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Netflix CEO Accuses Comcast of Not Practicing Net Neutrality 272

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-that-he-has-anything-to-gain-for-doing-so dept.
braindrainbahrain writes "Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, has a Facebook page in which he posts a short gripe about Comcast. It seems watching video through the Xfinity app on an Xbox does not counting towards your cap on your Comcast data plan. All other services, Netflix included, do. To quote Hastings: 'For example, if I watch last night's SNL episode on my Xbox through the Hulu app, it eats up about one gigabyte of my cap, but if I watch that same episode through the Xfinity Xbox app, it doesn't use up my cap at all. The same device, the same IP address, the same wifi, the same internet connection, but totally different cap treatment. In what way is this neutral?'" The difference, of course, is that you need a Comcast cable TV subscription in order to have the Xfinity app not count toward your monthly data usage allowance. Then again, you can't exactly sign up for a similar plan through Netflix or Hulu.
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Netflix CEO Accuses Comcast of Not Practicing Net Neutrality

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  • Why isn't netflix working????? I can say why .......
    (we have comcast too)
  • by ibsteve2u (1184603) on Monday April 16, 2012 @01:46PM (#39701799)
    That is, eager to complain about - and pay to eliminate - regulations and laws meant to protect the consumer as a danger to "the free market" and "competition" while being equally eager to eliminate "the free market" and "competition".
    • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Monday April 16, 2012 @01:51PM (#39701859) Homepage Journal

      It's been said here before, these people are for the free market until they're not. When the free market turns against them they don't "innovate," they instantly go whining to their favorite congress person with a moneybag in their hand.

      It's the same for everyone that claims to be "free market." There isn't one truly free market person in Congress on in Corporate America. Whenever you hear that it should cause your B.S. detector to go off.

      • by flaming error (1041742) on Monday April 16, 2012 @02:09PM (#39702105) Journal

        "When the free market turns against them"

        Actually, that's never happened. There's never been a free global communications market.

        Infrastructure, and those running it, are regulated and taxed/subsidized at different levels at different times, markets, and media.

      • That's pretty much the same for everybody that mentions free market, not just Congress people and corporations. Even the people on internet forums. They're all for free market--until they're not.
      • Well keep in mind, when people talk about "the free market", they're not always talking about the same thing. It all depends on whose perspective your looking from, and who you think should be "free" in the market. Is a "free market" the market where *customers* are free, in that they are permitted to choose freely between different vendors of different products, based on the quality of those products? Or is a "free market" a market where the *vendors* are free, in that they are permitted to manipulate the market in any way that they're able, including fraud and monopolization?

        When Comcast says they want a "free market", they're talking about the second one, where vendors are free.

    • Not to mention these same entities sing the exact opposite tune when they need protection from piracy and duplication of content by the dangerous consumers. They LOVE regulations and laws then.
  • Psychic (Score:2, Funny)

    by SJHillman (1966756)

    Maybe Comcast created some kind of psychic link for Xfinity so it doesn't have to go over the tubes connected to your house? Thus why it doesn't count towards your bandwidth!

    My theory is that it's probably such a huge bandwidth hog that they don't want anyone to realize that it would kill their cap in 10 minutes.

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Monday April 16, 2012 @01:48PM (#39701827)

    It violates antitrust laws. Netflix, Amazon, and other streaming video services should just sue Comcast and get it over with it.

    • by jmerlin (1010641)
      And what about Comcast + AT&T + Verizon effectively being "the only choices available" for internet services but have the exact same costs for the exact same service with the exact same terms? Looks an awful lot like no competition is going on between the major monopolies, but a whole lot of trustful-lovin. Would love to see a massive lawsuit dissolve these monopolies. Unfortunately, so long as money = speech and corporations run this country, that'll never happen, regardless of how obviously they're
      • I have Verizon DSL, and if there's a cap, I haven't found it yet. I only have a 4M/768k ADSL, but based on my router data, I've been doing anywhere from 300 to 800 GB per month for the last year.

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        You would have to sue one county (or city) at a time, in order to challenge the validity of the exclusive contract they gave to Comcast in your juris diction.

        I have Verizon. So far they've not applied any caps.

