Comcast Defends Xfinity on Xbox Live Against Net Neutrality Concerns

With the launch of its Xfinity entertainment services on Xbox Live this week, Comcast finds itself having to defend the way it is handling its data capping policy. Comcast's new video services require users have an Xbox Live Gold subscription as well as subscriptions to Xfinity TV and Xfinity broadband services. Using these services won't count against customers' 250GB usage cap. Some groups see this as a violation of network neutrality -because it gives preferential treatment to traffic and to an in-house Internet video service. When rights groups complained about the NBC Universal and Comcast merger, they predicted that Comcast would give its services priority over other traffic.

"Comcast tries to justify preferred treatment for its own video on the Xbox 360 by claiming that the content is delivered over a private IP network rather than the public Internet," complained consumer group Free Press. "But not counting this video against a Comcast customer's monthly data limit gives the Comcast product an unfair advantage against other Internet video services. Unfortunately, such anti-competitive tricks may be allowed by loopholes in the FCC’s Open Internet rules, proving once again that the FCC failed to deliver on the promise of real Net Neutrality."

In a carefully crafted statement, Comcast argued that the service is exempt because it "technically" doesn't use the Internet.

"Comcast is committed to an open Internet and has pledged to abide by the FCC’s Open Internet rules – and our policies with respect to XfinityTV and the Xbox 360 fully comply with those rules and our commitments," says the company. "Any XfinityTV service that travels over the public Internet, including and our Xfinity TV app on mobile devices, counts toward our data usage threshold, as they always have."

The main thrust of their argument is that the Xbox 360 is a set-top box.

"The Xfinity On Demand content that we will deliver to Xbox 360 will not travel over the public Internet and is delivered in much the same way as we deliver your video service to your set top box," says Comcast. "Your Xbox 360 essentially acts as an additional cable box for your existing cable service via the Xbox 360. As a result, our data usage thresholds do not apply."

Public Knowledge counters that the Comcast "network delivery angle" is highly irrelevant because the service is an exclusive deal between corporate giants that results in a closed content environment.

"Comcast has transformed the competitive online video marketplace into a two-tiered world, where its own online video doesn’t have to play by the same rules as everyone else's," PK says, adding that "the internet should reward the best services, not the ones with the right corporate owners."

Source: DSL Reports

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditEmail this to someone


  1. 0
    DragonTHC says:

    not entirely true.

    It won't actually work with just the Internet.

    You cannot use the xfinity service over XBL without having a cable box installed and running in your home.  I use basic cable for local news and PBS and don't have a cable box.  I use netflix for everything else.  I cannot use their service.

  2. 0
    CyberSkull says:

    Comcast's argument has a serious flaw: The Xbox 360 must sign into an Xbox Live account, which is outside Comcast's network. A plain set-top box will just sign into the service directly, without getting third-party authorization first.

    Because you have to leave the network to get service in the first place negates any argument made about this being a private network service.

  3. 0
    nighstalker160 says:

    Sorry Comcast, but unless I'm plugging a coaxial cable into a 360 I fail to see how this operates as a "set top box." I suppose it's possible (since both the internet and cable signal ultimately come into the house over a coaxial cable) but I want to see the data on whether that is what is actually happening. Cause Comcast is obviously using the ethernet cable on the 360 to get the video to the 360.

  4. 0
    Sleaker says:

    exactly.  So why is it an issue if they are giving people unlimited transfer for a specific featureset that is on their internal network and NOT the fact that they are limiting customers to a certain amount of bandwidth per month just like you used to have to pay for a certain amount of time connected.

  5. 0
    Neo_DrKefka says:

    This is scary mainly because at any time they can change the cap and tell us, "Well if you use this service with our services on it your data won't count" and this is becoming very scary.

    I doubt any of you people were alive and remember pre 1996 when AOL and every single other provider had a pay per hour rule. Imagine getting on the internet and paying per hour. It was sort of crazy but it happened and everyone else who flooded in after words it changed the Internet as we know it forever.

    Many people might not know this but AOL made the first Neverwinter Nights and Bioware made a remake. We used to have to pay per hour for Interest usage and then have to pay a fee to play Neverwinter Nights.

  6. 0
    Sleaker says:

    not sure what the hubub is about…  They installed the lines to the persons house. They are serving the content NOT from the internet, but only to their customers via their own IN-COMPANY network.  This has nothing to do with the internet here.  On top of that, the issue of net neutrality lost the focus.  The issue shouldn't be about comcast serving content that doesn't go against the 250GB limit, the issue needs to be the fact that comcast HAS a 250GB limit on residential customers.

    Net neutrality is about people having un-restricted access to the internet, obviously that message got lost when people started thinking it was about making data transfer of extra services charged against a persons restricted internet access.

  7. 0
    DanHoyt says:

    This is bad, but I'm not sure what could be done about it at the moment. Technically they are not breaking any laws. They're just being jerks.

Leave a Reply