We wrote progressing this week about how Comcast has changed its promises to defend net neutrality by pulling back from prior statements that it won’t charge websites or other online applications for quick lanes.
Comcast spokesperson Sena Fitzmaurice has been claiming that we got the story wrong. But a serve hearing of how Comcast’s net neutrality promises have changed over time reveals another engaging tidbit—Comcast deleted a “no paid prioritization” oath from its net neutrality webpage on the very same day that the Federal Communications Commission announced its initial devise to dissolution net neutrality rules.
Starting in 2014, the webpage, corporate.comcast.com/openinternet/open-net-neutrality, contained this statement: “Comcast doesn’t prioritize Internet traffic or create paid quick lanes.”
That matter remained on the page until April 26 of this year, according to page captures from the Internet Archive’s WayBack Machine.
But on Apr 27, the paid prioritization oath was nowhere to be found on that page and stays absent now.
What changed? It was on Apr 26 that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced the first chronicle of his devise to eliminate net neutrality rules. Since then, Pai has finalized his dissolution plan, and the FCC will opinion to dump the manners on Dec 14.
Here’s what Comcast’s net neutrality guarantee looked like as late as Apr 26:
And here is what it has looked like given then:
The new pledge
The Comcast net neutrality oath now contains only these statements:
- We do not block, delayed down, or distinguish against official content.
- We trust in full clarity in the patron policies.
- We are for tolerable and legally enforceable net neutrality protections for the customers.
Notice how the stream oath contains no guarantee associated to paid prioritization, one of the 3 major activities outlawed by the stream net neutrality rules. (Blocking and throttling are the others.)
Parts of Comcast’s net neutrality matter changed from promises about what it will do in the future to statements about what it does in the present. While the Comcast webpage used to contend that it “won’t” retard or stifle lawful Internet content, it now says that “We do not block, delayed down or distinguish against official content.”
Comcast Cable CEO Dave Watson also minute Comcast’s stream net neutrality promises in a blog post last week. Though he pronounced that “Comcast does not and will not block, throttle, or distinguish against official content,” he finished no promises associated to paid prioritization. Watson supposing a couple to Comcast’s patron policies, which also creates no oath per paid prioritization.
The Comcast orator is still insisting that the company has “no plans” to enter into paid prioritization agreements. But having no stream plans to do something and earnest to not do it at all are two opposite things.
Comcast’s net neutrality page also no longer contains the guarantee that the company’s “Internet Essentials [program] will make the Internet some-more permitted to low income families.” Internet Essentials is a $10-per-month Internet devise for bad families that the US supervision compulsory Comcast to create as a condition of its partnership of NBCUniversal in 2011.
Comcast continues to offer Internet Essentials even yet the requirement lapsed in 2014. It’s not transparent if the deletion of Internet Essentials from the net neutrality page means that Comcast will change or eliminate the program.
We have contacted the Comcast orator about the changes in the net neutrality oath and will refurbish this story if we get answers.
“Anti-competitive paid prioritization”
Comcast has drawn a eminence between “paid prioritization” and “anti-competitive paid prioritization.” Paid prioritization should not be banned entirely, but “anti-competitive paid prioritization” should be limited, the company has argued.
Comcast has declined to yield a full reason of what constitutes “anti-competitive paid prioritization” but has supposing some suppositious examples. For example, given 2014 Comcast has upheld a rebuttable hypothesis against “exclusive [paid prioritization] arrangements and arrangements that prioritize a broadband provider’s own dependent calm vis-à-vis independent content.”
For Comcast, the owners of NBCUniversal, that would meant it couldn’t prioritize NBC calm or other video that it owns over the calm of other companies. But it could charge other companies for faster entrance to its home Internet customers. Companies that don’t compensate the tolls would have a harder time reaching Internet users than the companies that compensate Comcast.
When asked to explain what “anti-competitive paid prioritization” is, the Comcast orator yesterday pronounced that zero-rating arrangements would not be anti-competitive. “See what the wireless companies have finished with exempting streaming video from their internet information caps. That’s procompetitive,” Fitzmaurice wrote on Twitter.
To be clear, zero-rating is treated alone from paid prioritization in the FCC’s rules. Zero-rating exempts certain calm from information caps but doesn’t speed it up relations to other content.
Under the FCC’s prior Democratic leadership, the net neutrality manners allowed ISPs to exercise zero-rating, but with some exceptions. Under its new Republican leadership, the FCC has allowed all demeanour of zero-rating. With the net neutrality manners eliminated, Comcast would be means to charge online providers for information top exemptions but any fear of punishment from the FCC.
But the doubt of either paid prioritization is “anti-competitive” or “pro-competitive” may be moot. Pai’s devise will eliminate the anathema on paid prioritization altogether.
Without FCC rules, ISPs will fundamentally be free to hoop their network however they wish as prolonged as they divulge network government practices publicly. The Federal Trade Commission could retaliate ISPs that renege on their promises, but there won’t be any specific order requiring them to make the promises in the first place.
Comcast competence really have no specific plans to enter paid prioritization agreements today. But given Comcast’s net neutrality guarantee now contains no oath associated to even “anti-competitive” paid prioritization, the company may be scheming for a future in which it does exercise paid prioritization.
Conditions on the NBCUniversal partnership that place some boundary on Comcast’s ability to exercise paid prioritization will end in Sep 2018. If the FCC opinion next month happens as expected, then Comcast will have free rein to charge websites and online focus providers for priority entrance after next year.