The CEO of Sling TV said he is warning federal regulators in Washington, D.C., about the usage caps that Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) is in the process of implementing across the country. Roger Lynch, the CEO of Dish Network's Sling TV streaming service, said the caps and Comcast's Stream service run afoul of the FCC's net neutrality guidelines.
"We see concerning things happening if you look at cable companies like Comcast now instituting data caps that just happen to be at a level at or below what someone would use if they're watching TV on the Internet -- and at the same time launching their own streaming service that they say doesn't count against the data cap," Lynch told Cordcutting.com, as noted by DSLReports. "It's something we've been warning Washington about for years, and it's a risk to OTT in general. We're net neutrality proponents, and want to make sure that rules are implemented so that it really is a level playing field for new players like us."
As DSLReports pointed out, Comcast is now testing usage caps in roughly 300 markets. Comcast broadband customers in these areas are subject to additional charges on their monthly bills if they exceed a 300 GB usage limit. For each 50 GB they go over, they're charged an additional $10. Users can pay a flat fee -- $30 - $35, depending on the area -- to avoid the caps altogether. A Comcast spokesperson has described the company as being "early on the learning curve" in terms of making long-term decisions and conclusions about its usage-cap trials.
Dish's Sling TV joins a growing crowd that is voicing opposition to Comcast's usage caps as well as the carrier's decision to exempt its Stream video service from those caps. Critics argue Comcast is favoring its own Stream services over those from its rivals.
But Comcast has said that its Stream service is different from public Web services. "Stream TV is an in-home IP-cable service delivered over Comcast's cable network, not over the public Internet," Comcast said in a recent statement. "IP-cable is not an 'over-the-top' streaming video service. Stream enables customers to enjoy their cable TV service on mobile devices in the home delivered over the managed cable network, without the need for additional equipment, like a traditional set-top-box."
It's unclear whether Comcast's move to zero-rate its Stream TV traffic will draw the ire of the FCC, which instituted new net neutrality guidelines partly to prohibit ISPs from prioritizing their own services. So far the FCC hasn't acted against other zero-rating offerings, like T-Mobile's move to offer wireless music and video streams outside of customers' monthly data allotment.
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