back to article Net neutrality crusaders take aim at Comcast's Stream TV service

Open internet group Public Knowledge is accusing Comcast of violating net neutrality rules. The complaint filed with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) alleges that by not counting its Stream TV service towards its monthly data cap allotment, Comcast is favoring its own offering in violation of rules the commission …

Silver badge

Hard to call this one.

After all, what business does the FCC have over traffic that travels exclusively over a private network owned by the company—essentially one that doesn't actually use the Internet to operate? Cox offers a similar program with its Contour system, and it doesn't go against data caps there, either. But like with here, this is because the content, strictly speaking, doesn't go out over the Internet but rather through the internal ISP network that happens to have Internet-like infrastructure. Then you have the matter of Google's private fiber network as well. Where does the line get drawn?

2
3
Silver badge

Re: Hard to call this one.

<quote>Where does the line get drawn?</quote>

IF you must draw a line, then I feel it should be drawn at the point where your ISP connects to the internet backbone. Traffic leaving an ISP is either peered or purchased transit, thus incurring some kind of "cost". Traffic staying within the confines of an ISP's own network do not incur such a "cost".

I recognize that the "Net-Neutrailty" advocates will not see it this way, but that IS the reality.

3
3

Re: Hard to call this one.

What are you doing here with your rational arguments.

BT do the same with BT Vision or whatever they call it nowadays too. And Sky with their On Demand thing. Maybe it's less common in the US.

1
1

Re: Hard to call this one.

I'll grant Comcast has brilliantly set the cat among the pigeons freetards with this one.

In this case US anti-monopoly law makes it fairly easy to draw the line. Comcast is illegally extending their monopoly in high speed fiber into the content market. Of course, that's NOT an FCC issue. Which is part of why I'm against the whole net neutrality thing. It's attempting to do something already addressed by a different set of laws.

0
3

Re: IF you must draw a line...

It is certainly NOT where your ISP connects to the backbone. It is, by definition of the service offered, where the end user connects to their ISP -- note the "I" in "ISP". The moment Comcast begins shuffling IP traffic to you, their network is now part of that thing called the "Internet". That they provide a "private" streaming service only accessible to Comcast subscribers is immaterial.

There is nothing "hard" about this call -- Comcast is zero rating an IP service delivered over a common IP network. That is anti-competitive -- and that is a bad thing.

2
0
Silver badge

It matters how they count

How does Comcast count your 300 GB? If you download the same 100MB email attachment from their email server 3000 times will you hit your cap? If so, their argument that their streaming TV service doesn't count because it is traffic within their own network falls apart.

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: IF you must draw a line...

"their network is now part of that thing called the "Internet".

So if I block ports on my router for security and set it to give priority to my LAN traffic I too am breaking net neutrality rules? Using your logic my LAN is part of the Internet and I shouldn't be restricting traffic.

0
2
Anonymous Coward

Re: IF you must draw a line...

" note the "I" in "ISP". The moment Comcast begins shuffling IP traffic to you, their network is now part of that thing called the "Internet". That they provide a "private" streaming service only accessible to Comcast subscribers is immaterial."

ISPs will just offer an IP based data service connecting to their locally hosted content. As an optional extra, customers will be able to buy access to the public Internet over that connection.

That's how it works in corporate land. I buy connectivity to a telehouse and then buy a range of services that I put over that connection. Having Internet connectivity on that circuit doesn't make the whole thing 'the Internet', it's just one of many types of traffic.

0
0

Re: IF you must draw a line...

"Using your logic my LAN is part of the Internet and I shouldn't be restricting traffic."

No. You missed the point entirely. Since you are the end user, you are not the intermediary. You are not an ISP. If you were to start reselling an internet connection to others, then at that time you shouldn't be restricting traffic to your customers.

0
0

Re: IF you must draw a line...

"customers will be able to buy access to the public Internet over that connection"

You're trying to add complication where there is none. If Comcast wants to have a separate network with their own offering over the same physical connection, they can (and do -- see: digital cable) do that -- but then you'll need separate devices to connect to it. The IP traffic coming out the Ethernet or wireless of your cable modem is the Internet you are paying for. All legal traffic coming over that network, including IP services offered by Comcast, must be treated equally.

0
0

Re: Hard to call this one.

