingenuous at best, straight up deceit at worst. And there’s nothing “fascist” about not holding Techdirt responsible for your lies.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: You've long argued for cities making "public-private" partnerships...

The Internet is a global telecommunications network. What we want is for the FCC to ensure we, the general public, can use the Internet unhindered by the whims of the telecom companies that control our access to it. If we pay for Internet access, we should be able to access every site with no throttling of speed—not just the sites that ISPs want us to access at speeds they think we deserve.

We want regulation that upholds the principles of Network Neutrality. We want it because we know the companies who would break those principles will do so as soon as they can. The telecoms will see an opportunity to turn the Internet into a ISP-paywalled gold mine where the people most desperate to access niche content—e.g., young queer people looking to access support groups that are not on social media or other heavy-traffic sites—will have to pay for that privilege. If you think it won’t happen—can’t happen—you sorely underestimate both the power of greed and the willingness of the government to let the rich get richer while making the poor that much poorer.

We who support Network Neutrality legislation do not want the FCC to control our access to any kind of content. We want the FCC to tell ISPs and telcoms that they should not get to control what kind of content we get to access. That, sir, is what sounds about right.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: You've long argued for cities making "public-private" partnerships...

Mike Masnick has been on his googlegod’s payroll for years, but has denied that fact for just as long. All along, he’s had arbitrary double-standards depending on who you are, and has denied those as well. His pseudo-empire is crumbling around him recently so his hastiness has caused those cracks to become much more visible and harder to obfuscate.

Berenerd (profile) says:

The easiest way to debunk this: If you are going to follow it, why get rid of it?

If you truly are going to follow it, you will be at a disadvantage because others won’t be. You would soon be pushed out and have to sell your company to those who are not playing by the rules you set for yourself. At this point, you have spent so much on getting a law repealed that it killed you once you got what you asked for. Sadly, I feel, there are enough people in this country to believe this.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Facebook-like walled garden?

AOL might be a bad example. AOL’s purchase of Time-Warner for an eye-popping $160 billion at the close of the 1990s tech bubble is often ranked at the worst corporate decision ever made. Fot that amount of money, AOL could have practically taken over the cable TV industry and therefore maintained its ISP dominance as the dialup ISP market transitioned to broadband.

The decline of AOL and its walled garden created a major opening for “social” services like Facebook and Twitter to occupy people’s time, just as AOL once did, in a whole new menagerie of the mind.

It might be worth remembering that the early pioneering companies like Compuserve and AOL did not exactly practice network neutrality either, but at least back then people had other choices of (dialup) internet providers, unlike today.

One direction seems certain: vertical integration, with a single company both producing the content and distributing it, as well as constantly devising ways to maintain its monopoly grip. It’s the very thing that probably would have happened a century ago, if the federal government had not stepped in and slapped down regulations to prevent a single company from owning a movie studio as well as the theaters that played its content (in addition to radio station ownership,etc). It’s funny how the government’s traditional anti-monopoly interventionism has become almost completely reversed in recent decades.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Facebook-like walled garden?

Why do you assume that silly purchases are no longer the chic thing to brag about at cocktail parties?

You have not stated why you think history will not repeat its self. People will get tired of the boorish corporate sponsored garden and will leave. They are betting upon their monopoly position to force those who need connectivity into ridiculous contracts, like those cell phone contracts that everyone hates.

“AOL did not exactly practice network neutrality either”

That was sorta the point of the comment. You seem to have talked yourself in a full circle.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Facebook-like walled garden?

It’s not just flooding your mailbox, broadband providers send sales people out to knock on doors. I felt sorry for the short, morbidly obese “affirmative action” hire who was set out in a hilly neighborhood with long distances between front doors, with much hard work for every potential sales commission.

An Onymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Prioritization is, by definition, throttling of competing traffic. They are one and the same. In order to give traffic A full access you must necessarily restrict B and C if not doing so would require more bandwidth than is available.

But congratulations America. You got what you voted for. Now suffer in it a while so you really feel, deep down, the stab of “We told you so.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You are wrong, prioritization is simply saying which packet goes first if 2 show up at the same time.

it is NOT throttling!

If a packet from netflix shows up before a packet from one of comcasts networks then the netflix packet will route without any delay.

At best you can only say that prioritization has potential knock-on effects of bandwidth, but only when the line has been saturated over 100%… otherwise there is no bandwidth loss with prioritization.

Prioritization or QoS is a legitimate as shit technology and SHOULD be allowed and deployed over network for obvious as fuck reasons!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

So was it technically “prioritization” or “QoS” when Comcast created forged TCP RST packets to knock BitTorrent users offline, and would you argue that Comcast’s spewing of forged packets into the network data stream was not a man-in-the-middle attack but a perfectly legitimate traffic management tool?

