Comcast wants to make sure states can't make their own net neutrality rules

Here's what the telecom giant is asking the FCC to do.

Comcast has repeatedly said it is in favor of net neutrality – rules that bar internet providers from blocking or slowing down sites and services.

The ISP giant even signed a public ad reaffirming its commitment to open internet principles.

But this week, that same "we support open internet" Comcast sent a letter to the FCC, asking it to rule that states can't override whatever the federal law regarding net neutrality is.

In essence: If the FCC rolls back net neutrality laws (by reclassifying how internet service is regulated), states can't legally put their own open internet protections in place.


5 key points that explain how net neutrality became such a big deal

This request from Comcast was filed with the FCC on Wednesday (h/t to MediaPost as one of the sites that spotted it).

The current chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, has been leading the charge to roll back open internet rules that were put in place during the Obama administration. Techdirt says a final vote on whether to undo those rules could be scheduled the day before Thanksgiving, with the holiday potentially masking some of the blowback.

In its Nov. 1 filing, Comcast says its attorneys met with FCC officials two days earlier to reiterate the company's support for reclassifying internet service, freeing Internet Service Providers from following open internet rules.


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At the end, Comcast emphasizes it wants the FCCs final order to "include a clear, affirmative ruling that expressly confirms the primacy of federal law" when it comes to broadband internet classification.

This means the FCC would clearly state that its decision "preempts state and local efforts to regulate [broadband internet service] either directly or indirectly."

In short: The FCC's rules are the law of the land, and states can't set their own guidelines for internet providers.

Whether Pai's FCC decides to listen to Comcast and issue that order, we won't know until the vote. So stay tuned.


– The Tip Jar: I canceled my Comcast subscription and it felt great

What an internet without net neutrality might look like

Pai and others in favor of rolling back the open internet rules for ISPs say it is stifling innovation and more investments in the space.

Those who want to keep net neutrality rules argue it would put the power in the hands of big internet companies – they could slow down competitors' sites or services, or block things they don't want you to see.

And potentially they could charge more for access to products. For example, a U.S. Rep. for the Silicon Valley area tweeted this:

It shows internet pricing plans in Portugal, where there are no built-in net neutrality protections. 

So to have access to YouTube, you need to pay extra for the video plan. Want to stream Spotify? That's another additional package.

"A huge advantage for entrenched companies, but it totally ices out startups trying to get in front of people which stifles innovation," Rep. Ro Khanna tweeted in a follow-up.

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