Comcast: We Don't Block, Throttle or Prioritize for Pay - Broadcasting & Cable

Comcast: We Don't Block, Throttle or Prioritize for Pay

Cable ISPs renew pledges that open internet is staying that way
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NCTA: The Internet & Television Association and its largest member, Comcast, took to the blogosphere to pledge their allegiance to a neutral and open Internet as the FCC's rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization sunset.

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Comcast included a link to new FCC required disclosures, which stated that the company does not block or throttle or prioritize for pay, or otherwise favor affiliated content online. 

Central to the order's rollback of prohibitions on blocking, throttling and paid prioritization of internet traffic are required disclosures by ISPs telling the FCC exactly what they are doing to manage access to their networks so that the Federal Trade Commission can determine if that conduct is anti-competitive, unfair, false or deceptive.

ISPs have to provide info on "network management practices, performance characteristics, and commercial terms" of service "sufficient to enable consumers to make informed choices regarding the purchase and use of such services and entrepreneurs and other small businesses to develop, market and maintain internet offerings."

In a blog post, Comcast Cable president Dave Watson said he wanted his customers to have the facts about what was changing Monday (June 11), which, again, was nothing. 

With the effective date Monday of the FCC Restoring Internet Freedom order, Watson said: "Your Comcast service isn’t different today. And it won’t be different tomorrow. We still don’t and won’t block, throttle or discriminate against lawful content. We’re still not creating fast lanes. We still don’t have plans to enter into any so-called paid prioritization agreements."

The "no plans" wording rather than "not going to" is because ISPs are not ruling out pro-competitive service differentiators as potential offerings, even if that is not in their plans today. Critics of the pledges say that nothing stops them from changing those promises in the future, though Watson pointed out they are currently not simply voluntary, but enforceable by the Federal Trade Commission.

Watson included a link to the new FCC-required enhanced transparency disclosures.

"June 11, 2018, is the day that the internet returns to the light-touch regulations that marked most of its history and gave rise to its tremendous growth," NCTA said on its blog.

"What consumers will notice today, tomorrow, next month, next year or pick your date, is quite literally – nothing. Nothing, that is, other than the same high-speed internet access service that lets consumers decide what they read, what they say, what they create, what they watch, and what they listen to over the internet. This is because whether governed by one set of rules or another, an open Internet with the core principals of net neutrality at its foundation is baked into the internet experience. Consumers expect it and deserve it," the association said.

Related: FCC Creates Net-Neturality Info Protal for ISPs

NCTA said the doomsday predictions were coming from "groups dedicated to stoking political controversy."

NCTA pointed out that it has endorsed legislation to codify core open internet principles into law, those would include no blocking or throttling.

Related: Sen. Thune Supports Banning Paid Prioritization

Paid prioritization is a more finessed call, but there is some support from opponents of the ban on paid prioritization for disallowing anti-competitive paid prioritization, but not pro-consumer business models that are service differentiators, though that presupposes competition from which to differentiate, something net neutrality activists don't concede exists in sufficient quantity.

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