Netflix recently cut a deal with Comcast to streamline their content delivery to Comcast’s customers. This is nothing new or special, as big content providers have always had to pay someone to manage delivery of their movies, shows, etc.
So why the hoopla over the Netflix-Comcast deal, and what does this have to do with Net Neutrality? In short, nothing. TF’s Geoff Manne explains in an op-ed that’s been picked up by several leading newspapers:
The Netflix-Comcast agreement deals with something known as interconnection — how big content providers transmit their huge files over the Internet’s backbone in order to get to Comcast (and other ISP) last-mile facilities in the first place. Net neutrality deals with how traffic is handled once it arrives at the last mile, and whether it makes sense for certain traffic to receive priority treatment once it gets there.
The deal, brokered by Hastings, actually helped Netflix, because it saved money by cutting out the CDN middlemen and increased its speeds by 65%. But if you’ve been reading or listening to the incendiary rhetoric of Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, he claims that his interconnection deal amounts to an unfair toll on Netflix that threatens net neutrality. Why?
Apparently, Mr. Hastings figured he could confuse longstanding, widely accepted interconnection practices with the debate over net neutrality, hoping politicians and regulators who favor net neutrality might help him get a free pass on interconnection costs. But free to whom? Someone has to pay for the infrastructure needed to handle Netflix’s traffic. That Netflix would prefer not to pay for delivery of its content isn’t surprising. But net neutrality regulations don’t — and shouldn’t — have anything to do with it.
See our other work on net neutrality, especially: