Sunday, October 31, 2010

Level 3: Comcast Dispute Not About Peering

The dispute with Comcast is not primarily about Internet traffic peering but about the cable operator trying to defend its closed, cable TV distribution from online video alternatives, said Level 3 Communications in a statement released on Friday. Level 3 asserts that Comcast wants "to use its local access network dominance as leverage to force Level 3 to pay for traffic requested by Comcast customers that already pay Comcast for access to that same content. Having sold broadband access services to its customers, Comcast wants to sell the same service again to Level 3 and other networks connected to Comcast."

While acknowledging that Level 3 traffic going to Comcast subscribers is much greater than the traffic coming from Comcast subscribers, the company argues that this imbalance is irrelevant to the issue of whether a broadband access provider like Comcast is entitled to payment of a toll. The nature of local access network traffic implies that this traffic imbalance will exist everywhere across the Internet and so this is not a peering issue between two backbone operators.

Significantly, Level 3 believes that "Comcast also has a strong motive to discourage competition with its cable TV service. Online distribution of movies, TV shows and other content threatens Comcast's traditional 'closed' video distribution model."

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