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The Netflix slowdown and net neutrality

Posted by | Broadband Internet | No Comments

The following op-ed authored by Fred Campbell was originally published in the Detroit News.

Did Netflix, the self-anointed champion of Net neutrality and higher broadband speeds, deliberately cause an Internet slowdown for its own subscribers?

New research from computer scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Center for Applied Internet Data Analysis shows that, as its traffic increased in the last two years, Netflix forced it through clogged delivery routes, when less congested channels were available.

The scientists concluded the data “strongly suggest that the correct response to growing congestion” was for Netflix to use different connections for its traffic, not for Comcast to add capacity. This corroborates Comcast’s argument that “Netflix has not been honest.”

Evidence also suggests that, at the same time Netflix allowed congestion to increase until it affected performance, Netflix published misleading data casting the blame on Comcast. Read More

Netflix Has Some Explaining to Do

Posted by | Broadband Internet | No Comments

I recently explained how Netflix held its subscribers hostage to reduced service quality while blaming Comcast. During a hearing at the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Netflix “categorically” denied any responsibility for slowing its traffic or otherwise degrading the quality of its service.

Given that Netflix is confident that it bears no responsibility for the slow delivery of its Internet traffic to Comcast subscribers, Netflix should have no problem providing public answers to a few pertinent questions.
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Netflix Secretly Holds Subscribers Hostage to Gain Favorable FCC Internet Regulations

Posted by | Broadband Internet | 11 Comments

A stunning revelation is buried in a lengthy Netflix filing at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC): Netflix used its subscribers as pawns in a Machiavellian game of regulatory chess designed to win favorable Internet regulations.

The filing reveals that Netflix knowingly slowed down its video streaming service with the intention of blaming Internet service providers (ISPs). Specifically, Netflix used its relationships with Internet ‘backbone’ providers (e.g., Level 3, Cogent) to deliberately congest their peering links with ISPs, and at the same time, started publishing ‘ISP speed rankings’ to make it appear that ISPs were causing the congestion. It appears that Netflix cynically held its subscribers hostage to reduced service quality in order to pressure the FCC into adopting favorable Internet regulations that would permanently lower Netflix’s costs of doing business.

Netflix’s plan to frame ISPs for sabotaging its service has been surprisingly successful so far. Some subscribers have blamed their ISPs for the service disruptions Netflix itself caused, which prompted the FCC to open an investigation of the Internet backbone market. Now all Netflix needs is for the FCC to adopt new regulations.

This post attempts to shed some light on Netflix’s hostage strategy before it’s too late. After a brief summary of the Internet backbone market, it describes the origins of the strategy and explains how Netflix succeeded in manipulating public opinion. Read More

Congress Doesn’t Need to Intervene in Retransmission Consent Negotiations

Posted by | Video | 2 Comments

In his written testimony for today’s Senate Commerce Committee hearing on the video marketplace, Comcast executive vice president David Cohen says the company does not support addressing retransmission consent issues through the STELA process or other legislative action. He notes that broadcasters and pay-TV providers have, “in the vast majority of cases, succeeded in negotiating retransmission consent agreements,” and that “most parties involved in such negotiations will continue to act responsibly and bargain in good faith and in a manner that reflects consumers’ best interests.”

Comcast’s vote of confidence for market negotiations is consonant with the views of free market groups that have weighed in during the STELA reauthorization process, including Americans for Limited Government, Frontiers of Freedom, the American Consumers Institute, and the Center for Boundless Innovation in Technology (CBIT). These free market advocates recognize that piecemeal changes often result in more market distortions and obstruct efforts for more comprehensive reform. Read More

The FCC Can’t Exempt Netflix from Paying for Interconnection

Posted by | Broadband Internet | 2 Comments

When the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced it would investigate the fees Netflix pays Internet services providers, it was careful to avoid any implication that it intended to impose new regulation. At the time, I considered it likely that Netflix’s factual admission against its own interest — that the fees it pays Comcast and Verizon are “too small” to harm consumers — was the primary reason for the FCC disclaimer.

A subsequent review of relevant precedent revealed another powerful reason for the FCC to reject the interconnection rights sought by Netflix: Even if the FCC were to reclassify broadband Internet access as a Title II service while leaving Netflix unregulated, the FCC would lack legal authority to require Internet service providers to interconnect with Netflix at no charge. Read More

Video Double Standard: Pay-TV Is Winning the War to Rig FCC Competition Rules

Posted by | Regulatory State, Uncategorized, Video | One Comment

So why is the FCC proposing to restrict joint marketing agreements among Free-TV distributors in local markets when virtually the entire Pay-TV industry is jointly marketing all of their advertising spots nationwide?

Most conservatives and many prominent thinkers on the left agree that the Communications Act should be updated based on the insight provided by the wireless and Internet protocol revolutions. The fundamental problem with the current legislation is its disparate treatment of competitive communications services. A comprehensive legislative update offers an opportunity to adopt a technologically neutral, consumer focused approach to communications regulation that would maximize competition, investment and innovation.

Though the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) must continue implementing the existing Act while Congress deliberates legislative changes, the agency should avoid creating new regulatory disparities on its own. Yet that is where the agency appears to be heading at its meeting next Monday. Read More