For the past four years, privacy advocates have been warning of the dangers of an internet without net neutrality. Many did not see the point in worrying about bandwidth caps, restricted access, and bandwidth shaping. Today, the net neutrality battle continues to carry on, this time with Comcast stating that their new video service will not count towards their imposed bandwidth caps.
“Since [Xfinity On Demand] is being delivered over our private IP network and not the public Internet, it does not count against a customer’s bandwidth cap. XFINITYTV.com and the XFINITY TV app stream content over the public Internet and count toward the customer’s bandwidth cap,” Comcast wrote in its Xbox FAQs.
Comcast has publicly stated that they are not violating net neutrality.
“Comcast is committed to an open Internet and has pledged to abide by the FCC’s Open Internet rules — and our policies with respect to XfinityTV and the Xbox 360 fully comply with those rules and our commitments,” the company said in a statement. “Any XfinityTV service that travels over the public Internet, including XfinityTV.com and our Xfinity TV app on mobile devices, counts toward our data usage threshold, as they always have. The Xfinity On Demand content that we will deliver to Xbox 360 will not travel over the public Internet and is delivered in much the same way as we deliver your video service to your set-top box. Your Xbox 360 essentially acts as an additional cable box for your existing cable service via the Xbox 360. As a result, our data caps do not apply.”
Public Knowledge with Comcast.
“The reports that Comcast is offering a video product through the Xbox 360 without the data counting toward the customer’s data cap raises questions not only of the justification for the caps but, more importantly, of the survival of an open Internet,” she said. “This type of arrangement is exactly the type of situation the Federal Communications Commission’s rules on the open Internet were designed to prevent — that an Internet Service Provider juggles the rules to give itself an advantage over a competitor. This is nothing less than a wake-up call to the Commission to show it is serious about protecting the open Internet. It also shows, once again, that the Commission should take the first steps toward understanding data caps.”
It is abundantly clear that Comcast is violating the spirit of net neutrality, and possibly anti-trust laws, by creating an unfair competitive advantage and is setting up a walled garden that, with mandatory bandwidth caps, will force their customers onto Comcast’s own video service instead of a competitor’s. Slowly but surely, your ISP is changing the internet into a service just like cable television. You want something, you’re going to pay to get access to it.
Net neutrality says that a network provider (your ISP) should never prioritize one packet or service over another. Everything should be treated equally. What Comcast is doing is anti-competitive and they will likely be sued over their new policy. The problem is that ISPs continue to try to break net neutrality by skirting around the laws or jumping through loopholes. Now is the time to close the loopholes and remove the roadblocks that ISPs continue to try to put in front of their customers.
Keith and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) review the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act, bills that claim to fight online piracy but are actually more likely to end up killing commerce and freedom of speech. Wyden, who is working on an alternative bill with a bipartisan coalition of senators and representatives, says that if these bills go much further, “they would do a lot of damage to what we believe makes the Internet so special.”