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To Defend Merger, Comcast Pretends They Don't Have, Want Caps
by Karl Bode 09:13AM Friday Apr 04 2014 Tipped by Packeteers See Profile
Despite Comcast stating nobody rational or knowledgeable opposes their merger with Time Warner Cable, the Writer's Guild of America is one of many groups that have filed legitimate concerns with the FCC regarding the union. One of WGA's concerns specifically is with a greater footprint, more people will potentially be under the heel of Comcast's ever expanding usage caps, which are currently being trialed in a growing number of uncompetitive Southern markets.

The Writer's Guild worries that these caps will increasingly be used anti-competitively against other, non Comcast NBC Universal content:
The WGAW has also joined Public Knowledge in asking the FCC to enforce the condition that Comcast not use “caps, tiers, metering, or other usage-based pricing” to treat affiliated network traffic differently from unaffiliated traffic. Comcast has violated this condition by exempting its online video service, Xfinity Streampix, from its own data caps (on the Xbox 360), while the viewing of content by other, unaffiliated video services such as Netflix or YouTube would count against a user’s data cap. The violation of this merger condition is a clear threat to competition from online video distributors, and the FCC should respond by requiring Comcast to stop exempting its Streampix service from data caps.
It's a legitimate worry; the cable industry itself admits usage caps on fixed-line networks aren't about managing congestion, and any earnings report shows flat-rate broadband is perfectly profitable. As such usage caps have and always will be about protecting TV revenues from Internet video. But they can also be used cleverly to give your own online content a leg up.

But to hear Comcast tell it in a response to the FCC (International Business Times via Stop the Cap), they don't have usage caps -- they have only "tested data thresholds":
"We don’t have data caps — and haven’t for about two years," said Sena Fitzmaurice, Comcast’s vice president of government communications. "We have tested data thresholds where very heavy customers can buy more if they want more — but that only affects a very small percentage of our customers in a few markets."
Comcast has made no secret of their interest in expanding usage caps; so to pretend this isn't a legitimate worry as the market gets less and less competitive (especially as AT&T and Verizon give up on unwanted DSL markets) is arrogant and misleading. Fitzmaurice herself has been on quite a tear defending the Comcast merger of late, also recently trying to argue that Comcast lobbies Congress not for their own bottom line, but for you, the people. Comcast needs to tread carefully, lest they forget that loads upon loads of bullshit was precisely what sunk AT&T's attempted acquisition of T-Mobile.

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Floral Park, NY

2 recommendations

reply to Jason Levine

Re: When cornered, change the terminology

It's not rape, it's surprise sex!

Jason Levine

9 recommendations

The old "change the terminology" tactic. They aren't usage caps, they are "tested data thresholds"! We aren't "violating network neutrality" by "prioritizing our video services ahead of others", we are "routinely managing network operations." And we aren't a monopoly, we are merely a "large single source provider." So much better!
-Jason Levine