Comcast?s zero-rating plan may violate FCC merger condition, net neutrality

Stream TV, Comcast’s zero-rating plan, violates a merger condition imposed by the FCC as part of the NBCUniversal deal as well as net neutrality rules, according to consumer advocate Public Knowledge. Comcast exempts customers that use its Stream TV video streaming service from the Internet data caps it imposed on them. In a petition filed at the FCC, Public Knowledge asked regulators to stop Comcast from continuing this zero-rating plan, a business model that is becoming more and more common:


Comcast’s decision to exempt its online video service from its own data caps is precisely the type of behavior contemplated and barred by the Commission in the Merger Order. This behavior is also inconsistent with the intent of the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet rules. As such, the Commission must put a stop to this behavior and prevent it from being repeated in the future.


Chairman Wheeler has indicated in the past that zero-rating video plans don’t violate net neutrality. Comcast argues that the video streaming travels across Comcast’s private cable pipes, not the public Internet. Public Knowledge’s petition will test Comcast’s tenuous argument and prompt a response from the FCC to clarify the net neutrality rules. That clarification is important as more ISPs introduce zero-rating plans to entice cord-cutters.

 

Comcast accused of violating NBC merger commitment and net neutrality rule (Ars Technica, Mar. 3, 2016)

 

Public Knowledge Stream TV Complaint (Public Knowledge, Mar. 2, 2016)