In July, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) extended the public comment period regarding its net neutrality proposal, and industry heavyweight Comcast took the opportunity to chime in. For the most part, Comcast was in steadfast agreement with the FCC’s proposal—namely, that providers will be able to charge excess fees for access to a “fast lane”—going as far as to suggest that it should be extended to include both fixed Internet providers and cell phone carriers.“Comcast is for a free and open Internet and for legally enforceable rules to protect the Internet,” said David Cohen, executive vice president of Comcast. “We agree with the FCC that ‘the Internet is America’s most important platform for economic growth, innovation, competition, free expression and broadband investment and deployment.’”
As such, Cohen continued, “[Comcast supports the FCC] putting in place legally enforceable rules to ensure that there is a free and open Internet, including transparency, no blocking, and anti-discrimination rules.”
The FCC’s net neutrality proposal has been somewhat controversial, as if passed in its current iteration, it would allow providers to charge certain companies extra for access to a “fast lane.” While Cohen has previously come out in support of his company’s right to do that, the nation’s top cable, phone and Internet provider said that while it doesn’t have plans to do so, it is supportive of the FCC outlining the rules under which such a theoretical arrangement would be governed.
Despite the allowance of these fast lanes, under a so-called “no blocking rule,” the FCC’s rules would forbid providers from blocking services from any other companies.
Comcast’s support of the recommendations doesn’t come as that much of a surprise. Today, Comcast is the only cable company that has to follow the FCC’s previous net neutrality rules thanks to a provision that was included in the deal it struck when it bought NBCUniversal. In other words, for now, Comcast is playing under stricter rules than its competitors, so it makes sense that the company would favor stricter rules for them as well.