Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Comcast Won't 'Cap' Xbox 360 Access (Updated with Objections)

While the Xfinity TV application for Xbox 360 hasn't launched just yet, a new FAQ posted on the Comcast website suggests it's coming very soon. And that terms of use will be pretty sweet for subscribers.

Comcast Won't 'Cap' Xbox 360 Access (Updated with Objections)


While the Xfinity TV video-on-demand application for Xbox 360 hasn't launched as yet, a new FAQ posted on the Comcast website suggests it's coming very soon. And that terms of use will be pretty sweet for subscribers (though also a thorn in the side of content competitors -  see the "update" below.)

Essentially, the app turns your Xbox 360 game system into an additional receiver for Xfinity video content that's streamed over the High Speed Internet portion of your Comcast "double play" service. To make it all work, you have to subscribe to both Comcast's Xfinity TV and High Speed Internet, as well as  Microsoft's Xbox Live Gold which costs $99 a year.

 No live (or "linear," in cable-speak) TV shows will be available through the app, at least at launch. But there will be "thousands of TV shows and movies" to chose from - many free, some for rental.

 And here's the most interesting (and controversial) revelation in the posting. Because the content is being delivered over Comcast's "private IP network and not the public internet," the cable-co won't "count" the streaming "against a customer's bandwidth cap" as it now does  with users of other streaming services. (Go over the cap and the operator can shut off or slow down your service, until the beginning of the next billing cycle.)

Why are customers of Comcast digital TV shut out, if they use another provider for internet? According to the FAQ, the streaming service needs "a Comcast modem to verify that the customer is in the home and to deliver the content to the Xbox." Bummer.

Adding extra gloss - Xfinity TV for Xbox  works with  the game system's  Dashboard search tools and with the voice/gesture navigation of the Kinect peripheral.

Update: Just received a statement this afternoon from the Washington, D.C. based communications watchdog group Public Knowledge, suggesting that Comcast's favored nation treatment for streaming Xfinity TV runs counter to the principals of "net neutrality." . Here it is:

 


 
Public Knowledge Sees Net Neutrality Issue With Comcast Product
 
The following is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and CEO of Public Knowledge:
 
"The reports that Comcast is offering a video product through the Xbox 360 without the data counting toward the customer's data cap raises questions not only of the justification for the caps but, more importantly, of the survival of an Open Internet.
 
"This type of arrangement is exactly the type of situation the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) rules on the Open Internet were designed to prevent -- that an Internet Service Provider juggles the rules to give itself an advantage over a competitor.
 
"The Xbox 360 provides a number of video services to compete for customer dollars, yet only one service is not counted against the data cap -- the one provided by Comcast.
 
"This is nothing less than a wake-up call to the Commission to show it is serious about protecting the Open Internet.  It also shows, once again, that the Commission should take the first steps toward understanding data caps."
 
 

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Public Knowledge is a Washington D.C.- based public interest group working to defend consumer rights in the emerging digital culture.  More information is available at http://www.publicknowledge.org

Jonathan Takiff Daily News Columnist
About this blog
Jonathan Takiff covers all manner of high tech gadgets – and the entertaining stuff you play on them – for the Philadelphia Daily News, philly.com and the McClatchy Tribune News Service.

Jonathan Takiff Daily News Columnist
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