Comcast has announced that data used with their Xfinity-on-Xbox service will not count towards the 250gb data cap they currently administer to customers. A number of critics are claiming that Comcast’s policy is a violation of net neutrality. Before making any opinion, we need to understand the circumstances surrounding this particular streaming service.
Xfinity-on-Xbox is a video streaming service provided through Verizon and Comcast, although it has yet to launch on the Comcast platform. Net neutrality proponents argue that by allowing unlimited data usage through their service, Comcast is violating net neutrality, effectively giving users of their services an incentive to sign up: unlimited data usage via Xfinity. Comcast, alternatively, maintains that they are not violating net neutrality because the data used on the Xfinity service will be on a private IP network, not in the public domain. This raises an interesting question: Does net neutrality extend to the possiblity of competitive advantages, even if not directly related to data used on the public domain?
Net neutrality proponents claim that by offering their unlimited data cap on a private network, they have a competitve advantage over other video streaming services. The FCC does not currently have any protocol involving data usage on private networks and its related effects on competition, so it is probable that Comcast will begin distributing this service without any inhibition.
Net neutrality is typically a very polarizing issue. I am all for net neutrality, but I’m conflicted: I also want a smaller amount of government interference in our daily lives. Imagine building a service and company from scratch, providing the service, then being told that you had to abide by certain rules because you were too successful. Anti-competition directly contradicts the capitalist ethos that drives our economy. Again, I’m pro net neutrality, but I have conflicting views with the overarching theme of government regulation in most facets of our daily lives. It seems as though people don’t want government at all until something goes wrong, or something is unfair, or we don’t agree with our competitors, then we’re begging for its help. So is life in the digital-political landscape.