Netflix Pays Comcast for Direct Connection to Network

February 24, 2014 - GamePolitics Staff

The Wall Street Journal (by way of Ars Technica) is reporting the popular entertainment streaming service Netflix has agreed to pay cable operator Comcast to gain a direct connection to Comcast subscribers who use the service.

Comcast customers noticed a slowdown of the service, which some claimed was the result of a feud between Comcast and Netflix or between Comcast and Cogent, one of Netflix's Internet transit providers. A similar slowdown was recently reported by some Verizon customers as well. While much of this slowdown began well before a U.S. Appeals Court struck down the FCC's Open Internet order, the ruling certainly didn't help Netflix in its current situation.

The companies issued a joint statement on the deal:

"Comcast Corporation and Netflix, Inc. today announced a mutually beneficial interconnection agreement that will provide Comcast’s US 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."

Ultimately the goal is to have Netflix fed directly through Comcast's broadband network. No word on whether Comcast will strike a similar deal with Verizon, or other cable operators. This particular deal was probably made because of the pending merger between Time Warner Cable and Comcast, which still must pass through a government approval process...

We'll have more on this story as it develops.

Source: Ars Technica


Comments

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Maybe I am being nostalgic for when GamePolitics was bigger, but I miss threads like this and can not help but think we would have more in-depth discussions if stories that actually touch on politics did not get pushed off the front page by generic industry ones.

Re: Netflix Pays Comcast for Direct Connection to Network

Won't be surprised at all if it's not too long before these services start paying Comcast to throttle each other.

Re: Netflix Pays Comcast for Direct Connection to Network

'Netflix receives no preferential network treatment under the multi-year agreement' 

So basically the OP is heresay.  There has been 'speculation' on slowdowns to netflix on some networks.  I haven't seen an actual study proving it though, just circumstantial reports of some users experiencing issues that could be attributed to minor routing problems, or community bandwidth load.

The skeptic in me is large.  Who's to say the agreement isn't a deal to allow a netflix server internal to the comcast network to provide a better service for comcast customers.

Re: Netflix Pays Comcast for Direct Connection to Network

Because the agreement specifically says it does not. There will be no netflix servers hosted on comcsts network.. This deal is bad for the internet as a whole as it is comcast charging netflix to allow comcasts paying customers access to netflix, in other words double dipping.

Re: Netflix Pays Comcast for Direct Connection to Network

Actually, I am not sure that is the case.

While details are slim, it looks like they are setting it up so Netflix can bypass its own upstream ISPs and talk to the Comcast network directly, essentially becoming its own backbone, and then paying the peering fees that normally Level 3 or Cognizant would be paying and passing the cost on to Netflix.

So essentially they are getting a chance to bypass the middle man, which short term could actually be a very good thing.  Though it does raise long term concerns as the number of backbone providers slowly decreases.

But no... I really do not think this is double dipping this time around.  If they were charging Netflix additional fees for traffic coming through Level 3 or Cognizant then it would but, but that does not seem to be the case here.

Re: Netflix Pays Comcast for Direct Connection to Network

You understand there typically are no peering fees right?

Re: Netflix Pays Comcast for Direct Connection to Network

Did we read the same article?  It just says they are establishing better interconnectivity to provide better speeds to customers.  Granted this is a PR dump on the thing, but it doesn't give details on the technology backing it.  Maybe they don't host directly on comcast's network, but you can definitely reduce the number of router hops, and the bandwidth available between services to better deal with network load.  

I feel like the more likely factor at play is that netflix network traffic is starting to stress specific routes in the comcast network and to compensate they struck a deal with netflix to provide more pipes to their content servers, and ones that have less hops in their internal network.

EDIT: for instance at the moment, comcast routes through 6-7 hops to get to netflix servers internally.  at the 6th hop from my connection there are 6-8 different routes the transition can take, then it hops over to netflix servers all up in seattle.  This is similar to pretty much any other server, so I don't think they would necessarily update their routes to allow less hops, I think the more likely request is that comcast is getting them to appropriate more bandwidth, and maybe implement gauranteed bandwidth for comcast subscribers.