The line should be drawn that a service provider should not be allowed to be a content provider. I already pay an outrageous amount for my "high speed" internet so why should Netflix have to pay extra because I want to use the bandwidth I pay for to watch Netflix? Comcast data cap is just away to make profit by not improving the services they provide.

0
0
Bronze badge

Much as I hate Comcast

and use them only for Internet service, I do see their point. As for the "I in ISP", are you forgetting the "Inter" in "Internet"? I have developed products that use, e.g. UDP (an Internet Protocol) on a completely local network (note: not an Interconnected set of Networks) complete with proprietary Layer 1. Does my use of a standardized protocol make me an ISP?

Now, if Comcast were to knobble the delivery of other services to their Internet customers to prioritize their own traffic, or just to "encourage" customers to sign up for the house-brand stuff, that would be an issue. In fact, I believe that they do the latter, but in the absence of an SLA (and the terms of service prohibition against measuring what they deliver) for "home" customers, it would be a hard thing to prove.

1
1
Silver badge

Re: Much as I hate Comcast

Part of the catch with Comcast, though, is the problem of vertical integration. Comcast owns NBC Universal, which means they own one of the major US broadcast networks, among other channels. So it's a situation much like when Commodore bought out MOS Technologies (which designed the then-ubiquitous 6502 and derivatives) or when railroad companies bought timber plots. It introduces an element of enveloping, bringing everything in-house that can raise competition concerns (for example, how will ABC, CBS, and FOX respond to this when none of them own or are owned by a major nationwide ISP?). So as some have noted, this is a concern, but on monopoly/competition grounds, not neutrality grounds.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Much as I hate Comcast

>this is a concern, but on monopoly/competition grounds, not neutrality grounds.

Agreed... unless of course, they start prioritising their own video over other types of traffic (or fail to provide equal prioritisation for at least the other major video services it gets tricky, but perhaps we could have some standard ports for video streaming...), keeping the IP network rubbish enough that their video service is the only video service it is worthwhile to use.

0
0

Re: Much as I hate Comcast

"they start prioritising their own video over other types of traffic"

Zero rating one video service and not another is prioritizing the zero-rated video service.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Much as I hate Comcast

But not if the zero-rated video service never goes out on the Internet. That's the catch. Comcast owns NBC Universal, so anything from NBC or Universal is done in-house, on their intranet. It's like a private railway or roadway. If it never interacts with another of the same, what business does the government have with it? And if the FCC still decides to invervene, they could play "sauce for the gander" and point out Google does the same thing with its private fiber network.

0
0

Re: Much as I hate Comcast

"never goes out on the Internet"

By supplying it to you over your "Internet connection", it already is over the "Internet". The private roads analogy doesn't work for ISPs -- only for end users. The ISP is just that: An Internet Service Provider.

Google doesn't have usage caps on its Fiber network -- so there's no zero rating to worry about. Comcast is free to offer streaming TV service over its Internet connection, just like Google -- but it needs to be treated the same as all other traffic on the network, just like Google.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Much as I hate Comcast

But the ISP is offering MORE than the Internet. Telephone, Cable television, and On-Demand Video are NOT Internet Services. NBC and Universal content is in-house and can be considered On-Demand Video which goes out over the CABLE connection and never touches the Internet. Otherwise, by your logic, private LANs are ALSO on the Internet (because Comcast's intranet is a LAN, not a WAN, and the Internet is by definition a WAN).

0
0

Re: Much as I hate Comcast

"But the ISP is offering MORE than the Internet. Telephone, Cable television, and On-Demand Video are NOT Internet Services"

And, if any of those are offered over the same IP network as the internet service they offer, then they need to be treated the same as any other service offered on that network.

"by your logic, private LANs are ALSO on the Internet"

NO! Again, NO! A private LAN is the end user. If you start reselling your internet service to others THEN you are an ISP, and any other services you offer over that IP network are no longer "private", and must be treated the same as every other service delivered over the IP network. This really isn't that difficult!

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Much as I hate Comcast

NO ON THE NO! They're NOT. The video is being offered over the INTRAnet, NOT the INTERnet, not through the WAN but directly through the cable the way the TV channels and On-Demand Video work. And a LAN is more than just the end user, or CORPORATE LANs wouldn't exist. And guess what? The Comcast internal network qualifies as a Corporate LAN, and the end users count as private clients before Comcast. I can easily equate this to Bloomberg's private network and the Wall Street clients who use them everyday.

