Netflix became the latest company to formally object to Comcast's $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable. In their hand delivered filing with the FCC yesterday
(pdf), Netflix argues that a larger Comcast would result in the company turning the "consumer’s Internet experience into something that more closely resembles cable television." Netflix proceeds to argue that "through access fees charged at the interconnection points and by other means" Comcast and Time Warner Cable have incentive and capability "to harm Internet companies, such as online video distributors (“OVDs”), which Applicants view as competitors."
The same week it was revealed that Netflix has started paying Time Warner Cable for direct interconnection
, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has penned a missive over at Wired insisting we can "save the net" by "not giving in to big ISPs." Hasting's commentary
reiterates earlier complaints that large ISPs are forcing Netflix to pay for direct interconnection thanks to their anti-competitive grip on the last mile:
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.
Add Time Warner Cable to the list of companies that are now getting paid by Netflix for direct interconnection. Time Warner Cable confirms to Stacey Higginbotham at GigaOM
that the deal was completed back in June, on the heels of previous deals with AT&T, Comcast and Verizon.
Netflix has released the company's latest ISP streaming rankings
, which is based on 1 billion hours of TV viewing from 50 million Netflix members worldwide. Most of the list's leaders remain static, with Cablevision, Cox, Suddenlink, Charter and Comcast rounding out the top five.
AT&T is the latest ISP to strike a direct interconnection deal with Netflix that should improve buffering for Netflix users on AT&T's network. While no official announcement has been made by either company, anonymous insiders tell Mashable
that the deal took effect today.
Colin Nederkoorn, CEO of software company Customer.io is a bit annoyed that his 75 Mbps FiOS connection can't stream a Netflix video. In a blog post
and accompanying test video
, Nederkoorn notes that his normally-speedy 75 Mbps FiOS connection struggles along at 375 kbps.
While ISPs like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T claim that the latest round of peering and interconnection fights (and poor Netflix performance) are just peering business as usual, Netflix and transit operators continue to accuse ISPs of anti-competitive shenanigans. Level 3 last May proclaimed
that six of the largest ISPs were intentionally creating points of "permanent congestion" by refusing to upgrade their side of transit-operator facing connection links -- only resolved through direct interconnection payments to ISPs.
writes in to note that Netflix has offered their latest streaming performance rankings for broadband ISPs
. Cablevision, Cox and Suddenlink continue to take the top three spots among the largest ISPs (head here
and click on "expand results" to see smaller ISPs like Google Fiber included in the rankings).
In a blog post
posted to the company's policy website, Verizon today proclaimed that they've had their engineers conduct a thorough review of every part of their network and have concluded that Netflix congestion issues experienced by customers are in no way the fault of Verizon. Companies like Netflix and Level 3 previously suggested
that Verizon was letting peering points saturate in order to force companies to pay last-mile ISPs for direct interconnection.
Network gear manufacturer Sandvine apparently isn't a big fan of both Netflix's and YouTube's new ISP streaming performance rankings, insisting that the data collected by both is unreliable and conflicting. In a blog post
, Sandvine points out that ISPs deemed "HD Verified" by Google's new ISP ranking (discussed by us here
) are sometimes categorized as under-performers in Netflix's rankings, and vice-versa:
Google is essentially saying Rogers’ customers who use YouTube are capable of regularly experiencing HD streams, while Netflix is saying Rogers’ subscribers are experiencing the worst quality of Netflix streaming in the country.
After calling Netflix's new buffering warning that more specifically blames ISPs for poor streaming performance a "misleading PR stunt
" yesterday, Verizon has taken their response up another level with a cease and desist letter to Netflix threatening legal action. In the letter
, (pdf) Verizon blames everyone but Verizon for the mysterious slowdowns that started plaguing customers of only certain ISPs six months ago -- problems quickly and magically alleviated
once Netflix pays those same ISPs for direct interconnection.
This morning, we noted how
Netflix's all-too-familiar buffering warning now specifically blames Verizon when Verizon customer Netflix streams start to struggle. That hasn't made Verizon particularly happy, the company this afternoon penning a blog post
that claims Netflix is engaged in a "PR stunt" that's "deliberately misleading." In the post, Verizon unsurprisingly blames Netflix for network performance issues:
The source of the problem is almost certainly NOT congestion in Verizon’s network.
Following on the heels of similar and controversial interconnection deals
between Netflix, Comcast and Verizon, rumors have emerged that Apple is striking similar deals with the largest ISPs. According to a blog post by Dan Rayburn
, Apple's negotiating paid interconnection deals with "some of the largest ISPs in the US" in order to deliver Apple content more efficiently to consumers, bypassing some of the traditional transit partners like Level3 and Akamai.
Just about a year ago you'll recall Microsoft had to backtrack on a lot of DRM-related policies
for their Xbox One game console in response to public backlash. Now the company is belatedly making several changes customers have been clamoring for.
Roughly a month after lambasting unspecified big ISPs
for plans for "potentially escalating fees for the interconnection required to deliver high quality service," Netflix has jumped face first into the Comcast merger debate. In yesterday's letter to investors
, the company lashes out at both Comcast and AT&T for what the company calls "arbitrary interconnection tolls" now being imposed on content companies.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings today stated in a letter to investors
(pdf) that new Netflix streaming customers will be seeing a small rate increase very soon. "Our current view is to do a one or two dollar increase, depending on the country, later this quarter for new members only," stated the CEO. According to Hastings, existing customers will be able to stay at their current rates for a "generous time period" (read: prepare for a rate hike next year). According to Hastings, the price hikes will allow Netflix to "acquire more content and deliver an even better streaming experience."
Fed up with transit slow downs impacting streaming performance, Netflix last month struck a new interconnection deal with Comcast
that effectively cut out the middle man and forged a direct connection with the nation's largest cable giant. Comcast, eager to have their attempted deal with Time Warner Cable approved by regulators, is rumored to have offered a deal that's at least as good as what Netflix was getting from Cogent.
As we've been discussing, there's a lot of claims being made about why exactly Netflix streaming is suffering for customers of major ISPs like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T, but there hasn't been much hard data. People have tried to argue that the companies' are throttling the service
, but even the best network analysis tools can't provide full insight into the problem without the ISPs giving up raw performance data.
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