 

EDIT: a further read indicates that Netflix is paying Comcast to hook up to their servers directly.  I don't see how this is in any way bad.  Instead of routing traffic through Cogent comcast is going to be connecting up to the servers directly, which may as well mean the servers are on the comcast network.  How is this any different than providing internet service to a business customer?  They want to get their content to customers, and Cogent <-> Comcast network is a bottleneck.  Obviously Netflix would want to pay so comcast customers can access their data.  In addition all of the 'slowdown' stuff is still speculation.

In addition, it looks like netflix is going to completely phase out using Cogent as their ISP.. Further indicating that this isn't about network shaping on comcast'send. it's about choosing an ISP that can handle your business' load.

Re: Netflix Pays Comcast for Direct Connection to Network

Not it says "Netflix has agreed to pay Comcast for a direct connection to the cable and Internet service provider's network", or another name for peering, which is something that ISPs do generally free, as it provides content for their customers to share. If they wanted to provide a better experiance for their customers comcast would have accepted the CDN appliance that netflix offered to comcast to put the data directly on comcasts network.

If comcast does not like the amount of traffic their users are using they need to charge their customers, not the company that their customers are using. 

It is different because netflix is not on comcasts network, it is on Cogents. It is like comcast charging me money to ensure no interuptions if you connect to my servers, I am on TWC and you are on Comcast.

From the article:

"Under the deal, Netflix won't be able to place its servers inside Comcast's data centers, which Netflix had wanted," the Journal wrote. "Instead, Comcast will connect to Netflix's servers at data centers operated by other companies."

Again peering... For a fee

The entire point of an open internet is that peering is done free so that people can access the data, which may or may not be free at that point. It does not help that comcast is a competitor in the entertainment market.

Re: Netflix Pays Comcast for Direct Connection to Network

Keep in mind, the backbone providers already have a system in place where asymmetric traffic results in peering fees, so Comcast was already at least charging Level 3 for Netflix traffic.

If I understand correctly, what they are actually setting up is connecting Netflix directly, so bypassing both Cogent and Level 3's network and peering directly.

Re: Netflix Pays Comcast for Direct Connection to Network

If that was the case then netflix would be on comcasts network, which is explictly stated it is not.

Re: Netflix Pays Comcast for Direct Connection to Network

No more then Comcast is on L3's network.

Under this configuration, Netflix is not 'on' anybody's network, they are their own network and they are connecting to Comcast directly.

Re: Netflix Pays Comcast for Direct Connection to Network

Sorry but that is incorrect, peering is the physical interconnection of two administratively different networks. The advantage of which could be great for both parties, 1) it gives better service to Comcast by avoiding longer routes to content (a primary reason for peering networks in general) and 2) Netflix is paying its CDNs to distribute their content otherwise (I don't know the economics of this, but conceivably cutting out the middle man could be cheaper for Netflix).

While peering is often free according to Wikipedia, the fees paid by Netflix are not specified in the article and could very simply be to pay for leasing and/or maintenance of the physical network interconnection.

Either way, this is not the same as being on the Comcasts network.

I'm all for making sure Net Neutrality is being respected even in this agreement, but lets actually make sure we know how that applies and what it means before starting a witch hunt.

Re: Netflix Pays Comcast for Direct Connection to Network

I am not sure what you are claiming is incorrect in my post. If I assume is that I am saying it is peering, you then went on to support that it is peering.

 

Your number 2 is wrong, Netfix open connect and gives ISPs a free CDN appliance of their data, which goes into your number 1, but even still comcast refuses. This would mean that netflix would be on comcasts network, and would even same comcast money:

https://signup.netflix.com/openconnect.

The problem with net neutrality is not if the data is hosted completely within Comcasts network, it may be or it may not be. To be honest it is generally for content hosted off Comcasts network. In this case Comcast is  ensuring a degraded performance for netflix, by not freely peering with its ISP as it would with any other ISP. 

This is in effect double dipping. I pay for my download, but comcast wants netflix to pay for my download as well, in effect it is a way to raise my rates through a middleman.

 
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