Last week we noted that Netflix had started offering Ultra HD and 3D video streams
to customers whose ISPs signed up to use the Netflix Open Connect content delivery network (CDN). The move comes after Netflix starting ranking ISPs by streaming quality
each month, clearly as a way to drive ISPs to sign up for Open Connect. As we noted last week, it seemed likely that at least a few of the larger ISPs would balk at this, given traditional tensions over past network neutrality issues.
Time Warner Cable gets the honor of being the first ISP to complain, the cable operator tells MultiChannel News
that while they're currently in negotiations with Netflix for the new streams, they apparently don't like it.
"While they call it 'Open Connect,' Netflix is actually closing off access to some of its content while seeking unprecedented preferential treatment from ISPs," Time Warner Cable said. "We believe it is wrong for Netflix to withhold any content formats from our subscribers and the subscribers of many other ISPs. Time Warner Cables network is more than capable of delivering this content to Netflix subscribers today."
Netflix has countered by insisting that "Open Connect provides Netflix data at no cost to the location the ISP desires and doesn't seek preferential treatment."
You'll recall of course that Netflix and Time Warner Cable have had a contentious relationship, given Netflix's challenge to traditional television. Netflix also has a history of attacking usage caps as anti-competitive, unnecessary and a symptom of an uncompetitive broadband market
, while Time Warner Cable has tried to shove those caps down consumers' throats
using often flimsy justifications.
Sonic.net CEO Dane Jasper, who has signed up to be a Netflix Open Connect partner, tells me that participating isn't really all that big of a deal, nor much of a headache for the benefits it delivers to users.
"It's an easy process, just like Akamai or any other CDN edge cache," notes Jasper. "Depending upon scale of the service provider, it's one or more servers, deployed at one or more locations in the service provider network." Jasper said his ISP was already part of Open Connect because they directly peer with Netflix today. "Due to ongoing growth in usage, we are also deploying Open Connect servers in our network core shortly too," said Jasper.
Granted Time Warner Cable's outrage runs a little shallow, since they're currently being accused by Google
of witholding sports content to thwart Google's entry into the Kansas City broadband and television markets. While naming, shaming and ranking ISPs to embarrass them into using Netflix's CDN may not be the height of tact, it's certainly nothing worse on the behavior front than we've seen from any of the largest ISPs.