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Comcast Accused of Starting Web ''Toll Booth''

Level 3, a company commissioned by Netflix to deliver movies and TV shows to online customers, has accused Comcast of setting up an internet “toll both” in a statement yesterday. “This action by Comcast threatens the open Internet and is a clear abuse of the dominant control that Comcast exerts in broadband access. With this action, Comcast is preventing competing content from ever being delivered to Comcast’s subscribers at all, unless Comcast’s unilaterally determined toll is paid” said Thomas Stortz, Level 3’s chief legal officer.

Comcast has stated that its fee is part of “long established and mutually acceptable commercial arrangements” with the internet content delivery industry. Joe Waz, senior vice president for external affairs, has said in an email to Businessweek that Level 3 will “double the traffic it puts on the cable provider’s network and has tried to pressure the company into accepting it for free.” The provider is set to acquire 51% of NBC Universal, a media conglomerate, pending regulatory approval.

Level 3 will push its case in front of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The long-running debate over net neutrality debate has recently heated up, as US regulators want to prevent cable and phone providers from discriminating against “legal” network traffic.

(image by Anthony Reeves on Flickr)