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Netflix CEO On Net Neutrality: Large ISPs Are the Problem 181

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-large-ISPs-are-so-well-liked dept.
KindMind writes: At Wired, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has posted his take on net neutrality. He lays the problem at the feet of the large ISPs. Hastings says, "Consider this: A single fiber-optic strand the diameter of a human hair can carry 101.7 terabits of data per second, enough to support nearly every Netflix subscriber watching content in HD at the same time. And while technology has improved and capacity has increased, costs have continued to decline. A few more shelves of equipment might be needed in the buildings that house interconnection points, but broadband itself is as limitless as its uses. We'll never realize broadband's potential if large ISPs erect a pay-to-play system that charges both the sender and receiver for the same content. ... It's worth noting that Netflix connects directly with hundreds of ISPs globally, and 99 percent of those agreements don't involve access fees. It is only a handful of the largest U.S. ISPs, which control the majority of consumer connections, demanding this toll. Why would more profitable, larger companies charge for connections and capacity that smaller companies provide for free? Because they can."
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Netflix CEO On Net Neutrality: Large ISPs Are the Problem

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  • Big Data (Score:5, Informative)

    by AlecDalek (3781731) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @07:24PM (#47708327)
    It's extortion plain and simple. It's never been about actual capacity. Big Data is trying to squeeze as much revenue out of us as the can.
    • by Kethinov (636034)

      Not that I disagree, but right now I'm just finding it funny how Hastings can complain about ISPs doing bad things while he remains conspicuously silent about Hollywood forcing draconian DRM into Netflix and, indirectly, into the HTML5 spec itself. Maybe the major ISPs should look into buying Hastings' silence too. It would help with their PR.

      • by lgw (121541)

        Hastings, Netflix, and 99.999999% of all streaming customers give approximately 0 fucks about DRM. They pay Netflix, they see the content, there's simply no problem. And they're right. Technology makes life better by working. If it "just works", then it's fine. This ISP-throttling-Netflix BS, OTOH, is punishing customers until Netflix caves. That's not fine.

        • by Kethinov (636034)

          Both issues punish customers, as anyone who's ever wanted to save a Netflix movie for offline viewing on a flight can attest to.

          • by lgw (121541)

            as anyone who's ever wanted to save a Netflix movie for offline viewing on a flight

            They offer that service separately, and I use it all the time: DVDs - but for most people that's a corner case. The problem most people have with Netflix (myself included) is the tiny amount of streaming content in the first place. Even with the DRM they can barely get any content owners contracted. The studios just have recto-cranial inversion over streaming in the first place - the DRM is just a distraction from the real issue.

            In both cases - content owners and big ISPs, you've got abuse of government-

      • You're supposing that the DRM is there merely to appease Hollywood. Ever consider the possibility that Hastings might not want their customers downloading movies for watching two years after their subscriptions have expired?

        As for offline viewing (something others are mentioning in response as a thing-you-can't-do-because-DRM), Amazon has that. Rhapsody too (albeit for music.) The files are DRM'd too. Netflix can implement offline viewing with the DRM being used to restrict the timeframe used to view the

    • by Type44Q (1233630)
      Bingo.Break them the fuck up.
    • by bigpat (158134)
      Funny.... My Netflix was actually throttled pretty badly last night by Verizon and I was wondering what Netflix did to piss off Verizon. Now I guess I have the answer.
      • Which is weird as hell, because on Tuesday evening, like every evening, I didn't have any trouble at all on my FIOS connection. Does your internet perhaps suck ass?
    • It's extortion plain and simple. It's never been about actual capacity. Big Data is trying to squeeze as much revenue out of us as the can.

      Yes, you are right.

      This reminds me of Obamacare, which was implemented in the rest of the world in 1966. That said, When can you expect to have HS internet at $10/mo for 500megabits/sec as it is in other countries?

      The Netflix guy is absolutely right. But the USA is owned by corporations, not by it's majority of taxpayers.

  • In Other News (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sexconker (1179573) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @07:24PM (#47708335)

    Cats on Dogs: Dogs are the problem.

    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      Well - if the content providers outright denied to provide content to ISPs that want money for the traffic it would hurt the content providers but it would hurt the ISPs more since the customers would look for other providers.

