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Netflix Gets What It Pays For: Comcast Streaming Speeds Skyrocket 328

Posted by timothy
from the everyone-should-get-the-same-amount-of-water-and-electricty dept.
jfruh (300774) writes "Back in February, after a lengthy dispute, Netflix agreed to pay Comcast for network access after being dogged by complaints of slow speeds from Comcast subscribers. Two months later, it appears that Comcast has delivered on its promises, jumping up six places in Netflix's ISP speed rankings. The question of whether this is good news for anyone but Comcast is still open."
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Netflix Gets What It Pays For: Comcast Streaming Speeds Skyrocket

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  • Seriously (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:36AM (#46757141)

    Fuck Comcast

    • by NotDrWho (3543773) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:49AM (#46757345)

      I love Comcast. Comcast is awesome. And I don't just say that because they're my only real broadband internet option now, and the only real option now for several cities around me now in fact. I say it because they're great! Doubleplus good they are!

      • I want some, cause it's clearly as good as BTL chips.

      • by Narcocide (102829)

        Its really easy to feel this way if its also the only real modern broadband experience you've had and things like throttling content to extort money out of content providers seems like completely acceptable behavior to you.

      • Re:Seriously (Score:4, Informative)

        by gameboyhippo (827141) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @12:12PM (#46757631) Journal

        I wish I could be so "lucky"... The only choices we have here in KC is AT&T U-Verse, Time Warner, oh and um.... GOOGLE FIBER!!!

        • by Suki I (1546431)

          In Cherry Hill, NJ the possibilities are Verizon, Comcast, and some others. I think I am on Verizon, but I'd have to go look at a bill to be sure. Haven't used Netflix in a while, so I have no idea if they run any better on one or another at home.

          • I'm about 15 minutes from you, but I'm not aware of any other options than Verizon or Comcast; they're competitors but sometimes it feels like they're one big monopoly. Right now I have DSL w/ verizon, and Comcast for (way overpriced) cableTV. Our cable TV drops out and glitches a lot, and Verizon will never deliver FIOS in my town. I suppose it could be worse though.
      • ...they're my only real broadband internet option now, and the only real option now for several cities around me now in fact.

        That's odd. Usually there are two broadband options: DSL and Cable. Are you saying that Comcast owns both?

        • by NotDrWho (3543773) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @12:31PM (#46757869)

          Max DSL speed here is 3 mbps, not even fast enough to do HD streaming. Not that I wouldn't use the great Comcast anyway of course! My only real complaint about them is [this post censored for content by Comcast social media decorum services. This is your 2nd strike warning, customer.]

        • by OFnow (1098151)
          Comcast works here within 10 miles of San Francisco, but DSL maxes out at 128Kb/S because of old copper wires and 18000 feet to the TelCo office as-the-wire-exists. It's the norm unless you live in a narrow corridor near 101 and El Camino on the peninsula. Just one choice.
    • Re:Seriously (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jonboy X (319895) <[ude.ipw.mula] [ta] [renxeo.nahtanoj]> on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @12:41PM (#46758007) Journal

      Fuck Netflix too. We know that telco's are evil. You've just given them a big win, and a taste for blood.

      Thanks for nothing, Netflix. You broke the Internet. We won't forget this.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by CanHasDIY (1672858)

        Thanks for nothing, Netflix. You broke the Internet. We won't forget this.

        Yea, you asked for it by wearing those tight-ass jeans, whore. /sarc

      • We won't forget this.

        Haha, that's what everyone said about the separating of DVD and streaming services, which was an effective price hike.

        But in all seriousness, there was nothing special about the deal, it was a peering agreement, which is STANDARD procedure for EVERYONE. This has absolutely NOTHING to do with Net Neutrality. Anyone who says otherwise has no idea how the system works and has worked since the Internet originally went commercial. Not... One... Clue... This is how the Internet as most everyone knows it has a

        • by UdoKeir (239957) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @04:58PM (#46760913)

          Umm, I pay Comcast to delivery content to me. If I want to stream video from a content provider, that's my decision. I make the request, not the content provider. The request for data is coming from Comcast's customer, not the content provider.

          If Comcast is losing money because of the requests that I make, then they need to change their pricing structure with me, not blackmail the content provider.

  • I Pay (Score:5, Funny)

    by sycodon (149926) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:37AM (#46757157)

    1. I Pay Comcast for internet access at X speed.
    2. I Pay Netflix to send me movies via that line that I pay for.
    3. Comcast holds my content hostage, wanting an extortion payment from NetFlix.