  • by brainchill (611679) on Monday April 16, 2012 @01:48PM (#39701833)
    The bandwidth used to get the data from comcasts servers is only transmitted across comcasts network and doesn't consume upstream bandwidth from peering connections so I would argue that the xfinity data isn't really "internet" traffic at all. It's like arguing that one apartment watching a tv show stored on a server in an apartment complex should be counted as consumed internet bandwidth to the upstream connections.
    • by cob666 (656740)
      This doesn't make sense. If Xfinity traffic stays on the Comcast internal network then there is still bandwidth utilization between their internal servers and your device. Additionally, once the packet from Netflix routes into the Comcast network it's no different than the Xfinity traffic.
    • by gtbritishskull (1435843) on Monday April 16, 2012 @02:05PM (#39702051)
      If that is true, then ANY traffic that remains solely within Comcast's network should not affect the data cap.
    • by jmerlin (1010641)
      But why can't Netflix have a datacenter hosted on their network and get the same benefit? Oh, but you say they can? If they pay Comcast $100,000/month? Wait... oh yeah, this is what Net Neutrality was meant to prevent. It doesn't matter how you try to justify it with cost-based arguments, it provides an uncompetitive advantage and should not be permitted.
  • by hackula (2596247) on Monday April 16, 2012 @01:50PM (#39701853)
    In my area, Comcast uses DNS Hijacking to favor their "search engine" any time you misspell something in the url bar. Sounds like more of the same to me. 21st century highwaymen.
  • From strictly a technology perspective, there is a difference - IPTV delivered via Multicast can be engineered to reduce bandwidth consumption, and will not be counted as usage by your ISP. If delivered via Unicast, such as Netflix or Youtube, it looks just like every other packet. That is, unless you want your ISP performing DPI to bill you properly based on what you're watching instead of where it's coming from...? Which is more "neutral" - DPI or discrimination by packet type?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 16, 2012 @02:08PM (#39702093)

      Multicast is for broadcasts where everybody is receiving the same content simultaneously. It doesn't work for what's being discussed here; on-demand playback of individual episodes and movies. That's unicast. Why would Comcast stream the 15th minute of the 4th episode of season 2 of Community to everybody simultaneously, including the guy watching the 6th episode?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I highly doubt they are using multicast for this. This isn't IPTV being used to deliver live TV which does work very well with multicast. This is providing on-demand access to a library of content that you can start at any time and control the playback. This doesn't allow the use of multicast.

    • I am pretty sure the xfinity app allows you to watch shows on-demand. Can that also be done with Multicast? If so, why can't Netflix and Youtube use multicast?
    • by jmerlin (1010641)
      Gotta love how you can multicast the same content to 200 different people who on-demand decide to watch it at completely different times. That's some kind of temporal shifting engineering technology to reduce bandwidth costs, right? Man, 2012 really is the future.
    • by HellKnite (266374) on Monday April 16, 2012 @02:14PM (#39702163)

      Multicast only works as a bandwidth savings device when you're streaming the same content at the same time to multiple devices. I'm not familiar with the Comcast Xfinity service, but to be able to glean any reasonable measure of savings you'd have to watch Xfinity like you do regular TV - shows scheduled at a certain time, not streamed on demand.

      • by michael_cain (66650) on Monday April 16, 2012 @03:06PM (#39702751) Journal
        On the order of fifteen years ago -- perhaps longer -- people proposed ways to use a small number of multicasts, plus short duration unicasts to provide near video-on-demand service. One of them went as follows (note this only makes sense for reasonably popular content). Multicast multiple copies of the content with an X minute offset between streams. When the user connects, they connect to the stream which has started most recently and begin recording from the current point. The user also begins receiving a unicast stream the delivers the first several minutes of the content (at worst, X minutes, where X is the offset). At the appropriate point, the application switches from the unicast stream to the recorded multicast stream.

        Yes, it was a kludge. And got kludgier when you wanted to add things like long pauses (longer than X minutes) without recording the entire stream. But it did reduce the total bandwidth needed to deliver popular on-demand content.
  • so it begins.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gl4ss (559668) on Monday April 16, 2012 @01:52PM (#39701871) Homepage Journal

    I made a comment some months about how this will happen, as the reason why isp's are rolling out bandwidth limits and creating artificial scarcity. most(all) of the isp's doing this have such services of their own and this is an easy way to create incentive to use those services and not competing services. for the consumer it sucks bigtime of course - and the big isp's doing this have no incentive to upgrade their services to higher bandwidths since it works as a method to drive users towards their own services, which even if they don't make money(for the isp) surely count against somebodys bonus matrix plans(which are bullshit of course too).

    this is the reason why they don't want net neutrality, why they don't want uncapped connections. they just want to promote their walled garden bullshit services. content providers don't mind as it let's them "monetize" the shows in the old fashion - meaning lots of regional licensing and their staff sitting at bullshit lunches getting hammered while selling something the consumer should be able to buy/view globally directly.

    they should at least be forced to advertise the fact and be forced to advertise their internet connections as comcast-network connections.

