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Netflix Wades into AT&T and Comcast Now

by on12 June 2014 1636 times

Netflix just can’t seem to stop pissing off ISPs. At a recent panel they took a few shots at both AT&T and Comcast, just for fun. Things got started when Netflix went after AT&T’s paid peering program. This is where content providers have to pay extra to ensure proper service levels to customers on an ISP’s network. AT&T says that Netflix has always paid these, it is just that the name has changed and well they are really not charges anyway.

Netflix maintained that the charges were new and part of the “fast lane program that ISP’s had fought to get. They felt that it is the ISP’s responsibility to provide their customers with the proper speeds and not the content providers. Netflix already uses multiple backbone services to reach the “last mile” providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon. These services, according to Netflix, are not the issue. Instead Netflix feels that the ISPs are setting up a wall to hold the last mile hostage forcing content providers to pay for service levels. It puts them at a competitive disadvantage to services that the ISPs offer (as the ISP can give their traffic priority under the new rules).

Comcast, on the other hand is using the same line that Verizon is trying. They want to put the blame on Netflix and their backbone service providers. Sena Fitzmaurice, a Comcast Executive went so far as to say: “The only company who decides how Netflix traffic is deliver to us is Netflix. They choose the path the traffic takes to us. They can choose to avoid congestion or inflict it.” Now, this is a partially true statement in that Netflix can ask their carriers (like Level 3) to route their traffic a specific way, but where Level 3 hands off to Comcast could be an issue.

If Comcast is has not done their part where the handoff takes place it can seriously inhibit traffic. One example of this is if an ISP only has one edge connection to a specific provider (or an improperly configure pair) in this instance an ISP will typically try to set up QoS (Quality of Service) profiles to ensure that all traffic gets through. That hand off is very important to how traffic moves over the internet and it is mostly in the hands of the last mile providers.

In the long run the idea of the fast track is a very bad one, it allows ISPs to hawk their own content services and ensure that they can provide a better user experience than any third party provider can. It creates an unfair advantage to any company that can offer both bandwidth and content (which is most of them these days). You would think that this would have been something the FCC looked at before they allowed this rule to go forward…

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Last modified on 12 June 2014
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