Comcast Brags About Net Neutrality Commitment, Fails To Mention Legal Obligation To Neutrality

Dear Comcast: Please stop bragging about how your company is dedicated to net neutrality. You’re not. As a condition of your merger with NBC, you are legally obligated to follow the recently gutted net neutrality guidelines through 2018. This is like a prisoner saying she’s a supporter of wearing orange uniforms, or someone sentenced to community service saying he really believes in keeping our highways clean. Yet this hasn’t stopped Comcast from taking out ads trying to turn this obligation into a positive.

Phrandroid posted the above ad from a recent print copy of the Wall Street Journal, in which Comcast presents a checklist of all the wonderful and awesome things it claims can result from its pending merger with Time Warner Cable.

And right there at the top of the list: “Net Neutrality Protection”

To repeat: Comcast is only currently abiding (and just barely) by the 2010 Open Internet rule because it agreed to do so in order to convince the Justice Dept. and FCC to allow its merger with NBC Universal. This is not something that Comcast is doing by choice, and its obligation ends after 2018.

Beyond that, Comcast has shown that there are ways to get around net neutrality guidelines by simply refusing to meet customer demand for popular services like Netflix.

Rather than upgrade its connections to Netflix’s bandwidth providers and thus provide Comcast users the download speeds they were promised and access to the content they paid for, Comcast allowed these connections to clog up, resulting in its high-speed broadband customers getting Netflix at the same speed as DSL customers. That is, until Netflix agreed to pay for more direct access to the Comcast network.

Additionally, while Comcast has repeatedly touted its devotion and love for a neutral Internet (which must be a recently discovered love, since the company has previously been caught throttling BitTorrent users), why hasn’t it vowed to make that commitment permanent?

And if FCC Chair Tom Wheeler is indeed able to pass a Verizon-friendly Open Internet rule that allows ISPs to charge content companies for prioritized access, where is the assurance from Comcast that it will not try to argue that it should only have to oblige by the new neutrality rules and not the ones that were thrown out earlier this year by a federal appeals court?

Comcast is in “job interview” mode now, trying to make every blemish on its resume a positive and only providing references that will say nice things about it. But if/when the Time Warner Cable merger is approved, there’s no doubt the ugly two-time Worst Company In America will once again show its true colors.