JoeCool (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

You are wrong, prioritization is simply saying which packet goes first if 2 show up at the same time.

it is NOT throttling!

Sorry, but YOU are wrong. It IS throttling. If two packets show up at the exact same time (which is TECHNICALLY impossible), if you do anything other than RANDOMLY decide which goes first, you’re throttling. Period. And simply allowing one to go first because they pay you a fee is exactly the same as throttling all other traffic.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Prioritization or QoS is a legitimate as shit technology and SHOULD be allowed and deployed over network for obvious as fuck reasons!”

The first bits of the frame that are configured by decisions made by the end user, is the port number in the TCP/UDP header. If the carrier analyzes the datagram about OSI layer 3, then they are examining end user to end user communications, which is data that is protected by the 4th amendment and wiretapping laws, without the consent of parties who have they have no business with.

Layer 3 traffic is carrier traffic. Layer 4 traffic is consumer traffic. If you can’t switch efficiently on layer 3, then you shouldn’t be switching at all.

IOW, take your QOS switch and shove it up your ass.

David says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

At best you can only say that prioritization has potential knock-on effects of bandwidth, but only when the line has been saturated over 100%… otherwise there is no bandwidth loss with prioritization.

So priorization will sell better when Comcast stops all investments into broadband. Maybe take a sledgehammer to some fiber installations, too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Prioritization or QoS is a legitimate as shit technology and SHOULD be allowed and deployed over network for obvious as fuck reasons!

So long as all similar packets are treated the same, that is all video streams get the same priority. Give you own content priority over competitors content and you are manipulating traffic to your own advantage.

sorrykb (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

That. But they aren’t throttling, no no, it’s just giving priority to "better" services. It’s for the consumers well being!

We just need to understand that Comcast has its own special, improved dictionary.

  • "paid priority": pay up or lag eternally
  • "transparent": impossibly opaque to all but our biggest donors
  • "exciting upgrades to your television service": cutting channels you watch, adding channels you’ll never watch, and raising your rates
Caveqat says:

Goo problem?

This is on a good network. So far the best in America. Yes, they have problems, ads have to load prior to the content, but, I’ve been on att, RR and the big c. I’ve seen the same behavior, and a hell of a lot worse. At least with goo I get a response today. They let me give them feedback. And their response is in common language, if it’s geekish, they will translate. Or reference it for me.
Just like all start up companies, they have to battle for access to your wallet. Monopolies don’t like that. They don’t like to share their access to your dollar. Remember the old BBS days, and downloading one movie a night, or a podcast, a night, and getting the commercial before the stream died due to the buffer being full, or, some such. But, the monopolies love being the only game in town. And if you thought the game is bad now, just wait, it ain’t gonna get better. They will charge more while letting the service degrade. Just because they can. They will.

Anonymous Coward says:

"We promise not to create ‘slow lanes’, we’re just going to make a ‘fast lane(TM)’"

"We promise not to block anything on our new plan for only $199 a month! Also, now introducing a new discounted plan for only $80 a month that has access to many of your favorite web-sites!"

"We promise not to throttle legal content! Only P2P will be throttled! Oh, and youtube. Hey, whatever video you were trying to watch is probably violating copyright law in some country."

Anonymous Coward says:

We do not and will not block, throttle, or discriminate against lawful content.

How about what they consider to be unlawful content, and who decides. What about a site where there is some unlawful content.

That promise give them room to drive a bus through, especially where site with user generated content is concerned.

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Eh, I’m fairly sure this is just to give them room to not have to fight every site-blocking court order to the death.

While site blocking is generally bad, and it would certainly be nice if Comcast would fight against it, I can easily see why it’s reasonable for them to not want to be bound to doing so in every single case regardless of the merits or the expense.

Anonymous Coward says:

Two Comcast representatives lied directly to my face about planned upgrades to my neighborhood. Second time I asked for a business card and told her that Comcast is lying. She didn’t believe me. I told her I believe Comcast sent her out for just to connect with people, talk about new plans in the area and then after everyone is happy, they will cancel the upgrade and the majority of people won’t notice. They were planning on doubling the speeds in our area in 3 months time and giving everyone upgrades to their new tier internet speeds when they do. So after 90 days, I tested the internet occasionally and no change. 30 more days I called her and asked about that upgrade. She told me they cancelled all upgrades in the area. From then on, I just assume anything Comcast says is a lie till proven otherwise. I am assuming if NN is removed, Comcast is instantly going to put up all new internet tiers, inject adds directly into websites, permanently throttle websites they disagree with, and track everything that isn’t encrypted.

Anonymous Coward says:

ha ha ha

this is hilarious!

We love regulation… until we don’t but keep asking for more even when it is being used to screw us! WHAAAAAAAAA!

