Comcast demands Netflix toll among net neutrality arguments

Netflix

Comcast is now charging Netflix to stream its service. Comcast says it is for network use, Netflix says it is because they are a competitor. Image: Flickr / billselak / CC-BY-ND

Internet and media provider Comcast is once again in the center of a net neutrality argument. Providers have said that the market can police itself, though Comcast is now charging Netflix a “traffic toll” to not throttle its service. The FCC has yet to take action on net neutrality, though it is expected to vote in December.

Comcast charges Netflix a toll

Comcast is a media company that provides television, internet and telephone service. Comcast also offers an on-demand and pay-per-view online movie service. Level 3 is a content-delivery network that is working with Netflix to deliver their streaming content to your computer. Comcast has decided to charge Level 3, and therefore Netflix, a “recurring fee in exchange for allowing Netflix streaming media … to flow unfettered.” In other words, Comcast is demanding that either Netflix pay, or Comcast customers won’t be able to use their service.

The net neutrality problem with Comcast and Netflix

The general concept of net neutrality is that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally. Earlier this year, Comcast was sanctioned by the FCC for “throttling,” or slowing down, traffic to file-sharing service BitTorrent. Comcast fought back against the sanction, saying there is no rule or law that states the company has to treat web traffic equally. Comcast says it is charging Level 3 and Netflix the fee because the high level of web traffic through Netflix strains their network. Opponents are saying Netflix has to pay the fee because their service competes with Comcast’s own content streaming network.

The competing net neutrality arguments

Proponents of net neutrality are saying that the Comcast / Netflix fee is the perfect example of why net neutrality is needed. The idea is that no internet traffic should be treated as more or less than any other traffic. Large internet providers, such as Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast say that broadband and internet providers should be able to make their own internet content deals, much like cable television functions. What do you think? Should the FCC vote for net neutrality, or should businesses be able to self-regulate?

Sources

PC World
LA Times
Wikipedia – Net Neutrality

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