About That "Last Mile" Thing...
Not too long ago, a blogger on a somewhat popular tech blog posted a pretty scathing post here on G+ about how people complaining that Comcast demanding payment on that last mile were stupid and didn't know what they were talking about and other things that aren't worth going back to quote directly. He posted a blog piece by someone who pointed out that, indeed, Netflix and ISPs already have been paying in a mutually beneficial manner to maintain an interconnect network that allows for everyone to have some advantage (in economic terms, a win/win/win situation). Based on this incomplete information, said blogger decided to lambast people who complained, presumably because now said blogger Knew A Thing Or Two About This Sort Of Thing™.
I humbly submit the words of Ken Florance, VP of content delivery at +Netflix
: http://blog.netflix.com/2014/04/the-case-against-isp-tolls.html Comcast does not carry Netflix traffic over long distances. Netflix is itself shouldering the costs and performing the transport function for which it used to pay transit providers. Netflix connects to Comcast in locations all over the U.S., and has offered to connect in as many locations as Comcast desires. So Netflix is moving Netflix content long distances, not Comcast. Nor does Comcast connect Netflix to other networks. In fact, Netflix can’t reach other networks via Comcast’s network.For all these reasons, Netflix directly interconnects with many ISPs here in the U.S. and internationally without any exchange of fees. In sum, Comcast is not charging Netflix for transit service. It is charging Netflix for access to its subscribers. Comcast also charges its subscribers for access to Internet content providers like Netflix. In this way, Comcast is double dipping by getting both its subscribers and Internet content providers to pay for access to each other. It is true that there is competition among the transit providers and CDNs that transport and localize data across networks. But even the most competitive transit market cannot ensure sufficient access to the Comcast network. That’s because, to reach consumers, CDNs and transit providers must ultimately hand the traffic over to a terminating ISP like Comcast, which faces no competition. Put simply, there is one and only one way to reach Comcast’s subscribers at the last mile: Comcast. There cannot be an “intensely competitive” market when Comcast alone sets the terms and conditions for access to Comcast subscribers. Comcast can simply refuse to provide capacity to any network at any time, constraining the ability for Comcast users to use the services they want. Comcast’s ability to constrain access to Netflix can be clearly seen in the following chart, which shows how Netflix performance deteriorated on the Comcast network and then immediately recovered after Netflix started paying Comcast in February.
I bolded the important parts in case the description was too long and technical. Basically, Comcast is charging twice for the same service. Comcast is essentially double dipping in order to provide a "fast lane" that is really just "the lane Netflix is providing" in less than technical terms. Said blogger mentioned earlier claimed that this had nothing to do with Net Neutrality. Clearly, said blogger doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground. Well, unless his definition of Net Neutrality completely ignores the whole "pay extra for a fast lane" part of it, which is the most important part for consumers in the first place.
Look at the image I'm sharing. The green is the base infrastructure that Netflix pays for to handle their massive throughput on a daily basis. Notice how Charter and AT&T (and tons of other providers) have interconnected points of connection to provide their subscribers access to that infrastructure. Notice how Comcast doesn't.
That, right there, is the problem and is the danger that people were and are pissed about. That's not conspiracy theory or bullshit or lack of understanding. That's Comcast being total assholes and taking two payments for one service. Imagine if Comcast decided to start forcing Amazon to pay so that people accessing their online store could do so without everything being at a crawl. That's exactly what Comcast did to Netflix
So maybe said blogger should stick to telling us which app is worth downloading or which new phone is nicer than the other new phone, and stop pretending they understand how content delivery networks operate and interact with Internet service providers.
[EDIT to add] To provide more detail, here is the article that was linked originally: http://blog.streamingmedia.com/2014/03/netflix-level-3-telling-half-story-wont-detail-changes-want-net-neutrality.html
The person in that link asked: " So why did Netflix continue to push their traffic through Cogent even though they knew the link was congested?"
The answer is that Netflix had no choice. Comcast controls the portal to their last mile. No sharing available, at the behest of the ISP. Besides, Netflix doesn't "win" either way in this situation, and they don't "lose" either. A company the size of Netflix is going to get theirs regardless. The people who wind up paying (and losing) are the consumers/subscribers. Comcast double dips because their business model of being the sole portal through which paying customers get access to the Internet is based on 20th century infrastructure planning. The biggest cell phone companies often suffer the same fault with their cellular networks. So while the original article that the blogger linked raised a question that deserved an answer, the conclusions that came from the unanswered question (and the blogger's faulty assertion that it had nothing to do with Net Neutrality, which we now know is false [ http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/24/technology/fcc-new-net-neutrality-rules.html
]) were just the kind of distraction from reality that Comcast would like. In fact, Comcast liked that question without an answer so much they used it as their response to Netflix's criticism of their Time Warner merger ( http://corporate.comcast.com/comcast-voices/comcast-response-to-netflix
). Since Netflix has supplied the answer to the question, an answer that still makes Comcast look bad, this is now all about ISPs marketing to you and me that they're the good guys and big, bad companies like Netflix (and Amazon Video, and YouTube, and Vimeo, and so on) are the bad guys who are hurting people.
[Image credit blog.netflix.com