Level 3 objects to Comcast broadband access 'toll booth'

It was bound to happen somewhere as the whole net neutrality/open Internet debate flames out, but the timing could be better for Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA). Level 3 Communications (Nasdaq: LVLT) says that Comcast has erected a "toll booth at the borders of its broadband Internet access network" that demonstrates "a clear abuse of the dominant control that Comcast exerts in broadband access markets as the nation's largest cable provider."

Level 3 protestAccording to a Level 3 statement attributed to Chief Legal Officer Thomas Stortz, the backbone network provider acceded to Comcast's "take it or leave it" demand for money to transmit traffic from its network onto Comcast's but that the MSO's position "violates the spirit and letter of the FCC's proposed Internet policy principles and other regulations."

In short, Level 3 said, paying a toll every time a subscriber seeks non-Comcast content "violates the spirit of the open Internet."

Comcast, in its own statement attributed to Joe Waz, senior VP-external affairs and public policy counsel, called Level 3's position "duplicitous" and said that the whole thing comes down to how much traffic is going back and forth between the two networks. Level 3, Waz said in his statement, dumps five times the traffic on Comcast that the MSO sends back.

"We are happy to maintain a balanced, no-cost exchange with Level 3. However, when one provider exploits this type of relationship by pushing the burden of massive traffic growth onto the other provider and its customers, we believe this is not fair," the Waz statement added.

For more:
- see these statements
- and FierceTelecom's take

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