      However as soon as a content provider starts to pay they will be part of the problem and not provide any solution.

  • I'm shocked! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Livius (318358) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @07:26PM (#47708347)

    In the absence of governments preventing them quasi-monopolies will act like quasi-monopolies?

    • by dpilot (134227)

      Now we need the quasi-obligatory response that this is really a government problem, and if government weren't in there mucking about with needless regulation the free market would address the problem and we'd all be in broadband utopia at reasonable prices.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by s.petry (762400)

        Now we need the quasi-obligatory response that this is really a government problem, and if government weren't in there mucking about with needless regulation the free market would address the problem and we'd all be in broadband utopia at reasonable prices.

        Perhaps I don't quite understand your wording and this is not double speak, but assuming you wrote correctly this is a Government problem. At least in the realm of what the Governments role is supposed to be in a Capitalist economy.

        The majority of monopolization in the US is due exactly to monopolization by Government intervention. You may have to go deep to see it, and many people don't want to look that far, but it's all there. Start with Patent law and work your way out. Even if I could provide a bet

        • One problem leading to broadband monopoly is city ownership of city roads [mises.org]. What alternative would you recommend? The only one I can think of is burying a few conduits in advance when performing other utility maintenance, and then leasing each individual conduit to an ISP to blow its own fiber or copper.
          • by s.petry (762400)

            Zoning for the infrastructure is the smallest part of the problem and the easiest to solve. It does however require thinking differently. To be very clear, this is not how things are, but how they should be in concept. Additional comments at the end of this post are not directed at you, please take no offense (I try to warn trolls away).

            The Government is not supposed to "own" any land. They are supposed to work with the citizens to zone it properly, but the citizens own the land because the Government

            • by mirix (1649853)

              Dream on. What do you do when someone doesn't want you pulling cable across their property? (You won't be able to get the government to force them.)

              It's besides the point really. Without government you'd be pulling the cable down a road made of mud and shit anyway.

          • by Wycliffe (116160)

            What alternative would you recommend? The only one I can think of is burying a few conduits in advance when performing other utility maintenance, and then leasing each individual conduit to an ISP to blow its own fiber or copper.

            This isn't as crazy as it sounds. If the city owns the conduit, let's say a 6 inch pvc conduit and then rents it out at a nominal fee to anyone and
            everyone who wants to send fiber down it. You could literally send thousands of strands of fiber down a single 6 inch conduit. Plenty of room
            for competition for anyone who wants to try to compete. Now the city only has to maintain a simple piece of plastic pipe and can distribute the cost
            with dozens of companies and each company gets to maintain their own fib

          • by wvmarle (1070040)

            Solve it the same way the roads are solved.

            The government builds the infrastructure (roads), then allows everyone to use this (bus companies, truck companies, private cars), as long as they follow the rules of the road (including safety requirements on the vehicles, size limitations, etc) and they pay a road tax (depending on vehicle size/type/weight).

            It's not hard to translate this into network service. Don't say it can't be done, it's exactly how it works in many European countries - with great results. W

        • by dryeo (100693)

          .Perhaps I don't quite understand your wording and this is not double speak, but assuming you wrote correctly this is a Government problem.

          That's true, the government has been implicit in enclosing the commons since 1235 and without common land to drag cable/fiber across you can't just start an ISP.

          The majority of monopolization in the US is due exactly to monopolization by Government intervention.

          Perhaps we need to stop the government from giving the aristocracy (the rich) the right to own the land and infrastructure built on our land. Traditionally there was private land, eg your house and immediate property and their was common land for the use of all. Government has removed the common part and given it to the lords and now naturally thos

        • by dywolf (2673597)

          Right on cue.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        But government is the problem, dumb-asses. The reason you only have one broadband provider in many areas is because local governments signed contracts with these corporations that allows them exclusive usage of communications infrastructure, state governments passed laws that prevent local municipalities from building their own infrastructure, and the federal government shields them from any sort of federal regulation through the FCC which now works for said companies due to regulatory capture.

        • by dywolf (2673597)

          and the magical IHOTFM will fix it?
          Yeah...no.

