According to the Wall Street Journal this morning, the Justice Department is ‘conducting a wide-ranging antitrust investigation’ into whether cable companies are trying to improperly crush OTT video. It’s not yet clear just where the real focus is, but if it’s not on Comcast’s recent exclusion of its own Xfinity video traffic from its bandwidth caps then these guys aren’t doing their jobs.
Assuming they are looking in that direction, then I say it’s about time. Actually, I don’t have much against the general idea of excluding traffic from caps – as long as it’s there’s an open process by which everyone can participate. Not everyone agrees with me of course, but hey.
But the question of whether by taking this path Comcast violated the letter or merely the spirit of the NBC Universal consent decree is another matter entirely. Comcast says simply that the traffic operates on a separate network, while knowledgeable folks who look at the traffic streams see only the application of QoS tags.
The government has been rather silent on this end-run around net neutrality so far. Hopefully they will find the guts to weigh in on one side or the other before the election, but I’m not getting my hopes up.
The Justice Department’s inquiry may be broader than that of course, simply looking at where those caps are set and whether the threshold is chosen for economic reasons or to make people think twice about cord-cutting.
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