Is Comcast Thumbing Its Nose At FCC's Open Internet Rules By Exempting Xbox VOD From Data Cap?

from the sure-seems-that-way dept

As was somewhat expected, this week Comcast announced its plans to offer Xfinity video on demand via the Xbox 360... which will require customers to subscribe to both Xfinity TV and the broadband service, meaning that this isn't a solution for getting around your cable subscription (of course, because Comcast doesn't want you ditching your cable TV). But what's getting much more attention is the announcement that such streaming video won't count against Comcasts' broadband caps, raising some significant questions concerning whether or not Comcast is following the FCC's open internet rules -- the same rules that were put in place to stop Comcast from degrading certain services in favor of others. Comcast, for it part, insists that the rules don't apply to this VOD service, since it's coming over its private network, rather than the public internet, but it's certainly tiptoeing along a fairly fine line. I think the bigger issue is why the cap exists in the first place. But, in the long run, Comcast is definitely trying to back its way into being able set up "most favored nation" status with certain providers, which really does impinge on the internet's basic end-to-end principles.

Filed Under: bandwidth caps, broadband, fcc, net neutrality, vod, xbox
Companies: comcast

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  1. identicon
    Cowardly Anonymous, 27 Mar 2012 @ 10:02pm


    Not exactly. Their service and the internet services flowing over their network will have direct crossover effects in terms of congestion. In other words, internet services could be prevented from freely competing with their service because of these caps.

    If we were talking about a healthy competing market for internet service, they would lose subscribers who preferred the internet-based streaming over the local net streaming. However, the nature of the market is such that many of those subscribers have very few options.

    The fear is that all of those very few ISPs could implement such services and move to increasing restrictions on open internet (favoring their services). This would lead to a fundamental breakdown of what makes the internet what it is as more services moved to private networks out of necessity.

    This move, and others like it, indicate ISPs that don't respect the nature of the internet and whom are trying whatever they can to encroach upon it. They are trying to get their foot in the door, and slamming it shut is very important to making sure they don't try to go farther next fiscal cycle.

    Note that this is very much like when the US Congress passes a law that kind of, but not really, while maybe tramples your rights, and is why the wording of the Bill of Rights has a lot of "Congress shall make no law." The state of US law right now has trampled all over several amendments, citing technicalities and court cases, because there were no immediate backlashes that would even think of entering that ground.

    Intent is as important as the letter of the law. If the regulations technically allow this, we need to update the regulation to close the loophole, not let them get away with it. No, we won't punish them for the behavior, not unless it continues past the update. That is all the protection a technicality should provide, however.

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