Comcast: We Support Open Internet But Not Title II

AP Photo/Susan Walsh
Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast

The cable giant’s spokesman says they agree with the principles the president laid out, just not how to implement them

A day after Comcast deemed President Barack Obama's statement's calling for Title II regulation of broadband services "radical," America's largest cable company put out a statement that is sort of conciliatory — at least until it gets to the part about still being firmly against having the FCC impose Title II regulations.

Comcast's blog post Tuesday led with the title, in part: “Surprise! We Agree with the President’s Principles on Net Neutrality.”

The post is by David L. Cohen, executive vp and chief diversity officer, and the company’s lead on getting the merger with Time Warner Cable done. He says that Comcast has been consistent in supporting an open Internet, including no fast lanes for those willing to pay extra.

However, Cohen writes, they do have one “important technical difference of opinion” with the president: “We do not support reclassification of broadband as a telecommunications service under Title II.

“Doing so would harm future innovation and investment in broadband and is not necessary to put in place strong and enforceable Open Internet protections," explains Cohen, echoing the company’s statements Monday in reaction to the president’s statement.

Comcast, adds Cohen, still believes that Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act “provides more than ample authority to impose those rules, as the DC circuit court made clear."

That last part is a reference to the U.S. Appeals Court decision published this past January that rejected open internet rules the FCC had passed, which were subsequently challenged in court by Verizon.

Cohen says that the top four cable providers last year invested a combined $46 billion “in the U.S. economy,” with Comcast investing $6.6 billion in infrastructure in America, up from $5.7 billion the prior year.

“This investment has been made possible through the sound application of light touch regulation and it is simply indisputable that Title II would put these significant investments in jeopardy and diminish innovation and job creation as a direct result,” the post read.

Comcast, which is headed by CEO Brian Roberts, is in a tricky position. It is the biggest and most visible of the cable distributors, and is in the midst of trying to engineer an acquisition of the second largest cable company, Time Warner Cable, which will require government permission. 

"This is not game playing or sophistry on our part," writes Cohen. "We believe in having strong and enforceable Open Internet rules. ... Being for net neutrality and against Title II is completely consistent."