Comcast Can Block NBC's Online Competition If Net Neutrality Is Repealed

Net Neutrality

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2017 If FCC successfully repeals the Title II regulations for ISPs with the Restoring Internet Freedom proposal, nothing can stop Comcast from throttling or blocking any online media that's in direct competition to NBCUniversal or Comcast. Comcast Can Block NBC's Online Competition If Net Neutrality Is Repealed Comcast Can Block NBC's Online Competition If Net Neutrality Is Repealed
Author
Christopher M
Published
November 27, 2017
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From the Twitter advertising campaign Comcast has recently started along with blog posts on their corporate website, it's clear that they want the Title II provision to be repealed. Comcast publicly proclaims this in their April blog post Comcast Supports Net Neutrality And Reversal Of Title Ii Classification. Title Ii Is Not Net Neutrality..Stating, "We fully support Chairman Pai's proposal... While some try to conflate the two issues, Title II and net neutrality are not the same. Title II is a source of authority to impose enforceable net neutrality rules. Title II is not net neutrality."

Currently Comcast and other ISP, Internet Service Providers, are regulated under the Title II: COMMON CARRIERS provision, page 35, of the Communications Act of 1934. Under this, current ISPs must not throttle, control the speed of the flow, network speeds or block content from its consumers. Which stops ISPs from controlling what information or content their consumers can access. Creating a neutral net where all information is sent and received equally. For example, Comcast isn't allowed to slow down the connection speed that their consumers have to Netflix's streaming servers, doing so would be breaking federal law under Title II.

Comcast is the parent corporation for entertainment media giant NBCUniversal, which operates NBC, CNBC, NBC New, SyFy, NBC Sports, Bravo, E! and may other entertainment and journalistic outlets. Producing a large variety of content from shows, to documentaries to news programs. However viewership to these traditional media outlets have been steadily declining for many years now, due to the rapid increase of online competition. CBS's 60 Minutes pointed out how limited their online react is in their March 26th, 2017 episode The Attack in Garland, Fake News, Chess Country. "For example, Michael Cernovich last month had 83 million Twitter impressions. Well 60 Minutes had 3 million Twitter impressions. So this guy is getting more traction on Twitter than 60 Minutes is."

Variety stated that "In 2015, Netflix accounted for about half of the overall 3% decline in Tv viewing time among U.S. audiences," when reporting on a study from MoffettNathanson, which claims to be an "independent sell-side research boutique" that's "considered the standard-bearer for Media and Communications research." Also stating that Netflix had 44.74 million streaming customers in the US alone at the end of 2015.

According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute , YouTube reported having 900 million unique visits each month on average in 2016, making them a major competitor to the major Tv outlets. Especially when journalistic YouTube channels like Philip DeFranco received 35.73 million views in October 2017 compared to NBC New's YouTube channel of 10.15 million views in October 2017. Or compare it to Keemstar's DramaAlert which received 36.85 million views in October 2017. Channel statistics reported by Socialblade.

YouTube isn't their only competitor, the fast growing number online independent journalistic outlets are as well. Conducting original, on the ground journalism, showing both sides of the conflict. Some acting like watchdogs, pointing out factually incorrect, false stories and hit pieces published by traditional media outlets like NBC News, CBS News, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, etc.

However, if FCC successfully repeals the Title II regulations for ISPs with the Restoring Internet Freedom proposal, nothing can stop Comcast from throttling or blocking any online media that's in direct competition to NBCUniversal or Comcast. Nothing stops Comcast from demanding payment from Google, Netflix, Yahoo, HBO, Valve, Adobe, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, etc. in order for their services or websites to not be slowed down to Comcast users. Nothing is stopping Comcast from demanding extra payments from their users in order to access Google, Netflix, Yahoo, HBO, Valve, etc. Loading NBCUniversal content faster than their competitors.



This is what Comcast and Verizon reportedly did with Netflix back in the fall of 2013. According to the Consumerist, a Consumer Reports website, article Netflix Agrees To Pay Comcast To End Slowdown, "For the last several months, Comcast Internet customers have complained about a drop in quality of the Netflix streams being delivered to their homes, and Netflix's own data showed a massive decline in connection speeds starting in October." It turned out that they, "were allowing for Netflix traffic to bottleneck at what's known as "peering ports," the connection between Netflix's bandwidth provider and the ISPs."


Netflix-Speed-Chart-For-Comcast-Verizon-2013 Source: Netflix Agrees To Pay Comcast To End Slowdown - Consumerist

CNN Money reported an ongoing dispute between Netflix and Verizon during that time in which, "Verizon (VZ) wants Netflix to pay for the enormous amounts of traffic that get sent over its FiOS network..." Cogent, an IP transit provider, CEO Dave Schaeffer said to CNN Money that Verizon was "using their monopoly power to put a toll road in place. They're refusing to improve the connections between our network and their network."

This event happened before ISPs were regulated under the Title II: COMMON CARRIERS provision of the Communications Act of 1934.

Update (11.27.2017)
EFF, Electronic Frontier Foundation - a consumer watchdog group for online rights, have seen examples throughout the years of ISPs engaging in these practices, "The recent debate about network neutrality has involved a lot of speculation and "what-if" hypotheticals. This is strange because we have a clear, documented history of the kinds of non-neutral, discriminatory practices that ISPs have actually deployed in recent years. Here are a few ways ISPs have throttled or blocked content in the past. We stand firm in our opposition to this kind of behavior:"

  • Packet forgery: in 2007 Comcast was caught interfering with their customers' use of BitTorrent and other peer-to-peer file sharing;
  • Discriminatory traffic shaping that prioritizes some protocols over others: a Canadian ISP slowed down all encrypted file transfers for five years;
  • Prohibitions on tethering: the FCC fined Verizon for charging consumers for using their phone as a mobile hotspot;
  • Overreaching clauses in ISP terms of service, such as prohibitions on sharing your home Wi-Fi network;
  • Hindering innovation with "fast lane" discrimination that allows wireless customers without data plans to access certain sites but not the whole Internet;
  • Hijacking and interference with DNS, search engines, HTTP transmission, and other basic Internet functionality to inject ads and raise revenue from affiliate marketing schemes, from companies like Paxfire, FairEagle, and others.
Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation


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