Skip to main content

Comcast/NBCU Foes 'Zoom' in on Modem Complaint

Looking to strike while the iron is hot, Free Press, Media Access Project, and Public Knowledge wrote FCC chairman Julius Genachowski Tuesday to call for an investigation of a complaint against Comcast filed by modem distributor Zoom.  An FCC spokesperson was not available for comment on whether that was happening. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said Tuesday the FCC was investigating an allegation by network services company Level 3 that Comcast was violating FCC open Internet guidelines by requiring higher payment for online content delivery, while the cable company accused Level 3 of not paying its fair share for increased content delivery costs.

The groups have used both complaints as ammunition in their fight against the deal, or for a raft of conditions, including online conditions, if the FCC approves it. They also are using them to push for network neutrality regs, which FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is widely expected to unveil to the other commissioners by Wednesday (Dec. 1).

Zoom alleges that Comcast has tried to make it jump through modem-certification hoops that have the effect of favoring Comcast's leased boxes over Zoom's third party devices it wants Comcast to certify for use on Comcast's network.

Comcast concedes it has increased its testing requirements, but says that is to insure the devices work as advertised after some issues with the modems it buys wholesale.

Free Press and company say that by requiring those additional tests Comcast can prevent competitors from entering the marketplace. They argue that Comcast has violated the FCC's net neutrality policies "again" (a reference to the FCC's smackdown of Comcast's BitTorrent peer-to-peer file blocking) and has "reneged" on its promise in NBCU merger public interest pledges to abide by those guidelines. "This pattern of deception and anti-consumer behavior, which has taken place even while the agency conducts its merger review, raises serious questions as
to the company's ability to abide by either binding or nonbinding commitments placed on the NBC Universal transaction," they wrote.