Level 3 immediately disputed that Genachowski's statement undermines its claims. Vice President Robert Yates said in a statement Wednesday that the chairman "took pains" to avoid "an implication" that Level 3 has a peering arrangement with Comcast. He said the company may still make a net-neutrality complaint against the cable provider.
Still, analysts saw Genachowski's comments as good news for broadband providers.
Stifel Nicolaus analysts wrote Wednesday that Level 3 has "little chance" of "drawing the government into this particular dispute." They added, though, that "the fight isn't over" and that Level 3 can still seek government recourse.
Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge, said Level 3 may even be able to bring a net-neutrality complaint.
"AT&T and NCTA are taking this to be more than it is to say Comcast and Level 3 is completely off the table," he said. "Genachowski hedged a little. My assumption is if level 3 could come in with a juicy piece of evidence that says we've got Comcast guys over there jacking up the price because it's Netflix, that would change things."
He said he saw some options for how Level 3 could bring a complaint if he were advising the company.
"I'd see two ways: showing that Comcast really intended to punish them for carrying Netflix traffic and was deliberately singling out Netflix as its biggest competitor, and showing it is not a reasonable network management practice because it has a disproportionate impact on video. I think the latter would be a lot harder, however," he said.
Still, Feld said that if the commission decides such a dispute is a business deal, "then it wouldn't fall in under net neutrality."