0
0

Re: Much as I hate Comcast

An Intranet is for the END USER. Comcast is an ISP. There is no such thing as an INTRAnet on their internet offering. If they use a separate network (can share the same cabling) and separate devices to interface with their offering, like they do with their current set-top boxes, cable cards, etc., then they may have a case. But if your internet connected devices are accessing their IP offering over the same IP network, as their Stream TV does, then they MUST treat that traffic the same as all other traffic. Stream TV does not work without Comcast's internet service.

INTRAnet is for END USERS. When using Comcast Internet service, Comcast is the ISP. Not the end user. The LAN is local to the END USER. All of Comcast's IP offerings over the shared, and resold, IP network are now part of the Internet -- not Intranet.

"I can easily equate this to Bloomberg's private network and the Wall Street clients who use them everyday."

That is immaterial. In these cases, Bloomberg is likely not acting as an ISP. In the case that they are, they're not reselling an internet service with a zero-rated value added service to other entities.

"CORPORATE LANs wouldn't exist."

The corporation is the end user, not the individual corporate divisions on the private network. They are not reselling an internet service with zero-rated value added service to other entities.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Much as I hate Comcast

"If they use a separate network (can share the same cabling) and separate devices to interface with their offering, like they do with their current set-top boxes, cable cards, etc., then they may have a case."

That's EXACTLY what's happening!

"That is immaterial. In these cases, Bloomberg is likely not acting as an ISP. In the case that they are, they're not reselling an internet service with a zero-rated value added service to other entities."

Not an INTERNET service, but a SERVICE nonetheless, which includes a live video feed and plenty of Wall Street data. Comast's internal video service is likewise and can be equated to Video On Demand which DOES goes out over the cable and IS NOT counted as part of their Internet service.

Look, it's basically the difference between getting a package through the Post/Mail and getting one through UPS. The former's a public resource subject to regulations. The other's a private service with its own rules.

0
0

Re: Much as I hate Comcast

" Comast's internal video service is likewise and can be equated to Video On Demand which DOES goes out over the cable and IS NOT counted as part of their Internet service."

No. Stream TV uses your Comcast internet connection to deliver content to your internet connected devices, but Comcast wrongly zero-rates the service. It is happening on the same IP network. Additionally, even though it has no real bearing, Comcast does allow you to use these services on other ISPs by logging into your Comcast account. Comcast is simply trying to fool everyone with a shell game, and make their bandwidth seem like a scare resource -- which it is not. You seem to have fallen for it.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Much as I hate Comcast

Can you demonstrate this? I know the one provided by Cox won't allow this.

0
0

Re: Much as I hate Comcast

It's advertised as such on their webpage, and I've used the service in the past. But, regardless, it's immaterial. If you believe that a streaming service offered over your internet connection (not just the same wire, but same IP network), but it also available to the outside world should not be allowed to be zero-rated, yet the same service, offered over the same IP network, that _is_ closed to outside world, should be allowed to be zero-rated then you really need to think the situation over a bit more in-depth.

We're not talking about cable boxes here. We're talking about streaming to your internet connected devices, with no other connection than your internet connection.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Much as I hate Comcast

"We're not talking about cable boxes here. We're talking about streaming to your internet connected devices, with no other connection than your internet connection."

What about the device through which "the Internet" comes into your home in the first place: the DOCSIS modem, which doesn't connect externally to Ethernet but to coaxial? The coaxial line DOES NOT connect to the Internet but to the corporate INTRAnet. That's how DOCSIS works.

0
0

Re: Much as I hate Comcast

"The coaxial line DOES NOT connect to the Internet but to the corporate INTRAnet"

The Ethernet cable coming out of that modem, and the IP service on it, is what we're talking about.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Much as I hate Comcast

Which IGNORES the COAXIAL connection in between, which DOES NOT go straight to the Internet or Comcast would be unable to intervene. There's also the fact Comcast DOES serve OTHER stuff ON THE SAME cable.

Look, why Comcast and not Google, who are known to use a private fiber network AND use it to get past Internet restrictions? Why not Netflix, who tend to insist on having their boxes installed at local exchanges?

0
0

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2018