Comcast Supports a Ban on Paid Prioritization — With ‘Special Exceptions’ It Chooses

Comcast's chief lobbyist David Cohen, speaking on net neutrality.

Comcast’s chief lobbyist David Cohen, speaking at the Telecom Policy Conference this week.

Comcast is completely willing to accept a ban on paid prioritization.  As long as it’s a ban on the sites it doesn’t want to prioritize.

As mega-ISPs struggle to contend with a disastrous net neutrality repeal, some pretty bizarre statements are being made.  Just recently, AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson stated that the net neutrality repeal was a stupid idea — even though his company has spent tens of millions to achieve that rollback.

A few weeks later, AT&T declared war against state net neutrality laws — while also declaring them unconstitutional.

Not to be left out, Comcast is now jumping into the ring.  Facing the prospect of a disastrous patchwork of differing state net neutrality laws, Comcast’s top lobbyist has offered a huge concession.  That’s right: Comcast is completely willing to ditch paid prioritization.

Just, with some ‘limited exceptions’ here and there — of Comcast’s choosing, of course.

“If rational people will sit down and talk about this, they can even resolve what has become a ‘third rail’ around bipartisan net neutrality legislation, which is so-called ‘paid prioritization’ legislation,” stated David Cohen, Comcast’s Senior Executive VP and top lobbyist during the recent Telecom Policy Conference.

“How about we agree on a prohibition on paid prioritization?”

“So what I’ve said — and we’ve had a lot of discussions within the industry, we’ve had discussions with tech companies, we’ve had discussions with the Ciscos of the world — is, how about we agree on a prohibition on paid prioritization?  And we have a limited exception created in some way for this concept of specialized services.”

So, what’s an example of a ‘specialized service’?

“There is a recognition that something might come along that is not anti-competitive, that is pro-consumer, that is a specialized service available not to every user of the internet, that would be in consumer interests, and in the public interest,” Cohen defined.

For example, a ‘specialized service’ that wants to pay millions to Comcast for faster delivery?


The full C-Span clip, which includes comments from FCC chairman Ajit Pai, can be found here.  Cohen’s speech starts around the 2:20 mark.