          It's not "government" that is the problem.
          It's "bad government".
          Government that looks to the lobbyists first instead of its citizens.
          Ie, corrupt public officials.

          Because some officials are bad doesn't mean the solution is automatically "no government"...that solves nothing. Proper government is run in the interest of its constituents.

          Proper government would have some simple and sane regulations to promote competition (no non-compete agreements, even force compet

      • I guess you've never personally worked on a community broadband project and learned what's involved with getting pole space (in the supposed 'public' right of way).

        Give it a try - you'll learn something!

    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      In the presence of corrupt governments preventing them, they will too.

      All current forms of government are corrupt.

      Thus, both in the absence and presence of governments, quasi-monopolies will have great power.

  • Poor argument (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @07:34PM (#47708385)

    While I agree that ISPs are a big part of the problem, the downside isn't that we don't get our utopia, the downside is that other countries are able to provide a more competitive near-utopia, locking us out of a leadership position on development of the Internet. That's the real fail, here. If we fail to lead, there will be others that are all too happy to fill our shoes and take our money to do so.

    No, I didn't RTFA.

    • Re:Poor argument (Score:5, Insightful)

      by StormReaver (59959) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @10:29PM (#47709361)

      While I agree that ISPs are a big part of the problem, the downside isn't that we don't get our utopia....

      A bigger part of the problem lies with people who believe that paying a fair price for service, and then receiving the paid-for service, is some form of utopia rather than a requirement.

      No, I didn't RTFA.

      That was self-evident.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    TFA sounds a little naive.

    While I'm quite certain there's that "because they can" factor in there, and I've seen it first-hand when working for companies, it's just not as simple as how much data tan go through the fiber. There's lots of hidden costs that have nothing to do with interconnect bandwidth, like switching gear, power used by said gear, maintenance costs related to that, including salaries for qualified technicians spread all over the coverage area available to handle issues and outages (not that

  • To remove accidental moderation.

  • Play hardball (Score:4, Informative)

    by felixrising (1135205) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @08:25PM (#47708691)
    John Oliver really said it well, explained the nature of the shake-down... these ISPs are simply being greedy and not realising that providing a quality fast connection to their subscribers is in their own interest, providing poor quality connection to services that other ISPs are providing good quality to only serves to hurt their reputation and good will with their own subscribers. If was Netflix or any of these content providers that are providing great content for the ISPs, I'd play hardball.. it'd hurt their own bottom line for a while, but if they banded together with other content providers to enforce it, they would soon have the ISPs begging.... So what would I do? Notify customers of these big ISPs that within two months they will no longer be providing the full service via that ISP.. sit back and watch the ISPs customers leave in droves.. of course, this is just turning the tables on the ISP net neutrality rules, but when the ISPs are already playing hardball and have their own man in charge of the FCC, then it's time to give them a taste of their own medicine.
    • That'd be true if we all had choice.

      'Round here (Upstate NY), we're realistically limited to two ISPs. Verizon and Time Warner. Most of the area doesn't have access to FIOS, either... I'm talking about Verizon DSL. Neither seems to be looking to change the status quo. Sure, I'd be pissed if one or both were dropped by Netflix, but I can't switch to anyone else.

      • Sure, I'd be pissed if [TWC or Verizon DSL] or both were dropped by Netflix, but I can't switch to anyone else.

        If the Internet connection where you live has become unusable, you could always switch to somewhere else. Compare this: I imagine a lot of people would like to move to a rural area, but they like the Internet more than they like the country.

        • by dbc (135354)

          Oddly, my cabin in the mountains has a fiber going through my meadow where bears are regularly seen, yet here in the middle of Sili Valley I can get either indifferent DSL speeds or unreliable cable connectivity supplied by idiots. Of course, I admit that having "fiber to the bear turd" is largely a matter of have a lucky rural location positioned between wireless operators that will pay for a carrier-grade fiber connection.

