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Netflix And Comcast Strike New Deal To Improve Netflix Streams
by Karl Bode 07:54AM Monday Feb 24 2014 Tipped by sortofageek See Profile
Comcast users should start seeing improvement in the abysmal streaming performance they've been complaining about for several months. A report in the Wall Street Journal reported this afternoon that the two sides have come to an agreement regarding a more direct connection between the Comcast and Netflix networks. The report claims that Netflix decided to bypass Cogent and other third party companies completely as part of the new arrangement, which (at least based on the Journal's interpretation) will involve Netflix paying Comcast.

News of the deal came just a few days after App.net co-founder Bryan Berg posted a traceroute on Github showing what appeared to be a more direct routing connection between the two companies. The companies say that "Netflix receives no preferential network treatment under the multi-year agreement" in a statement they posted to our forums:
quote:
Comcast Corporation and Netflix today announced a mutually beneficial interconnection agreement that will provide Comcast’s U.S. broadband customers with a high-quality Netflix video experience for years to come. Working collaboratively over many months, the companies have established a more direct connection between Netflix and Comcast, similar to other networks, that’s already delivering an even better user experience to consumers, while also allowing for future growth in Netflix traffic. Netflix receives no preferential network treatment under the multi-year agreement, terms of which are not being disclosed.
While the statement omits financial details of any kind, the Wall Street Journal report claims the deal came after Comcast lowered previous payment demands for such a deal:
quote:
In exchange for payment, Netflix will get direct access to Comcast's broadband network, the people said....Netflix was using Internet middlemen Cogent as a "primary" route into Comcast, a person familiar with the matter has said. That connection was starting to become overwhelmed with Netflix traffic, congesting traffic and leading to slower Netflix streams for Comcast Internet users, people familiar with the matter said.

...Comcast presented Netflix with more attractive deal terms than the operator had been offering, the people said. The deal spans several years. Netflix was aiming for a long-term deal to make sure its projected traffic growth wouldn't put it at a disadvantage, one of the people said. The connection is a so-called "paid peering" deal, which connects Netflix's network to Comcast's directly. Netflix was previously using several middlemen to access Comcast's network.
Why the recent push to get a deal done on Comcast's part? The company may not be entirely happy with the bad network performance press from the Netflix streaming problems at a time when they're trying to sell regulators on the purported technical benefits of their $42 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable.

The deal benefits Netflix as users see better performance, and Netflix can just pay the money they were paying Cogent directly to Comcast. The move benefits Comcast given that while hosting Netflix's Open Connect CDN servers for free helped streaming (which Comcast refused to do), it didn't improve Comcast revenues. ISPs have long wanted to move past symmetrical, unpaid peering relationships and toward relationships where they obviously get paid more money to carry traffic.

Whether Comcast and other ISPs intentionally let Cogent and other peering relationships degrade in order to pursue this road is something worth talking about, and it certainly seems to be something Cogent was suggesting last week. The question now is whether other companies like Time Warner Cable, Verizon and AT&T will be willing to follow Comcast's lead and if so, how quickly.

Meanwhile, Comcast's Jason Livingood has posted this thread in our forums, in which he notes some users may be waiting a little bit to see the full improvements in their neck of the woods:
quote:
...folks have already noticed the interconnection points coming online. But IIRC Netflix is something like 1/3 of peak hour Internet traffic, which is a LOT, so that capacity won't come online overnight. That said, we've obviously both been working on this for awhile and both know what areas need ports first, so hopefully very soon (some may see it in days).
Comcast users can let us know in the comment section below if they're starting to see improvement.


240 comments .. click to read

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PlusOne

@comcast.net

6 recommendations

reply to sonicmerlin

Re: Comcast: Pay Up!

said by sonicmerlin:

said by PlusOne :

said by jlivingood:

Another way is that these interconnect agreements are pretty standard and have been for years. This is a way to improve performance for a service that some have said is 1/3 of peak Internet usage. The Comcast network is up to the task of handling that kind of volume, and so direct interconnection will really step up performance as it has for many other CDNs.

Unfortunately, too many people have zero understanding of how the internet was developed and engineered and financed. They think because they pay Comcast for a last mile connection, that Comcast is responsible for paying for the whole end to end connection from server to home. And that their paying for that last mile connection means from then on and forever Comcast has to finance the whole internet. Somehow they think content companies have no responsibility for carrying there portion of the costs of everything between their end and the ISP end.

Dude, Netflix already pays cogent. Cogent pays ISPs. This has been explained hundreds of times already.

And Cogent still cheaps out by not paying for enough bandwidth at peering points. And that is Netflix's fault for dealing with a 3rd rate company like Cogent and/or not paying Cogent enough.

MyDogHsFleas
Premium
join:2007-08-15
Austin, TX
kudos:5
Reviews:
·Mediacom

10 recommendations

reply to tirebiter

You're welcome. Here's some more pointing out: the price you pay Comcast is for unfettered access to Comcast's network. And you get that. You are incorrect that Comcast is gatekeeping or interfering in your access to other Internet services. They do not do this.

However, all ISPs do peering agreements so that traffic can flow between them. These agreements can be mutual/no money paid, or if one side is not providing as much value as the other across the link, money is used to make up the difference. There is nothing new about this. Traffic volume from one peered network to the other costs the other money, and they are not going to give it for free.

