FCC could take on Comcast-Level 3 dispute, but NCTA chief says don't bother

Having already jacked up its efforts to wrest spectrum from broadcasters for wireless broadband and enforce some sort of regulatory control over the Internet, the FCC might take the time to look at the Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) -Level 3 Communications (Nasdaq: LVLT) network traffic pricing tiff.

Level 3 Comcast disputeFCC Chairman Julius Genachowski confirmed the agency is "looking into" Level 3's argument that Comcast has erected a "toll booth" on the Internet to staunch the flow of new competitive streaming content from Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) over Level 3's networks and onto Comcast's en route to Xfinity subscribers. The dispute--and any intervention the FCC might take--further muddies the agency's ongoing approval process for Comcast's $30 billion takeover of NBC Universal by linking yet another peripheral distraction to the already convoluted process.

It's not necessary, Kyle McSlarrow, outgoing NCTA president-CEO said in a blog item, where he conceded he is a "bit hesitant to add to the ruckus" but then proceeded to voice the opinion that it is "misguided" to think this is a net neutrality dispute that needs federal oversight.

The FCC, McSlarrow wrote, has traditionally taken a "hands off" approach to disputes between backbone providers and should do the same in this case, despite the net neutrality "knee-jerk reaction" to Level 3's initial statements. It is, he concluded, a "commercial negotiation" and the FCC need not be bothered.

For more:
- see this story
- and this blog

Related articles:
Level 3: Comcast traffic fee 'threatens the open Internet'
Level 3 objects to Comcast broadband access 'toll booth'
Comcast-NBCU may be subject to arbitration