Apple is reportedly in talks with US cable and internet company Comcast for a streaming TV service that would give Apple an advantage over competitors under new net neutrality rules.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the TV service would use an Apple set-top box and get “special treatment” on Comcast’s cables to evade web congestion.
The announcement follows fears that a recent decision by a US appeals court to throw out old rules on net neutrality could lead to TV and video streaming services being forced to pay internet service providers to deliver their content at speeds of a decent quality. Critics have expressed concern that such competition could squeeze out smaller companies and stifle digital innovation.
If the companies strike a deal, it would a follow a similar move from streaming service Netflix. Only days ago, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said the service would “reluctantly” pay internet service providers to ensure customer quality wasn’t affected by the rule change, but insisted they would fight the new set up.
“Some big ISPs are extracting a toll because they can – they effectively control access to millions of consumers and are willing to sacrifice the interests of their own customers to press Netflix and others to pay,” he said.
“Though they have the scale and power to do this, they should realise it is in their long term interest to back strong net neutrality. While in the short term Netflix will in cases reluctantly pay large ISPs to ensure a high quality member experience, we will continue to fight for the internet the world needs and deserves.”
Earlier this year, a US appeals court overturned the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) rules on net neutrality after a lawsuit from Verizon. The ruling means that ISP’s can now charge for content delivery to major online companies like Google and Netflix.
The former net neutrality rules prevented internet service providers charging companies fees for the delivery of content, ensuring a level playing field for companies of all sizes to publish content for users without quality being affected. Under the new rules, ISPs can prioritise quality for companies that pay them for delivery.