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Public Knowledge Officially Complains to FCC About Comcast/Xbox

Public Knowledge told the FCC on Wednesday that Comcast's
exemption of video service delivered over Xbox 360 from its data caps is a
violation of its merger conditions in the NBCU deal and asked the commission to
do something about it.

"Comcast is doing exactly what opponents of its merger with NBC
Universal feared, using its Internet business to protect its pay-TV
business" said Public Knowledge executive VP Michael Weinberg in a
statement. "Exempting its own online video services from the data caps
that apply to every other online activity creates an unfair advantage."

In its
petition to the FCC to enforce the conditions,
Public Knowledge said that
Comcast has violated the condition that states: "Neither Comcast nor
C-NBCU shall engage in unfair methods of competition or unfair or deceptive
acts or practices, the purpose or effect of which is to hinder significantly or
prevent any MVPD or OVD from providing Video Programming online to subscribers
or customers."Comcast's practice of counting all unaffiliated, but
not its own, content against a customer's data cap significantly hinders an OVD
from providing content to customers," said Public Knowledge.

Comcast has argued that it is using non-public Internet IP
delivery to serve up its cable service, which is distinct from a broadband
Internet service. "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," Comcast said
earlier this year in response to Public Knowledge complaints. "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. Your Xbox 360 essentially acts as an additional
cable box for your existing cable service via the Xbox 360. As a result, our
data caps do not apply."

"If Comcast can simply label a broadband Internet
service a ‘cable' service and thus exempt it from oversight, as it has tried to
do here, then all of the Commission's attempts to protect the Open Internet,
promote competitive online video service, and enhance consumer choice will be
for nothing," said Public Knowledge in the petition.

It takes issue with Comcast's argument that its Xfinity app
is a cable offering, saying that is undermined by the requirement that subs
have Internet service to access it.

PublicKnowledge wants the FCC to force Comcast to stop exempting Xfinity App fromdata caps and review its entire data-usage regime, something for which it has
been pushing for some time. In May, Comcast effectively lifted its data caps in May, saying it was switching to a more flexlible-use model. "We have consistently treated all video carried over the public Internet the same whether it comes from our sites or anywhere else on the public Internet," Comcast reiterated Wednesday. ",, Hulu, Netflix or YouTube, and every other Internet video site (whether our site or a third-party site) is treated, and will continue to be treated, exactly the same. That's consistent with FCC rules and consistent with what we have always done and continue to do. "

John Eggerton
John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.