There are a number of fears that come to most pay TV and Internet subscribers’ minds when they think about the proposed Comcast–Time Warner Cable merger that was announced last week. Will my bill go up? Will real competition in the industry become even more rare? Will the resulting mega-ISP be ruthless and evil? Also high on the list of concerns in light of net neutrality’s death is whether or not a combined Comcast-TWC entity would use its newfound heft to throttle Netflix and other online video providers.
Comcast’s head of regulatory affairs David Cohen recently responded to a report from the Barron’s Tech Trader Daily blog, insisting that some of the concerns raised by the piece will not be issues if the proposed merger gains approval from shareholders and regulators.
Regarding whether or not Comcast might “become a bottleneck, effectively making the Internet less open given how much power it would hold with services such as Netflix that need to connect via peering points,” Comcast’s Cohen was very clear in stating that the company currently has no intention of throttling Netflix or any other streaming video services.
“We do not agree that the combined company will have anything close to a 45 percent market share in the broadband market,” Cohen told the site. “And regardless of share, we would not throttle Netflix or any other online video provider – both because it’s bad business and because it wouldn’t be lawful under the Open Internet rules to which we are still subject until 2018. By then – presumably long before then, we believe the FCC will have taken action pursuant to the authority granted in the court’s decision in the Verizon case under section 706 to reinstate comparable protections to those contained in the original Open Internet Order, therefore removing the need for compliance with the former order.”
The possibility of ISPs using bandwidth prioritization to slow services like Netflix hit headlines again recently when Verizon was accused of throttling the streaming video giant and other services that use Amazon’s content delivery system. The ISP exclusively confirmed to BGR that it was not throttling Netflix, however, despite claims to the contrary.