Comcast Supports Ban On Paid Prioritization, Except For ‘Specialized Services’

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Comcast would support a ban on paid prioritization as long as there is an exception for “specialized services” that benefit consumers, a company executive said this week. Comcast Senior Executive VP David Cohen, who is generally the public face in Comcast’s dealings with government policymakers, spoke about paid prioritization at the Free State Foundation’s Telecom Policy Conference on Tuesday. (Video available on C-SPAN’s website; the segment begins at 2:20.) “How about if we agree to a prohibition on paid prioritization and we have a limited exception created in some way for this concept of specialized services,” Cohen said.

Cohen’s suggestion of a paid-prioritization ban with an exception for specialized services is similar to an early version of net neutrality rules that was passed in 2010 but thrown out in court in 2014. (The FCC was able to impose stricter net neutrality rules in 2015; that’s the set of rules that is being thrown out by the current FCC.) The FCC in 2010 said that specialized services may share capacity with broadband networks but wouldn’t be the same as regular broadband. There has never been a great definition of the term, but the 2010 FCC said that broadband providers’ facilities-based VoIP and Internet Protocol-video offerings would be included. These services “differ from broadband Internet access service and may drive additional private investment in broadband networks and provide end users valued services, supplementing the benefits of the open Internet,” the FCC said at the time. Under the 2010 rules, ISPs could have charged other companies for the right to offer specialized services over broadband networks. Cohen didn’t say exactly what types of future services should be covered by an exemption for specialized services. But the services may come along soon enough, he said. “There is a recognition that something might come along that is not anti-competitive, that is pro-consumer, that is a specialized service available not to every user of the Internet, [and] that would be in consumers’ interests and in the public interest,” Cohen said.