    • Re:so it begins.. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday April 16, 2012 @03:16PM (#39702843) Homepage

      they should at least be forced to advertise the fact and be forced to advertise their internet connections as comcast-network connections.

      I've been advocating a much larger change for some time: forbid any company from being both an infrastructure provider and a service provider.

      It seems vitally important to me that Comcast, for example, should not be permitted to string the coaxial cable to your house *as well as* providing internet services, VoIP, and Television over that cable. It inherently creates perverse incentives for them to provide both the infrastructure and the services carried over that infrastructure. Even if they weren't providing their own streaming service, their business interests as a TV provider are undermined by companies like Netflix, so they have an incentive to provide poor Internet service that makes Netflix untenable. Further, the fact that Comcast is also a content owner (via NBC/Universal), they have a perverse incentive to undermine any dealings with Netflix that would put their content on Netflix's streaming service.

      There's no real way to prevent these kinds of perverse incentives unless you break Comcast up, the cable infrastructure company on one side, and the media services company on the other. Once they're broken up, regulate the infrastructure company as public infrastructure, and require that they aren't allowed to make special deals with individual companies. That should go a long way towards ensuring net neutrality.

  • not NET neutrality (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jmkaza (173878)

    The NET in Net Neutrality implies Internet. When comcast is delivering you a Netflix/Hulu/Vudu etc. stream, they're pulling it from the open Internet to deliver it to you. When you're using their app, the can deliver the same content completely over their own network. You're not using the Internet, you're using Comcast's WAN, so no Internet bandwidth is being used, so it shouldn't be charged. If I'm streaming a movie from my PC to my TV, it doesn't go against my cap either, because it's using my isolated ne

    • by TheSunborn (68004) <[kd.ua.imiad] [ta] [rellit]> on Monday April 16, 2012 @02:07PM (#39702077)

      Not really true. Comcasts WAN is part of the internet. Remember internet is a network of networks.

      • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Monday April 16, 2012 @02:14PM (#39702157)

        This is exactly right. The Internet is by definition a network of private/public networks. The reason the Internet took off is because all those network operators realized that the benefits they gained from openly interoperating was much greater than the benefits they could leverage from offering a walled garden (AOL anyone).

        Now that some private networks are big enough, and have gotten an idea of what people might want to do with a network, they're starting to wall off and charging rent. Comcast might be able to squeeze out some temporary profits, but it will most definitely be temporary. The Internet would collapse into a series of AOLs, innovation will die off, and it'll all be quiet until the concept of an open Internet is revived.

        This is a classic case of killing the goose with golden eggs.

      • by jmkaza (173878)

        I'd say the Internet is a Specific network of networks. If Comcast is receiving the shows from the studios via satellite telemetry, encoding them, then distributing them to your app via their own IP based network, no Internet connection is required. You're paying separately, via your cable subscription, for this network access. I have Comcast as my ISP, but I don't have cable. I have access to the Internet, but I don't have access to this.

    • by Terwin (412356)

      Internet is from IP which stands for Internet(work) Protocol
      If you are crossing form one network(say Ethernet) to another(say DSL/Cable Internet/802.1 wireless/token ring/etc) you are on an internet
      If that internet is connected to the Internet Backbone then you are on The Internet.
      Unless Comcast's network is unconnected to the rest of the 'net, their network is part of The Internet.

      For the consumer, The Internet is anything on the other side of their connection(be that a cable modem, DSL modem, ISP provided

      • by jmkaza (173878)

        I disagree that the Internet is anything on the other side of their connection. I'd say the Internet is anything on the other side of their Gateway, but anything on the same side of that gateway is local network.

  • by DigitalSorceress (156609) on Monday April 16, 2012 @01:53PM (#39701881)

    Ok, I'll bite - I don't get one thing... I pay Comcast an obscene amount of money every month for Cable TV and Internet... why should they give a flying crap if I stream a show or not then? After all, I'm already paying for their Xfinity streamy stuff even if I don't take advantage of it.