When you guys finally figure it out… it will be too late. It probably already is too late.

Of course Comcast is going to take advantage… why shouldn’t they? You make it super easy!

TD and Comcast has something in common… and that is a hate for Free-Market ideals, and since you both hate the Free-market it is easy to destroy it! Now all we have are two entities crying like babies over the problems they helped create.

You just don’t get to tell other people what they can and cannot do and have a free market or liberty at the same time. Someone is getting oppressed, period!

You made your bed and kicked Free-Market out of it, now lay in it!

Anonymous Coward says:

Competition? Not so sure about that one. If we got rid of all regulations, would competition increase or decrease?

Wireless and new technology was supposed to take care of this, and considering there are over 400 ISP’s in the US currently, it might be there.

There are options other than cable or wireless companies, some offer better prices and service. There are other options.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

If we got rid of all regulations, would competition increase or decrease?

Depends. If the telcos are allowed to own the infrastructure then it would decrease due to natural monopoly or you would get this shit mess “lookup india teleophone pole” and you will see what that looks like.

If we only need to get rid of regulations that secure these fucking monopolies and fiefdoms and only keep regulations that Protect free market in the form of anti-trust and anti-monopoly laws.

Then we will have solved the problem as solvable as it can be. You can only protect from corruption so much before it becomes a force of corruption on it own in the form of regulatory capture which is what is going on right now and what the free-market folks have been warning for so fucking long.

Told you so does not even cut it right now… it’s told you fucking shitbags so fucking many times you now YOU fucking DESERVE it told you so now!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Ummm, don’t they own it? Didn’t they pay for it? Didn’t they pay people to put that infrastructure in place?”

Well the way it works is this. The state gives them a shit load of money to build networks, then they don’t build the networks, and kick back the money into the encumbants political campaigns.

So technically, not only is it fair to say that the public owns the fiber, but also that it owns the politician. Please Verizon, can I borrow one of your bitches? I need my lawn raked.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

But haven’t companies been doing just that -and getting away with it – at least since the early days of the railroad?

It’s funny that whenever these kind of private-company/government partnerships exists, one side tends to profit enormously — and it’s not hard to figure out which side that will be.

NeghVar (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Looked up India telephone pole. WOW! What we need is a system like what South Korea has. A single company maintains a single network infrastructure for all data. ISP’s pay the company to lease X amount of bandwidth onto the network. The ISP then offers its services to its subscribers for a fee. Other ISP’s do the same thing to compete with other ISP’s. Since no single ISP owns the network infrastructure, It allows a very competitive market.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

What is needed is that the CO’s need to be carrier neutral and owned by the municipalities. Really they are just big buildings with A/C and lots of power. Then the local loop needs to be owned by the customer, or by local collectives like many of the smaller power companies. Then the carriers can compete at providing capacity to the CO ONLY.

This solves the black market cabling problem, and maintains competition. The carrier should really only ever be responsible for the backbone and the backhaul from the CO to the backbone.

Everything else should be local.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Comcast has ALWAYS been a dick at any given opportunity.

Comcast is notorious for taking any opportunity to engage in subversive tactics to increase profits. Obstruction of competition is its prime strategy.

Considering Concast’s extensive history, why would we trust them. The only reason I have to live with Comcast is I don’t have any other options.

(And I’m not getting any new options anytime soon in this neighborhood.)

Anonymous Coward says:

We do not and will not block, throttle, or discriminate against lawful content. We will continue to make sure that our policies are clear and transparent for consumers, and we will not change our commitment to these principles.

Hell, then you wouldn’t mind it being put in some regulation, would you? Since you are going to do it anyway… Great!

David says:

Lawn chair analogy

Suppose I sell lawn chair usage. I have 10 lawn chairs to rent, and 10 people have paid. Now another 5 come in. What do I do?

Infrastructure investment would mean buying more lawn chairs, but let’s not be stupid.

We make some upgrade offers customers cannot refuse and look-and-behold, we have 15 customers with access to “up to 1 lawn chair”. That’s net neutrality.

Now 5 more customers come in. We could just charge them for access to “up to 1 lawn chair”, but where is the profit in that? Instead they can opt to pay a hefty surplus charge for the right to push others off a lawn chair.

Of course, those others can upgrade for that priority service as well. And they will. And will curse the “sun bingers”.

Now three lawn chairs break down from all the pushing. A golden opportunity for closing more “priority sales”. We now have mostly goldstar plus customers pushing each other off the remaining lawn chairs, proud to be paying premium price for premium service.

Make no mistake: the “net neutrality” situation wasn’t good. There were lawn chairs missing. But now the lack of lawn chairs is actually driving profits, and selling more than is available is a feature, not a bug.

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