In the latest battle in the war for living room domination, Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings took to his public Facebook account and called out Comcast’s latest attack on Net Neutrality. As he explains, Comcast’s just-launched Xbox 360 Xfinity app does not count against the provider’s ISP data caps. However, if the same exact program is viewed through Hulu, HBO GO and, yes, Netflix, it deducts the data used against the subscribers’ monthly allotment.
Yeah, as Hastings points out, the policy is not very neutral.
Via Reed Hastings’ Facebook account,
Comcast no longer following net neutrality principles.
Comcast should apply caps equally, or not at all.
I spent the weekend enjoying four good internet video apps on my Xbox: Netflix, HBO GO, Xfinity, and Hulu.
When I watch video on my Xbox from three of these four apps, it counts against my Comcast internet cap. When I watch through Comcast’s Xfinity app, however, it does not count against my Comcast internet cap.
For example, if I watch last night’s SNL episode on my Xbox through the Hulu app, it eats up about one gigabyte of my cap, but if I watch that same episode through the Xfinity Xbox app, it doesn’t use up my cap at all.
The same device, the same IP address, the same wifi, the same internet connection, but totally different cap treatment.
In what way is this neutral?
Comcast’s Xbox 360 Xfinity app launched late last month and instantly came under fire for this very reason. Per the app’s FAQ page, it does not count against a subscriber’s data limit, citing that it’s “similar to traditional cable television service that is delivered to the set-top box.” Critics instantly questioned that excuse, though. They say it gives the Xfinity app a truly unfair advantage over competing products.
However, this clearly shady move does not break any of the FCC’s rules regarding Net Neutrality. It seems Comcast is utilizing a loophole in the current set of rules while simultaneously demonstrating the FCC’s ineffectiveness in fulfilling its promise of a free and open Internet.
There’s a petition up on PublikDemand asking Comcast to either apply data caps equally or stop using them.