“We’d like to make sure this general area, I call it the United States, won’t be screwed over by Comcast.”
Al Franken (D-MN) today asked the Department of Justice to examine network neutrality implications of the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger and the increased power the merger would give Comcast when it comes to negotiating paid peering agreements like the recent one with Netflix.”I am very concerned that Comcast could use its clout in the broadband market to dictate the content consumers receive and the prices they pay, and these concerns are only intensified by Comcast’s proposal to acquire Time Warner Cable,” Franken wrote in a letter to the DOJ. “With more than 20 million customers, Comcast already is the nation’s dominant Internet service provider, controlling about a quarter of the national broadband market and a much higher percentage of the market in many of the local areas in which it operates. By acquiring Time Warner Cable, Comcast would extend its reach substantially, covering millions of additional customers.
This would give Comcast even more leverage to manipulate Internet traffic to serve its own corporate interests.”
Comcast is not allowed to block or discriminate against Web traffic as a result of conditions on its acquisition of NBCUniversal, but Franken noted that “Comcast’s net neutrality obligations expire in January 2018, which raises the question of what happens after that time.”
Franken noted that prior to the NBCUniversal acquisition, Comcast was admonished by the FCC for degrading traffic. That FCC order came in 2008 and sanctioned Comcast for “secretly degrading peer-to-peer applications.”