All this is is just a peering agreement between Netflix and Comcast so they have direct peering, increasing performance, instead of an indirect peering setup. Netflix probably paid Comcast for this. So they get better performance for their Comcast connected customers.

Nothing evil or new is going on. It's just business. You should be happy about it, as Netflix is now providing better service to you.

Instead, you are *assuming* that Comcast is evil and Netflix is good, and somehow the evil Comcast is extorting money from Netflix by somehow doing something in their network to interfere with your Netflix access. This is manifestly untrue. Thus my conclusion that you have been spun. Sadly you are not alone.



PlusOne

@comcast.net

6 recommendations

reply to jlivingood

said by jlivingood:

Another way is that these interconnect agreements are pretty standard and have been for years. This is a way to improve performance for a service that some have said is 1/3 of peak Internet usage. The Comcast network is up to the task of handling that kind of volume, and so direct interconnection will really step up performance as it has for many other CDNs.

Unfortunately, too many people have zero understanding of how the internet was developed and engineered and financed. They think because they pay Comcast for a last mile connection, that Comcast is responsible for paying for the whole end to end connection from server to home. And that their paying for that last mile connection means from then on and forever Comcast has to finance the whole internet. Somehow they think content companies have no responsibility for carrying there portion of the costs of everything between their end and the ISP end.

silbaco
Premium
join:2009-08-03
USA

1 edit

5 recommendations

reply to MrBungle87

Re: What a win!

Reasonable offer? Letting major ISPs join the OpenConnect CDN for "free" isn't reasonable when other CDNs (including Netflix's competitors) pay for that direct connection to ISPs. In order to get the caching servers, you have to peer with OpenConnect and cover the costs of operating the hardware appliances. That might be a good deal for small ISPs. Not so much for Comcast.

Netflix could've just shut up, stopped crying, and paid the price years ago instead of trying to use their customers as pawns to try to force Comcast into caving.


MyDogHsFleas
Premium
join:2007-08-15
Austin, TX
kudos:5
Reviews:
·Mediacom

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reply to tirebiter

Re: Comcast: Pay Up!

You have been influenced and spun, and Netflix didn't even have to pay you. You have drunk the Kool Aid that all ISPs are evil businesses and Netflix is the pure, good representative of the free and enlightened Internet.

It is much more interesting to view this realistically. The Internet is not free in any sense of the word and never has been. Netflix and Comcast are both public corporations whose objective is to increase shareholder (owner) value. At the immense traffic volumes Netflix is generating, they need to stop pretending that they can continue to piggyback on a "free net-neutral Internet", and if those ISPs don't cooperate, they can just get you and others like you to bitch and moan all over the Internet about how the ISPs are evil, and shame them into continuing to give them quality bandwidth for free.

In that sense I think this is a quite positive development. Netflix is acting like the grown-up company they should be. They are no longer cool renegades... they are a NETWORK (in the TV sense), using the Internet to deliver what in many ways is a superior customer experience. They are even producing their own award-winning shows now (e.g. House of Cards).

As a network, they need to negotiate carriage, just like the cable networks have to negotiate with the cable/telco/satellite carriers, and the broadcast networks have to negotiate with the local broadcast stations. They provide a forth delivery service for TV (beyond broadcast, cable, and DVD) which is a good thing for all TV consumers... competition brings better service and holds down price.



RadioDoc
Premium,ExMod 2000-03
join:2000-05-11
La Grange, IL
kudos:2

4 recommendations

reply to connections

said by connections :

and I was not the one making the post explaining what extortion is.

Do you have an evil twin?


DrDrew
That others may surf
Premium
join:2009-01-28
SoCal
kudos:15

1 edit

8 recommendations

reply to connections

said by connections :

Comcast has been known for pulling these shenanigans with other providers as well.

It's called business. Comcast has been selling direct links (Wholesale Transit/Paid Peering) to their network for links that don't qualify for Settlement Free Peering for years, before Netflix was around.

Netflix figured they could muscle in and get a Comcast product/service for free, which plenty of others pay for, just because they're popular.
--
I'll make it work.... hand me that BFR.


jlivingood
Premium,VIP
join:2007-10-28
Philadelphia, PA
kudos:2

6 recommendations

reply to tirebiter

said by tirebiter:

Hey, Netflix, that's a nice online video service you're running there. It'd be a shame if anything bad happened to your streaming speeds. Ya know, we can make sure sure nuttin' bad happens but it's gonna cost you. Yeah, we know customers already pay us for access to your servers, but if you pay us too we can make sure all these streaming problems being reported in the media will just go away.

That's one way of looking at it I guess. Another way is that these interconnect agreements are pretty standard and have been for years. This is a way to improve performance for a service that some have said is 1/3 of peak Internet usage. The Comcast network is up to the task of handling that kind of volume, and so direct interconnection will really step up performance as it has for many other CDNs.
--
JL
Comcast

tirebiter

join:2002-02-16
Champaign, IL

8 recommendations

Hey, Netflix, that's a nice online video service you're running there. It'd be a shame if anything bad happened to your streaming speeds. Ya know, we can make sure sure nuttin' bad happens but it's gonna cost you. Yeah, we know customers already pay us for access to your servers, but if you pay us too we can make sure all these streaming problems being reported in the media will just go away.



grydlok

join:2004-01-06
Richmond, VA

7 recommendations

Big Deal

Really Big for Karl to make this thread on a Sunday