          Sadly, moving to where you can get decent internet connectivity is not an option fo

        • by dballanc (100332)

          I recently bought a saw off a fellow via an online ad - about 20 miles of travel from the 'big' town of 25,000 to a house in pretty much the middle of nowhere and accessible only by several miles on gravel roads. Lots of cows, hayfields, dense forest. Out of curiousity I ask him about the internet options - he was on 10mb dsl, as are most of the other people in that area. Similar story from friends who live out in the country about 8 miles from a town of a few thousand people in a different direction. T

    • by geekmux (1040042)

      John Oliver really said it well, explained the nature of the shake-down... these ISPs are simply being greedy and not realising that providing a quality fast connection to their subscribers is in their own interest, providing poor quality connection to services that other ISPs are providing good quality to only serves to hurt their reputation and good will with their own subscribers. If was Netflix or any of these content providers that are providing great content for the ISPs, I'd play hardball.. it'd hurt their own bottom line for a while...

      Uh, their bottom line? Have you not noticed that these companies are making not millions, but billions these days? You're going to get customers to leave in "droves"? Oh, that's a laugh. There's still "droves" of customers left. Think they care? No, not really. They still made a few hundred million this quarter.

      Arrogance is the real problem with the companies that should have never been allowed to grow to the size they are today. We don't call them a monopoly because we're big fans of old board gam

    • Re:Play hardball (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jason Levine (196982) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @08:58PM (#47708887)

      In many cases, these big ISPs are also big Cable TV providers. Netflix (and Internet Video in general) threatens their Cable TV model and so must be dealt with. They can't simply block all access to Netflix. The FCC might be weak willed but it still has enough of a spine that it wouldn't ignore this. (Not to mention the lawsuits and bad press that the company would get.) Since they can't block it, they attack it with a two pronged attack:

      1) Institute data caps and overage fees. This means there is no a hard limit on how much Internet Video you can watch. They might be forced to set them high at first, but that also means that they can leave them where they are and lock out HD streams. (Note that Time Warner Cable wanted to make a 5GB cap but was forced to back out of that plan due to bad press and customer outcry.) In the case of overage fees, this will direct money to the cable companies' pockets in case users still try to watch Internet TV. It also makes Internet TV more expensive so that Cable TV will look like a better deal by comparison (even though that "more expensive" is the result of the cable companies' overage fees).

      2) Make fast-slow lanes. If Netflix doesn't pay up, their site will be slow and nearly unusable. Then the cable companies can tout how you won't need to wait for their video services to buffer. If Netflix does pay up then the cable companies make money off of Netflix. This will also force Netflix to raise their rates (to cover this new cost of doing business) resulting in a more favorable - to the cable companies - Netflix/Cable TV price comparison. (Just like the overage fees.)

      So this isn't just the big ISPs not wanting to pay to upgrade their networks. It's also them protecting their old business models against these newfangled competitors.

      • by Kjella (173770)

        Overage fees are nothing but pure evil. They did use to offer capped DSL and my cell phone data usage is still capped, I ran into it this summer as I was watching videos at the cabin but it doesn't have overage. What happens is at 80% I got a text that I'm getting close on my cap. At 100% I got a new text saying my quota is now up, I'll now either get very, very slow internet connection the rest of the month like enough to check email and barely browse the web, or I can pay up for additional quotas. Back wh

    • Re:Play hardball (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Areyoukiddingme (1289470) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @09:03PM (#47708917)

      Notify customers of these big ISPs that within two months they will no longer be providing the full service via that ISP.. sit back and watch the ISPs customers leave in droves.. of course, this is just turning the tables on the ISP net neutrality rules, but when the ISPs are already playing hardball and have their own man in charge of the FCC, then it's time to give them a taste of their own medicine.

      You forget who Comcast owns. They wholly own NBC and Universal Studios, two major sources of Netflix content. And they're already screwing with the availability of NBCUniversal content on Netflix. If Netflix tries to play hardball, a whole boatload of shows and movies will just vanish out of their catalog.

      A media company that owns the last mile is an abomination, and the FTC should do something about it.

  • by PopeRatzo (965947)

    At Wired, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has posted his take on net neutrality. He lays the problem at the feet of the large ISPs.

    File this one under, "No Shit Sherlock".

  • Netflix has been getting troubled by the telecoms a lot, but how about YouTube? Are they less bothered by the telecoms? Do they just not complain publicly as much? How does being a part of Google make their situation different than Netflix's?

If money can't buy happiness, I guess you'll just have to rent it.

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