Video services

Comcast Denies It's Prioritizing Xbox Video

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) Chief Technology Officer Tony Werner took to the company's blog Tuesday to deny that the MSO is prioritizing video traffic that it's sending via IP to the Xbox 360 game console or violating network neutrality rules in any way.

"Specifically, we provision a separate, additional bandwidth flow into the home for the use of this service -- above and beyond, and distinct from, the bandwidth a customer has for his or her regular Internet access service," Werner wrote.

Werner's explanation is in response to recent speculation that the MSO may be favoring packets for its Xfinity TV app for the gaming console by tagging them with Differentiated Services Code Point (DSCP) markings. The new details are also coming out as Comcast continues to get heat from Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) because Xfinity TV video-on-demand (VoD) traffic to the Xbox 360 is exempt from the MSO's monthly 250-Gigabyte Internet consumption cap while traffic from over-the-top apps (like Netflix, of course) are not. Comcast's Xfinity TV app for the iPad uses the public Internet and is therefore subject to the cap. (See Netflix Cranks Up the Net Neutrality Heat , Netflix CEO Keeps Whining About Comcast, Comcast Won't Cap Xbox 360 Streaming and Comcast Draws the Line at 250GB.)

Criticism of the policy is coming at an important time, because Comcast and other U.S. MSOs are just now starting to migrate some of their managed video services to IP.

Werner acknowledged that DSCP can be used to prioritize packets but said that's not how Comcast is using the technology.

Comcast, Werner added, is using DSCP to mark the Xfinity TV packets so the network knows that those packets must be transmitted from the cable modem termination system (CMTS) over a separate service flow than packets that are coming in from the public Internet. So, in essence, Comcast says it's managing Xfinity TV IP video traffic separately, similar in ways to how AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) provisions bandwidth for its managed U-verse IPTV service.

Comcast has already argued that Xfinity TV content delivered to the Xbox is not subject to its high-speed Internet cap, because it is delivered over the MSO's private IP network and that it views the Xbox 360 as another set-top box.

And that brings up another component of this debate that's central to Comcast's argument and sure to get lots of attention in the weeks and months ahead. Comcast holds that Xfinity TV content to the Xbox is akin to its "traditional television service," meaning that it's governed by Title VI of the Communications Act and therefore not subject to network neutrality rules that govern the public Internet.

The key difference here, in Comcast's view, is simply that Xfinity TV traffic to the console is being delivered by a managed IP video network rather than via the also managed QAM-based platform it uses to deliver most of its video services to digital set-top boxes. The MSO claims that the same rules should apply no matter which delivery method is used.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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gtchavan 12/5/2012 | 5:33:00 PM
re: Comcast Denies It's Prioritizing Xbox Video Let's face it, the only company that overtly violates net neutrality is google and no one dares to mention them. They routinely give priority and bandwidth to videos that contain ads over others. Why would others should not give priority to streams that make them the most money if the patron saint of internet routinely violates it?
DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:32:59 PM
re: Comcast Denies It's Prioritizing Xbox Video

How would you be able to tell it was Google, since they don't control the last mile (or the airwaves)?

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:32:59 PM
re: Comcast Denies It's Prioritizing Xbox Video


Google is NOT a carrier.


gtchavan 12/5/2012 | 5:32:58 PM
re: Comcast Denies It's Prioritizing Xbox Video

I absolutely know because I use comcast and I check the speed of the connection before and after slow and fast videos.  The speeds are exactly the same.  Google has been doing this for a couple of years now.

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:32:58 PM
re: Comcast Denies It's Prioritizing Xbox Video

Given that situation I guess if Google provides the hosting free, it's up to them what videos they send first and best. 

That's not a net neutrality violation. That's "you get what you pay for."

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:32:57 PM
re: Comcast Denies It's Prioritizing Xbox Video

My videos look MUCH better than Ray's. 2x the bandwidth. 

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:32:57 PM
re: Comcast Denies It's Prioritizing Xbox Video


Again, Google is NOT a carrier.  It has no obligation to provide fair and equal access to all videos. Neither does Light Reading.


gtchavan 12/5/2012 | 5:32:56 PM
re: Comcast Denies It's Prioritizing Xbox Video

Again the biggest elephant in the room, the patron saint of internet, is violating net neutrality, each and every day.   Google, by the way, can make equala ccess to all videos by relatively minimal investment in hardware and bandwidth and they are too cheap to do it, where as a carrier has to spend a ton of money to increase bandwidth pipelines to support google and everyone else.  By the way, net neutrality concept is there to allow equal access to all internet store fronts by all and each video is a store front for an individual or business entity and just because an entity chooses to give access to the video for free, that does not mean google can allocate less bandwidth to that video, especially when you are asking comcast to provide access to other store fronts like google and netflix for free.  

P.S. lightreading has a the right to allocate whatever bandwidth to each video because they are all monetized in one store front for one entity and that does not violate net neutrality.

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:32:54 PM
re: Comcast Denies It's Prioritizing Xbox Video


Are you saying that the bandwidth to/from Google is being restricted (Net Neutrality) or that Google is not paying for a lot of streaming equipment for its free videos (not Net Neutrality)?  Google can choose any terms of service that it wants.  Google is NOT a carrier - not subject to FCC regulations as a carrier.  So, what the heck are you talking about?



gtchavan 12/5/2012 | 5:32:53 PM
re: Comcast Denies It's Prioritizing Xbox Video

Just because Google is technically not considered a carrier by FCC it does not stop its obligation to comply with net nutrality.  Besides, FCC can not do anything about Net Neutrality anyway, becasue Net Nutrality is a concept and not a law.  If the patron saint of internat thinks that they have the right to limit the bandwidth to the storefront of who ever they feel like, what can you expecct from others.   Especially when compared to a comcast, it takes so little in investment to assumre equal bandwidth for all.  Furthermore imagine if Apple did not give your free app the download bandwidth necessary for a quick download.  How would you feel about that?

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