Comcast, Level 3 Dispute Internet Content Fees


In a letter to the Federal Communications Committee on Tuesday, Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ:CMCSA) defended its request to have Level 3 Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:LVLT), a network which helps companies to distribute content efficiently across the web, to pay added fees for delivering video and web content.

In the letter, Joseph W. Waz, Jr., Comcast's senior vice president of external affairs, accused Level 3 of trying to portray the dispute as though it were about “open Internet” rather than what Comcast believes it is really: “a good old-fashioned commercial peering dispute.”

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Comcast defended the new fees, by explaining that it has requested similar fees from Level 3 competitors. Level 3 responded with a statement which claims Comcast is skirting the issue.

"Instead, the fundamental issue is whether Comcast, as the largest cable company in the country with absolute control over access to its cable TV and broadband access subscribers, has the right to unilaterally set a 'price' for that access that effectively discriminates against competitors of Comcast's cable and Xfinity content,” said John Ryan, assistant chief legal officer for Level 3.

Shares of Comcast fell 17 cents or nearly 1.0% on Tuesday, closing the day at $20.03 a share. The stock was up slightly in after-hours trading. Shares of Level 3 closed at $1.00 a share; the stock was up 2 cents or 1.5% after the market closed.

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