Comcast: Xfinity on Xbox Live a ‘Cable Service,’ Does Not Violate Net Neutrality Rules

In a post on the official Comcast blog, Tony Werner (Executive Vice President & Chief Technology Officer, in Network and Operations) says that his company's video-on-demand service on Xbox Live, Xfinity, in no way violates net neutrality rules. In fact, he claims, the service is not an Internet service at all but a cable service served up using cable resources and not internet bandwidth.

"Your Xbox 360 running Xfinity TV On Demand essentially acts as an additional cable box for your existing cable service," Werner writes. "This is an exciting development because it enables consumers to watch their cable service video-on-demand in their homes through a device other than a traditional set-top box — in this case, using a gaming console that delivers Xfinity TV On Demand over our managed network. Rather than delivering this content in the traditional way we deliver our cable services (which is often referred to as video over QAM) or delivering it over the Internet (as, for example, a Netflix or Hulu Plus would do), we are sending that cable service using IP technology to the Xbox over our managed network."

He goes on to say that the talk of them prioritizing traffic isn't true because this service doesn't use Internet traffic at all:

"There's also been some chatter that we might be prioritizing our Xfinity TV content on the Xbox. It's really important to us that we make crystal clear that, in contrast to some other providers, we are not prioritizing our transmission of Xfinity TV content to the Xbox (as some have speculated). While DSCP markings can be used to assign traffic different priority levels, that is not their only application — and that is not what they are being used for here. 

It's also important to point out that our Xfinity TV content being delivered to the Xbox is the same video subscription that you've already paid for, to your home over our traditional cable network — the difference is that we are now delivering it using IP technology to the Xbox 360, in a similar manner as other IP-based cable service providers. But this is still our traditional cable television service, which is governed by something known as Title VI of the Communications Act, and we provide the service in compliance with applicable FCC rules."

Finally, Werner says that they treat all traffic the same and that they are committed to complying with the FCC's open internet rules established at the end of last year:

"Many of the other services that are delivered to the Xbox 360 travel to the device via the public Internet. And like traffic that runs over the public Internet and is usually available both inside and outside of the home, including our XfinityTV.com content, our Xfinity TV iPad app, and NBC's digital properties like nbc.com, our broadband data usage threshold applies. We treat all of this traffic the same, as required by the FCC's Open Internet rules and the FCC Order and DOJ Consent Decree entered into in connection with the NBCUniversal transaction. And Comcast's network is consistently rated among the best in terms of the quality of delivering broadband Internet services — including by online video providers.

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 Xfinity TV and the Xbox 360 fully comply with those rules and our commitments. Comcast continues to evaluate the impact, effectiveness, and fairness of its data usage standards, and our fundamental philosophical approach is that the application of broadband Internet data usage thresholds must be based on fair treatment for all of our customers — services that go over the Internet, whether they are XfinityTV.com, nbc.com, or others, are all subject to the same data usage thresholds."

Source: TechCrunch

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