Netflix accused of creating fast lanes at competitor’s expense
As you may remember, one of the sticking points in the fight for net neutrality was that ISPs were going to be allowed to create fast lanes for internet services that paid for them, and be given the ability to slow down competitors if they saw fit.
While most saw this as an anti competitive monopolistic power grab, those in favor of abolishing net neutrality claimed you would have fast speeds, and even faster for those who paid.
During the fights people saw Netflix throttled while other streaming services worked fine.
Now in a letter from Ajut Pai, the FCC is claiming that Netflix has secured fast lanes (that’s what that price hike was for evidently) by purchasing dedicated routes and placing Netflix-specific caching equipment at peering points, and that the competitors of Netflix are suffering as a result.
They’re claiming that Netflix has also worked to defeat open caching protocols and services, and that the DRM-protected licensed content that Netflix delivers should be available for distribution by a non-Netflix ISP-managed cache server. This might be a point of contention, but get Hollywood to allow their content to be distributed by parties outside the licensee – I dare you.
But mostly the complaint states that Netflix, by installing its own Netflix-managed caching software and hardware at ISP peering points after being forced to purchase bandwidth from these companies, will work better than another service that hasn’t.
I’ve read this complaint multiple times, and as far as I can tell the FCC can’t tell the difference between a company that had to build out infrastructure and pay exorbitant rates for data transmission in order to not have a stuttering mess, and a company that’s strong-arming other video content distributors by simply not helping them financially.
In case you’ve forgotten the ISPs throttling Netflix in the past, here’s some from July, June, May, April, you can search for pretty much any month in the past year, each with an ISP requesting more money to not throttle Netflix, each time Netflix paying to get its content delivered, each time another FCC complaint.
After a year of this, Netflix prices are higher, their service is at the point it was before all the ISPs decided to force them to pay for play, Netflix has installed their own managed caching equipment in major and minor peering points at great expense, and we’re now left with the FCC claiming Netflix is being anti net neutrality.
I don’t know, maybe I’m missing something, the source below has some more where they tried to get their questions answered and didn’t really. It seems like the FCC has what they wanted – a company forced to pay to play, and now they want to make an example of it for previously fighting the pay to play model.
It’s not even clear what the FCC agent is asking Netflix to do, other than publicly respond that net neutrality doesn’t mean Netflix has to pay to make Amazon and XFinity compatible cache boxes.[ars technica]