    I see.

    • While I agree with you in principle, it is a little more complicated than that.

      What Netflix is paying for is a peering tie-in inside of Comcast's data centers.

      • Re:I Pay (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:52AM (#46757373)

        I've set up a VPS to access netflix through my comcast connection, but it doesn't allow comcast's throttling. My video quality has much improved. This anecdotally proves to me comcast is manipulating netflix's traffic.

        • Re:I Pay (Score:5, Informative)

          by Alternate Interior (725192) <slashdot.alternateinterior@com> on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @12:26PM (#46757807) Homepage

          Have a local ISP who pipe through Time Warner. Around the end of December, Netflix connections went to crap. Complained and ISP threw Netflix under the bus, saying they've over-saturated their bandwidth. Tried a SOCKS proxy via VPS and magic, works fine. Told ISP and they seemed genuinely amazed.

          Comcast is still the devil- but VPS is a very viable workaround.

      • No... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by PortHaven (242123) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:56AM (#46757445) Homepage

        What Netflix is paying for, is a bribery fee so that Comcast quit throttling them. The proof?

        As soon as the agreement was reached, I could finally stream Netflix in 3D. Oh, and we all know they didn't get their peering equipment in within 3 days....

        • The ONLY way to stop this shit is to label all ISP as common carriers. This is the most important issue of our time because if the ISP's knock down net neutrality they can easily force us into PIPA and SOPA.
          • by DriveDog (822962)
            Yes. Common Carriers. That's what they are, and how they should be treated. What they're doing, discriminating traffic, is going to get Safe Harbor provisions removed, and they'll have to filter everything. They won't mind that, except they'll be sued for not catching things. Do they care about the long term? Nope, just next quarter's profits.
          • Re:No... (Score:4, Funny)

            by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @12:58PM (#46758253) Homepage Journal

            The ONLY way to stop this shit is to label all ISP as common carriers.

            Oh, man... is that really the only way?

            drops torch and pitchfork as he walks away despondently

            • by dsginter (104154)
              Replying because I accidentally modded you down instead of up and the toothless hillbillies that made slashdot can't help me fix it.
      • by firex726 (1188453)

        Netflix also offered to set up their server inside the Comcast DC's, that way there would be no peering, it'd be on the Comcast network all the time. Comcast declined.

      • What Netflix is paying for is "a peering tie-in inside of Comcast's data centers".

        You can call 'protection money' whatever you want. It's still Extortion.

    • Re:I Pay (Score:5, Interesting)

      by _xeno_ (155264) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:45AM (#46757291) Homepage Journal

      Well, not just from Netflix, what they really want is to make the Netflix experience so terrible that you'd rather buy pay-per-view movies from Comcast instead. Barring that, they'll take money from Netflix if they can get that, too.

      Comcast's end game is being your only source of content. Internet, TV, movies, music, phone service, all through Comcast and no one else. If they have to break Netflix and Skype to do that - "oops." After all, net neutrality is currently unenforceable in the United States.

      • Re:I Pay (Score:5, Informative)

        by cheesybagel (670288) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @12:03PM (#46757531)

        This is worse than net neutrality. IMO it violates the Sherman antitrust act.

        • by Solandri (704621)
          It would, except Comcast's monopoly is government-granted. A municipal government has decided to make Comcast the sole cable provider in the area, and prohibited other cable companies from offering competing service. The solution isn't to bash Comcast for acting like a monopoly (as much as I'd like to). It's to prohibit municipal governments from granting cable and phone monopolies.

          I think it should be handled the way electricity and gas are handled - the company that owns the infrastructure cannot se
      • That sounds like AOL.
    • by Kenja (541830)
      No, you pay Comcast for internet access at UP TO X speed. It's all in your contract, they promise nothing.
      • by ArhcAngel (247594)
        Actually business class does have certain guarantees. But consumer class you are absolutely right. Most ISP's oversell what they can accommodate and hope you all never log on at the same time. Since statistically less than 10% ever use the total bandwidth they are allotted it works out most of the time. And when it doesn't those 10% get booted to keep the 90% happy.
    • Re:I Pay (Score:5, Informative)

      by Warbothong (905464) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @12:05PM (#46757549) Homepage

      1. You pay Comcast for Internet access at X speed.
      2. Netflix pays Amazon and others for Internet access at Y speed ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N... [wikipedia.org] )
      3. You pay Netflix to send you movies via those lines that you both pay for.
      4. Comcast holds your content hostage, wanting an extortion payment from NetFlix.

