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 content, our Xfinity TV iPad app, and NBC's digital properties like, 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,, or others, are all subject to the same data usage thresholds."

Source: TechCrunch

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  1. 0
    axiomatic says:

    The thing that really sucks about this is that I do in fact agree that net neutrality is being violated here and it's time for the caps to go. But my family likes the Xfinity service on XBL. (I'm not a big fan, but my wife, son, and daughter are.) Being that we have only one provider in my neighborhood (Comcast) it sucks that this argument is likely to change this service in some capacity eventually.

    Being a CCNA I definitely agree that Comcast is playing shenanigans with the description of the inner workings of this service. This service could leave Comcast's network easily since it is IP based. It is duplicitous that they are stating that the fact it does not route through the internet cloud as the reason this doesn't violate net neutrality.

    Blame this on the Comcast management executives who are only interested in LARGE profits and uncompetitive behavior over modest profits and competition. This service could and should be available to anyone wishing to subscribe to it. Not just Comcast cable subscribers.

    If you really think about it, the whole requirement that you must be a Comcast cable subscriber is actually a limitation to the money this service could make for Comcast were it available to all on the internet. But hey, corporations have been willing to "cut their nose off to spite their face" for years.

    HBO Go seems to be caught in this very same dichotomy. HBO Go is great but its useless to me since I already own a Tivo and record anything good on HBO already. As far as my household goes HBO is a complete waste of investment dollars from HBO. I imagine there are a lot of households like mine as well. Xfinity and HBO Go could make loads more money if they were available to all.

  2. 0
    black manta says:

    Ah, Comcast.  Up to your old tricks again, I see.  So you say your Xfinity service for the Xbox 360 basically turns into a Set Top Box?  Doesn't that sort of defeat the purpose of having a dedicated STB in the first place?  What a load of bull!  Who are your trying to fool here?  Unless of course it's those who are trying to find alternatives to cable, just so you can rope them in and wring money out of them.

    Every time I read a story like this, it makes me glad I'm no longer working for them.  Don't get me wrong; I worked with a lot of good people over there.  But all of us were pretty much hamstrung by the company's policies.  To be quite honest, we didn't like it any more than the customers who called in to complain did.  But there was very little we could do.  Please keep that in mind if you're a Comcast customer and you call the next time you have a problem.  They just want to get through the day with as little aggravation as possible.  You wouldn't really want to be there either if you had people calling in and degrading your worth as a human being day in and day out.

    And by the same token, glad I ditched them and got FiOS instead.

  3. 0
    tallimar says:

    "we are sending that cable service using IP technology to the Xbox"

    apparently these people dont know what IP stands for cause it sure as hell sounds like internet traffic to me.  who are they trying to fool?

  4. 0
    Neeneko says:

    'we treat all traffic the same! well, unless it is coming from a competitor, in which case if you use them too much we cap you, but you can use our friends for free!'

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