Back in 2014, Comcast was desperately trying to stop the FCC from bringing meaningful Net Neutrality regulation to the web, and they laid out a suite of promises about their future conduct, with or without the rules, including a promise not to introduce internet slow lanes that publishers who wouldn't pay bribes would be stuck in, while their spendier competitors would be able to reach Comcast subscribers faster.
They made this promise several times; in May 2014, Comcast Senior Executive VP David Cohen wrote "To be clear, Comcast has never offered paid prioritization, we are not offering it today, and we're not considering entering into any paid prioritization creating fast lane deals with content owners." Then, a year later, they wrote, "We don't prioritize Internet traffic or have paid fast lanes, and have no plans to do so."
Fast forward to this month, when Trump FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has announced his plan to remove all Net Neutrality protections, rolling back the rules to pre-2005 levels, and the internet is pissed — even Trump's useful idiots in the Breitbart commentariat are furious (even if Breitbart itself lacks the native cunning to understand why).
Comcast has poured on a charm offensive, spamming social media with promoted posts that reiterate their Net Neutrality promises from 2014…but silently omit the promise not to create slow-lanes and blackmail web publishers to stay out of them.
And if they can jettison that promise in under a year, why not every other promise?
Comcast's July 2017 filing with the FCC offers some hints on how the ISP will implement paid prioritization:
[T]he Commission also should bear in mind that a more flexible approach to prioritization may be warranted and may be beneficial to the public. For example, a telepresence service tailored for the hearing impaired requires high-definition video that is of sufficiently reliable quality to permit users "to perceive subtle hand and finger motions" in real time. And paid prioritization may have other compelling applications in telemedicine. Likewise, for autonomous vehicles that may require instantaneous data transmission, black letter prohibitions on paid prioritization may actually stifle innovation instead of encouraging it. Commercial arrangements that entail prioritizing such traffic could ensure the low latency levels needed to achieve the high level of data quality necessary for such services to thrive.
We never will, but it's very important that we be able to. But we won't. So let us do it. Because we won't do it. Which is why we're spending so much money to make sure we can. But we won't. But let us. https://t.co/6f3qJupZRS
— Lore (@loresjoberg) November 23, 2017
Comcast hints at plan for paid fast lanes after net neutrality repeal [Jon Brodkin/Ars Technica]