FCC Chairman Hints He’ll Back Net Neutrality

Comcast Today: Comcast braces for a ruling it doesn't want.

We already knew the FCC will vote on net neutrality rules next month. Now we have a better idea what the result will be: An adoption of rules that Comcast opposes.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler strongly hinted Wednesday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that he would propose net neutrality rules that treat broadband Internet service providers as utilities subject to more rigorous regulation than they have been to date.

If Wheeler does propose to reclassify ISPs and regulate them under Title II of the Communications Act, that would be a stinging defeat for ISPs and a victory for advocates of a stringent approach to net neutrality — including President Obama, who appointed Wheeler. It also would almost certainly draw a challenge in court and from the Republican-controlled Congress.

Bloomberg Businessweek reminds us that Comcast is fiercely opposed to those rules:

Internet service providers and Republican allies in Congress say the Web has thrived with light regulation, and that Obama’s proposed utility-style rules aren’t needed and may lead to price regulation. Web companies including startups and video provider Netflix Inc. say rules are needed to make sure traffic isn’t blocked or slowed on its way to consumers. They’re backed by congressional Democrats.

Comcast, the largest U.S. cable provider, which has proposed buying No. 2 Time Warner Cable Inc. said in the Dec. 24 filing that it opposes Obama’s plan to subject Internet service to a part of the communications law known as Title II, written last century to regulate phone service over copper wires.

“The president’s endorsement of Title II appears to be driving the commission’s interest,” Comcast said in the filing.

Here is that filing. As always, Comcast says it favors an open Internet — it just doesn’t favor the “classification as utility” route to getting there.

Other Comcastic headlines:

Comcast’s Smit: ‘Customer service will be one of our best products’: With Comcast lampooned in national media recently after a series of customer service mishaps, Comcast Cable president and CEO Neil Smit told a Consumer Electronics Show panel audience Wednesday that his company is on the way to a significant turnaround. “We do need to transform our customer experience, and I think we have a lot of work to do,” said Smit, receiving a smattering of applause. “It will take time, but we’ll get it done. We even took our top product person and put him on it. And we expect that customer service will soon be one of our best products.” Smit was talking about recently appointed “customer service czar” Charlie Herrin, who has recently implemented a number of key customer service improvements and has generally reacted quickly to issues before they could gestate to greater viral media crises. (Fierce Cable)

MLB, Samsung, Comcast execs outline obstacles to 4K – but remain optimistic on future: Mark Francisco, a fellow for premises technologies at Comcast, added that consumers may have difficulty with the wide range of technologies in the pay-TV space, which could complicate 4K sales. “There’s a lot of confusion about what those things mean,” he said, pointing to technologies ranging from HD to Ultra HD to 4K. Further, he said that color, frame rate and audio details are just as important as the resolution, making the situation for consumers that much more confusion. … Francisco said, Comcast’s customers are beginning to ask for 4K content, and the company’s competitors are beginning to offer it. “All of those (factors) motivate us,” he said.  (Fierce Cable)