Comcast Raises Net Neutrality Concerns With New Xbox Services

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(Comcast discussion starts at 27:10.)

It's a technical legal argument, one worth watching as our beloved Corporate Persons like Comcast will continue to search for loopholes and back doors to get around net neutrality rules and increase their bottom lines:

Comcast's recent announcement that traffic generated by Comcast's new Xbox streaming video service would not count against the cable giant's 250GB monthly data cap drew swift denunciation from the network neutrality advocates at Public Knowledge.

In an e-mailed statement, PK President Gigi Sohn said that the new policy "raises questions not only of the justification for the caps but, more importantly, of the survival of an Open Internet."

Advocates of network neutrality regulations have long worried that incumbent broadband providers would create a "fast lane" open only to content providers that paid a premium for access. Until now, those concerns have been largely theoretical. While a few controversies over non-neutral policies have cropped up over the years—most notably, the 2007 controversy over Comcast interfering with BitTorrent traffic, examples of non-neutral policies were few and far between.

On its page announcing the new policy, Comcast claims that Xbox "content is being delivered over our private IP network and not the public Internet." Presumably, the cable giant would argue that this means its new policy does not raise network neutrality issues, since all traffic delivered over the "public Internet" is still treated equally.

But the development appears to confirm a worry that Netflix raised two years ago when the FCC was considering new network neutrality rules. Those rules exempted a "managed services" category of IP-based services from the network neutrality rules. Netflix warned that "if left unchecked, the 'managed services' category could engulf the Commission’s open Internet policies altogether," making them effectively meaningless.

[...] Public Knowledge spokesman Art Brodsky told Ars that his group's legal team is studying Comcast's new policy, and had yet to decide whether to file a formal complaint with the FCC. But he said supporters of network neutrality needed to do something. "If nobody asks any questions, nobody raises any red flags," and other broadband providers might be tempted to adopt a similar strategy, he said.


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