Apple and Comcast Corp. are in talks about offering a streaming-television service that would use an Apple set-top box and give users special access to Comcast’s cables, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.
The deal would create a new level of cooperation between the world’s most valuable company and the country’s largest cable provider — and would raise new fears about net neutrality, especially given Comcast’s planned acquisition of Time Warner Cable. But the Apple deal is far from done and many obstacles remain, the Journal said, citing people familiar with the deal.
Net neutrality proponents say internet service providers like Comcast should provide access to all content and applications regardless of the source, without favoritism.
Just days ago, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings argued in a blog post that Comcast is trying to turn the web into a tiered system, where richer companies get faster access to customers.
The Federal Communications Commission is currently deciding whether to allow Comcast to take over Time Warner Cable, and may demand conditions from the newly merged company in exchange for approval. It’s possible that could lead to federal regulators trying to extract promises that could affect any Apple deal.
The Journal reported that Apple wants the new TV service’s traffic to be separated from public Internet traffic over the “last mile” — the segment of a cable operator’s pipes that connect to customers’ homes.
The deal would allow users to stream live and on-demand TV programming and digital-video recordings in the cloud, rather than on set-top hardware.Comcast already offers cloud technology with its new X1 service, which allows customers to watch their DVR recordings over Comcast’s managed IP network on their mobile devices and computers, downloading DVR programs directly to a mobile device, and livestream channels to IP-connected devices.