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Level 3 Calls For Internet Access Conditions On Comcast/NBCU

Level 3 Communications brought the fight with Comcast over Internet connection fees to the Dept. of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission Thursday, asking the agencies to impose conditions on the MSO's deal for NBC Universal that would guarantee large backbone providers like Level 3 wouldn't have to pay Comcast to deliver Internet traffic for five years.

Last month Level 3 issued a press release complaining that Comcast was erecting a "toll booth" on the Internet by demanding payment to deliver additional traffic, after Level 3 landed a contract as a primary content delivery network for Netflix. Level 3 accused Comcast of violating network neutrality principles.

The cable operator said Level 3 was asking to dump twice the amount of traffic on its network without paying customary CDN fees.

"While Comcast has attempted to portray Level 3's disagreement with the charges that Comcast wants to impose as merely an 'old fashioned peering dispute' or merely a 'commercial disagreement,' it is clear to us that much broader policy implications are at stake, significantly impacting competition in the delivery of all video programming and the future of the Internet," Level 3 CEO James Crowe wrote in a letter to DOJ and FCC officials.

Specifically, Level 3 wants the FCC and DOJ to impose conditions in effect for five years following the closing of the Comcast/NBCU deal that would force the cable operator to provide cost-free interconnects with requesting Internet backbone companies "meeting such nondiscriminatory, fair and reasonable requirement as Comcast may choose to specify." Level 3 suggested the criteria for settlement-free interconnection may include the number of announced routes and the extent of customer interaction between the networks.

In any case, the location and technical configuration of interconnection points for the exchange of traffic between Comcast and requesting Internet backbone carriers "must be technically, operationally and economically nondiscriminatory, fair and reasonable (and in any event no less advantageous than the terms effectively provided to its affiliates)," Level 3 said.

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