    I never even come close to my cap every month, but I'm still bothered by how a cap == "unlimited" and I don't understand why Comcast would care since they got the money anyway.

    Oh, right - Capitolism now requires that every cporprate entity take the greediest possible short term position on any issue.

    Grumble...

  • by unitron (5733) on Monday April 16, 2012 @01:58PM (#39701959) Homepage Journal

    It seems watching video through the Xfinity app on an Xbox does not counting towards your cap on your Comcast data plan.

    "All your cap are belong to us"?

    Everybody click on all the ads so that Slashdot can afford a proofreader.

  • What is missing from this rant is the source of the video. Content closer to your customer is easier, typically, to deliver and therefore cheaper. And then we have peering agreements and a load of other stuff on top of it.

    Maybe comcast and content providers should work on a way of providing a mirror on comcast's network for their customers, thus avoiding the cap issues.

    • They could just take a portion of the obscene amount of money they charge me for internet and pay for their peering agreements.
  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Monday April 16, 2012 @02:18PM (#39702197)

    Way back when I had ADSL in australia as my internet traffic within the ISPs network didn't count to my quota. The ISP had a bunch of ftp mirrors, a bunch of game servers, and the subscribers ran a bunch of not legitimate at all P2P servers/clients that restricted to within the ISP IPs.

    It had nothing to do with the ISP trying to leverage itself into having an edge over content providing competitors. That external traffic was a big part of their costs and so encouraging their users to use their mirrors and so on was good for them.

    When I was at uni, AARNet traffic was cheaper than other national traffic which was cheaper than international traffic - in terms of what the university charged the department for their usage. I can't find any docs now of course, but a different university still has a slightly simpler but similar setup: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/its/quotas/internet/definition.html [adelaide.edu.au]

    Again that wasn't the university trying to get content providers to pay them or trying to give an edge to themselves. It was just a reflection of the costs.

    Now the US has far lower costs to start with and maybe they are low enough that it really doesn't matter and comcast are just trying to benefit their other business arms. But without knowing some of the vague details I don't think you can just ignore the non-jerk potential reasons.

  • If comcast just said that "CAP" was the amount of bandwidth that was used by a customer which left Comcast's network. Such that all traffic that stayed within Comcast's network did not count toward the customer's bandwidth limit.

    Nobody said they had to measure it at the modem? Also, I don't believe how much traffic you use is part of this neutrality debate, I though it was around the speed at which it was used. So the same 1GB netflix movie is streamed at the same speed to the consumer as a 1GB xfinity mov

    • Why not eliminate the cap altogether? It's absolutely garbage that a land line should be capped. Neither of the services I have available (Cablevision and FIOS) have caps.

      I think caps would go away real quick if this practice of exclusive broadband franchises were to come to an end.

  • The difference is that the Xfinity app doesn't have to leave the Comcast network to get its' content. Netflix, etc, do.

    Just think of them metering your bandwidth as it leave the Comcast network instead of when it leaves your house. As a network operator, I don't really see this as being evil. ISPs have to pay for bandwidth that leaves their network, while content inside their network is free. Naturally ISPs want their subscribers to pay for content they access outside the ISP's network since the ISP
    • by Galestar (1473827)
      Fine, but then they can't complain that usage caps are because "the last mile is overloaded". Peering arrangements are cheap as dirt and are not the bottleneck during high usage. The usage caps are based on a lie, precisely built to drive consumers away from other content providers and into their own content services. They are abusing their monopoly in one vertical to manipulate another - and they need to be taken to task for it (I prefer public lynchings, but breaking up the company works too)
  • All these posts about the cost to Comcast (Netflix is outside Comcast's network while Comcast's content is within the network) are missing the point.

    If Comcast allowed Netflix to host their servers within Comcast's infrastructure for a reasonable fee, then Netflix would have an option of how to host the content. Pay a little more, and Comcast customers do not have to deal with the cap. But Comcast does not allow that. And that is the real issue.

    Netflix would love this, because not only would they have a bet

  • In a different world view, and one that is equally valid, is Comcast provides multiple products over the same pipe. The "Internet connection" is capped per the subscriber agreement (which by the way, pay approximately $50 more a month for a business Internet connection and caps go away and you can get static IPs to host your own services). The Comcast Xfinity App is provided under a different access arrangement. That they happen to use the same pipe is not meaningful. The Comcast Xfinity user is paying for

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