By Kate Tummarello - 03/19/14 01:07 PM EDT
Comcast has business motivations to follow the Obama administration's now-defunct net neutrality rules, according to CEO Brian Roberts.
Comcast, which announced its plans last month to merge with Time Warner Cable in a deal that would combine the country's biggest cable companies, will continue to treat all Internet traffic the same, the company's CEO said in an interview with USA Today.
"I think the ship has long ago sailed in terms of charging companies for [a] high speed fast lane."
Roberts said his company will work with the Federal Communications Commission as it attempts to rewrite its net neutrality rules, which kept Internet providers from blocking or slowing access to certain websites and was struck down by a federal court earlier this year.
"Having some clarity ... is helpful to give our customers confidence, to give Wall Street the confidence" to invest in the company, he said.
The company's investors want to ensure that Comcast's base of Internet subscribers continues to grow, he said. "It's the first thing our Wall Street investors will ask us."
Outside of business reasons to treat all Internet traffic the same, Comcast committed to practicing net neutrality when it purchased NBC Universal in 2011.
"The merger doesn't change some of the net neutrality conversations," Roberts told USA Today.
Those commitments will extend to Time Warner Cable customers if the merger is approved by federal regulators, Roberts said when he announced the deal last month.
Roberts pushed back on reports of Comcast's recent deal with Netflix. The two companies announced last month that they would connect directly — instead of through a third party, which is how the companies had connected historically — in the hopes of boosting Netflix performance for Comcast subscribers.
The deal between the two companies was "misreported in the beginning," he said, and "really was not a change in how the Internet has performed."
Ultimately, the agreement benefits Netflix, Comcast and the consumers who subscribe, he said. "Their cost, I believe, at Netflix will be down and give a better experience to their consumers and to our consumers."