      The point about NetFlix paying for bandwidth is important, since Comcast keep claiming things like "they shouldn't get a free ride" and "somebody needs to pay for the infrastructure", but they *were* paying for infrastructure; just not Comcast's (directly, anyway).

      • by gfxguy (98788)
        Additionally, as Comcast's customer, I am the one paying for Comcast's infrastructure, and I should be able to use the bandwidth I already paid for the way I see fit - Netflix is not Comcast's customer, I am, and I'm already paying. Comcast is now double dipping.
    • While I agree with you in principle...

      That isn't actually true. What you "pay for" is "internet access UP TO X speed".

      It is the "up to" part that everyone ignores when they buy 25mb or 50mb connections.

  • A win? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bazmail (764941) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:38AM (#46757181)
    I hope we at least have water neutrality where we don't get charged more for using water for showering as opposed to washing the car. thats where its all going folks.
    • From what I heard they want to do that in places like California. So beware.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:39AM (#46757183) Homepage

    They would have offered to play netflix streaming server mirrors in their regional Headends to give real speed boosts.

  • Really, netflix, congratulations. Very disruptive of you and all that. And the transition from a primarily USPS model to a substantially streaming service (barring that one really embarrassing fuckup that you could hardly have handled worse, oh how we chuckled over here...) Really sticking it to the stogy incumbents.

    Now, it would be a pity if your customers were to... experience service disruptions... would it not?
  • that was quick! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:40AM (#46757211)

    it's barely been a month & comcast's already completed all those network upgrades? you know, all that capital investment that was required b/c of netflix that they didn't have the $ for until a month ago? that's impressively fast considering how long it takes them to fix the most basic problems for individual customers!

  • Consumers pay (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pr0nbot (313417) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:41AM (#46757233)

    Obviously Netflix will just pass the cost on to its subscribers (where else would they get the money from?). It's very unlikely they'd implement this as a surcharge for their Comcast subscribers only (I wish they would, but I expect their contract with Comcast prohibits it), they'll just absorb it into the single subscription price. So in fact non-Comcast customers will effectively be indirectly paying Comcast to subsidise other users' access.

    From an engineer's point of view it's all baffling (Netflix and their customers are both paying for a certain amount of bandwidth, so where's the need for anything more?), but when you view it through the lens of capitalist incentives it all makes perfect sense.

    • by Njovich (553857)

      If Netflix could get away with raising prices without losing too many customers, do you think they wouldn't have done it regardless of this event?

      For 95% of non-commodity products, the only factor in setting a price is what the client is willing to pay for it. Cost has some influence there, but it's not nearly as direct as many people seem to think.

      This will probably just eat into the margins of Netflix.

      • If you have negative margins it ceases to be a business. That sounds like a good reason to jack up prices to me.

        • by suutar (1860506)
          This. Increase costs, and the point of maximum profit may increase even if the number of subscribers at that point decreases.
    • It would make sense, if it wasn't for the fact that Comcast operates as a government-sponsored monopoly.

      They get away with this crap because their potential customers are prohibited from operating: there is no free market. In a free market, you'd probably have full gigabit fibre to the home as an option in most metropolitan areas at this point. As it is, ISPs rarely can even gain the rights to offer service in areas due to exclusive deals Comcast has brokered by greasing the palms of local officials.

      Capital

  • by Red_Chaos1 (95148) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:42AM (#46757249)

    "...for anyone but Comcast is still open."

    It was never a question, nor open. The answer is no. It is painfully obvious this benefits Comcast and hurts everyone else.

  • On a long enough time-line, this is bad news for everyone; and not just netflix or comcast users. It's a slap in the face to network neutrality. Dane-geld in a manner of speaking; Will all ISP's need to pay for preferential access to content for their customers? Sure netflix can afford to pay, for now.. but how does a new player ever enter the market if they can't afford to pay for access to customers? =/
  • Danegeld (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kheldan (1460303) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:45AM (#46757287) Journal
    Sums it up nicely.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:48AM (#46757331)
    This is ground zero for the net neutrality fight. We need strong Net Neutrality to keep this BS from happening. Comcast is gaining a position where it will implicitly own a share of every company delivering service to its customers. The Comcast and TWC merger is going to make things infinitely worse.
  • The other evil empire (AT&T) is royally screwing us via U-Verse, jacking up every fee, every month.

    We are thinking about dumping U-Verse and getting JUST internet from Comcast (no land line, no cable).

    We can get about 50 digital channels over the air, plus streaming.

    YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED!

    • by suutar (1860506)

      Heh. I'm thinking about switching from Comcast to Uverse because it looks like I can get substantially similar service (minus some channels I don't use) for half as much. I've been trying to figure out what I'm missing that will make it actually not a savings.

  • by nimbius (983462) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:59AM (#46757481) Homepage
    Capitalism, american capitalism, basically encourages this twisted practice of squeezing as much cash by hook or by crook out of anyone even remotely related to your service. Looking to companies to solve the problem is like looking at a cigarette lighter to fix your burning house.
    br. America has no recourse for evil companies, in fact it prides itself on this fact.
  • So, does TIVO work with OTA HD signals?

  • Now is a great chance for the competition to "listen to their customers" and increase Netflix performance on their networks without charging Netflix or their customers (directly).

    You know, do what they are supposed to do but spin it to make Comcast look like worse than they already do.

  • by Bruinwar (1034968) <{moc.liamtoh} {ta} {rawniurb}> on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @12:07PM (#46757573)
    So Netflix ponies up the money & Comcrap is able to provide no-stutter streaming. It appears to be true. At my girlfriend's place (Comcrap) we couldn't watch Netflix but now it runs fine. At my house (Uverse... Uvile?) we could watch Netflix but now, as in the last two nights, it stutters & is unwatchable. Purely anecdotal but yea, they both suck. Maybe I change providers again... back to Wide Open West!!
  • VERIZON! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by itsenrique (846636) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @12:10PM (#46757601)
    I'm in Tampa, and my service for Netflix has gone down slowly but surely for many months. At this point during peak access it shows me video that looks akin to 240p YouTube clips. Fingers crossed that these clowns overstep their bounds and force some net neutrality legislation.
    • To clarify, I pay for 50/25. I don't know if its "Quantum" or not, but it quantum sucks for streaming video. Service is being disconnected the 28th of this month.
      • The evidence suggests that 'quantum' has a lot to do with it.

        • "In physics, a quantum (plural: quanta) is the minimum amount of any physical entity involved in an interaction." From Wikipedia. So yeah I suppose they are selling a so called infrastructure that they have done the absolute minimum too.
  • Is it in the realm of possibility, at the prices that customers are willing to currently pay, to deliver on demand content near blu-ray level quality to a whole neighborhood? If 25% of my neighborhood suddenly decided to stream the new Hobbit movie, I doubt Verizon could cope with a few dozen households suddenly demanding reliable streaming of upwards of 50GB of content unless that content was hosted on servers with preferred QoS rules or something.

  • Net Neutrality Now (Score:4, Insightful)

    by prefec2 (875483) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @12:16PM (#46757669)

    If you have a company and pay for Internet connectivity, then you already paying what is necessary for that volume of data. The speed should be the same for everyone. Otherwise new businesses cannot form on the net on equal terms. This is important for freedom and even for the market economy. However, without net neutrality will end up in a time of monopoly (or oligopoly). Only this time the monopoly is not governed by the state and at least in theory controlled by the public.

    For the US, dropping net neutrality makes sense from a corporate state viewpoint, as all big Internet services are US-based (beside those in China). If you hinder any other new service you can guarantee that those corporations stay in business, because the ramp up cost for new players would be too high. Also peer-to-peer technologies which could flourish with IPv6 can be crippled right before they become dangerous for the establishment.

  • by wiredlogic (135348) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @12:16PM (#46757677)

    It would be a shame if ... something ... happened to that nice video streaming business you got there.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @12:23PM (#46757761)

    I'm beginning to wonder if Netflix did this on purpose, to gain sympathy and to highlight the actual problems around net-neutrality.

    It makes sense, instead of making bold claims about what might happen, they went ahead and just let it happen..

    It's sort of like a person going into a bad neighborhood, getting roughed up and then telling everyone about how much of a bad part of town that was, look he's even a victim!

    This chart is easy to show to politicians and policymakers, and it exposes the simple fact that Comcast clearly **had** the capacity before these payments, they were just withholding.

    Personally, I think it's a very smart move on Netflix's part, they are playing the long game.

  • Yesterday netflix was looking great, yet when I tried to check my e-mail, nothing. Speedtest didn't even load. I assumed someone else in the building was torrenting. The whole building shares a comcast line of some type, included in rent, and at best it's exactly as bad as you'd expect. Now the internet is going to be unusable for anything OTHER than netflix.

    I really have to hand it to comcast to finding ways to consistently make things worse than expected.

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