Netflix customers who also have Comcast for their Internet service are doing a happy dance. It was announced on Sunday that the two companies have reached an agreement to speed up the delivery of Netflix content.
The terms of the deal were not disclosed but it is known that it is a multi-year deal. Netflix will be paying for a direct connection to the Comcast broadband network. This provides Netflix with a direct path to get their content directly to Comcast customers.
At issue was the fact that Netflix has been described as a “data hog.” This is because at peak times the service accounts for a third of all Internet traffic in the United States. Internet providers like Comcast and Verizon have taken issue with the clog that Netflix has been causing. The providers have asked that Netflix pay an access fee.
This has brought up issue with the FCC about the Internet being a neutral place where every piece of content is treated equally. The commission wants the Internet to be a free and open place. The FCC sought to establish rules that said that a provider could not charge a toll for Internet traffic. The federal courts eventually struck down those rules. The failure of the FCC to establish the Net Neutrality Rules gave Comcast and the other big providers leverage to move toward charging for heavy usage.
It is possible that Netflix saw the aggressive stance that the providers were taking and decided to cut the deal before any more damage could be done to their customers viewing experience. The decision to come to an agreement should have been a no-brainer for Netflix considering that the company needs speed to properly provide their services.
Michael Weinberg, vice president of the digital advocacy group Public Knowledge spoke out against Comcast and the other service providers. He said, “We now have internet service providers telling content providers that the only way its service can work is if you pay an extra fee.” The fear that many have is that while Netflix can afford to pay any extra fees, smaller companies cannot if Comcast ever decides to charge them as well.
It seemed that Netflix would be in for a long battle but the agreement puts the issue to rest. Netflix/Comcast customers are glad about it. Netflix is said to be working on a similar agreement with Verizon.
Before the agreement with Comcast was met, Netflix had experienced a reduction of delivery speed of more than 25 percent. That reduction would cause longer download times and buffering of content. That was a sticking point with subscribers of the service but news of the deal is sure to help subscribers regain confidence in Netflix. And this is just in time for the new season of the Netflix original series “House of Cards.” The award-winning show is a big boost to Netflix subscriptions. Because of the agreement Netflix is now up to speed and their subscribers can watch TV with no speed bumps.
Editorial by Tony Bowers
Wall Street Journal
New York Times