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Companies Come Out Of The Woodwork To Claim Comcast Is Violating Net Neutrality... But Exaggerations Abound

from the but-are-they? dept

Network neutrality gets thrown around all too often, quite frequently in misleading ways. As the NBC/Comcast merger gets closer, there were two separate claims that Comcast is violating net neutrality on Monday, probably in an effort to derail the merger or at least include greater restrictions. Of course, it's not entirely clear if either is really a "net neutrality" issue. The first is the more dubious. Cable modem maker Zoom complains that Comcast has jacked up "device testing" costs, creating additional hurdles for Zoom's modems to be used by Comcast customers. I'm reading through the details, and I'm struggling to see how this is, in any way, a "neutrality" issue. It just seems like a stretch by people who are generally against the merger. This has nothing to do with content discrimination and seems more like a standard business relationship complaint.

The other complaint is at least a bit more interesting -- but details are still lacking. Level 3 claims that Comast has told it that it will need to pay up to let Comcast subscribers access online movies offered by Level 3. I'm not familiar with Level 3's online movie offerings -- so if anyone has details, please let us know. Based on Level 3's statements alone (which are, obviously, one-sided), this certainly does sound like the original dream scenario of the telcos to charge content owners to reach customers -- effectively double charging everyone by pretending that their internet connections only reach halfway into the cloud, but to reach any other site, those sites should have to pay up too.

If this is true, and the details do line up, it's rather stunning (and incredibly braindead) that Comcast would make such a demand right now, just as the merger is close to approval. You would think that someone in management would recognize the sort of backlash such a demand would bring. Of course, again, I'm wondering if there are more details here. I wasn't aware of an online movie offering from Level 3, and I'm wondering if Level 3 was actually trying to do something more involved rather than just letting users access online content through existing connections. I'm sure the details will come out soon enough...

Update: And out come the details suggesting that Level 3 is exaggerating. Level 3, as suspected, does not offer a consumer online video offering, but is simply powering Netflix's video offering, and the discussion with Comcast was a standard peering discussion, which happens all the time when internet infrastructure players realize that one of their peers is delivering more traffic than it's taking. In other words, this looks like yet another case of claiming "net neutrality" when there's no actual net neutrality issue...
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Filed Under: content, net neutrality, video
Companies: comcast, level 3, zoom


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  1. identicon
    Shane, 3 Dec 2010 @ 9:36am

    Re:

    Grey Ferret - adding them up makes the absurdity of their exaggerated or flat out made-up data sets come to light. While some people realize that a lot of this type of data is bad, others will take any numbers handed to them as gospel... although a lot of them can't be shown that the data is bad even though it creates numerical impossibilities.

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